Festival of Learning Reflections

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Early in June a small group of intrepid TRU folks made their way to the Festival of Learning. The four days passed at a furious rate. As I await my homeward flight in the quiet and relatively unknown Stanley’s Brew Works Lounge at YVR the following reflections come to mind.


Monday was a very powerful and thought provoking day in the Indigenizing the Curriculum workshop. The group was insightful, thoughtful and humble as they began teasing out issues related to the required evolutions in our education system, and the societal context in which it lives, to better address the needs, culture, ways of learning and ways of knowing of all students.

Heather Hurren, Janey Lew, Amy Perreault and Hanae Tsukada did an wonderful job in leading the workshop. They provided an excellently conceived set of prompts, activities and framework to guide the participants and discussions of the day.

I was left with an overwhelming number of thoughts to chew on. Probably most poignant is how important it is to address the problems in slow, thoughtful and inclusive ways. We recognized the typical trajectory of educational change where political will develops around a set of issues and funding is made available. Too often a demonstrable and immediately measurably return on investment of such funding is sought for the boardroom tables.

One participant remarked that we are probably looking at an evolution of about 7 generations before hearts, minds and culture evolve to the point where we can say we are making adequate progress. None-the-less it is progress that must be made.

There was an undercurrent that many participants felt and expressed each in their own way. For me it followed feelings I encountered when listening to Justice (now Senator) Sinclair speak about the Truth and Reconciliation report in Kamloops. It was a moving and profound experience and I left, as a caucasian Canadian, with the imperative that having heard the truth that I must do something about the reconciliation. That each and every Canadian must do something. But I was also left with a sense that the common traps of presumption, arrogance and failure awaited if a thoughtful, collaborative and slow process were sacrificed.

Monday Evening

The Festival was held in the Delta Burnaby Hotel/Casino complex. While the conference facilities were fantastic the complex was fairly isolated and was not amenable to the sort of walk-about approach to food and fun that us out-of-towners enjoy.

One of our team members offered to drive for an “off-campus” excursion and our fearless leader Brian Lamb took us to an excellent place called Jackalopes in East Van. The atmosphere and music were great and the food was outstanding. I was in seventh heaven when my cast iron skillet of brisket, red beans and dirty rice hit the table.

Following a recent re-org our department grew substantially with the addition of some excellent and admirable hobbits colleagues, some of them were along for this intrepid journey: Jamie Drozda, Robline Forsythe, Jon Fulton. Jason Toal even agreed to be our facilitator for the evening. It was at Jackalopes that our trio of team bonding sessions began. As I told other conference participants of our “team bonding” sessions there was a certain amount of insinuation that this must be a euphemism. While certainly euphemistic undercurrents may have lurked beneath the surface, I assure you I used the term “team bonding” sincerely and literally as I’m sure this video evidence will prove.


Tuesday morning began with an absolute blast of a section. Thanks to Barish Golland, Melanie Meyers and Tannis Morgan for letting me join them in sharing our WordPress stories. Each of you provide interesting profiles of the ways in which you bend WordPress to your will.

And for those of you to whom I promised a link to the support site for my WordPress site profile here it is: http://wpinterest.trubox.ca.

Tuesday continued with a great session in which Dean Crawford and Clint Lalonde discussed the roles and relationships of BC Campus and BCNET to each other and the member institutions.

Following this I found myself involved in a variety of great conversions with a number of colleagues. I’m relatively new to the Festival and ETUG crowd but I was both surprised and delighted at the number of faces I recognized from the fall and various online venues.

Tuesday Evening

Michelle Harrison and Irwin DeVries joined us on Tuesday as we embarked on our second in a trio of team bonding sessions. We began with some good old-fashioned socializing at the pub night.

Following that we reviewed Brian’s culinary leadership on the Monday night and all agreed that it proved to be so strong that in didn’t occur to any of us to do anything other than follow his leadership again on Tuesday.

Once again we went “off campus” to the home of incredible indo-chinese cuisine, the Chili Pepper House on Kingsway. And once again we were treated to a feast of flavours.

And also, again, to dispel the insinuations that our “team bonding” sessions are somehow euphemistic in nature video evidence is once again offered up.


Wednesday morning was both intense and intensely gratifying at the Maker Faire as I introduced (some number here, I lost track) people to Sandstorm app framework. Thanks to all to stopped by my table, watching the looks on your faces as you began scheming uses for the various Sandstorm apps was inspiring.

I chatted to small groups of people for 3 straight hours and while I was both tired and wired it was a very satisfying session. The Maker Faire is an excellent concept/format and one I think should reappear at such events.

And on Wednesday afternoon I once again found myself in interesting conversations featuring a variety of individuals and topics.

Wednesday Evening

We didn’t find ourselves off-campus on Wednesday. We all partook of the excellent pork tacos and sliders at the Carnival and had no further need of food. So, we varied our approach somewhat and hunkered down in one of the rooms for some strategic planning.

Video evidence follows.


Thursday opened with a presentation from the Ed Tech Collaborative: Valerie Irvine, Clint Lalonde, Brian Lamb and Tannis Morgan. Various projects, strategies and approaches were presented and discussed including: Sandstorm, Splots, Mattermost, expanding the BC Ed Tech Collaborative, WordPress Community of Practice and more.

There was an amazing amount of excitement, functionality and potential presented in such a short time.


Thursday afternoon found me spent from all the great ideas, tools and approaches presented at the festival so far. None-the-less, I had huge chunks of missing knowledge and skills when it comes to podcasts so I dove into the session presented by John Born, Robbi Forsythe, John Fulton, Brian Lamb, Duncan McHugh, Jason Toal

The did a super job of de-mystifying the podcast process and had use ready to produce in short order. I must admit to feeling a little guilty, when we reached the practical portion of their session I was completely exhausted, brain-dead and snuck out early.

Which brings me to now. They are calling my flight so I’m signing off looking forward to reviewing the many stimulating conversations and sessions over the past several days.

Thank you all.


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