Observations from a conference

After a whole year of planning, the annual Bring IT, Together conference is over.  It’s a long drive home but that gave me some time to reflect on the past three days.

  • Lots of Ontarians were concerned about the US Election, staying up until the wee hours to witness the results;
  • I was told that 50% of Ontario School Districts use Office 365 and the other half use Google Apps for Education.  Interestingly, if there was a platform that was used and/or showcased by presenters, it was with Google products.  Except for a couple that uses Microsoft Powerpoint, Office 365 wasn’t to be seen;
  • Microsoft provided a “testing centre” at the conference.  You could stop in there and take a test towards certification.  I thought that was a great touch for those who are interested;
  • There were so many sessions and very few were focused solely on the tool but rather what it can do to enhance learning.  That’s definitely the way that it should be.  The conference committee chose wisely.  The exhibit hall was about the “stuff” so there was something for everyone;
  • Google Chrome is definitely the browser of choice for those who chose to display their content in one;
  • There were a number of presenter cancellations due to lack of support from their districts.  We were told by them that board professional development funding was directed to mathematics learning instead.  Too bad – they missed a great conference;
  • I’d put the quality of the presentations among the best that I’ve seen at an ECOO/BIT conference to date.  Ontario Educators are becoming more sophisticated each year.  That’s a good thing;
  • More than ever, a single person can’t get the most from a conference.  You need to send a team to get the most from the investment in time and to be successful when you return home;
  • The move to the Niagara Falls Convention Centre with its first class facilities and ability to do social events was probably the best thing that the organization has done to support the conference;
  • Carlo Fusco won the Slam demonstration for me.  His demonstration and explanation of Edpuzzle was my personal highlight;
  • A good conference becomes a great conference with first class facilities, a great organization team, wonderful presenters, and the best of Ontario Education teacher/learners chomping at the bit to learn everything;
  • No matter how many times I do it – the drive from London to Essex County is loooooong and flat – a hill to break up the view would be nice – 22km of construction around Chatham just doesn’t do it;
  • I don’t sleep well in hotels.

And most importantly, you need a strong network these days.  When the in-house needs a little help, go portable.

7 thoughts on “Observations from a conference

  1. Loved reading your thinking/observations, Doug! I really enjoyed the conference — I have a couple of blog posts brewing in my head that I have to get down soon — and have to thank the organizers had volunteers for all of their hard work. BIT is a favourite conference of mine, and this year did not disappoint. I also had NO problems with wifi, which is a first experience for me at any conference. Whatever people did to make that happen — thank you!

    Aviva

    P.S. Always nice to see and talk to you in person, and not just online. Glad we got this opportunity at BIT!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would add that I was so happy to see so many French teachers from all types or programs there. I met Core French, Immersion and French First Language teachers from all over Ontario. Someone told me that one in six participants were French. Our team not only learned a lot, but we had so much fun together. I am grateful to you and your team for the opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Andrew Forgrave says:

    Hi Doug!

    I’m intrigued by your second point. If, as your observation suggests, the vast majority of the presenters at #BIT16 were using GAFE as opposed to Office 365, what inferences might we make?

    • The 50% of Ontario boards which use Office 365 don’t allow their teachers out to BIT?
    • All Ontario boards are represented at BIT, but their teachers prefer to use GAFE?
    • Ontario’s forward-thinking educators were able to access and leverage power of GAFE when it became available and have stuck with it. Office365 was just late to the party.
    • We are simply in the dimension where GAFE predominates at BIT. In the mirror dimension with evil Kirk, Office 365 dominates, until the bearded Spock sees the light, and chooses to undertake the slow and laborious path necessary to avoid the otherwise logical collapse of his world.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always appreciate your reflections on this conference, and especially because I wasn’t there this year. The Google/Office 365 stats are amazing. I will say that for me, Andrew’s theory on early adoption is the right one. I was/am a Google user, and that is therefore easier for me to use with my students. My students are much more comfortable with the Microsoft tools from their desktop use, so, as I move them into more cloud-based tools, we sometimes use O 365 as a middle step. Also, my board chose to support O365 before they bowed to teacher pressure, and decided we could be a bilingual board. And I admit that I like Sway. But my first choice, for ease and intuitive use, is Google.

    Like

  5. Beverley Moss says:

    It was very nice to meet you. This was my first BIT conference and I had a blast meeting new people, learning how teachers are employing tech in their classrooms, and sharing the experience with our FSL group (Jen Aston etc). It was a fascinating and thought-provoking 3 days (loved the Keynote speakers). Thank you to you and your team and to all who came to share!

    Like

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