Conference highlights the role of technology in the classroom

On Aug. 20 and 21, 300 delegates, made up of students and teachers, will get an early start to the school year. They will be attending the 6th annual Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning (ABEL) Summer Institute taking place at York University’s Keele campus. There they will learn about the latest innovations in information communications technology (ICT) as it relates to pedagogy.

Left: The 6th annual ABEL Summer Institute brings teachers and students together to learn about the latest innovations in educational ICT

Hosted by the ABEL program at York University, this year’s event is structured as a two-day conference. Delegates will listen to four feature presentations and participate in sessions led by fellow teachers who will share their insight and knowledge about using ICT in the classroom.

"At York University we are particularly proud of the research that continues to inform the ABEL program implementation. Together with the researchers at the Institute for Research on Learning Technologies, the ABEL program is exemplary in applying the latest research and impacting schools," said Stan Shapson, York vice-president research & innovation. "York values its community-based relationships and partnerships. The ABEL program develops meaningful collaboration between kindergarten to 12 educators and York’s faculty members, ensuring effective outreach programs and sustained knowledge mobilization.

"Additionally the private-sector partnerships contribute educational resources and expertise. Together with York’s interdisciplinary strengths and broadband technologies, the University is able to reach into classrooms and have an important impact on supporting teachers in improving student achievement," said Shapson.

Kicking off this year’s event will be a keynote address by renowned futurist Richard Worzel (left). A chartered financial analyst, Worzel is the best-selling author of Who Owns Tomorrow? (Viking Canada 2003) and is a frequent media commentator on business and economic trends. In his presentation, titled "Preparing for Tomorrow: The Future of Education in Canada", Worzel will provide a futuristic view of the learner, literacy and the role that technology plays in contributing to forward-thinking curriculum planning.

Joining Worzel in delivering the conference’s feature presentations are a number of luminaries in the field of education and ICT. Lorna Earl (right) is a professor in the Theory & Policy Studies Department and co-director of the International Centre for Educational Change at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. She will deliver a presentation, titled "Learning about Networked Learning Communities".

Also speaking is David Booth (left), professor emeritus and coordinator of the Pre-Service Elementary program at OISE, who will speak about "The Mouse in Everyone’s House". Joining Earl and Booth is York education Professor Ron Owston ( below, right), director of the Institute for Research in Learning Technologies (IRLT) and co-director of the Technology Enhanced Learning Institute (TELi) at York. Owston will deliver a presentation, titled "Teachers can make a difference! Linking teacher learning with student learning". All keynote talks will be streamed on the ABEL Web site.

Once again, ABEL will be including high-school students among its delegates at the institute. More than 50 high-school students from Ontario will attend the conference. They will work with their teachers to develop new strategies for classroom learning. "Students enthusiastically embrace the opportunity to work along-side their teachers," said Janet Murphy, ABEL program manager. "The ABEL program’s innovative approach to teaching and learning continues to advance the importance of research networks and collaboration for education."

The ABEL program at York University is a research-based service that uses instructional design expertise and collaborative applications to provide opportunities for interaction and sharing regardless of location and time. Outreach, information dissemination and knowledge building, coaching, mentoring, training and teaching activities are supported by the ABEL program.

For more information about ABEL, visit