The final keynote for the ALT conference was given yesterday by David Cavallo, from the One Laptop Per Child project.
In introduction and the keynote itself reference was made to an exerpt from Choruses From ‘The Rock’ by T. S. Elliot (1934). The except was taken from the opening stanza, which I quote more fully here, with the citations (as I remember them) coloured in red (lines 6-9 and 14-16):
The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
O perpetual revolution of configured stars,
O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of ideas and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of word, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
Where is the Life was have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Brings us farther from GOD and nearer to the Dust.
from T.S. Eliot, The Complete Poems and Plays. Faber and Faber: London. 1987.
Cavallo seemed deeply concerned with the rediscovery of authentic learning, in the face of information – and this passage has been used in similar ways elsewhere. There’s clearly a lot more going on, but before I get tangled in an A-level style entry on the use of pagan astrological imagery and the deployment of capitalisation in Choral spoken verse, I’m going to quit whilst (still?) ahead! I’m chalking up The Wasteland as further reading…
I’m now back in the UK, and, following on from the Lancaster Disability Studies Conference, I’m briefly back at my desk (Association for Learning Technology Conference begins in Leeds tomorrow!). As such, expect some retrospective blogging. That is, blogging events into past dates to keep things feeling sequential.
All going well, I’m also expecting to act as a rapporteur for TechDis at the ALT-C, so reflections on this week’s conference should be more timely!
The Association for Learning Technology has just released its draft timetable for speakers for this year’s conference at http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc2008/timetable.html. My paper has been listed in a 4 paper session early on Wednesday 10th September, covered by the Access or Exclusion theme, subtitled Disabilities / Community Access. This is one of ten (yes, ten!) parallel sessions.
Short papers to be presented in this session:
- Nothing about me, without me: The use of participatory research methods to give voice to disabled learners experiences of e-learning.
- Hear my voice: Disabled E-Learners Narratives of Exclusion and Inclusion
- Beyond access: social experiences of disability online, in and around higher education.
- Values and identity in community IT centres
A second notable session cited under Access or Exclusion: Flexibility and Access / Disabilities runs from 4pm on the same afternoon, featuring two papers:
- Flexibility and Access – implications of blended learning for higher education
- How the Web Continues to Fail People with Disabilities
These look like interesting agendas, with some overlaps – but I’ll also be interested to see how these themes are conceptualised in the wider terms of the conference. Will this be seen as a mainstream user experience consideration for education? Or a minority interest? In a conference considering the potential and actual divisive nature of ICTs, I’m hoping for the former.