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May 2, 2011 3:21 PM

Exploring Canada's Digital Future

As leaders from industry, government and academia collaborate on the country’s digital future at Canada 3.0 this week, Conestoga College is helping facilitate the discussion and keep participants connected.

Exploring Canada's Digital Future

Faculty, staff and students from the School of Media and Design are at the Stratford Rotary Complex to provide a simulcast for the conference's website, cover developments via broadcast and social media, and demonstrate the advanced digital technologies that can be used to connect knowledge workers across economic sectors.

The showcase and forum, which runs Monday through Wednesday this week, is billed as Canada's premier digital media conference, "where decision makers and policy shakers converge to spark creativity, foster innovation and drive productivity."

"The first Canada 3.0, held three years ago, was the brainchild of Kitchener-based Communitech and the University of Waterloo's Stratford campus," says Mark Derro, chair of Conestoga's School of Media and Design and the college's main point of contact with the conference. "Those two partners created the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN), a vehicle to put Canada back on the map as a leader in digital technologies in the global marketplace. It was very strategic, in the sense that it first involved the academic, government and business sectors all of those carefully threaded through the proceedings.”

Conestoga College’s involvement in Canada 3.0 came through its connections to the University of Waterloo and Communitech, but has been leveraged by the skills and technologies that reside at the college inside its media programs.

During the event’s previous iterations, Conestoga provided the video technologies for the conference’s live stream, but also prepared “streeters,” recorded and edited by students onsite and interjected throughout the three-day event.

“We’ve been involved with Canada 3.0 since its inception, but this year we’re creating an exceptionally high profile, in that we’re also doing all the “pitch-off” sessions in the Road to Banff contest,” Derro says. “Our students are videotaping and editing these, preparing 30-minute clips that contestants in this venture forum can use in their future presentations. They’ll also be stored as part of the conference’s official record.”

Although the CDMN is located in Kitchener-Waterloo, “it employs a hub model, whereby satellite groups, pods and nodes throughout Canada are interacting with this base unit,” Derro says. “The whole idea is to create that network of like-minded individuals who are passionate about the technologies and are driving the technology forward.

“It’s a huge learning opportunity for the students, but it also gives the faculty a chance to network and interact with national and international leaders in digital technologies, especially as we move into social and digital media.”

Exploring Canada's Digital Future

Conestoga’s collaboration in Canada 3.0, where the School of Media and Design is a platinum media sponsor this year, is similar to the partnerships established between the school and the Waterloo Region Record and Guelph Mercury over the past nine months. During last fall’s municipal elections and this spring’s federal campaign, the School of Media and Design co-sponsored candidate debates in which the school’s technology and expertise allowed the newspapers to host simulcasts and live discussions on their websites.

Anyone wishing to view Conestoga’s simulcast of Canada 3.0 can go to the forum’s website at www.canada30.com or catch highlights via the college’s Twitter feed, @ConestogaC. The Twitter hashtag for the event is #cda30.

In addition to Derro, the college’s team at Canada 3.0 will consist of 14 students from the Broadcast Television and Videography Broadcast-Journalism Documentary programs, faculty members Larry Cornies, Paul Godkin, Steve Parr and Steve Roberts, as well as technologists Brian Clemens and Chris Martin.

Conference participants may elect to be part of one of eight program “streams:” education, eHealth, media and entertainment, telecommunications and distribution, natural resources, research, public sector and human resources.

Speakers include Alan Saxe, senior vice-president, business and legal affairs for Oprah Winfrey Network; author, consultant and technology futurist Juliette Powell; international social media strategist Soniya Monga; consultant, author and innovation scholar Anthony D. Williams; PwC Canada’s digital transformation leader Darren Henderson; Jennifer Zelmer, senior vice-president, clinical adoption and innovation, at Canada Health Infoway; American cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch; Polar Mobile CEO Kunal Gupta; author and innovation expert Jeremy Gutsche; Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart; and former Global National news anchor Kevin Newman.

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