Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hello from San Antonio

I'm in San Antonio at the Educause Learning Institute annual conference. Highlights so far have been hanging out with some great and interesting people: Barbara G., Barbara S., Leslie, Martha, Brian Lamb, Alan Levine and more. I also saw Henry Jenkins and George Siemens give a couple of interesting talks. My impressions were that Jenkins wasn't provocative enough and Siemens went a little over the edge. Siemens made a pretty significant appearance in my dissertation, so I certainly respect his work, but he lacks the ability, I think to take his theory and explain its practical application. Someone in the audience actually got up and said, "I don't get it." And his explanation was just a rearticulation of the theory. Perhaps he leaves that for others to do. Jenkins, on the other hand, didn't go quite far enough to shake things up. After all, his approach uses traditional avenues--research, white papers, books. Most of what he said I'd heard before. But I do know that there are plenty of people here who need to hear what Jenkins said.

I think a conference like this tries to strike a balance between reaching those who are unaware or only vaguely aware of the bleeding edge and those who are standing right on it. It's certainly better than the main Educause conference which definitely appeals more to administrators and managers than to those working in the trenches (especially those of us working with the academic side of the house). There's still another day and a half to go and of course my talk with the four fab ladies mentioned above happens later today. Our competition: none other than Michael Wesch, whom I met last night and tried to cajole him to go to dinner with a crowd of us. I think he would have enjoyed the conversation. I do really like his work. I'm sad that I'll miss his talk.