New Conference Formats: Innovative, Interactive and Instructive

Reflecting and emphasising the theme of OEB 2009, this year’s conference will see the introduction of three exciting and fresh formats. The new elements are designed to enhance knowledge transfer between experts and participants, as well as to promote collaborative learning.


Each year, ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN offers an extensive programme of in-depth workshops and seminars, best practice showcases and demonstrations, discussions and debates, expert presentations and networking sessions based on the central themes of the conference. These allow conference participants to gain an insight into the latest developments in the field and meet like-minded individuals. Building on the success of these established elements of OEB, the three new stimulating formats will offer participants more interactive and hands-on experiences.


The first of these are Learnshops, which will combine expert presentations with small group discussions that focus on a single topic. Led by a small number of experts in the field, the emphasis will be on grappling with the issue in a small group, encouraging each participant to voice his/her own opinion, before presenting the main findings before the whole group. This kind of session aims to get to the heart of the topic, promote debate with experts and allow participants to develop deeper insights, reach conclusions and formulate recommendations on the relevant issue. One session will be run by Prof Paul Bacsich, the founding director of Matic Media Ltd (UK), and will concentrate on the process of creating benchmarking criteria – a particularly relevant area of discussion in the continually developing world of e-learning.


Gone are the days when conferences meant expert lectures only; 21st century conference-goers expect more and Lab sessions, computer-based workshops consisting of a practical introduction to new tools and applications, will therefore fittingly make their debut this year. Guided by an expert, 20 participants will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and to get to grips with the intricacies of selected new applications. Prof Michael E. Auer from the Carinthia Tech Institute in Austria will lead one session looking at Web 3.0 environments for building communities of Internet accessible laboratories. Web 3.0, or Semantic Web allows users to use more complex search criteria in order to find and then collaborate with, for example, online labs dedicated to very specifically defined areas of study.


The Learning Cafés are designed to create a continuous thread of dialogue between participants. In order to encourage the sharing of expertise on a series of topics, each small group will spend 15 minutes at a table with a moderator, who will record the main points of discussion. Each table will focus on a different, but inter-related, issue. As the groups rotate, the table moderator will give a brief summary of the points raised so far, thus allowing the new group to pick up where the previous group left off. Following several rounds of discussions, the key points from each table will be presented to the whole group for a final collective discussion. The goal of these sessions is to maximise group interaction and promote collaborative learning.


Three additional fun and exciting formats will centre around a corporate learning theme – ‘Creating the New Era of Corporate Learning’. The first, Pecha Kucha, is a unique, rapid-fire format in which each speaker shows 20 images, each for 20 seconds during a presentation that lasts for just 6 minutes and 40 seconds, allowing the audience to experience an exhilarating variety of ideas and projects. The second is the ‘unconference’ format, a facilitated, participant-driven event that takes a more informal approach, and last but not least an expert-led round table will be offered.


With the addition of these new ideas, OEB 2009 is shaping up to be an excellent arena for information exchange and learning for global e-learning experts and practitioners, and promises to be an ideal blend of expert input and participant involvement.


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