Tag: Niagara Falls

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This is a very special Friday for TWIOE.  Last week, the 2013 ECOO Conference happened.  Since that time, there certainly has been a great deal of buzz about the conference on Twitter.  Equally as exciting, folks have been blogging their perceptions.  As I run across them, I’ve been tucking them it specifically for this post.  My Tagboard for #ECOO13 has been invaluable!

Enjoy the messages – for those who attended, I hope that it brings back private reflections.  For those who didn’t attend, you’ll get a chance to see what you missed.  Hopefully, you’ll put this into your Annual Learning Plan and join the gang next year.

#ECOO13: What a Rush!

It was real pleasure to meet Colleen Rose in person.  She was also my captain for the Photowalk and helped me a great deal with night photography.  Her post is full of pictures from the event, reflections on keynotes and sessions she attended and a summary of the session that she and Jenni Scott-Marciski led.  I did take a moment to watch their presentation but couldn’t stay for its entirety.  I hope they post their resources.

This was a pre-cursor for the conference for me.  The only session that I got to see from beginning to end was my own!

post #ecoo13 where do we go from here?

Inspired by incoming president Mark Carbone’s Call to Action, Paul McGuire shares for the world what his next steps will be now that the conference is over.  I hope that he takes pictures when he talks about making the rest of the year a Minds on Media session!

Does Anyone Watch Cooking Shows for the Spatula? An ECOO Reflect

With a title like that, you’ve just got to read the post.  Jason Richea distills his attendance at the event and identifies five takeaways for him.  I couldn’t agree more than with #3 – Wifi Is As Important As Electricity.

Tweetwood Mac Live at Niagara Falls

Take a moment to enjoy a video of the Grand Finale when Tweetwood Mac took the stage after Kevin Honeycutt’s keynote.

Monday Morning Mirror – Reflections on #ECOO13

We can’t forget that conference attendance is a terrific opportunity to make and sustain learning friendships.  Brian Smith confirms this and writes ” ECOO feels like a homecoming of sorts, and getting to meet, talk and move forward, makes for a very rewarding 2 days.”

My Favorite take home from ECOO13

This was among my favourites as well.  I’d never seen a 3D printer in action and I have my own 3D ECOO logo.

My last 2 days of PD at #Edifide and #ECOO13

It was inevitable that someone would create a Storify of the Twitter messages.  Here is Harry Blyleven’s work.

My Favourite #ECOO13 Moment

At a PD Event, everyone has a favourite moment.  Andrew Campbell shares meeting a young teacher who got up really, really early in the morning just to get there on time and the impact that it had on him.  You’re going to feel good about our profession when you read this.

ECOO 13 ~ Reflecting on Learning

David Fife missed Kevin Honeycutt’s closing keynote because of a commitment to a PD event in London.  But he did catch both Amber MacArthur and Jaime Casap’s messages and shared his thoughts.  He invites you to share your own thoughts.  He selects a best quote and a best video from the two.  They’re not bad choices.

New Learning After #ecoo13

Aviva Dunsiger participated in both the Minds on Media event and the conference itself.  Consequently, she has made some commitment to change.  Read the post to see where her commitments lie.

Let’s Stop Talking Tools

In another post, Aviva tries to focus the conversation on things that really count.  Of course, I don’t hang around in her circles so I can only make assumptions about the conversations she has.  I’d like to think that we’ve gotten past the point of talking tools for the sake of talking tools.  If you’re not applying them to what really counts, you’re just irrelevant.

Thoughts from #ecoo13

Alison Bullock supplies some of the best guidance that I think we all say regularly “Give myself permission to fumble and drop the ball. Kids will think no less of me if I totally mess up a presentation, or accidentally erase files or links. They’ll laugh along with me if I start laughing first.”   I think kids and their parents will appreciate the effort, even if there are challenges getting it right the first time.

“When Words Become Unclear, I Shall Focus With Photographs.” – Ansel Adams

Patti Henderson was another photowalk leader and her group actually caught up with Colleen’s.  Patti correctly notes that not everyone learns the same way and draws us to consider imagery as an alternative.  If we could all tell stories like she shoots pictures…

ECOO Echoes

Brian Harrison marries The Beatles song titles with his direction of learning post conference.  I liked his description of the keynote speakers as being “edgy” and Brian reminds us “Too many in our profession are not looking ahead to the place where our students have already arrived-and are still moving, and if we are not with them we cannot have an impact on them- and they need us now more than ever.

ECOO 2013 Reflections

I really appreciated the approach that Jeff Brown took with this post.  Instead of a single post, he shared a link to a public Evernote document where he took notes for the individual sessions that he attended.  It’s only when you leave a conference like this that you realize that you missed more sessions than what you attended.  I felt I could get caught up just by reading.

ECOO13: Call to Action

Incoming ECOO president Mark Carbone had the opportunity to address the conference at the closing of #ECOO13.  He shared his remarks to the group on his blog for those who missed it or for those who wanted to quote him in their own blogs.

  • keep yourself in the role of the learner
  • tell your story: be visible, live out loud, create value, leverage video and social media, reflect and blog 
  • stay connected
  • consider frameworks such as the SAMR model as an ongoing change model 
  • consider the power of students teaching students through video
  • nurture those around you

Nurture Those Around You

Donna Fry had a busy three days at the #ECOO13 conference.  Her recent involvement with eLearningOntario meant working the workshop day and then she had the opportunity to participate in the other two days as a conference attendee.  She focusses on Mark’s last point about nurturing those around you.  It’s a good point; we all get better when we help each other.

MY THOUGHTS ON #ECOO13

The marriage of social media and face to face experiences was one of the foci of Brian Aspinall’s post.  I think he’s right; you can’t live on one or the other.  It’s only when they’re blended that you reap the biggest benefits.  At the end of his post, he addresses a very important question for a school or a system that “isn’t all there yet”.  Just how will your students, used to technology or a paperless classroom, success in a subsequent year when they go to a classroom that doesn’t have the same focus?

Eating the Napkins at the Buffet – Reflections on ECOO 2013

Well, I certainly hope that the napkins weren’t eaten.  There was a tonne of good food instead.  It really is a first world problem that your phone dies early because you’re tweeting so much!  Look to this blog post for a summary of the key takeaways from the three keynotes.  I guess if you’ve run out of power, you can always blog instead of tweet!

We Can See…at ECOO13

I’ve been a big fan of the “We Can See” project and have blogged about it a couple of times.  Magdalena Front had the chance to attend a session led by Angie Harrison and Jocelyn Schmidt.  Inspired, check out the YouTube video where she shares what she saw at #ECOO13.  You do have to watch it all – you wouldn’t want to miss the Twitter fingernails.

Parent Communication and accessibility

Angie Harrison, another Photowalk leader, made an interesting connection at #ECOO13.  She met with Karen Lirenman who had blogged earlier about adding a translation widget to her blog to faciliate communication with parents who might be more comfortable reading in a different language.  While Google Translate may not be perfect, it’s a wonderful example of how to try to reach out.  In the post, she gives kudos to the folks at Edublogs who helped her in the process.

My Many Attempts to the First Post…

The toughest blog post is the first one.  It’s where you want to make sure everything is perfect, no spelling errors, you have a sense that someone actually wants to read your thoughts, …

Well, #ECOO13 was the tipping point for this blogger.  She’s been sitting on her first post since August but ECOO inspired her to press the publish button.  Hopefully, this is the first of a number of shares in education.

#ECOO13 Conference Reflections

Diana Maliszewski is probably the very first person that I know who shared a passion for Minecraft with me.  I can’t remember when but I do remember her sharing her thoughts somewhere and I was in the audience.  Isn’t that awful?  At #ECOO13, she teamed up with a group of educators to show how the use of Minecraft ties to the Ontario Curriculum.  In her blog post, she summarizes her entire conference experience nicely and gave three takeaways from each.  I still can’t believe that she left the Minecraft LAN Party before it was over…

I wish that I had the time and the memory to do this.  Diana followed up with a couple of posts sharing some of the connections that she made at the conference.  They’re all going to be rock stars now!

Supporting e-Learning Students and Teachers in Small, Rural Schools – #ecoo13

I met Brandon Grasley when I spoke at an eLearning conference in Sudbury a couple of years ago.  Since that time, he’s been a very valued individual in the list of folks that I follow.  He has a unique insight that comes through in his posts, including this one about rural schools.  He also indicated, when he introduced me, that I would spam people with news stories every morning!  But it’s this sharing that keeps us all informed whether we’re isolated by rural settings or the reality of working in the big city but still separated from others.  I’ll always have the happy memory from Sudbury of how all of those Northern Ontario folks get together and they’re all just friends even though they are separated by distance. Brandon’s post shares how this all works from his perspective with his schools.

Living Out Loud!

Cathy Beach shares her thoughts about Kevin Honeycutt’s closing keynote and the important message about living out loud, be Google-able, and this can be so successful in making those important connections.  So important.  Even more important is that for this to be successful, you need to celebrate your mistakes and model that you can’t be an expert at every opportunity but at least you can be part of the conversation.  That’s where the power starts.

Dwelling in the Possibilities: Reflecting on #ecoo13

I think that the final sentence from this post sums it nicely “Conferences like #ecoo13 provide an opportunity to connect, dialogue, and learn from one another; and we left energized and excited to continue the conversation, online.”  I really enjoyed reading this post – another one summarizing a complete conference and thoughts of participants.  Over and over the posts that I read focus on teaching and not just the technology of a particular session.  This is getting it right and this post confirms it.  The location at the Scotiabank Convention Centre was new for us all.  Now that I’ve been there, quite frankly, I get a kick from looking at the pictures showing the locations from a participant’s eye.

Free Range Computing

Tim King is a gentleman that I look up to – literally and figuratively.  He’s been good enough to provide me with lots to think about in his blog.  He takes on many issues that many are either afraid to or hesitant to address.  Attendance at #ECOO13 made him re-think his position about what he calls “branding of education“.  It seems to me that the focus should be preparation of students to a future with all kinds of options and it sounds like he is right there with that.  Kudos and I hope to see a picture with all those logos you make reference to, Tim.

Wow.  Honestly, I can’t remember a time when it took me an entire week to write a blog post!  Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to blog about their #ECOO13 experience.  Co-chairing it with Cyndie Jacobs was a wonderful opportunity.  As I said in my opening remarks from the stage, we were so thankful for everyone who followed us to Niagara Falls.  The conference really grew in size but, until everyone showed up, we were so nervous about “What if you threw a party and nobody came?”

I don’t presume to state that this is the inclusive list of blogs that fell out but it is the sum of what I found and I thank those who took the time to share their thoughts.  You’ll find my own posts, if you’re interested, by backtracking your way through this blog.

In the meantime, I’m delighted to have found new blogs to add to the Livebinder of Ontario Edubloggers.  Please take the time to visit the blogs above and share your thoughts on their reflections from the conference.  I’m sure that they would love to hear from you.  If I missed your post, my apologies.  Please add a link to your own comments so that we can all enjoy them.

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Testimonial to SCCN


Dear Scotiabank Convention Centre

Last week, the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario held its annual conference at the SCCN for the first time.  We needed a facility that would be big enough to host an event of over 1000 educators and you delivered very nicely.  #ECOO13 was a year in planning and the results were so well received by Ontario Educators.  Over the year, many documents and many phone calls were exchanged to make the event the success that it was.

For the participant, the graphics on the screen outside the convention centre was a welcoming first sign of the high quality experience that lay ahead.  The lobby was spacious and well lit with natural lighting which served to energize and excite right from the start.  The centre proved to be very flexible for our needs.  The Port Colborne Lounge was arranged and rearranged a number of times over the three days.  The Fallsview Theatre was excellent for the morning keynote messages and the staff was quick and efficient moving the air wall to divide the theatre into two breakout rooms in the course of just half an hour.  The staff ensured that all of the audio and visual needs were met.

Thanks, @pbeens

A good conference provides great meals!  All of the refreshments were created in-house by the kitchen staff and served via six serving lines.  In the course of two one hour slots, the entire conference was able to get and enjoy their meal and then move on to the next event.  There were no delays in refreshing the serving stations.  The professional staff was constantly standing by to remove empty stations with new ones.  You have to try the chef’s yogurt to appreciate how delicious it is!

The staff members at the Convention Centre were easily identified by their professional appearance and their constant smiles.  No detail was too small for them to stop and lend assistance with a smile.  The event coordinator was quick to provide the registration desk with coffee and refreshments so that they could continue serve the attendees.  Most impressively, the Scotiabank Centre’s staff was equipped with bright red lanyards composed of recycled materials.  Speaking of recycling, even the carpet walkways were created by recycled materials.

The staff was attentive to every detail.  The conference organizers met with the entire team for introductions just before the event started.  We had one last chance to lay out our expectations and criteria for a successful conference.  We knew going in that the biggest challenges were going to be quick access to meals and snacks and reliable internet access.  The Information Technology Department knew this as well and recognized that their existing infrastructure was not going to be enough.  To that end, portable wireless access points were purchased and the staff moved them throughout the building to give the best chances of being connected.

When the day’s events were through, the Niagara Falls location offered all kinds of social opportunities.  Conference registrants were able to participate in a banquet, join an evening Photowalk to the Falls and Clifton Hill, enjoy a fun run along the Niagara Parkway, refine their Minecraft skills, or even take in a concert with the London group Comet.

Plus, who doesn’t like a facility big enough to drive a bus into as part of the Exhibit Hall!

The success of any event is a combination of great professional learning opportunities and a supportive environment.  We felt that the Scotiabank Centre went above and beyond to make the environment so conducive for learning.

Cyndie and Doug, #ECOO13 Conference Co-Chairs

Powerful Addresses at #ECOO13


Now that we’re into October, it’s just a few short weeks until #ECOO13 where ECOO and OASBO ICT will BringITTogether in Niagara Falls.  I’ve shared a number of posts about the conference already – “Who Do You Want to Meet at #ECOO13?“, “An #ECOO13 Walkthrough“, and more here.  Can you tell that I’m interested in seeing this event come together?

A good friend of mine told me once that the reason why you get involved with these things is something he called “enlightened self-interest”.  My not-so-subtle interests are to learn and to do my best to help connect Ontario Educators.  I’m hoping that the entire program helps to make all of this happen.

There are over 200 awesome sessions led by Ontario educators offered over the three days.  When you put together a conference like this, you hope that you have enough to appeal to everyone.  I know that the committee is particularly proud and impressed with the collection of proposals that were submitted for all K-12.

For our French language folks, there’s a big collection of offerings specifically chosen for you.

For everyone, there will be five keynote addresses spread out over the event.

D.J. Cunningham – 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.

Robert Baker – Robert Baker has been instrumental in developing technology programs both locally and internationally with a focus on the use of tablet PCs. At Cincinnati Country Day School, Rob is dedicated to creating the most powerful teaching and learning environment anywhere. CCDS is a Microsoft World Tour School, which is a group of the top 30 Schools in the World in terms of technology integration. Rob is an educator first, and this allows him to look at everything through the eyes of pedagogy, not technology.

Amber MacArthur – Amber Mac is an entrepreneur, television host, professional speaker, and bestselling author. She co-hosts a TV show on CTV/BNN called AppCentral, which airs nationally in Canada, Australia, and South Korea. Amber is a regular contributor on CTV News Channel and has appeared on various other networks, such as CNN. She writes weekly for Fast Company, where she discusses social business, digital productivity, and how to work smarter.  Amber has also hosted a number of online video shows for Fast Company, which her digital marketing company produces.

Jaime Casap – Jaime Casap is the Global Education Evangelist at Google, Inc. Jaime evangelizes the power and potential of the web, technology, and Google tools in education. He helps educational organizations across the world find ways to utilize these tools in support of new learning models. His team is responsible for bringing Google tools to millions of administrators, teachers, and students across the globe. Jaime was named one of Tech & Learning’s Top 10 Most Influential in Education, and is a SXSWedu (South by Southwest) Distinguished Speaker.

Kevin Honeycutt – Kevin Honeycutt is a technology integrationist and a staff developer from Central Kansas. He spent 13 years teaching K-12 art and 17 summers leading creative adventure camps for kids of all ages. Kevin now travels the country and the world sharing ideas with educators. His website kevinhoneycutt.org is a valued treasure house of resources for educators.

Please note that each of the keynote speakers will follow their address with breakout sessions to further develop the message they’ve delivered in their keynote.  (Except for Kevin Honeycutt – as the closing keynote speaker, his “follow up” sessions will actually precede his keynote!)

The official website for the conference is located at: http://bringittogether.ca/

The complete conference program is posted to Lanyrd at: http://lanyrd.com/2013/ecoo13/

And —- we’re off!


The #ecoo13 committee is happy to announce that registration is now open for the 2013 Conference, “Bring IT, Together”, Wednesday-Friday, October 23-25.  When you’re ready to register, visit the website and click on the orange button to get started.

If you know the ECOO Conference from the past, you’re going to love it going forward.

  • NEW Venue – Scotiabank Convention Centre, Niagara Falls, ON;
  • NEW Partnerships – ECOO and OASBO ICT join efforts to create a better conference;
  • NEW Social Events – Lots of opportunities to make new friends;
  • NEW Presenters – Many new faces will be on the program!

I am very excited as I watch all of the pieces fall into place.

I’m looking forward to hearing Amber MacArthur and Jaime Casap bring their messages through their keynote addresses.

I’m excited to learn about:

  • 3D printers;
  • Minecraft in the Classroom;
  • Early Years computer activities;
  • Where MOOCs fit into Ontario Education;
  • The principles behind Maker Spaces;
  • How classrooms can go paperless;
  • How to run an Internet radio station;
  • oh, the list goes on.  I can’t list them all.

There were so many Ontario Educators that were unable to attend the recent Google Summit in Kitchener.  The conference will rectify that with a full featured Google SPOT Custom Google Apps for Education series of workshops on Wednesday.  I think that it will be really exciting that there is a French or FSL session in every timeslot for our francophone and FSL colleagues.

There’s so much more and a simple blog post just can’t cover it all.

The entire conference is available for preview here.  While you’re at the Lanyrd website, download the app for handy access to all of the conference information.  And, look around.  As people express an interest in attending, they’ll be noted.  You’ll recognize many names and faces and Lanyrd has a feature that lets you indicate that you want to actually meet that person at the conference.

There will be many opportunities to make those connections.  Of course, there are the sessions!  But don’t forget the band/dance and Open Mic on Wednesday, the banquet on Thursday, the photowalk Thursday evening, the fun run on Friday morning, and just the opportunity to sit down and chat/learn with other attendees.

If you’re a Twitter user, make sure you’re following @pmcash and @ecooWeb.  These accounts will be a great source of information between now and October.

#ecoo13 is going to be a great conference.  Make sure that you’re there and please help spread the word about this self-directed professional learning event.

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.

2013-05-13_0927

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)

2013-05-13 20.02.22

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.

An Interview with Cyndie Jacobs


cyndieRecently, I had the opportunity to interview my co-chair for the #ecoo13 conference, Cyndie Jacobs.  I call her “the great connector” for her efforts on Twitter and other social media.  She seems to hunt out problems in search of a solution and has the ability to make the connection to people that she knows can assist in the search for a solution.  Through this, and her other efforts, she really does excel in bringing folks together for the benefit of education.

Doug – Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Cyndie.  This should be fun.  Can you tell the readers where we first met and why?

Cyndie – You’re very welcome Doug! We met very briefly at the first OTF Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century workshop, then I invited you to the Curriculum Forum retreat in February 2010 as a guest presenter. Our theme was Web 2.0 and it was my first experience with Twitter.

Doug – I have fond memories of being packed into that small room for the Curriculum Forum.  How did social media take off with that group of Ontario leaders?

Cyndie – I’d like to think it was a 100%  success. The reality, though, is that those members for whom it is a true benefit have stayed with it and are using it both professionally and personally. There aren’t many, but we continue to encourage the use of social media among the Forum members. At our retreat this past February, we saw many more members tweeting using the hashtag and posting some of the information on Facebook.

Doug – For those unfamiliar with the Curriculum Forum, could you explain what it is all about and how it’s so important to Ontario Education?

Cyndie – The OTF Curriculum Forum is comprised of a representative (usually the President or Vice-President) from each of the 51 Subject and Division Associations in Ontario. We meet three times during the school year for what we like to think is valuable professional learning. We bring in new organizations to describe what they have for teachers, people such as Jowi Taylor (Six String Nation Guitar), new educational tools and anything we believe teachers in the classroom could use. I prefer to think that this is the fastest and most efficient way to reach the classroom teacher – bypassing the Ministry, the school board and the Principal in the school. If a teacher needs a resource, here it is! (As we all know, new initiatives and resources are often held up for years at EDU or at the board office awaiting approval and distribution.)

Doug – One of the next big things where you conscripted my assistance was the first ever Google event in Ontario.  Can you refresh our memories of that weekend?

Cyndie – That was the result of the Curriculum Forum retreat on Web 2.0. I contacted Google and requested to hold a Google summit here in Ontario on a Saturday in October. It had never been done outside of the US. They couldn’t call it a Google event. Rather, it was CUE (Computer Using Educators) and was facilitated by Google-certified teachers. We had arranged, through OTF, to cover hotel for out-of-towners and I arranged for a computer lab at Humber College. It was such a thrill to meet so many of the ‘tweeps’ at the tweet-up on the Friday evening! I had been communicating with all of them on Twitter since February 2010. The day was very successful, IMHO, and folks left with many new tools and resources.

 Doug – The Ontario Teachers’ Federation has really taken the lead in the contemporary use of social media, not necessarily for specific subject disciplines, but as a way to connect Ontario Educators.  How successful do you think that’s been?

 Cyndie – Very successful, in that many of the ‘tweeps’ in our PLN joined initially because of the OTF events and, since 2009, have met, introduced others to the PLN and it has now become a huge network of busy, thriving Ontario educators. The involvement of ECOO and the annual conference has helped to grow this network immensely.

Doug – Can you give some specific examples that would point directly to your involvement?

Cyndie – In the early days of the OTF workshops, I was there as the OTF social media support – posting on Twitter and Facebook. At other OTF events since I joined Twitter, I attend to tweet about the event. If someone in the office wanted to get some information out far and wide, they would ask me to tweet it! Since those early days of my involvement with social media, I do a significant amount of the ‘connecting’ as you call it: connecting Subject Association folks with others in the PLN; connecting Ministry folks with tweeps in the Associations; providing input, when asked, about how best to ‘spread the word’ – through Social Media; etc. I am very much a detail-oriented worker and like to ensure that as many people as possible are connected to whatever it is I am doing. I suppose you could say that I fulfill my role as “the great connector”!

Doug – So now you and I find ourselves as co-chairs of the 2013 Educational Computing Organization of Ontario’s Conference.  If you’re into social media, you’ve got to have visited http://www.bringittogether.ca at least once to find out what it’s all about.

What things about this Fall’s conference would you like to highlight?

Cyndie – I’m hoping that the whole ‘social’ aspect of Bring IT, Together will be a new focal point. Running with Alana Friday morning, learning how to take great night photos with Peter Beens and Ron Millar, a banquet overlooking the falls, a social event with door prizes and the endless opportunities for networking, sharing and learning from each other. I’m also looking forward to the mix of people we will have there: the OASBO ICT folks, French-language educators, National Film Board, our keynotes… It’s going to be awesome!

Doug – Making a physical move outside the proximity to Toronto is a big thing.  Why Niagara Falls?

Cyndie – Location. location, location. As with many Toronto born and bred folks, getting away from the big smoke is a great thing. Niagara has so many things to offer conference attendees: Niagara Parks has tours, events and activities (especially for those who want to bring their families); wineries nearby; the falls themselves (spectacular); museums and other attractions within walking distance; and it’s still within the Golden Horseshoe for those who attend the conference from southern Ontario. It’s a natural to attract people from far and wide!

Doug – I think that it’s consistent with your approaches for connections that the conference will also feature some new partnerships for ECOO.  Why is this important?

Cyndie – ECOO is all about how we share and grow. With new partners, this becomes much easier and hopefully, in time, ECOO will become the go-to organization for everything technology and education-related. As education becomes increasingly tech-oriented, educators, parents, vendors, students…they will all have a reason to be connected to ECOO. We are here for them and for each other!

Doug – A good conference should promote the connections above and beyond the new learning.  What sorts of opportunities do you feel participants will take advantage of?

Cyndie – There are several: the new ‘Learning Space’ will allow folks who just want to explore solutions or share new ways of doing things to spend some time together; exploring night photography; any and all social/networking time; having a full French-language stream will allow the francophone educators to be an integral part of ECOO and of the learning; with OASBO ICT as a partner, educators will be able to interact with those who provide the technology. And many, many more 

Doug – Are you up for a trip to a wax museum?

Cyndie – Not me, personally. Madame Tussauds in London in 1972 was enough for me! however, there are plenty of other Niagara attractions I’d love to visit – if there’s time!

 Doug – Now that you have retired, you can now devote your energies to all kinds of things.  The ECOO Conference is one but I know that you’re back at the helm of the Uxbridge ‘uxperience’.  Can you tell us something about that?

Cyndie – It’s my annual contribution to my musical heritage! ‘uxperience’ is a variety show comprised of local adults who volunteer their time to put on a show every year at the beginning of May. I am the Music Director, so my role is to teach the chorus their songs, work with the band, play in the band for the band feature tune then conduct the whole thing for the show! It is my passion. I’ve been in the show for 21 years and see myself continuing for as long as they want me to do it. We select a local charity each year and all funds raised are donated to them. This year it’s the Uxbridge-Port Perry Animal Shelter. Since the show began in 1992, we have donated well over $100,000 back into the community. The theme for this year is sports: “Let the Games Begin”!

Doug – When does uxperience start its run?  If people are interested, where is it and how do they get tickets?  Do you have a website to promote it?

Cyndie – It starts tonight, May 2 and runs through Saturday, May 4 with 2 shows on the 4th. The website is http://uxperience.webs.com/ and there should still be tickets left. They are available at Sugar FX in Uxbridge. If anyone reading this wants to attend, they can message me on Twitter (@cyndiejacobs) and I can put tickets aside for them!

Doug – In addition to being yourself on Twitter, you’re going to be the online ambassador for the Ontario Music Educators’ Association.  What do you intend to do in that role?

Cyndie – I hope to bring music educators to the OMEA web site ultimately to join OMEA, but also to see the amazing wealth of resources we have to offer music teachers. The Arts are so important for learning. I’ve just added the OMEA Twitter account to the new Tweetdeck, so I’ll be posting articles, resources, information and anything of interest musically on Twitter and Facebook.

Doug – I know that you’re a big TweetDeck Air user.  What tool will use now that Twitter has announced the end of TweetDeck?

Cyndie – I’ll be using the new Tweetdeck! I had a long chat with Andy Forgrave last night and we looked into the new Tweetdeck. It will allow me to reply to a Tweet either as myself or from the OMEA account, depending on the what the content is. It seems to have many of the features of the old blackbird-on-yellow Tweetdeck. The new one is the black Twitter bird on blue. I’ve also set up the OMEA accounts on Hootsuite, but it seems more complicated to me – so far. Maybe with some basic experimenting and a lesson or two from the master – YOU – I’ll be fine!

Doug – Finally, you’ve always promised that in your retirement you’re going to blog and share your thoughts and insights into education.  What’s the address of your blog?  When do you see it taking off?

Cyndie – I knew you’d ask this… The address is cyndieuncorked.org. I just went there to verify the address and it said it’s under construction. I have no idea what that means. My good friend Peter Beens created it for me almost 2 years ago and I have been avoiding it, I think. I’m quite ‘out there’ with my opinions and I don’t tend to hide very much behind rhetoric or BS. I call things as I see them. This wasn’t the best recipe for blogging in my former role at OTF! I did use the blog last summer after my partner died to get the message out that life’s too short to put things off. I think it was read by many of my tweeps. I’m thinking that a safe topic on which to blog would be EQAO – since it is universally a source of angst and disgust by educators. I promise – I will get to this blogging thing and I’ll do it before too long! I’m just not too sure that people will want to read what I have to say about education – my thoughts and insights aren’t always mainstream, you know! (This could be interpreted as an understatement)

Doug – Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview.  I’m excited to partner with you for the ECOO Conference.  This is going to be a great deal of fun.

Cyndie – Thanks for interviewing me, Doug! I know that your blog is very widely read, so I’m flattered that you’ve asked for this glimpse into who I am. #ECOO13 will be an amazing event – for both of us and for everyone involved!

If you’re not following Cyndie on Twitter already, you really should do so.  You can find her at @cyndiejacobs.

A Tale of Two Hashtags


If you’re going to a conference, and want to connect with the great people there, you can’t beat the informal gatherings that typically involve coffee.  During the conference, I think it’s also important to share your learning and insights with others.  Some folks just can’t attend for whatever reason and yet still are interested in knowing what’s happening.  They just don’t get the coffee.

To the plate comes Twitter.  In short bursts, people offsight can learn vicariously and people onsight can seek out and look for people to meet for that conversation and coffee.  To focus the conversation, the Twitter hashtag makes tracking the conference specific conversations.  As I mentioned earlier, my current favourite tool for doing this is tagboard.

As conference co-chair for ECOO 2013, I always have a tab open to keep an eye on the official hashtag #ecoo13.  A quick scan lets you know who’s interested in the conference and who’s doing the Twittering about it.  Like a good movie, the use of the hashtag in advance of the conference gives a preview of the great stuff to come.

But, before I head off to Niagara Falls, there’s another of my favourite conferences to attend.  MACUL brings together about 4000 educators from Michigan and beyond.  A look at a tagboard for @macul13 gives an idea.

We also live in a world of visuals and the infographic is another tool to visualize what’s happening.  Visual.ly provides a number of tools to easily create your own infographic.  So, I thought – what’s happening with the MACUL hashtag?

So, now I know!  What’s happening with #ecoo13?  We’re still months before the conference but there’s already some chatter happening.

Stay tuned for details!  Got your own hashtag that you’d like to visualize?  Do it here.

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