My #GAFESummit Experience: Next Steps as an eLC

Google Summit Ottawa;customLogo

1260 people;

sold out in hours;

for good reason.

I tried to complete this follow-up post earlier this week about my experience at the GAFE Summit last weekend, but I just couldn’t find the time. Although it was a weekend of work and travel, it was an opportunity that I am thankful I did not pass up.

Thank you once again Tom Carroll.

In my first post from the weekend, I continued my recent trend of discussions regarding barriers to technology in the classroom, focusing more on adopting new, current and trending technologies by all levels within K-12 systems. After a few days to think back on the bigger picture and everything that I learned, I rethink how I am going to approach this school year in my next steps.

One of the highlights of the weekend was on Sunday morning during a session by Mark Carbone and Andrew Bieronski about their journey with Google Apps on the Ground at WRDSB. One of the amazing features of this session was that they were livestreaming it (yes, you can access the recording now until the end of the month here); by doing so, I was able to email a group of colleagues back home (admin, IT ,teachers) making them aware of this opportunity. The even more amazing part (wait for it): six of them participated from their sofas back in North Bay!

I received the following message immediately following the session from our superintendent:

Thanks Peter for providing this link and opportunity! I was able to join in for most of the session (with my morning coffee!)…wow, anytime anywhere learning!

social_12The other experience that I reflected on both during and after it happened was a conversation through Twitter. The power of a hashtag allows attendees to have conversations with others at the conference, even though they are not even in the same sessions as you. My experience of this started by a tweet of my own, which then caused a great conversation with @innovation2Learn (you will have to view the tweet here to see the conversation thread):

If I wouldn’t have tweeted this out, I wouldn’t have not only taken my thoughts to the next level, but learned from @innovation2Learn (sorry, I don’t know you’re name! 🙂 ).

I also attended two sessions by Julie Millan this weekend – one of them being Creating Pathways to Success: Using Google Apps to Support Portfolio Development. A highlight from this presentation was learning how seamless using Google Apps could be as a portfolio tool for students. This was a timely session to attend, given the new implementation of the All About Me for K-6. We are currently determining how to fulfill this requirement.

Google Apps may now be a front runner.

A recurring theme that I can’t seem to get enough lately at a personal level is Digital Citizenship. This is a hot topic right now, not only because of it’s importance but due to its lack of presence in some classrooms. Gone should be the days of device lockdown, where students are told they need to keep their devices in their lockers. It seems that there should be more than enough programs to choose from out there, but I continue to struggle with this as I cannot clearly determine a provincial ‘standard’ to follow.

mediasmart-logoJulie Millan also shared MediaSmarts.ca, which, for some reason, I was oblivious to. I wasn’t able to attend her last workshop Live Out Loud: Creating a Digital Legacy, but here in the lies the value of presenters sharing their resources online. I knew about it – couldn’t attend, but here I am referencing her materials. This is the benefit of being a connected educator (October is Connected Educator Month).

I sent a few emails this week, and lo and behold I found out that this resource is not only provided by the Ministry of Education for grades 4-8 in Ontario, but that they are also working towards an integration within the provincial vLE.

Optimism – check.

Having had the opportunity to not only attend such conferences but to have conversations face-to-face with people – that I may know (through Twitter) or may not know at all – always seems to provide me the much needed research to help me move forward. As an unofficial educational ‘consultant‘ of sorts (it comes with the territory), I have taken on many initiatives over the past few years in helping administrators and IT determine what technology and programs are best suited for our students and teachers these days. This has been both a productive and bumpy road at the same time for various reasons; nonetheless, I can’t get enough of it.

My role has provided me with the contacts and opportunity to see and hear first-hand the successes that other school boards are having with emerging educational technologies. It is natural to think ‘why can’t we have that?’ In due course, I hope to put our system on the map of being at the forefront with the kinds of tools, practices and research that I find myself seeking out these days (years), and to be able to share these successes with others.

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