ABEL Summer Institute explores role of social innovation in learning

The Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning (ABEL) program will host its eighth annual Summer Institute Aug. 24 to 26 at York’s Keele campus. Titled Social Innovation: Your Ideas, Your Inspiration, Your Community, this three-day professional learning event features keynote speaker Mike D’Abramo, co-founder and director of research & strategy of the communications agency Youthography, and spotlight speaker Liz Kolb, an adjunct assistant professor at Madonna University who is currently completing her PhD studies in learning technologies at the University of Michigan.

Left: Mike D’Abramo

D’Abramo, whose communications agency specializes in understanding and interacting with people under the age of 35, will speak about the ways in which youth are demanding more of institutions and how the technological tools of today (and tomorrow) play a role in changing the power dynamic in our culture. A special look will be given to social networking activities, whether in the form of friends connecting with one another, people starting a business or the creation of cultural content.

Kolb, author of Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education (International Society for Technology in Education, 2008), sees cellphones as a powerful technology in the hands of students. She will lead a workshop that explores “the other side” of the argument on cellphone use in learning. Workshop attendees will participate in a variety of learning activities using their cellphones and will leave with ideas on how to revise school policies on cellphones, teach mobile safety and see examples of how cellphones are being used in learning around the world.

Right: Liz Kolb

This year’s ABEL Summer Institute (ASI) investigates the role of social innovation in learning, building and sustaining knowledge communities. This will include understanding the relevance of open and social innovation for authentic curriculum design, as well as technology integration that supports collaboration, engagement and interaction.

ASI is a guided and self-directed exploration of 21st-century educational tools and knowledge building approaches. The Summer Institute provides an opportunity for ABEL members and non-members to meet face-to-face, exchange ideas and become inspired about their experiences with, and the possibilities of, the ABEL program. The annual event features special guest speakers, presentations, group discussions and hands-on workshops to develop curriculum ideas and encourage the integration of technology in the upcoming school year.

In addition to promoting a greater appreciation of the significance of job-embedded learning and collaborative communities for institutions and businesses, the Summer Institute heightens awareness of how technological tools and resources enrich learning and increase overall engagement. One of the goals of ASI is to expand opportunities for delegates to reflect as individuals, share as teams, shape new learning landscapes and to benefit from ongoing professional learning.

Founded in 2002, the ABEL program is a unique research and innovation program led and funded by York University and the York Region District School Board. For more information, visit the ABEL Web site. For registration information and to view the event agenda, visit the ABEL Summer Institute Web site.