THE BIGGEST seismic event noticeable at EdTech 2006 is the ubiquity of broadband. It's throughout all the rooms in the Clarion, in the air of the conference centre and on phones as 3G. If you would have told participants at EdTech 2004 this would be possible in two years' time--and available in a venue outside of Dublin--they would have laughed in their pints. But it's here, and it works. As well as might be expected.
You compete with Wi-Fi wherever you find it. During the conference centre sessions, Brian Mulligan is piggybacking on the Clarion Wi-Fi network to send presenter audio live to Macromedia Breeze. He's challenging the system. Actually, he's asking everyone checking mail, using IM, and browsing the internet to hold their fire until the Q&A sessions between main speakers. Since the hotel gives away its bandwidth, who can complain? I wish it was giving away a two-megabit connection, not the measly pipe most residences get to use. The free broadband connectivity reduces Flickr to dial-up behaviours I have never seen before.
Mulligan and the ILTA crew always run top-notch events. I'm astounded to see fewer than 200 people every time I attend because the material covered helps everyone to teach better and to teach multiples outside of their physical classrooms. The same point has surfaced several times in conversations and during pleary sessions. EdTech audiences often contain the converted. Those hearing about best practise in blended learning, mobile learning, e-learning pedagogy, and sources of remediated content often are champions in those things already. Those who maintain the status quo and meet to discuss working hours, pension plans, and expense allowances wouldn't see any way of increasing their wage packets or decreasing their workloads by attending an EdTech conference.
I'm glad I'm here to hear.
Picture shot of Barry McIntyre and Brian Mulligan during the opening session. Photos emerging about EdTech Ireland on Flickr. EdTech 2006 is a Moodle course as well as a paper-based, PowerPoint-friendly event.