#tbt Faculty Retreat and looking to the next one

For today’s #throwbackthursday post, I’m going to go back a few years…

In 2012, I was chair of our Faculty of Education Retreat Committee. We decided to infuse more technology to support this event as usually big easels with poster-sized paper and coloured markers were an integral part of these events. Often, there were coloured dot stickers used as well. I thought about what happened to these large posters after each event? How were they used? What was written on such posters were also chosen by whomever facilitated the discussion as well. The use of technology can flatten these events and given everyone a “coloured marker” per se. The following photo captures a moment from the event:

flickr photo shared by valerieirvine under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Each table was provided with a laptop and iPads and Google logins for those who didn’t have one.

flickr photo shared by valerieirvine under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

We created a Google doc agenda with links to various docs for sessions, with prompts for actions and opportunities for planning. A Google form was used to collect anonymous evaluation responses and I was relieved to report the results were very positive! In part, I think everyone felt they had a voice and felt like they could contribute in an active way.

I just learned that I will be on the committee for the next Faculty Retreat and look forward to exploring innovative designs for collaboration and community-building in the shaping of our future!

Minecraft pic of Rachel's world

Special Guests Joining Our Minecraft Day in EDCI 336!

So this is pretty awesome… young learners teaching adult teachers. It started last spring after I had MinecraftEDU installed in our MacLaurin D211 computer lab up at the University of Victoria. My then 8yo loves Minecraft and builds the most amazing worlds and has taken me into the most wonderful servers to explore and build together. As a teacher educator, I stood witness many times to amazing critical thinking and collaborative teamwork among the children in this immersive world. I decided it would be a great experience to let them teach preservice teachers about this space. I brought in my daughter and Dominic Smith brought his son – both of whom were in elementary school and were avid Minecraft players. I storified a few tweets from the class last March:

The young mentors were so pumped up about the experience and having their passion and experience being recognized. One thing I would have changed is that there were only two young learners to a class of approximately 30 adults, so when someone got stuck, didn’t know how to break a block, etc., they were run off their feet. I also want to expand this so more young learners can share in this positive experience. This year, I have 34 in the class and I will be bringing in a maximum of 15 young mentors. I have my list, but I would love it if you could reconfirm your attendance by emailing edci336 at uvic dot ca – if you haven’t contacted me yet and are interested, you can still email me but please put “wait list” in the subject line. I might put together some other events.
For those confirmed as young mentors (or their parent/guardian), here is the schedule and the scoop:

Location: MacLaurin Building Education Computing Lab Room D211, University of Victoria

Date: Tuesday, November 17

Time: 12:30-2:30 structured and 2:30-3:20 exploration and sharing time.
Should any learners have after-school activities to go to, they are welcome to head out as needed.

Proposed plan:

12:30-12:45 Introduction to Minecraft and to the guests
12:45-1:45 EDCI 336 students to explore Minecraft supported by the young mentors (basic functions, creative, survival, etc. followed by exploration of a MinecraftEDU world)
1:45-2:30 Swapping places – young mentors take a turn to enter the world and show their stuff or to co-play with a EDCI 336 student
2:30-3:20 Exploration and sharing time

Note: the TIE lab adjacent in room A210 will be open for students who wish to bring their own laptops to show and share their own personal Minecraft worlds in a 1-1 or small group manner. Wifi access will be provided as well.

Parents, guardians, and teachers bringing the mentors: There is the TIE lab next door for you to wait or play minecraft yourself if you bring your own laptop. Also, there is a cafeteria on the main floor of MacLaurin should you wish to wait or grab a bite or a drink. Should you plan to leave, be sure to connect with me personally to do a sign in/out process.

Minecraft pic by Valerie Irvine is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Literacy and Learning Symposium logo

Literacy and Learning Symposium: United by Design

It is my pleasure to be a part of the 2015 Literacy and Learning Symposium to be held at the Deerfoot Inn in Calgary, Alberta on October 13-16, 2015. The theme of the event is United by Design: Moving Forward Together, which I love. The Centre for Family (www.famlit.ca) is partnering with the Community Learning Network (www.communitylearning.info) to present this event as a province-wide professional development opportunity for approximately 300 participants who focus on literacy and lifelong learning for adults. The title of my keynote will be Personal Learning Through Partnership: Connecting Learners as Knowledge Nodes. The abstract is as follows:

With ubiquitous Internet access and the prevalence of social media and curation tools, there is an incredible opportunity to remix the roles of teacher and learner, making every person a partner in learning. Adult learners are recognized as knowledge nodes and we’ll share how to harness a learning community through connections.

I will also be doing a session on Oct 16th, entitled #selfiemylearning: Making Learning Visible.

The registration deadline is September 14th with an early bird draw deadline of September 4th. You can register here. I hope to see you there!

BlendEd Alberta logo

BlendEd Alberta

I am thrilled to be “unkeynote” for the blendED 2015 Symposium to be held Oct 25-27, 2015 in Edmonton, Alberta. As per their website,

This event is the first of its kind in Alberta and is designed to attract educators, technology coordinators, curriculum developers and administrators from the K-12 sector.  Throughout the event participants will have an opportunity to engage in conversations about online and blended learning in Alberta.  From a hands-on skill-building pre-conference to a closing unKeynote that will tie together the 2-day networking and dialogue, delegates will leave the symposium with new insights, ideas and understandings – most importantly with practical strategies to implement in their own practice.

The symposium, being sponsored in partnership with the Canadian eLearning Network, is organized around five themes:  Research, Pedagogy, Tools, Course Design and Diverse Learning Groups. I’ll be facilitating a “World Cafe” with a panel of thought leaders, including Dr. Cathy Cavanaugh on Monday, October 26, and will put together something interesting as a closing unkeynote on Tuesday, October 27.

Please note the early bird registration rate deadline is July 15th. You can register here.

pic of the TIE lab before construction

New Beginnings

In this post, I thought I would share some of the history of the TIE Research Lab. Like anything else that is highly appreciated, it’s usually hard-earned. The featured photo above is something I get strength from as it shows how far the journey has been for me in my career. It was one of the “before” shots of the space. I sought funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, and many university, government, and corporate partners to reach a $780,000 project size. I was soon joined by my co-director, Dr. Hadwin, and we turned that space into the TIE lab:

TIE Lab VC room