Martin Bean: A Journey In Innovation

Liveblog notes from watching (the Elluminate-mediated broadcast of) Martin Bean (OU VC Designate) keynote address at ALT-C 2009. Abstract:

Innovation in ICT continues to enable new and effective ways to open learning to all who seek it. The challenge for The Open University from the beginning was to deliver mass higher education on an individual basis. That challenge remains the same today. The Open University asks for no entry qualifications and delivers to over 200,000 students and users of their course materials each year. In this presentation Martin will reflect upon The Open University’s pioneering use of technology for large-scale delivery of educational opportunities over the last 40 years and contrast that with where The Open University sees the greatest opportunity for the application of ICT and innovation over the coming years.

Welcome. Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor Designate of OU Open University. Had been in the UK for two months; this is his first keynote speech. Shows his commitment to learning technology. He’s bringing together complex perspectives from two worlds: the commercial software platform world, and our world of education.

(Martin Bean arrives)

This is the place I like to be best, a pleasure to accept. This is the world he’s spent his entire professional life in – the intersection between education and technology, and bringing them together in a meaningful way.  International personal background. Spent last 15 years working in commercial software companies, all engaged in education. Last five at Microsoft & Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Then made decision to move from theoretical R&D to practical, last November.

This is also the way innovation comes to bear, same journey. Less about pivotal points, but we are custodians of a piece of a journey.

Innovative Scepticism – soundbits from a teacher’s conference in 1703 – ‘students today can’t prepare bark to calculate their problems. They depends on their slates which are more expensive. What will they do when slate is dropped?’; then 1815, students depend on paper to omuch. 1907, students depend too much on ink. 1928, students depend upon store-bought ink.  1941, students depend too much on fountain pens. 1950 ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country.

It’s always been up to us – who see the innovations – to bring education along for the journey.

Thomas Friedman, ‘The World Is Flat’ – changing landscape. Turbo-charged environment, Two years ago this talk wouldn’t have been broadcast like this, and wouldn’t have Twitter feedback and critique – which he will read afterwards (!).  It’s hard for institutions to accept this, and the role that we play in this.lifetime

Employment vs lifetime employability. Education is not a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s a lifetime experience. Shifting gears.

Changing nature of HE – three categories: Globalisation, Massification, Privatisation.

Globalisation – 2.5m students learning outside their home country. Bologna process, e.g. of initiative designed to facilitate this.  Unprecedented growth in distance education. In Singapore – 200 possible online MBAs – will do a degree in how to choose!

Massification – macroeconomic environment, some massive increases in supply, but generally the world can’t supply enough to meet demand if we stick with the traditional model.  So have to move from bricks and mortar to clicks and mortar. We’ve seen 20, 30, 40% increases in supply. But in Sub-Saharan Africa, 5% increase a year is nothing like enough.

Privatisation – Tax-funded education is in retreat mode. Private sector the fastest-growing. One in three students studies in a private HE institution.  Has very different motivation to other universities. At the OU, wakes up every day thinking about social justice, giving people access.  Private organisations, wake up every day thinking about shareholder value.  That makes them extremely formidable competitors – fastest-growing, massive uptake of technology, riding the wave of distance education.

So what do we see as our colective challenges?

UK and US overshadowed by India and China – number 1 and number 3 in the world. China’s R&D investment is massive; the rankings for research instutitions will be dramatically different in 20 years.  When PhD students went to the US, they used to stay – now they go home.

Need to educate citizens for new types of work.  UK for adults of working age, just shy of half are not qualified about level 2. If we’re to underpin UK as world leader, thriving and prospering, have to face up to skills agenda, right skills.

STEM is key for a competitive workforce – but is challenged.  Why critical? It fuels innovation. Only future for economies like UK, Australia, US, is innovation.

Increasing importance of sustainability.  Key times in history to make people uncomfortable enough to make a big change. Not about giving courses in green jobs, engineering environment – it’s horizontal, in to all teaching, research, leadership agendas.

Transforming information into meaningful knowledge. 21st media skills, sage on stage to guide on side. Rote memorisation and assessment over. School is like on an aeroplane, have to put all your confidence in someone up the front, and you have to turn off all your electronic devices.  Classic examination setting: put them in a room, take away all their tools bar a pencil and paper. Somehow we’re measuring 21st century skills?

Doesn’t believe that a Powerpoint has a constitutional right to start and finish (!), coming from Microsoft.

Student expectations

Many students never known world without web, sms, MP3s, etc. Heavy use, including social networking. Uptake of technology in homes, roughly 70% in 2008, when up by 2m homes in a year.  We need to continue conversation about access, but must get real about their expectations.

What do they want? Values: autonomy, authenticity, connect and share, creativity, constant stimulation. Priorities: friends, fun, music – real-time interaction and self-presentation. Likes: Devices, cool stuff. Hates: Complexity, bad design, costs, things that get in the way of expression. Really the Internet enables what students wanted before, but faster and at bigger scale.

Crisis of relevance in Higher Education. To be more relevant, blend digital lifestyles and digital work styles: don’t unplug them, make best of both. Future jobs will require those skills.  Lifelong learning – we can’t depend on young graduates. Continual development, learning in the workplace needs to be integral. Breaking down barriers between informal and formal learning – HE must remove artificial barriers, so people can knit pathways together to weave in and out of HE as they need. Our systems look like they’re designed to stop this.  That’s not what everyone needs, not what a quality HE experience should be. Must put learner in the middle; HE is about making sure that learner is at the middle, the support revolves around them.

So with those as backdrops – macroeconomics, student expectations … why is technology relevant? What is the opportunity for technology?

Firstly, expanding the reach of high quality education to all. (OER as one example.) Microsoft research – number one role for technology is expanding access to those who couldn’t otherwise.

Nurturing powerful communities of learning – formally and informally.

Enabling relevant, personalised, engaging learning. Classic textbook model, 4-year refresh, those days are done.

Giving educators more insight and more time.

Nothing new here – the thinking has been around for decades. Instead of lecture like this – all of this could’ve been done in advance, distributed notes. More about assessing where they at, what people got from it. Would allow us to have the most awesome conversation, really get down to where learning takes place.

Also about agile, efficient and connected learning systems. Data is a big challenge: locked up in silos, some home-grown, some off-the-shelf. Everybody wants to unlock the data. MIS or whatever, gives us access to the information we need just when we need it.

Role of technology, where it’s appropriate – but number one thing he’s learned in 25y in the application of technology is that it’s more about the people and the process than it is about the technology.  Why does technology innovation fail in our institutions? Nine times out of ten it’s because we think about the hardware and software and very little about the brainware.

Need to give all stakeholders time and energy, take care of them.

Segue in to talking about the Open University.  Four key themes (Open to People, Places, Methods, Ideas)- will not change, when he’s the VC in two weeks’ time.

(Video of OU history.)

If you’ve every worked for the OU, or been involved, learned, studied – look around – it’s about half the room (presumably mostly IET!). Awesome quest.

Not revolution but evolution.

Student support – it’s always been about personal, but now even more. The OU will ride the web wave to personal. 1.25m teelphone calles, 240k registrations, 800k student assignments, 33k qualifications – every year. We’re going to do this high-touch.  We will redefine our student journey and think about technology at every stage.

Will meet them where they live. If you think they want to hang out in your VLE – ha! – that’s the last place in the world.

Take advantage of changing delivery models, content creatin, consumption and manipulation. iPod would never have worked without Napster, which broke business models.  Same is happening of textbooks.

Being driven by Open Educational Resources – OpenLearn, 4m visitors since launch, very proud of it. Recognise overall initiative to change and lead, the whole sector. The SCORE initiative to help everyone else.

Access: big disruptive: it’s FREE. Free to browse, register, use, adapt, share. Very disruptive indeed.

Going multi-channel: build once, put in repository once, then go meet them everywhere, Miro, iTunes, YouTube.  Visual surfing in iTunes U, if you recognise it’s a place to extend your brand and bee visually attractive. Not a matter of putting lecture notes on to an iPhone, it’s a whole new generation of engaging digital content.  6.12m downloads, 64k visitors, 180k downloads a week. Lots of top-20 hits. Over 50% outside the UK.  How much does it cost? Very cost-effective versus putting signs on the side of buses.

Imagine if .. more than a podcast, but a learning application – the virtual microscope on an iPhone on a Martian meteorite.  Imagine a whole course on that – do it anywhere. That’s the next generation, it’s not just doing podcasts.

Education meets social networking – exciting, fast, disruptive, social (Eboy picture!).  SocialLearn – leveraging Web 2.0 for education, building bricks for a Personal Learning Envrionment.  Learner-centric – not an echo-chamber with comfort zones. Not just a web platform, but architecture of data and services. On Facebook, no breakthrough application for education; what we want is that.

Beyond social networking: moving from people like me, to people who challenge me; quick factual info to learning journeys/depth.

We can build what they want, meet them where they live, break down barriers between informal and formal learning.  Motivated learners are creating their own reuse and sharing models and contects.

Are we prepared to BE our own worst competition?

Questions

Australian, David Kennedy, Hong Kong: Wonderful to hear a VC talk about relationship of learning and technology. What will you do to the institutional structures which tend to reward other things?

MB: If we can’t prove the value proposition, sweep people up in what we’re doing, showing them the ‘why’, that we’re willing to invest in enabling the right people and processes, then we won’t break down those structures. Must be aware of two dominant forces: our faculties and academics. Much of this innovation needs to come out of the faculties. They are custodians of quality. Trying to do it skunkworks won’t work. Also the research agenda – OU doesn’t launch anything innovative unless we’ve done a lot of grounded research. Need compelling vision, investment, academics informing the quality, grounded in solid research – and will get it done.

Diana Laurillard, IoE, ex-OU: Changing nature of HE, massification. OU has been exploiting technology like this for ages. Personalisation – key, but difficult to achieve. Greater flexibility – not just of access, but in the way and what you learn.

MB: Diana’s little Apple logo shining at him distracted him from his Microsoft days. Browser is a beautiful thing for enabling multiplatform. When he puts the OU together, it comes through – the personal stuff that we do is key – the AL-student relationship, the peer groups, the phone call when they’re about to give up. Firmly believes we get rid of high-touch at our peril: technology can make this better, not get rid of it.  The platforms allow us to create much more of a personal experience. One AL with 18-24 year-olds (25% of OU students), encouraging them to set up their own Facebook group before the course starts, get to know each other. Across Europe, using Elluminate to create a high-touch personalised experience.  There is always going to be a place for physical touch, but the technology enables it in a special way.  Open Learn is an example of us seizing on technology when it really works. But totally agree, should’ve just said yes.

Shirley Alexander, Sydney Australia: Do students really want us hanging out in their space?

MB: Yes and no. They do if it’s meaningful and relevant. 13yo daughter describes her mother as a Facebook stalker. That’s not what he’s talking about, they don’t want us stalking them. But they do want us to take what they’re using and making it more meaningful for them.  E.g. socialLearn. They don’t want to leave Facebook and come to your VLE, they want to pull it in and stay in their world. Meeting them where they live is like that.  The long tail of learning, what the web provides, can take narrow areas of focus and let people come together. Take that further, giving them scaffolding to make it richer – that’s what he’s talking about. They don’t want us looking at their drunken photos.

John McAlister: Boundaries between FE, HE and schools, will the barriers continue to exist?

MB: For as long as our policymakers and all of us allow them to. We’re the only things standing in the way between primary, secondary, FE, HE working together. They technology exists, the desire from students exist, the funding models and credit models exist. But our courage to get it done isn’t there.

Debbie Cotton from Plymouth: Interested in SocialLearn. Some of our research suggests students switch of Facebook when they’re trying to learn. Do you imagine them flitting between social and learning activities? Students found that distracting.

MB: Those who want to turn it off mode; the net generation can live in a multi-stumulus mode. The real value of SocialLearn is that it’s a platform architecture, they can pull in things as and when they want to bring them in. It’s not designed to take them somewhere else, but be a layer that lets them work within an environment structured with informal learning environments. In closed beta, the UI is key at the moment. I’d rather be the one to figure all that out.

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Martin Bean: Looking Ahead: Mission, Values and Opportunity

Martin Bean is the OU’s Vice-Chancellor designate, and will be taking up his post later in the year.  This is his first opportunity to address the OU community, and it’s been wildly popular, with tickets required for the lecture theatre, overspill, and videoconference.  The Communications group are out in force to marshall the loyal troops. I managed to get a ticket and have secreted myself quietly on the back row to take quiet blog notes.

His quote on appointment was very encouraging:

It is an honour to have been selected as the next Vice-Chancellor of The Open University. It is a unique and amazing institution that has changed the lives of millions through its commitment to furthering social justice and to making higher education and educational opportunity accessible to all. I look forward to combining my passion for education and technology to lead The Open University over the coming years, as we continue to provide innovative and high quality distance education solutions to meet the needs of the 21st Century

Social justice right up there, and with his techie management background, he could be just the right person for what is a really challenging time for the OU.

(He walked past me, sat on the corner, shook hands, and invited me to Tweet away!  Helped that I was sitting in the back corner.)

Current VC, Brenda Gourley, introduces him.  Says she can’t wait for him to be VC.  Runs through his CV – a tremendous track record, international connections.  Over to him.

Know it was a big surprise to be working with Mr Bean, nobody is more challenged by that than he is.  At least people don’t forget his name.  People want to meet him, and know why he wants to be a VC.  Answer is more why the OU, than why a VC – it’s because of everything you’ve achieved and stand for.  “I’ve always loved learning, had bad experiences, but OU has given me confidence […]” – OU student feedback about life changing, in airports, train stations, etc, he gets that everywhere now.   Wants to be with us “for the next 40 years”.

(He’s good with an audience, good judge of mood and joking, self-deprecating, compelling speaker. Was better before he went in to Powerpoint stepwise reveal mode.)

Link to UN Declaration of Human Rights Article 26 “right to educaiton, and he equally accessible to all on the basis of merit”.  Universities role is questioning, help people understand – a change agent.  We are special, we are open, we broke the mould. (Now ‘we’ rather than ‘you’.) Have proved don’t have to sacrifice quality for scale.

VC described many of you as missionaries. They said it was never happen, it was mocked, “blithering nonsense”.

The OU has led through acts of imagination, delivering high quality education to people who had problems of access, of all sorts. Let’s get our imaginations working together again. In the 40y ahead we’re going to face a lot of challenges, will take a lot of imaginations.

So easy to make decision to come here.  Close alignment of his personal mission and OU mission:

  • Everyone should have the ability to access high quality HE.
  • HE must become more open and flexible – have done a tremendous amount but much to be done.
  • Innovation happens through research, people, process and environment – technology is just one enabler.
  • HE needs to be relevant, personalised, engaging and student-centred – social:learn, Web2.0, 3.0
  • It’s important to nurture communities of learning
  • Partnerships are essential to maximise results – must open up private, public, employer, government partnerships. Thoughtful, don’t sacrifice mission or quality. But essential
  • Economic prosperity is underpinned by quality education at all levels.

His Values:

  • Belief in people at an individual level – protect rights of individual, start and finish of social justice
  • Open, honest and respectful communication – tell him what you don’t like
  • A never ending positive attitude – this will annoy many of you over the coming years. Says, What can we do, not woe is me.
  • A belief in making a difference.
  • Teamwork makes sense
  • Be inclusive yet decisive – get many data points, but you have to decide and move on – be careful with questions you bring to my desk, you may get an answer
  • Never be shy to ask for help
  • Celebrate success – e.g. wonderful success in RAE, feel good about that

The Future:

  • HE important in light of the crisis
  • HE can’t be produced at the scale needed on the traditional model. – John Denham “unacceptable that eLearning is a sub-quality experience vs traditional” and then gave example of OU moving to new media not sacrificing quality, MB delighted to hear it.
  • Dist ed market will grow rapidly and be increasingly competitive – US has large for-profit DE sectors. Difference between them and us is profit/shareholder value. Our cause more noble.  Need to understand them and stay in front, and never sacrifice our mission and values as we compete with them.
  • Technology will shift from content centric to people centric – very enthusiastic on this.  Our ability to embrace, extend and take OU innovation and quickly mainstream it – is terribly exciting and a business imperative
  • ‘Flat world’ puts skills agenda on Government policy agenda
  • Financial crisis uncertainty, but also unprecedented opportunities for change – will put presure on everyone, who knows for how long.  While everyone else is looking at the downside (which we must), but (his optimistic side) says will put pressure on to address skills gap, help citizens to get employable skills, realise what they want out of their lives.  Will help world sig themselves out.

Cites John Gray, Success and Sustainability: Tertiary Education’s Global Challenge – must be

  • Responsive,
  • Effective,- Quality. Supported Open Learning model – cannot sacrifice the quality. Can’t use quality as an excuse not to innovate and be responsive.
  • Efficient – Pressure. Not a business but sometimes need to act like one, allocate resources right.

Shows OU Futures – declares that we do not need a whole new set of priorities, they’re great.  Evolve, develop nuance, though. The plan we have is the right plan.  More thoughts to come, though.

Getting Started, wants to

  • Get to know you and our students.  Will get out and about very quickly, is stealthy in a cube environment. Not just MK, expect to see a Bean near you very quickly.
  • Get insight in to how University is perceived, without responsibility, so will seize the day. Doing already. Everyone has an opinion of you! Reputaiton is strong.
  • Listen – asks lots of questions, from lots of angles
  • Hit pause – wait before answering every question (mother said to put this in), important not to jump to premature conclusions, and don’t ask him to. Needs to understand the history, is very very important.
  • Give feeedback – take what he learns and communicate back
  • Draw on and make great use of your expertise.

OU student feedback – quote from Kerzy Lando, 84, BA Hons, “Life has taught me several lessons …”

Honour and privilege to stand … on this riser they’ve given me so you can see me.  I am in awe of the opportunity to be part of the community you’ve built.

Q & A

(his phrase for it)

Brigid Heywood – MB “Hello Brigid”. – Value of education should take note of, also climate change. What can we do?

MB: Climate change is going to require every human to get behind.  OU response is multidimensional: what we do with our working practices, and how we deliver our programmes, reduce travel needs.  Contrasted brick and mortar or click and mortar.  Then what we teach.

Lots of questions with same theme (and much polemic): When does the OU intend to go cross-platform?  Non-Windows computers.

MB: What a surprise! Where did that question come from?  Couldn’t be more delighted at the question.  Technology should provide as much freedom of choice as possible.  Firm believer in interoperability.  (Knows what that means.)  Fraser and I are debating but I’m determined to get an iPhone, because it’s fit for purpose, it’s the best device.  Microsoft was just a waypoint in his career in the intersection of technology and education.

Darrell Ince: Tension between university and business requirements, impinge on academics.

MB: We do have to face this, have new entrants in our world, playing with a different playbook. Will require us to be knowledgeable, and adjust to it.  Am never going to sacrifice the mission or quality or how we serve our students.  We’re not a business but we have to act like one – intelligence on trends in the marketplace, shifting student demands, government policy shifts.  Inclusive and decisive – we will need to keep pace.  The DE marketplace worldwide is on fire, 25% to 55% compound average growth rate, don’t join that and stand still.  1. Be open and don’t deny.  2. Compare what’s going on with our mission and value.  Then formulate a competitive response.  Faster than ever before.

Martin Weller: Shortest question of the day. If you could overcome one challenge in your tenure, what would it be.

MB: Being short!  Good question.  Touched on it already: scale, and quality. All must work on that, with technology.  All you missionaries, pack your bags, we’re off again.

Nottingham (in the room): Gordon Lammie – joined in 1970. Been through many different periods. Financial situation. Agre with being a good employer.

MB: Personal belief, nobody should be denied doing what they want to do in life.  (Not a policy answer …. yet.)

Web – Ian Gilmour – OU Wikipedia entry describes BBC’s role in establishing OU, who is our partner for next 40y?

MB: Everybody! Partnerships really important, multi-broadcasting partners.  Unbelievable work with iTunesU.  Multi-casting partners.  Look at all educational content, develop fit for purpose.  Multiple types of course development models, done some, must do more.  Work with other universities – beyond and in UK.  Public sector tremendously important.  Private sector can be important – as employers (to help them meet their needs, and union reps). Make your best analysis of what partners you need based on your priorities. But OU never worked in a vacuum.

Jeff Johnson, MCT: Found presentation inspiring..  How can I tell you what I’m doing?

MB: We need to set up some good fb loops.  In prior roles, f2f, out and about, structured things (e.g. focus groups).  But at MS your life is your inbox.  When gets here, has learned to triage an inbox.  Will run sessions like this too. Without filters.  Use tech tools coupled with what we can do f2f.  In companies, have used web-based collaborative groups, can talk to remote people without having to travel, very time effective, environmental.  Voice of people back to him is very important.

Josie Taylor, IET: Was inspiring. In particular, that is a human right to access education.  The ELQ issue, a problem on financial side, but is also a potential barrier for onward HE.  Are you ready to engage with British political system?

MB: I’m Australian, I love a good fight.  Way to early to comment on the details.  But did due diligence to look at the external environment – ELQ today, but will be something else tomorrow.  Role of VC – active constructive dialogue with legislators – but have courage to respond appropriately and take action to remain healthy.  Real skill is not about ELQ, but about the fight.  Really easy to fight for something he believes in, and he really believes in the OU.

Carmel McMahon (Assoc Dean in OUBS): International opps for OU?

MB: Believes in bringing our offerings to people throughout the world. OU held up as the example of SOL at a distance that got it right.  Academic and policy world knows who you are.  Now need to be deliberate and creative about … country-by-country issue, or states and regions even.  Where to focus our efforts, partners, business models – but must return value to University – either promoting extending mission and values, but also to balance with business agenda.  Don’t do the collegiate thing of sharing all our collective wisdom and give birth to a competitor who forgets where they come from.  Hardest part is showing what your unique value is, you have done that already.

Clare Cortesky, research student: What are we doing wrong?

MB: I do believe you’re doing most things right.  Wrong: amazing innovation in pockets in OU – e.g. technology of the day vs tech of tomorrow, quality and scale rapidly.  Need to do better job letting world know about our innovation, which is not understood, “you’re doing what?”.  Have to speed up appropriately how we unlock innovation.  Can honestly say it’s not a matter of fixing something that’s fundamentally broken, matter of reigniting the imagination to do it all over again, only faster.

What can OU learn from MS, Yahoo! and Google?

MB: Who?  From MS, tenacity.  MS don’t usually get it right initially, but we’ll stick at it until we come up with a way of making it work.  Yahoo – saw power of bringing people together through Internet; not just browser, but vision of transforming how people interact. Google – everybody else was iterating on what already had; Google said what’s the transforming thing people do with Internet, it was simple, it was search, so needed more sophisticated way of retrieving meaningful content. Leapfrogged entire industry, revolutionised software industry, ever-new suite of stuff wrapped round it.

He appreciated the questions, much more enjoys a dialogue than prepared remarks.  “Look forward to working with you!”

Update: I made a Wordle of these notes.

Medium and message (liveblogging debate round 2)

Today, the OU’s Vice Chancellor, is giving a speech to Council (the OU’s governing body – like the Board of a company) and an internal audience on ‘Scholarship in the Digital Age’.  She will be speaking “about the impact of new technologies, including Web 3.0, on the University’s business: how it affects teaching, research and the student learning experience”.

I’m really encouraged: this is exactly the focus we as a University need to be taking.  And I’m not just saying that because it’s my area and so I obviously think it’s important. (Although there probably is an element of that.)  I’ve said before that the VC is reading the right stuff (e.g. Here Comes Everybody) and there was further proof in the internal publicity for the talk – it was accompanied by a big copy of the xkcd Online Communities map:

But I’m also worried about whether to bring my laptop or not.  Last time I liveblogged from a talk by the VC, people complained – entirely reasonably – that I was disturbing them with my typing – which I was.  I did a post arguing (not entirely clearly) that the fact that such typing was disruptive showed that we have a mountain to climb in getting the OU to where we need to go. The discussion generated more traffic – and blog links – on here than anything else I’ve written, and ended up with me realising that by (inadvertently) reinforcing the stereotype of laptop users as antisocial inconsiderate types, I’d set things back, not forward.

Just to be totally clear: I am not saying that people are wrong when they say they are being disturbed.  They are being disturbed, and that impairs their ability to hear and understand what’s going on.  And with this particular presentation, people who aren’t (yet) natural laptop users and bloggers are the ones who really need to hear it: us techies are the choir the VC is preaching to here.

So do I bring it or not?  If I do, it’ll disturb people.  If I don’t, we lose (some of) the benefits of doing just what (I expect) the VC will be exhorting us to do.

Happily, our Comms team have come up with an excellent compromise: there’ll be a blogger area outside, with a screen showing the VC, and we can hammer away on keyboards to our hearts’ content without disturbing people who find such things distracting.  (There may even be sufficient power sockets!)

It’s not ideal – to exclude this group from the room itself is a little unfortunate.  But I’d rather leave the people inside free of distractions from technology so that they can come to love (appropriately used) technology.

… and I’m also going to try to keep the meta-discussion about liveblogging separate from the actual stuff, at least on here.  I’m sure there’ll be all sorts of stuff on Twitter.