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ECOO Conference – Day 2

CrowdThe second day of the ECOO conference went well. I enjoyed all my sessions yesterday and especially liked sitting down and chatting with other edubloggers.

The first session I attended was "Interactive Videoconferencing: Making I.T. Work" Obadiah George, Steve Smallwood from York University and York Region DSB.


Their session was about the ABLE Project (Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning) and the tools that they were using for videoconferencing. The goal of the project is to improve student achievement and transform teacher professional practice. To participate in the project there is a sliding scale that depends on the size of the school district. George and Steve were very knowledgeable, and shared one of the resources they used VSEE Labs for some of their videoconferences. VSEE allows you to videoconfernce through VSEE for a monthly fee and works well with firewalls as it can tunnel.

(As a side note, the day before Shawn pointed me in the direction of Isabel a linux application that can be purchased through Agora 2000 at a $2000 for a unit, which is a lot cheaper than the standard videoconference units. You can then leverage your PBX on other videoconfernce units that you have for full functionality.)

The second session that I attended was "Why Reading Matters Even More in the Digital Age" by Clare Brett from OISE/UT.


This was an excellent presentation on focus on preparing students effectively for learning from and with the Internet. I was so glad that she was exploring blogs and wikis with such a large audience. Clare's presentation can be found on her blog posting . Her weblog as well as the GRAIL project (Graduate Researcher's Academic Identity onLine) pages can be found here .

The third presentation that I attended was "e-Learning Ontario – Learning Object Repository." I can't remember the names of the three presenters, one was Urs, I think (Carolijn MacNeil-Verbakel, Rob Policicchio, and Urs Bill)


I was very impressed with the K-12 LOR from what I have seen, and I have been very critical of the OKNL/eLearning Ontario's LOR in the past, so that is a big compliment. I wish I could explore it more and give them some more feedback. I really like what OISE/UT has been doing on the front end of the LOR. The LOR can take any filetype that you can throw at it. It seems to be well though out and has included different levels of collaboration from submission, tagging, reviewing, as well as a service level agreement that is very similar to the Creative Commons license. The LOR, which might be available in September 2006, includes peer review by educators with similar interests. The meta-data for the LO's are quite extensive and they are exploring feeds and the ability to subscribe to channels of LO content.

Here are my suggestions:

  • To remove an LO for the repository means contacting someone by email, perhaps a more automated process should be included.
  • The meta-data is too extensive and discouraging, although there might by only 8 mandatory fields this is not clear. There are asterisked fields with blue highlights that seem to divide up the page rather than indicate required fields. Maybe include a simple and advanced form, to avoid scrolling through all that meta-data.
  • Home page – Go with big buttons rather than explanations under each of the main sections. With an explanation on a mouse over of the image.
  • Try to minimize the text throughout the application.
  • Continue the review process outside of the approval of the LO.
  • The whole OEN for student access by user name and passwords scares me. The more levels of security you put in the less likely it is going to be used.

Although I have a few suggestions, I still think that the LOR looks great. It will be a great tool for all educators in the province.

The last session that I attended was "Learning in Context" by George Siemen.

It was the kind of session that I wished I was back doing my Masters of Education and he was supervising me. It was just amazing listening to his ideas. My summary would not do the presentation justice, but George has posted a screencast of the presentation on his blog . So you can get the real thing, instead of a poor attempt at summarizing.

ECOO Edublogger Meetup

 ECOO Edublogger Meetup

(From left to right: Janice; Konrad; Clare; Robert; John and Me)

It was really nice to get together with a other edubloggers at the ECOO conference. It isn't often that we get this sort of opportunity and I would like to thank everyone who came by to chat. I hope that we can arrange a few other chats.

RSS Ideas For Educators Presentation and Handout

I have included my full presentation in the form of a flash screencast. The video times are posted beside the links. I seperated the presentation into two parts to reduce the files size.

I would appreciate any feedback on it.

Part 1 (Time 26 min 22 sec)

Part 2 (Time 17 min 37 sec)

Web sites I referred to in the presentation . (1 page – PDF – 14 kb)


ECOO 2006 Conference – Day 1

I enjoyed the presentations that I attended at the ECOO conference for the most part today and hopefully those who attended my session on RSS took back some ideas.

I had a fairly crowded room with about 60 educators who seemed very interested in RSS. I had an interesting question relating to the immediacy of rss feeds and their use for instructional purposes, since they are not hosted locally if the site is down your lesson is shot. But, like everything in teaching (especially online), you always need a backup plan. I will post a more detailed outline of the RSS presentation for feedback soon and if I can get my act together, I will screencast it.

The first session I attended was "Expedition Everest – Connecting Students to the Top of the World" by Shawn Allen a Secondary IT Consultant for Ottawa-Carleton DSB was great. It was amazing to see this project.

OCDSB became a sponsor of an Mt. Everest expedition team, with a number of other sponsors. Educators worked for a week to create lesson connections for the expedition and embed it in their curriculum. Six high schools used videoconferences, photos, online chats, Blackboard LMS, and recorded audio chats to collaborate with the climbers. This project went so well that Expedition Africa being planned for the fall. The media from the project is archived at Shawn also has a post on the session on his Video Conferencing in Education blog.

The second session was on "Podcasting" by Robert Karulas from the Toronto DSB.

This session was an overview of podcasting with specific attention paid to pedagogy. Robert is planning to post a podcast of the entire session on his new blog so I won't go into any more detail. There is also recent discussions at Toronto District School board on Podcasting Collaborative Learning Community blog.

The final session that I attended today at the end of the day was horrible and I will not mention it or give a summary of it. I wouldn't want to insult anyone, since there needed to be a little quaility control at that presentation.

Ontario Edublogger Meetup

Attention Ontario Edubloggers – I was hoping to organize another edublogger meet-up at the upcoming ECOO conference. If you are interested in meeting for lunch, sharing stories, and learning from each other in person. We can meet at 11:45 am on Friday, May 5th at the main registration area and have lunch together. I will post a few signs around the conference as well.

If you are interested in meeting drop me an email at qdsouza (AT)

A Window on Effective Practice: the CESI National Technology Project

B02 – CESI – A Window on Effective Practice: the CESI National Technology Project Jim Christopher Executive Director, Canadian Educational Standards Institute Why does IT catch fire in some schools and fizzle out in others? From October 2003 to February 2005, the Canadian Educational Standards Institute sent teams of IT specialists, classroom teachers, curriculum leaders and school administrators into over 60 schools across Canada to identify the most effective practices for the integration of instructional technology in elementary and secondary schools. This session outlines the findings of the study and identifies those factors in planning and policy development, the teaching and learning process, professional development and school and programme leadership that characterize those schools that have made IT an integral part of their culture. Participants will discuss what works and what does not and gain insights into some of the best and the worst of what is currently in place in our schools.

– School Technology Handbook and Resource Guide (Find this on website?)
– Technology Dysfunctions when:

-Tech False Starts,


-Lack of effective PD,

– Effective Practice …

-Heterogeneous mix of ICT committees tech and non tech working together on development -Decisions based on needs assessment, get most bang for the buck
– Implement technology section for local school action plans
– Acceptable use policy for ALL people in the board to sign, STAFF, and parents with students to know what students are signing. Also to avoid parents abuse of emails and internet use in schools.
– Staff Buy In is very important LAPTOPS For Teachers
– Sign a laptop contract to demonstrate basic levels of competency -if you don’t success at getting them tech savvy will be hit or miss
– some people laptops just doesn’t make sense, not ready, do a poorer job
– focus resources on early adapters and those who are interested, otherwise can be a huge waste –
-laptops have shown to increased effiencicy of administrative tasks not enhancinjg teaching and learning
– need to set benchmarks
– need formal partnering between IT Staff and teachers
– Develop personal technology plans
– Without PD laptops are money down the drain
– Have a contract

Success Through … Cross-pollination of effective technology usage in leadership across the board through discussions Celebrate exceptional practices, DO NOT minimize or bring down the high flyers Good PD Summer Institutes Mentoring Team Coaching Online instruction Good PD Include… Cooperate Planning and implementation Ongoing collaboration
– listserv or mailing list “need to knowâ€? stuff gets communicated model it by real teachers using it IT Initiative most effective when led by excellent teachers School ADMIN MUST model it Show “realâ€? integration not “showyâ€? integration

Resource: CESI – National Technology Project Abstact American Library Association

The Role of Technology Coordinators

ECOO Session A18 The Role of Technology Coordinators in Rural Saskatchewan Keith Harkness, Pat Vigneron and Dale Eurich Aspen Grove School Division; College of Notre Dame; Lloydminster Public School Division Technology Coordinators discuss a Dr. Stirling McDowell research project investigating the roles of Technology Coordinators in Saskatchewan. The project’s main objectives pertain to their roles and professional development.

Average dollar amount spent on technology for students is $175 x 2000 students is $342,000. Some types of technology uses include videoconferencing. The support model is about 600 students per IT support staff. The have had seed money for a number of symposiums that have been growing each year drawing Technology Coordinators in Education; Educational Administrators; Regional Libraries; Technicians …. Industry standard for service is 1 technician for 40 workstations. In schools the number can range from 1 for every 400-600 workstations and service times can be weeks.

Key Ideas:
-Gain Confidence of teaching staff through technology support

-Coordinate at a provincial level necessary for avoiding duplication

-Provide networking sessions and venues

-Keep in contact through different means I.E. listserve, email …

Resources Mentioned: You’re IT (Catchy phrase) and

Information Technology (IT) Leadership for School/District Coordinators

C18 Information Technology (IT) Leadership for School/District Coordinators Matt Norton Lethbridge School District No.51 This session will be a summary of best practices (research supported and personal experiences) for leadership in the areas of Information Technology (IT) integration, infrastructure and human resources. Participants are encouraged to share their own experiences (good and bad) from a schoolbased and district-based perspective.

– presentation through website @ Integration – Alberta based guiding IT Coordinator
– Helps to have the Alberta technology curriculum Leadership
– treat everyone as your friend – Goes through each of the four section on leadership for Techs, Ed Techs, Administrators, and Teachers Leader means:

-Always try and make things better than before – strive for excellence!

-Your actions are the application of your word – do as you say and say as you do (know your values – live your values)

-Focus on being the best for the world rather than the best in the world

-Relationships, relationships, relationships – treat everyone as if they were your friend
-Find balance between your work and the rest of your life
– Important to get Administrators on side without them whatever you do will not succeed.
– Easy to use means easy to manage from a district infrastructure point of view
– Identify the type of team members that you have on staff in order to understand each others strengths and weaknesses use tests such as the Myers-Briggs, DISC, Colors, and Conflict Profile .
– Interesting model for support where a half time ICT Technician is present at every school in order to provide, what is considered level 1 support. The board provides level 2 and 3 support.
– This School board stats: 8400 students, 440 teachers and 1.3 million ICT Department budget of total of 32 million board budget.

Resources: Information Technology Leadership Research, What can I do, as an administrator, to better support the integration of technology in my school?, Technology Plan Template for school action plans.

Books referred to in presentation: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable and Leading Geeks: How to Manage and Lead the People Who Deliver Technology

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