Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Riding the Wave of Change (conference)

Last week (May 5-6) was the annual Riding the Wave conference in Gimli, MB. This conference is sponsored by MAETL (Manitoba Association of Educational Technology Leaders) and ManACE (Manitoba Association for Computing Educators) and is meant for K-12 educators and IT folks and is, of course, related to technology use in schools. I don't usually present at this conference - it is great to just go, relax, and take in sessions - and this year, I almost decided to not go and attend a one day research seminar at my institution (it sounded really relevant and interesting), in the end I decided to go to RTW. It was a great decision, I do try to stay in touch and I work closely with K-12 school personnel, I want my teacher ed courses to remain relevant, and I like to work with the field. The decision to attend was certainly not a mistake.

Sphero maze!
The keynote was given by the inspiring Kathy Cassidy (@kathycassidy) from Moose Jaw. I use her book Connected from the Start as a text in my EY ICT in Ed course - the students always love it! Her message was all about new literacies - multi-literacies in today's digital world. The importance of visual (including video) literacy. An inspiring presentation. It was good to chat with her again for  a few minutes.

Sphero Chariots!
The other sessions I attended were about coding and maker spaces - something I want to add into my ICT in Ed courses next year when I return from sabbatical (sadly almost over!). I played with spheros and lego and learned some great tips and ideas. These sessions were by Tara (@msmclauchlan) and Joan (@jbadger), from St. James Assiniboia SD and Diana Rendina (@DianaLRedina - a visitor from Tampa - her slides are here). I also attended a great session by Shannon McLintock Miller (@shannonmmiller from Denver) who presented powerful stories about student voice. A great reminder about the purpose of our efforts, and a topic that I value (see my Hybrid Pedagogy article on student empowerment).

A slide from Shannon McLintock Miller's Presentation
That evening, we held a sweltering (the AC was broken!) list of 15 fantastic Ignite presentations sponsored by ManACE. Photos of the event can be seen on the ManACE instagram account - what an evening of inspiring stories, all of the spotlight speakers volunteered to present - and the evening finished with the conference keynote, Kath Cassidy, giving another great presentation. The plan is to put up the audio of the presentations via ManACE.

Darren's "The Fourth Screen"

The next day, I attended 2 sessions before I had to head off. Both addressed the important topic of digital citizenship, although with very different approaches. My friend Darren (@dkuropatwa) presented powerful stories for teaching digital citizenship - he included asides explaining his approach - which is very positive - and showed us many resources. I hope to have Darren come to my institution to present to faculty and students alike. The next session was by another friend, Dr. Rennie Redekopp (@rredekopp), Rennie took a more critical approach - that to be citizens we need to consider issues such as the environment, sustainability, energy use, and manufacturing in relation to digital products (see his links here). Together, these approaches offered important resources and food for thought for thinking and operating in a digital world.

All in all, it was a very good conference - so many good sessions to choose from, I know I missed some other great ones. I learned much and gathered up ideas/resources to incorporate into my own courses for aspiring teachers. It also provided an opportunity to connect with friends and to meet new ones.

One final note, a shoutout to the amazing Andy McKiel (@amckiel) - who, as a member of MAETL and ManACE, does incredible work behind the scenes in putting on events in Manitoba for educators!

Gimli Beach
Gimli Pier

Gimli Pier