I attended SITE 2016 with financial support from the Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts. I’m grateful for that support and for the patience of students in my classes who experienced slower than usual responses to queries via email and the LMS. While at SITE I was involved in four presentations and a couple of organisational meetings as well as informal interactions with colleagues from around the world.
I spent the first week of March (1 – 6) attending the 26th annual conference of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) in Las Vegas. That was also the first week of semester so, when I was not at the conference, I was kept busy responding to students in the course discussion forums. I’m grateful for the support of my School and Faculty to attend, including partial financial support. I’ve attended SITE each year since I first attended in 1998 and have always found that it is the most useful conference for me in terms of interest in the papers presented and connections with colleagues. This year was no exception.
I had booked my travel in mid-2014 and expected to arrive in Las Vegas on the morning of Saturday, 28 February, before we left Brisbane according to the clock and calendar. As it happened there was freezing weather in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and our 9:20 am flight from LAX to Las Vegas finally departed at 5:30 pm after the plane was thawed and able to depart DFW. I had hoped to use the time on Saturday to arrange an excursion to the Grand Canyon on Sunday but that didn’t happen. Instead we spent Sunday exploring The Strip and I eventually booked for a conference excursion to Red Rock Canyon on Monday. That trip did yield some interesting landscape photos to complement some from Las Vegas itself.
From September 29 to October 7 I was in Washington, DC, where I participated in a series of meetings associated with my involvement in the Society for Information Technology in Teacher Education (SITE) and my role as Editor of the Journal of Technology and Teacher Education (JTATE). EDUsummIT ran from Monday, September 30 until Wednesday, October 2. The National Technology Leadership Summit (NTLS) followed on Thursday, October 3 and Friday, October 4. SITE Executive met on the morning of Saturday, October 5.
EDUsummIT <http://www.edusummit.nl>: EDUSummIT describes itself as a global community of policy-makers, researchers, and educators working together to move education into the digital age. It seeks to engage educational leaders from across the world in conversations framed around issues and challenges facing education today and through that dialog, develop action items that are based on research evidence. The first EDUsummIT meeting in The Hague in 2009 emerged from the group of editors responsible for the International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education. I was involved in preparations for the second EDUsummIT held in Paris in 2011 and, although I was unable to attend due to teaching commitments, contributed to an article which has recently been published in a special issue of the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.
The theme of EDUsummIT 2013 was Research-informed Strategies to address Educational Challenges in a Digitally Networked World. I was a member, with colleagues from Belgium and Israel, of a small team that facilitated Thematic Working Group 3 on Teacher Professional Development. We developed a short briefing paper prior to the meeting and will collaborate on development of a paper for a special issue of Education and Information Technology. Our briefing paper and those prepared by other groups are available from the EDUsummIT website <http://edusummit.nl>.
The EDUsummIT activity began with meetings of the theme leaders on Monday afternoon and ran until Thursday morning when there was a joint session with NTLS. The welcome reception on Monday evening was held in Madison Hall at the Library of Congress. Tuesday sessions were to have been held in the same building but were moved to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate, because of the shutdown of government facilities including the LoC. Wednesday sessions were held on the campus of George Washington University. Most of the summit time was spent in thematic working groups where the aim was to identify issues related to the theme and develop plans for future action. Those discussions were punctuated by plenary sessions that shared progress across the working groups. I also participated in an additional working group of editors that was formed to develop plans for dissemination of EDUsummIT outcomes.
NTLS <http://www.ntls.info>: The National Technology Leadership Summit (NTLS) is an annual meeting of representatives from SITE and the major subject area teacher associations in the USA with additional representatives from related organisations and editors of educational technology journals. It was held in the headquarters of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) over Thursday and Friday of the week. I was assigned to a group working on a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) education activity. The impulse for that focus was the new USA science standards that include engineering and the perceived challenges for science teachers who typically have little or no engineering background. We worked to develop a working model of an electric motor and explore some implications for inclusion of engineering in the new science standards. I also participated in a meeting of editors and was a member of a panel of editors that led discussion on the final afternoon around strategies for stimulating further discussion of the science and engineering links.
SITE Executive <http://site.aace.org>: On Saturday morning I attended the SITE Executive meeting. Discussion ranged across activities of various sub-groups within SITE, the outcomes from EDUsummIT (for which SITE is a sponsor), outcomes from NTLS (also sponsored by SITE), the Microsoft Teacher Education Initiative (in which SITE is a major contributor), SITE governance, journal activities, and a proposal for a SITE Regional Symposium to be staged in Christchurch (April 28 & 29, 2014) in conjunction with the NZ teacher education federation (TEFANZ) and abutting the Distance Education Association of NZ (DEANZ) conference. The theme of that symposium will be Inspiring with digital technologies in 21st century teacher education. Readers who may be interested in attending should watch the SITE <http://site.aace.org>, TEFANZ <http://www.tefanz.org.nz>, and DEANZ <http://www.deanz.org.nz/> websites for further details.