Monday, August 8, 2016

Conference Blog: Tweets, Trends, and Talks

AACE 2016 Blog:  Tweets, Trends, and Talks

I am so fortunate to have received Professional Development funding from the School of Computing and Academic Studies (SOCAS) into which I belong at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).
 I undertook a research project to ask what students’ perceptions were of doing and receiving peer review on the writing of their scientific report activities for the Communication Course I had taught last semester.  This project afforded me the opportunity to set up a research study, get ethics approval, conduct a survey, do regular peer review activities in class, but also add in a twist.  In order to perpetuate the reputation of being an “early adopter”, I used cloud-based software for the students to conduct their peer reviews anonymously.  I learned a lot about research design and discovered that the students didn’t realize of the value of doing peer review for others as much as they expected being peer reviewed would help them.  Another finding of my study was that students agreed that being plagiarized could be a factor in being part of a peer review activity. 
As a result of my findings, I will keep doing meaningful front loading of the rationale for my teaching methodologies so that students appreciate the reason and benefit for how their classroom activities will help them increase their digital literacies. 
One last observation was that by the end of the study students agreed more that they were comfortable sharing their work online.  This result made sense because I shared conversations about what privacy entailed with my “millennials” for whom social media is an essential part of their lives.  I was able to introduce the concept of what exactly privacy entails when a student is online.  Transferring these discussions on privacy can relate to other parts of their professional academic lives should they continue to research in their fields and where copyright is becoming a trending topic in education.  A copy of my paper is available at .

I began attending the AACE conference in 2009 where I learned about “The Horizon Report” (available at in video form and in written form) which talks about emerging technologies in education.  Every year this report is published, and I enjoy learning about and trying myself, to be part of what the students need to be productive members of the workforce.  I realize that the newest topic is “Bring your own Device” (BYOD) to enable learning.  For the AACE converence with the hashtag #EdMedia2016 report, I put the conference experience into three categories: tweets, trends, and talks, and I’d like to share a little on each topic.


#EdMedia began at the Sheraton Wall Centre in #YVR on June 28, 2016.  Registration opened at 8am and the first plenary was at 8:30.  We were all excited to be at this annual international conference on Advanced Computing in Education.  Personally, it was my sixth time in attendance over the last eight years.  Delegates began connecting by tweeting out concepts by Professor Dr. Drik Ifenthaler (@Ifenthaler), University of Mannheim, Germany on his topic of “A holistic view on learning analytics:  Opportunities and challenges”.  Analytics are a key focus of trending topics in EdMedia.  @Ifenthaler’s 2015 research summarized the three perspectives of the benefits of learning analytics as follows:  Summative, Real time, and Predictive.  The top ten areas for analytics analysis falls under these categories:

1.       Learning History

2.       Activity Time

3.       Recommendation

4.       Goal Setting

5.       Study Buddy

6.       Self Assessment

7.       Content Rating

8.       Visual Signs

9.       Newsfeed

10.   Study Planner

And the 11th category was feedback.  (Schumacher & Ifenthaler, 2016).  @Ifenthaler had five final categories for consideration:  unbiased, transparent, accepted by all stakeholders (*the key to everything I learned about at the conference), semantic-rich data, and evidence to facilitate learning and improve instructional practice.  The slidedeck of his full talk, however, is available only on EdMedia’s “Academic Experts” page for members of the conference, but as he is prolific in the field, I’m sure if you approached him he’d be happy to chat on the topic.

As the keynote began, we were rich in twitter hashtags as we deliberated on which one to focus:  #EdMedia, #EdMediaconf, or #EdMedia2016. 
It’s ideal before a group begins collaborating online to build their community by first agreeing on the same hashtag!  Because of not wanting to miss out of the three twitter feeds happening, I had three tabs open in my browser and moved between them. Despite the multiple platforms, I was able to keep up by observing delegates simultaneously give accolades, make announcements, offer resources, share presentation graphics and embed relevant links, post reminders, and build connections.  Twitter can be handy, but can also be distracting.  Overall, I find it an essential addition to a conference experience, but the more the better so a rich exchange of ideas can take place.

Another benefit of using twitter is that while you see who is active in the twittersphere, you then run into them face to face during one of the breaks.  It’s like seeing an avatar that becomes real, right in front of your eyes!  For some, the conference gives the opportunity for “imaginary twitter friends” as my friend @Nancywhite from EdMedia 2010 called them, connecting with each other sometimes for the first time, and sometimes during a regular cycle and build our knowledge base.  And once you return to your regular academic life, you can pop in, from time to time, and keep up with what these twitter friends are seeing, doing, and sharing, and keep in touch throughout the year until you meet in person again.


One of the trends that was certainly discussed was copyright.  As we move more and more to Open Educational Resources (OERs) for our coursework and publications, Joyce Johnston and the second-day plenary presenter Keynote Speaker: Laura Czerniewicz, Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), South Africe  both gave a thought provoking presentation called “Troubling Open Education” (available at ).  Laura’s talk covered a well-researched scenario of implications for copyright and Intellectual Property (IP).  During these talks we were advised to find out who owns our research and to be sure we have protected ideas that belong to us.  A couple of interesting terms I learned were “Poorman’s Copyright” and “Hamburger menu”. 

A “Poorman’s copyright is when you put a copy of your research in the mail and send it to yourself.  Proof of the dates are marked on the cancellation mark on the envelope, and if you get into legal battles on who did your research, you have documented proof the ideas were yours first.  “Hamburger menu” is the left column of your course tool, which, it turns out, students prefer less navigating through their courses using a hamburger menu than using a ribbon across the top. This kind of research result can help us when we are preparing information for our students.  #EdMedia provides interesting opportunities like these to find out what’s trending. 
Saul Carliner (@saulcarliner ) at his plenary address on the third day of the conference, June 30, also suggested we be aware of the following trends:  “storytelling, content design, infographics, analytics, and virtual simulations and game-based learning”.  Saul gave the example of millennials being a group who grew up playing PACMAN and respond well to augmented virtuality, another term I had heard for the first time.  I also enjoyed the game he played where we had to decide if a technology was an “evolution” or “revolution”.  Examples are as follows:
1.       Computer-based instruction -                             evolutionary
2.       Learning objects -                                              evolutionary
3.       Mobile Learning -                                               too soon to tell (origins with the Walkman)
4.       2012 year of the MOOC  -                                 too soon to tell or revolutionary
5.       word processing and presentation graphics -    revolutionary
Caliner had no specific research for PowerPoint and how it’s changing our culture, but it was worth a consideration.

Another presenter, Mikhail Fominykh, a millennial himself we learned, was active in the design for “wearable” experiences for knowledge intensive training (#WEKIT).  Unfortunately I was presenting at the same time as Mikhail and missed his presentation, but when requested to post his slides in twitter, he shared the slidedeck, and we discussed his innovations face to face during the closing ceremony event.  You can see Mikhail’s presentation here:  It was easy to pick him out and go up to him and speak with him because we had already met on twitter!

TALKS – informal and formal

The informal talks that arise during the well-organized food events like lunches, beverage breaks, and evening events are always another valuable part of the conference. 
At another conference I attended by the Wildlife Society in 2009, I attended another sort of informal event that worked really well that might be one more nice to bring to #EdMedia.   The event was an evening of Special Interest Groups (SIGS).   How it worked was with a cash bar and tall bar stools and tables placed around a room.  Each table had a card identifying the group that would assemble there and was hosted by a volunteer mentor.  I loved this event because I was pretty new to conferences at the time and really wanted to meet people and learn about the areas the Wildlife Society covered.  If #EdMedia ran such an event, we would get even more rich conversation and connections informally without using twitter and especially engage with Millennials who have new ideas which would meld well with seasoned educators.  Walking over to a table that had people in similar areas of interest would help build connections without using any technology and still be just as valuable! If the mentor at the table was to be giving a presentation, learning about where and when without reading the conference handbook can help like-minded individuals make connections faster – without using twitter!  The technology, we must remember is just another form of communication to enhance idea construction.

Another way I love that #EdMedia connects people is that they attach a “Newcomer” ribbon on the first timers’ badges.  Physically being able to see that someone is new to the conference helps the veterans welcome them and help to keep them coming back.  In the eight years I have known of #EdMedia, it wasn’t until my sixth year that I gave my first presentation. I’ve done my second now and am looking for ways to keep growing professionally and would like to find a mentor, and I’m not even a newbie!  Luckily because of my activity on twitter, and the informal talks I have at social and food-based events, I had the opportunity to make good connections with the #EdMedia executive.  They even invited me to join their group!  I have started a journey with this group, and look forward for ways to develop my skills and find ways to help students build more connections and community in their fields, and I would still like to learn more about and invent ways for 21st-century pedagogies to be incorporated into the tried and true curriculum.  

If we can use technology to enhance and help today’s students evolve as mobile learning evolves, we will send them into their careers with the skills that will help them in a practical way.  Attending formal talks will help us learn and inspire us for our own talks we can give at these conferences as well.

The quality of the technology furthermore at #EdMedia is always superb. Presenters know they can rely on a staff member named Michael from the University of Hawaii, and go to their room and plug in and be ready to present with effective room layouts and audio and video.  Since the conference is internationally attended, it’d be great to also have small workshops on effective presentation skills as the formal presenters are always competent researchers, but some presenting styles differ across the world, and we all have so much to learn from each other.  I actually remember the first time saw #SydneyeveMatrix presenting in 2014 in Victoria using “Presentation Zen” techniques, and ever since that presentation, I have modeled my own style that way.  Simple effective graphics and minimal text on screen is an ideal goal, yet during the plenaries. I see invited speakers breaking this “rule”, yet their presentations are still effective. As for Sydneyeve Matrix’s conversational, storytelling  inspired and wowed us.  Just the mere experience of seeing top-quality presenters can also aid us in being better public speakers.  The plenary presenters are always a “wow” and this year was no exception.  

Another thing I like to do at #Edmedia is watch the talks given by so-called “invited speakers” who present on trending topics, but for whom there wasn’t enough time to invite them to be a plenary speaker (I guess).  #EdMedia also has a stream of talks that are for “Emerging Scholars” and many topics relate to grad students, but I find these talks very useful for me.  Maybe I’m actually a budding scholar and am in line for PhD candidacy.  But in the meantime, I’ll be an active tweeter, participant, and hopefully executive member!
So what can I bring back to my classroom this year?  I will continue to promote twitter, delve into the analytics of our LMS, continue to discuss privacy and copyright, and feel confident with the presentation skills I require in my classrooms.  I am not at the level of using analytics to gather data that will inform my teaching, but informally by using reflective practice, I am getting input from the students that I can use to help my course evolve.  

In a talk that gave a link to a Youtube video “This will Revolutionize Education” (available at, it was confirmed that technology doesn’t revolutionize education, but a caring teacher building community in the classroom is key.  I will always take that concept with me as I dabble as an innovater in the field of educational technology.  A week later, I attended the International Conference on Information Communication Technologies in Education (#ICICTE 2016), and that blog which carried my skills further is available at    --another conference, another style.

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