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Photo courtesy of Diana Andone

It was a delight to return to Romania exactly 20 years after my last visit.

I was in Timisoara last week to give the opening address for the Open Education conference hosted by Universitatea Polytehnica Timisoara’s Virtual Campus Centre.

Director of the Centre is Diana Andone, whom I first met many years ago across the table when I examined her PhD viva. She told me I gave her a tough time, but we have been friends and colleagues since, and have served together on the executive board of the European Distance and E-learning Network (EDEN).

Diana invited me to give the keynote speech and I spoke on Open education, open scholarship and technology supported learning. There was much conversation afterwards, and I enjoyed all of the arguments and debates that ensued, especially the challenging questions from the delegates. It was good to see old friends Carmen Holotescu and Gabriela Grosseck in the audience and great to catch up with them both afterwards. I did two recorded video interviews before Diana whisked me away after lunch to the TV studios, where we did a live broadcast to the Romanian TVR channel in conversation with the host of the afternoon show.

A lot of the interview was dedicated to education reform, and our host Tania quizzed me on a range of topics including the curriculum, assessment and technology in classrooms. One of the key things I mentioned in both my speech and during the TV interview was that Romania always seems to have been at, or near the front of the vanguard of Web based learning.

Way back in 1990s as the potential of the web was beginning to emerge, we began to meet annually for discussions, papers and activities in the north of the country (Transylvania). Our small conference, known as the Romanian Internet Learning Workshop focused on issues and challenges of the emerging web for a range of educational purposes and interventions. It was one of the first European conference to focus solely on web based learning.

The TV show host asked me how we could possible have spent an entire week discussing the web. My response was that there was plenty to talk about, because at the time, everything was new, and the ethical, technical, social, cultural, pedagogical and practical aspects of the web were explored in detail. Several pioneering publications emerged from this workshop series which laid the groundwork for the web based learning we know today.

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On air by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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