ABEL Summer Institute focuses on sharing experiences

Have you ever wondered how teachers would use video games to promote student engagement? How about plugging into the potential of iPods for use in the classroom? And what will the classroom of the future look like? Feeling a bit muddled over Moodle? All this and more will be part of next week’s Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning (ABEL) program Summer Institute (ASI 2009) conference taking place at York University, Aug. 24 to 26. 

ASI 2009 will provide educators from across Ontario with an opportunity to learn the very latest about podcasting, using video games in the classroom, Facebook, Twitter, Moodle and other technologies. This year’s conference features the theme, Social Innovation: Your Ideas, Your Inspiration, Your Community. It offers educators a venue for sharing their ideas, innovations and experiences related to using technology in the classroom. In addition to keynote speakers and presentations from delegates, conference participants will also gain important hands-on experience with new tools, learn about the latest pilot projects and programs, and how technological innovations can be transported into the classroom to engage students and enhance learning and development.

Kicking off the conference on Monday, Aug. 24, is a keynote presentation by Max Valiquette (left), the founder and president of Youthography, a research and marketing communications agency dedicated exclusively to figuring out what is important to today’s youth. During his keynote presentation, Valiquette, a frequent presenter on youth and pop culture in Canada, will look at the ways youth are demanding more from educational institutions and how the technological tools of today (and tomorrow) play a role in changing the power dynamic in our culture. He will give special consideration to social networking activities, whether in the form of friends connecting with one another, people starting businesses or their use in the creation of new cultural content.

Following Valiquette’s keynote, ASI delegate Michael Grieve (right) will present “Using Video Games to Promote Student Engagement”. During his presentation, Grieve will explore how video games can be used as an instructional strategy for the classroom to engage students and further their knowledge in the curriculum. Grieve is the head of computer studies at Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School in Markham, Ont. He also participates on a provincial steering committee advising on digital literacy and emerging educational technologies.

Also presenting on Monday is Colin Harris (left), an Apple distinguished educator and curriculum consultant for the York Region District School Board. Harris’s presentation “iPods in the Classroom and for Professional Development” will look at how iPods and podcasts can be used in the classroom to enhance literary development.  

Conference participants will hear from Marlene Olsavsky (right), vice-president of marketing for Pearson Education Canada, and Stephen Broadbent (below, left), a technology specialist from Pearson Education Canada, about new innovations in teaching high school mathematics. Olsavsky and Broadbent will provide a guided tour of MathXL, a comprehensive set of online instructional tools used by high school math teachers across North America to enhance the learning experience of students in a variety of math subjects.

On Tuesday, Aug. 25, participants will play with the newest tools and they’ll investigate the learning potential offered by Moodle, social networking tools (such as blogs, wikis, Twitter and Ning), e-portfolios, SMART Boards, streaming video, Second Life, podcasting, voice threads and more. From beginner to advanced, ASI 2009 offers a tools session for everyone, no matter their experience.

Then, on Wednesday, Aug. 26, the conference participants will talk about what they have learned about technology in the classroom. The hands-on learning continues with a spotlight session with Liz Kolb (right), author of Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education (2008) published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Kolb has also authored numerous articles for ISTE’s Learning & Leading with Technology. An adjunct professor at Madonna University in Michigan, Kolb will explore the other side of the argument on cell phone use in education. As part of her presentation, Kolb will lead conference participants through a variety of learning activities using their cellphones.

For more information on other activities and sessions that are part of this conference, visit the ASI 2009 Web site. For more information about advanced broadband learning, visit the ABEL Web site.