David Porter, CEO of eCampus Ontario delivered the closing keynote for the Advancing Learning conference. He opened by acknowledging the awesome work of the conference organizers, who understand the importance of good food and gaming … I mean, um … networking.

Networking

My favorite part of attending conferences is making new friends, turning them into lasting connections and of course, winning some jackpots in the process is a bonus! There is nothing like shooting zombies, skill-based games, ping-pong and some pure luck with a group of new friends to solidify connections made over the course of a couple of days. The conference planning team made a genius move bringing us to the rec room.

Empowerment

David Porter discussed the need to empower educators to make the decisions that are best for their students, which is the goal of eCampusOntario. The landscape of education is changing. Responding to opportunities that present themselves is key to staying current as educators. I am thankful to eCampusOntario for pushing me towards being more connected to a personal learning network on Twitter, blogging and open education as it has opened up a world of opportunity for me.

 

Be Flexible

He is quite right when he says that learners are looking for customizable and flexible learning opportunities. Meeting this need is built into Cambrian’s strategic plan. It needs to be if institutions are going to stay current and attract students. We need to meet the actual needs of students. Students are getting better at advocating for what they want. They may not want to take an entire program, but choose elements that meet their needs for their career.

Technology is not Optional

Technology is not optional. If you don’t use it your students will. As educators, we need to find a way to work with technology. Dr. Porter points out that it helps to have a strategy since there are so many options and opportunities that need to be sifted through.

 

eCampusOntario’s Strategic Themes

  1. Access: They strive to provide broad access to flexible online learning in many areas of study.
  2. Empowerment: The only way to improve access is to empower educators to be comfortable working in that kind of environment.

I have some experience as an OE Fellow working with eCampusOntario and I believe that it is worth your time getting to know them. eCampus has empowered me through supporting my knowledge development in the area of open education as well as through their extend program. You may have guessed that I am competitive. My favorite part of their program is the daily extends. Visit the leaderboard to see the seven of us currently tied for first place here. By participating in the daily challenges I am having fun and making new friends.

Needed: Transversal Skills

Transversal skills including teamwork, empathy, and compassion are needed in the workforce. They are needed for students to get hired. How can we fit that into such tightly programmed curriculum? eCampusOntario is providing access to Lynda.com is free for three years to students, faculty, and staff in Colleges and Universities. It is a one of a kind opportunity for us as educators.

T shaped Student

The T-shaped Student by @bryanMMathers is licensed under CC-BY-ND

A Domain of Your Own

eCampusOntario encouraged me to use this domain (nursekillam.com) in creative ways I had not considered before through their Extend program. Just like he mentioned today, I have been expanding my use of WordPress. Now I am getting to the point where my colleague and I were discussing on the way home if it is better to use the LMS or if I could build a more open, interactive experience through this domain. It is an interesting discussion to have.

Open Badging

eCampusOntario is using open badging. Having tried badging for the first time, Katherine and I are now looking to open badging as an opportunity to make things better for students. Talking to with Don Presant at the conference gave us some food for thought for the six-hour drive back to Sudbury (due to traffic). Open badging has some real potential.

Empowerment

David Porter kept speaking to empowerment in his talk. He wants educators to think critically about what will work in their classroom. We as educators need to make the decisions about what is best for our students. For that to work, David suggests that academic freedom is a key ingredient.

Rethinking Education

The world is changing. As David says “It is not enough to be on the same road, doing the same thing …” over and over again. As we move forward as innovators we need to think about what we can do to ensure our students can be successful.

As long as we have a clear guiding vision and we keep trying to improve our practice we will be able to help our students. Today, that means rethinking what resources I assign to students and how I give them feedback. As much as possible I will use open resources, provide students choice and encourage their growth. Inspired by some recent conferences I am going to try “going gradeless.” In reality, I need to play the game. They still get marks. I will be finding a way around rigid systems in order to make it work, but it will be a fun adventure for September. Stay tuned …


NurseKillam

Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit http://nursekillam.com/.

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