ALT Lab Open Day (UK)

I was invited to present at the ALT (JISC) Lab Open Day event that took place yesterday in Oracle’s headquarters in London. Patrick McAndrew and I presented two sessions in the afternoon showcasing our new Ambient Technology Research Labs which are part of the new £19m building that will be the focus of our research work from May this year when we start moving in and using it. There’s a summary of the event here – we’re not part of that summary however a video interview of Patrick from the event will be available shortly and is being posted up on YouTube so I’ll send that when I get it. For those interested in our talk there’s a copy of the presentation which may be meaningless without Patrick’s or my waffle!

The event was great because we’re all doing such similar stuff, Sara de Freitas from the Serious Games Institute at Coventry seems to be covering much of the gaming stuff that we do and Nottingham and CARET are both looking at mobile learning and SOA applications which parallel our work in those areas. I was pleased to see that CARET seem to share the same views about not trying to ‘roll everything’ into a VLE but rather are now starting to explore pushing vle content out through other means (Facebook, iGoogle, RSS, etc). I was interested in their work on Sakai, I think sakai is much more developed than when I last explored it and I must make time to revisit it and indeed the CamTools product suite.

Nottingham covered their work with us on the Technology Enabled Learning (Personal Identifier) project which explores how school kids might learn through conducting their own field research work using a range of technologies and then bring this back into the more formal classroom environment to collate and make sense of the results. It’s really exploring the informal/formal learning boundaries, but on a lower level trying to make it fun for the kids. The Director of the institute at Nottingham watched their first field trial last week with (12-16 year old) school kids and was absolutely amazed at how engaged they were with what was essentially number crunching, but it was number crunching to find out what their physical characteristics were (blood pressure, heart rate, BMI, etc.) after they’d used various devices to record information about themselves whilst they were in a leisure centre, they were all keen to find out what their results meant and compare them with each other.

Patrick used the event to try to gather interest from others in forming a research network with us at the hub, I’m not sure how much interest this got but we’ve made a number of great contacts and I’m going to be taking trips to a number of these places in the next few months to find out what they’re really up to and to try to collaborate on some educationally and technology rich research projects.