My primary reason for going to San Diego was to attend the Desire2Learn User Group Conference 2012. Desire2Learn is a learning management system; a piece of software designed to help instructors interact and collaborate with students online. The software can be used for running entirely online courses or used for blended learning to supplement in class interaction. Our institution is trying to encourage blended instruction where students attend classes but use the learning management system to interact with their instructor or other students any time from any connected device.
Desire2Learn is a commercial software system (which means we pay for the service) but so far I have been quite impressed with the functionality of the product. One also gets the sense that it was designed by instructors, as there are a number of unique tools such as rubrics and competency maps which appeal to teachers. I also like that any activity performed within the system can be linked to an assessment or grade, so students can potentially get timely formative feedback. Furthermore Desire2Learn is a Canadian company based out of Kitchener!
The user-group conference is an awesome opportunity to connect to other users of the system and share best practices. I had a number of excellent conversations with teachers, administrators and IT directors around how they use the software. In addition to the conference sessions and workshops there were a number of social events around the conference. The first evening we attended a baseball game and the second night we took a San Diego bay sunset cruise.
For those interested I have written more about the Sal Khan keynote on my work blog.