2008-06-02

Conference fun (NKFUST)

It was time again for a conference, this time the "2008 Conference on Technology Enhanced Foreign Language Instruction". It got an excellent kick-off with a MS Word-created HTML page announcing the conference at the wrong place, but then things stabilised.


For me personally there were two very interesting acts, one being a keynote speech, the other a presentation. The interesting keynote was done by Dr. Hans Werner Hess from Hongkong. Surrounded by all the forced optimism regarding e-learning and all, he dared to criticise that concept. He has a very interesting similar paper on-line.

Why would I find such criticism interesting? Because I have to say that I share his views. Yes, I consider myself a "geek", and there even was a time when I would have called myself a "hacker" ("hacker", not "cracker", mind you that), something I'm missing a bit now. 

Exactly because I understand these devices I am dealing with, I know that they are not the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything. I am not blinded by the light, as so many seem to be. Let them get used to the light (may take a year or two), and they too may notice that gadgets can be really nice and shiny, but that they are just that: gadgets. They can help, but they will not replace you.

The interesting presentation was by Dr. Mark Lim (oh, transcription...), who indeed hacked two bash scripts to automatically retrieve news from the NHK website and strip them off text and video. Just bad the NKFUST network didn't like his Knoppix live CD.

And then there were two things I couldn't really understand: One was a product presentation, done by a publishing house. It was indeed a nice gadget that they introduced, but still... I thought this was a scientific conference, not Computex. I would have expected such products being demoed outside in the foyer.

And the other... May I just say: I know how to use iTunes, thank you very much! Maybe I should write a paper on how to use AdiumX and call it "Language skill improvement through interaction between students and teachers by synchronous internet communication using AdiumX". Then in my presentation I will spend 30 minutes going through the AdiumX manual...

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