Canadian eLearning Conference 2009

Just back from three great days at the Canandian eLearning Conference where post-secondary educators from across Canada gathered to share educational technology projects, products, and directions.  I enjoyed many sessions but a few stood out for me:

North Island College – Remote Science Lab

Ron Evans and Albert Balbon from North Island College illustrated how the Remote Science Lab mixed technologies to create a unique application for distributed learning.  With some creative customization, the lab allows students to remotely control lab equipment by robotic arm.  Sensors in the remote lab equipment can be calibrated using an embedded Flash application with resultant data retrieved within the same application.   We were treated to an impressive live demo of the lab in action but what impressed me most was the presenters’ sense of enthusiasm and spirit of exploration when discussing both the development and future plans for the project.  Although the equipment being leveraged in the project is quite costly, the methods and software driving the project are being offered by NIC to all BC post-secondary institutions who wish to explore a similiar project.  Although I don’t see a robotics project on my horizon, I certainly came away from the session energized by the team’s DIY ethos and courage in taking on such an ambitious project.

Poster Presentation – Is the Past Present

A well researched application of serious gaming challenging students to gain an understanding of how difficult and disorienting it was for aboriginal children to attend residential schools.  Topics such as language barrier, isolation from family, and cultural displacement are explored through use of cinematic sequences, role play simulations, and links to articles, audio, and video, among which are a collection of first-person testimonies.  I lived in Aklavik, NWT for 4 years where I worked as a teacher and school administrator.  Aklavik had 2 residential schools that left a legacy of painful memories for many aboriginal people in the Northwestern Arctic.  This project resonated with me and is a resource that would be a very valuable use in Arctic public schools as a way to effectively communicate to northern aboriginal youth the endurance and courage of elders who surived these trials.

Just Plain Fun

I had the good fortune to jam with Scott Leslie and Brian Lamb in two WordPress workshops – one intro session and another on aspects of using WordPress in Education.  From my perspective, there appears to be a rising interest in supporting more open forms of student discourse in higher ed.  If the feedback immediately following the session is any indication, I think we will be seeing more WordPress fuelled creativity in the coming year(s).  Major props to Novak, Enej, Andre, and all the UBC WordPress crew who shine a bright light for other BC institutions leveraging WordPress for education within their own contexts.

As always, getting together with ETUG folks is just plain fun.  This gathering was particularly fun as it was the 15 year anniversary of ETUG.  I am grateful to be working with such a creative group of people who encourage and support me as I experiment with my crayons ( tip of the hat to Barbara Ganley for the metaphor ).  For some literal digital crayons check out Brian and I having some crayon fun on the Wii-hacked surface Shauna, Jeff, and I managed to get rolling during lunchtime in the ETUG party room.

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4 Comments

  1. That remote science lab is fantastic. Very impressive is the fact that the remote equipment is controlled through a browser – nothing too technologically onerous onerous for the client.

  2. Hey grant, just a note that my blog has been moved to blogs.ubc.ca/novak.
    see you in Victoria, if not earlier.
    Actually, it would be great if you could visit our team at UBC, sometime before the conference. any chance for that?

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