The OpenLearning Conference 2018: Recap

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Scaling Quality Education

Imagine: you’re entering a crowded lobby where the smell of coffee lingers in the air. You see a startup founder and a banking executive exchanging ideas with a university lecturer, while solving a 1000-piece puzzle of Kuala Lumpur. Through the buzz and chatter, you pick out the words: “unbundling”, “social learning”, and “virtual environment”, among others. The bell rings: it’s time for the next workshop, which is on teaching emotional intelligence through MOOCs.

Welcome to the OpenLearning Conference.

What a month November was! Our second annual conference has just been concluded, bringing together 180+ participants from 3 continents. Now that the dust has settled, we’d like to take a moment to recap the top 3 highlights from #OLConf2018 for our users:

Top 3 Highlights from #OLConf2018:

1. Quotable Quotes

After months of planning and logistics, we were so excited to finally hear what our speakers from Australia, the U.K. and Malaysia had to say. While the full keynote recordings and slides are available on the conference course, here are a few quotable quotes:

“More than ever, education cannot end with graduation. ”

— Adam Brimo, opening the conference with a welcome keynote.

“Queen’s stomp-stomp-clap made them into an experience, not just an act — in a similar vein, we should be building “affordances” into our classrooms (virtual or otherwise) which nudge learners and teachers towards more experiential, social learning.”

— David Collien, kicking off the conference with his keynote on the role of Social Constructivism and next-generation learning technologies.

“The literature shows that forums, alone, don’t necessarily lead to increased student interaction. This is where facilitators should find ways to model high quality discussion, or to assign grades to forum participation.”

— Prof. Shirley Alexander, our second keynote speaker, on Creating Effective Social Learning Experiences in MOOCs.

“When I was first invited, I thought this was just another conference about using technology in education. But I was relieved to note that the focus was on creating a better ecosystem for education.”

— Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Mohd Zahid, delivering his keynote speech on interconnectedness.

“Let’s be careful not to assume that everyone arrives at a MOOC with the same capabilities and beliefs. In unbundling degrees, we need to see much more diversification of language, traditions of knowing, and culture.”

— Dr Tristan McCowan on the unbundling of higher education and its implications for equity around the world.

“I won’t be with my students when they go out into the future of work. So instead of artificial problems, I let them choose and solve problems that already exist in their environment, with the tools that are available to them.”

— Dr Lina Markauskaite, on social learning and approaching different kinds of knowledge in the classroom.

2. Audience Responses

Social media mechanics are a huge part of social learning online. We were happy to see our participants interacting—not just on our conference course, but on Twitter, too! Here are some of our favourites:

If you’d like to see more social media coverage of the conference, have a look at our OpenLearning Global instagram story highlights.

3. Powerful Workshops

It’s not enough to talk about quality education — we also need to walk the talk. Workshop participants were able to experience several aspects of social learning at the conference, thanks to our workshop leaders:

Workshop 1: Teaching Emotional Intelligence with MOOCs: Crossing the Technology-Humanity Chasm by Prof Mushtak (Heriot Watt)

Workshop 2: Extended Reality for Virtual Social Learning by Zi Siang See (Uni of Newcastle) & Bruce Lee Xia Sheng (Yalong Intelligent)

Workshop 3: Innovating face-to-face learning using social platforms – a design thinking workshop by Dr Lara Moroko (Macquarie Uni)

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Workshop 4: Designing great social learning activities by Brooke Hahn & Marsyitah Ismail (OpenLearning)

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We clearly had a blast this year and were blown away by the calibre and enthusiasm of the participants. Thanks to their feedback, next year’s conference will be made even better — so, we hope to see you there!

The OpenLearning Conference 2018: Scaling Quality Education was hosted at Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur, from the 26-27th of November. If you were unable to join us this year, no worries! You can check out more notes and recordings from the whole conference by visiting our conference course.

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