About the Conference
What was this conference about?
e/merge 2004 - Blended Collaborative Learning in Southern Africa was the first virtual conference on educational technology in the SADC region. e/merge 2004 took place online from 28 June to 10 July 2004, and included associated face to face events in a number of cities.
Our 2004 conference focussed on collaborative learning involving a blend of online and face to face interaction in our regional context of unequal access to technology.
The conference was designed to share good practice and knowledge about educational technology innovation within the tertiary and secondary education sectors in the region, as well as to strengthen communities of researchers and practitioners.
Who was the conference for?
The conference was targetted at delegates in SADC countries from universities, technikons, schools, Departments of Education, NGOs and other education practitioners, and also included delegates from outside SADC.
Who organised the conference?
e/merge 2004 was organised by the Multimedia Education Group (MEG) at UCT, in partnership with the Tertiary Education Network (TENET) Development of IT Capacity in Higher Education (DITCHE) Programme. The conference was funded by TENET and MEG. e/merge 2004 was supported by the Southern African Network for Educational Technology and eLearning (SANTEC), Schoolnet Africa, Schoolnet SA and the Western Cape Schools Network.
What is blended collaborative learning?
"Blended learning" means that there is a mixture of online and face-to-face interaction. "Collaborative learning" means that people learn by working together in activities which could not be completed by individuals.
An example would be an inservice training course for teachers, where teachers use email to give each other feedback on course assignments, or a simulation of a World Trade Organisation bargaining round, where students use online chat to negotiate proposals.
What is an online conference?
In a conventional conference everyone travels to one physical location to debate conference papers and to network. In an online conference we use a website as the conference venue. We can view selected presentations, read conference papers, share useful resources, take part in formal debate, share best practices and network informally.
Mostly these online meetings are spread over a few days to allow us the flexibility to take part when we choose. There will also be some live meetings online which enhance the sense of shared presence and energise the conference. Overall, an online conference creates opportunities for rich conversations which grow knowledge in a community involving experts and practitioners.