Monday, June 30, 2008

Little Brother and the Creative Commons

I've mentioned before that I'm reading Little Brother. What I hadn't realized until recently, is that you can read this book or any of Corey Doctrow's other titles, for free, by downloading the text versions from Corey's website:

Little Brother goes into great detail about how the youth of San Francisco use their technical know how to outwit 'big brother', played in the book by the Department of Homeland Security, so it should be no surprise, that Corey is swimming against the tide of the book publishing system. Click the link on at the bottom of the widget below to hear Corey explain things.

Link to purchase and download this audiobook without Flash interaction

Listen to the followup Teacher 2.0 Podcast: "Engaging the Power of Creative Commons" with special guests Corey Doctorow, Larry Lessig and the Canadian Mounties

Remote Participation in NECC

The Good News: It's Summer at the Cottage

The Bad News: NECC is taking place in San Antonio!

With the internet, even the bad news doesn't have to be so bad. This morning I was able to attend the National Educational Computing Conference remotely by diving into a few remote feeds courtesy of and a few intrepid edubloggers.

Prior to this event, the publishing of the NECC's restrictive terms of use on multimedia productions had me wondering whether or not any broadcasts would emanate from the conference. Today, I'm glad to see that consenting presenters are finding ways to share their
messages beyond San Antonio.

Will remote participation become the norm for conference participation? Conferences that encourage remote participation may not bring funds into the coffers of conferences, but they may yield more important benefits. The recent launch of the EdTV wiki provides a menu of edu-blogger channels that heralds the arrival of open, remote, self-selective professional development.

Although I'd love to be there in person to solidify relationships with virtual colleagues, I am content to visit NECC participants remotely... between chapters of Little Brother. Keep the feeds coming!

Today's 5 minute podcast provides a snapshot of my remote participation.
Photo Credit: Rodd Lucier

Thursday, June 26, 2008

5 Ways Youth Soccer is Like School

Have you seen a youth soccer game/practice lately? Below this 2008 soccer photo, are five parallels to school, based on my observations of my little guy's play on the pitch.

1] As with classroom lessons, many soccer drills fail to 'engage' participants.

2] Like the chalkboard/smartboard, many skills are practiced with the active involvement of only one person at a time.

3] Just as most students are required to be on the same page at the same time, youth soccer sees most players follow the ball as a 'hive' in lieu of playing independent positions.

4] If things aren't interesting enough, the kids will find their own entertainment to replace game/practice activities.

5] Similar to the anticipation of recess, the highlight of most games is the half-time snack break!

Do you see any other parallels?

Photo Credit: Rodd Lucier

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Will Different Become the Norm?

The Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Open Course is ramping up with participants planning a number of networking events including face-to-face get-togethers. In "More is different..." George Siemens anticipates how scaling up a learning event to include hundreds of participants increases the complexity of the learning environment:

1. Less control on the part of the instructor
2. More need for learners to define and forage for needed content and relationships/learning connections
3. More noise, chaos, confusion
4. Greater flow of information, leading to individuals with high “network literacy” feeling more at ease in the course.
5. Greater involvement of learners in assisting each other
6. For some learners, increased need for centralized spaces that serve as “jumping off” points.
7. Reduced sense of singular expertise (i.e. facilitators) and greater reliance on ideas and expertise shaped through collaborative/collective discourse
8. Greater segmentation - learners will find others with similar interests and they will form small sub-groups as a means to cope with complexity and to individualize their learning

Although it wasn't always appreciated by my colleagues, many of these 'different' characteristics were signs to me that learning was taking place in my own 'small scale' classroom. Scaling up, these differences are also evident in the greatest mass classroom on the planet: the World Wide Web.

In leveraging current and evolving network structures in CCK08, my hope is that the characteristics predicted by George, will be emulated in future networked learning environments, both large and small.

Photo Credit: David Reece

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Fun with Seesmic

I've been thinking, writing, and speaking of late about the fourth 'R'... Relationship; and I can see how Seesmic has the potential to personalize participation in any of a number of learning networks.

Educators (and their classes) can now leverage microphones and cameras to participate in engaging asynchronous conversations on a range of topics. Care to test it out?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Time to Repair and Be Repaired

As the school year winds to a close, many are ready to reconnect with family members that are lost amidst the hustle and bustle of the school year. Students, spouses, colleagues, children... regardless of the roles these people play in our lives, they are people first; and though our relationships with these people may be as fragile as butterfly wings, they too can be repaired:

In fact, repairing relationships may require much more than the tools and deft touch needed to repair a butterfly wing. Thankfully, the summer offers most educators the most important tool of all: TIME.

This summer, take time to be a human 'being'. Take time away from the 'busyness' of life to celebrate the wonder that surrounds us every day. Take time to appreciate the uniqueness of the people in our lives. And, when school begins afresh in the fall, continue to take the time!

We are People First is the Teacher 2.0 Podcast today...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Walking the Talk: CCK08

For the past 7 years or so, I have been involved in teaching continuing education courses that deal with a wide variety of communications technologies. It has been my very good fortune to be involved in continual learning in the online environment. Beginning in September 2008, I will be a participant in what I suspect will be one of the most unique courses ever launched.

Courtesy of the Learning Technologies Centre at the University of Manitoba, George Siemens and Stephen Downes, two innovative leaders in connectivist learning, will be leading hundreds of educators in the 'open' Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Online Course.

Admittedly, the major attraction of this course, is the range of 'connected' edu-bloggers and twitterers with whom I hope to interact in constructing knowledge in a networked learning environment. With the launch of the course Connectivism & Connective Knowledge blog, I'll be using The Clever Sheep Blog to reflect on much of the collaborative learning taking place throughout the course.

Trusting fully in the instructors, my online peers, and the evolving online learning tools we'll be leveraging, I have no doubt that we'll be pushing the boundaries of teaching and learning. If you have an interest in discovering more about connected learning by 'walking the talk', consider signing up.

A parallel 6 minute podcast on this idea is now available.
Photo Credit: Paul Watson

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Top 10 Mobile Phone Resources

While the iPhone has dominated headlines of late, there are many great online resources that leverage the mobility of cell phones. Here are some of my favourites:

1] TwitterFone: Make posts to Twitter by making a simple phone call and stating your message.

2] Cell Phones for Learning: Wesley Fryer's wiki for making use of mobile phones in the classroom.

3] VoiceThread: You can use any phone to add a comment to a VoiceThread image, video...

4] PhoneSpell: Convert your phone number to a word/phrase, or find out the number that would correspond to a given phrase "Guessit?" = "483-7748".

5] Wakerupper: I use this resource to reliably wake me on the road, but it can also be used to send 'time-released' messages to any phone in the world.

6] Sure you can save all types of files on this simple-to-use website, but did you know that once you have reserved a domain, you can also phone a unique phone number to record voice messages for pickup? You can also use this tool to record podcasts or to embed a message in a blog or other website!

7] Evoca: This tool will allow visitors to your website or blog, to post audio messages.

8] Mosquito Ringtones: For young ears only, this site provides high frequency ring tones that older ears can't hear.

9] Utterz: This site allows you to post text, photos, or audio messages, directly from your cell phone. With cell phones being the most ubiquitous technology on the planet, this may be the future blogging tool!

10] Jott: Once you register your cell phone with the service, this voice to text tool can be configured to post directly to your blog. You speak; Jott writes!

For those with a few minutes to spare, take a 'history lesson' break with 'The Evolution of Mobile Phones":

OK, There are indeed more than 10 Great Mobile Phone Resources!

11] Beam It Up Scotty: Did you know that you can download photos, music, videos and other documents to your cell phone?

12] CellSwapper: Don't like your cell phone contract? Swap it! This site provides ways for you to dish off your cell phone contract to others, and to obtain other term contracts with a range of carriers.

13] Google SMS: Movie times; flight information; definitions; tranlations, weather reports... all this and more can be yours by text messaging to Google (466453)!

14] Remember the Milk: Manage multiple tasks and reminders via text message, email, SMS on your cell phone.

15] Phone My Phone: If you've lost your phone or if you want to get out of a boring meeting, this service allows you to schedule one call or multiple repeating calls to your cell phone.

16] Pinger: Hear, see or message anyone on any phone!

I've just posted an audio version of this content on the Teacher 2.0 Podcast. What are your favourites?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What Footwear Do You Wear Online?

Earlier today, Will Richardson got me thinking about how important it is (will be?), to have an online presence:

The responses were thought provoking and the more I thought about digital footprints, the more I came to realize that the metaphor lent itself nicely to the idea of footwear. So here is a graphical representation of how your digital footprint might vary depending on the 'shoes' you wear:

Some people do their daily work in the online environment. These people generally know how to stay safe with steel toes and responsible online behaviour. They often leave lasting footprints.

There are those that are quite comfortable and uninhibited in sharing their lives online. Don't forget to think about the consequences of your behaviour.

In order to move rapidly and nimbly through cyberspace, some people use one common login and password at all sites they frequent. This can be a dangerous practice...

The Web 2.0 world is foreign to many who worry that their is no room for their ideas. Varied voices are welcome, you just have to be willing to begin.

Do you worry about how you will be perceived online? Looks are not as important as ideas in the online world. No matter who you are, your heels (and words) can leave deep and lasting impressions.

The right online presence can help you scale your way to career aspirations; but a false step, can bring you crashing down!

Having a professional online persona takes time and effort. By participating openly and ethically, you can develop an online profile that matches your professional aspirations.

When joining professional and recreational groups in the online world, be aware of what you are getting yourself into. Be prepared for what you may 'step in' on the read/write web.

Those who travel 'au naturale' can leave distinctive footprints. If you are always online as your true self, be careful where you step!

For further exploration of this topic, it would be worth visiting Will's resulting web post: "What, No Footprint?" or my own recent thoughts on this topic:"Take Ownership of Your Identity"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Exams as Circumstantial Evidence

While our high school students prepare for final exams, I'm left to ponder how these snapshots came to yield so much weight.

In a discussion with colleagues earlier today, I suggested that the written test is best considered as 'circumstantial evidence' of student learning. More often than not, and exam indicates little more than which student studied, and to what degree they paid attention to the right material.

Rather than rely on the information provided on a written test, I await the day that teachers rely on anecdotal evidence as the best measure of student learning. Certainly an educator's first-hand observations taken in documentation of rich performance tasks, or culminating projects would be more telling than first draft handwritten exam responses. Teacher-student discussions in the midst of such experiences allow all types of learners to 'show what they know'.

It was back in April when members of the blogosphere publicly debated in response to Will Richardson's query "When Are We Going to Stop Giving Kids Tests That They Can Cheat On?" The shortest blog post I've read this year, generated great discussion on this topic.

As experts in learning, it is teachers themselves who need to rally against the traditional exam. While it will take a special teacher to even open this conversation in a staff room, the discussion following Will's post is a terrific place to begin the dialogue.

For a humourous example of how I survived oral exams in university, you might be interested in re-visiting the "Tale of the Tell-tale Toes" episode of the Teacher 2.0 podcast.
New today: Choice Matters.

Photo Credit: ccarlstead; beatsrhymesnlife

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Next Einstein

TED has launched a new way to share a passion for learning... and to allow African youth, and others inspired by their stories, to bring their dreams alive!

The news release tells part of the story of Neil Turok's TED wish:

"On May 11, the Next Einstein campaign officially launched at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, in Cape Town, South Africa. Stephen Hawking, Nobel Laureate George Smoot, Nobel Laureate David Russell, and Michael Griffin, the Administrator of NASA, were all there to give talks and lend their support."

But it was my first glimpse of Audrey that captured my imagination. She may well become the first female from Ghana to lecture on pure mathematics!

'Pure mathematics' may be for weirdos; but 'passion for learning' is for everyone!'

Monday, June 9, 2008

New iPhone eh!

It's official! The iPhone 3G is coming to Canada!

Earlier today, "It's a Small World" was used as the fanfare to announce that 70 countries will have unfettered access to the most coveted digital device on the planet.

This morning, Steve Jobs, members of his team, and a number of software developers introduced the new Apple iPhone 3G which runs on the faster 3G network. The mobile phone boasts a 3.5 inch display; built in camera; and embedded GPS technology. Jobs claims that the battery power would provide 5 hours of talk time; 5-6 hours of browsing at high speed; 7 hours of video; or 24 hours of audio.

No more pretending... the iPhone is one powerful computer! Courtesy of the shared Software Development Kit made available only a few short months ago, a number of new tools will soon be available via the iPhone App Store at prices set by the developers (starting at 'free'). A few of the highlighted applications capitalize on the read/write web and are surely just the tip of the iceberg:

The Office Hub: MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel and the iWork apps will be viewable. Mobile Me promises to synchronize information on a number of disparate devices as dot-Mac is re-tooled to harness this handheld.

Blog in Your Pocket
: Typepad makes it simple to create blog posts including photos directly from your iPhone.

Global Reporting Device: While the idea of a cell phone equipped camera as a reporting device has been around for a while, the Associated Press has optimized the Mobile News Network for the iPhone. Your photos will know from where they've been taken, making it easier than ever to be an on-the-scene reporter!

Social Networking from your Palm: Loopt, a Twitter-like app has been created for keeping tabs on your contacts. The word may enter the lexicon as GPS is leveraged to plot networked buddies as pushpins on a map.

Live Sports Connection
: Sports fans will appreciate “At Bat”, a tool created by Real time video highlights channeled to your phone minutes after the play!

Band on the Go
: An innovative interactive application promises to turn the iPhone into a Music Machine. With 'Cow Music’ the touch sensitive screen will allow your iPhone to emulate a variety of musical instruments. You can create, save and edit music on the go!

Digital Game Machine: Sega, Pangea, Digital Legends, and other software companies will turn the iPhone into a handheld video gaming device. Titles like Cro-Mag Rally are only the beginning. I can see many advertisers porting (or licensing) free interactive games to the iPhone in order to engage eyeballs.

The Doctor's Brain: MIMvista is one of a few companies preparing to launch upwards of a dozen medical apps. Rich medical information will be available at a doctor's touch, with options to zoom, scroll, and measure. Thanks to an embedded accelerometer, images will even when you shake the phone.

Today's news is that the iPhone 3G is coming to Canada; Tomorrow we may even forget that it's a telephone!

Today's Teacher 2.0 Podcast provides an audio overview.

To capture your own highlights, check out the WWDC 2008 Keynote Presentation.

Photo Credit: Betacontinua

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Blurry Memories of a Fabulous Finish!

Insert 'Glory Days', by Bruce Springsteen...

After relying on memory of this event for over 25 years, I've finally had the chance to view the long rumoured 8 mm film footage of the most exciting race of my life! A recent digital conversion of the 8 mm film footage is now available for sharing. What follows, is the story of the F.J. Brennan High School Open Boys 4 X 400 m relay team. The 'play by play' of the 1982 OFSAA Regional Track & Field Championship Race is punctuated by recently converted archival video.

1st leg: Brian Latouf takes provides a slight lead at the 400 metre mark, but remember, we had a 'three turn stagger' from lane 5. (0:00-0:52 seconds)

2nd leg: Todd Lucier sped through the first 100 m allowing him to cut unhindered to lane one at the 120 metre mark. He battled to hold off 2 athletes who would pass, even though they would be forced to do so on the outside of the far curve. (0:52-1:40)

3rd leg: Rodd Lucier had to follow the eventual provincial 400 m champion, and in the wake of superior athletes, broke the 50 second barrier for the only time in his life! Passing the baton to our anchor runner, I was just hoping for a top 5 finish which would qualify us for the provincial championship OFSAA meet. (1:40-2:10)

4th leg: Paul Boots made the key move of the race on the final curve. With Laurier running away, the 2nd and 3rd place teams fought for second. The second place team pushed wide on the curve, to keep the third place team at bay, allowing 'Booter' to nimbly pass both of them on the inside with under 100m to go. (Tragically, footage of this move is blocked by cheering fans!) With 25 metres to go, we were almost 10 metres behind; but with the Laurier anchor runner unable to see or hear anyone approaching, Paul's amazing lean took the team to the regional title only centimetres from the finish line. (2:10-2:50)

Don't miss the finish from 2:45 to the end!

To add context to the post-race celebration, you may be interested to know that our Open Girls 4 X 400m relay team, won the same event in the penultimate race of the meet! An audio reflection on this event, including a reflection on Big Brown's historic Triple Crown bid, is now available on the Teacher 2.0 Podcast.

Note: The most memorable event of my high school athletic career had to be when my team lost of the city basketball championship... on a 52 foot shot at the buzzer! But that's another story...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

5 Mac Predictions and one Sure Thing

With the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference only a few short days away, here is my wish list:

1] Apple will launch the iPhone in Canada. Roger's says they've reached agreement for this year, so why not with the anticipated 3G iPhone launch? Will GPS be included?

2] We'll see the first mass market touch screen notebook computer. If it works on a phone, it will work on a screen. It's only a matter of time... isn't it?

3] Safari will be re-tooled to include many embedded social networking tools. Look out Flock!

4] Cloud computing will come to .Mac services with the launch of iLife online. Web versions of Keynote, Pages, iMovie, Garageband and more will be compatible with both Mac and PC.

5] iTunes will be renamed to reflect the diverse media available for purchase/download. Developer applications for the iPhone will be made available for download beginning... "Today!"

What is for sure, is that Steve Jobs will wear blue jeans and a black crew neck shirt and will highlight the explosive growth in Mac sales. He'll sip from a water bottle intermittently and will speak slowly and deliberately using highly graphical slides as a backdrop. Steve will talk about the past with great pride and reverence, and will reinforce the wonders of the Leopard, the current Mac operating system. He'll highlight a new ad for iTunes and may even take a jab at the PC with a new Mac-PC ad. Audience members will laugh, and smile, and applaud, in giddy anticipation of "One more thing...."

Photo Credit: Ben Stanfield; Anthony Sigalas

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Brain Rules

Have you the time for an engaging self-paced presentation?

The slides put together by Garr Reynolds model many of the brain rules identified in John Medina's book: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. This is the type of unpredictable, thoughtful presentation anyone can make, and you can do it by twinning Flickr's Creative Commons images with some uncommon creativity!

For an extended explanation of three rules (exercise; stess; and multi-tasking) strap yourself down for a fast-paced 50 minute presentation by John Medina, or check out all 12 rules in the book".

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Seeds of a Revolution

I'm worried greatly for my 5 year old. As junior kindergarten winds down, he has but a scant 14 months of relative educational freedom before he becomes an 'educational prisoner', bound to a desk, in a four-walled room, with other grade 1 students.

Since long before his birth, I've been working as a change agent, leading educators to consider creative alternatives to traditional paper, pencil, and chalkboard education. Like-minded members of the edu-blogosphere who are similarly calling for change, are articulate, innovative, and professional, though widely scattered. How can this group of charismatic change agents come to act in a collectively?

Seed #1: A Vision for Coming Together
Clarence Fisher has posted an idea for creating an international organization of educators with a common purpose...

"If we begin to think of ourselves like this, as an organization, an international network of educators who are all pursuing the same basic goals (educational change to meet the demands of the twenty first century, the infusion of technology into teaching, openness and transparency, etc) we are a group that is at least several thousand people who just happen to be spread out across the globe."

In order to support 'the cause', Clarence proposes that this community could hire a writer- researcher- public relations person with responsibility for coordinating the group's communications, while supporting individuals in their efforts to innovate and educate. In support of this idea, he has created a 'tipping point' fund-raising project called "Reinventing Education"

Seed #2 Clarity of Purpose
Whether the revolution is about engaging modern tools for education, or about employing strategies for networked learning, or about 'learning to change', Sir Kenneth Robinson's presentation to educational leaders at the Apple Education Leadership Summit 2008, reminds us that 'creativity' is a critical component of any person's education. With the guarantee of an unpredictable future, any educational revolution must recognize the need to engage our creative minds.

Video courtesy of

Seed #3: Radicals as Visionaries
The most creative in the education community will always be seen as 'radicals', maybe even as 'rock stars', but I share discomfort with the evolving Edupunk meme as expressed by both Doug Belshaw and David Warlick. As highlighted by Stephen Downes, and others, these non-traditional, creative educators are working independently in their own personal struggles for change. These educators could play catalytic roles in the revolution, especially if they can be brought together under a common banner.

Seed #4: It Starts Small... but Universally

I'm not sure, but I suspect that conversations are the primary way that a revolution gains a foothold. Already, conversations about what the change should look like, are underway throughout the blogosphere, but to truly gain leverage in schools around the world, the discussions need to move offline... into staff rooms and classrooms.

Are there other 'seeds' we need to sow? How will you participate in the discussion? How can we engage other change agents? When and Where will we meet?

A few more ideas on this topic are shared on the Edupunk Episode of the Teacher 2.0 Podcast.

Photo Credit: "I'm Here for the Learning Revolution" was created by Bill Moseley, based on a button competition launched by Scott McLeod and Wesley Fryer. The design will be highlighted at NECC in San Antonio.