A bit after BIT16 – reflections from a cave

The annual Educational Computing Organization of Ontario conference has just ended with echoes of many voices ringing and events resonating in my mind. There may be many blog posts that come from this ‘reflection-on-action’ since those who attended can certainly say it was impossible to reflect-in-action. So here are some top take-aways from my bit of BIT16. (As you read through, think about how these elements could transfer to your teaching practice.)

Bring a friend, meet a friend, make a friend.   The post conference conversations happening on Twitter (#BIT16) echo how important it is to have colleagues from your school, district or region with you, to share the BIT16 experience. Although I was on my own, there were so many familiar faces from local places that my alone-ness didn’t feel lonely.

img_0662The conference gave me a chance to meet many virtual friends in a face to face space. They remind me of the important role of conversation and listening in my teaching and learning – so happy to chat with Aviva DunsigerBrian AspinallSusan Kwiecien and more! Renewing digital connections at a BringIT conference is inevitable.

Making new friends from hallway conversations or session discussions will last beyond the conference and continue into digital spaces. Thanks Alanna Callan for the rich conversations and common connections we discovered. Thanks Cathy Beach for going deeper into the vision and actions with A Kids Guide to Canada. So BIT16 was a great place to bring a friend, meet a friend and make a friend.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-10-02-36-amRemember!   BringIT 2016 is and will continue to be a place to remember those who are gone, or could not attend, but are not forgotten. Since one of the days of this event was Remembrance Day, the conference organizers prepared an emotional tribute to honour and remember. The sound of the trumpet echoing through the conference halls brought tears to many more eyes than my own.

screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-4-18-11-pmReferences and tributes to the work of Seymour Papert was evident in many sessions and presentations. Remembering the impact of this foundational edu-tech thinker and builder was an important way to honour his voice.

With the recent news of the death of Canadian Leonard Cohen, many conversations included personal memories of songs and lyrics written by this poet and writer – a voice remembered.

Sending shout-outs to those who couldn’t attend using the #NotAtBIT hashtag was a way to engage others in virtual conversations. Tagging and tweeting was a way to stay connected to others who were missed but not forgotten (Donna Miller FrySylvia DuckworthLeigh Cassell and many more)!screen-shot-2016-11-12-at-4-48-32-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-12-at-4-44-53-pm

For me, it’s great to be able to remember the conference experience by returning to the Lanyrd site as well as the BringIT Together Facebook page. Both are rich repositories of resources, videos of sessions, links and connections. The keynote talks by Shelley Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) and Jesse Brown (@JesseBrown) were live streamed and archived on the Facebook site so I can remember those ‘aha’ moments.


Let Your Star Shine  There were over 300 speakers at BringIT 2016. That’s a lot of ideas and conversations about all kinds of interesting topics. It takes courage to stand in front of one or one thousand and share your light. Stars shone in every conference session, in the learning hall, innovation stations, the DemoSlam, Ignite talks, and the HyperJam. There were so many stars shining in so many ways. There were stars from previous conferences and those who were new to the stage. Every ONE was a light for someone else. Thanks to David and Norma Thornburg (@dthornburg), some of us left with a 3D printed star that lights up!

Find your place in the #BIT16 space!  There were so many sessions and events at this conference that it was a challenge to sort out and decide where to attend. I found myself returning to the Lanyrd site repeatedly, trying to find what fit my interests and needs, then changing my mind at the last moment.


With Norma & David Thornburg

I applied David Thornburg’s ideas of learning spaces (campfires, watering holes, caves, life) as I travelled through the conference events. I found sessions and moments that fit the description for each of these learning spaces – the watering hole was the social in the learning hall at the end of the day and in the BreakOutEDU play space; the campfires happened in most sessions where conversation around the topic expanded my learning; cave moments happened in silent reflection with a coffee or curled up in my hotel room. It was a great honour to meet David and Norma Thornburg and hear about their work with STEM projects (lanyrd.com/sfcxgc) – one bright campfire moment that is a highlight from the conference.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-11-52-59-amIt’s all about the ‘US-IES’!  When it comes to enjoying time together the motto of BringIT 16 and BIT16 was all about the ‘us’ – fewer selfies, more we-sies and us-ies. The roving frame that found it’s way into many conference spaces added to the feeling of friendship and inclusion. Photos together were encouraged and celebrated – especially at the BreakOut EDU event! Cameras were turned to capture groups, gatherings with others into the photo frame to share the moments of learning. The ‘us-ies’ became a way to connect and have fun (including a few photo-bombs)!screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-1-30-54-pm

Tinkquiry counts!  After BIT16 ends, it leaves a legacy for those who attended and those who could not. Individuals and groups will continue to think about, tinker with and inquire into the ideas and explorations from BringIT16. Thanks to Peter Skillen (@peterskillen) and Brenda Sherry’s (@brendasherry) play with words, the ‘tinkquiry’ will continue and it all counts for deeper learning. Part of this notion of ‘tinkquiry’ is deeper reflection on conference experiences such as this one by Doug Petersen – Observations from a conference and Aviva Dunsiger’s post – Breaking At #BIT16: My Self-Regulated Conference Experience.

Just a bit of my learning from #BIT16.

Where have you posted your campfire conversations, your watering hole learning or cave reflections. Link them here – leave a URL in the comments or share them through the @BringIT16 Facebook and Twitter sites.

Let the learning linger and the ‘tinkquiry’ continue.

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4 Responses to A bit after BIT16 – reflections from a cave

  1. bsherry says:

    Hi Helen,
    It was so much fun to see you together with Norma and David, at last! Wonderful to be with you, and to read these reflections. Thanks for always sharing your learning! 🙂

    • HJ.DeWaard says:

      Yes. Absolutely amazing to hear David and Norma speak. They bring interesting learning elements into their work. Could spend a whole day with them and learn so much from their experiences and observations! Thanks for sharing the experience with me and for reading this reflection! 🙂 Helen

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