Thursday, September 11, 2008

eFest over for 2008 - was it worth it?

Well with the conference now complete it's time to get back to the real world. But before I shift from conference/networking mode to sifting through all the emails and tasks in my Inbox I wanted to reflect on a few things about this years eFest.

Overall I think the conference was a success, but as part of the organising committee I am always conscious of what doesn't happen and looking to address this in future iterations of eFest. A few ideas along these lines:
  • Remote speakers: disappointed with interaction during these sessions - feel we had it right with Peter Higgs on first day with structured breaks for questions through out the presentation. The EdTechTalk session also went very well with people using both microphone and text chat channels to ask Jeff and Dave questions throughout. Need to explore these issues more thoroughly for next year and then be more directive to remote presenters about how they structure their presentations.
  • We under-utilised James Farmer - great energy and knowledge. Should have had him run at least one other workshop perhaps focussed on practical use of (edu)blogs OR on more advanced social networking topic for experienced elearning people. Definitely on the re-invitation list James :-).
  • It's always difficult to get the balance right to cater for the range of participant experiences - beginner through to advanced, technical through to teacher, practitioner to manager, educator to policy maker. Would be great to get more managers involved.
  • Definitely need to get better at supporting the conference online back-channel and potential for community building. Will look at how the Ako Aotearoa site may be able to support this once it's released in October. Also keen to open up eFest to remote participants, although need to work through the cost/revenue implications for this as it still costs significant $'s to host such a conference.
  • Enjoyed my conversations with Paul, Dean and Danny from the Ministry of Education. I can see some great opportunities developing from these and was impressed with their receptiveness. It highlighted the lack of prescence from TEC who actually hold the $'s that could be used for establishing many of those shared services that were mentioned in a number of presentations.
  • Overall there was too much "presentation" not enough conversation in the keynotes. Some great information but I missed the type of interaction we had during the FLINZ-led sessions we had on day 2 of eFest 2007.

I see some others have been sharing their thoughts on the conference or ideas/people they connected with - see the Google Search feed on the left of this blog. Although the organising commitee will be distributing a conference evaluation form shortly, it would be great to hear some feedback from anyone else who attended - or even those that didn't :-).

PS - George Siemens and Stephen Downes have posted copies of their presentations. More to come over the next few days.



eFester said...

Andy Kirk has created a Mahara (ePortfolio) page for eFest which includes a copy of his presentation and the opportunity to join an eFest social group -

CherylB said...

I agree too much being talked at - it was hard at times with no breaks between full presentations. The food was great, it was a shame the posters were hidden and it was, as usual, great to network.....and get fresh, new, different perspectives.

Hazel Owen said...

I hope that the dust is settling after the conference - I very much enjoyed the remote sessions, and the way that they have opened up a
whole heap of alternative resources, and viewpoints.

I thought I would mention that I have uploaded the video of my remote presentation "Collaborating by Design" and the Elluminate question and answer session that followed. They can be
located and watched at There is also an associated collaborative Wiki: (username: efest2008;
password: efest2008) - please have a look, play with the tools, and leave comments and feedback. Many thanks.

UrsulaMac said...

An amazing amount of work goes into these conferences - a huge thank you to the organisers. I was impressed with the number of presentations and workshops available and the range of interest areas within the elearning spectrum.
The remote presentations were an excellent idea however the combination of "wordy" slides plus the talking over the top leaves the viewer in a dilemma over whether to listen OR read, and in the end I zoned out and dozed off a couple of times.
From a presentation point of view I thought Leigh Blackall had a great balance with images and minimal text to go with the excellent speaking. Having an artistic background myself gave me an insight into the subject matter and the visionary process he was showing us, and of course why can't we just do what he was suggesting? Because to an extent we are bound by the politics and red tape of those rules higher up, but if we persevere then maybe we can give others courage and make the lights come on for them too.
Lastly......I've put an interactive whiteboard on my Christmas list......

Many thanks.

Amy W said...

Certainly a few changes for eFest this year with a new venue and new formats with remote presenters. Perhaps its about finding that good balance between remote presenters and in-person presenters, certainly a great bonus to have access to presenters from far afield. A few more recommendations to remote presenters might help them get the right mix between content and interactivity. Some of the in-person presenters might benefit from more guidelines as well.

eFest has been evolving over time and always its about finding that balance between its roots and the need to appeal to a greater number of individuals. It was great seeing practitioners new to e-learning talking about their experience as well as the more technical presentations. Lets hope the mix can continue.

Great to see representatives from the Ministry of Education there. From their early involvement in the organisation of the conference, sponsorship of speakers and attendance and participation in the sessions, there is definitely a lot to be gained from further conversations and involvement.

It will be good to get feedback from the wider group, to see what might be improved for next year.

eLearning@EIT said...

You are invited to add your eFest pictures, from 2008 and previous years to the eFest Flickr Group.

About Me

eFest web site admin promoting eFest 2008 - Connected Learning, 8-10 September 2008 at SkyCity Auckland Convention Centre