CIT 2013 – community and comraderie around online learning and technology….

This is the first CIT conference I have had the pleasure to attend. CIT stands for Conference on Instruction and Technology, but it could easily stand for Community for Instruction and Technology.  Much like the SLN-SOL SUMMIT in February, this conference has a family feel to it.  People know each other and new-comers like me are welcomed into the fold in a very genuine way.  There is an atmosphere of warmth and commitment, playfulness and cooperation, intelligence and concern.  So many interesting sessions to choose from.  Long days, but invigorating and energizing as well (except for my footware which is causing me to limp about)…..

I decided to attend a variety of sessions that would provide opportunities to learn more about the world of SUNY and its initiatives as well as discover some practical applications and implementations that might serve well in design projects.  To that end, so far, I have attended the following sessions and activities:

  • Student powered curation tools and strategies (Kathleen Gradel)
  • SLN instructional designer roundtable (Rob Piorkowski)
  • Using visual communication tools to enhance teaching and learning (Harrison Yang)
  • Conference speakers session (David Lavallee)
  • The more we work together: Promoting effective group work in online classes (Kelliann Flores)
  • last half of The Chancellor’s online education advisory team – Open SUNY (Carey Hatch, Kim Scalzo, Tom Makey, Larry Dugan)
  • Online, open, and accessible: How do we reach all learners? (Kathleen Stone, Hollie Miller)
  • last half of (mostly the Q&A) Educational design and technology: Systems thinking and the Regents reform agenda
  • Technology showcase (wide variety of vendors)

Lots of good take away messages, but no time right now to elaborate.  Gotta get some sleep for another full day tomorrow!


So, it’s May 26th, the conference is over, and I’m back at home with a few minutes to continue this post.  Again I have color coded as above, but have also color coding for the more theoretical/philosophical/pedagogical sessions.  During the last two days I attended sessions on the following topics:

  • Faciltating communities of practice through the SUNY Learning Commons (Lisa Raposo, Kim Scalzo, Doug Cohen, Kathy Gundrum)
  • FACT2 Keynote – Rebooting the crystal ball: Looking into the future of higher education (Bryan Alexander)
  • first half of Connecting, creating, and sharing: The 21st century student on the global stage (Mark McBride)
  • Integrating the brain-based teaching and learning approach into designing the assessments of a blended course (Jie Zhang)
  • Toward a SUNY framework for evaluating online instruction (Mark Warford)
  • Critical thinking across disciplines (Rob Piorkowski)
  • Community-driven competency-based certificate programs for professional development (Kim Scalzo, Lisa Raposo, Alexandra Pickett, Maureen Zajkowski)
  • Using multimedia maps to engage students in science, culture, and geopgraphic literacy (Audeliz Matias, Sheila Aird, David Wolf)
  • “No, I don’t want to to watch your online tutorial “: An honest conversation between faculty and IT support staff (Rachel Rigalino, Linda Smith, Mary Fakler, Kate Hurd)
  • What is social presence? why do I want it? and how do I create it? (Alexandra Pickett)

For me, the conference was just the right balance of gaining more insight into SLN and SUNY, delving into theoretical ponderings, and examining interesting practice ideas and technologies.  As for gaining insight into SLN and SUNY, I am better informed of the initiatives being undertaken at both levels and how the sister organizations of SLN, CPD, and OLIS are working together to create new opportunities for faculty within the context of Open SUNY and Systemness.  As for delving into theoretical ponderings, I had the opportunity to see the thinking of a truly gifted societal observer and theoretician who hit on so many of the kinds of things that have crossed my mind; he however also shared a wealth of knowledge that supported and illustrated his thinking.  Another speaker reminded me of my love for multiliteracies and semiotic systems during his talk on transliteracy and metaliteracy; I just may have to dive into that again!  As for examining interesting practice, I learned about many very engaging ideas for instruction, most including technologies of all kinds; I especially enjoyed those that combined modes into attractive and/or interactive learning objects and activities.  Projects and processes that make students active collaborators and creators of knowledge objects piqued my interest – i.e., co-constructing textbooks and study guides instead of buying pre-printed texts, engaging students in successful group collaboration, and technological tools that support such efforts as well as tools that make greater accessibility possible.  For me, the CIT conference was a great opportunity to learn, but also a great opportunity to network and begin some friendships that I think will move into the future both professionally and personally.  I highly recommend the event and encourage others interested in such things to consider attending next year’s conference.