Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tweeting with Change Agents

Admittedly, not much changed in schools in 2009. We still have classrooms that look and function very much like they have for the past 100 or more years. But 2009, did in fact seem to me to be a year where more educators participated in discussions about the need for change.

I suspect that many edubloggers can relate to Will Richardson's admission in What's Changed?, that he's done less blogging and more tweeting in the past 12 months. Though microblogging may be shallow, it has proven to be very accessible to educators, with Twitter being leveraged on both mobile devices, and school computers.

As a tool, Twitter is a double-edged sword: The depth of thought I used to see in the rich blog posts of change agents, has instead become a sequence of tweets, each distilled to no more than 140 characters; but many more educators have joined in the conversation.

In the first half of 2009, Twitter for Teachers was introduced as a resource wiki for educators. With over 500 registered users, it's still a great place to introduce others to microblogging. We also succeeded in bringing synchronous discussion to educators on Twitter via 'Educhat'. We've since passed the torch to 'edchat' which has proven to be a collegial way to welcome new teachers to Twitter.

In the coming year, I'll be looking for more opportunities to meet face to face with fellow Twitterers. If you have any doubt that the relationships we're building are authentic, join in a conference experience like Educon 2.2, or arrange a tweet-up of regional peers. Even if you can't be there in person, participation at such events can be transformative.

As a vehicle for change agents, Twitter offers a great way to connect many disparate voices. In 2010, here's hoping we can engage many more teacher-learners in the conversation.

Image Credit: left-hand

When Learning Hits Home

Which classroom lessons from the past year have had a direct impact in the day-to-day lives of learners?

It's sometimes difficult to prove that the expectations we're leading students to achieve, are truly relevant to the real world. Stir in the reluctance of some students to participate in activities that require time and effort, and it's no wonder we have such a high number of disengaged learners.

And so, it is doubly refreshing to encounter a story, where one person's persistence and pursuit of personal learning, can have a significant and visible effect for a family and a community. Meet William Kamkwamba:



Here's hoping the new year brings you and your students opportunities to learn skills and to demonstrate aptitudes in ways that are personal, memorable, and enduring.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cloud Collaboration, about Clouds, from St. Cloud!

What happens when a creative souls collide in the cloud? If you are a teacher with an interest in the creative use of media, who by shear coincidence meets a colleague with a science background, the result might just be a collaborative 'cloud' project.

Before watching the end product, you might be interested in hearing more about how The Water Cycle Video, came to life on the Apollo Project Podcast. My interview with certified teacher, and graduate assistant Dana Woods, is the focus of today's podcast:



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Twitter Flash Mob

Have you ever participated in a Flash Mob?

Thanks to so many good natured tweeters, educators may be just a few hours away from making our mark on today's Twitter trends. In order to hit a trending topic, we should all tweet right around the same time.

In order to do that, we can become a virtual flash mob to "EDYELP" a greeting from global educators to the Twitter community. Precisely as the clock winds down to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, send a friendly tweet to the sphere, and be sure to add the hashtag #EDYELP.

So, head out into every nook and cranny, we need lots of voices to pull it off! We won't have a big ball falling to the earth, but might just have a giant ball of fun shaking up the Twitter community:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

YELP!

I was just looking at Twitter's Trending Topics for 2009.

Maybe it's just the hundreds of teacher-learners I follow on Twitter, but it seems to me that there is no other group making such widespread use of this micro-blogging platform for personal and professional learning.

I'm wondering what might happen if we chose one day to let ourselves be known. What if we 'edu-punked' Twitter's trending topics to demonstrate the amazing range of professional learning that takes place on Twitter?

Here's my proposal:
On Thursday, December 17th, let's do like the characters in Horton Hears a Who, and let out a collective "YELP", to let others know that we're here. Simply append #EDYELP to each of your tweets on that day, and we'll let the 'sphere know that "We are here; We ARE here; We are HERE; WE ARE HERE!".

Horton experts might point out that the ideal day for annual EDYELP would be on May 15th, when, according to the story, Horton first hears a "Yelp", but why don't we practice before the year is out...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Google Renaissance

There have been so many innovations announced by Google in recent weeks, that intermittent visitors to the search site are sure to be surprised. While new developments are routinely posted at the official Google Blog, with supporting videos at the Google Channel on YouTube, today's podcast is my attempt to put many of the most recent developments into context.



Is individualized search a good thing? See what Google suggests when you type the word 'Renaissance'...


And just in case you missed Google Goggles and the changes in store for mobile devices:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Twitter in Person

I've written before that I think Twitter is becoming the new 'digital divide' in that, if you aren't in that space, you aren't able to participate in the meaningful learning that is the daily reality for those of us in Twittersphere.

As is the case at just about any educational conference these days, Twitter played a major role at this week's RCAC Symposium. This particular social media channel was mentioned by numerous presenters, and was the channel for ongoing #RCAC09 commentary; but it was in meeting my tweeps in person that I found the greatest rewards.

Today's podcast is a reflection on how Twitter is leading educators to deepen their learning relationships with colleagues both near and far.



Not sure where to begin with Twitter?
Start by downloading a nice feed-reader like TweetDeck, then peruse the resources and ideas over at Twitter for Teachers. Advanced users might want to review emerging Twitter apps at Go2Web20

Photo Credit: David Warlick

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ten Treats at RCAC


I'd been looking forward to today's RCAC Symposium for a number of weeks, and in the end, the day provided numerous highlights.

Here is this year's Top Ten:

1] The Keynotes Rock: It must be a significant challenge to arrange keynote speakers that can deliver messages to meet the expectations of a diverse audience of teachers, consultants and administrators. Symposium keynotes almost always hit the right high notes.

2] 5 C's: David Jakes' opening keynote highlighted relevant learning that can be addressed regardless of the tectonic shifts of emerging technologies. In times of continual change, Community, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity, and Citizenship are sure to remain relevant.

3] My Two C's: David's C's dovetailed perfectly with the reflections and resources I shared in my breakout session on Creative Commons.

4] My Peeps Tweet: It was special to be able to meet face to face with @aforgrave, @zbpipe, @brendasherry, @msjweir, @peterskillen whom I've come to know in recent weeks and months; and to connect with new folks like @markwcarbone and @kellypower. Of course, meeting up with long-time back-channel colleagues like @dougpete and @sadone is always a treat.

5] Bread Pudding: The food at RCAC is always filling and good-tasting, but it's become tradition for me to save room for bread pudding. This delicious holiday snack was always one of my dad's specialties.

6] Regional Colleagues: In recent years, I've had the good fortune of working with ICT consultants and administrators from each of the boards in the western region. With so many of these folks on hand, it made for a great opportunity to re-connect.

7] Top Notch Give-aways: The generosity of the vendors who support RCAC results in some dramatic name-calling... during the draw for door prizes. A handful of iPod touches, numerous flat screen monitors, netbooks, notebook computers and even an iMac topped this year's prize vault.

8] OSAPAC: The Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee meets annually during the week of Symposium. Announcements of newly licensed software always makes for a nice pre-Christmas treat. Check out the latest OSAPAC news to keep up-to-date.

9] Collaborative Notes: Although wireless connectivity was spotty, key participants familiar with Web 2.0 tools, were more than happy to share notes and resources via e-documents.

10] Winter Wonderland: Wind, snow, cold temperatures and stories from intrepid travelers once again guaranteed that acquaintances would have something to talk about. Coming so close to the first days of winter, the event rarely has edu-conference competition, so most any interested attendee can easily slide the RCAC Symposium into their calendar.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Let the Voting begin...

If you're looking for new Edu-bloggers, or Edu-tweeters to follow, you can't go wrong in checking out the nominees at the Edublog Awards. This year, there are more nominees than ever, meaning there are plenty of voices to check out.


I knew from the posts of a few of my colleagues that I was being nominated for the Eddies, and I'm delighted to see my twitter account @thecleversheep, nominated for Best Individual Tweeter; while my podcast, Teacher 2.0 is up for Best Educational Use of Audio.

Voting is only open for a short time, ending on Wednesday, December 16th, but over the next week you'll have a chance to consider the nominees and to vote in categories of interest. Even if you don't want to vote, there are some well known edu-bloggers mixed in with a number of fresh voices whose work is well worth checking out!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Creative Commons at RCAC

This Thursday I'm looking forward to joining with my regional colleagues for RCAC Symposium 2009, a celebration of learning with technology. My memory tells me that I've been to this event every year since 1999.

I remember that first year, I was in awe over the fact that cell phone producers were planning to embed digital cameras into hand-held devices. Now we find ourselves in a world where a wide range of mobile technologies is taken for granted.

I'm hopeful that my presentation, Creative Commons: What Every Teacher Needs to Know, will lead to critical thinking about how modern tools might be leveraged to foster creativity in our classrooms. In addition to the slideshow below, I'll be referencing two earlier posts: 14 Tools to Teach about Creative Commons, and Creative Commons Chaos.


My greatest anticipation is for the opportunity to network in person with dozens of distant colleagues who form the core of my learning network. A tweet-up planned for Wednesday evening will likely see many using the very devices that are banned from too many classrooms. Here's hoping the learning we do, will hasten the adoption of social learning strategies... perhaps using the very tools that captured my attention some ten years ago.

You Are What You Search: Part 2

You may now be the results of someone else's search!

It's been many months now that I've had the benefit of social search embedded in my Google searches. Courtesy of a Firefox plugin, I'm used to seeing this:

Picture 264
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Now, each of us will have access to breaking news and random information that the masses are posting to Twitter, Jaiku, Facebook, Identi.ca, and much as Google announces the roll-out of Real Time Search.



Will the personalized aspects of Google's search, allow me to specify the mining of tweets and posts from my Collaborative Learning Network?
Will anyone step in to archive today's zeitgeist?
How long will it be until marketers learn to manage this live search mechanism?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

You Are What You Search: Part 1

As the web continues to evolve, it is becoming more and more common for search tools to offer a personalized experience to the end user. In my next few posts, I'd like to explore some of the emerging trends that are destined to impact in the ways we explore on the World Wide Web.

What's the Motivation?
A few years ago, I was intrigued by the introduction of A9.com, a search engine hosted by Amazon, that promised to save a history of anyone's searches. My initial thought was that such information might be useful in an archeological sense, allowing future generations to see what held our interest at a given time. Dose of Reality: A9 search data was collated with each user's Amazon account.

A-9 has since moved on to new search strategies, including the acquisition of SnapTell, a mobile app that identifies CDs, books, DVDs, and videogames based on cover photos. Dose of Reality: Amazon sells CDs, books, DVDs and videogames.

In Whose Best Interest?

It's now been confirmed by SearchEngineLand, that Google has been personalizing search results for me, based on my past searches and click-throughs, but my search engine of choice actually knows much more about me than that. Consider the data that Google has collected through your use of Google Apps by visiting your personal Google Dashboard.



Although the potential for archived search histories was known to me, it was a bit of an awakening today, to come across my personal Google Web History. If you have a Google account, you've been presented with Terms of Service, and have granted permission for Google to use what you submit, post or display (11.1). If you're concerned about the security of this data, the Google Privacy Centre might allay your fears.

What does the Future Hold?
Whether or not Amazon and Google follow parallel or intersecting paths, these two giants play key roles in Epic 2015 an visionary piece (now almost 5 years old) that extrapolates current trends.



Google and Amazon each offer some terrific 'Free' tools, but maybe it's high time we consder the price we're really paying?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Class of 2014

Today at Regina Mundi Catholic College, we hosted grade 8 students from our feeder schools. It was the first of a handful of opportunities most students will have, to become familiar with our high school.

As a believer in the importance the fourth 'R', we used this opportunity to begin building Relationships. Below is a Wordle, that highlights the first names of our anticipated class of 2014. Can you guess how we grouped students for the tour?



In order to help students meet future classmates from other schools, I sorted our 172 future 'Titans' by first name, and created a dozen alphabetic groups. I'm guessing that Joshua, Joshua, Juan, Juan, Julia, Julian, Juliana, Juliana, Julie, Justin, Justin, Katherine, Katelyn, Katelyn and Katelyne will remember both the names and faces they met today, as members of group #6.

For more on today's orientation activities, check out today's podcast:



Thanks to the creators of Wordle for helping create the graphic above.
*For many more uses visit "Top 20 Uses of Wordle".

Monday, November 30, 2009

Collaborative Learning Networks


While each of us has an individualized way of interacting with co-learning colleagues, Dave Cormier's recent post and intermittent tweets have led me to regard the term Personal Learning Network as slightly 'oxymoronic'. My contributions to a group experience might be qualified as 'personal', but I would never use the word as an adjective to describe a team, a committee, or a class to which I belong. Maybe it's time to reconsider the use of the term PLN?

Personalized Learning & Participation
Each person's learning network is certainly unique. The tools we use to interact with our networks are chosen to suit our personal tastes, and the types of information we share among our colleagues varies widely; but the name we've come to accept for this inter-connected learning: Personal Learning Network, implies individual ownership and control.

Whether or not you subscribe to the theory of Connectivism, you likely realize that our networks are chaotic and self-organizing all at the same time.

A Collaborative Learning Network
The value in any learning network comes from the contributions of many individuals. No one member has ownership of the group, or of the work that's been collaboratively developed. Additionally, it's clear that if any one person fails to add value, then the net results are less striking.

Do you have a Personal Learning Network?
Do you have a Collaborative Learning Network?
or
Do you have something different?



Photo Credit: Elisabeth Audrey

Friday, November 27, 2009

An Invitation to Bleat

The map that anchors this blog, is evidence that networked learners are capable of sharing their ideas around the world. But these global connections become more real, when words, images, and audio are leveraged to bridge the geographic boundaries that separate us.

And so, to celebrate the 200th episode of the Teacher 2.0 podcast, I'm inviting you to share your voice around the world. Simply forward an audio shout-out that identifies your school, teaching assignment, city & country. I'll do my part, by tacking one or more such 'bleats' onto the closing credits of future podcasts.

Your invitation is the focus of today's podcast:



It's just an idea, and it may not take off, but I'm game to give it a shot if you are. I suspect that listeners will revel in the knowledge that authentic voices are working as educational agents of change in classrooms around the world.


Thanks to Marie-Therese Le Roux for the inspiration.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Edublog Nominees

For the past few years, the Edublog Awards have been very effective at highlighting a wide range of blogs across the educational spectrum. Last year, I only came to learn about these awards by being nominated in the Tech Support category, and while I voted for my favourites last year, I'm ready to make nominations this year.


Best Teacher Blog
Mr. Robbo's Blog: Jarrod Robinson is a teacher-learner-experimenter in his second year of teaching, who models lifelong learning. Jarrod comes to teaching with a specialty in physical education; and he uses his blog to highlight the many innovative ways he's managed to tap into the technological interests of his students. Jarrod is proof that the future of our profession is in good hands, and if you give his blog a read, you'll realize that there are many ways kinesiology specialists can make use of communication technologies including video games; Bluetooth-enabled devices; MP3 players; QR codes and much more.

Best Individual Blog
Off the Record: I came to blogging the same day as my colleague Doug Peterson, whose blog is unsurpassed at humanizing the ed-tech experience. Passionate about leading others to share their learning, Doug walks the talk by publishing his reflections, observations, and personal growth experiences on a daily basis. If you know of an educator new to using communcations technologies, they'll find affirmation in the public learning Doug does... 'on the record'.

Best Class Blog

Pipe Dreams: Zoe Branigan-Pipe has only been blogging for the last year or so, but her classroom site highlights the potential of public learning. On the site, you'll find everything from student podcasts and blogs, to best practices in classroom education. As a class blog, the site demonstrates how teachers and learners can engage a range of communications tools to reach through the walls of their classrooms.

Best Educational Wiki
Open Thinking Wiki: As an open teaching advocate, Dr. Alec Couros has led the compilation of resources on a wide range of topics. Although the content is intended to support his work with post-secondary candidates, this wiki is filled with nuggets that should be of interest to any modern educator. Whether considering social justice, media literacy, digital storytelling, or copyright, visitors will find links, videos and slidedecks sure to enrich personal or professional learning.

Best Individual Tweeter
@courosa: Yes, it's the same Alec Couros. Whether tweeting from the airport, the back of an ambulance, or his classroom, Alec is always sharing relevant and interesting content. He regularly engages in give-and-take with colleagues from around the globe and at the very least, his tweets inspire followers to think, to share, and to learn.


That's my take, what's yours? Which edubloggers, podcasters, tweeters are most effective at inspiring your professional learning?
To make your nominations, simply record your preferences in a blog post that links to the Edublog Awards. Then share the link to your post on the Edublog home page. (Thanks to Sue Waters for reminding me about Step #2)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twitter Bingo

Earlier today, I found myself reflecting on the variety of positive professional interactions I've had on Twitter in recent days. As an illustration of the great many ways an educator can put Twitter to use, I've just created a mock-up of Twitter Bingo for Education.



Originally meant to let non-Twittering teachers understand what goes on in the Twittersphere, you might want to try this challenge yourself: Print a card, and see how long it takes you to fill it, based on the edu-tweets you follow.

Image Credit: Rodd Lucier

Monday, November 16, 2009

Classrooms of Tomorrow: The Untold Story

It's been almost two weeks since teachers at my school designed Classrooms of Tomorrow. What's most satisfying, is that already there are signs that teachers are adopting strategies that call for students to collaborate with one another.

So, What did teachers create?
I've posted a series of classroom posters on my Flickr account in case you'd like to see what was designed. To hear more about what took place, including how teachers can assess learning by having conversations with learners, check out the podcast below.




Past episodes of the Teacher 2.0 podcast are available on iTunes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Classrooms of Tomorrow

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to lead the academic staff of Regina Mundi College, through a morning of learning, reflecting and designing. With the staff still getting to know me through the first ten weeks of school, it was a unique opportunity to revel in my passions for emerging technologies along with local colleagues.

The Lesson
I began the workshop by highlighting Ten Trends sure to affect teaching and learning in the years to come:

Peppered throughout the morning, were unexpected bonuses that I like to call 'soft returns': resources that can immediately impact classroom teaching & learning. Tools you might take for granted such as Wordle, WolframAlpha or Mr. Robbo's blog, are a few of the examples that rewarded participants for engaging with the 'formal lesson'.

The Culminating Task
:
To demonstrate an understanding of highlighted emerging trends, teachers were asked to consider the following questions:

Which trends are most likely to impact your classroom?
How will your classroom change?
What tools will you need to address these trends?
What will you need to learn?
What will you need to un-learn?


Rather than answering the questions in a journal, or writing a test, teachers were grouped and tasked with designing a 'Classroom of Tomorrow'. To highlight the potential of collaborative design tasks, members of each group were invited to take on roles with entry points differentiated to meet the needs of a diverse 'classroom':

Team Leader: ensure all have input
Architect: sketch the classroom
P.R. Specialist: communicate design decisions
Espionage Expert: sample the ideas of other teams
C.F.O.: calculate a budget for proposed design
Timer: reinforce timelines for design and presentation

Showing What You Know:
Participants came to realize that it was possible to demonstrate an understanding of the 'course content' through an engaging activity. If such a task were to be used for assessment purposes, teachers were reminded that each individual should be required to explain the group's design choices, in the context of course expectations. It was also emphasized that any rubric for such a task, might de-emphasize the artistic presentation, in favour of a focus on design thinking and understanding.



The Wrap-up
:
In completing this design task, my teaching colleagues transformed into students before my eyes. Letting their true colours show, we staff members unwittingly took on the characteristics of just about every type of student you can imagine. The animation and willing participation of my colleagues was beyond my greatest expectations.

To conclude our morning, an eloquent Ontario teenager, and 'wired' high school student, Patrick Quinton-Brown joined us via Skype. Patrick is a student trustee with the Durham District School Board, and Director of Communications with OSTA-AECO whom I met six days earlier while sitting on a panel at the People For Education annual conference in Toronto. Having heard him speak about the role technology played in his life, and about how the restrictive classroom environment often impeded his learning, I knew he'd be the perfect guest to wrap our morning.

In arranging an appearance, 'live' from his home school, Patrick was instrumental in helping me to put an exclamation point on the need to transform our classrooms. Indeed, my colleagues were able to experience first-hand, the Classroom of Tomorrow!

Photo Credit: Rodd Lucier

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tools for Learning

Jane Hart from the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, has organized the most recommended e-learning tools for 2009, into a number of useful categories. Check out 25 Tools: A Toolbox for Learning Professionals:

In my opinion, Compfight (photos), and ScreenFlow (screen capture) will one day have enough recommendations to make this impressive list.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Which Brands of Soda Do You Sell?

In my search for an motivational piece of media for an upcoming PD day, I happened upon a gem that will be used to introduce the topic: Engaging Classroom Environments. When viewed through the right lens, John Nese of Galco's Soda Pop Shop has many important messages to share with educators.



Passion: When you are lucky enough to be doing something you love, you can't help but share your enthusiasm with others. Are you passionate about learning new things? Are you are willing to give novel ideas a shot? Do you validate the passions of others?

Community: The most successful entrepreneurs see themselves as part of a larger dynamic community. Do you see what you do in the context of an entire school? Do you go out of your way to connect classroom experiences to the real world? Do you encourage and empower learners to reach through the walls of your classroom?

Variety: There is no need for this vendor to offer run-of-the-mill product. Customers can get Pepsi Cola anywhere. What unique experiences do you offer to your students? Is there something uniquely available in your course or class, that has students hoping to be on your classlist?

Customer Engagement
: John Nese has the trust of his customers, and he recognizes that each one has unique tastes. In a similar fashion, the movement twards Differentiated Instruction, is calling on teachers to recognize the uniqueness of the students in their classrooms. How well do you know your customers? Do you embrace their unique tastes over a one-size-fits-all approach?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Math Homework with WolframAlpha

When students come to me for help with their math homework, I'm sometimes at a loss as to how to help them convert and graph quadratic equations. Now that I've learned to leverage Wolfram Alpha, I can assist students in finding patterns that allow them to complete assigned problems.

The Search for Thirsty Teachers

Educators who are active participants in their own learning, tend to be the most engaging teachers I know.

I've revisited this truism after reading Will Richardson's recent post "Teachers as Learners (Part 32)". I believe it's true that people of all ages love to learn. Isn't it unfortunate then, that there seems to be no correlation between a love of learning, and a love of school?

Many times, I've been asked by colleagues: "Why do you use the World Wide Web to connect with other teachers?" My response has always been: "It's where the learners are!"

If you know of a teacher out there who loves to drink in rich discussions and experiences, please let them know there are many others out here who have a similar thirst for discovery. If we connect with one another, the next drink is on me!

Photo credit: Andrew_1000

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Most Important Thing

I'm in the midst of preparing a workshop for staff based on an earlier presentation: 'Collaboration: Top Ten Trends'. In polishing an interactive session, I'm offering educators from around the world, the opportunity to help me teach a valuable lesson.

Step #1: Engage Google forms to create a simple survey;

Step #2: Elicit the cooperation of Twitter colleagues, in sharing the message;

Step #3: Embed the form in my blog to gather more suggestions from the edu-blogosphere.

Step #4: Publish the survey results. I'm thinking at present of engaging Wordle, but also hope to consolidate the data into a Top Ten list.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Protest 2.0

Over the past few years, I've had a few richly engaging conversations with Peter Purgathofer, an associate professor at the Vienna University of Technology: Faculty of Infomatics. His email tonight is a striking story that has yet to grab headlines here in North America.

"In the last 7 days, we've had massive student protests against the accumulated mis-management of universities by the ministry (most universities here are financed by the state).

What is amazing is the way these protests are organized; they are neither initiated nor supported by the student unions. They just "happen", and are organized mainly through the means of social software and mobile communication.



Twitter plays a major role here (search for the topics #unibrennt (University Burns) #unsereuni (our university) and #tubrennt (University of Technology Burns) and you will find an amazing stream of support messages, coordination, calls for activities, etc. Also, there are a number of Facebook groups; USTREAM.tv is used to stream video from the occupied lecture halls at the Vienna university (ustream.tv/channels/unsereuni) and the Vienna University of Technology (.../tubrennt); wikis are used for working groups that organize food, garbage handling, sleeping; but also demonstrations and rallies, actions, and support the discourse surrounding the formation of demands of the protest.

Also, the students have collaboratively written and created a newspaper that can be printed out by every student and dropped in public transport or public places, in order to explain what is going on to the broader public.

Of course, there is a blog with all the news, and a YouTube-channel with videos produced by the students about the protests and everything around.



Today, a giant demonstration took place, around 40,000 students marched through the city for two hours, without any noteworthy excesses, riots or other negative events (other than a bag of paint thrown at the facade of the ministry building) - everything organized without participation of the traditional political caste that usually carries the flag here. It's really the base speaking, facilitated through the means of social networking, mobile communication and a series of meetings in occupied lecture halls. Absolutely fascinating to watch. It feels like protest 2.0.

There is no end in sight. they are determined to stay until policy-level politicians (minister and chancellor) discuss their demands with them.

I'll keep you updated."


The order and organization demonstrated in the videos I was able to find, are striking. I'll be happy to share more as Peter shares first hand news...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Top Ten Tech Tools (Fall 2009)

For the past few years now, Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies has been compiling lists of preferred e-learning tools, including my Top Ten Learning Technologies.

In revising my list for Fall 2009, it's happened again, that free web-based tools dominate my list. To shake things up a bit, I've done some thinking about the tools I use most frequently, and I've decided it's time to rank my top 10 in order.

1. Firefox: Recognizing that so many of my favourite tools exist on the World Wide Web, I've got to lead off in referencing my browser of choice. Although other browsers can fill in in a pinch, I currently do much of my professional learning within the tabs of Firefox.

2. G-Mail: Simple, reliable, sortable, with effective filters (including spam filters) and plenty of room for large files and archives. Now that my professional and personal calendars have been ported to Google Calendar, along with my Task lists, Gmail has become the hub of my 'cloud office'.

3. Tweetdeck: While Twitter remains the lead tool I use to connect with educators around the world, I'm still hooked on Tweetdeck as my choice for keeping in touch with my personal learning network. On my iPhone, I continue to use Twitterific.

4. Compfight: I continue to make frequent use of Flickr's Creative Commons, but the elegant, user-friendly tool I use to access images, is Compfight.

5. Garageband: Having produced 200 episodes of my podcast, Teacher 2.0 I'm now working with students to produce engaging audio announcements. Surpassing Audacity and other audio-editing tools, Garageband remains a staple in my e-learning toolbox. I also use Libsyn and iTunes in my podcasting, but I can't yet justify listing these tools in my top ten.

6. Blogger: Although I've been publishing less frequently, this tool is still my favourite choice for hosting my blog: The Clever Sheep.

7. Keynote: Using a Zen approach, most of my presentations are light on text and heavy on graphics. It's the stunning templates, engaging transitions, and exports to clickable movie files, that lead me to favour Keynote as my favourite presentation tool. My completed sliseshows are often posted on Slideshare, another online tool that just missed making my list.

8. Skype: In communicating with educators around the world, it seems almost too easy to engage in rich conversations for free, courtesy of Skype. Although I also use Google Video Chat, Adobe Connect, iChat, and DimDim, the recent addition of screen-sharing to Skype, makes it my number one tool for connecting!

9. ScreenFlow: Optimized for OSX 10.5, I still love to make use of the most polished screen capture utility available. It's the best tool out there for creating engaging software demos and tutorials, but it remains a Mac-only option.

10. WetPaint: With so many of my projects calling for collaborative development of e-learning solutions, I continue to make regular use of WetPaint. With free sites for educators, and unparalleled community tools, WetPaint wikis are the backbone of Twitter for Teachers, and The Golden Fleece Wiki.

Honourable Mention: Posterous has the potential to become one of the top wiki/blog tools I'll be using at school. Working to engage students and teachers in the creation of e-portfolios, it's the most polished and user-friendly tool I've seen.


Photo Credit: Suzie T

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Building a Community of Learners

The first of many Tech 20 workshops took place today, and though the turnout was modest, attendees amounted to 10% of the staff at my school.

In 20 minutes, we managed to have teachers register with Animoto, and create short video presentations. Most satisfying, was the fact that so many of the attendees were novices in making use of technology. The example below was created by one such novice, the chaplain at our school:



I'm confident that word about this experience will spread. Guidance, math, language, social studies and chaplaincy were all represented, with teachers from special education and the humanities requesting rain checks.

I owe a big thank you to my PLN whose affirming comments and suggestions have helped to shape this initiative. Next up, I'll be whetting the appetite of my colleagues at a full staff meeting, by demonstrating Wordle as a literacy resource.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tech 20 Tuesdays

In order to provide support to teachers who wish to engage tech tools, I'm about to launch Tech 20 Tuesdays. In no more than 20 minutes, teacher-attendees will have a chance to learn about one tool or strategy that should make it easy to incorporate ICT into their classroom practice.

My aim is to create a low stress; questions welcome; just come and explore environment that will promote greater use of a wide range of tools. Today's podcast, tells the story in more detail:



Are there any one-hit-wonders you'd recommend sharing with teachers in such a format?

Photo Credit: Tray

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change: Reflections from the Bus

As promised, I really am blogging from the bus. We're on the way to a volleyball tournament in Belleville, Ontario, and the team is resting after filling up on pizza. So why write now? And why further stress a computer with a cracked screen?

Sure, blogging from a bus is one way to demonstrate how technology can now be leveraged anytime, anyplace. And while I'm accessing the web through a tethered mobile phone, players are listening to ipods, watching DVD's, and playing games on portable devices.

But no one on this bus is thinking about arguably the most important issue facing the citizens of planet Earth.

Although the players and coaches on board do not realize that it is Blog Action Day, I'm compelled to reflect on the topic chosen for the day: Climate Change. With the Global Climate Summit slated for Copenhagen in a few short weeks, a more suitable topic would be difficult to find.

Even though I know of the power of words and images, I was still stunned in viewing the time lapse photography embedded in James Balog's Extreme Ice Loss presentation at TED. Witnessing the fracturing of glaciers during his extreme ice survey, the viewer can't help but conclude that "Climate Change is Real".



I'm not sure what you or your students have discovered about climate change, but it seems to me that there are few topics of greater importance for the future citizens of the world. Maybe you and your students will plan your own lesson for your community during next week's International Day of Climate Action?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Imagining Conversations with Former Students

Have you ever bumped into former students and been surprised by what the students remember?

"Hey, I remember you! You taught me how to copy notes from the blackboard!"

"Remember when we did that algebra work, where we all filled in the spaces on that photocopy?!"

"Oh, and that time we read from the text book and answered the questions at the end of the section!"


In reality, these sample recollections are never celebrated. More commonly, the students with these memories are likely to pretend not to notice the teachers in question.

In preparing students for a future so difficult to predict, how is it that such activities still comprise a significant portion of a typical student's day?

The Classroom Matters


This weekend, I came across a The Fun Theory, a post at Mashable, that demonstrates how the environment significantly alters the way participants behave.



I look forward to the day when it will be the norm for classrooms to be arranged for discussion, rather than for teacher presentation. I anticipate the day when teachers regularly connect their learners with those in other classrooms; in other cities; and in other countries. I await the day when students can expect assessment of their learning to include performances that are beyond essays and exams.

If students walk into learning environments designed for interaction; with tools for meaningful collaboration; challenging future citizens to demonstrate their learning in engaging ways, then we will indeed be preparing our charges for a future of lifelong learning.

Though modern tools can be the catalyst to reforming our schools, significant changes to the classroom are beyond hardware & software. Whether or not we leverage emerging technologies, we can amplify the engagement of today's students by creating environments for interaction.

When you cross paths with your present students 10 years hence, how do you anticipate the conversation will begin?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Taking Risks in Media Creation

When I first began teaching in the late 1980's, I used to use video production as a tool to engage the creative minds of my students. At the time, the equipment was bulky, expensive, and difficult to access. Today in contrast, far more powerful tools for media creation and editing are available in the homes and on the desktops of our students.

This brief podcast introduces a film production project that will put 'at risk' students into the roles of writer; director; properties manager; video-editor; producer; actor...



Do you know of an 'expert' in the field of professional media who can help us out by acting as a mentor and live 'Skype-in' guest?

Photo Credit: pt

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Google Wave on the Back-of-a-Napkin

The real challenge of today's World Wide Web, is to condense any idea into a nugget that can be digested by a diverse audience, in very short order. Rather than calling for a 5000 word essay as an explanation, the attention span of today's networked audience demands that that even the most complex idea be distilled into a back-of-the-napkin presentation.

Now that Google Wave is in limited release, this 2 minute explanation is rising the charts as the most efficient way to explain what may soon become E-mail 2.0.



Whether or not Google Wave changes the way we collaborate online, this presentation by Epipheo Studios, serves to remind teachers and students that there is a real art to explaining concepts for today's attention deficit world.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Can You Help Me Make a 3 Foot Putt?

Sometimes it's a seemingly simple task, that proves to be a barrier to achievement. For me, it's the shortest shot in golf; for others, it may be the simple act of getting out the door to start the day. The frustrating thing about either task, is that most would be able to accomplish the task with little effort.


This brief podcast is a reflection on how we're struggling with a debilitating avoidance of school. Maybe you can help us to make this metaphoric 3 foot putt?



Photo Credit: eMaringolo

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Great Destination


great destination by =henryz on deviantART

I love this image. To me it evokes a fantastic sense of unbridled creativity. Although the artist didn't willingly create a vision for education, let me unpack the scene as I see it...

On the whole, this place appears to be more about creation rather than regurgitation. Do we encourage our charges to learn with the intent of improving their own world?

Although the buildings do appear to be the destination, the learner appears to expect to do his work as a part of the larger natural environment. How do our learning environments expose learners to exploration and creation in the real world?

This young person appears to arrive of his own accord. Perhaps he senses his responsibility for designing his own future. What can be done to lead learners to see such purpose in their own daily work?

A vast range of tools for creation (including an iPod) are at the disposal of this young person. Are such tools readily available to our own students; and are they supplemented with modern digital tools?

I appreciate the fact that the lone chair in the scene sits empty. Which changes to your daily routine might lead students to work in settings beyond such uncomfortable chairs?

What makes your school or classroom a 'Great Destination'?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wake Up!

This week's global 'Wake Up' calls delivered an critical environmental message in a wide variety of ways. I'm left wondering how we might initiate a similar wake up call for education?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Snowbirdie Golf Tournament

In a past life, I attended Assumption High School in Windsor, Ontario. I didn't know it while growing up in the 80's, but my career was destined to unfold in parallel with the careers of many of my peers.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to reminisce with many personalities and faces that I hadn't seen in 27 years! Although the Snowbirdie Golf Tournament was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of a tragic accident, the day was filled with laughter, story-telling, and genuine camaraderie.

On September 3, 1989, I was spending Labour Day preparing to begin my third year teaching in London, Ontario, when the news from Toronto highlighted a story about Canada's Snowbirds aerobatic flying team. In a tragic accident, one of the Snowbird pilots was unable to eject after a mid-air collision sent two Tutor jets into Lake Ontario. The pilot who died in the accident, was Shane Antaya, a classmate from Assumption, whose exploits are now celebrated by once youthful men, in golf attire.

Interestingly, I've now discovered that many of my closest friends from high school, have gone on to careers in the field of education. I've reconnected with classmates who are once again my colleagues: a high school vice principal; an art teacher; a psych consultant; and a kinesiology professor.

The Snowbirdie Golf Tournament has now taken place 19 times, and although it has taken me two decades to discover this event, my experience in reconnecting with my sports-loving classmates has left me wanting for more. This is one event that is sure to be on my summer golf calendar for years to come.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The WHMIS Test

Among the first acts undertaken by teachers in my district school board, is the annual WHMIS training/testing. In short, teachers are reminded of the safety guidelines for working with hazardous materials in the workplace, and then are 'tested' to demonstrate their understanding of related policies, procedures and guidelines.

When it comes to the culminating test, teachers are asked to complete a multiple choice quiz that includes questions drafted with the intent to deceive. Our response: Cheat!

Most teachers undertake the quiz in a group setting where answers are openly shared. Others take the quiz online, with a web browser open to the content of the WHMIS presentation. And in the most extreme cases, educators simply fill in the correct answers as a group, under the direction of the 'teacher'.

Even though the information is presented for the safety and well-being of students and teachers alike, my experience is that most educators demonstrate a genuine disdain for the entire process. While teachers wouldn't give such a test to students without rigid structures in place to ensure the validity of the test, we somehow see it as OK to just wink our way through the exercise.

Maybe it shouldn't bug me so much, but I wish more teachers recognized the folly of such tests when working with their own students!

Image Credit: Keven Law

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Year: New Challenges: New Opportunities

For the first time in 10 years, I'll be focusing my working attention on a single school community. My experiences in the past decade creating and leading programs for all the schools in my district school board; and most recently serving the e-learning needs of school boards across southwestern Ontario, I'm looking forward to focusing my energies at Regina Mundi College in London, Ontario.

The role I'll be playing, is that of Student Success Teacher. It's a role that was created by the Ontario Ministry of Education, to assist schools in meeting the 2010-2011 target of graduating 85% of high schoolers. It's a lofty goal, one that challenges schools to offer unique opportunities for credit accumulation in lieu of pegging students into traditional courses .

With my experience in teaching others about e-learning; in developing rich performance-based learning activities; and in leveraging social media to build relationships, I'm very much looking forward to engaging my interests and abilities to ensure students, staff and parents learn in relationship.

While the position is formally focused on meeting the needs of the at risk student, my goals are more challenging: I'm working to build an environment of Learning Immersion... for students, staff and parents.

Photo Credit: SnaPsi

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Social Media Revolution

The Social Media Revolution is bigger than most realize. Sources for the statistics in this presentation can be found on the Socialnomics - Social Media Blog. Unfortunately, this message will be missed by those not already in this space...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Re-Imagining Education: Part 1

As the future continues to beckon, I hope more educators will feel a sense of urgency to re-imagine classroom learning. This series of podcasts will consider how school can be made relevant for today's learners.

The Changing Workplace
: Change is rampant everywhere... so why do our classrooms continue to function in the same old ways?



Related Links:

10 Principles for the Future of Learning: Miguel Guhlin
The Future of Work - Time Magazine

"The Future of My Kids' Work" - Will Richardson
A Whole New Mind - Daniel Pink
Seth Godin's Blog
Coke & Pepsi on Twitter
Linux & Microsoft on Twitter
TMZ

Photo Credit: naraekim0801

Thursday, June 25, 2009

On Leaving the Flock

Over the past two years, I've had the opportunity to build relationships with e-learning colleagues that span my home province of Ontario. While I've greatly enjoyed working with online teachers and their support teams, it is in collaborating with provincial colleagues who share my role, that I've experienced the most insightful personal and professional growth.

Although we gathered in person only 10 times over the past 24 months, the Region e-Learning Contacts (ReLCs) took great advantage of modern communications technologies to build relationships and to collaborate in support of provincial school boards and school authorities.

As a testament to how close we've become, the ReLCs will be with me FORE a long time, thanks to a perfectly appropriate 'going away' gift!

In preparing for the challenges of my next professional role, I am very much looking forward to reconnecting with local colleagues. Only time will tell if we will be able to leverage professional networks as effectively as my ReLC colleagues and I have proven possible.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Web vs The Cloud

It's still very early after the launch of Opera Unite, but already, I'm seeing some logic to the idea of saving your personal documents and media files locally, instead of 'in the cloud'.

While it's always been possible to share files from your home computer through remote management tools, the engagement of a web browser as the conduit, may well bring content sharing to the masses. By installing and activating the Opera browser, anyone can host a meeting, publish resources, or share media files.

As the open source development community begins to imagine new applications for this browser, consider a future where any mobile device might have direct access to the files and programs on any other computer. Mobile, hyper-networked computing, might completely re-wire the nervous system of today's World Wide Web.

The brief overview provided to TechCrunch tells the opening chapter of what promises to be an ongoing story.



Questions to consider
:
Might traditional 'cloud computing' become less popular?
Can software be accessed and run through this browsing technology?
Why might we want to access our home files from handheld devices?
How secure will the unshared files on my computer be?
Will loopholes allow hackers to leverage our computers as drones?

And the big question on everyone's mind:
Will 'Opera-tives' really pursue facial gestures as hinted on April 1st? ;-)