Inquiry through Blended Learning

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Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Southwest Learning with Technology Institute - Northern Arizona University - Flagstaff, Arizona

Wow, what a trip!!

I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Southwest Learning with TechnologyInstitute at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona during my February 2013 reading week.  The organization committee recommended that I arrive early and fly into Phoenix and then drive to Flagstaff – what a perfect idea that I included in my photos(along with a few from Marie’s 50th Birthday dinner).

Phoenix is at 1000 feet above sea level and Flagstaff is 7000.  Thus, during the drive one passes through a series of vegetation zones and rock formations.  I made a side trip to Sedona, which I had heard was a beautiful community. The sky was blue and rock formations were a bright red because of the hematite in the sandstone outcrops.  I stopped a hiking shop for a hat and learned about the Sedona vortexes.  These are supposedly energy centres where one’s feeling are amplified.  The local folks recommended that I do the West Fork of Oak Creek trail, which was very enjoyable.  It reminded me of the King’s Canyon trail in Alberta’s K-country.  There are thirteen creek crossings as one navigates up to the head of the canyon.  A large portion of the trail was snow covered but it was the end of the afternoon and I was the last one to reach the trail head.  It was nice to enjoy the quiet and the colours of the canyon.

After the hike, I drove out of Oak Canyon on 89A and arrived in Flagstaff around 6pm.  I had a shower and a quick change and then went out for dinner with Don Carter, the Director of the eLearning Centre at NAU and his wife Beth.  We had a wonderful Italian dinner.

On Wednesday, the plan was for me to be a guest at NAU’s Faculty Learning Community on Blended Learning but it had snowed heavily overnight and the University and local schools were closed for the day.  I took the opportunity to catch up on my student assessment work and I also took a  tour of the olde downtown and purchased a few souvenirs for Marie and Alex.  Don and Beth picked me up around 6:30pm and we had dinner at their favourite restaurant in Flagstaff – the Cottage.  Their son Will works at this restaurant and we definitely got the royal treatment for a full course gourmet meal.  I ended up purchasing the restaurant cookbook – including a personal autograph from the Chef – Frank.

Thursday was the first day of the Southwest Learning with Technology Institute and after an introduction from NAU’s President and Provost – I launched into my keynote session on Student Engagement and Blended Learning: What’s the Connection?  From my perspective, the session was very well received and the Blackboard folks took me out for a Thai dinner with Don, Beth and Michelle and her husband Rick.  I had an amazing coconut and lemon grass chicken curry and I was just about “busting out of my pants” by the end of the meal.

Friday, I was part of a panel with NAU faculty who had been involved in blended learning course and program redesigns.  I was really impressed with the level of thought and insight that these faculty had put into their courses.  The rest of the day I sat in on John and Wally’s blended learning sessions - Pedagogies, Active Learning, Intentional Design, and Collaborative/Cooperative Learning.  These folks have a very, very similar perspective to mine regarding blended learning and I thoroughly enjoyed their workshops.  That night Don, Beth, and I did a pub crawl through Flagstaff (5 local breweries) and ended up at a relaxing wine bar for a bottle of Oregon wine and cheese. 

I had a bit of a restless sleep on Friday but I was wide awake on Saturday morning and I was on Highway 17 south to Phoenix by 7:00am.  It was a relaxing drive that took me exactly two hours.  I feel like I just got a taste for Northern Arizona and I’ll definitely be back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wiley Faculty Development Network - Toronto Accounting Workshop in February 2013

I was invited to facilitate a session on Student Engagement and Blended Learning: What's the Connection? for the Wiley Faculty Development Network - Toronto Accounting Workshop.  It was a great chance to get to TO for a quick visit with sister Cathy and we had a breakfast with Uncle Peter who had just flown in from a business trip to Brazil :)