A Look Back and a Farewell.

I could never have foreseen that for most of my time on the Board of Directors for the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario that I would be transported into such a virtual world of educational technology. There has never been a more important time in Ontario educators’ professional lives for ECOO to be the support organization it has become.

As Covid evolved and changed our classroom landscapes, so too did ECOO, responding to the need for a ‘one stop shop’ to go to to stay up to date with all Covid-19 School Board resources across the province, Online Tools being offered for free in response to teaching virtually, Coding Platforms, and tools for Educator and Student Wellness.

As part of our evolution, we hosted our first ever virtual ECOOcampOntario in August 2020 and the response from educators and educational partners was astounding. With over 120 proposals submitted on topics like Digital Pedagogy, STEAM, Back to School, SEL/Wellness, and Equity in english AND in french, we knew we were doing the right thing. Our educational partners* contributed over $8000.00 worth of resource door prizes to give away and every person walked away with a digital swag bag as well. The biggest takeaway we got from the 3 day ‘camp’ though was the community that was building amongst the registrants, giving them an anchor to steady themselves for what was still to come. 

Based on the feedback from ECOOcampOntario, we knew that educators were needing not only one day support but also time to touch base and get training on online tools that would become an integral part of their teaching day.  September 2020 was not going to be a normal back to school month.

The ECOO Support Series was created and, with a different focus to each one, I am very proud to say that we have now run 4 Series, all with a loosely defined focus  (Fall 2020 – Online Tools/Coding, Winter 2021- Literacy/Arts, Spring 2021- Wellness, Fall 2021 – Online Resources/Wellness) since August 2020 with over 60 recorded sessions for on-demand viewing now housed on the ECOO.org website! Need I say that with our sponsors and edu authors, participants again have received over $10,000 worth of resources. It really is quite astounding. 

Our follow up virtual ECOOcampOntario21 this August was an enriching and community building experience again but being in such an incredibly stressful time period for our educators, we shortened our sessions to two days. Even still, over 85 sessions were offered and that experience was augmented by two wonderful keynote speakers and a Panel speaking to ‘Empowering Communities with Code’.

All this has been in addition to the response for taking ECOO’s annual conference, Bring IT Together virtually (vBIT) as well. It was really uplifting to enjoy some levity and social time with vBIT21 in November. The vBIT conference committee is looking to 2022 to be able to meet again in person but we have learned a lot from these past many months. Not having the expense of travelling or getting funding for supply teachers, going to a session in your PJs with a tea or coffee in hand, has not been a bad thing. ECOO will continue to listen to it’s members and keep evolving. 🙂 

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I had no idea how deeply I would become immersed in the online teaching world but taking on the ECOO Events Chair position has been a very rewarding time for me. The partners and sponsors that I have gotten to know, the participants in the Support Series in whose professional lives I feel invested, the friendships I have formed and the talents and passion I have witnessed through these interactions have all made my time at ECOO a very rich and fulfilling experience. 

I’d like to thank our present ECOO Board for the opportunities and support I’ve had to get these events rolling and I know you are all in good hands with the new Events Chair that is taking over. 🙂  Plans are already percolating for the Winter Support Series 2022!

I am saying farewell but, having been given the ‘ECOO Life Membership’ award last year, I won’t be too far away. There is still so much to share but it is time for me to focus more on my family.  As I always say, and want to leave you with just one more time, ‘Don’t forget to breathe everyone.’ 🙂

Until next time. 

Mary Walker Hope