Inquiry through Blended Learning

My Photo
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Monday, September 29, 2014

Brazil Trip - September 2014

Once again, I was very privileged to be invited to visit a university in another country and I tried my best to take pictures to capture the experience. This time the destination was the UniversityFederal of Sao Carlos in Brazil. I had never travelled to South America before and I must admit that I was initially a bit apprehensive. But . . . 5 minutes after I arrived I was overwhelmed with the hospitality of the Brazilian people who definitely have a passion for life.

I arrived in a brand new terminal of the Sao Paolo Airport. My first revelation was that Sao Paolo is considered to be on the top three cities in the world in terms of population (over 20 million people similar to Mexico City and Tokyo).

Isabelle, a Professor for Sao Paolo met me at the airport and a driver then drove us through the countryside to Sao Carlos, a city of around 200,000 people. Spring had just arrived in Brazil and the rolling hills were covered with spring flowers and green grass. The scenery reminded me a bit of the Napa Valley region of northern California.

Sao Carlos has two major universities and several factories such as Faber-Castell, which manufactures pencil crayons. I was impressed with how friendly and relaxed everyone was and I felt totally safe and secure, walking through the streets.

Each night, I was treated to a wonderful dinner where I was able to sample Brazilian food and drink. The fruit was wonderfully fresh and sweet and the beef was richly spiced and salted. The beer was smooth and refreshing and the distilled sugar cane was dangerously alcoholic.

I spent the first two days, facilitating a series ofeLearning workshops for education graduate students and staff from the teachingand learning centre. I was impressed with the speed of the Internet (Sao Carlos is a major node on the Brazilian network) and the willingness of the participants to collaborated with myself and each other. I ran all the workshops through Google Docs and the participants used Google Translator to transform their responses from Portuguese into English.

The University is situated in a beautiful forest that not only provides shade but is the home to parrots, toucans, and small monkeys.  It definitely is a very special academic environment!!

For my last three days, I attended the University’s distanceeducation conference where I facilitated the opening key note session . There were also other keynote speakers from Spain, Portugal, and the United States.  It was a tremendous learning experience for me. Once again it got me thinking of the connections between the Community of Practice (CoP) and the Community of Inquiry (CoI) frameworks.  Vanessa Dennan from Florida State University facilitated a wonderful session about the use of the Cognitive ApprenticeshipModel for designing, facilitating, and leading an online course.  I really need to incorporate this model into my own teaching practice.

One of the key take-aways from this conference was a reminder of the potential of the Internet to provide quality, accessible, and cost-effective educational opportunities to all members of society.  Potentially empowering everyone to become active members of a strong democratic society 
This really rang true to me on the return drive to Sao Paolo through the pouring rain and overwhelming traffic caused by more and more people moving from the rural to urban areas in the world. The noise, the smells, and sight of raw sewage floating along the surface of the city’s river definitely made me pause and reflect on how fortunate we are in Alberta.  I just wish we would invest in education like the Brazilians!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cottage Life - Summer 2014

I am extremely passionate about our family cottage on the Lower Rideau Lake in eastern Ontario and I made four trips to the cottage this spring and summer.  While I only had limited time with my two sons - Alex and Eric - I had a wonderful couple of weeks with my two nephews Benjamin and Noah.

I tried to capture the cottage experience in photos several times over the summer :)

Northern Vancouver Island, Kayaking Trip - July 2014

To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary - Marie and I embarked on a week long kayak trip from Telegraph Cove, off the north-eastern shore of Vancouver Island, with North Island Kayak Touring Company. Our destination with the Broughton Archipelago and the mainland of British Columbia.  We were very fortunate to have great weather and mostly calm seas.  Our guide Joelle was an amazing chef and very passionate about the wildlife we encountered throughout our voyage.

Here are some photos from our adventure!!

Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario - June 2014

The last conference of the 2013 to 2014 academic year - the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Annual Conference at Queen's University in Kingston.  Another chance to visit one of my Alma Matter's - as I graduated from Queen's with B.Sc. Honours degree in Geology.  It was wonderful that the opening reception was in a new Arts Centre on King Street West - right across the street from a house that I lived in for two years.  In addition, the conference was held in the Faculty of Education building so it was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about their B.Ed. programs.  I just made one presentation at this conference:

No pictures (end of the academic year fatigue :(

Canadian Society for Studies in Education Conference, Brock University - May 2014

Another opportunity to travel and present with MRU Education students at a conference.  This time it was the Canadian Society for the Studies in Education Annual Conference at Brock University. It's always wonderful to experience a conference through the eyes of a student and we also had a great time visiting Niagara Falls and the local vineyards.  Here are links to our two presentations:

And, of course there is a photo album as well :)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

IDEAS Conference, Calgary, Alberta - May, 2014

What a pleasure to attend an Education conference at the University of Calgary with three of our Mount Royal Education students.  Each of them facilitated a wonderful session that warmly received by an audience of K to 12 teacher and administrators.  Here are their sessions:
And, of course a few pictures of everyone in action :)

Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova, Scotia - April 2014

April was definitely a month for travelling :)  I was able to cap the month off with a visit to my Alma Mater - Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It was exactly 24 years ago that Marie and I graduated from Dal with our Bachelor of Education degrees.

It's always a pleasure to return and this time it was to keynote Dal's annual Teaching and Learning Conference.  Here are the links to my keynote and a plenary session:

And, of course their are my photos of Halifax :)

University of Ottawa - April 2014

A late spring in eastern Ontario this year but it was wonderful to visit the Ottawa area in April.  The University of Ottawa (Canada's National University) has embarked on a very ambitious blended learning initiative and it was exciting to facilitate workshops with their Teaching and Learning Support Services over a couple of days.

Here are the links to the workshop I facilitated:
And, here is a link to my pictures (I even got a chance to visit the cottage :)

American Educational Research Association Conference, Philadelphia, Penn - April 2014

The city of brotherly love - what an amazing venue for a conference and a wonderful way to learn about the history of American Independence.  I really need to make a more complete blog posting about my reflections of visiting Philadelphia but for now I'm just going to create a link to my two conference presentations and my pictures of the city :)