by Melanie Takefman
Five out of six European delegates cancelled their participation in last
weeks Association for Media and Technology in Education in Canada
(AMTEC) conference because of SARS. These people understand the news,
but do not understand geography, panelist Neil Anderson said in the opening
address on media literacy.
Anderson, who represented the Association for Media Literacy, said that
although he lives less than a kilometre away from one of Torontos
infected hospitals, he attended. Similarly, the widespread fear surrounding
the outbreak of the disease in Toronto and Asia is an example of media-fabricated
hype and paranoia, a phenomenon that was discussed extensively during
Despite fears of SARS, over 150 educators, media producers and members
of the educational product industry attended AMTECs 30th annual
conference, held at Concordia on May 25-28.
The theme was e-convergence, which, according to educational technology
professor and conference co-organizer Dennis Dicks, refers to the breaking
down of barriers between forms of communication. In the digital age, text,
images and sound can easily be integrated into one presentation.
The bilingual conference offered simultaneous workshops, keynote addresses
and poster sessions, which operated like information fairs. Several Concordia
professors, students and alumni from the Department of Education presented
In line with the theme, most sessions were neatly organized into PowerPoint,
Internet and multimedia presentations. While they were visually appealing,
many were loaded with jargon and were clearly aimed at the experts.
Dicks said that technology has infiltrated education at every level. Part
of the problem is choosing stuff thats good and suited to student
needs, he said.
Because young people are often more technologically savvy than adults,
educational technology is increasingly student-oriented. Though this has
long been the tendency in North America, other countries, like Russia,
are following suit. You can put tools in students hands that
they probably know how to use better than their professors, he said.
Though educational technology in Quebec is generally consistent with North
American trends, product developers and educators here face the challenge
of creating French-language re-sources in an overwhelmingly English field.
The daytime sessions were complemented by a media festival on the night
of May 26. Education technology graduate Tom Bolton and his team from
Bombardier won a prize in the industrial category for a video on airplane
maintenance. The following night, conference participants were bused to
Sucrerie de la montagne in Rigaud for a night of dining and dancing.
Though Dicks said that he received positive feedback on the conference,
he said that if he was doing it again, he would have made better use of
technology to avoid rebuilding the events bureaucratic structures