Thursday, July 11, 2013

CASA 2013 in Beautiful St. John's NL

From July 4-6 I attended, along with a colleague, the annual conference for the Canadian Association of School Administrators (CASA). The theme was "Technology Meets Pedagogy: Hardware Meets Headware". It was enjoyable to attend a conference as a non-presenting participant for a change. St. John's, NL is also a beautiful part of our country - as you can see from the photos with this post. I am going to share some of my observations from the conference in this post. Of course, I will not go into the scenic tours, the fun Rally in the Alley & entertainment by 'The Navigators' - suffice to say it was more than just sessions to attend. 

The sessions I attended illustrated several things: that the idea that ed tech should be used thoughtfully and in support of learning is widespread - that is, pedagogy should drive instruction not technology; ed tech is being used in many creative and innovative ways to help students learn, to share learning and to increase communication with community; there are many great things happening in schools across Canada and dedicated professionals working hard to make education better for all students. I also observed the growth of people attending using devices from laptops to tablets to smartphones to document their learning - taking notes, photos, tweeting and so on. Now, if school Principals, superintendents, trustees and other educators are doing this, why do some schools/systems still ban or control their use in schools?

I won't go through all the sessions I attended, however, the point is that the times are a changin' as schools and divisions across Canada are making strides in moving forward and making classrooms more inclusive and student centred. Educational technology is playing a big role in supporting the gains as learning becomes more personal and in many cases more public. Educators are sharing ideas, successes and failures. My hope is that this sharing helps to spread the change.

During the conference there were a good many quotes and tweets. A few are below and the exchange during the Parkland SD (Alberta) was storify-ed here by Mark Carbone.

Dean gets it right here - almost all teachers are hard working and conscientious. In my dissertation research all my participants are trying to do their best for their students. If they are not all using the latest tech, it is often because they lack the time to learn or simply don't know how and would with support. Teachers are a special people - and not just because I was/am one.

I often hear from folks (including a friend of mine) that research does not support use of tech (or it does not affect 'achievement', whatever that means). Evidence is there, so is evidence to the contrary - it all comes down to how it is used. 

My colleague, Dr. Kirk attended a session about this partnership. We both see why schools enter these, but we also both think that partnerships with universities would serve school divisions better than ones with companies (after all their bottom line is to sell a product). We are looking forward to our partnership with fellow attendees from Lakeshore School Division in MB as part of  Brandon Universities VOICE project.

The conference wrapped up fittingly with an outstanding keynote by none other than Dean Shareski of Moose Jaw, SK. Dean exemplifies the ideal of sharing learning - he has skyped in to speak to my classes for 3 years now and is a splendid speaker. His slides for the keynote can be found here:

... and a few photos from in and around St. John's.

Middle Cove

Jelly Bean row houses
View from Signal Hill (a little hazy)

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