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ETUG: visionaries, innovators, community of practice

This post is contributed by Leva Lee, ETUG steward since 2006 and current SCETUG member and Cathy van Soest, past SCETUG Chair and Member Emeritus. Watch for the upcoming celebrations for ETUG’s 20th  and contribute your memories of ETUG!

eurekaSome of you may be surprised to know that ETUG dates back to the early 90’s. Back when connecting to the internet via modem technology was the norm. Back when people were beginning to use early versions of videoconferencing and talking about the “live” classroom. Back when technology convergence and the ubiquitous access to technology were major preoccupations.

This is where the story of Educational Technology Users Group (ETUG) began. Originally, there were three users groups: Interactive Educational Video Conferencing, Computer-Mediated Communications, and Multimedia. Eventually, the three groups merged into one and this became known as ETUG. ETUG, then as now, was comprised of passionate, like-minded educators and education technology professionals who were the bright and shiny innovators doing cool stuff in their classrooms, off the sides of their desks, as well as providing support to interested colleagues. These were the pioneering visionaries of ETUG and founders of what is now our lively growing community. The technologies had not yet converged but the “meeting of minds” had and it is to the credit of the collaborative spirit of the original user group members we look back and say “Bravo”!

Led by a volunteer, grassroots-based Steering Committee, ETUG has delivered a number of projects to support educational technology initiatives each year since the 1990s including workshops and online forums and listservs for networking and sharing best practices, tips and stories.

Topics highlighted at our past workshops focused on the following, many of which still are relevant to today!

  • teaching online and how best to help and support the faculty
  • introducing members to new technologies and guest speakers
  • gaming and simulated virtual environments
  • mobile learning
  • e-portfolios
  • meta data standards and SGML technology

Over the years,  ETUG has toured the province by hosting workshops at various post-secondary institutions: Kwantlen, SFU, Justice Institute, NVIT, BCIT, University Fraser Valley, North Island College, Thompson Rivers University, Emily Carr, UBC (Vancouver), Vancouver Island University, University of Victoria, and Selkirk College. As well, ETUG has co-hosted events with partnering groups, the most recent example being a joint conference with the Canadian E-learning Conference (CeLC) at UBC-Vancouver in 2009.

As we look back over the past 20 years of ETUG and we take a snapshot of the way things looked then and how they look now here’s some observations:

  • Ed technology has changed enormously in 20 years! Technology is simpler so we can concentrate more on the use of tools to support our educational goals and less on getting the technology to work for learning.
  • ETUG activities and workshop programs reflect the changing level of complexity and our efforts to respond to rapid change in the technology but now more importantly to teaching and learning and how this is both benefited and impacted.
  • Teaching and learning is still paramount and timeless e.g. it’s why we are all involved in ETUG – using technology to support learners and their learning!
  • We’re still working on making things more seamless to connect and engage learners – technology has changed but it is constantly transforming and we need to grow with these changes and transformations too.

ETUG has survived and thrived through the years. The original support of the Standing Committee on Educational Technology (SCOET) and the Centre of Curriculum, Transfer and Technology (C2T2) were instrumental in providing the early support for ETUG and the continuing support of BCcampus and Ministry of Advanced Education has helped our community to continue to do good work.

Thank you to all of our wonderful past and present SCETUG members and community volunteers from all corners of the province for making ETUG a bona fide community of practice. The ETUG community has benefited from generosity of your time, dedication and innovative ideas. It is the strength of the community involvement which allows us to continue to grow and remain relevant.

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