AusWeb07 Report

I attended the 13th AusWeb conference at Coffs Harbour with the main programme spanning 1-3 July. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and productive conferences in this series. In part this was the low attendance that allowed easy interaction with delegates and also because of the diverse selection of keynote speakers from a range of disciplines.

The talks I attended are shown below and the full conference program is available.

ausweb071

The first keynote on Sunday was given by John Moss from QANTM. He was able to demo impressive 3D and 2D animations from their students and had strong links with the games industry. Since multimedia teaching is their only activity I imagine games technology students will naturally be attracted there. QANTM will be a strong competitor to other university-based games technology programmes.

Stewart Adam from Deakin gave us a wide-ranging talk on Internet marketing and showed a list of marketing myths that are widely held on the web but are totally incorrect from a business perspective. Illuminating.

This year there was no live music at the conference dinner and this allowed conversation to flourish as it should. In fact I and a number of others at my table commented that our discussion over the meal, concentrating mainly on web-based teaching and learning and associated software and teaching techniques, was the best we had experienced for many a year.

For me the most impressive talk was presented by Ross Wilkinson from CSIRO showing us the wide range of web research being undertaken. The web sensor net possibilities are impressive and he predicts sensor-generated content on the web will exceed human-generated content within 10 years. His history of web user types for personal engagement culminating in the judge mentality by 2016 is fascinating. The CSIRO work on information assistants is worth following up.

One of my old students from Uni of Tas gave the talk on the Carrick Exchange they are building to become a repository of teaching and learning resources across all disciplines. Contributions to this exchange can attract Carrick grants and developments in this area should be followed closely.

Rod Sims talk on web-based contextual learning for students from very diverse learning backgrounds is very interesting and requires a very different approach to teaching. Full of fairly deep education theory Rod and his co-author won the best paper award.

Michael Ossipof is the Director of Capability at Telstra. He presented lifechanging technology for personal communication that is emerging at a frantic pace, extolling the dubious behaviour of Gen-Xers in multitasking 4 jobs at once.Reminder me never to employ his young mid-20s female relative who is unlikely to stay in one job for more than a few months. Of course Next-G is the answer to all our problems and WiMax for the bush is rubbish according to Michael.

The plenary panel on Tuesday was a presentation of Elluminate, the web conferencing package, and its use in education (academic and vocational) and training. We saw good examples of Elluminate use for university, TAFE and Lifesaving Qld. This package might be worth trialing as it incorporates lecture recording and good compression features.

My own talk in the technical track was well-received but there were few other delegates working with Ajax development. I worked with Helen Ashman on the organising committee for WWW7 in Brisbane in 1998. She gave a very interesting talk about a method her research team uses with search results for determining associations between words.

Elluminate is used across SCU and a number of speakers in the afternoon gave feedback on curriculum design and feedback on its use. These guys will be useful contacts if Bond trials Elluminate.

Overall it was surprising to see the significant drop in attendance. In fact the delegate number of about 70 is not viable for this traditional style of conference into the future. Major restructuring will be needed if AusWeb is to survive. Nevertheless it was gratifying to be reacquainted with the AusWeb regulars from other universities and get a feel for how web education is evolving in Australia.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

One Response to AusWeb07 Report

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