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9 June 2009 / Erik Duval

Summer School Fun

I always enjoy speaking at a summer school: the enthusiasm of the PhD. students is always a treat… This year’s Joint European Summer School on Technology Enhanced Learning was no exception!

I was invited to talk about the Snowflake Effect… I added some new slides to make students aware of how crowds are really … stupid, juxtaposing Canetti with Surowiecki… In fact, that was a rhetorical trick: Surowiecki nicely explains that you can only obtain the wisdom of the crowds if the individuals in the crowd make up their mind independently. Otherwise, you get group think. In that case, in my opinion, crowds become … stupid! That is why I believe more in the power of one, connected to many.

BTW, as I gave my talk on June 4, I used the picture of the man in front of the tank 20 years ago to illustrate the power of one. Sadly, this man was not connected to many. It seemed a bit unreal to talk to students who were small infants at the time, about the simple courage of a man and the students that were about their age in 1989… I find it a bit hard at times to understand how we’ve just come to accept that this happened and decided to ‘move on’ with our lives…

What struck me in the reaction from the students is that many did not know about the tools that I used to illustrate the theme of abundance and personalization: I now consider these tools to be ‘mainstream’ and I would have expected the students to live on the ‘bleeding edge’. I had expected that they would show me many new tools and technologies! That was a bit of a mistake on my part…

However, quite a few did share with me their work: I had some great conversations and look forward to getting updates from them as their work progresses. (Please do send me your updates!)

I often ask the audience to write down what struck them in my presentation and why it was relevant to them. Many of the students mentioned that they appreciated my passion. That was nice to hear, but it did make me wonder a bit: shouldn’t ‘passion’ be the norm at a Summer School?

In any case, it was Serious Fun – I look forward to doing this again next year!

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5 Comments

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  1. Maria Mitina / Jun 10 2009 4:06 pm

    Hi to everybody.
    This was my first Summer School (and hopefully not the last!) and I really enjoyed it.
    Regarding the internet. This was me asking about the internet on the Pro-learn forum before the event and the answer I got then really made me calm. The real internet connection was a surprise, no doubts, as I had to send and receive e-mails every day, as many of you. But what I can say is that I had NO problems with it in the end – as it was possible (and not so hard) to find special time (and even places) when (and where) the connection was good! Thus instead of complaining I would suggest considering this as a good experience – poor connection would really organize your work, as you do necessary things first instead of wasting your time not noticing that. And secondly – we have tested the hotel ) now they know what to improve ))
    Ok, let’s go on. I really support the organizers and I am grateful to them for BLAZING reaction – during the whole SS I was feeling that I always can come to them with my problem and they will do their best.
    Regarding the learning component. Before going to the SS I was looking through the list of lectures and workshops and I knew what I was coming for. There was a list of questions in my head and I wanted to hear the answers. And I can say they were given. But even more – not focusing on my own topic – other presentations and workshops were interesting and useful. However, there was a moment when discussions turned into self-presentation and even opposition of projects. But I stress – it was a moment and not the whole story.
    Regarding socializing. I like the people I met there and happy to say – this was exactly the place where we could feel relaxed and open for contact. Thanks to all the organizers and participants!!!

  2. Maria Mitina / Jun 10 2009 4:13 pm

    Erik, i am sorry! I have confused the pages – as i had http://www.pontydysgu.org/blogs/waleswideweb/ open too
    Sorry for that )

  3. erikduval / Jun 10 2009 4:18 pm

    Don’t worry, Maria: hope the link from http://www.pontydysgu.org/blogs/waleswideweb/ will make people see your comments here too, or you can re-post there if you want to…

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