Serendipity by design – the ETUG Unconference


BCIT Downtown – Thurs, Nov 13

Welcome to organized chaos! Have you heard of the Unconference (see video) model? An exercise in emergent learning and collaborative organization, this year’s ETUG Fall Workshop was a deliberate deep-dive into a new way of learning together. My first ETUG was exactly what I’d hoped; a day full of new ideas, debate and discussion (check out the list of pitches). And a chance to finally meet some of the people whose blogs I’d read or tweets I’d followed for years.

This was the first time ETUG had tried the Unconference model so the morning began with a review of what we were getting into. With just a rolling whiteboard, coloured markers and large post-it notes, the planning of our day began. People with ideas for sessions (most had registered their ideas on an open Googledoc before the conference) wrote the name of their session on a post-it and stood up to explain the topic. They got to select the time and the room by putting their post-its on the whiteboard. What I really appreciated was a chance to hear the idea explained and to ask for sessions to be moved around.

I’m sure that the ETUG committee members (or is it all Leva Lee?) will be posting some form of summary of the sessions but here’s my highlights and takeaways:

1.  DIY Media – thanks to Cindy Underhill, Mallory McMahon and Saeed Dyanatkar of UBC for sharing their initiative to help staff and students learn to create (and improve on their creation of) media. We had some great discusDIYMediasion on the range of support (or lack thereof) for media creation in other educational institutions. And Cindy shared the link to their wiki site and encouraged us to review and comment. I love their participatory approach and the website has already provided me with some ideas to improve or vary my own media production.

2. Changing the Practice of Education with Open Pedagogy – thanks to Amanda Coolidge for an ambitious approach to helping us recognize and apply the principles of open education. I don’t feel I achieved her intended outcomes but it sure stimulated some good questions and examples from others in the session. The concern I felt during this session is the embrace of David Wiley’s interpretation of “open”. I’m with Stephen Downes in being against allowing commercial use.

Aside:  I believe this is the session that Rich McCue rolled his pitch “New Edtech and Old Pedagogy: No Significant Difference“into? I’m not sure that was a good idea afterwards as I read his blog post I think some of the important points he makes, about the loss of impact if we use new tools but stick with old teaching approaches, were lost.

3. Transmedia In Education: Building the story of your course across multiple mediaSocialSamba-logo-RGB  platforms – thanks to John Born, Ken Jeffery for a fast, fun, personal sharing of storytelling with different media. I really liked John’s perspective on building a story across different kinds of media. Participants shared some interesting experiences with “transmedia” (although we were told that that term is out-of-date already), some names of leaders in the field (from Henpopplet_logory Jenkins to ?) and some tools to check out (e.g., Poplet and SocialSamba) I wish they had recorded this session cuz I wasn’t fast enough to catch all the references I wanted to follow up. Did some Googling afterwards and found some great resources like the Transmedia Storytelling wiki by  ETEC510 student, Amber Dumouchel (2014)

4. Teaching Visual – thanks to Jason Toal and Tracy Kelly (Roberts) for an informative, ACTIVE session that introduced people to basic drawing vocabulary, the concept of templating, the value of visuals and gave them a chance to draw on walls (big sheets of paper didn’t seem so intimidating after their introduction and support during the session). Only suggestion for next time – more markers!

So many ideas I’m still digesting, ruminating on, researching…can’t mention them all in one blog post but it was a rich and stimulating day. I’d love to do it again.






About Cloudsyl

Now a mid-Island observer of the Cloud
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