….that I have ever been to!
This conference is huge – over 1000 people here – and energy levels are already high. The whole experience is carefully crafted and branded, scheduled, teamed, hashtagged and mobile app’ed.
The opening keynote is from the CEO – in a suit but no tie, massive screens amplifying his image through the huge ballroom here at the San Diego Hilton, talking about the company’s record on accessible learning, the imperative to take learning out of the classroom and into the world.
The enthusiasm is sort of infectious but the upbeat, unrelentingly positive tone is also a little embarrassing to British ears. Our party hoorahs with some irony and reluctantly gets on its feet when bid - but maybe we'll get over our reserve by the end of the three days.
Here in San Diego I can’t get over the sensation that I am an extra in an offbeat american comedy: it may be the jetlag but the sense of unreality was not helped by having arrived at the tail end of ComicCon and finding ourselves surrounded by Batmen and Wonderwomen, children in Star Wars and Dr Who themed costumes and thousands of Big Bang Theory types clutching their oversize goody bags.
There is so much to do here at the conference – in terms of sessions, poster exhibitions, product displays – and there is a strong air of competitiveness. The VP of Marketing is just explaining how we can win points for our teams or win “swag” for ourselves by entering various draws and a contest for the best e-portfolio.
Currently we are listening to and watching Sal Khan of the Khan Academy: giving the story of how his enterprise started in 2004 – tutoring his niece in maths via speaker phone and early internet tools. Really interesting and funny - he developed software to generate maths problems to support a growing number of cousins wanting tuition but finding it strenuous, was advised to put explanatory videos on You Tube. The cousins preferred him on You Tube to personal tutorials :)
Great to hear an account of modest ambitions and a real desire to support learning. Setting the theme for the conference?