links for 2008-11-09

The Week Ahead

This is an exciting week for computers and ICT using teachers in the province of Ontario.  The annual ECOO Conference is being held in Markham.

The conference is in its 29th iteration and has moved through a variety of locations.  For me, there are a lot of memories.  Who could forget the conference at the International Plaza during an incredibly hot spring snap and no air conditioning?  I remember lying in bed with a bucket of ice water and a wash cloth on my forehead.  I remember when a friend of mine was president and being invited to the suite at the top of the Regal Constellation.  I remember fondly when we moved the ECOO Computer Science programming finals contest to be held prior to the conference itself.  I also remember getting heck when my co-presenter Grover and I had our audience laughly wildly during a session while an “important” highly paid presenter was bombing next door.  I remember now, with a smile, the many “How Appleworks Changed My Life” testimonial sessions.

For me, these were the best because it wasn’t the flash and awe of something unobtainable.  It was real life classroom change as a result of disruptive technology and the teacher was there to share it with us.

I remember how rude people can be getting up and leaving in the middle of a session.  There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you chose the wrong session but you can at least leave quietly and discretely.

I remember the vendor halls when there were big presences by the major technology players.

Things have changed, though, over the years.  Maybe it’s the thought that computers are ubiquitous and so professional development of this type isn’t needed anymore.  Maybe it’s the focus on literacy and numeracy which seems to exclude the use of technology at times.  Maybe it’s the costs.  Maybe it’s the wide diversity of technology use in Ontario classrooms.

Unfortunately, attendance has been on the decline.

For years, the conference used the same templated design and maybe folks just got tired of it.

Now, there is new leadership trying new things.  Kudos to them.  The first was a move from the spring to the fall.  We now have an entertainment activity and yet another new location.  From Mississauga to Markham; from west of Toronto to the north and east.  ECOO itself is trying to facilitate conversation with its own Commun-it.  In fact, this blog is scraped from WordPress and moved to the Commun-it site.  I see also that latest posts are appearing directly on the ECOO website.

There are some interesting big-name speakers this year.  We’ll get the option to listen to Bill Tighe, Gary Stager, Mitchell Resnick, and Hall Davidson.  More importantly, I hope to find a few motivating “How Appleworks Changed My Life” sessions.  I’ll be there; not only as a conference attendee but will take my turn in the OSAPAC booth and will present a session entitled “Freshly Minted Software” to talk about the recently licensed OSAPAC titles.  Plus, and no guarantees, we hope to announce a new title to the folks at ECOO.

It’s interesting, though, to compare the lead-up to ECOO with the lead-up to NECC.  At NECC, Twitter was plugged with chatter about the event.  Even now, there are discussions about this year’s late June/early July event in Washington, DC.  Disappointingly, there is very little about the ECOO Conference and we’re just three days away from it.  There’s also truth in numbers.  NECC is absolutely huge and so the chances are much bigger that folks would be chatting about the blogger’s cafe or the second life meeting place.

Any conference is only as good as you make it though.  I’m looking forward to renewing old acquaintances and meeting new friends.  Hope to see some of my blog readers there.

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