EDEN Train from Zagreb to Barcelona – Get on Board!- Invited Guest Post by Sandra Kucina

June 3, 2015 by Antonio Moreira Teixeira   Comments (0)

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We're just one week away from the #EDEN15. The most important European yearly event for the global open, distance and eLearning research and professional community will start in only a few days in Barcelona. As always, the EDEN summer conference promises to be an exciting meeting place. It will be a unique opportunity to catch up with the most inspiring ideas, innovative developments and best practices. But, also a most valuable chance to find great networking opportunities, discuss the hottest topics and honor the most remarkable achievements in our field. However, it will once again be a magical moment, with its particular nice, friendly and funny atmosphere.

The theme of the #EDEN15 - the transformation of the learning scenarios - is particularly relevant and timely. In fact, this year's conference will be dedicated to the challenge of change in the Education sector driven by the expansion of open and technology-enhanced learning. The conference programme covers all of the complex dimensions of this phenomena. Such a rich and important discussion will be held in what I believe to be a perfect time and place. The #EDEN15 conference will take place in Barcelona and will be co-hosted by the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), the world's first online university, as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations. So, I hope you can join us next week in the marvelous city of Gaudi to celebrate the future of education!

One of the traditional values of the EDEN conference experience is its diversity and richness. Each event is indeed unique and allows for very diverse personal recollections. As we prepare for the #EDEN15 and build our expectations for the event, this is a good time to revisit our EDEN conferences memories. To help us on this exercise, I've invited four EDEN Fellows to share with us their personal experiences of EDEN past events and expectations for the future.

In today's guest post I've asked my colleague and good friend Sandra Kucina Softic to share with us her personal impressions of the EDEN experience. You can find more details of Sandra's work and interests here. Sandra has a most valuable personal experience as she played a key role in the organization of the successful #EDEN14 last year in Zagreb. The metaphor she uses to lead us through her memories is quite poetic and I hope you'll enjoy reading Sandra's wonderful contribution.


António
 



My first encounter with the EDEN was in 2008. We just established the E-learning Centre at the University Computing Centre SRCE and started with the systematic implementation of e-learning at the University of Zagreb and I wanted to hear other people’s experience to see if we are heading in the right direction. I came to Lisbon to participate at the EDEN annual conference and I immediately became aware that I’m in right place. I especially remember a session on implementation of online learning at the Universidade Aberta and their experience in training teachers for a new way of teaching. One of the speakers was Antonio Teixeira, Pro-Rector at the Universidade Aberta at the time. Their experience gave me the assurance to continue with my work.


http://edenconference08.blogspot.com


On my back home I knew this was a community I wanted to collaborate and connect with, as well as contribute to. That is why I got on the EDEN train and in the next couple of years visited many new stations: Valencia, Dublin,  Oslo, Zagreb and now Barcelona.


http://suitelife.com/2014/08/05/what-to-do-in-sitges-day-trip-from-barcelona


And every stop (station) brought new excitements, new ideas and experience as well as new friends. It also brought personal satisfaction to be among colleagues who speak the same language, who understand and want to discuss problems and ideas endlessly. Every EDEN conference brought the sense of belongingness, to be “the one of”, and it helped me boost my self-confidence.


I had the opportunity and the great honour to be the local host of the EDEN annual conference in Zagreb. I was really happy that that EDEN chose Zagreb as one of its stops as it provided an opportunity for the academic community, as well as other people living and working in Croatia who are interested in hearing new information in the field of online and distance education, to meet colleagues and make new contacts, but to present Croatia’s achievements as well.


Welcome Reception at the 2014 EDEN Conference in Zagreb


So, why get aboard the EDEN train to Barcelona? Because the power of social contact will never disappear. Nothing will replace face-to-face conversation in a pleasant atmosphere, especially in informal settings such as coffee breaks or well-known EDEN conference dinner, book&wine party, the Walk&Talk tours or something completely new. Participants of the EDEN conference are provided with a possibility to present their own research and receive peer feedback, to exchange a variety of experiences, establish personal relationships and lay a foundation for future collaborations. I remember that, although there were 300 of us in Zagreb, I had a feeling I knew everyone and that all of us worked together to ensure positive and creative atmosphere.


Under the leadership of the new EDEN president, Antonio Teixeira, and the commitment of the EDEN Secretariat, EDEN organisation took a new direction, strengthening its position in the world, focusing more on research and innovation as well as opening to a wider community. This lit a new sparkle (of motivation) in each and every one of us to be more active and the valuable members of this community.


I am certain that the conference in Barcelona will meet all the participants’ expectations and provide a creative and friendly atmosphere. And from what I have read in the conference announcements, it will be fun as well. I am looking forward to the conference, to meeting my friends again, to making new ones and having that wonderful feeling again - that we are one big family!

 



Sandra Kucina Softic
is the Assistant Director for Education and User Support at the University Computing Centre University of Zagreb. She is working on promotion and implementation of e-learning at the University of Zagreb, monitoring and coordination of its implementation and providing support and advice to institutions, teachers and students in implementation of new technologies in learning and teaching process. Her professional interests are in e-learning policies, educational technology and quality of education.