An #ECOO13 Walkthrough

I can’t believe that it’s been almost a year since Cyndie Jacobs and I agreed to co-chair the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario’s (ECOO) 2013 Conference.  And yet, every time I visit the Bring It, Together website, the countdown clock is a reminder that we’re just a month away from the event.  Are we ready?  Maybe not today but with the increased frequency of online meetings, we’ve got to be soon!

One of the things that Cyndie and I both made as a condition of doing this was that we would be given some freedom to change the conference to a different type of format.  This was agreed to and we were off.  Right up front, there were a couple of very noticeable changes.  First, this year ECOO will be partnering with the Ontario Association of School Business Officials ICT (OASBO ICT) to host the three day event.  Secondly, we’re moving the conference to Niagara Falls and its beautiful new convention centre.  There were two immediate things of note with these changes.  ECOO and OASBO ICT have long held fall conferences but separately!  By combining the power of the two organizations, the exhibit hall will have many new faces and the program will have a much bigger breadth of sessions.  We’re hoping that classroom teachers will sit in on technical sessions and that technology administrators will take the opportunity to hear what’s happening in classrooms throughout the province.  As for the location, could there be a more social place to gather than by the Falls?

Now, the organization for this event has put our collaboration skills to the test.  We’re meeting online and via email and with a whack of shared documents.  But, the most important one for our planning is our Minute by Minute document, an idea I stole from a good friend of mine years ago and it’s saved my bacon many times.  Daily, I visit the document and try to visualize how the three days will go.  I know right now that the biggest complaint will be that “I couldn’t do it all”.  But, hopefully, people will be able to do “most of it”.  Registration is on the rise – I checked on that statistic this morning.


Now that people are back to school with new technology, new ideas, and new connections made over the summer, we just know that the registration will continue to grow.

As I look at the Minute by Minute, I realize that there is no straight line path through it from Wednesday to Friday.  With all of the social aspects though, there’s a great deal that could be missed.  So, today I’d like to walk you through the conference as I see it.


A good conference begins with planning before ever leaving home.  Planning is a good pre-conference activity.  Here’s what I think you should be packing.

  • a comfortable pair of walking shoes;
  • a good pair of running shoes if you’re a runner;
  • at least one device that will connect to the internet for tweeting, Google Plussing, Facebooking, email, etc.
  • download the Lanyrd app from your store and get it ready to go with the conference program located here.  Don’t hope for a paper program; there won’t be one unless you print your own;
  • your best camera (and another one if you wish);
  • your tripod;
  • your guitar or other musical instrument;
  • a power bar (because you don’t want to hog the only outlet in sight).

Wednesday (Workshop Day)

I always like to get to a conference early.  That gets you the hottest coffee and the shortest line to wait (for coffee and for registration).  It’s also a nice time to walk around and get the lay of the land.  I always hope to land a nice chair to have my coffee and make sure that my devices are connecting to the wireless.  Coffee and wireless are two high priorities.

There will actually be three breakfasts on the Wednesday.  The eLearning Ontario (eLO) people will be in the Port Colborne Lounge; the OASBO ICT people will be in the Peller Estates Ballroom D and the ECOO people there for workshops will have a continental breakfast in the pre-function area.  You’ll want to be with “your people” for breakfast and conversation!  Then, it’s off to learn.

If you’re registered for the Wednesday, there are day long workshops for ECOO people, meetings and activities for eLO people, and a diverse group of offerings for the OASBO ICT people!

The Exhibit Hall opens at 10.  Make sure you get your Wednesday passport and visit all the booths.  Some of the best ideas you might get will come from talking to an exhibitor or engaging with another attendee at an exhibitor booth.  You’ll be impressed with the Exhibit Hall.  There will be more big name exhibitors than ever and a booth devoted to educational startup companies.  They want to show you their innovative endeavours and they want to get feedback from front line educators.

Lunch is scheduled for 11:30 and there will be tables right in the Exhibit Hall.  What could be easier?

Make sure you make dinner plans with someone.  There are so many options from right in the hotel to everything that Niagara Falls has to offer.

But, make sure that you’re back to the Convention Centre for 8:00.  In the Peller Estates D Ballroom, Comet will be in concert.  And, remember your guitar or other instrument?  During breaks, it’s your turn to take the stage.  I’m looking forward to my musical friends from Waterloo performing.


The more traditional conference format takes over this day.  Well, almost traditional.  Make sure you get your coffee and continental breakfast.  It’s going to be a long day.

We’ll start the day with Amber MacArthur from AppCentral, CommandNTV, and The Social Hour as she gazes into the future of teaching and learning and the technology trends that she sees that will definitely change education.  She’s then going to follow up with a panel discussion about the “Future of the Textbook”!  Right after the morning keynote, the Exhibit Hall opens.  Make sure you get your Thursday passport before you visit the booths again.

Then, we’re off to great sessions offered by Ontario Educators.  I want to attend them all!  But I can’t so I hope that I can choose wisely.

If you’ve looked at the schedule (see link above), you’ll probably notice a couple of things…and this was driven by the great sessions proposed…

  • Every session starts “on the hour”.  This means that presenters only have 45 – 50 minutes for their message.  One of the conference members called it a two day pecha kucha!  This helped us get more sessions scheduled!
  • There is no lunch break.  Yes.  We’re not shutting down for food.  Instead, there will be tables in the Exhibit Hall and a lunch will be served over a two hour period so that you can schedule your lunch as it fits you.

There are also some unconventional things happening during the day.  First, 105The Hive K-12 Student Internet Radio will be broadcasting all day from its second floor location.  If you want to learn about internet broadcasting for your class or your students, just drop by and learn.  Grab a microphone and get your ECOO message out!  The other thing that YOU need to make happen will be at the back of the Exhibit Hall.  This is a place currently with no name.  It’s a place, a lounge, a sanctum, you call it, but it’s just for you to drop by and learn with others.  If you need to further the discussion from a session, meet up with others here.  If you’ve got a great idea to pitch to others, do it here.  It’s organic; make it what you need it to be.

Despite all this, make sure that you’re in the Exhibit Hall at the end of the day with your completed passport.  There will be a draw for door prizes.

Now, you’re not going back to your hotel to sleep.

Make sure you’ve registered for this – there’s an ECOO Dinner at the Marriott Hotel.  Join others for dinner and conversation before heading out.

Heading out?  Absolutely.  If you’ve packed your camera and tripod, there’s a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a Photowalk along Niagara Falls.  Learn from the best about how to take night photography at what has to be one of the most photographed places in the world.  The walk could take you up Clifton Hill and its neon-ness.  Make sure that you’re posting the best of your artistry to the ECOO collection so that we can all enjoy it.  But we’re not done yet.  Back at the hotel, there will be a jam session for those who brought their musical instruments and, for the curious, a MineCraft LAN Party.


Make sure that you set your alarm clock early.  Instead of people just heading out and running in random directions, join Alana Callan for the “Run with Alana” event.  She’ll take you along the Niagara Parkway where you can run and get refreshed by the mist from the Falls before heading back to the Convention Centre.

Coffee.  Enough said.

The morning starts in the Theatre with a keynote address from Jaime Casap, a Google Evangelist.  Learn  Google’s thoughts about the web, tools, and education.  High energy from Jaime will get you started for another fabulous day of learning.

The sessions continue…every hour on the hour.  Get your Friday passport and visit the Exhibit Hall again.  Broadcast from The Hive, enjoy the learning, strike up conversations and friendships.

Make sure you take a break for lunch.  It’s the same deal as Thursday.  The conference doesn’t stop for lunch.  You make the time to break and get nourished.

Before long, you’ll be ready to head home but there’s one final stop – the closing keynote address from Kevin Honeycutt.  He’ll remind us that we change lives and that you need to go forward with what you’ve learned over the past three days and change things in your classroom and influence everyone that you contact.

And what would a grand finale be without door prizes?  We’ll close off #ECOO13 and empty our treasure chest of door prizes before we head home.

It’s going to be a very busy three days.  I’m looking to renew friendships and make a whole lot more.  Are you with me?

I know a lot of you reading this are already registered for the conference.  What did I miss?  Can I challenge you to write your own post about how you’re planning to spend the three days?

Complete details are on the Bring It, Together website.

OTR Links 09/12/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.