Wow, the 2007 to 2008 academic year has certainly provided me with some tremendous opportunities to travel to a number of interesting conferences.
This year culminated in my trip to England to attend the International Conference on Blended Learning. This is the 3rd year I have been involved with the event. The first year, Randy and I presented a sessions from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) Conference in Toronto and then last year, I attended the actual event. Besides attending the conference the trip to England is a wonderful opportunity to catch up with Rick and Diane Mills. Last year they introduced me to road biking and I purchased my own bike as soon as I returned to Calgary. This year we spent a weekend in Winchester, which is located in the south-eastern part of England. Apparently, King Alfred, the first Anglo-Saxon King of England established his headquarters her in 800AD and a replica of King Arthur's Roundtable hangs in the remnants of Winchester Castle. In 1382 the Bishop of Wykham established Winchester College as a feeder school to New College that he had recently established at the University of Oxford. Both of Rick and Diane's boys attend Winchester College and it was fascinating to visit the College and the Towne.
As usual, I took lots of pictures of the trip
and I had a great time cycling in the countryside around Winchester. I always feel like I'm traveling back in time as we pass through villages with thatched roof cottages and country lanes bordered by tall hedges and stone fences. This year Rick and I even did a cycle tour through the City of London.
I then headed north to Hatfield and the University of Hertfordshire. This University is quite similar to Mount Royal College as the institution has a long history but the present campus is located on land that used to be an airfield. In the case of Hatfield, the land was previously occupied by the De Havilland and British Aerospace companies while MRC was built on a former military base and flight training centre. Both campuses have new buildings with lots of windows and natural light, which I really appreciate.
I particularly enjoyed the conference this year as I knew a number of people and there was lots of time allocated for networking. I helped to facilitate 6 sessions from Canada via Elluminate with the conference. There were some audio problems with a couple of sessions but the majority were well received. Mike Powers from Laval University and myself did a session on Blended Online Learning Environments (BOLE)
Two sessions that really stuck out for me were one by David Nicol on Re-Engineering Assessment Practices (REAP)
and one by Myles Dyer on Video Blogging
. David's premise is that good assessment practices provide students with higher quality learning experiences and he has developed a set of guiding assessment principles to facilitate this process. Myles very eloquently demonstrated how vBlogging can be used as a powerful self-reflection tool in order to document personal learning growth and development. As usual, I posted a set of notes from the conference
and Myles included and interview with me in his YouTube Video
about the conference.
I must admit that by the end of the conference I was exhausted. Trying to keep up with life back in Canada, teaching the blended learning course, and actively attending the conference have all caught up with me. Time now to go "into the wilds" of British Columbia.