I had the great fortune to attend the EdMedia 2016 conference in Vancouver June 28-30 at the Sheraton Wall Centre. I had never attended an international conference, and was very excited to hear how other educators used technology in their classrooms. The following is my summary of the speakers I attended.

Tuesday June 28

The keynote speaker for the day, Dirk Ifenthaler, described the challenges (and benefits) to using learning analytics to enhance student learning and make program choices. The key to analytics success is to use learner generated data, but this can be difficult to collect, as students may have valid privacy concerns.

There were several presentations related to building collaborative learning communities online. I have some great tips for creating successful online groups (questions for pre-group surveys). A main focus for many of the presentations was universal design and the importance of using a variety of media (including closed captioning) when designing online (or face to face) lessons. Some presenters focused on older adults and how their learning process may differ from younger adults. These presentations were very helpful considering ABE students in one class can range from 18 to 60 years old.

Wednesday June 29

The keynote speaker for the day, Laura Czerniewicz, presented a very interesting perspective on open education. In particular, she asked the question ‘what is open’, as this seems to be different around the world. She spoke from a South African perspective, and had very interesting views on the impact of the proposed pan-Pacific trade treaty on copyright and sharing of materials.

One of the issues with working in groups online is ‘social loafing’, or the ‘I’ll just let everyone else do it’ approach. Several of the presentations addressed this issue, with strategies to help minimize loafing. Digital storytelling was a large piece of Wednesday’s presentations, and I learned some new activities that could transfer into my ABE classes.

Thursday June 30

Saul Carliner, Thursday’s keynote speaker, argued that technology often presented as ‘new’ and ‘innovative’ is just a reiteration of something that came before. Any technology will have early adopters, but can often have a slow start to broad acceptance.

One of my favourite presentations of the conference was Jon Dron’s ‘how to demotivate students’. He identified several things instructors often do that can actually hinder student learning even though we think it should be helping. I also enjoyed a presentation on “Labvideotory” – a series of instructional lab videos created by a lab instructor and his graduate students. These videos helped their students feel more confident and comfortable in the lab, as students were to watch the videos prior to attending the lab. I took away some ideas on how to improve my students performance in chemistry and biology labs in ABE.