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July 11, 2007

LAMS European Conference

As previously reported, I attended the 2007 LAMS European Conference in London last week.  (The Eduserv Foundation was one of the conference sponsors).

I was a little disappointed with the turnout, which for something billed as a European conference struck me as a bit on the low side.  I guess that holding the conference in Greenwich, a place surprisingly difficult to get to for a London location, might have had something to do with it?

Having said that, it was quite enjoyable.  Diana Laurillard got the day off to a good start by reminding us that being able to capture, replicate and build on examples of good pedagogic practice is an essential part of moving towards excellence in teaching and learning.  I think one can argue about whether the Learning Design specification and tools like LAMS are an essential part of that process - my personal view is that they probably will be at some point in the future but that we are not quite there yet - but I don't think that many people would disagree with the underlying point - that sharing good pedagogy is a fundamentally good thing [tm].

Most of the rest of the day was spent in parallel sessions - one of the problems with the relatively low turnout being that some of these didn't have many attendees.  I gave my talk on the potential integration of LAMS with Second Life - the more I think about this the more I tend to conclude that the right way to do this is to piggyback on the existing, though separate, bits of work to integrate LAMS and Moodle and Moodle and Second Life (SLoodle) (for which we are providing some funding).

James Dalziel gave the closing keynote - providing summary of where LAMS has got to and where it is going in the future.  He used the development of music notation as a nice analogy for the need for a representation framework for learning design.  He noted the fact that we can still play pieces of music written by composers hundreds of years ago (well, some of us can! :-) ) because of the ability to write down and share what the composer intended.  But also that the written score doesn't capture absolutely everything about the piece - that music has to be interpreted by the performer(s).  It's a nice analogy I think - though I'm hopeful that reaching agreement on a representation framework for learning design won't take quite as long as it did for music!

As an aside, we are also currently funding the NEUMES project at the University of Oxford - a project that is developing an XML encoding standard for Western medieval and Byzantine chant manuscripts and an associated digital library.

Neumes are the basic elements of Western and Eastern systems of musical notation prior to the invention of five-line notation. The earliest neumes were inflective marks which indicated the general shape but not necessarily the exact notes or rhythms to be sung. [Wikipedia]

Hey, we're nothing if not eclectic at the Foundation! :-)

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