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20 August 2009 / erikduval

Aachen – a city with a history and an audience with feedback…

Sometimes, I’m a bit surprised and worried when I realize that we have now been working on “share and reuse“, learning objects, metadata, repositories, etc. for about 15 years… However, I am currently at the ICWL conference in Aachen, a city with a slightly longer history: Charlemagne ruled from here some 1200 years ago: I guess it’s all a question of perspective 😉


The conference building is rather spectacular, with a 2.5 kilometer (!) deep drill to capture geo-thermal energy. Quite useful to have good cooling as we have very exceptionally warm weather here in Europe these days!

Yesterday morning, I did the opening keynote about learning in times of abundance and the Snowflake Effect.

As often, I asked folks to provide feedback by email, twitter, slideshare, facebook and … on paper at the end of my talk. This kind of direct, immediate feedback is very useful to me. It helps me understand which of my examples participants were most impressed with (wakoopa this time, so it seems), what they take away (I stressed the importance of design and how the use of standards can never be an excuse for poor user experiences – a point many picked up in their feedback), etc.

I also got a mail from Karen Stepanyan that mentions a point that comes up regularly. I’ve asked him permission to quote, so here goes:

One thought that creeps to my mind, however, is the general feeling that by adding this personalisation/adaptation we detach the people from the great diversity they experience (or should I say, we detach the students from greater opportunities of practicing their skills in adapting to the great diversities). What the effects of this personalization be in the future? And to which extent should we consider this? I would be interested to know your view on this (may be reading in your blog?).

Actually, I think that the personalization can add diversity rather than reduce it! I think many of us have learned about new music through the likes of or discovered new books through amazon, etc. One recent example in the science2.0 context is how our work on an analysis of the EdMedia conference series helped me to discover people in my own research area that I didn’t know of!

Of course, some will say that a good researcher knows everyone in his area. I’m not so sure: because of the abundance of current research work, it is hard to keep track of all that is going on. And because of the interdisciplinary nature of Technology Enhanced Learning, you may not be aware of some of the relevant work. So, if you could be notified when people you don’t know start citing you or the people you cite, would you not be interested to know? Would that not help us to become a better research community? Would that not actually increase the likelihood that you would fully appreciate the diversity of research?

Let me know what you think! And come discuss this topic with us at the TelSci2.0 workshop at the end of October…



Leave a Comment
  1. Gert-Jan / Aug 25 2009 2:08 pm

    Hi Erik,

    A very interesting discussion ! Personally I discover that my kids (3, 6, 8 and 9 years old) have the tendency to invest less energy to understand ‘foreign’ content than my generation did (born in the 70’s).
    I recall from my youth (e.g. with TV), that the native Dutch offer was that limited that German and Belgian (also French-speaking) channels were watched regularly….so we learned some German from Sesamstrasse ( and French from the Télé 21 (….

    Currently my kids first look for a language button and tend quit easily to rapidly swap to other resources in the ‘abundance’ they can choose from in their native language…….

    There clearly is interest in learning other languages, but my 4 girls are avoiding ‘self learning by watching foreign media’ for now, maybe due to the abundance of choice / personalisation??


  1. Blogging About Generational Differences « Virtual High School Meanderings

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