Learning At #OTRK12

This past week I was fortunate enough to attend #OTRK12 (On The Rise K-12 Digital Learning) in Mississauga.  I thought I’d be able to post about what I learned right away, but to be truthful, I’m still processing many things that I learned throughout the 2-day conference.  In a way, I’m assessing the success of the conference based on my level of learning as well as my level of discomfort.  You might think that discomfort shouldn’t be associated with success, but I think it should be.  If things are too comfortable, you’re not moving forward.

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Photo Credit: sandrawhyhong via Compfight cc

Pride can be a major stumbling block, and I have the feeling that although I’ve made some changes in my classroom in the last while, it’s not as if I’ve arrived at my destination.  The journey is just beginning.

My question is this:  how do I take advantage of e-Learning Ontario and D2L to enhance the learning experience for students in my class?  Technically, in Ontario, blended learning uses the LMS (learning management system) to complement activities in the classroom.

Right now, students in my class have a teacher who is interested in technology and is trying to wrap her head around how to use it productively.  We have a class website, and each of my students has their own digital portfolio.  We use our class hashtag (#niprockart) to share files, resources and reminders.  We’ve even used Skype to add a bit of zest to our learning.  Global citizenship is working its way into our studies as we become a bit more aware and responsible to others on the internet.

How, then, do I take it to the next step?  Will blended learning benefit my students?  If so, how?  If we use blended learning, will the safe environment of the LMS not allow some of the rich interactions that have occurred through use of student blogs in a public platform?  I love the concept of sharing thoughts (and artwork) with others in order to benefit from a variety of feedback (instead of relying solely on comments from the teacher).  Would that be lost by using the LMS?

I really want to thank my principal, Donna Fry, for inviting me to this conference (and who shared her reflections from one of the coolest presentations on her blog).  I also want to say how impressed I was with the organization of #OTRK12 — the planning committee sure had their act together! (special mention: Stacey Wallwin & Brandon Grasley) (read Brandon’s post about the conference here)  It was great to meet new people too.  I was pumped to have the chance for a long chat with DonnaMark Carbone (read his conference reflection here) and Harry Niezen: how cool is that!

~ Slowly, my questions will find answers.  I know that there are some great people who are so wonderful at sharing their knowledge and reassuring people like me who still need to figure things out.  Looking forward to the journey.

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2 Responses to Learning At #OTRK12

  1. markwcarbone says:

    Colleen,

    This statement ” I’m assessing the success of the conference based on my level of learning as well as my level of discomfort. You might think that discomfort shouldn’t be associated with success, but I think it should be. If things are too comfortable, you’re not moving forward.” REALLY resonates with me.

    I think we all need to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable – it IS part of the journey. Things keep changing, and perhaps most importantly, new opportunities arise to improve student learning.

    It was great to meet you and I look forward to continued learning and sharing!

    ~Mark
    Twitter: @markwcarbone
    blog: http://blog.markwcarbone.ca

    • colleenkr says:

      “Comfortable with being uncomfortable”: sounds like a great title for a blog post!

      Thank you so much for commenting, Mark. It’s so tempting for many of us to take our jobs for granted, to coast, to assume that what we know is ‘enough’. I never want to limit my learning to the days when I was a student — I’ve always loved learning, and I imagine that many other teachers feel the same way. Why else would we want to teach?
      This doesn’t mean that learning is easy. New concepts & change are sometimes really tough to deal with, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Besides, if it does benefit our students, it’s worth giving up a bit of our pride, admitting we don’t ‘know everything’, and gaining a bit more knowledge.

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