Inside ETUG: An Instructor shares her tips, tricks and takeaways from the Unconference

The Education Technology Users Group (ETUG) is growing in size and popularity, and we have many instructors who are keen to share their feedback from one or many of the sessions they’ve attended.

Barbara Wuhrer

Following on the heels of the interview with Camosun College’s Daniel Reeve, we asked Barbara Wuhrer, an Instructor from the Langara School of Management to share with us her experiences and takeaways from the ETUG and, in particular, the recent Fall Unconference. Here’s what she had to say:

Please tell us about how you’re connected with ETUG and about your experiences with this community.

I initially became aware of ETUG at the Canadian E-Learning Conference in June 2009. After receiving promotional information from Langara’s Educational Technology Department, I attended my first ETUG Conference in Spring 2010.

How have your experiences or learnings at ETUG impacted your practice as an instructor?

I’ve been teaching technology for nearly forty years and online courses for the last ten. The ETUG conferences have provided strategies, tips and tricks which have allowed me to tweak the way I do things to make online activities more dynamic and interesting for students and help them find better online applications and tools than those available in a typical LMS.

ETUG has also been an opportunity to share frustrations and challenges and find out what solutions others are working on or have applied, not to mention a great opportunity to reconnect with people I don’t see on a regular basis.

What would you say to fellow faculty members and instructors about ETUG and its value to you for your professional learning, sharing of good practice and the opportunities it provides to connect with others in the ETUG community?

Be open-minded about the unconference model… better yet, if you haven’t already, attend one. When I first read about it I was skeptical but, after attending last fall, discovered it was a brilliant idea. The morning sessions are planned. For the afternoon sessions, attendees pitch their ideas and projects; attendees can even request a session on a specific topic. Then people sign up for the sessions that interest them.

There are so many talented ETUGers with good ideas, issues in common with others and willing to talk about them that it makes for a very dynamic, worthwhile conference.

I didn’t go with any ideas re what I wanted and walked away with more than I could have hoped for… certainly more than I take away from most conferences!

Do you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see the ETUG community do, support, or promote to help advance teaching, learning, and technology in B.C. post-secondary institutions?

Today’s technology is evolving rapidly, so I’m reluctant to suggest specific activities, topics or tools. Please continue the unconference model at least once a year, let attendees bring their challenges and identify the topics that best suit their needs.

And thank you to ETUG’s Stewardship Committee and other volunteers who organize ETUG events. Putting together a conference that appeals to a wide range of individuals and backgrounds is a daunting task. Your ongoing efforts are greatly appreciated.

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