Inquiry through Blended Learning

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Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

American Educational Research Association Conference: New Orleans - April 2011

Hmnn, almost two months since I caught the initial cold it was time to head out for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual conference in New Orleans. Thankfully, I think I'm finally getting better - but this really reminds me of the time I developed a viral infection in K-country when the boys were young and I was pulling them both in the Burly behind my bike - scary stuff as it took me months to recover from that virus (at one point - I actually thought I had chronic fatigue syndrome based on the symptoms)!! The conference was a wonderful experience (a bit like a "coming out of the fog" party). Our Triad session (Jim Zimmer, Todd Nickle, and jim Silovs) on Moving to their own beat: Exploring how students use digital technologies to support group work, outside of the classroom was well received. We had a great time exploring City, which was also hosting a French Quarter Music Festival and I finally started to take some pictures and videos again to capture the conference experience. Jodi and I got lots of ideas for our planning and evaluating our new B.Ed. Program and I made sure that I took LOTS of notes!!

Mount Saint Vincent University - Blended Learning Workshops - March 2011

Okay, so I think I've finally recovered from my winter cold - I even complete the 24km version of the K-country cookie race, the Goat Creek Ski with Marie, and the 20km version of the Lake Louise Loppet. I must admit that I was a little more tired than usual after the Lake Louise Loppet and I headed straight to Alex's last play off game (I think these cold indoor arenas have been tough on my longs). Anyway's, a couple of days later I go to bed with a "tickle" in my throat and I wake up the next morning with the cough/cold (sigh). My energy level goes down hill all week but on Thursday I get up early to fly to Halifax to fa ciliate a one-day Blended Learning workshop at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU). I really got chilled on the flight and I was tired and sick by the time I reached Halifax. I went out for dinner with the "gang" from the MSVU Teaching and Learning Centre at the hotel restaurant and then went right to bed. Unfortunately, I had a terrible sleep (lots of cold sweats) and I woke up a complete "mess". The day was foggy and wet (reminded me of how much I disliked the one winter we spent at Dalhousie University for our B.Ed. degrees). Somehow I managed to complete the Student Engagement, Web 2.0 and Blended Learning: What's the Connection? workshop in the morning and the Designing for an Inquiry-Based Approach to Learning workshops in the afternoon. Although, I really don't remember much of the experience. I had dinner with Annie and Daniel in the evening to chat about their BOLD research work and then I flew back to Calgary on the Saturday morning - just in time to catch one of Eric's play-off games in another cold arena (I had a real "cold" melt down after this experience).

WestCAST 2011 Conference, Brandon, Manitoba - February 2011

Still recovering from the "first wave" of my winter 2011 cold, I flew to Brandon, Manitoba during Reading Week for the Western Canadian Association of Student Teachers (WestCAST) annual conference. This is the first time I attended this conference and I didn't realize that the conference is really focused on student teaching :) Fortunately, the focus of our MRU session was on our Education Undergraduate Society (EUS). I was also fortunate that two of our MRU Education students (Sarah and Harrison) also traveled to Brandon to help out with this session.

We've driven past Brandon, Manitoba many times on our way to the cottage in Ontario but this is the first time that I've ever visited the city. I was very impressed - a real sense of community and Brandon has hosted some major sporting events (e.g., World Curling Championships and the Memorial Cup (Canadian Junior Hockey Championships) just last year). Brandon College was founded as a Baptist Church Mission in 1899. In 1938 the Baptist Church could no longer fund the institution and it was first taken over by the City of Brandon and then the Government of Manitoba.

I learned a tremendous amount about Teacher Education Programs from this conference experience. I attended a pre-conference session on teaching placements that was very informative (notes attached) and I really enjoyed Alec Couros session on Open Learning and Teaching. This fellow really "practices what he preaches" and he provided a wonderful session resource in Google Docs.

Next year the conference will be hosted by the University of Calgary and I hope that we can get more MRU students involved with presenting and attending the conference

Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) Conference - February 2011

Well, so much for reflective conference postings this winter. I came down with a "killer" cold in mid-February and I'm still trying to recover (now April).

The first conference I had an opportunity to attend was the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) conference in Edmonton, Alberta. AISI provides substantial grant money to K to 12 schools and universities to study and document "what works". Some folks believe that AISI has helped out tremendously with the professional of K to 12 teaching in Alberta. Many of the initiatives involve using digital technology as a catalyst for transformational change. Dr. Irene Naested, Dr. Jim Zimmer, and I attended this conference on behalf of Mount Royal. None of us were presenting so we were able to listen and take fairly extensive notes during the session. Most of the keynote sessions were also video recorded.

Important Note: About a month after this conference Alberta Education announced it was reducing the funding for all the current AISI grants by 50% due to budget restrictions.