It’s been a sort of corporate week. On Tuesday morning I travelled down to Birmingham for the annual JISC conference at the International Convention Centre. On the train on the way down I had a chance to play with my new bit of kit – the Asus Eeepc – essentially a small laptop with a 7″ screen. It is linux based and the beauty is that from pressing the on switch it is up and running within 32 seconds (yes I did time it) and you can have a working document open and be typing by 55 seconds. It has built in Wifi but I was unable to get onto the network at the ICC probably due to overcrowding. The keyboard is very small and although you do get used to it, if you are a touch typist like me and don’t look at the keys, you keep ending up in the line above the one you are typing as the shift key and up arrow are next to each other. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it.

The conference was good and I enjoyed it and got much more out of it than the equivalent last year. That may be more to do with my choice of break out sessions to attend. Also I knew a lot more people than last year so it was nice to catch up with so many friendly faces. The morning keynote was Lord David Puttnam, now chancellor of the Open University. Both breakout sessions I went to were regarding the JISC funded elearning projects. In the morning I went to the ‘sharing the elearning experience‘ and was impressed in particular by some work done on e-assessment at Nottingham University Medical School. The afternoon session was looking at the learner experience and expectations and how the ‘Google generation’ could drive change in Higher Education. A very high level committee of enquiry has been set up to look at the changing learner experience and they are working in a transparent manner using a wiki – here. The final keynote was Angela Beesley from Wikia, founders of wikipedia – with some interesting news on the future of wikipedia and planned changes. Video, Audio and presentations are here.

Instead of heading home, I went south to Gloucestershire where daughter number 3 has just moved. She had warned me that the house was still empty but I was cool with that. We had a great night out and both made ‘nests’ with duvets on her bedroom floor. However, the following morning, I scrabbled around her kitchen and discovered that she had no means of heating water. As she doesn’t drink tea or coffee this isn’t a problem for her. Having asked at the local shop if they sold ‘hot and wet’ coffee – rather than granules, I gave in and made myself a hot ribena with water from the tap!

After a trip into Tewkesbury and a quick look at the Abbey I hopped onto a train home.

Back in Yorkshire, I experimented with a new route into the metropolis that is Manchester and hit the jackpot. Hebden Bridge is about 20 miles from me and has free parking at its station. It was then 40 minutes on the train into the centre of Manchester for £7 – great. I headed off to what was the GMex centre and now called something bland that I can’t remember. The Special Needs North exhibition was all that I expected and all the usual suspects were there. I had signed up for one seminar and it was excellent ‘stop teaching and start encouraging learning’ much the stuff that we talk about most days but well presented. Astonishingly I cannot find a decent link to the list of exhibitors or the seminars.

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