Edcamp Leadership BC

This is my (late) follow-up from the recent Edcamp Leadership BC conference I attended with Khanh, Humaira, Aaron, and several others. Khanh already blogged about the conference, as did Aaron, so hopefully my (train-of-thought) post offers something different.

Edcamp Leadership BC took place on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at my high school (Delta Secondary School) in Ladner. Much like the last Edcamp I attended, Edcamp Leadership BC was an unconference with a focus on education.

The first session I attended was called “Change Management”. It was a workshop focusing on how to implement institutional and societal changes, with a focus on educational changes. For example, how to convince parents or schools that there are benefits to not giving letter grades on every assignment and test. The workshop looked through several of the big theories behind change management such as Roger’s Innovation Adoption Curve, which can lead to the suggestion that when trying to disperse new ideas it is better to target innovators and early adopters first. However, I didn’t find there to be anything particularly new that I haven’t seen before. I also wasn’t convinced that methods such as targeting innovators and early adopters first would subsequently lead to a following. Collaborative notes can be found here.

The second session I attended was called “Passion Based Learning (Genius Hour)” which was run by Gallit, who I met at the conference. From my understanding and recollection, in Gallit’s classroom, she offers something called the “Genius Hour”, which is an hour a week that students can work on any project they want to work on. She has students making movies, fixing computers, and building pinhole cameras. These students evaluate themselves and their peers, and give feedback on where to improve. When things don’t work, students explore reasons why they methods didn’t work and look for alternates. I like the idea of genius hour, and giving students the freedom to study and explore something entirely of their choosing. I also like that the projects weren’t assigned a letter grade (at least, not from what I recall), which I feel could decrease the interest students have in their own interests. However, a concern I raised at the session was because the students are being given so much freedom, how can one prevent them from gaming the system? Collaborative notes can be found here.

The third session I attended was called “Facilitating Student Choice, Flexibility and Collaboration”. I was especially intrigued by the title of this session since, having recently read Drive, I thought it would be interesting to see if giving students more autonomy, and perhaps a greater sense of purpose in their education, would give them more motivation to actively engage in their learning. As the session turned out, it was very specifically targeting a specific, unique high school in Vancouver. This school is Thomas Haney Secondary School (THSS), a school which encourages self-directed learning by giving students freedom on when and how fast they study their courses, amongst other differences that make the school unique. The session was examining the introduction of one block per day where students would have significantly more freedom in what and where they studied. Although the session wasn’t the broad topic I had hoped it to be, I thought it was interesting to learn about THSS and its practices in Vancouver. However, similarly to the genius hour session, I voiced concern about how to address the potential for students gaming the system as a result of their freedom during this block. Collaborative notes can be found here.

The last session I attended was called “Things That Suck”. A unique session, here the facilitator took a large open area in the library and asked the ~100 participants to stand in one of three areas of the room (one area representing “I support”, another representing “I’m against”, and the middle area representing “I’m undecided”) with respect to some topic. Afterwards, each side was to present their reasons for being on that particular side, and then people were given an opportunity to switch sides should they have been persuaded out of their current position. Topics included “Grades”, “Schools (the physical buildings)”, “BYOD (Bring Your Own Device”, and “iPads”, though there were many other different topics presented. I thought this session was a neat, interactive way of starting dialogue on various topics. However, I felt that the prompts were unclear and vague, which was evident in the defenses of each side as often it was found that people were separated not by differing opinions but instead by differing interpretations of the prompt. I also felt that the discussions were extremely shallow, and the fast rotating through topics did not allow for true discussion or debate. Collaborative notes can be found here.

Overall, I had a good time at Edcamp Leadership BC. I enjoyed the company present at the conference, the opinions of so many different individuals, and the presence of so many people interested in education. Suggestions I have for future Edcamps (or related unconferences):

  • When presenting topics during the voting period, a paragraph or so description describing the intended content of that session would be great. Otherwise, titles alone are often too vague to determine whether there is true interest in the topic at hand.
  • In introducing the unconference, I think it would be a good idea to explain to people the nature of the unconference (in that people vote for workshops that anyone can propose to lead, popular workshops are assigned rooms in the school, and then people can split up to go to classrooms where smaller group discussions and presentations can take place). At the beginning, I had several people asking me what was happening as it was their first Edcamp and they didn’t really understand how everything worked.
  • To encourage conversations of depth instead of often simply breadth, I might suggest setting aside a couple of rooms for the whole day. Then each of these rooms, each with a specific topic of great interest (eg. Do letter grades belong in schools?), could perhaps have a presentation in the first session slot bringing people up to date on current research and ideas on that specific prompts, and then have the remaining session slots for the rest of the day dedicated to a Think Tank style sessions to research what has been demonstrated about the prompt, and determining a concrete action plan for how to address conclusions whether it be in the education community or the political infrastructure governing schools.
  • I think that one of the benefits of this event is the presented capacity to meet new people. As it stands, however, I feel many people ease into their comfort zone and socialize mostly with people they’re already familiar with. Perhaps it would be beneficial to try, during lunch time, to have a brief announcement every 15 minutes, reminding people that this is a great opportunity to make new connections and explore new ideas. Not everyone will move to a different table, but I feel the prompt might provide the opportunity or push for some people to make a few extra connections that day.
  • As was often emphasized at Edcamp Leadership BC, everyone present were members of “The Converted” (how’s that for a cult-like group title? Fortunately, it was the only real cult-like reference I experienced at Edcamp ;D). I feel that presented issues were often one-sided, and that the other side of the issue was often un(der)represented. Additionally, I felt that it was “The Un-Converted” that would truly benefit from an event such as Edcamp Leadership BC. I think an effort to encourage “The Un-Converted” to attend Edcamp would greatly benefit the event.

The post Edcamp Leadership BC appeared first on 夢と愛の千夜一夜.

From #NaNoWriMo to #AcWriMo

After reading a recent post by Catherine, I became aware of an event called AcWriMo–Academic Writing Month. Inspired by NaNoWriMo, AcWriMo is an event for academics to set writing goals for the month of November to really push themselves to get some serious writing done. I had originally started with NaNoWriMo, but after some consideration (I don’t feel a particular passion for my story at the moment, so I don’t see much purpose in writing it; for academic writing, on the other hand, I think there are some challenging goals I could set that would be much more purposeful), I’ve decided to switch over to AcWriMo. This way, I will still be writing, but I will be writing something that I hope to be more meaningful than a story that I am simply forcing.

My goals for AcWriMo:

  1. Finish my fosmid project report
  2. Finish my aerosol project report
  3. Finish book review for Start With Why
  4. Finish book review for So Good They Can’t Ignore You
  5. Finish book review for Drive
  6. Write an opinion-piece that is critically and thoroughly researched

TEDxTerry talks 2012

Today, I attended TEDxTerry talks 2012 with Kelvin, Chloe, Khanh, Abby, Pritisha, Jason, Rikita, Urooba, et al. Overall, I was quite pleased with this year’s event. I thought most of the talks were of impressive quality :)

This year’s line-up included:

  1. Ryan Vandecasteyen: “Social Capital and the No Tankers Movement”
  2. Alisha Hackinen: “Soil, It’s Not a Dirty Word!”
  3. Nick Thornton: “Your Boyfriend Wants to be Pretty”
  4. Stefana Fratila: “WEIRD ERA: Being sincere in an era of digital creation”
  5. Alexander Wuolle: “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”
  6. Joseph Glaser: “The Canadian Identity Crisis”
  7. Rebekah Parker: “Lessons from a 6.3 Earthquake: on Community Engagement and Resiliency”
  8. Erik Brown: “The ‘Trickle-Down’ Effect: How a Toilet Can Save Your Life”
  9. Sam Eifling: “Dying for Land in Brazil”
  10. Eunice Hi: “Don’t Just Follow Your Passion–The Missing Link, A Talk for Generation Y”

I’ll post the talks as soon as I find out they’re online. Expect the sound to be online within the next week or so, and the videos to be online in the next several months.

For me, it’s hard to pick a single talk that truly stands out, but there were several that I think I’ll be walking away with quite a bit from. I hope to highlight them as the videos come out.

They also watched the following three TED talks (all of which I think I’ve posted previously on my blog):

Anyhow, it was a great event this year! Looking forward to next year!

TEDxTerry talks 2012

Tickets for TEDxTerry talks 2012 are now on sale! (Here’s a direct link for ticket sales; $10 a ticket) For those who don’t know what TEDxTerry talks is, click here to check out my previous blog posts about the annual event. Or, from the Terry website:

Generation Y, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Canadian Music, the Enbridge pipeline, education, gender, land rights in Brazil, earthquakes, the digital era and…toilets. What do these things have in common? They are some of the topics that your peers are going to speak about in their own TEDx Terry Talk, on November 3rd in the Life Sciences Building at UBC.

These are UBC’s most fascinating and engaging students coming together for a day, giving the talk of their lives, sharing their ideas and discussing their vis
ions for UBC and the world. Don’t miss the opportunity to be there, with students, alumni, faculty, administration, and members of the general public watching this unfold during a one day, student-led conference.

Tickets: http://tedxterrytalks2012.eventbrite.com/
Twitter: @terryubc — #TEDxTt
Additional information: http://www.terry.ubc.ca/tedxterrytalks/

Never been to the TEDx Terry Talks? Listen to this special episode of our podcast featuring highlights from last year: http://www.terry.ubc.ca/2012/01/18/the-terry-project-podcast-6-the-2011-tedx-terry-talks-highlights/

This year, our speakers include (titles subject to revision):


  • Ryan Vandecasteyen: Social Capital & the No Tankers Movement


  • Alisha Hackinen: Crafting a New Kind of Land Manager through -Problem Based Learning
  • Sam Eifling: Dying for land in Brazil
  • Eric Brown: The “Trickle-Down” Effect: How A Toilet Can Save Your Life


  • Nick Thornton: Your boyfriend wants to be pretty
  • Eunice Hi: Don’t Just Follow Your Passion – The Missing Link, A talk for Generation Y
  • Rebekah Parker: Lessons from a 6.3: on Community Engagement and Resiliency
  • Alexander Wuolle: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • Stefana Fratila: WEIRD ERA: Being sincere in an era of digital creation
  • Joseph Glaser: The Canadian identity crisis

Be sure to get tickets before they sell out!

Creative Advertising

I just saw this really cool post about really creative advertising that Science World has going on right now. Thanks to Dave for sharing!

On that note… Science World is free this weekend! Be sure to check it out!

Vancouver Community Science Celebration: Free Weekend!
Saturday, October 13 & Sunday, October 14

Join Science World in celebrating the science all around us by visiting on this free weekend presented by BC Hydro and Genome British Columbia. Visitors will get to interact with Canadian Space Agency astronaut; explore Science World’s new spaces at TELUS World of Science (including parts of its new outdoor Ken Spencer Science Park); take a virtual tour of the ATLAS control room at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider; and much, much more. This weekend only!

This is the first event of its kind at TELUS World of Science, and we want you to be there. Let’s celebrate the science all around us at the Vancouver Community Science Celebration at TELUS World of Science!

This Community Science Celebration is part of Around the Dome in 30 Days: A Month-long Science Extravaganza. Come celebrate the cool science that happens all around us with an eye-popping marathon science show, live demonstrations and exhibits presented by real scientists from our community, hands-on activities for the whole family, and much, much more!

Getting Involved

People will always tell you over and over, get involved on campus, get involved on campus, it’s one thing that will make your university life complete!  And while I agree, I find that sometimes there seems to be a sort of cookie-cutter approach when telling people how to be involved: become an RA, join the executive committee for the Student Leadership Conference, join a club. And while these are all valid ways of getting involved, they aren’t necessarily well suited for everyone. I think the poster child for involvement is the outgoing person who seems to know everyone and fills all their hours outside of class with extracurriculars.  For someone like me, an introvert with not a whole lot of time to spare outside of class, this format doesn’t necessarily work.

There are lots of ways to get involved on campus, definitely. Clubs are a good way to start, but maybe there aren’t any that catch your eye (although there are over 300) or maybe you don’t have the time to commit to one. That’s okay, too! If you don’t have the time, a good way of being involved on campus is participating in events: Day of the Longboat, Storm the Wall, the Apple Festival, AMS events, events that clubs put on with a small fee for non-members.

Another good way of getting involved is participating in sports, if that interests you. The REC centre offers many instructional classes at discount prices for students as well as intramurals. Don’t like to play? Show your support at a Thunderbirds game.

An often-overlooked opportunity is Student Directed Seminars.  You get to work with a professor to create a course that you want to take that isn’t currently offered at UBC. Talk about taking charge of your education!

The university also has amazing fine arts programs for you to take advantage of – the School of Music regularly puts on recitals and concerts in both the Barnett Recital Hall and the Chan Centre for Performing Arts (many of which are free), the drama program puts on plays year-round at the Freddy Wood Theatre, and the Belkin Art Gallery has always got art on display (also at no cost).

Getting a job on campus, especially a Work Study/Work Learn position, can get you really involved. You get to work with faculty members (networking, anyone?), often in the field of your choice, for a small amount of hours and pretty good pay, and you learn a lot, too.

Ultimately, what makes your university experience meaningful is up to you.  For me, involvement means blogging, playing in and attending concerts, taking advantage of all the places you can get into with your UBC card, taking part in events like Day of the Long Boat (and I also intend to Storm the Wall this year), knitting club, taking yoga at the REC centre, and above all, having a community of friends who I can share this experience with.

University is this really neat space where you aren’t quite a kid anymore but not quite an adult, so take advantage of that – have some fun. For more information on getting involved on campus, visit the Centre for Student Involvement website, or go to the CSI in Brock Hall for Involvement Coaching.