One of the most rewarding aspects of going to the ASCILITE conferences is catching up with old friends, learning something new and discussing the ins and outs of higher education and educational technology’s role within that landscape. One of the people I most enjoy catching up with is Professor Barney Dalgarno. Barney has a thorough knowledge of the space and is always ready with an anecdote, news of a new tool, a wise word for all occasions, all punctuated by a joke and a laugh.

I’ve known Barney almost as long as I’ve been an ASCILITE member. These days, Barney is the Director of Learning Online and overseeing a reimagining of CSU’ss T&L focus. He comes to this from being Co-director at u!magine, a think tank for educational innovation. And one thing I am certain of, is that Barney is an innovator.

Barney is always to be found at the bleeding edge of productive edtech adoption. He was right there pushing the boundaries of what was possible using virtual worlds. He crafted a virtual chemistry laboratory about the time I was wearing my NOOB threads in Second Life. An impressive list of category 1 grants attests to the fact that way more people than me think that Barney is one of this country’s leading researchers.

For Barney, it’s not about what’s new and flashy but how that bit of bling can be effectively leveraged for teaching and learning. His research can be broadly grouped under three themes:

  1. the relationship between learning technology and learning theory
  2. learning in polysynchronous learning environments, including 3D virtual environments
  3. university teacher and student attitudes towards and use of learning technologies.

Barney has been a long-time supporter of ASCILITE. He was the lead editor of the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology from 2012 until 2014. His outstanding contribution to both ASCILITE and the sector was recognised by him receiving a 2013 ASCILITE Fellow Award. We all raised a glass to Barney’s achievement in Sydney. Very well deserved.

We are so excited to have Barney with us for ASCILITE2017 in Toowoomba! We’re working him hard! He’ll be the facilitator for our exploratory session, Privacy, trust, student data, and the university happening Tuesday 5 December from 1.30pm.

But I’m also really excited that Barney will be delivering the closing plenary for the conference, reflecting on where we are and imagining what it might be like when we all gather at Deakin University for ASCILITE 2018.

The presentation titled Reflecting on the past and imagining the future looks backwards and forwards, reflecting on how educational technology was and will be leveraged within Australian higher education. Are we heading towards a utopian or a dystopian future? What have we learned, if anything, from the experiments of the past? One thing is for certain: We will be challenged, confounded, informed and entertained. No early flight is worth missing this.