“2012 Follow the Sun: Online Learning Futures Festival” is now over. For the second year with a different format, the conference ran over a 48-hour period, non-stop, over three continents. Changing the order from last year, it commenced in Australia, was turned over to the UK (Europe) eight hours later, and was then coordinated from Canada (North America) for the final eight hours of the first 24 hours. The rotation then repeated. For me in Alberta, Canada (Mountain Daylight Time, MDT), it ran from 17:00 Tuesday until 17:00 Thursday. Congratulations and thanks to the hosts: Australian Digital Futures Institute, Beyond Distance Research Alliance at University of Leicester (UK), and Athabasca University (Canada).
Last year, I genuinely tried to attend sessions around the clock according to my interests . This year, that changed, particularly due to my habit of rising early. I started attending the first hours of the Australian sessions at 17:00 (09:00 the next day, their time). With a usual relatively early night going to bed, I allowed myself to waken for the UK sessions and joined at about 02:30 my time on Wednesday. It was 09:30 in the UK, and they had been underway for an hour and a half. At 09:00 my time, the hand-off took place from the UK to Canada, and I continued until the switch to Australia at 17:00.
For the Day 2 rotation, I decided to not attend the Australian sessions due to other commitments and another early night. Allowing myself to wake up naturally again on Thursday morning, I joined the UK a few hours after it started and continued through the North American portion until the end at 17:00.
One of the difficulties with an online conference over an extended period is that there are other distractions around us. I am fortunate to work from home and scheduled the time to be available, but it is difficult to block everything out. Full attention lacks at times. When I had to go out and drive a few times, it was audio only with mobile internet and the laptop on the back seat.
It is nice to be able to attend sessions from the three continents, but some choices must be made. For me, I lost out of most of the Australian time. I wonder how others attended and how much cross-over there was to attend sessions in the other continents. I observed some cross-over and wonder how the stats could be captured.
The sessions were recorded and will be made available online in the near future. Again, congratulations on a successful conference to the organisers, presenters, participants, and sponsors.