Inquiry through Blended Learning

My Photo
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Central Michigan University - Faculty Development Workshops

What a shock to the system!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After spending three and a half long days in the car driving back to Calgary from the cottage - I almost immediately boarded a plane and flew to Central Michigan University to facilitate a series of faculty development workshops. The fun began about an hour out of Chicago when the pilot indicated that we might have to be diverted to Detroit because of poor weather conditions at O'Hare Airport. Luckily, we caught a break between the lightning and thunder head clouds and we're able to land. It was a bit spooky as we taxied into the gate as there were almost no planes on the ground because of the lightening storms. Upon debarking, the monitors indicated that my flight to Midland, Bay City, Saginaw (Tri-City) Airport was going to be delayed for about an hour and a half. That changed 5 minutes before flight time when a PA announcement indicated that the flight had been cancelled. I booked myself on the next available flight at 7:30pm but again 5 minutes before flight time - an announcement was made that the flight would be delayed until 10pm. And, at 10pm - another announcement that the flight would not leave until 11pm. It was a welcome surprise when the flight did indeed depart at 11pm. It was a short flight but with the time change - I didn't arrive at the MBS Tri-City Airport until 1:30pm. I then had to rent a car and drive an hour to Mt Pleasent in the dark. I checked into the hotel at 2:45am and by 3:00am I was in bed.

It seemed like my head had just hit the pillow when my alarm rang at 7am and I was in full flight. I met briefly with the Jim Theirell, the Director of the Faculty Centre for Innovative Teaching at CMU at 7:30am. I then drove over to campus to get ready to facilitate a session on the Seven Principles of Good Practice in Education for 100 new faculty members. I was surprised how well the session went considering how exhausted I was (keen group of new faculty). I had a 30 minute break and then dove right into my next session on Student Engagement and Web 2.0: What's the Connection? Again, great audience response!! We broke for lunch and I began to feel my energy waning. I had a brief break after lunch before launching into a two hour session for a "seasoned" group of faculty on Blended Learning: So Many Technologies, So Little Time - Which Should I Consider and Which are a Waste of Time? A relatively good session but I could definitely tell that I was not operating on a 100% battery power. I hung around and chatted with faculty for a while before heading back to the hotel and a run through the CMU campus - lots of green space. The humidity was almost a 100% from a tropical hurricane moving up the east coast of Florida and I was still sweating after a long shower. I had a fun dinner at the hotel restaurant with Dan, Sarah and Jim from the Faculty Centre. Afterwards, we attended a wine and cheese reception for the New Faculty in the hotel ballroom but after one beer I literally "hit the wall" and returned to my hotel room for some much needed sleep.

I woke up the next morning still exhausted but managed to muster up enough energy to drive back to CMU and facilitate one final session on Student Engagement and Web 2.0 for the "seasoned" faculty. A really good turnout (everyone from yesterday afternoon's session plus more) and I really enjoyed the discussion and debate about the merits of Web 2.0 technologies during this session. From my perspective, the faculty at CMU are very similar to those at Mount Royal. The majority share a real passion for teaching and there is a rich feeling of collegiality and community on both campuses. After the session, I had lunch with the new faculty. I just loved their enthusiasm and they really energized me - I'm really looking forward to starting the fall semester with my students!!

After lunch, I drove back to the MBS Tri-City Airport and apprehensively waited for my flight to Chicago. The plane took off and landed on time but I still felt uncomfortable entering the O'Hare Airport - it definitely takes time to overcome bad experiences. Much to my delight the Calgary flight took off on time and my trip to CMU ended on a VERY positive note!!!!!!!!!

Summer 2009

Wow, it's hard to believe that yet another summer is coming to an end - they are just too short in Canada!! I made sure that I captured as many events as possible on film.

I was privileged to be able to spend six weeks at our family cottage in Ontario with Alex and Eric. Unfortunately, Marie was not able to join us as she was focused on writing her doctoral dissertation (although she did manage a trip to China for a conference presentation in July with Eric :)

The cottage is always a great place to relax and unwind and this summer was no exception. The weather was a bit cooler than usual with a fair amount of rain but hey, it was wonderful to smell the fresh clover and view all the wild flowers during my morning runs and bike rides. Alex and I were alone for the first three weeks and we managed to construct a soap box derby car from "scratch", which Alex drove in the Smiths Falls Annual Soap Box Derby. Our inspiration came from observing the Moosefest Soap Box Derby in Dryden, Ontario during our drive from Calgary to the cottage. We also played a fair bit of golf at the local courses but our frustration with the game grew over the summer since our scores continued to get worse with each round we played :(

Christy, Charles, Benjamin and Cathy were able to join us for a week at the cottage (sure was nice to have some company) and we had some great ping pong and card games - along with some fun on Splash Island and the Water Mat in the Rideau Lake. Eric flew to Ottawa after his trip to China and we made a couple of field trips. One, to Montreal to visit Christy, Charles & Benjamin at their rented apartment in downtown Montreal, a couple to Toronto for Argonaut and Blue Jay games at Rodger's Stadium and another one to the Haliburton Highlands to visit Aunt Catherine & Uncle Warren at their cottage and a brief visit with Eric's friend Thomas at his cottage.

The weather finally warmed up for our drive back to Calgary (that is a long road trip) but it sure was cool and wet when we arrived in CowTown. After living the "cottage life" for an extended period of time - I've found the adjustment back to home and work life to be rather challenging (what happened to my patience?). Alex and I are already planning for next summer at the cottage by starting a "new boat fund" (we're saving every penny for a new power boat :)