University of Calgary

The 21st century classroom

UToday HomeJanuary 30, 2013

By Betty Rice

Phil McCrae of the Alberta Teachers’ Association with organizers of the Faculty of Education’s student-led conference. Photo courtesy of the ESAPhil McCrae of the Alberta Teachers’ Association with organizers of the Faculty of Education’s student-led conference. Photo courtesy of the ESAWhen the weekend rolls around, campus tends to get a little quieter. Unless you’re in the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) or the Kinesiology complex, chances are you may not even see a student — much less a crowd of them.

That wasn’t the case on Jan. 26, when more than 150 undergraduate students in the Faculty of Education gathered for the annual Education Students’ Association (ESA) student-led conference.

The conference was planned by a student committee, with an eye to enhancing the professional development learning goals of the Bachelor of Education students in their final year.

“Conferences such as this are great for a number of reasons,” say Alyssa Stacy, a vice president in the ESA, and the Faculty of Education’s student representative in the Students’ Union.

“They offer professional development opportunities, build community within the student body, faculty and university, and enhance student and teacher growth in areas which are current and beneficial to beginning teachers.”

“We are hoping that attendees will leave the conference with a toolbox full of ideas they can either implement in their own classrooms or explore through research opportunities.”

This year’s theme ― The 21st Century Classroom ― spotlighted the integration of technology and pedagogy into the classroom with a focus on classroom technology, and 21st century teaching tools. Sessions also included discussions on teaching and learning best practices, and professional development.

The conference began with a keynote address by Phil McCrae of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and individual presentations followed throughout the day, offered up by education community leaders, as well as faculty and education graduate and undergraduate students.

And while the students who attended will agree that the opportunities offered at the conference were important to their professional development and career goals, the organizers in the ESA were also provided with significant learning opportunities.

“The ESA’s role and responsibility is to provide opportunities for education students in order to enhance their university experience and to increase their chances for current and future success,” explains ESA President Michael Pinvidic.

“The ESA council gains leadership skills, deeper connections with students, faculty, and the community. It also allows the ESA to foster student engagement and provide leadership opportunities that go towards students’ co-curricular record.”

“All in all, organizing conference such as this also provides an excellent opportunity to unite the student body as a whole.”