kyouikublender

Learning Tech - shaken and stirred

ETUG, Ed Tech Summit and Ed Tech conferences

My most recent attendance at ed tech related conferences was interesting.  I was at the ETUG spring workshop in Kelowna in early June and previously at the Ed Tech Summit in Toronto in April.  I admit that titles like “Summit” seem a little heady, the spirit of both conferences was interesting.  With a background that has focused mostly on language education and my personal long interest and participation in CALL and Educational Technology related aspects of conferences, these conferences, particularly the ETUG spring workshop were familiar territory.

Unlike traditional conferences where presenters “read” papers (I’ve seen that – reading a manuscript….. zzzzz) or deliver lecture style presentations on their research, ETUG was much like the typical language education conference in that sessions tended to be participatory and hands-on.  I much prefer that style for a lot of reasons – perhaps first and foremost because whether in language education or working as a learning technologist, I find it much more purposeful.  Yes, theory drives good choices and pedagogy, but it is the active research/scholarly teaching aspect that speaks to me.

It was also a nice change to go to a couple conferences just to learn.  It had been quite a while since I was at a conference at which I didn’t present.  Often I find myself presenting a couple (or more) times at a conference and while it is wonderful to be part of the discourse as a speaker, it can also draw a lot of my focus and energy on the sessions I’m leading.  Sometimes we just need to be a learner and get ideas and see innovative approaches from colleagues.  To that end, it was a nice change.  I imagine that at future such events, I’ll be sharing ideas and approaches – whatever those may be, but I felt juiced up from the energy and ideas and came home with a few new arrows in my quiver.

Time, space and (un)reality

A couple weeks ago at Sun Peaks, my weekend and general getaway, I was watching a friend, Richard, play Pokemon Go.  He’s got a decade plus on me, and while I don’t have an aversion to gaming, Pokemon Go hasn’t quite drawn me in… yet.  Anyway, my son at the tender age of 9 and Richard who’s in his early 60s subsequently had a good long conversation about Pokemon Go and all sorts of things about the various Pokemon.  It was quite intriguing to watch from the outside as they talked about the various characters, their powers, etc.  Their 50+ age difference was completely irrelevant – their shared passion and interest was key.

So, I did a little Googling – I’m more of a sleuth than a gamer in honesty – and see

that the cultural phenomenon of Pokemon Go is beginning to be dissected and it has been in the news a number of times.  For example, I had heard last year that there were news warnings about the danger of accidents and I’m sure that some traffic patterns and general behavior has changed for many.

I can’t help but think that this new augmented reality game is just the beginning of what will be a powerful wave of games and such wherein virtual objects appear like they are in the real world.   Players interact with the objects and characters in the game, players may get a short term boost of exercise (better than the opposite) , but what about real social interaction with the world, and of course, importantly, people around them.

Watching my son, who hasn’t played Pokemon Go – he doesn’t have a cell (yet!), but knows the Pokemon world inside out, talk about it though, offered a different view into social elements that gaming offer – it wasn’t the playing of the game, but the shared enthusiasm and excitement of the characters and the quest that generated social interaction.

This is a very preliminary thoughts on this, and I suspect it will get mulled, twisted and turned in my head in the coming weeks, eventually leading to some clearer ideas.  It’s gotta percolate for a while.  I’m not sure where it’s going, but there are some interesting questions on time, space, reality, sociolinguistics, learning (or not), interactions and more.

 

 

First muse

The first few weeks into my new gig as Educational Technologies Coordinator here at TRU have been fun – highly collaborative team of folks who are open-minded about new ideas and work together in ways I haven’t previously witnessed on campus.

Starting here has also helped me reflect on things I’ve experimented with over the years and how those may or may not apply to various disciplines and what kind of things may be a good fit.  The list of tools I’ve tried in class is varied – some more successful than others – Padlet, Voicethread, Speakpipe, Kahoot, Titanpad (now decommissioned), Wikis, some collocation tools, Mind Maps, Frequency Level Checkers, Screencasts, LMSs, blogs are a few of the things I’ve used.  Some were brilliant for my purposes – a couple didn’t work as hoped for various reasons.

Over time, I’ve narrowed down the things I’ve used in class significantly and it has been abundantly clear for some time in my own teaching that identifying a few things, lining up how to use them in pedagogically sound ways, and keeping it as simple and straightforward, has been most beneficial for my students.

So what am I going to use this blog for?  Probably musing, sharing and making me try to articulate ideas on things.  Doing that inevitably makes me think through how, why, what.  Along the way, what will perhaps be my longest foray into blogging might turn into something.

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