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


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".