Day 1 at BringITTogether #ECOO13

I am tired.

But, very happy.

There were a few fires to put out at the first of the day of #ECOO13 and I’m convinced that the internet can never be your friend if you’re running a conference but beyond that, what a day!

The Google Spot was huge.  I was hoping to be able to sit in and take a look but there literally was no room.  The attendance at DJ’s keynote just filled the ballroom.  So, I thought I would go next door and sit in on the French session.  Things were going well until the conference walkie-talkie picked up conversation between people in the building.  My apologies, Lise and Pierre.  Sigh.

I toured the Minds on Media.  There’s so much good learning happening there.  Collaborating in groups was the order of the day.  Extra internet access points provided the needed network access.  I did get a smile.  Those who were running the event were tinkering with the best of them!  I saw a remote controlled helicopter and a Promethean table in action.

The food was awesome – a bunch of us dined in The Learning Space and I made my first tour of the Exhibit Hall. I just had to take his picture outside the Promethean bus as they were hanging up some T-shirts on a clothes line.

I finally solved an identity problem.  For months now, I’ve been interacting with  An old friend came up to chat during a break and identified himself – not in the life I know him from but his new role as the social media presence for the Cube.  It was a nice, nerdy conversation about PHP and SQL.  Good stuff.

There was the usual round of trouble shooting.  Some things were easily solved; others required a little more thinking!

The ultimate though was the opportunity to meet the many people I interact with online in a face to face situation.  Ontario Educators are such a great bunch.  Friendly.  Open.  Collaborative.

Lost!   It’s the first time at a new location and there must be some scientific reason, being so close to the Falls.  The helpful conference committee in the light blue shirts did their best to get people to the right place.

At the end of the day, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

That certainly put the day over the top for me.  I’m looking forward to more of the same on Thursday.


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.

Minds on Media at #ECOO13

The Educational Computing Organization of Ontario once again is proud to announce that Minds on Media will be an option for  attendees on the Wednesday workshop day.  Imagine an environment where your curiosity leads your learning through various stations where you have some of the leading Ontario educators there to fuel that curiosity.  BYOD and learn with your new friends.  The sessions don’t start with the statement “Here’s what you’ll learn” – instead it’s the question “What are you curious about today?”

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Take control of your learning and walk away with some new skills immediately applicable to your classroom.  Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the “minds” behind Minds on Media – Brenda Sherry and Peter Skillen.  If you missed it, the interview is stored here.  Learn about the philosophy behind the event and how the concept of pedagogista drives the day.

I’ve had the opportunity to act as pedagogista for Minds on Media a couple of times myself.   This is a unique learning experience not to be missed.

The complete #ECOO13 program may be viewed on Lanyrd here:

Register for #ECOO13 here:

Imagine a room full of teachers who are experts in playing, learning and teaching with technology. What could you learn from them?

That is up to you! Visit one of the ten centres or visit them all! You might be an absolute beginner or a whiz with technology – but this is about using new technologies with students through a ‘tinkering’ lens. You choose your ‘entry point’. Build your own plan for the day, be led by one of our facilitators or pedagogistas or have no plan! Learn what you need to know to play deeply and thoughtfully with your students this year!

When we speak of ‘tinkering’, we are blending two constructs:

  • physical tinkering and construction of artefacts
  • cognitive tinkering – with ideas

What Minds On Media Centres are at ECOO this year?

Create More, Consume Less: Creation apps and effective use. Angie Harrison,York Region DSB: @TechieAng

Tune In To Learn: Broadcasting with your Students – Aviva Dunsiger, Hamilton-Wentworth DSB: @avivaloca

Rock Your World: Creating in Garageband for iOS – Royan Lee , York Region DSB: @royanlee

Inquiry Science: Tinker. Play. Think. – Colin Jagoe, Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB: @colinjagoe

ArcGIS – online & mobile: Mapping & Geography – Peter McAsh, Avon Maitland DSB: @pmcash

The Sum of the Parts: Constructing and Capturing Conceptual Understanding in Mathematics – MaryKay Goindi, Upper Grand DSB: @MKGoindi

Playing with Media Literacy – Michelle Solomon, Neil Andersen, Carol Arcus, The Association for Media Literacy: @msolomonteacher

Introducing Kids to Computer Programming. It might be easier than you think … David Scott Upper Grand DSB

Building a PLN (Personal Learning Network) – Tim King, Upper Grand DSB: @tk1ng

N00bing it up in Minecraft: And how it relates to school– Liam O’Donnell, Toronto DSB: @liamodonnell

Google SPOT at #ECOO13

The Educational Computing Organization of Ontario is proud to partner with LEARNStyle to present a full day, intense series of workshops dealing with Google Apps for Education.  The sessions, led by Google Certified Educators will delve into all aspects of using Google Applications in your classroom.  Sessions will be offered in both French and English.  Pick from the sessions offered to tailor your own professional learning needs.  These sessions are ideal for educators interested in using Google Apps for Education in the classroom.  We know that many were unable to attend the recent Ontario Google Summit and that a large number of school districts have adopted Google Apps for Education recently.  This comprehensive program is for you!

The complete #ECOO13 program may be viewed on Lanyrd here:

Register for #ECOO13 here:

Google SPOT: A custom-designed Google Apps for Education Program

Google SPOT is a three-tiered program designed by LEARNstyle to introduce, engage and build skills around Google Apps for Education. Participants will gain foundational knowledge and specific examples of how Google Apps for Education can impact and bring excitement to their school boards, classrooms, and professional lives. Tailor your learning experience by choosing the workshops that best fit your classes and lesson plans!

Tier 1, Keynote: DJ Cunningham – CEO LEARNstyle

The Google SPOT keynote will showcase the power that Google Apps for Education has to support your teaching, through the innovative use of collaboration, cloud computing and apps.

Tier 2: Hands-on Foundation Course

This hands-on foundation course is designed to provide you with the core skills you will need to make Google Apps for Education a reality in your classroom. Participants will receive a practical hands-on introduction to Google Apps for Education, guided by 3 of LEARNstyle’s Google Certified Trainers.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and learn about Google Apps for Education with our hands-on interactive instruction!

Tier 3: Breakout Workshops Participants in these breakout workshops will have the opportunity to tailor their learning to suit their personal preferences. Choose from the following 8 Google SPOT workshops offered in 2 time slots to enhance your learning with Google Apps for Education!  Two of the sessions will be offered in French!

Break out sessions 1

1.1: Google and Accessibility presenter, D.J. Cunningham

1.2: Google Next Steps for Certification, presenter: Joe Carsdale

1.3: Using Google for Formative Assessment, presenter: Teresa Greco

1.4: French Topic TBA, presenter: Lize Galuga

Break out sessions 2

2.1: Making Videos with Youtube in the Classroom, presenter: Jen Daniels

2.2: Workflow, the Google way, presenter: D.J. Cunningham

2.3: Must have apps & extensions, presenter: Joe Carsdale

2.4: French Topic TBA, presenter: Pierre Sarazin

Filling a Dance Card

If you’ve been monitoring the Twitter stream since Sunday evening, you’ll notice that there have been many happy posts from people whose presentation proposals have been accepted for the #ecoo13 conference, BringIT,Together.  Indeed, part of the ECOO 13 Dance Card has been filled.  Here’s how…

Potential presenters were asked to submit their sessions online.  All of the information was collected in a database and there was an overwhelming total of entries exceeding 300.  These needed to all be independently reviewed and such was the task assigned to each member of the committee of 14.  In fact, each submission had at least three reviewers.  That meant that each committee member had 60-65 proposals to review.

All of these reviews were collated and a smaller group of 6 got together in Milton on a Friday night/Saturday morning to revisit each of the proposals, consider the evaluations already submitted, make suggestions and ultimately arrive at the portion of the proposals that would receive an invitation.  At this time, this included English language presentations.  Still to be decided will be the French language presentations and the presentation given by exhibitors.  The committee is excited by the selection of offerings to be delivered in French.

Sadly, not all of the proposals could be accepted.  There’s just so many rooms and timeslots!  The committee is working on a schedule designed to maximize the number of sessions offered.

For program purposes, each of the sessions were tagged by the committee and one of our members created a Wordle to give a sense of the content.


So, invitations have been extended and, as they’ve been confirmed, they’re added to the #ecoo13 Lanyrd site.  You’re certainly welcome to visit the site and watch as it fills with confirmation from presenters.  While there, if you’re going to join us in Niagara Falls on October 23-25, please indicate so.

If you can’t get enough of this, make sure that you install the Lanyrd  app or follow the site on your smart phone.  (It’s HTML5 enabled)

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Now you’re hopefully excited!

After all, keynote speakers Amber MacArthur and Jaime Casap plus all of these great sessions offered by Ontario educators (and beyond!) promise that #ecoo13 will be a great conference.

The registration process is being tuned and will be available for use by registrants in June.  Stay tuned to social media experts @pmcash and @aforgrave as they provide the latest details via their Twitter accounts, in the Facebook group and the Google Plus Community.  Make friends online now and plan to meet them face to face at the conference.  Got a colleague who needs a little prompting to get a Twitter account?  Perhaps this is the opportunity to sit at their side and get them signed up!

If you’re reading this post and presenting, why not add a comment and let folks know your area of expertise.