Lots of highs and a low

It’s always refreshing to think about a conference once it’s passed.  I have a to-do list of things to follow up with in the upcoming weeks.  I love stuff like that.

Fortunately, most Twitter users have been using the hashtag #bit15 so that the list of potential learning grows based upon the experiences of those who attended sessions that I couldn’t attend.

As I sit here, my friend Colleen Rose is reminding me how little artistic ability I have as she warms up for Sylvia Duckworth’s Sketchnote session that we’re going to attend.  I’m so worried that I’m going to be left back at the end of the session!  As it turns out, first session was full so I didn’t get the whole experience.

Many takeaways include tech things to discover for sure.  More importantly, I have social takeaways.  I had a chance to meet or catchup with people face to face, including a former student.  We sat together at the magic show and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also had a great opportunity to meet Jennifer Casa-Todd in person.  She owed me a coffee and I took her up on it.  It was probably the quickest hour of the two days that I was here.  In my mind, she’s exactly the sort of leader that a school district should have in a position of responsibility.  She has a vision, insight and just exudes the passion for her beliefs.  Her district is so lucky to have her on staff.

As long as I’ve known Cal Armstrong, I’ve never seen him present.  I really enjoyed his session on OneNote.  It’s amazing how a tool really shines when demonstrated by someone who knows it inside and out.  I’d never heard of Delve before – if you’re an Office 365 school, you really need to make it available.  Apparently, it isn’t by default.  I like the concept of the class notebooks but I don’t have an educational account so can’t really experiment.

Brenda Sherry and Karen Buetler gave an important session about Digital Citizenship from the OSAPAC perspective.  The resources seem to be very complete and all districts would be well advised to take these in.  It makes you wonder why any individual district would want to write their own.  These are ready to go or you could remix them if there’s something missing.

I chose sessions wisely.  Nobody, in the sessions that I attended, tried to sell their ideas with that tech theory that so many people have embraced without really thinking it through.  For that, I’m so thankful.

I was tired, at one point, so didn’t walk out in the middle of a session.  I normally would – it was a vendor session where the presenter bad mouthed a competitor product.  That’s never a good idea.  Oh, and another good idea for presenters … turn off Twitter notifications while you’re presenting!  Digging through the distraction though, it was mildly interesting.  There should be guidelines!

I did get into Sylvia Duckworth’s second Sketchnote session and, while my culminating activity looks like a dog’s breakfast, I now get so much more.  I’m starting to think that I could actually do one of these things.  Stay tuned.  Of course, Colleen shone here as well.  The big winner?  I got a new image for my Twitter profile thanks to her skills.

Heidi Siwak was dynamite as the closing keynote talking about her work with students and integrative thinking.  This presentation could be canned and made required understanding for all educators.  I hope that this launches something good for her.  ISTE needs to consider her as a speaker; her message needs to be spread wide and far.  We all are wondering just what is contained in the other 40 slides in her presentation.

I couldn’t help but think that this should be on a banner over the entrance to her classroom.  I loved the way that she described her classroom and the dynamic of learning and working together on Wicked Problems.

“Together, we’re smarter than Google”

The low?

Yes, there was a low.  Normally, takeaways from a conference range from great to really great!  I learn so much.

However, in this case, a presenter elected to use this blog and how it’s managed as a bad example in a session.  I remember a quote from my first vice-principal “nobody’s completely useless; they can always be used as a bad example”.  So, I guess the rainbow here is that I’m not completely useless.  In addition to what transpired in the session, this individual elected to take it online via Twitter; I guess to make sure that I (and the rest of the world) got it.  So, if the intent was to be hurtful, it succeeded.

It was a strange year with the job actions throughout the province.  Kudos to those school districts who supported the continual professional learning of their teachers.  Overall, there were a few empty seats and that’s sad.  Hopefully, for the organization going forward, it’s just a little blip in the big scheme of things.

Having co-chaired this conference for the past couple of years, I know at a personal level how much effort, time, and organization it takes to be successful.  It was considerably more relaxing to enjoy the event as a participant and I was happy to help with the promotion of the things I saw.

My congratulations to the organizing committee.



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10 responses to “Lots of highs and a low”

  1. Aaron Puley Avatar

    Hi, Doug. I’ll own up as the identity of he who tweeted and mentioned you on Twitter. Please know that, yes, we used you as an example (as a compliment since you are so well known) and as a case study, yes, in that we were talking about owning you own domain, your own little piece of the intenet and the brand that is you. Your domain here – where you blog primarily – and where people come to read your work is http:/./dougpete.wordpress.com. dougpete.ca and dougpete.com are both available for $15.00 a year – you could map your name to this blog thus removing all mention of wordpress.com. There are many different scenarios around this but the ‘winky’ face in the tweet was indicating that I was being ‘cheeky’ – intentionally so but by no means with ill-intention or malice. I apologize if you were insulted but not for using you as an example as that it was critical inquiry is all about – public people can and will be public example during discussion. Twitter, however, is clearly not the place to have a discussion. I have deleted the tweet. If you would like support in how to own your own blog and to move away from commercial wordpress to your own self-hosted version as we were discussing I’d be happy to help.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Heidi Siwak Avatar

    Thank you so much for your kind words and wishing me well. I was thrilled to present at BIT2015 because I see the impact of Integrative Thinking on students. They become very willing to take on hard tasks and persist with difficult thinking. They become so confident. Hopefully I will have more opportunities to take this important message to a larger audience. I also hope that more Ontario teachers are tapped to be keynotes. There is amazing work happening in classrooms all over this province and the world needs to see it. Great drawing Colleen!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. dougpete Avatar

    Heidi – you and I have always used the ECOO/BIT Conference as a chance to talk and I’ll admit that I listen to your wisdom far more than I talk. I was so delighted to see that you had the opportunity to share that with a larger audience. I was so impressed with your delivery and your stories. You looked like a real professional on the stage and looked like you’d been delivering important messages for years. I hope that other organizations or school districts take advantage of your expertise now that you’ve had this exposure. I know that some of the Ministry attendees had left before the closing keynote but I did notice one sitting near the front who was nodding her head energetically and taking many notes. You had a significant impact.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. dougpete Avatar

    Aaron – I didn’t name names because I learned of the message second hand. I wish that we had talked before hand so that you were aware of more details. As background, “dougpete” is a nickname, actually a legacy from ENOREO, that used that technique as a naming convention. I had used it to be consistent with things I first created and I still use it as a quick reference to resources that I might create. I would be hesitant to register a nickname but have registered http://www.dougpeterson.ca as my home on the web. It actually maps to a Google Site where I try to pull things that I do together into one place. This blog is one of those things. I actually have a self-hosted blog in a sandbox so that I can learn how that works. Even then, it’s easily identified as a WordPress back end. I also leave this blog on the WordPress site to demonstrate to teachers that they can get their own blog up and running easily without the need to install software and make sure that it’s patched and up to date. For the record, there’s also a dougpete.blogspot.ca which I use for another purpose. I applaud you for having the ability and dedication to keep your server and blog software up to date. I’ve just elected, rightfully or not-so-rightfully, to go this route. So, as Paul Harvey would say “Now you know the rest of the story”.


  5. colleenkr Avatar

    Oh dear, I hope I didn’t discourage you, Doug! I love sitting next to you because you are so curious and willing to explore new ideas, media and technologies — you inspire me constantly. You teach me so much in the online environment that I often jump on the chance to attend a session with you because your creative energy is so cool.


  6. OTR Links 11/08/2015 | doug --- off the record Avatar

    […] Lots of highs and a low | doug — off the record […]


  7. Aaron Puley Avatar

    I knew all of that but “Digital bullying? ” Really? One comment about whether or not you should have a domain name? It was one tweet. I’ll be sure to never mention you again if you’re that sensitive.


  8. dougpete Avatar

    Colleen, you inspired me to get my game together with this. You do things like this so easily and, like I’ve said before, you see things that I miss. This hands-on Sketchnote experience has really motivated me to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. colleenkr Avatar

    Aaron, I think that this is a great learning experience for everyone. We are challenged to teach good digital citizenship habits to our students, but that doesn’t mean that we are fault-free. This is a healthy reminder of the reasons why we consider the people on the other side of the screen before we share opinions or advice.

    I would also add that it can be challenging for anyone who works publicly; especially those who share so much of their worlds with others, as Doug does so generously. Sometimes there is an assumption that it’s almost ‘ok’ to critique their work because they are comfortable in their role (similar to the way that people criticize celebrities). I would probably take a different stance on this, because it isn’t easy to share with others. If anything, we are making ourselves more vulnerable by writing our thoughts and then offering them for all to see. When we receive criticism in any form, this can be a disheartening experience because we invest so much in what we do. I know it would sting if my work was used as an example of what not to do…

    Please know that I value your work and I am not trying to discourage you in any way. I applaud Doug for being willing to blog about a somewhat negative experience, because I think it’s important to discuss the consequences of our actions. I guess I choose to see this as an opportunity to revisit my lessons of digital citizenship with my students, because they are so helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Aaron Puley Avatar

    Absolutely! The context was also completely lost with the sound bite that is Twitter. Criticism and discussion, however, is what democracy is all about so I don’t agree that people shouldn’t be ready to be drawn into discussion if they learn and share out loud in public. Our student’s should certainly reach out and carry on discussions with anyone they can find. It’s ok to disagree with people as long as it is done in a respectful way and I maintain that this was – again, it was done in a tongue-in-cheek manner that was missed – the winky face indicated humour. There was no digital citizenship faux paux here more than there was an unwillingness to dig deeper into the context.


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