Professional learning changing


We had another mixed emotion day here on Sunday.  There was a birthday in the family. Normally, we’d all gather somewhere and celebrate.  Of course, in these days, celebrations have to take on a different form and we adapted. We celebrated but a family grouping in Zoom just isn’t the same.

It’s not just family celebrations, of course, that are hurting.  

There are professional learning events as well.  It seems to be a little funny to discuss these things when schools aren’t even in operation but here we are.  The biggest technology conference sponsored by ISTE (International Society for Teachnology in Education) has announced that it’s re-scheduling its annual conference to November.  https://conference.iste.org/2020/attend/COVID19.php

I wonder if the big crowds that normally attend will do so this year with the change.  Educators and vendors from everywhere descend there. I’ve been to many and have made many enduring friendships over the years.  It’s so expensive to attend between registration, hotels, and flights to get there but I’ve always found a way to make it happen.  The only one that I ever drove to was years ago in Minneapolis and we turned that into a family visit. I keep hoping that some day they’ll see the light and recognize that Detroit has a superb facility right down on the river.  

I wonder about the “getting” to the conference though.  I know that, from here, it would be a four hour plus flight to California.  After September 11, the airline industry really changed. Because of the current fear of spreading disease, airlines are going to need to up their game again ensuring safe seating and safe air for breathing in their airplanes.  Add to that the wait at security and the large gatherings in airports where these areas are like the anti-social-distancing model.

But, kudos for having a plan and communicating it with the world.

A similar challenge has faced the CSTA (Computer Science Teachers Association).  As with ISTE, they have an annual conference in the summer. This year’s conference was scheduled to be held in Arlington.  Plans for a face to face conference have changed and the conference will now be held virtually. https://csteachers.org/Stories/we%E2%80%99re-going-virtual

Both organizations are committed to the concept of providing professional learning to their members.  There is a danger in missing a year. People tend to forget and move on to alternatives. There’s much to be said for loyalty.  

Just recently, I got a message out of the blue asking me when the BIT20 Conference would be.  I’m certainly not in the loop these days other than by clicking on the website but can offer some thoughts.

As a former President of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario, I wonder about the logistics of our normal November conference here in Ontario.  If there is any professional learning money left, will it still be directed to the benefit of Ontario educators?

A couple of years ago, we experimented with a new concept – #ECOOcamps.   The idea was to hold a professional event on a Saturday with a minimal cost to teachers.  It would be held locally – our case in Owen Sound and really celebrate the expertise of those local educators.  We had tremendous support from the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board and Bluewater District School Board. From my perspective, it went over well (who can forget the weather?) – and over well enough that it was repeated the following year and expanded to Peterborough.  The design was to fit into the middle between an EdCamp and a formal conference. It included keynotes, exhibitors, breakout sessions, informal sessions, breakfast/lunch and no hotel stay all for the price of $25.

In a perfect world, we’d be hearing about a gearing up for an #ECOOcamp and the Bring IT, Together conference itself with calls for proposals, etc.  The website currently has a thank you for attending last year – https://bringittogether.ca/.  

ECOO has had an annual learning event(s) since its inception.  It’s an opportunity for Ontario Educators to get together and share best practices with each other and push each other to greater things.  As I look at the picture on the website, I really do enjoy viewing people that I know or at least recognize. They represent the best for looking for great ideas for the use of technology in Ontario schools.  I can give you a long list of people that I look forward to reconnecting with every year. Plain and simple, it’s just the place where we’re all together in one spot.

Certainly, we’re living in challenging times and educators have been challenged in ways like never before.  They really need to see that their professional association has their backs in some manner so that the quality learning, in whatever form it might take, continues.

Can anyone share the status of other conferences from your professional associations? We do live in a time like no other with schools on hold. As a person who has always thrived on learning opportunities, I hope that the powers that be find some way to make them continue.

OTR Links 03/30/2020


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