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ABEL connects researchers, educators, public and private sector organizations and other affiliated partners through the program’s core activities. Here are some of the ways in which we’ve put our mandate into action:
As new technologies develop, ABEL is at the forefront to provide them to its members as tools and services that offer students and teachers new learning opportunities. Videoconferencing technology is one example of this. From guest expert visitors from universities and colleges to virtual field trips and author visits, videoconferencing provides authentic learning opportunities that cross barriers of geography and enrich the learning experience.
Currently ABEL schools are busy traveling the world using video conferencing technologies. Students have virtually traveled to Vanderbily University (Nashville, Tennessee), Lyons, France and Winnipeg, Manitoba along with connections to several school boards in Ontario, Quebec and over a dozen American states. On their travels, they have met musicians, authors, pilots and Canadian researchers who are supporting NASA programs. Tools used to assist these events include Skype, Adobe Connect and H.323 (Polycom).
York University uses videoconferencing for collaboration by connecting researcher to researcher across geographical barriers and researchers to other public sector partners. This activity mobilizes knowledge and applies theory that informs public policy. York is also using video conferencing to expand education expertise by having Faculty meet with students in classrooms across the province (e.g. Science Speakers Bureau).
ABEL uses a blended approach to professional learning design – collaborative technology can make online learning as interactive as face-to-face sessions. When teachers are engaged in professional learning makes effective use of information communications technologies (ICTs), they apply those instructional strategies in their classrooms.
Camtasia Relay can be used to capture your computer screen with your own audio during a presentation and easily have this available on a server for others to view. Teachers are currently using this tool to develop: podcasts of lessons; tutorial on material; screen captures; and lecture delivery. Teachers have said that Camtasia Relay allows students to lectures they missed, or review material they are hazy on. The tool is also being used to support other teachers by sharing information.
Collaboration is an important mandate for the ABEL Program. ABEL values collaboration between its members and within the community. Using videoconferencing, video streaming and collaborative technologies, the ABEL program makes education-based activities accessible to parents, families and community members. ABEL also works with its private and public sector partners and researchers to connect to the community.
ABEL has linked various satellite sites across the GTA to allow community members to connect to the York Region Data Sharing Symposium. The event held a series of forums that focused on how data can build on the capability of York Region agencies to serve children, youth and families. ABEL’s Program Director, Janet Murphy, presented at the event. ABEL frequently works with York University to help promote community and university activities, and connect participants.