5-7 Oct 09. Barbican London
Report by Simon Finch & Philip Belcher, Northern Grid
The Handheld Learning Conference was unlike any other conference I have attended in recent years. For those who bought tickets early, they received a ‘free’ Ipod Touch. The Touch is a web enabled handheld device, is easy to use and enables users to communicate with the wider world, wherever there is a wifi signal. The conference venue was well served by wifi with many delegates commenting on its quality and indicating in some cases that it was the best internet connectivity they had experienced at any conference.
And so, with high quality internet access, anytime and anywhere, over a thousand delegates were able to communicate with each other, colleagues and followers on Twitter - in addition to updating their blogs in real time. This virtual conference back channel proved to be as useful, engaging and informative as the conference taking place all around us.
The programme included so many strands and sessions that there were several mini conferences taking place simultaneously. Monday (the first day and open to the public) was a blend of exhibition by commercial providers, fringe sessions and presentations by young learners. The feedback from delegates was very positive, particularly from those who had attended one or more of the 14 best practice sessions. The interesting aspect of delegates being online throughout the conference was the ability to follow the events and information from those sessions running concurrently with the sessions attended in person.