Monthly Archives: April 2013

Great Teachers Retreat Mar 21-23 2013


After last year’s marathon session (and my first major graphic recording), I was able to make better decisions about planning the poster, gathering the information for the poster, and the drawings/text for the recording. I also had my Neuland markers this year, so that made a big difference in terms of the quality of the product.

Because the GTR is held in a large echo-y room and consists of a series of whole-group and break-out-group sessions, it is a challenge to divide myself up in order to glean the highlights and salient points from each group. In fact, I would say it is impossible to do so. However, having the benefit of attending 3 GTRs in Qatar, I already have a sense of the themes that arise, so that helps me as I’m not going into this cold. I was also able to anticipate the format of the sessions, which helped immensely in the planning of space for the poster.

If you compare with last year’s GTR poster, you will find many differences. One of the most significant changes is the size and amount of the text on the poster. I didn’t try to capture every phrase uttered by participants this year, and I also kept in mind the colours that don’t transfer well onto photos/digital scans.

All in all, it was a pleasure to record this session again this year. It was also a lot hectic as I was able to attend the entire 3 days and take my time with gathering the information (as opposed to last year’s crazy day of constant listening and sketch noting).

I would love to hear from participants to see how the poster reflects your experience (or not) and what your thoughts are on the themes generated.

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Jumana & Alla: THE2013

Jumana & Alla: THE2013

Jumana Samara & Alla El-Awaisi delivered this presentation on Lecture Capture at Qatar University today. Due to the great work they had already done on compiling their research data into tables and charts, there wasn’t a whole lot for me to write during the session, but I think I gathered the main points here. My notes are missing what the speakers might see as the crux of their presentation, though, since I wasn’t able to catch the highlights of the data given the speed of the slide show. I enjoyed the enthusiasm of the speakers, and look forward to picking their brains about the types of faculty orientation and training QU does in their Office of Faculty & Instructional Development!

Derek Bruff tweeted an interesting thought about lecture capture that I think is an important consideration: “Everytime I hear about lecture capture, I worry it reinforces the idea that the lecture is the thing.” This is something to keep in mind since the trend in education is away from the lecture format in general. If we are using “lecture capture” in the context of blended learning (i.e., promoting outside-of-class learning), how do we ensure that teachers aren’t just relying on an old model and plugging it into a new(ish) format? Recording lessons has a lot of potential use for students (particularly in a content-heavy discipline like Pharmacy), but how are people using it creatively to inspire learning in ways other than a one-to-many model?


Rob Power: THE2013

Rob Power: THE2013

My colleague Rob Power from CNAQ presented this interactive session called, “Create your own RLOs for Situated Active Learning” which was new for me. RLO stands for Reusable Learning Objects, and Rob led the audience through the process of creating an RLO from scratch.

I used the chef image to representing the “create” part, and highlighted the tips that Rob shared throughout his presentation. Because I was scribing, I didn’t have time to actually make my own RLO, but the participants who did seemed to find it quite manageable!


Derek Bruff 2: THE2013

Derek Bruff 2: THE2013

This session with Derek Bruff entitled, Social Pedagogies: Motivating Students through Social Media & Authentic Audiences was a second kick at the can after Derek’s first talk when I seemed to fail at incorporating visuals into my notes!

I spent a lot of time on the title, but I’m happy with the result. I still managed to be finished just shortly after the talk ended (despite a flurry of important summary points at the very end! 🙂

As I tweeted earlier today, I have some serious Prezi envy for Derek’s amazing Prezis! Having lots of really cool pictures and visuals in your presentation can inspire the notetaker, and I usually try to find different imagery than the ones presented, so this adds a different dimension to the process of knowledge construction.

One of the things I like about Derek’s work is his focus on the student and their learning experience. The idea of “authentic audience” is something that I would like to explore further in the context of assessment and getting creative with our view of what learning products ‘count’ in (and outside of) the classroom.


ICT Qatar: THE2013 Keynote

ICT Qatar: THE2013 Keynote

Ashraf Ismael & Khalid Al Hashmi presented National Information Assurance Framework: The Legal Landscape in Qatar this morning at the THE2013 conference at the Qatar National Convention Centre.

I have to admit I went into this session expecting little in terms of visual imagery or metaphor, and was pleasantly surprised with the engaging delivery of the speakers and their use of personal anecdotes and metaphors which inspired my sketches.

Legal issues surrounding policy and law in Qatar is a topical issue, and the two speakers were able to deliver a lot of information in a way that the audience could relate to. One of Khalid’s examples about seatbelt use hit home with us for several reasons. He spoke of his children and how their learning about buckling up impacted his family in a positive way. Change is slow in this regard, and in Qatar right now seatbelt safety is a big issue with much attention from public awareness campaigns. His point was that this change takes time and education is key in societal shifts such as seatbelt safety.

The analogy was then linked to the shift in thinking about regulation of internet content and the role of ICT and internet providers in censorship and protection of the members of this society. An audience member challenged the speakers on their assertion that ICT does not regulate content, asking why so much of the internet content in Qatar appears to be blocked. The explanation involves a process whereby citizens complain to local service providers and once a threshold is reached, sites are banned.

The speakers emphasized that information security is about enabling the flow of information and preventing misuse as well as protecting the values of the local culture (i.e., blasphemy laws are taken very seriously here in Qatar).


Capitalizing on Today, Visualizing Tomorrow: THE2013 Panel

Capitalizing on Today, Visualizing Tomorrow: THE2013 Panel

This panel discussion proved challenging for me in my notetaking. There was no clear plan at the outset, and speakers were basically just trying to summarize the main points from Day 1 of the conference from their academic/professional perspective. Nonetheless, it was an interesting discussion and good practice for me.

Obviously, I relied almost exclusively on text, and because things moved pretty quickly, it was difficult to do much else. Basically, I started out with a title and the four people and then I just took out my pen and started scribing what was said.

One crucial takeaway for me as a dedicated notetaker at this conference is how critical it is for a speaker to set a plan for the audience at the very beginning. This can be done visually (i.e., if you have a Prezi, let the audience see the global view) or with a few points about how you will proceed through each of your topics. This is not only helpful for the notetakers (although it is especially important for us!), but also for listeners more generally, as human beings learn better when we know where we’re going.

One of the most interesting things about this panel was that a student was invited to speak, and Nour provided an interesting perspective that we don’t often get to hear in this type of venue. She emphasized the (potential) agency of students and stressed the value of peer-peer teaching. She also pointed out that students are generally up-to-date with what’s trending (although, as Steve Wheeler cautioned, we shouldn’t make assumptions about technological savvy based solely on age). She also expressed her frustration as a student with educators and policymakers who don’t seem to want to change, and said that changing the attitude of these individuals is necessary.


Link to Horizon Report 2013

Link to Horizon Report 2013

In Steve Wheeler’s talk on Learning Futures, he briefly outlined some of the trends highlighted in the Horizon Report 2013. I am linking it here in case you haven’t seen it and are interested in reading/discussing it. Enjoy!


Steve Wheeler: THE2013

Steve Wheeler: THE2013

Steve was another charismatic speaker with a great presentation style at this year’s THE conference in Doha. His talk, entitled “Learning Futures: Emerging Technologies, Pedagogies and Contexts” was both funny and informative. The audience clearly connected with him through his creative use of visuals and techniques for getting us to think critically about the images.

One of his key messages about the flipped classroom is to flip roles, not just the classroom (see lower right corner of my notes). This is so important for teachers, and I know that this will be critical in contexts where students resist doing homework at the best of times. Linking this to Derek Bruff’s talks on Social Learning this week, I think both of these speakers indicate the need to help students invest in their own learning by allowing greater sharing and a certain self-awareness about audience and one’s own performance in the learning environment. As Steve highlighted, smart/mobile technology takes the classroom into the world. We need to help our students see the “village” that is helping to ‘raise them’ in the academic sense.

The theme of disrupted technologies also carried over in Steve’s talk from Philip’s plenary earlier in the day. The ubiquitous technology and connectivity that is available today can be harnessed through games, mobile learning, and strategic use of learner analytics. We need to keep these in mind while also remembering that the learning is our primary goal in education, and technology is not the driver.

I also loved the term “Darwikinism” (not sure of the spelling!) which he used to refer to the ‘survival of the fittest content’. This is interesting as we shift further to user-generated content and are exposed to (or create) the bricolage-type mixed media that does and will continue to challenge us in education (i.e., issues of policy, ethics, pedagogy, assessment, etc.).

What a great starting point for further discussion! I wish I had more blog traffic 🙂


iPads Experiment @ Education City Qatar: Panel THE2013

iPads Experiment @ Education City Qatar: Panel THE2013

These notes are from a panel comprised of representatives from Georgetown University Qatar, HEC Paris Qatar, and Texas A&M Qatar. The three speakers presented their reports on 3 different pilots in a session called, “iPads in the Classroom: Teaching & Learning Innovation at Education City”.

My notes reflect some of the challenges and benefits observed by the speakers at their respective institutions. At CNAQ we are also conducting research on iPad use in the classroom (Chief Researcher: Cheri MacLeod), so I look forward to hearing how our pilot compares and how things are working out for our students and faculty with their iPads.


Derek Bruff: THE2013

Derek Bruff: THE2013

These are my notes for Derek Bruff’s plenary Technologies for Learning: Creating Active Learning Environments in Today’s Classroom at THE2013.

Derek has the gift of the Prezi, and uses his own photos to enhance and personalize his presentations. For some reason, this seemed to translate to very few images in my capture. In hindsight, seeing the entire Prezi from the start would have helped me to better organize my notes, but I guess this is how our students feel when we don’t give them the roadmap at the outset. I don’t think this was a problem for other audience members – this talk was very easy to follow and the audience engaged throughout. However, as a graphic recorder, not having the roadmap can make things more challenging for you in terms of organization, linking, colour palette, space planning, etc.

I really enjoyed this talk, and was pleased to get the opportunity to chat with Derek at the breaks and on Twitter. We talked about looking into research on how students take notes, so if anyone has any insight into this area of study, please send along links or resources!

Check out Derek’s website: