This past weekend saw the Google Apps For Education Summit presented by The EdTech Team visit School District 61, Victoria at Oak Bay High School. The two day summit was jam-packed with inspiring speakers, purposeful workshops, practical takeaways, and rich and meaningful connections. Being a staff member at Oak Bay I witnessed firsthand the anticipation build as the event neared. And from the start of things Friday morning to the concluding keynote Saturday evening, the summit did not disappoint.
Highlights for me were multiple. Brad Ovenell-Carter, Director of Educational Technology at Mulgrave School, kicked off the summit with an engaging presentation that weaved his slick use of Paper#53 with his philosophy on creating a culture of change. His belief that in order to make change occur we must begin from a place of love (as corny as that sounds) resonated with me. We’ll have a bit more faith in one another and be a bit more forgiving when things don’t go as planned if we start from a place of love. He challenged us to take a leap of faith, to have courage in jumping into the unknown, and when we have the best interests of our leaners at heart, we are sure to end up in a better place than where we started.
I presented two sessions on Friday therefore I wasn’t able to enjoy a few of the workshops that caught my interest. I was pleased the EdTech team accepted my workshop proposals, not just because I am passionate about my teaching, but because both sessions weren’t GAFE focused session. Student Blogging as an E-Portfolio and Inquiry-Based Learning: Creating Personal Learning Paths are both sessions that marry technology, with pedagogy, assessment, and curriculum, but by no means are they tied to a single edtech platform or device. I jokingly said to a colleague as I was preparing for the presentation that I’d love to see “standing room only” for my workshops. Sure enough as teachers began to arrive I quickly realized it would be just that, a packed house. After stealing chairs from the neighbouring session there wasn’t a single square foot in my room that wasn’t occupied by an attendee. And the second session was no different.
I think interest in these topics is high for a few reasons. One, the changes to the curriculum in British Columbia provide the structure to focus on competencies as opposed to content and with that, there is room for students to personalize their learning and follow their interests, passions, and goals. Two, the changing educational landscape, worldwide, has created an inspiring momentum that teachers want to be a part of. And three, with these shifts in our practice, teachers are seeking meaningful opportunities to assess and document student learning. Both blogging and inquiry provide the foundation for educators to make the changes required to transform education.
Have a look at the slides for one of my sessions below.
As the GAFE Summit continued on Saturday I was discovering awesome and passionate presenters were the norm. From the Saturday morning keynote speaker Neil Stephenson, to one of the EdTech team members Holly Clark, to the attendees I was collaborating with during the sessions, everywhere I turned I was networking, learning, and sharing. It was nonstop inspiration for the two days and I left feeling completely energized and jazzed to implement my learning in to my practice. And on top of that, the power of connecting with the resource of the people I connected with cannot be understated. My PLN grew dramatically and I am so thankful the GAFE Summit provided me with the opportunity to share, learn, and connect.
A huge shout out to all involved and most importantly to those of you who shared in your learning with my in the sessions I hosted. Thank you.