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Refracted Perspectives: Closing Keynote at CANeLearn

My heartfelt thanks to the Canadian eLearning Network for inviting me to learn at their Symposium. It was truly a humbling honor to visit with you all from April 5-7 in Vancouver, BC. My previously shared thinkspace describes my wonderfully challenging role as “resident provocateur,” shares slides from my opening comments, and includes background information about some of my education influences and current projects. The purpose of this post is to briefly summarize my closing keynote and give thanks to the many people who inspired me, and without whom this presentation would not have been possible. Thank you!

Refracted Perspectives

On Wednesday afternoon, I concluded my brief opening remarks about online and digital learning by presenting three questions about pedagogy, tools, and perspectives. With a little visual playfulness, the slides showcasing these questions morphed into the image of a prism. I suggested that a prism – a lens which refracts light, illuminates what may be invisible in other conditions, and is a tool that can be easily carried across boundaries into everyday settings – might serve as a useful visual metaphor. As participants at CANeLearn set off to engage in symposium activities, perhaps the questions raised in my opening provocation would function like a prism, providing enlightening ways of perceiving opportunities for more equitable and transformative learning.

The title of my closing keynote – Refracted Perspectives – built upon similar themes. While it was important that I reflect back to participants their words and experiences, it was also necessary for me to refract the conversations our from three days of professional learning. My synthesis needed to serve as more than a bland summary; rather, it needed to consider a spectrum of perspectives, multiple voices, and divergent interpretations of concepts and ideas.

I structured the talk around three themes – supporting students (color-coded blue), promoting openness (yellow), and fostering community (green). To explore these themes, I drew from a lively Twitter stream (and included my screenshots), my experiences visiting nearly every session over the three days (I included a few of these as “scenes” in the presentation, alongside related resources), and an incredible set of curated online notes that many participants voluntarily contributed to while in their sessions. And – most importantly – I included the inspiring words of those people who spoke with me, sharing their thoughts honestly and deeply (visualized via a network, representing my own growing network of friends and colleagues). I am grateful to everyone who helped make this keynote presentation possible.

With video likely posted sometime soon, here are my slides – enjoy!

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