Wrapping, whether up or not, is a strong suit of few, and those people are rightly prized for their ability to do it. With not a little internal overcoming of inertia, I’ve managed to get this wrap-up post on ELI 2012 written.
On the third and final day of ELI, I managed to get my barbecue-stuffed self to three sessions, only two of which were worth the effort. The first one of the day was S. Craig Watkins from Texas speaking on “Beyond the Digital Divide: Reimagining Learning in a World of Social and Technological Change”. While the presentation had flaws, it was ultimately an engrossing examination of a new sense of the notion of a digital divide. Where a decade ago the term was used to discuss issues of access, primarily along economic lines, Watkins reframed the argument to look at issues of participation and mastery. Notably, a slide in his presentation referred to “exposure to” media rather than “use of” or “interaction with”, both of which would imply more agency on the part of the covered study participants. I do wish he had included data on racial/ethnic groups other than white, African-American, and Latino in the presentation. This would have helped me with my puzzlement at what he thought about the implied validity of equating race/ethnicity with one’s status in this new digital divide. Further, it would have helped me understand whether his implicit call to action is valid for other races/ethnicities.
Session #2 for the day was another chance to see Gardner Campbell in action, this time in talking with a team from Virginia Tech on “Living, Learning, Cyberspace: A Program-Wide Blogging Initiative for Virginia Tech’s Honors Residential College”. In fact, one of the key strengths and weaknesses of the session was that the team included — gasp — a student! A participant in the initiative! An object become a subject! The down side was that the student was a self-described introvert and struggled having the majority of the session to talk about her life and work as it connected to Virginia Tech’s initiative. The up side was that it was a rare opportunity to see a fledgling learn and to watch communities of practices replicating themselves before our eyes. (On that note, it was particularly interesting to try to peer into the layers and discern the multiple communities in which she was experimenting with peripheral participation — scholars, staff, instructional technologists, practicing engineers, among others.) As Lave and Wenger noted in their original work, “legitimate peripherality can be at the articulation of related communities,” and a conference such as ELI is a clear example of an that interstitial space.
Of the third session, the less I say the more charitable I will be. To be brief, I’ll just say that Catherine Casserly‘s talk on “Sharing and Protecting Ideas and Knowledge in the 21st Century” misjudged her audience substantially. Put another way, if her introduction to Creative Commons and their licensing offerings, as well as OERs, was new to the majority of the people there, I don’t think it’s a conference I’ll benefit from attending any further.
All in all, though, I enjoyed attending the conference and feel like I got something out of it. I got a renewed appreciation of blogging, I got to see Gardner Campbell in vivo, and I got to learn about what colleagues are doing at peer institutions.
(There’s an archive of the tweets at The Archivist, in which I am ambivalently proud of featuring prominently. The links above and in previous posts to the sessions will take you to pages containing video if there is any.)