Inquiry through Blended Learning

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Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lilly Conference, Austin, Texas - January 2015

I finally had a chance to travel to Austin, Texas in order to keynote a session on Teachingin Blended Learning Environments: Creating and Sustaining Communities of Inquiry for a Lilly Conference.  Of course I made sure to take lots of pictures of the capital city of Texas and I also was privileged to attend some very innovative and informative conference sessions.  I was impressed with how a large number of sessions had digital handouts and resources.  One of the highlights for me was definitely the session on Formative Assessment: Technology Enhanced Approach by Vivian Johnson and Trish Harvey from the School of Education at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.  I also enjoyed a session on Peer Mentoring .

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014

This was our year to spend Christmas with Marie's family in Quebec and we had another amazing holiday in the Charlevoix region - with lots of skiing and winter fun.  I did my best to capture a number of events with pictures :)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario - November 2014

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to visit with Alex at Western and this weekend I had a chance to visit with Eric at McGill and I made sure to take lots of pictures!!

From my perspective, both boys are really doing well at university.  This trip began with a flight to Toronto and then a drive to the cottage where I had Friday night dinner with Bill at the Lombardy Diner and then spent the night at Ruth and John's cottage.

Saturday morning I drove to Montreal for a visit with Eric and his Calgary friends (Luc, Joe, and Thomas had driven from Queen's and Dylan had flown from Calgary).  We went shopping on St Catherine's Street in the afternoon, had dinner a Rueben's Deli, and then Eric and I went to a Montreal Canadians hockey game. The team was playing Minnesota and before the game they had a ceremony to retire Guy Lapointe's number 5 jersey.  Both Larry Robinson and Serge Savard provided emotional speeches.

On Sunday, I got back in the car and drove to Toronto for a visit with Phil and Angela at their new home in Ancaster.  We had a wonderful evening walk and dinner at a local pub.  The next morning we took the GO train into Toronto where I sat in on Phil's 4th year entrepreneurship class.  We had lunch and a tour of campus and then I headed to the hotel for some work.

On Monday night, the Ryerson Teaching and Learning Centre group took me out for a wonderful dinner at a Portuguese dinner.  They are a very passionate and energetic group and I was so glad they invited me to speak to their faculty!!

On Tuesday, I facilitated a lunch time session on  Teaching in Blended Learning Environments: Creating and Sustaining Communities of Inquiry that was well attended.  I really enjoyed the audience participation and I hope I get a chance to come back to Ryerson as this is a very innovative institution!!

Monday, November 03, 2014

King's College at the University of Western Ontario - October 2014

I was very fortunate to be invited to once again provide a keynote and workshop session for King's Technology and Pedagogy conference at the University of Western Ontario.  Not only was this a chance to re-connect with a very engaged group of faculty members but it was an opportunity to visit with our youngest son Alex, who has just begun his first year in Kinesiology at Western.

The focus of my sessions were on using digital technologies to support high impact practices such as Collaborative Learning Assignments/Projects and Undergraduate Research.  I was also able to attend some very interesting sessions on capstone course and the use of class blogs.  Here is the link to the capstone course blog and a sociology course blog.

Outside of the conference, Alex and I had a chance to visit the Niagara Falls region and spend some time with Cathy and Peter in Toronto.  There were still some fall colours despite the cool weather and I did my best to capture some pictures of my trip :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Brazil Trip - September 2014

Once again, I was very privileged to be invited to visit a university in another country and I tried my best to take pictures to capture the experience. This time the destination was the UniversityFederal of Sao Carlos in Brazil. I had never travelled to South America before and I must admit that I was initially a bit apprehensive. But . . . 5 minutes after I arrived I was overwhelmed with the hospitality of the Brazilian people who definitely have a passion for life.

I arrived in a brand new terminal of the Sao Paolo Airport. My first revelation was that Sao Paolo is considered to be on the top three cities in the world in terms of population (over 20 million people similar to Mexico City and Tokyo).

Isabelle, a Professor for Sao Paolo met me at the airport and a driver then drove us through the countryside to Sao Carlos, a city of around 200,000 people. Spring had just arrived in Brazil and the rolling hills were covered with spring flowers and green grass. The scenery reminded me a bit of the Napa Valley region of northern California.

Sao Carlos has two major universities and several factories such as Faber-Castell, which manufactures pencil crayons. I was impressed with how friendly and relaxed everyone was and I felt totally safe and secure, walking through the streets.

Each night, I was treated to a wonderful dinner where I was able to sample Brazilian food and drink. The fruit was wonderfully fresh and sweet and the beef was richly spiced and salted. The beer was smooth and refreshing and the distilled sugar cane was dangerously alcoholic.

I spent the first two days, facilitating a series ofeLearning workshops for education graduate students and staff from the teachingand learning centre. I was impressed with the speed of the Internet (Sao Carlos is a major node on the Brazilian network) and the willingness of the participants to collaborated with myself and each other. I ran all the workshops through Google Docs and the participants used Google Translator to transform their responses from Portuguese into English.

The University is situated in a beautiful forest that not only provides shade but is the home to parrots, toucans, and small monkeys.  It definitely is a very special academic environment!!

For my last three days, I attended the University’s distanceeducation conference where I facilitated the opening key note session . There were also other keynote speakers from Spain, Portugal, and the United States.  It was a tremendous learning experience for me. Once again it got me thinking of the connections between the Community of Practice (CoP) and the Community of Inquiry (CoI) frameworks.  Vanessa Dennan from Florida State University facilitated a wonderful session about the use of the Cognitive ApprenticeshipModel for designing, facilitating, and leading an online course.  I really need to incorporate this model into my own teaching practice.

One of the key take-aways from this conference was a reminder of the potential of the Internet to provide quality, accessible, and cost-effective educational opportunities to all members of society.  Potentially empowering everyone to become active members of a strong democratic society 
This really rang true to me on the return drive to Sao Paolo through the pouring rain and overwhelming traffic caused by more and more people moving from the rural to urban areas in the world. The noise, the smells, and sight of raw sewage floating along the surface of the city’s river definitely made me pause and reflect on how fortunate we are in Alberta.  I just wish we would invest in education like the Brazilians!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cottage Life - Summer 2014

I am extremely passionate about our family cottage on the Lower Rideau Lake in eastern Ontario and I made four trips to the cottage this spring and summer.  While I only had limited time with my two sons - Alex and Eric - I had a wonderful couple of weeks with my two nephews Benjamin and Noah.

I tried to capture the cottage experience in photos several times over the summer :)

Northern Vancouver Island, Kayaking Trip - July 2014

To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary - Marie and I embarked on a week long kayak trip from Telegraph Cove, off the north-eastern shore of Vancouver Island, with North Island Kayak Touring Company. Our destination with the Broughton Archipelago and the mainland of British Columbia.  We were very fortunate to have great weather and mostly calm seas.  Our guide Joelle was an amazing chef and very passionate about the wildlife we encountered throughout our voyage.

Here are some photos from our adventure!!

Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario - June 2014

The last conference of the 2013 to 2014 academic year - the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Annual Conference at Queen's University in Kingston.  Another chance to visit one of my Alma Matter's - as I graduated from Queen's with B.Sc. Honours degree in Geology.  It was wonderful that the opening reception was in a new Arts Centre on King Street West - right across the street from a house that I lived in for two years.  In addition, the conference was held in the Faculty of Education building so it was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about their B.Ed. programs.  I just made one presentation at this conference:

No pictures (end of the academic year fatigue :(

Canadian Society for Studies in Education Conference, Brock University - May 2014

Another opportunity to travel and present with MRU Education students at a conference.  This time it was the Canadian Society for the Studies in Education Annual Conference at Brock University. It's always wonderful to experience a conference through the eyes of a student and we also had a great time visiting Niagara Falls and the local vineyards.  Here are links to our two presentations:

And, of course there is a photo album as well :)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

IDEAS Conference, Calgary, Alberta - May, 2014

What a pleasure to attend an Education conference at the University of Calgary with three of our Mount Royal Education students.  Each of them facilitated a wonderful session that warmly received by an audience of K to 12 teacher and administrators.  Here are their sessions:
And, of course a few pictures of everyone in action :)

Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova, Scotia - April 2014

April was definitely a month for travelling :)  I was able to cap the month off with a visit to my Alma Mater - Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It was exactly 24 years ago that Marie and I graduated from Dal with our Bachelor of Education degrees.

It's always a pleasure to return and this time it was to keynote Dal's annual Teaching and Learning Conference.  Here are the links to my keynote and a plenary session:

And, of course their are my photos of Halifax :)

University of Ottawa - April 2014

A late spring in eastern Ontario this year but it was wonderful to visit the Ottawa area in April.  The University of Ottawa (Canada's National University) has embarked on a very ambitious blended learning initiative and it was exciting to facilitate workshops with their Teaching and Learning Support Services over a couple of days.

Here are the links to the workshop I facilitated:
And, here is a link to my pictures (I even got a chance to visit the cottage :)

American Educational Research Association Conference, Philadelphia, Penn - April 2014

The city of brotherly love - what an amazing venue for a conference and a wonderful way to learn about the history of American Independence.  I really need to make a more complete blog posting about my reflections of visiting Philadelphia but for now I'm just going to create a link to my two conference presentations and my pictures of the city :)