The natural confluence of the North and South Thompson Rivers at Kamloops, B.C. was
the inspiration for the theme and title of this year’s CNIE-RCIÉ 2014 conference hosted by Thompson Rivers University (TRU). The organizers hoped that bringing together the varied presenters and attendees to “explore and discuss how the innovative learning can arise” would result in all of us exploring our own “confluences of spaces, places and cultures”. Personally, I came primarily for the keynotes and the pre-conference workshops.But I found other tributaries or estuaries to explore as I talked to attendees and browsed the many different sessions.
Pre-conference Workshops: I have been waiting for an opportunity to take a visual facilitation workshop with Nancy White of Full Circle Associates for several years so I was excited when I saw it would be available (Drawing on Walls). Unfortunately it meant I couldn’t take the other options: Soundcamp, Videocamp, Online Mapping, Gamification, Geocaching or Interculturalization workshops. Too bad. Hope I’ll get another chance at those some day.
As I expected, Nancy’s workshop was inspiring, fun and educational. We explored different ways that visuals can help focus discussions, highlight important concepts or information, bring people together and free up our thinking. I learned so much that I think I’ll write a separate post about visual-graphic note-taking, recording, facilitation.
What a line-up eh? The only major letdown of the conference was that Richard Wagamese cancelled. Too bad. But the rest were as thought-provoking as I had hoped.
Day 1: Audrey Watters – loosely titled Innovation Culture versus a Culture of Innovative Learning
Our sketchnotes (Tracy Kelly (Roberts), Sylvia Currie & me)
Her statement: “There’s a significant divide — a political and financial and cultural and surely a pedagogical divide — between the technology industry (Silicon Valley in particular) and the education sector when it comes to thinking about the future of teaching and learning and also when it comes to thinking about the meaning of “innovation.”
Initially, I found Audrey’s focus on business, Silicon Valley, Google glasses and buses interesting and attention-grabbing but somewhat disconnected to my reality as a Canadian working in the north. However, her highlighting the different perspectives and the impact of politics and money on what kind of educational options we end up with as learners and as teachers gave us all a lot to think about. As Audrey pointed out, it’s all about the values we hold and the beliefs we have about education when we talk about change and innovation in education.
Her evolving keynote titles (5 different ones throughout the talk I think that ended in “Against Innovation”) challenged us and led to some consternation and chuckles when Brian Lamb pointed out he’d have to change his job title. But I get her drift; “innovation” is a misused and often misleading term when applied to education.
Day 2: Nancy White – Puddle Jumping “What have you got to lose?”
Our sketchnotes ( Jason Toal, Michelle Harrison & me)
I lost a great deal of the content of Nancy’s presentation as I was “sketch-noting” with people I didn’t know so I found it harder to hold onto more than one thread at a time and Nancy is famous for jumping around (hence the title of her talk – “Puddle Jumping”!). I loved her willingness to throw herself out in front of us with a song she had just composed, wearing her gumboots and playing her ukulele – she captured and held our attention with a message to “listen together” and to think about what it means to value education and learning. Power, politics and privilege change the nature of the “landscape of practice” as competing claims to expertise silence other voices.
Day 3: Brian Lamb – Eat the Data (with Dr. Jones aka Jason Toal)
No sketch notes of this talk so I had a chance to thoroughly enjoy the riffing between Jason and Brian – they had us laughing and thinking at the same time. Brian’s memories of the initial freedom and excitement of open education and experimentation on the Internet made us all feel nostalgic and his exhortation (and annoying 😉 animated GIF) to get rid of the LMS elicited a range of reactions from combative to enthusiastic. I particularly loved his slide Argument #3.
I enjoyed many of the other presentations at CNIE2014 on quality in online learning, gamification, knowledge transfer, social media in education, etc. Thanks to the hardworking conference organizing team at Thompson Rivers University led by Melissa Jakubec. It was a relaxed, affordable, thought-provoking and enjoyable conference in a beautiful setting. My first time visiting this campus; I hope it won’t be my last.