Some bloggers post word-by-word commentaries of conferences they are attending. Here we are a little bit slower.

On Tuesday July 6th, my colleague Mins McCauley and I attended a session which included a paper by Jim Woulfe, who works for one of NextEd’s clients, “the Australian Centre for Languages” acl. (It turns out that Jim and I share a bit of background in Systemic Linguistics, I became suspicious when he referred to some writing done by a young relative as a ‘text’).

Jim’s paper gives a sample of some of the real-world issues in using an off-the-shelf Learning Management System (A NextEd customised version of Blackboard 4) for distributed delivery, and discusses the relationship between an educational institution and a technology supplier.

At Ausweb the idea is that you read the papers before attending the sessions, the presentations are short, and there is plenty of time for discussion at the end with all the presenters. Jim’s short presentation involved a relationship metaphor — the pick-up, moving in together, discovering that NextEd is a slob, the visit to the marriage guidance counsellor, and so on (and no, Jim did not say all that, that’s my little joke).

We’re not quite up to the happy ending, but there is some hope for the relationship, in the form of NextEd’s forthcoming “Distributed Learning System”, an LMS for the kind of intensive remote delivery that is a problem for centralised monolithic systems like Blackboard, and that brings the action much closer to the learners than a typical web system.


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