My OTRK12 reflections

I spent most of this week in Mississauga, planning and helping to run the On The Rise: K-12 Digital Learning symposium. We had less than two months from semi-approval to event date, so timelines were super-tight. Plus, March Break finished about 10 days before the symposium…

Well, it was tough to plan, but it was awesome. e-Learning Ontario provided enough funds for us to bring educators from all over the province, providing equity for those from distant boards (read: Northern Ontario). It gave us an opportunity to meet face-to-face with the people in our region whom we usually only get to connect online with through Adobe Connect or Skype. I didn’t get quite enough time with my Sudbury-North Bay friends because of my schedule, but we were able to reconnect over one meal with the Northwest folks on Monday night at least.

I also had the opportunity to meet a number of educators from around Ontario who, up until now, had been exclusively digital acquaintances. I got a chance to meet @ColleenKR, @MarkWCarbone, @pauldhondt, and a bunch of others. I heard from several people that the networking opportunities were awesome, and I have to agree.


John Baker from D2L and Dr. John Malloy from HWDSB were both awesome keynote speakers. I could probably write a whole post about their speeches, but I’ll just let you look at my Twitter feed for Tuesday, March 26th (Baker) and Wednesday, March 27th (Malloy). I’ll mention here that Dr. Malloy referred quite a bit to “A New Culture of Learning” by Thomas and Brown, which I now must buy.


Most of my work on OTRK12 happened before the conference began, so I was mostly able to attend the sessions I wanted to. A couple of them really stick out in my mind:

SG1 – Small Group – Administrators

I didn’t get to attend this one, but I heard so much about how awesome it was I figured I should mention it. :)

T11 – Adobe Connect

Okay, this is the one I delivered. The audience was very mixed (teachers, admin, eLCs, elementary and secondary), and I’ll admit to feeling a little scattered. Thankfully the technology functioned nicely, so I didn’t have to fall back on my local PowerPoint of screenshots. If anyone has any questions about using Adobe Connect as a teacher, program resource person, or an administrator, feel free to contact me.

T22 – Leading an Engaging Online Learning Program in Your Secondary School

This was a presentation/conversation by one of my favourite people in education, @fryed. A principal and a superintendent from my board attended this session, and the perspective from Superior-Greenstone was perfectly relevant to the challenges and opportunities we have in Algoma. Thanks, Donna!

W42 – Looking Good: Giving Your Themes, Homepages and Navbars a Graphic Designer’s Touch

This is another I-didn’t-get-to-go-but-it-was-awesome session. @timrobinsonj and @PJAnello hosted this workshop, and the excitement and laughter was all over Twitter. (They’re also from my region, but that’s not the only reason they’re awesome)

W56 – Round Table: Barrier Busters for Administrators

This session was the last one of the conference for me, and it was great. People didn’t want to stop the conversation because it was so rich, but we had to cut it off. There were some really, really smart people there, and the depth of their thinking on the issues surrounding e-Learning and Blended Learning was really impressive. I heard especially great thoughts from @markwcarbone and @WallwinS, some of which are now immortalized in my Twitter feed.

My Algoma Team

I was fortunate to be able to bring two principals, four teachers, and a superintendent to OTRK12. The shared experiences, the development of perspective, and the excited planning over lunch and on breaks were exactly what I was hoping for when I committed to this conference. I have such high hopes now for our board as we move thoughtfully forward in more fully implementing digital learning in our classrooms and for professional sharing and development.

Bittersweet, as always

It was emotional saying goodbye to everyone again. I’ve been working closely with these folks for weeks, months, and even years in a few cases, and they’re among the greatest people I’ve ever known. I can’t imagine that another group anywhere has the kind of passion, vision, caring, and enthusiasm as the delegates at OTRK12. From where I’m sitting, it was the greatest single event to advance digital learning across all of Ontario that I’ve ever seen. I’m crossing my fingers and looking forward to next year!


4 thoughts on “My OTRK12 reflections

  1. I was glad to finally have the chance to meet you too! What a great conference — so many opportunities to see the potential for using tech tools, and chances to connect with others who have many of the same interests. You and your team did such a great job planning & organizing — you must feel so proud… and probably glad that the rush is now over!
    There were definitely some presentations that blew my mind, and others that still have me digesting some fantastic thoughts. …and by the way, your Adobe session was great — a bit surprised that you felt scattered, since you delivered so well.
    I really hope that I find ways to explore the LMS & become more familiar with D2L. Maybe there will be chances to work together in the future!

    • Hi Colleen,

      Thanks so much for your comments. The team put a tremendous amount of work into planning, and it’s great to hear that it paid off for you!
      You have a great eLC in Stacey, and the NeLC group is really close, so there are lots of places to go for help, ideas, and support. If you have an idea you want to try, let us know and we’ll cook something up! Maybe we’ll use Adobe Connect to chat sometime ;)

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