Participate DifferentlyPosted: January 18, 2012
I was involved in a most unique professional development workshop last night. This was part of the Engaging the Digital Learner Series hosted by School District 36 in Surrey BC. This was organized and hosted by my friends Kevin Amboe, Lisa Domeier and Orwell Kowalyshy. This took place at Eaglequest Coyote Creek in Surrey, BC. Last week Kevin offered me a couple of options on how I might participate in the workshop and share in some of the learning.
Well this was all pretty cool, I know Kevin and Lisa are always keen to push the envelop. I have used Skype to “attend” conferences like EduCon before, but those tend to be a one way deal. You end up being a passive audience member due to the fact you’re tethered to a webcam.
Kevin, Lisa and Orwell’s vision went way beyond this.
Using an iPad and FaceTime they brought me into the workshop and passed me around from table to table to engage in the conversations taking place. From my end I felt like Sheldon Cooper’s disembodied robot self. This was such a unique experience and it took me a while to figure out exactly what was different from a typical video conference. The fact that it was mobile on the other end made all the difference in the world. It was no accident that this was the topic of David Vandergugten’s extremely engaging keynote. David is the Director School District 42 in Maple Ridge BC. His action research on student achievement and mobile learning goes way beyond the idea that portable devices are just smaller desktop computers. I’ll save that for a future blog post.
There are still a few technical things to work out. For the first part of the workshop I had a great view of the venue’s ceiling. It was a very decorative ceiling mind you. I was being treated like an iPad, not a person. Kevin took care of me after that and propped me up to watch David’s keynote. While I could hear people perfectly on my end, the iPad just wasn’t loud enough for a noisy room for others to hear me. At one point Kevin held the microphone up to the iPad so I could introduce myself to the room. Not particularly practical, but something we will work on.
Later in the evening Kevin hooked me up to Apple TV for a quick summary of some of the evening’s learning. I was then introduced to Mike McKay, Superintendent of Schools/CEO, Surrey BC, for his closing remarks.
Leaf jokes aside this went way beyond just a video conference. This idea allows educators to connect and engage across districts, provinces and even countries. This group of forward thinking educational leaders just gave us a tiny peek into the portal of future learning.
P.S. Small detail. Kevin and I work 4,400km away from each other.