For years now, Ron Millar has been bragging to me about the efforts of Waterloo Region to support teacher learning in the use of technology in the class through a unique offering that they call CATC Camp by the Water. It’s always sounded like an interesting concept and yet despite his repeated invitations to join them, I’ve never been available to do so.
Until this year.
My full week at OSAPAC was cut short so that I could make the trek to the incredible Kempenfelt Conference Centre to join the group this year. Yesterday was Day 1 and I got to experience the unique learning environment first hand. The entire three days is based upon the Open Space philosophy of learning that puts the onus on the attendees to get the most from the opportunities that are available.
I was invited there to wander about the room that they had devoted to explorations into Web 2.0 and it was a real hoot. I had the honour of meeting some really interesting folks. I have had some connections with the Waterloo group over the years so it wasn’t like being parachuted into a strange land. There was Ken, Rebecca, Anita, Mark, Tina, Ian, Harry, Kim, Ron and others who were all there to learn and facilitate. I finally got a chance to meet Miss Charlotte that Mark speaks so glowingly about.
Even with the concepts of Open Space, there are still logistics that need attention and this is handled by “Newstime” where the 140 campers and facilitators squish into a room that would comfortably handle 30-40. There is a culture that has been developed here and everyone made these sessions for the first day. Introductions and logistics and, oh, door prizes which you need to be present for ensure full attendance. The room is alive with buzz, excitement, and anticipation of learning with colleagues. It’s times like this that make you feel so proud to be an educator.
But, dig a little deeper and look at the professionalism. It’s the middle of August. In a few weeks, the holidays are over and they’re back at it. From this, so many have stepped away from golf, trips, and home repairs to PAY and attend three intensive days of learning. I don’t use the work intensive lightly – on Day 1, I witnessed the entire group just wanting to get to it. Once they got to it, they stuck with it. While I was doing some serious facilitating myself, I did have a chance to wander around a bit and there was so much happening. It really was quite impressive.
After supper and another round of door prizes where my name was drawn on Harry’s make shift SMART Board, I had a chance to give a presentation to the entire group about Web applications. It was an enviable time slot. I was wedged between supper and a social that promised us a chance to look at the Perseid meteor shower. I wasn’t lucky enough to see that which was disappointing. I did see a number of airplanes though! Since some of the folks in the group were sitting at computers for my presentation, we were able to generate a bit of a back channel which is available here.
I know that Ron is waiting in anticipation for this updated graphic so…
The logistics behind an event like this don’t happen on a whim. In addition to the in-house Kempenfelt wireless network, a city of servers, workstations, routers, and media was brought in and supported by just a handful of people. Throughout the day, you’d see them running around but from my perspective and needs everything that I needed was handle so smoothly. Kudos have to be given to the folks that just make stuff work.
Day 1, I’m sure, just seeds the group for more intensive and productive learning. I can’t wait to get involved with Day 2.
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