4th Canadian Learning Commons Conference in Saskatoon

Following on successful conferences in Guelph, Vancouver, and Fredericton, the 4th Canadian Learning Commons Conference will take place in Saskatoon from June 11-13, 2009.

Conference Theme: “Open Access Learning,” a timely and important topic for anyone whose focus is on library, learner support, faculty development, technology, or disability services.

Keynote: We are very excited to present this year’s Keynote Speaker, Dr. Richard Baraniuk, an educator, scholar, and advocate for open education and open educational resources. You can learn more about Dr. Baraniuk by viewing his TED talk: http://www.ted.com/index.php/speakers/richard_baraniuk.html

Richard Baraniuk is the Victor E. Cameron Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University and the founder of Connexions (cnx.org). His honors include national research awards from the NSF and ONR, the Rosenbaum Fellowship from the Isaac Newton Institute of Cambridge University, the ECE Young Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Illinois, several best paper awards, the Eta Kappa Nu C. Holmes MacDonald National Outstanding Teaching Award, the SPIE Wavelet Pioneer Award, an MIT Technology Review TR10 Top 10 Emerging Technology award, and an Internet Pioneer Award from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. Dr. Baraniuk is a Fellow of the IEEE and was selected as one of Edutopia Magazine’s Daring Dozen Education Innovators in 2007. Connexions received the Tech Museum Laureate Award from the Tech Museum of Innovation in 2006.

Pre-Conference Workshop on Marketing of Programs: Would you like to plan an event, program, or seminar and ensure that more than just the caterer and your mom attend? Do you know the two biggest mistakes people make when choosing a target audience? Would it help to understand the four building blocks of persuasive communications? Do you need tips on how to be more creative? Join award-winning professor of Marketing, Dr. Barbara Phillips, as she delves into the world of marketing and integrated communication to address your key problems and concerns.

Invitation to Participate: The deadline for proposals is April 17th, 2009. For more information, visit: http://www.usask.ca/learningcommons/conference_invitation.php The application form is attached to this email, too.

Conference Registration: This is an affordable conference! Register at http://www.usask.ca/learningcommons/conference_registration.php

Please feel free to contact the conference organizers by emailing clcc2009@usask.ca. The conference web address is www.usask.ca/learningcommons/conference

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EdTech Posse Episode 5.3

From Winston’s Pub, we bring you the latest offering from the EdTech Posse. It was a fun show to do, particularly because we were joined by sevaral of our local pals who will introduce themselves at the beginning and end of the show, and also Clarence Fisher, well known to most of you in the edublogosphere. I haven’t listened to the recording, but if it captured the mood of the evening, you’re in for some fun and some neat ideas.

from http://media.libsyn.com/media/edtechposse/etp_5.3.mp3

When worlds collide

I saw my worlds collide today. Hang with me here for a bit of a ramble.

Some of you may know that my oldest son is an adult who has Down syndrome. We’ve spent much of his life trying to connect him to the community in real ways, and the most difficult part of that process has been for him to find a friend – a real friend – one who sticks. He’s had loads of great acquaintances over the years and shared friends of the family, but I’d have to say, no real friends of his own.

So this week, we find ourselves at the Family Conference in Edmonton, and meeting the likes of John and Connie Lyle O’Brien, a well-known advocate for change and building a just and inclusive society. Most of you may not know of John or much about this movement – it’s part of my “other life.” But this guy’s a rock star in this area, and it’s a profound privilege to be part of a workshop he’s presenting on building inclusive communities.

So what? I discovered that John’s notion of community and his goals for inclusion line up exactly – not just similarly – with my own intentions for technology. He sees the possibility for a very different type of society, and it includes all kinds of people and the need for social invention. Social invention is about living and learning and working and playing in community, and about contributing to community. What we’re all aiming at is a good life, a meaningful life.

Sound familiar? It’s a whole lot like what I hear us talking about these days in educational technology, isn’t it?

And we find ourselves in positions of leadership. The person Barak Obama credits with getting him elected is community organizer named Marshall Ganz. He has a really neat way of conceptualizing leadership. He says “leadership is taking responsibility for enabling others to achieve purpose in the face of uncertainty.” Isn’t that exactly the type of leadership we need in educational technology?

We need to realize that what we do is about how we leverage technology to help people reach their own purposes, and in the context of enormous uncertainty. And we have to make mistakes and learn how to move beyond them. Here’s a neat example:

Before the session, Connie Lyle O’Brien and I were talking about technology – she had a Mac, so I liked her immediately. She told me a story of how technology went wrong for her because it had unintended consequences. They are often away from their condo in Georgia doing speaking gigs. A few years ago, in response to rising crime in their community, they put in a security system and automatic light controls to look after their place when they were gone. What happened? Their place was safe, but they found they were becoming more and more disconnected from their neighbours. Before the O’Briens automated their safety, those neighbours would regularly bring in the mail, come in every evening and turn the lights on and off, and generally keep a concerned eye on their property. In other words, they “took responsibility for enabling others to achieve purpose.”

The lesson in all of this? Well, it isn’t that technology is bad and interpersonal connection is good – we all know that is too simplistic and a false dichotomy. But what it tells me is that we need to constantly monitor the unintended outcomes of any technology. We need to see if the way we implement technologies does damage to a larger purpose by enabling a smaller purpose.

I could think of all kinds of adjustments to the technological and social setup to get around the O’Brien’s challenge, but I kept my mouth shut because they found their own solution. They removed the security system and light controls and started depending on their neighbours again. In this case, I think that’s just fine.