35 Years of EdMedia: Joyful 2023 Conference in Vienna, the Quality of Life Capital

Great keynotes, fantastic food, interactive workshops, interesting talks, and a lively poster session: 300 participants from 40 different countries enjoyed a truly joyful conference week. The computer science department at the University of Vienna provided the perfect venue for informal encounters, informative presentations, critical debate and collegial discussions. As Liandi Van den Berg and Robyn Bunt stated during their excellent conference presentation on faculty learning communities of practice: “Digital transformation necessitates higher education institutions to embrace a change process where faculty need digital dexterity”. The conference certainly was an opportunity to increase dexterity – not only in virtual settings, but also in terms of pedagogies, learning design, and learning sciences.

Manu Kapur opened the conference with a fantastic keynote on productive failure

Conference Themes

While unsurprisingly ChatGPT was a major draw, attendees could choose among diverse innovative pedagogy and technology talks. AI in Education, Making and Design Thinking, Immersive Virtual Worlds, Micro-credentials and Open Pedagogy were four themes with strong representation. This summary highlights selected talks, posters and workshops for each theme.

AI in Education

I had a wonderful time facilitating a workshop on ‘AI in Education’ on the first day of the conference. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised to have almost 40 participants who were highly engaged and a wonderful, appreciative and inquisitive audience. Workshop material is accessible here: go.unc.edu/ai

Among the many talks on AI, Martin Ebner’s literature review stood out to me, as well as the exciting work by Fawzi Benmessaoud from Indiana University on FazBoard, an AI assistant and digital canvas.

Three AI-related contributions were among the award winners:

Micro-credentials and Open Pedagogy

Keynote by Mark Brown on ‘rewilding’ education


The conference ended on Friday with a thought-provoking keynote by Mark Brown that discussed different policy frameworks and value orientations for the use of micro-credentials and open pedagogy.

An excellent contribution on micro-credentials came from South Africa. Marieta Jansen van Vuuren and Robyn Bunt described the use of badges for professional development recognition. I had the pleasure to present on the implementation of badging and pathways within the public leadership and recognition program for elected officials at UNC School of Government.

Robyn Bunt on Badging


Jason Caudill from King University (US) shared his experiences with the design of a multi-course graduate concentration utilizing only OER texts for the learning materials: Developing A Multi-Course Online Graduate Specialization with Open Education Resources Together with Israt Jahan Oeeshi I had another open pedagogy paper as part of the conference, documenting the’Strong Schools’ course at the Asian University for Women (AUW). During the poster session, I enjoyed meeting instructional design colleagues from the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University.

Tinkering, Making & Design Thinking

Anna Iarotska with participants and organizers after her keynote


She was my favorite conference keynote – and competition for this title was stiff: The entrepreneur Anna Iarotska shared her team’s journey from a local hackerspace in Vienna to the technology hub of Shenzhen, China and finally to a large roll-out of the tinkering robotic kit RoboWunderkind at public schools across the United States.

Three papers discussed Design Thinking in education: Thilo Harth and I talked about our playful pedagogy workshops at Muenster University. In a parallel session, JeeEun Jang, Yujung Lee & Seyoung Kim explored Design Thinking in the context of education in emergencies: Development of Refugee Education Content Using Design Thinking. One of the final sessions shared a case study with pre-service teacher candidates (Design Thinking Approach to Developing Measures to Improve Prospective English Teachers’ Digital Competences).

A paper by Martin Ebner and colleagues offered a perspective on integrating making into the curriculum: Makification – Bridging the Gap between Formal and Maker Education. Kevin Oliver presented a study conducted on makerspaces and design studios across the University of North Carolina (UNC) state university system in the United States: Characterizing Higher Education Innovation in the Context of the Campus Makerspace/Design Studio

Immersive Virtual Worlds

Corinna Stiefelbauer presenting her poster on immersive technologies at WU Vienna


Virtual worlds, augmented reality, and metaverse applications were covered with numerous high-quality contributions. One example: The Best Poster award for Innovating Teaching and Learning with Immersive Technologies at WU Vienna was unanimously awarded by the conference committee. Attendees looking for an in-depth overview were well served with the workshop by Jose Garcia Estrada and Sebastian Rauh “Digital Shadows and Digital Twins as Exercise for Integrating XR in Higher Education”.

Another award-winning poster documented the journey of developing and delivering training courses in virtual worlds. Arkio was used as an immersive and collaborative spatial design platform for learners to design an office building in a virtual environment. Pacelab WEAVR was used as the software to create and use procedural training in a fully immersive virtual environment. Learn more: An empirical study of using Arkio and Pacelab WEAVR for immersive learning in vocational training

Awards and Proceedings

The following papers and posters were recognized with an award:

You can access the award papers as open access in the conference proceedings. Even better: access the entire archive of 35 years of EdMedia proceedings on LearnTechLib. A wealth of information to research trends and trajectories- and perhaps the material of your next conference contribution.

My Personal Conference Tips

  • Attend at least one workshop – the longer format will offer you a deep dive that the typical conference presentation cannot convey.
  • Spend ample time at the poster session – the interactive ‘walk-and-talk’ format is a great way to review a lot of material and chat with presenters while standing and walking around – a nice break from sitting all day.
  • Attend a keynote conversation – the keynote conversations at EdMedia follow the keynote talk. This format allows you to ask questions and have in-depth discussions with renowned experts.
  • Enjoy the community – AACE is where you meet your friends. This conference is a closely-knit community.

See you next year!

Congratulations to the organizers, presenters, reviewers, and attendees to an excellent gathering. A special thank you to the local conference chair Edgar Weippl. Next year’s conference will take place in the first week of July, the location to be announced soon.

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