(Note: Please skip the first two paragraphs if you want to only read about my experience in the EC-TEL conference itself right from Day 1)

It was the 8th of June when I was anxious to hear about the decision of the EC-TEL full research paper acceptance. Finally, all that waiting did not disappoint and soon the nervous energy turned into more of positivity and self-confidence. As a non-European, the first thing to worry now was to get a approved UK Visa as the conference was organized in Leeds, UK! Although it was not much of a hassle, it was the intital road-block separating me from attending the first conference during my first year of my PhD.

After all the preparations, the day i.e., 2nd September arrived and I started my journey from Amsterdam to Leeds. Although I had a smooth experience with the flight, it soon turned into utter dismay when I was wandering through the campus of University of Leeds after getting down from the bus near WestGate. It took me quite a bit of time to reach my accommodation in Storm Jameson Court in the university campus. It could be attributed to my own fault of not taking a taxi directly to my accommodation and also the confusing nature of the signboards in the campus. Nevertheless, the locals were really helpful and would always hop in to make sure that I found my way!

On 3rd September, the EC-TEL conference started with the Doctoral Consortium where 16 PhD researchers presented their research which somewhat fit into the broad theme of Technology Enhanced Learning and Learning Analytics. It took place in two rooms. In our room, the topics of research ranged from multimodal analytics, feedback assessment, web navigation behaviour to identification of role models in online communities, self-regulated learning. The participant base was quite diverse with people from UK, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, USA, Japan and Netherlands. Every participant received critical feedback and constructive suggestions from the doctoral consortium organizers and the other participants. We also got an opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation with the senior researchers and mentors during the coffee breaks. At the end, the rapporteurs summed up the discussions and we discussed the emerging problems in our research and also got career advice. The day ended with a trip to a pub in Roxy lanes in the Leeds city centre. Here we enjoyed drinks, networking with fellow researchers and ended the night by bowling. The proceedings of the Doctoral Consortium will be published in CEUR proceedings in December, 2018.

Second day i.e., 4th September was the workshop day. There were multiple parallel workshop sessions on different themes with one workshop before lunch was particularly interesting for me on the use of xAPI and beyond. Here our group had brainstorming on the possible problems that can arise on building a multimodal learning analytics architecture using xAPI. We also listened to and discussed with other four workshop paper presenters. The tweets below sum up the workshop paper presenters at xAPI workshop.

Then we started preparing for the football match after lunch which has been a tradition in EC-TEL each year.

Finally, the indoor football match started in the evening in the sports hall before the welcome drinks and it was a lot of fun. There were times where I was breathless but I enjoyed each second as it was almost 6 years after which I got an opportunity to move my legs between the goal post. We (Trula’s Boys) lost to Tobias’ Tigers but I enjoyed my goal keeping moments the most.

We had the informal opening of the conference after the football match during the welcome drinks.

The big day (5th September) i.e., the main conference day was supposed to be a long day with a grand ending with the Gala dinner at Royal Armories in Leeds. The EC-TEL conference was opened by Hendrik Drachsler who was the general chair of the conference. The opening mentioned the diversity and difficulty of the conference. 41 different countries submitted papers and acceptance rate was only 29%!

Then the first keynote was started by Allison Littlejohn on “Lifelong professional learning”. Some major discussion points from her keynote can be found below in the tweets.

Finally, the opening ended with the demo pitches whose demo was shown in the sports hall in the whole afternoon. The funny thing was that every conference attendee was given TELCOINS to invest in the demo that they like the most. The demo with the most TELCOINS was declared the winner.

Then the parallel conference sessions started in different rooms. Each presenter for a full research paper was supposed to speak for 15 minutes (while this was 10 minutes for a short research paper) followed by a discussion and Q&A of 5 minutes. I joined the session 1C initially as it was more close to my research interest and it also featured 2 best paper nominations in it. The whole session had 3 full papers and 1 short paper.

As rightly said by one of my colleagues, Marcel Schmitz, there were a lot of doors to great knowledge and experiences in the EC-TEL conference presentation rooms.

The healthcare track was also co-located with the main conference because of its proximity to the Technology Enhanced Learning.

Session 3C was my turn to disseminate our results on “Multimodal Analytics for Real-time Feedback in Co-located Collaboration”. Before my presentation, there were 2 presentations out of which one presentation was on “Multimodal Hub” by one of my former colleague from Open Universiteit, Jan Schneider.

We explored the different demo sessions before proceeding for the Gala Dinner. One of the demos that I liked the most was from Russia who used Virtual Reality to train apprentices to repair and maintain electrical substations.

We also made a promotion for the JTELSS 2019 as the participants of JTELSS 2018 which is also organized for TEL researchers by European Association for Technology Enhanced Learning (EATEL) who organize EC-TEL too.

Now came the best time to relax and enjoy the Gala dinner at the Royal Armories after a long walk from the University of Leeds.

Here, we enjoyed the rich cultural heritage, collection of weapons, armories, knight fight, good company, food and drinks. Last but not the least, the best demo and best paper award was also announced at the end.

The final day of the conference i.e., 6th September started with the keynote of David Wortley followed by the Eposter Barcamp, some learning design paper presentation sessions and then ended with the kenote by Carolyn from Carnegie Mellon University. The most fascinating thing about the poster session was the use of digital posters instead of the traditional paper posters. At the end, the award for the best poster was given to the participants from the DIPF, Germany.

All the posters in the Eposter session can be found here:

In the closing session the next year’s venue for EC-TEL was announced which will be organized by TU Delft with Marcus Specht as the local chair.

I forgot to mention that this year EC-TEL had an intersting option for industry and practitioner papers to be published as a part of the CEUR proceedings in which I was one of the co-editor in the first year of my PhD! That was a lot of responsibility but at the end it was exciting.

To sum up, EC-TEL had participants from diverse communities and if you have reached the last paragraph then you can clap for yourself as this was a long read of the tweet threaded story. This only gives you a bird’s eye view of the conference from my perspective which leaves some aspects like the details of all the workshops and conference sessions that I have not been part of. It was a great delight to meet researchers from my field of interest like Stian, Mutlu Cukurova and Adolfo Ruiz Calleja who work with Multimodal Learning Analytics. I also got a lot of feedback from them regarding my work and we discussed about future collaboration potential. I would recommend everyone to submit a research paper or organize a workshop to meet the community out there and get their valuable feedback! Moreover, my tweet count increased from 520 to 650 and I got around 30 more followers! I would also like to extend the invitation to join EC-TEL, 2019 on behalf of Marcus Specht as it is being organized in TU Delft which is my alma mater. Some of the other interesting things that could not be covered above are mentioned below in the tweets:

Some of the goodies and accessories that leave a indelible mark even after the conference can be found here:

My full research paper, presentation and other details can be found here:

(Note: This is my first Blog!!)

You can also find the Vlogs showing some of experiences and my Doctoral Consortium and Conference presentations below:

PS Please leave your THOUGHTS and COMMENTS below