|Thom and Ms. Marina Glancy|
The real satisfaction for me of being a part of the MAJ crew - I formally became an officer of the MAJ executive committee this year working in the R&D group - is that I'm surrounded by positive people who are geared toward solving education problems and motivating students with the use of technology.
My first role during the conference was to act as the guide for our VIP guest flown up from MoodleHQ - Ms. Marina Glancy. She is the Moodle Development Process Manager and skilled in programmer knowledge of the software that brings us all together. On top of that, she is a very down-to-earth person and an avid skier. It was my pleasure to show her around Kyoto just a bit before the Friday workshops began.
|Thom at Kinkakuji|
Aside from my VIP guide duties, I also took responsibility for the MAJ Best Innovation Awards for 2014. This was the first time for me to manage this type of thing, so I learned a lot about how things work. First, I had to create a questionnaire for nominations. The candidates were nominated online by either themselves or by another person and then details of the innovation were uploaded to our MAJ R&D pages. From there, I created a voting questionnaire which contained the details of each nomination for the members of MAJ to read and vote upon.
Once the votes were tallied, certificates for the Best Innovation, 2nd Best Innovation, and Honorable Mention were printed up and during the final day of the conference I helped distribute the awards. During the ceremony, I acted as the MC while Ms. Glancy presented the awards to the winners. It was pretty cool to see the results of all the developer efforts come to a positive conclusion.
I also had a chance to be a part of the conference presenters. On Friday, I offered a pre-conference workshop for Moodle administrators. We covered topics including plugin installation and maintenance, cron setting, multi-tenancy, and other questions filed by the participants. It was a good time despite having some technical difficulties with networks. We studied a few good points.
On Saturday, the KAKENHI research team I'm a part of had a chance to present our research (yet again). This research won the 2014 Japan e-Learning New Technology Award and it is something we are very excited about continuing in the coming years. The main focus of our talk was a Travel Abroad project where we asked students from 4 different universities to join in an online collaborative assignment to develop travel plans in English. It was a successful project on many aspects. My part of the presentation covered the technical setup and challenges. It was hard for me because the audience was 100% Japanese and my Japanese ability is not very high. However, I believe my points came across and the participants enjoyed our talk.
This summary of the 2015 conference doesn't cover all the details of the activities I experienced over the weekend, but it serves as a reminder of positive communities of technologically savvy educators who strive to bring learning online to students around Japan.