San Antonio, Texas

For a conference that hasn’t even officially begun, ISTE2017 is already packed.  For those of you that don’t know, ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) is a massive, global organization dedicated to improving digital citizenry and integrating relevant, purposeful technology into the classroom. At the conference here in San Antonio, over 10,000 attendees are expected to participate, and over 500 companies are represented.

It’s big.

I’ve been wanting to come for over four years now.  Last year, as I was eagerly following ISTE2016 in Colorado, I promised myself that I would somehow make it happen this year.

My first workshop is today – a pre-conference experience with the Global Education Network.  It starts at 2, but I’ve been told to get there early just in case.  So I’m early, and spending some time in the “Blogger’s Cafe”, a space set up for attendees to do some writing, charge some batteries, and network.  Within minutes, I met two digital education specialists from Louisiana and a podcast producer from Oklahoma.   There’s a group here now discussing how to redesign their classroom spaces for next year.

The Global Education Network conference has over 300 attendees already registered, and the wait list was at 50, last I checked.  They’ve got a google classroom set up.  The workshop is set up to be a collection of digital round table discussions focusing on digital tools and diversity in the classroom.

Who’s Here?

The vast majority of attendees represent the K-12 sector; higher education is also well-represented.  I’d hazard a guess that I am in a small minority of adult non-credit ELT.  Regardless, I’m here, and my goal is to discover what is happening in educational technology that is relevant and meaningful for ELT.

I plan to talk with digital education specialists, edutech companies, other educators, and anyone else, basically, that I’m sitting near.  I also plan to connect with members who would be willing, potentially, to deliver webinars for TESL Ontario.

Like I said, the conference hasn’t even really begun yet; this is the pre-conference.  Three more packed days of workshops and presentations to experience!

MOOC – Keeping Motivation Levels Up (or Someone Notice Me, Please!)

I have to be honest; the first MOOC  I tried, I didn’t finish.  Started off well.  Read the required articles.  Watched the Rick Mercer-like instructor videos.  Eagerly participated in the online discussions.  And then tuned out.  I think I know at least 4 reasons why.

1. The material was basic.

I knew it already, for the most part, but thought I would try the MOOC regardless, figuring I could always learn something new.  The MOOC was offered thru Canvas.  The course I was in was called “Learning to Learn Online”.  My objectives were to gain some insight into how my learners feel about online learning, especially those encountering the technology for the first time.

2. Pat on the head

I hadn’t realized prior to this MOOC that I need recognition.  I admit it, I am a bit of a Lisa Simpson in that I want to be assessed and then receive the double gold star…  With a MOOC, that’s impossible.  There are too many learners, so attracting individual attention from the instructor is rare.  The “M” does means “massive”, by the way.

So I’d put in extra time and effort, and when I thought, ha! This answer will surely get a nod!  And nothing happened.  A virtual speck in the online galaxy.

Maybe I’m not as brilliant as I thought I was… I know about effective feedback, and I know that, as instructors,  we ought to avoid mindless “good job” responses on their own. But to get no feedback at all made me feel like I was writing in a vacuum.   You know what MOOCs are missing?  That “like” button from social media sites like Facebook.  Even getting a virtual atta girl would have kept my motivation up.

3. iPad app misfunctioning

I was doing the entire MOOC on my iPad.  There was an app for that.  However, the Canvas app froze out and went non responsive half the time.  I would have then had to find an alternate online resource.  It was too much effort to figure out.

4. Time

Like any adult learner, time is always going to be a factor.  I did not plan my MOOC into my weekly schedule like I should have, so I began falling behind.  Plus, the app was unreliable, and no one ever noticed my outstanding class work so, gradually, I let the course get away from me.

I’ve since gone back and have viewed the videos, and reviewed the discussions.  I think I got out of that particular MOOC what I wanted.  I’m now in another MOOC through Coursera, Foundations of Virtual Instruction.  I have MOOC time twice a week, for 2 hours each time.  I’m already more invested in FVI than my first MOOC.  More intrinsic motivation.  I’m not behind, and I’ve aced the quizzes.  The discussion groups are a little more active.  They even offer a way to receive recognition badges…however, you need to pay for them.

MOOCs are a way to keep on top of recent innovations in your field, whatever that field may be.  It’s a way to connect with MOOC users worldwide, and start building a network.  MOOCs are self directed, and learner focused, and are really just beginning to connect users globally.  I think I will be taking advantage of MOOCs, even though it’s highly unlikely the instructor will ever give me a virtual fist bump.

Man, some students are so needy, eh?

Padlet and San Antonio

Updates – All the Way to San Antonio…

I haven’t updated this blog in some time, but I have been active in Twitter and elsewhere. I’ve developed a collaborative tool in Padlet that outlines various educational technology tools and apps that I’ve come across. In addition, I’ve a year now into my Masters of Education program at UOIT. Two courses so far have been about how to use technology, both with different course objectives; one was how to use digital tools for the construction of knowledge, and the other specifically hones in on digital tool in adult education.

Here is the padlet link I’ve been working on. Updates to follow.

I am attending ISTE2017 in a week from today – wow, a week already. So much to do to prepare. I am also at the end of my course in the school board and am buried in the marking that comes with a cumulative final project.

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