I was very privileged to spend almost an entire week at York University during the month of August and I made sure that I documented my stay with some pictures
. In many ways this institution is similar to Mount Royal - as it has a very diverse student population and is currently only accessible by bus. The reason I was at York was to participate in the Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning (ABEL) Summer Institute
and to provide support for a blended learning initiative for faculty members in the Health Sciences and Business areas.
I arrived in Toronto on Sunday night and had a late dinner with Curt Bonk
and Ron Owston
. Curt was going to be providing the opening keynote for the ABEL Summer Institute and Ron was over seeing the blended learning initiative at York. I am amazed at the amount of traveling that Curt does - this guy has an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm for teaching and technology in higher education!!
Personally, I was involved in several sessions at the Summer Institute. On the Monday, I was part of a panel presentation exploring the future of digital technologies an education. Curt moderated the panel and I was joined by Sara Diamond (the President of the Ontario College of Art & Design)
and Alex Couros
(Associate Professor at the University of Regina). An interesting discussion about the personalization of learning and the use of digital data (learning analytics) in the future.
On the Tuesday, I faciliated a workshop on Design and Implementation in Blended Learning Environments
. The focus of the workshop was on the importance of aligning your course learning objectives, assessment activities, in and out of class time, and digital technologies. The Earth actually "shook" during this session due to an earthquake in Virginia :)
I then provided the closing keynote address for the Summer Institute on the Wednesday. The topic of my presentation was on Student Engagement and Web 2.0 in Blended Learning
. I attempted to use this session as an opportunity for the participants to reflect on their conference learning and then discuss how they could put it into practice in the upcoming K to 12 school year.
After a bit of a break on Wednesday afternoon - I joined a number of York faculty members from the Health Sciences and Business areas for a one day workshop on blended learning. I provided the opening keynote session on Designing for an inquiry-based approach to blended learning
and then I worked with groups of faculty about how to "action" this vision into their own courses for the remainder of the day.
On Thursday night I took the bus and subway to Cathy and Peter's home. Somehow Cathy and I managed to get on the same subway car and we were able to them walk to her house together. I was able to catch up on my course work during the day on Friday and then Peter and I went for a really nice neighbourhood bicycle ride in the afternoon. That evening we drove to the airport to pick up Eric from his flight from Ecuador. He had spent the past couple of weeks helping to build schools in this country with the Me to We organization and I was very excited to hear his stories. I must admit that I did not even recognize him at the Arrival gate as he had his sun glasses on with an Ecuador hat and sweater :)
After a restful sleep - we spent Saturday in downtown Toronto. There were a lot of activies going on including a buskers festival, comics convention, and Toronto Blue Jays game. The main focus though was on Jack Layton's funeral. We were fortunate to catch the beginning of the funeral procession at City Hall - definitely an emotional tribute to a man who "really made a difference" for his family, his political party, and his country!! After the funeral we had lunch at the Maple Leaf Gardens Sports Bar and then headed back to Cathy and Peter's to relax before our early morning Sunday flight back to Calgary :)