Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ode on a Grecian Conference

Upon the shore of the Aegean Sea, amidst the splendor of ancient Rhodes, the CSCL community convened in June to mix futuristic stabs at truth with classic vistas of natural beauty. Preceded by the first daylong retreat of ISLS, two-and-a-half days of pre-conference events brought together groups of researchers in 16 workshops, tutorials and seminars, including a doctoral consortium and an early-career workshop. The “Intro to CSCL” tutorial engaged over 30 newcomers to CSCL in a collaborative learning dialog with 18 members of the ijCSCL Editorial Board.

The three full days of the main conference included the whole variety of events typical of CSCL conferences: long and short papers, demos, interactive posters, panels, symposia, and invited keynote talks. The conference concluded with a panel on the beginnings of CSCL 20 years ago in nearby Italy—highlighting both the growth of the field and the continuity of concerns. With perfect weather, an ocean beach, swimming pools and an open bar, the conference was pervaded by a particularly friendly and informal atmosphere. Scaffolded by good Greek food and drink, meals were always stimulating encounters, whether at the social events in the old towns of Rhodes and Lindos or in the hotel restaurants. Ideas about collaboration, learning and research flowed like wine from an ancient urn.

The interdisciplinary CSCL community has always valued a diversity of theories, methods, goals, disciplines, and approaches. Whether because of the historical perspective of Greece, the intensity of the Mediterranean sun, or the growing maturity of the field, people were able to make pointed statements in favor of preferred perspectives—without denigrating the value of alternative opinions. The tension of diverse perspectives seemed to animate the community more than ever, stimulating new insights.

If you missed this conference, make plans for ICLS 2010 in Chicago (June 28-July 2; paper deadline October 30) and CSCL 2011 in Hong Kong.

The ijCSCL Board met during the conference to review the journal’s progress. To date, the journal has published 75 articles by 167 authors from 21 countries. Through subscriptions to ISLS members and distribution by Springer, ijCSCL is now available to more than 7,500 universities, research libraries, corporate and government institutions—i.e., about 15 million users worldwide. Electronic copies of all articles can be downloaded from http://www.springer.com/journal/11412 and free pre-print versions from http://ijCSCL.org/?go=contents. The number of downloads from each of these sites has more than doubled each year that ijCSCL has existed—now more than a thousand copies of articles are downloaded each month from each site.