I’m getting a chance to sit down and think about things this morning. It’s a layover between flights from Thunder Bay to Windsor – I have three hours to kill but there’s plenty of wireless and free coffee in the Lounge at Toronto City Airport. After my presentation at the SeLNO Conference, I spent an extra day in Thunder Bay and it was full of all kinds of touristy things.
Of course, no trip to Thunder Bay would be complete without visiting the Terry Fox Memorial on the outskirts of town without your camera and without your humility.
A second important stop is at Kakabeka Falls. It was a unique visit with the water levels really low and there was a chance to view the beauty of what water was tumbling over the falls and also to see the rocks that are behind the falls that you don’t normally see.
It’s another moment for humility to be there in the awesomeness of nature. For my Facebook friends, the complete set for the two visits are posted there.
There wasn’t a blog posted queued to go this morning and thanks to those who let me know! Am I that predictable? With all that there was to do in a whirlwind visit, I just crashed last night before my 8am flight from Thunder Bay.
On the flight here, I had some time to think about the SeLNO event. There were a number of things that stuck out in my mind. Probably the most important was the reply to my conference post by Richard Hodgkinson. He talked about the takeaway from the day, yes, a single day that he and his staff took to attend. Their trip home was 400km long. That really gave me pause. From Windsor, a 400km trip would land you in Oshawa or almost Owen Sound. In most times, that would be a three day outting – one day there, one day for the event, and one day back. In this case, the drive home on Thursday afternoon would enable that staff to be at work on Friday. What a commitment to their professional learning.
In my talk, I specifically recognized and gave kudos to the things that are available to Ontario Educators. Near and dear to my heart, of course, is the amount of licensed software available to Ontario classrooms, most with free takehome rights for teachers so that they can learn the software. In my breakout session with Ivan Strachan, we made sure that those in attendance were aware of the latest licensed titles at the OSAPAC website. From there, they can look at not only the latest, but the entirety of the provincialy licensed titles like Learn 360, Pixie 3, Microsoft Publisher, Adobe Creative Suite, Word Q, and so much more.
Beyond that, eLearningOntario has provided for Ontario students access to a Learning Management System complete with entire courses, a Learning Objects Repository, and now access to these resources for use in a blended classroom environment. While resources of this type area available all over the internet, the uniqueness of this is that the content is specifically written to support the Ontario Curriculum. In theory, you could just log in and grab your course and use it as is, comfortable knowing that the assignments, assessments, and learning objects have all been written and vetted by Ontario teachers. All of this for free to Ontario teachers.
Both the OSAPAC and eLearningOntario initiatives make me so proud to be able to tell folks the terrific things that are available.
Above the content though, consider the professionalism of those inside the system to learn and use these tools in the best possible mannger. Not only was the content referenced, but Ministry Education Officers were in attendance to teach and learn along with the 100 or so folks in attendance. There were many people there from Thunder Bay, but even more like Richard’s cohort who had made amazing time and travel efforts to attend for the day. It was great to talk to people from the eight districts from NorthWest Ontario during the day. Follow the link above to the Google Map and then back out so that you can see Kenora, Thunder Bay, and Manitouwadge in the same screen and look at the mapping scale. Look at the size of some of these communities and it’s not hard to visualize a Grade 8 class with three students in it eager to learn the same content as those in a major southern location with 35 students the same age. It’s also not hard to imagine the connectivity challenges that communities can have to take advantage of all this.
If that doesn’t make you proud of the commitment of these educators who are devoted to bringing the best to their classrooms using electronic methods, I’m not sure what will.