Documenting the #RCAC13


During October and now December, I’ve had the privilege of co-chairing two conferences with two amazing folks – Cyndie Jacobs and Doug Sadler.  Both events were instrumental in bringing together Ontario Educators for an event of learning, sharing, and reflection on practice.  The most recent event was the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Symposium 2013.  Hashtag for the event was #RCAC13.

This is a really unique event.  Unlike ECOO which tries to reach out to the province, the RCAC Symposium’s audience is Directors, Superintendents, Principal/Vice-Principals and technology leaders within districts and schools in Southwestern Ontario.  There are lots of PD events for this type of people but the RCAC Symposium allows for a smaller, intimate, intensive, one day learning event about technology and teaching.  I’m not aware of any professional learning event that attempts to do this in the same way.

It’s always nice to sit back and reflect on a conference when it’s complete.  If you have more “that worked wells” than “wish we’d done thats”, it’s a success.  My sense is that we had more “that worked wells”.  It wasn’t perfect – as my co-chair noted, “if it’s all working perfectly, you’re not using enough technology”.

The biggest thing, and it’s always a technology conference bugaboo, is that the internet worked – and worked well.  We’ve gone through a number of different attempts over the years with the Lamplighter Inn and this year’s implementation seemed to work nicely.  I had only one complaint and it was shown to me on a computer that was connected and we looked at an email together so…

In this post, I’d like to share three ways that the conference was documented for me.

The first was just one of those things that fell into place.  My co-chair, Doug Sadler (@sadone on Twitter) and I were having a last minute check of things on our “minute-by-minute” document on Wednesday night after all of the helpers had headed off to bed.  We were pretty happy with the way things were shaping up and, as we typically do, we were sharing our latest technology finds.  He showed me this new app (Noom Walk) that he was using as a pedometer on his phone.  I showed him a graphing app that I used (My Tracks) for much the same thing but I thought it would be a hoot to try out the app that he showed me.  Besides, my old pedometer had gone through the wash and no longer works!  He indicated that his goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day.  My dog would love being with him!

Next morning, I was up and working on things at 4:30am and I just slipped my phone in my pocket as I was out to check the setup in the ballroom, the foyer, and the breakout rooms.  The restaurant in the hotel wasn’t open when I was ready for breakfast so I hopped in the car and headed out to Tim Horton’s.  I had to get some donuts for a purpose during the conference anyway so it was no biggie.

Then, Symposium hit and the typical tasks were done.  Checking that presenters were good to go, moving door prizes in and out of the big ballroom, walking and talking with people, attending a session, etc.  At day’s end, it was a matter of packing up all the stuff, filling the car, and heading home eventually to be greeted by the dog who needed his evening walk.  Later, I had a chance to sit on the couch and wondered why my feet hurt.  I remembered – Doug’s app – I looked and it had indeed been counting for me.  12,157 steps!  That’s a lot of walking.

The second documentation was pictorial.  Yes, I had my phone and took some pictures but they pale in comparison to having it done right.  But, here’s a picture I took anyway – the Lamplighter Poinsettia tree.

Poinsettia

Andy Forgrave had his amazing camera and tripod on the go.

Now, I know he probably would have taken a ton of pictures but he put together a nice collection in a Flick gallery.  If you couldn’t join us, or if you just want to remember, take a look here.

And, finally, what’s a technology conference without Twitter.  We used the hashtag #RCAC13 and put it right on the cover of the program. There was no excuse for not knowing what the hashtag was.  People didn’t miss the opportunity.  Tweets were flying from all over the place.  Certainly, the majority of them came during the two keynotes but you’d find them in every breakout session as well.

All the way home, I could hear my smartphone chirping away letting me know that there was another tweet in the works.  I was dying to read what was happening but, of course, you don’t tweet and drive.  Upon my arrival, there were a lot of private messages but certainly even more to add to the activity from the day.

To keep track of things, I created a Tagboard of the day’s tweets.

I also put together a Storify document of all of the Twitter activity.

What a great collection and it’s interesting to work backwards through the timeline to remember what a great day we had.  If you’re not into Tagboard or Storify, certainly just a Twitter search for #RCAC13 will get the job done.

I know that those in attendance, and those who were ineligible for door prizes but joined us virtually all found that something that expands their understanding and learning about how technology makes a difference for students in the year 2013.  After all, to paraphrase keynote speaker Gary Stager, you can’t be teaching the 21st Century learner if you’re not a learner yourself.

And, I’ll award the “Tweet of the Day to Rodd Lucier”…

If you attended the conference or were just following the hashtag, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please add them below.

Final Program for #RCAC13


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The Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s new website has been updated to reflect its program for the Symposium to be held in London, Ontario on December 5.

http://westernrcac.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/rcac13-final-program/

The RCAC Symposium has been held annually in December for a number of years.  Its purpose is to show off some of the creative things that are happening in the Western Ontario region.  By design, the symposium is only one day long to make it appealing to trustees, directors of education, superintendents, principals, and technology leaders within a school district.

In addition to the breakout sessions, two thought-provoking keynote addresses should serve to encourage a reflection about local initiatives, priorities and future directions.

The day is packed with ideas that will either confirm your planning or inspire you to do new things.  The contacts that you’ll make are second to none.  The holiday setting at the beautiful Lamplighter Inn makes for a relaxed environment for learning and sharing.

Check out this year’s program at the link above.  I hope to see you in London.

Technology Refresher


I just took a look at a David Pogue TED talk.  David is a favourite speaker here in Southwestern Ontario.  He’s keynoted the Western RCAC Symposium twice and helped shovel my car out of a snow drift once.  (it’s all part of the deal of coming to London in December).

PogueandMe1

His tech talk is interesting.  It’s titled “10 top time-saving tech tips“.  Now, you’re a sophisticated computer user, right?  I’ll bet you know all these tips.  The bigger question is:  Do you use these regularly?  Is this the way you do business?

Now, think back.

Who taught you these tips?

How will students learn these productivity tips?  Do you teach them?  Do you at least model them?

 

Pictures to Perspective


Living in Southwestern Ontario, we do get our share of storms.  For the most part, you just hunker down and wait until it’s over.  The biggest inconvenience that I think we’ve ever had might be a power outage for a period of time.

Three years ago, a tornado hit the Leamington area.  It did some pretty terrible damage.  That’s the closest to being near such a storm that I’ve had.  Roughly a year later, a tornado tore through Huron County where I spent my childhood.  The powerful storm ripped through Goderich and Benmiller.

These were horrible storms and yet these pale in comparison to the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.

The Atlantic, this week, posted a photo essay that really puts the damage from the tsunami in perspective.  Click here to see the imagery.  The first image that you’ll see is a combo before/after image.  The rest of the images on the page are also before/after images.

Witness the first picture after the storm.  Then, click on the image to see the image fade to a similar shot from today.

It’s such a powerful use of images and technology.  It really helps to visualize the power of a tsunami.

How else could you use this technique?

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