It’s been a week now since I attended Educa Online Berlin 2010, and I’ve had time to reflect and report on what I learned from what is the world’s largest conference of its kind. Over 2000 people attended from over 100 countries, with Germany, Holland, the UK and Norway accounting for many of these participants.

I attended some very good sessions, and, inevitably, despite the organisers’ strenuous attempts at quality control, a few weak ones. Important themes included the need to modernise learning in both developed and developing countries, and to combine educational reform and the use of learning technologies to accelerate access to education and growth in developing countries. Mobile learning featured strongly, with lots of delegates, myself included, proudly brandishing their new iPads and latest Smartphones. These inevitably overwhelmed the conference wifi system during the opening plenary, a common problem in large high tech conferences.

I gave a well attended presentation on the Is there a future for the ELT coursebook? which was grouped with two other presentations in a session entitled “Content Creation for Mobile Learning” chaired by Shirley Williams from the University of Reading, see this summary from Cəmil Məmmədov

I greatly enjoyed the other two presentations:
Helen Keegan, University of Salford, UK
Learner Innovation: Creative Collaboration On-the-Move and In-the-Cloud
John B. Stav, Sør-Trøndelag University College, Norway
Experience with Product-Oriented Training and Mobile Learning in Education and Vocational Training

Helen talked about the course she had developed for students to create their own films using mobile phones and how her students created aesthetically impressive and engaging works from “low” production value platforms and the benefits of immediacy and flexibility this new medium offers. John brought with him a team from Norwayy and a class set of 40 iPod Touches to demonstrate how mobile devices can be used to check learner engagement and concept checking.

In addition to the sessions there were some great opportunities for networking, and a large exhibition, with large stands from Pearson Education and Blackboard, who were major sponsors. I was quite interested in the Rosetta Stone stand, particularly as Rosetta Stone are marketing themselves very heavily at the moment. I have been dimly aware of them on and off since they began in the mid 1990s, but the people on the stand explained that with new management they are growing rapidly selling successfully to both consumers and to businesses. They are developing iPhone Apps and it will be very interesting to see how they respond to the challenges to their own business model, as their CDROM courses sell for between £159 and £500, a very high price for a self-study course, which, like its competitors, tends to oversell itself.

After the conference I stayed on a day to explore Berlin in the snow: