This is a series of interviews with those who have served as President of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario. In order to understand our organization, it’s important to understand the past to know where and how far we’ve come as computer using professionals.
For consistency, we’re using the same questions for each former President.
Let’s put things into perspective – what years were you President of ECOO?
I served as President of ECOO during the 2017-2018 term.
Do you recall who was on your Board and who was the ECOO Conference Chair?
The Conference Co-Chair was Jaclyn Calder. Vice-President was Peter McAsh, Secretary/Webmaster was Andy Forgrave, Treasurer was Harry Niezen, the Directors at Large were Peter Skillen, Adele Stanfield, Jen Apgar, and Dominyk Kuhn-Bach. Colleen Rose was appointed mid-year as an additional Director at Large to fill the vacant position of Past President.
Where was the conference held during your term as President? Did it have a theme?
The annual conference was held in Niagara Falls and the theme was a continuing one of “Bring IT, Together” after a partnership with OASBO-ICT was struck in 2013. Cyndie Jacobs and I served as ECOO co-chairs for that first BIT conference in 2013, and for the second BIT in 2014.
What was your “day job” at the time?
I was an Educational Consultant/Speaker, Blogger, a member of the Conference Committee for the Computer Science Teachers Association and of course, President of ECOO. I was quite unaware of just how much time and research being President of ECOO actually entailed.
Do you recall your go-to computer from back then?
My go-to computer was a Sony Vaio running Linux Mint. For a laptop, it had a nice, big screen for doing the things I needed done.
What initiatives did ECOO undertake under your leadership?
I felt that ECOO had undertaken a very aggressive list of initiatives in my term including a renewed website, a comprehensive #ECOOcodes project, monthly #ECOOchats, an #ECOOcamp at Owen Sound during an incredible winter storm, an equity policy and conference official position. We moved the Board to a GSuite for non-profits, created a history timeline of the organization, recognized past presidents and conference chairs as Life Members and ECOO was represented at the Ontario Teachers’ Federation Curriculum Forum. One initiative that I took particular pride in was making the website bilingual. I’m hoping that future boards continue these things and more. There were a couple of other initiatives that I would have liked to have seen put into action but that wasn’t to be.
How many members strong was ECOO during your presidency?
ECOO had 1080 members during my tenure on the Board as President.
Today’s hot button is Coding for all ages. What was the hot button during your presidency?
Coding was most certainly the hot button at the time. I would guess that probably one-third of the conference sessions and half of the Minds on Media stations dealt with Coding.
What was the hot button in education in general during your presidency?
I don’t think that it was unique to the year I was president but success in Mathematics has been a concern in Ontario seemingly forever. There have been many examples of how computers and technology can support student success.
What advice would you give to today’s computer using educators?
I would suggest that you get connected to other educators using social media and then become very active. Daily, there are so many people sharing ideas and providing support for questions that challenge educators. Professional learning can indeed be an ongoing event. The big thing is to an advocate for yourself and your students. Understand your needs, student needs, and search for solution and colleagues far and wide. There is so much power and potential to computer and technology when used properly. And, of course, make sure that you’re a member of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario! The conference is next to none.
How involved with computers and technology are you today?
I’m never without a connected device whether it be computer or smartphone. I read and experiment with various things all the time.