Saturday, January 30, 2010

Educon: Field Guide for Change Agents

A few months ago, I had a discussion with Ben Hazzard about how we might engage educators in producing an e-book to assist and encourage change agents. The result of our efforts was a workshop that took place this afternoon at Educon 2.2.

Instead of providing a 'presentation-style' workshop, our goal was to leverage easy-to-use collaborative web tools and to lead interested co-learners in the creation of practical, shareable content. Teaching by doing, we did our best to model:

1] how to build relationships among project participants;
2] how to contribute to shared documents simultaneously;
3] how to attribute Creative Commons licensed content;
4] how to offer 'choice' to participants;
5] how to take shared responsibility in creating a product;
6] how to engage remote participants in a meaningful way;
7] how to create and distribute a product for a real world audience.

"This Field Guide for Change Agents was developed during a workshop at Educon 2.2 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in January 30, 2009. As workshop leaders, we were honoured to have participation by educators from around the world, including remote participants who joined us via Elluminate."

The creators have agreed to license their work with an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Creative Commons license. You are free to share or adapt the work, on the condition that the author page and photo attributions are included.

Late addition: One of our online participants, Lorna Costantini, has written a blog post about the experience that really affirms the value of the processes we adopted.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Educon: Harnessing Chaos

When students are actively engaged in their learning, they aren't necessarily sitting in desks and working with pens and paper.

Our first day at the Science Leadership Academy gave us opportunities to see a variety of learning environments in action, including what on the surface may have seemed to the uninitiated, to be a chaotic learning environment.

Click image for large version.

Today's podcast summarizes what happened when senior student tour guides led a group of visiting educators through Stephanie Dunda's grade 10 bio-chemistry class.

Wish You Were Here

It's my first trip to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, and I have to say, I'm impressed. The hotel district is right in the heart of the city, meaning many interesting sites are within walking distance. The neighbourhood is populated with museums, towering buildings, and public art installations.

The highlight of Day 1 had to be meeting and dining with staff members and other co-learners at Fogo de Chao, where flipping your serving card to green, invited 'gauchos' to blade hot servings onto our plates. The conversation was intimate, familiar, and open; more evidence that the relationships we build online, are much more than virtual.

Today, over 500 attendees, including many from southern Ontario, will be networking at the Science Leadership Academy. It's Educon 2.2, and another day of learning; wish you were here!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A New Axiom for Educ(ati)on

One of the events taking place at this week's Educon 2.2, is Encienda Educon, an hour of 'lightning seminars' scheduled to take place during lunch on Saturday. Though I may be crazy enough to attempt an 'Ignite' presentation, I'm also smart enough to know that it's a highly challenging format; one worthy of rehearsal.

For those unable to join us at Educon, my 5 minute talk runs a bit longer when an introduction and closing comments are added:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Let's Ban Chalk

A week from today, I'll be making a presentation called "Let's Ban Chalk". Assuming I'm successful in making the case: What will we do with our chalkboards?

I'm voting for IdeaPaint to help transform our classrooms.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Learning to Change: Changing to Learn

I'm hopeful that the realities expressed in by the luminaries in this short piece will open a few more minds. Here's to the death of Education; and the dawn of Learning:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Coping With Too Much Wisdom

There is so much wisdom floating around the many e-learning spaces that I've adopted, and only so much time in the day. How does one cope?

The tweets, the blog posts, the podcasts, the news... your daily work and family responsibilities. It's impossible to stay on top of it all, but you can keep in touch with what matters most.

Let me put it this way, just in case you're scanning for headlines:

1] Be Realistic: Realize that you can't catch everything 'as it happens'. Let it be OK, to hear about significant developments a day later.

2] Turn Off Notifiers: Check for content on your schedule. The email, tweets and blog posts will all be there... when the time is right for you to deal with them. Don't let incoming content dictate your schedule.

3] Be Selective: Let your RSS Reader become a portfolio filled with only the richest content. With the right feeds, getting your reader down to 'zero' won't bring relief, but will leave you anxious for more.

4] Take the Time: Ensure that reading/listening a part of your daily routine, rather than an 'always on' torrent of information. Learning with a cup of tea, reminds me that reading is an experience to savor.

5] Remember Why You're Here: Learning isn't a race, it should be a pleasurable experience. If you're racing to keep up with feeds or tweets, maybe it's time to thin your subscriptions.

6] Dig Deep: In our desire to digest more and more, we often let tweets trump richer, deeper, more thoughtful writing. And when we find that elusively rich article or book, we tend to speed read or scan only for the highlights. Do you remember when reading was a pleasurable experience? It still can be.

7] Unplug: Even though Starbucks and McDonalds may offer free wifi, there are other ways to engage with ideas. What real books are you reading? What face-to-face conversations are you having?

8] Remember What Matters Most: Your family, your colleagues, your work, your play... they all matter, and they are each deserving of your time and attention. Connecting with global colleagues is great, but don't do it at the expense of your flesh and blood relationships.

These are but a few things I try to remind myself. Care to add your advice?

Photo Credits: Jah~; Kristen C.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How High Can You Jump?

At the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, the world of competitive high jump changed forever. That was the year that Dick Fosbury won the Olympic gold medal, while going over the bar head first, and backwards. Almost overnight, the 'Fosbury Flop' became the 'new normal'.

What will become the new normal for Education?
In an interview from the Atlanta Games, Fosbury recounts the gradual evolution of the 'flop':

"The interesting thing was that the technique developed in competition and was a reaction to my trying to get over the bar. I never thought about how to change it, and I’m sure my coach was going crazy because it kept evolving. I believe that the flop was a NATURAL style and I was just the first to find it. I can say that because the Canadian jumper, Debbie Brill was a few years younger than I was and also developed the same technique, only a few years after me (and without ever having seen me)."

As an example of coincidental innovation, Canadian, Debbie Brill, became the first North American female to clear 6 feet with the "Brill Bend".

What can we learn from Fosbury and Brill?
Many factors should encourage teachers to 'jump higher':
- A variety of Web tools allow us to share our learning experiments;
- Online mentors abound for teachers ready to explore ICT;
- Modern resources are becoming more accessible, and less expensive;
- Curriculum expectations require students to create;
- Global connections are but a few clicks away.

In the late 60's, foam landing pits gradually replaced piles of sand and sawdust, reducing the risk for modern era high jumpers. Maybe we just need a softer landing spot, one that invites teachers to model creativity, risk-taking... and learning?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Simple Seating Spreadsheet

My colleague, Jim Pedrech, has created a spreadsheet tool that allows teachers to quickly and professionally adapt or create seating plans. Regardless of the layout of your classroom, you're sure to appreciate his simple yet elegant solution.

Jim has agreed to license this work as a Creative Commons resource, meaning you can download, test and share the Seating Plan Spreadsheet, provided you let folks know where it came from.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I Need My Teacher To Learn

In case you need a reminder, pay close attention to the lyrics.

Nice job @KevinHoneycutt!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Augmented Reality 101

Augmented Reality is a technology that promises to enhance our real world experience through the introduction of accessible layers of information. If it's new to you, consider this post and podcast as your introduction to AR.

Realtà Aumentata - Augmented Reality from soryn on Vimeo.

I recently had a conversation with Mathijs Gajentaan, CEO and Co-Founder of Winvolve, a Mobile Application and AR development company. Mathijs is currently organizing AR Toronto, an event that promises to showcase this emerging technology for the benefits of any interested community member. In our discussion, you'll hear reference to Esquire Magazine, an AR Architecture Book, advertising, and much more (links included below).

Learn more about Augmented Reality:
EyePly: AR and Sports
Adidas: The Sneaker as AR Device
Wired: 7 Best Augmented Reality Apps
Bruce Sterling: At the Dawn of the Augmented Reality Industry