Reported by Richard Larson
The 7th International MIT LINC Conference was held at MIT on May 22-25, 2016. LINC=Learning International Networks Consortium. Approximately 250 people from 30 countries attended and participated in the conference. This was the first LINC conference managed by MIT’s Office of Digital Learning (ODL), Professor Sanjay Sarma, Director. Prior LINC conferences had been managed by groups of volunteers, including BLOSSOMS’s Prof. Richard Larson (LINC founder) and Elizabeth Murray, who has volunteered as Editor for the Proceedings of each of the six previous LINC conferences.
LINC gave rise to MIT BLOSSOMS, and we have always considered BLOSSOMS as a LINC project. So it is natural that BLOSSOMS played a significant role in LINC2016. It started with a half-day BLOSSOMS workshop on Sunday May 22, and on Tuesday during the conference, Dick Larson led a panel that focused on BLOSSOMS and related e-learning initiatives. About 10 educational professionals from almost as many different countries were very active participants. The workshop, presented by Dick Larson and Elizabeth Murray, started with the history of and motivation for BLOSSOMS, and then moved to BLOSSOMS pedagogy, illustrative examples of lessons and the six steps required to design and create a BLOSSOMS interactive video lesson.
As a result of the workshop, educational leaders from four countries (on three different continents) are in discussions with BLOSSOMS about becoming new BLOSSOMS country partners. We see this as a very exciting outcome of the workshop.
On Tuesday during the LINC2016 conference, Dick Larson led a panel that focused on BLOSSOMS and related e-learning initiatives. The panel, “Technology-Enabled Education: Around the World in 80 Minutes!,” started with Dr. Larson introducing the audience to BLOSSOMS and showing short video examples from three BLOSSOMS partner countries: Pakistan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. The panelists included speakers from each of these three countries: Dr. Naveed A. Malik, founding Rector, Virtual University of Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan; Dr. Zaleha Abdullah, Deputy Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, UTM Lead, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia; and Mrs. Hanan A. Al-Arfaj, Technology Supervisor, General Education Administration, Eastern Province, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Each of these speakers spoke of her/his experiences in developing BLOSSOMS lessons and training teachers in BLOSSOMS pedagogy in each of their respective countries. Also on the panel were Dr. Bakary Diallo, Rector, African Virtual University (AVU), Nairobi, Kenya and Dr. Cliff Missen, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Director of the WiderNet Project, USA. Dr. Diallo, who leads Africa’s largest virtual university, described progress made since the last LINC conference in 2013 and his hope to include BLOSSOMS in his future AVU work of training African STEM teachers. Dr. Missen creates and distributes “Internet in a box” for parts of the world where Internet connections are poor or non-existent. He described this wonderful work, including the porting of BLOSSOMS content onto his “Internet in a box”.
All of these plenary panel presentations were videotaped, and will be available on the Internet for public viewing shortly. We will announce the URL’s for these videos on the BLOSSOMS web site as soon as they become available.