Friday and Saturday nights in cities that boast large universities aren’t the best nights to go out if you are looking for some peace and tranquility. Yet, last night, I thought i’d venture out and find a relatively quiet pub to get together with a couple of friends. Although, unlike google’s suggestion, the pub we went to wasn’t as quiet, I found myself lost in our conversations and blocking off other distractions. I’ve written about learners conversing with pedagogical agents finding themselves blocking outside distractions (in a paper that comes out in November at the British Journal of Educational Technology), but last night it was clear (to me at least) that the conversation, topic, AND the context in which this takes place make a difference. While our conversation was interesting, the context in which it was occuring was also very interesting. Parts of the conversation were contextualized in our experiences working and living abroad and it was fascinating! What else would you expect when you bring a Japanese, an Irish, and a Cypriot together at a pub in Engand? Especially when the Japanese and Cypriot guys drink Guiness and the Irishman refuses to touch it because outside of Ireland it just isn’t Guiness anymore :)

So, going back to the title of this posting, all three of us are academics. The Irish friend is working on his PhD studying a very interesting and popular wiki (no, it’s not wikipedia, but it’s similar). The Japanese friend, is teaching Japanese as a foreign language and has written papers on technology-enhanced learning. I am teaching and doing research on electronic learning environments and emerging technologies/practices. The multicultural societies we live(d) in and work(ed) in have defined our work and outlook of work and life. And for this, being able to get together with a group of people from diverse cultures and life experiences, I am thankful to be at the University of Manchester – wait till you hear about my class of 16 students from 10 different countries :)