Last year I was asked to do a keynote talk for the FollowtheSun conference that had been founded three years ago by Prof. Gilly Salmon, then at the University of Leicester in the UK. The idea was to be a part of an online conference that mirrored a typical academic/professional conference with keynotes, trade show, demos, poster sessions etc. My presentation went OK, but I wasn’t sitting up and participating for 48 hours!
I’ve been interested in online conference for many years (insert plug for 2011 book by Lynne Anderson and myself Online Conferences: Professional Development for a Networked Era), but the idea of 48 hours, continuous seemed a bit much, even for a conference junky like myself.
However this year, George Siemens and I were asked to gather a team and host the North American section of the conference from Athabasca University. As many of you know, George is not very good at saying ‘no’ and I’m not much better, so together with colleagues Marti Cleveland-Innes and Bob Heller and other staff at Athabasca, we have organized two 8 hours sessions of the conference. We managed to persuade the other sponsoring teams (from University of Leicester, UK and the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, to make this an open conference, thus allowing free registration for all. Ironically the largest expense during the first two Followthe Sun conferences was the administrative cost of collecting the registration fees from delegates!
Thus, on March 28 and March 29 between 9:00 and 5:00 PM Mountain time (check out other times from other continents here or local times here), we have lined up two full days of really top quality speakers, demonstrations and expert panels. You can check out the schedule and most importantly Register at tinyurl.com/followthesun
If you haven’t had enough “conference’ from the North American sessions, well, you can begin 16 hours earlier from Australia and the UK, and just keep right on conferencing for 48 hours straight!! The sessions will be delivered via Blackboard Collaborate (the old Elluminate platform) and hosted by some well known figures in the elearning world, including George Siemens, Grainne Canole, Gilly Salmon, myself and others.
The theme of this year’s conference is Knowledge Futures, and we have tried to keep away from having keynotes be the usual ed tech evangelists. Rather we have selected disciplinary experts who will present, and our discussants will further elaborate, the ways in which knowledge, and thus teaching and learning, is changing across multiple disciplines.
Please check out the full schedule to make sure you hear a keynote in a discipline with which you are interested. These keynotes come from Psychology, Law, Communicatiuons, Ethnomusicology, English Language, Nursing and Midwifery, Sports Psychology, International Relations, Engineering, Computer Science and GeoScience.
I was really pleased to be able to have my friend Erran Cramel from American University in Washington volunteer to windup the conference by reflecting on this type of global event in light of his new book” I’m Working While You’re Sleeping, which as the title suggests, focuses on global business and organizations that “never sleep”.
Please check out the full program and more importantly – REGISTER at tinyurl.com/followthesun