I’d like to reflect on the Texas Distance Learning Association’s (TXDLA) 10th annual conference for a minute. This was my 5th time going and, in my opinion, this is one of the “can’t miss” conferences held each year. This year I think it drew somewhere near a thousand educators. Here are a few observations:
- Moodle was everywhere. For whatever reason, I have not paid much attention to this open source LMS in the past. It has my attention now. At one session, that gave a broad overview of Moodle, someone asked, “This does everything that Blackboard does. Why would anyone pay when you can get the same features for free?” Good question. Over the next few months I hope to have some answers for you. In my spare time (cue laugh track) over the next few months, I am going to set up Moodle 1.8 and create a course. I will report back on the pains and pleasures of the experience.
- I attended a session on the implementation of a course, “Going Online to Teach Online Faculty About Teaching Online.” Allison Peterson from Texas Woman’s University gave an outstanding presentation on why the course failed. I took away a *lot* of good info from this session. Of equal importance, it was nice to know that I am not the only one who has been a part of a misstep or two. We need more honesty like this to advance our field. Nice job Alli.
- The most memorable quote occurred while standing in line for lunch. The gentleman behind me was praising a colleague on his ability to pick up technology. He said, “He is good …really good. He is going to be a Digital Native before long.” I had a flash to the Aflac commercial with Yogi Berra in the barber shop.
- The statement that got me thinking the most was made be the Keynote Speaker, Elliott Maise. He said that teleconferencing is on the verge of really taking off. Being more of an asynchronous learning guy, this really hasn’t been on my radar. I worked with teleconferencing at The Medical University of South Carolina a while back, and the experience did not leave a great lasting impression. The technology was expensive, clunky, and it seemed to interfere with learning more than promote it (I often had to baby sit the equipment to make sure it behaved). It should be noted that this was five years ago and the technology is vastly improved. I’ll stay tuned.
- People are curious about Second Life. They aren’t sure what to do with it yet, but they are interested.