Finally getting to some reflections after a busy start to summer!
By Day 2 at ISTE the conference hadn’t even started yet, but folks were busy with pre-conference events. I attended the ISTE Affiliate Day with another ECOO Colleague and ISTE Ambassador, Peter Skillen. It’s a great time to hear from other affiliates who are sharing their struggles and successes. We enjoyed sitting with the Ohio Affiliate - they were really upbeat and fun!
The evening affiliate reception was a fun gathering and we exchanged a gift basket this year. Coincidentally, we exchanged with the Alaskan affiliate and it was wonderful to meet Mark Standley as he inspired so much of my learning about digital storytelling and the creation of the annual Digifest at Upper Grand DSB which is still going strong in its 5th year.
Day 3 was ISTE’s inaugaral leadership symposium where Michael Fullan (yeah Canada) gave an opening keynote followed by breakout sessions. I attended one about creating authentic learning experiences where we spent time discussing driving questions around inquiry based learning with some folks from BIE. It was nice to see Sara Armstrong once again – what a wealth of knowledge about PBL!
When I talk with educators from the US I feel so proud of the work we do here in Ontario to create a curriculum that works and testing that is less about high-stakes and more about student learning. Don’t get me wrong. I’d like to see those testing dollars directed elsewhere, but I feel such empathy for our friends to the south who are suffering with different conditions - it does make me understand their impatience for school reform.
Days 4-6 were a whirlwind of great sessions and events. Inspiring keynotes, Poster Sessions where students and teachers share their work, Ignite sessions where several presenters gave their two-cents worth, individual sessions about mobile technology, coaching, PBL and other topics – the choices are always diverse and interesting! A little time was spent talking with people in the exhibit hall from the PLP booth- I enjoyed that too! A big highlight was going to see our own Colin Harris from YRDSB for his session with Melissa Murray and Kim Stolys. They were sharing the great work they are doing with teacher inquiry in York Region, Ontario.
As a connected learner/educator, it’s now often in the hallway spaces that my best connections happen as I meet people f2f and make those initial connections. I don’t need to attend a session to find out about their work – it’s usually online and only a tweet away if I have questions. I’m reminded that Brown, Hagel and Davison wrote about this in The Power of Pull, “serendipitous encounters with people prove to be far more fruitful than an isolated encounter with new objects or data…Serendipity becomes much more than a one-time encounter or an end in itself: It becomes the crucial means of access to rich flows of tacit knowledge both now and in the future.”
Obviously, the Edcamp, or unconference, experience fits into this model of building in serendipity and I’ve enjoyed that model. At our Minds on Media sessions, we create a physical space to support self-organization and serendipitous encounters. At ISTE a variety of great places are intentionally created to support this as well – blogger’s cafes, playgrounds and networking spaces are really effective. I’d like to find more ways to enhance that in other learning spaces!