The outcome of the Media & Learning 2011 Conference
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eLearning Europa sent two representatives at the Media & Learning 2011 event that took place last November 24 – 25 (2011) in Brussels.
The results of the two days meetings in the Flemish Ministry of Education are concisely presented by Sally Reynolds from ATiT Audiovisual Technologies, Informatics and Telecommunications, organiser of the Media & Learning Conference and sponsor of the MEDEA Media in Education Awards 2011.
eLearning Europa: What were the targets of the Media & Learning 2011 conference? Were they met?
Sally Reynolds: In terms of numbers, we were keen to have somewhere between 250 and 300 people, 300 is about the maximum for the Flemish Ministry's facilities so our final number of 298 was really on target. But more importantly, we were keen to bring together practitioners engaged in educational media production and usage from different countries and to connect them with one another as well as with representatives from ministries, broadcast organisations, publishers, researchers and others interested in the possible links between media and learning, and in this too we believe we have been successful.
eLearning Europa: How do you evaluate the level of participation in the M&L 2011 event? What was the main target group?
Sally Reynolds: We are delighted with the level of participation, there was an excellent atmosphere of participation and collaboration and we see this reflected in the conference evaluation. People were really engaged and quite a few have described the conference as a whole to be highly motivational which is of course very encouraging. Our main target group was as previously described, and the fact that we had such a wide geographical spread of participation is very satisfying.
eLearning Europa: You have used various social networking tools to promote the M&L 2011 conference. How did they help?
Sally Reynolds: We have been busy online before the conference and in just 6 months, our Facebook and LinkedIn groups have grown really well. We also have a dedicated online conference community, which many people use to find out who will be at the conference and to make contact beforehand. We are determined with this conference to ensure there is excellent networking during the conference itself, which is why we make available the pigeon service which almost 80% of participants signed up to beforehand. This enabled any participant with a pigeon code to contact any other participant with a pigeon code using their own mobile phone without have to know one another's mobile number. We have had a lot of positive feedback about this service, which made a difference for many participants. Going to a conference is all about making new contacts and regardless of the size of the conference, we want to make sure people can network and communicate with one another successfully in a friendly and relaxed environment.
eLearning Europa: How do you evaluate the submissions in the MEDEA Awards?
Sally Reynolds: We are very pleased with the level of participation in the MEDEA Awards this year, with 115 entries from 28 countries. These entries were judged online by our judging panel of 75 education and media experts from 15 countries who evaluated the MEDEA entries in late September and early October. This led to a list of 9 finalists and 13 Highly Commended entries. These 9 Finalists were invited to Brussels for the conference and took part in the MEDEA Awards ceremony last Thursday evening which went very well - we even had a live competition for the audience favourite which was very exciting.
It is interesting to see that educational games won in both the professionally produced and user-generated categories this year, which will certainly influence our conference programme design for 2012
eLearning Europa: Can you share with us some inside stories from the event? What was the biggest challenge?
Sally Reynolds: Conference organisation with almost 300 participants from so many countries is always a bit challenging, but we have a great team and super supporting organisations and friends, which makes the difference. Keeping the programme on schedule when so many people wanted to extend discussions, network with new people they had met and show one another excellent examples of media-supported learning did mean there were some fraught moments - but we managed to stay generally on time, which was a help!