The ECOO Conference is done. It was a great opportunity to do some learning and sharing with Ontario educators. I had the opportunity to meet a large number of old friends, make some new friends, and put faces to names of folks from Twitter where friends takes on a new definition. In the spirit of open education, I got the chance to meet Stephen Downes and Alec Couros who were readily available and open for conversation throughout.
I did a couple of presentations – one with Danuta Woloszynowicz about OSAPAC’s “Freshly Minted Software” where we talked about the latest and greatest titles from the Ministry of Education, and the other was my own “Web That Works” where I shared some of our success stories from the past year. As an OSAPAC member, I had to sign up and put in my time at the booth in the exhibit hall. As usual, our booth turned out to be a good gathering place just to stand around and chat. It’s a pressure-free zone because we’re not selling anything except ideas.
I even got a chance to install the newly licensed Photoshop Elements 8 on both my Macintosh and Windows computer.
There was new (and old) technology and software at every turn in the exhibit hall and lots of folks to talk about it with. Talented individuals working the booths give you that special insight into what’s going on with their products and how you could use it. Some of it was immediately apparent and some seemed to be a reach. With a jam packed curriculum and all of the other constraints, it would take some careful planning to make it all work. It seems so easy to be able to ignore great ideas and concepts in favour of covering the curriculum. Many of the people at the conference seem to be up to the challenge though.
The conference, in itself, is like so many other conferences. There are great sessions and you get a chance to meet folks there, and between sessions, for a couple of minutes for some speed-sharing. In many ways, it’s like watching a movie trailer. You get a quick insight and then it’s time to move on.
There were a couple of opportunities to go deeper though. I had a long chat with Mark Carbone of Mark’s Musings about what we need to make our worlds perfect. In an imperfect world, the desires of the individual have to be weighted against the very public presence of the organization. If we’re enablers, how do we address both ends so that everyone goes ahead at their own abilities and comfort levels? It’s not an easy problem to solve.
Without a doubt, the richest of the events came from the Minds on Media and the twECOO meetup. Instead of a formalized session, it was like a conversation with Mark, involving a lot of Marks. The conversations were just as long as they needed to be, were unscripted, and allowed for a great deal of give and take. I learned a great deal about being an administrator in a Catholic school system, met with part of my adopted family for PLP Ontario, talked about teaching Occasional teachers with respect, found new ways to tell digital stories, watched some opportunities to empower student voices, had it reinforced that the first stop on any literacy challenge needs to be with a teacher-librarian, shared with friends exactly how to use hashtags, found someone who not only reads the instructions but posts them to Flickr, and so much more. None of this was on the conference menu.
I even found out that windsordi isn’t Windsor-Di as I thought. It’s Wind-Sordi. Who knew? It reminded me of an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati with Les Nesman trying to pronounce Chi Chi Rodriguez. You had to be there.
It was a complete package. There were so many powerful moments and learnings over such a short period of time. The challenge for all attendees now is to incorporate those learnings into better opportunities for themselves, their schools, — and their students. Such is the power.
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