VC in Alberta

I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at Alberta’s Broadband Summer Institute this summer. So after the first half day, here’s a report on videoconferencing in Alberta!

BBSI & VC in Alberta
The Broadband Summer Institute has been running for at least 5 years. In the past it has included Ontario teachers, but is now just for Alberta teachers. It’s a three day long conference on videoconferencing. This year 170 teachers are here to learn and share best practices in videoconferencing. The conference is partially funded by Alberta Education. You can visit the VCAlberta website to learn more about the amazing things happening in this province. By tomorrow, all the presentations from the today will be up online so you can watch them via web streaming, thanks to the University of Lethbridge. The whole conference will be archived online! What a treasure of resources that will be!

In the packet was included a thick booklet, Videoconferencing Research Community of Practice. This research is definitely a huge contribution to the videoconferencing community, and you should look at it if you haven’t already! Also see the other research publications they’ve posted online.

I’m really impressed with the level of support for VC at the provincial level. It reminds me of some of the states that have a statewide network. Not only do they have an MCU & VC support specialist, they also have a person focusing on research, another on PD, and they’ve just created a new position for VC projects. In addition, they’ve just recently given each jurisdiction $60,000 to put at least two units in their schools. So each jurisdiction in Alberta has at least 2 endpoints. Think of all the classes we could connect with!!

Some New VC Phrases
I picked up two fun new phrases from Dr. Bette Gray, Director, Stakeholder Technology Branch, Alberta Education.

“Experiencing packet loss”. Last night at dinner with the planning committee I couldn’t remember the name of a place I had done a videoconference with. Bette said that I was experiencing packet loss. Has that ever happened to you? Maybe time to reset the connection?! :>

“Windshield time.” You know this already, but maybe haven’t said it quite this way! Did you know that videoconferencing allows you to reduce windshield time when trying to attend meetings & PD? I wonder if windshield time means more in the winter when you are trying to keep the snow off your car so you can see where you’re going!

New Content Provider
Royal Tyrrell Museum
is starting to offer videoconferencing programming this fall, with a program called “Up Close and Paleo.” I’m going to that breakout session tomorrow and will be able to report more. Always nice to learn about a new content provider!

August 2008 International Videoconference Conference
Alberta is hosting an international conference on videoconferencing in 2008. No official name yet, and I don’t know the dates yet, but will post them here when I find out. We’ll all want to mark our calendars for sure! In Banff, no less!! Can’t miss that!!

Alberta at the Smithsonian
We learned today about how Alberta was featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. As part of their booth, they videoconferenced back to Alberta for 10 sessions with Alberta kids. Very cool. Check out pictures and video clips on the Alberta at the Smithsonian blog.

Project Development
My session went very well too. Teachers here know enough about videoconferencing to get really excited when presented with some basic project templates. I gave them time to “pair-share” their ideas for projects and they had so many ideas it was hard to go to the next thing! That’s the excitement I love! The conference has a “project partners wall” where people are posting their ideas to find partners among conference attendees. Cool idea!

U2 Can VC
Finally, as a speaker thank you gift, I received a t-shirt that says “U2 Can VC”, which was even funnier because everyone was joking about VCing with U2 all afternoon.

These Albertans have it together! It was a very engaging interesting afternoon. Looking forward to more learning tomorrow!

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