fall 2013

Learning and Gaming Together in the Classroom:
The Eighth Chais Conference

"When it comes to technology, most people overestimate it in the short term and underestimate it in the long term."

Sir Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction author, inventor and futurist, and most famous for his science fiction novel,
2001: A Space Odyssey.

That statement, according to Prof. Sara Guri Rosenblit, Dean of Development and Learning Technologies at the Open University, is an accurate reflection of today's situation vis a vis innovative technologies in educational frameworks. "Technology brings to light many different aspects that are often contradictory.Technology is more prevalent in classrooms, yet the role of the teacher has not abated. Technology has increased competition among institutions, yet there is more cooperation.Technology encourages globalization, but really it acts local. Technology enables an increase in the number of students, yet also enables individualization. Using technology in pedagogy is still very limited, and it is our goal at this time to find the golden path."

Can we find the golden path? This was a subject underlying the 8th Chais Conference for Innovation in Learning Technologies, an intensive two-day conference under the auspices of the Open University of Israel.

For the eighth successive year, OUI opened its doors to educators, researchers, lecturers and field workers interested in exploring the prevalence and effectiveness of innovative technology in education -- in both formal and informal frameworks, from elementary schools through institutions of higher learning.

Some 650 participants filled three of the University's lecture halls from early in the morning to the closing lectures. According to Dr. Yoram M. Kalman, co-coordinator of the Chais Conference and faculty member in the Open University's Department of Management and Economics, "This year's Conference is the largest ever, with 10- 15% more participants, among them 30% are teachers, 25% researchers,15% lecturers and 10% field workers. Forty institutions submitted research papers on a greater variety of subjects than ever before".

"All in all, this year's conference illustrates that innovative technology has become a key subject in education, and the more prevalent it becomes, the more we have to research it and understand it. Our hope is also that this kind of conference can encourage more research studies on the macro and mega level, as opposed to the micro level which has become all too abundant."

Participants, representing dozens of Israel's educational institutions, were able to choose from a multiplicity of lectures and workshops. Additionally, the Open University enabled students to schedule one-on-one meetings with the visiting keynote speakers: Prof. Douglas Clark of Vanderbilt University and Prof. Shaaron Ainsworth of Nottingham University.

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