Much More Than A Conference

October 26, 2015 by Antonio Moreira Teixeira   Comments (0)

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As we immerse into the Autumn season, preparations speed up for next year's EDEN conferences and other events. This is therefore the best time to look back at this year's achievements and project what the future should be like. The year of 2015 has marked an exciting time for our Association as we've organised a higher number of events than ever before and all of them were quite successful and had important impact in the academic and professional community. However, the absolute highlight was EDEN15, the 2015 Annual Conference held in Barcelona.


The castellers welcomed delegates to Barcelona and EDEN15

As you know, EDEN is much more than just an Association. It is the largest European network in the field of open, distance and eLearning, embracing both institutional and individual actors, notably the researchers and practitioners. Similarly to this wide scope and comprehensive representation, the EDEN conferences are also much more than just large conferences. They represent the pulsation and social impact of a large and consolidated community. One with a great history and legacy, but also an even more exciting future.

EDEN15 represented this exact spirit at its best, the same time demonstrating a renewed vitality of the EDEN organisation (see the video, the photos and enjoy Maria Calvet's wonderful visual representations below). Brilliantly co-hosted by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya - UOC, the open university of Catalonia, the conference also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first online university in the world. EDEN is very proud indeed to have been chosen by UOC to be associated in such a significant occasion (see Rector Josep Planell's message).

Visual interpretations of the EDEN15 keynote speeches by Maria Calvet

The tone of the conference was set by Xavier Prats-Monné, DG Education and Culture (see slides). Between EDEN and Earth, how can open education change the way we learn? The richness of the subsequent talks and discussions is demonstrated by the high number, quality and impact of the contributions (see the detailed programme and the book of abstracts). In fact, Barcelona inspires bold creativity and innovation. Under the inspiration of the castellers all EDEN15 speakers rose to the occasion (see slides, videos and interviews with the keynotes). The dynamics of the conference was breathtaking as shown in the social media activity (see resources and report). In addtion to the close to 400 delegates attending the conference, over 220 other experts and practitioners from all over the world followed the plenary sessions online, via a live video stream. The conference hashtag #EDEN15 generated over 1400 tweets on the first day of the conference alone, which also saw the official EDEN Twitter account exceeding the 1000 followers mark. This was due to the innovative features in the programme, but also the excellence of the papers, workshops and posters (see the winners of the Best Paper Award, Best Practice Initiative Award, Poster Prize and Young Scholar Award).

Hanne Andersen and Elsebeth Sorensen receiving the Best Research Paper Award


Another relevant indicator of the impact of the conference was the success of the six linked events. Amongst them, I would like to point out in particular the International Editors' Workshop In Educational Technology Journals, which was the first summit of electronic journals on ICT enhanced learning (see the video of the roundtable). This meeting was a milestone in our field and initiated a new important movement. A special mention should also be given to the Home project masterclass on "How Europe seizes the opportunities offered by MOOCs" and the 2015 ePortfolio & Identity Conference (ePIC).

An important part of EDEN's work relates to the acknowledgement of the contribution to the development of the field and our organisation. This year, we have appointed a new group of EDEN Senior Fellows and Fellows. You can see them in the picture below and learn more about their achievements in the EDEN Fellows webpage.



EDEN Senior Fellows Terry Anderson, Alan Bruce and Albert Sangrà at the El Born Cultural Centre

As usual the EDEN Annual General Meeting took place in the framework of the annual conference. A major part of the meeting was dedicated to the explanation and discussion of the new strategy being implemented by the association. The assembly was very supportive to the ideas shared and agreed with the course being followed. In addition, the assembly appreciated the outstanding contribution of three of our directors who completed their terms this year, and EDEN is extremelly grateful for the active and engaged support of Alan Bruce, Ene Koitla and Grainne Conole in their roles as Executive Committee members.

The reputation of our association is also demonstrated by its capacity to attract the best colleagues to serve. The 2015 AGM also included the election for three seats in the Executive Committee. The quality and number of the running members attest our association's reputation. The new elected members were Belinda Tynan, from the Open University (confirmed after a first period), Diana Andone and Ebba Ossiannilsson (see their profiles here)

EDEN15 set new standards. But, above all, it conveyed an important message. Following up on the results of the EDENRW8 in Oxford (see Tony Bates' report), a clear focus has been awarded to the expansion of emerging learning scenarios, identifying an ongoing shift towards greater attention to the importance of context in the learning process (as suggested by Cristobal Cobo in Oxford). In the ongoing preparations of EDEN16 in Budapest, our Association's 25th anniversary conference, we are taking good note of these conclusions. Please stay tuned!


Steve Wheeler interviewing the keynotes (here with Jim Groom)