Friday, June 23, 2017
The day began with me, as a member of the executive, having the privilege of announcing the poster of work winners at the opening session.
The first place outstanding poster award went to Linda McGilvary, Lori Schoening, Doreen Hayward, and Hannah Foss from the Geophysical Institute, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA. The title of their poster was "Learning Through Cultural Connections: The Northern Lights."
I personally love the idea of learning about the North and cultures through science, and I would love if kids around the world could follow the curriculum that is shared openly from this grant from the US Department of education. More information can be gleaned from the following website: culturalconnections.gi.Alaska.edu
Afterwords our keynote was delivered by Karen Schriver of KSA Communication Design and Research, Inc. on "Implications of Information Design for Technology-based Learning". Many of the design and writing styles we teach in our communication classes at BCIT were covered; she said that there is less of a debate on sans serif font use now, but spacing between letters is crucial for comprehension of words on screens. Something I learned was the impact of "small multiples". According to Wikipedia, "A small multiple is a series of similar graphs or charts using the same lscale and axes, allowing them to be easily compared." To me, small multiples seems to crowd screens, but for the effect of contrast, I may consider using them in the future. And for scientific writing that my students do, transferring teh concept into their presentations may, indeed, have a place. In sum Karen emphasized spending time on design and plain language to improve the student experience.
I popped into a 10 am session on "Assessing without Testing", but it was geared towards elementary learners and a purchaseable software from a vendor, so I popped out recommending to EdMedia that knowing a topic in my 3.4/3.8 stream would have been more helpful to know that it was for primary audiences. The 3.4/3.8 stream to which I refer is the code for session topics that fall under these two categories: Improving Classroom Teaching and Teaching/Learning Strategies.
As I planned to go to the room for my next presentation, I was able to catch the end of Alan Amory's presentation on the African storybook initiative (http://www.africanstorybook.org/). And like us, and the poster session in British Columbia on open educational resources (OERs) for cultural connections by the University of Alaska, I am heart warmed to see the early adopters who are sharing materials for the benefit of others worldwide. I am planning on sharing these materials with the educators in Greece and meet at ICICTE so that I can help promote literacy and shared curricula. The country of Greece is experiencing such dire times economically which has a top-down effect on education and learning environments. OERs like this can be a game changer for countries who need resources at no cost. I, too, would like to contribute to the OER materials by producing course materials with PressBooks starting from the fall. I miss being a researcher and presenter at these educational technology conferences and will endeavour to be presenting next year. Complications to my foot surgery last September prevented me from contributing a research project, but being healthy again gives me options!
The next session I attended was entitled "From "Sit and get" to "Stand and Deliver": Harnessing the Power of Digital Media to Enhance Learner Engagement and Student Success" by Katie Alaniz, Houston Baptist University River Oaks Baptist School, and Dawn Wilson, Houston Baptist University USA. The presenter reminded us in a very interactive style that some jobs today did not exist before, like being a Blogger or Analytic Processor. She provided us with a very effective graphic on the six Cs of 21st-century learning. She recommended three websites for collaboration and ownership,
Finally, the last session I attended at the conference was on cognitive load theory entitled, "How Might Technology Impact Student Learning?" where the presenter posits we keep adding to students' loads but never take away anything. Larry Tinneman, the presenter, from Indiana State University observed how our brains are changing, shrinking with language capabilities and moving to the more visual area of our brains. Like other presenters, he reminded us to consider including the way students today communicate as part of our assignment criteria, like using video production. Building the creative side of the brain with problem-solving objectives will also engage today's learners. We do not want to become obsolete as we watch students who often learn more outside the classroom than inside the classroom, and remember to teach the critical thinking skills for them to navigate through the technology as we've seen evidenced in the Smithsonian artifacts of explorers who had to forge their way with new methods.
Although EdMedia will now be hosted annually in Amsterdam as of 2018, I hope to still be involved. I have had such a rewarding conference experience since 2009 as a participant, researcher, presenter to executive team member. Being a part of the executive and seeing how things are run from behind the scenes has impressed me even more about the quality of this conference and its dedicated Chairs, organizers, volunteers, and participants. I thank BCIT and EdMedia for making all this sharing and learning possible.