Session title - The View from Here - Our Online Professional Development Plan to Support a Vista Migration, U of British Columbia
OK so a big institution (check, 46,000 students), one that I have heard of (check) and an international client to boot (check, sort of). The abstract said: "two key objectives: engaging the teaching and learning community in a diverse professional development program, and weaving pedagogical approaches into technology training". Well that all sounds good, doesn't it? What could possible go wrong? Well the start really... and yes, I know, there is a pretty big clue in the title. The presenter started with the good old "get an idea of the people in the room" raise your hands exercise:
How many of you in the room are currently going through vista migration (about 2/3s of the room), how many of you are CE or Vista users (lots of hands), how many of you are traditional Bb learning system users (er...that will be just me then), all that remained was for someone to make the rally cry "grab your torches and pitchforks, we have an intruder in our midst".
Anyway, my shoulders are pretty broad and it isn't the first time I have tried to rise above the great divide and look for transferability of professional development activity - it shouldn't matter, should it? Well, of course, the answer is no, unless the presenters end up not talking about professional development at all, but instead decide to focus on the relative merits of batch migration as compared to course by course migration as compared to wipe the slate and start again.
OK so recap, not a small institution, not titles claiming overarching "pedagogy" and not WebCT clients, OK ...got that. So the next session I decide to attend is "Effective Interactive Discussion Board Strategies, or 'Old Dogs Learn New Tricks' " Embry-Riddle.
So, pretty proud of myself with this one, Embry-Riddle - 34,000 students, big Bb client, early adopter, home of experts Shirley Waterhouse and Becky Vasquez, focused advice on techniques to motivate staff to use online discussion within the curriculum. Now this will get the conference back on track for me, for definite. Soooo sitting in the room the Bb guy says "can I just check you are in the right room?" oh dear, this isn't going to be good, he goes on "the Embry-Riddle session is cancelled, the session in this room will now be Using Bb in Your Campus Emergency Response Plan" run away.......