Monday, December 20, 2010

The Greatest Gift

A few days ago, I had the good fortune of being 'found' by a former student. Since that time, I've engaged in email correspondence with 'Mark', that has led me to reflect on the critical role classroom teachers play in shepherding student self-discovery.

As our students struggle to find their place in our shared world, the implications of Mark's words offer important lessons for educators. Can we do anything more important than facilitate the exploration of individual passions? Is there an achievement more worthy of celebration than the discovery of one's self-worth?

With Mark's permission, I hope you'll see these words as the gift they were to me.


I've whited out sections of the note to keep Mark's identity private, but a side benefit, is that this anonymity will allow you to fill-in-the-blank with details from the lives of your own students. Is there a greater gift for a teacher to receive during this season of giving?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lessons Learned in the Demise of Delicious

As the 'unofficial' news broke on Twitter and subsequently TechCrunch, social learners today discovered that Delicious might be going dark. Whether or not the story becomes mirrored in reality, there are a few lessons educators can take from the news.

Lesson #1 The Education Community is Resilient
Alec Couros has inspired the creation of Alternatives to Delicious, a Google Document that has been edited by at least 40 collaborators.

It will be a challenge to recreate the link-sharing network I've grown to love at Delicious, but whether it happens tomorrow; next year; or five years from now; there will one day be a need to relocate my links. In this case, it's a straightforward process to migrate bookmarks to Diigo, or another service.

Lesson #2 Free is Not Forever

We learned last spring, when Ning began to charge for what was formerly a free social network service, that it takes money, and real people to provide the services we often take for granted. In the case of Delicious, it now appears that the parent company, Yahoo, will be cutting the virtual service, in order to deal with financial realities.

Lesson #3 You Need a Backup Plan
It may not seem important when your digital life is firing on all cylinders, but users of cloud services (especially free services) should think about what they'll do if the unthinkable happens. Flickr is also managed by Yahoo; might it be jettisoned next? Could Twitter or Facebook one day be seen as financially unviable? Might Google decide one day, that Gmail or Google Docs makes more sense as a monthly subscription service?

Whatever you do in response to the possible demise of Delicious, it's always a good time to think about what you're doing to protect your ideas; your data; and your memories.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Skype in the Classroom: A Sneak Peak

It's been a few years since I first made the pitch for a long distance guest speaker directory. At the time, I had the thought that such a directory would make it easy for classrooms to connect with experts and co-learners in an increasingly flat world. Now comes the news that Skype and the development team at Made by Many, are about to make that dream come true, with the launch Skype in the Classroom!

Last week I had an opportunity to meet with Jacqueline Botterill of Skype, and Paul Sims of Made by Many. The two representatives provided me with a sneak peak at a service that is sure to inspire networked learners in classrooms that span our wired world.

The first half of the interview provides interesting insights into the design process, and may be of particular interest to computer science and business specialists. The latter segment (beginning at 12:00) provides a tour of the widely anticipated social learning network.

Global collaboration among learners young and old, will soon be scaled up significantly. Pre-registration for Skype in the Classroom is taking place now, with an anticipated launch in January 2011. See you there!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ontario Edu-Bloggers are Quote Worthy

As lifelong learners, educators are often quick to quote published authors, and keynote speakers, even though there are other, more local voices, worthy of attention and recognition. Take a moment to consider adding an Ontario educator to the mix of your daily reading, and I think you'll find many of my edu-blogging peers to be just as quote-worthy!

* These edu-bloggers produce content on their own time. Although I've referenced their home school boards, the work of these authors may not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of their employers.

Consultants & Special Assignment Teachers

Barbara McLaughlin Ottawa-Carleton DSB
Reflective Leadings community - connecting - curriculum

Susan Lister (on International Contracts)
Technology Enhanced Learning technology - enhanced - learning

Shelley Pike Greater Essex Catholic DSB
Math Coaching math - sharing - support

Kent Manning Hastings and Prince Edward DSB
Motivating Boy Writers boys - writing - motivating
The View From Here my - personal - blog
Manning's Message creating - media - texts screencasts - teachers - students

Colin Jagoe Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB education - science - technology

Ben Hazzard Lambton-Kent DSB
Learning , Together education - archive - digitalfootprint

Jaclyn Calder Simcoe County DSB
Ramblings change - learning - community

Zoe Branigan-Pipe Hamilton Wentworth DSB
Pipe Dreams education - leadership - reform

Aaron Puley Hamilton Wentworth DSB
Blogg'u'ca'tion 2 education - technology - innovation

K-12 Teachers

Aviva Dunsinger Hamilton-Wentworth DSB
A Primary Blog For The 21st Century technology - primary - education

Melanie McBride Toronto DSB
Melanie McBride researcher - critical - pedagogy

Heather Durnin Avon Maitland DSB
Mrs. D.'s Flight Plan collaboration - technology - middle school

Andrew Forgrave Hastings and Prince Edward DSB learning - change - technology

Danika Barker Thames Valley DSB
The Barker Blog literacy - technology - reflection

Dave Lanovaz Huron-Perth Catholic DSB
Sine of the Times math - math - math

Steve McCallum Near North DSB
Prosperos Desk community pd - reading - technology

Jean-Louis Bontront Greater Essex Catholic DSB
What's in my head, and sometimes bounces out collaboration - jokes - chemistry

Peter McAsh Avon Maitland DSB
Mr. McAsh's Blog web2.o - computers - innovation

Nathan Toft and Jane Smith Ottawa-Carleton DSB
Portable PD podcasting - conversation - PD

Rodd Lucier London District Catholic SB
The Clever Sheep collaboration - creative commons - design

Principals, Vice-Principals and Administrators

Shannon Smith Ottawa-Carleton DSB
Shannon in Ottawa lead - learn - reflect

Lisa Neale Hamilton Wentworth DSB
Lisa Learning learning - leadership - technology

Mark Carbone Waterloo Region DSB
Mark's Musings ICT - learning - personal

Rob De Lorenzo Toronto Catholic DSB
The Mobile Learner mobile - devices - classroom

Trustees, Parents & Retired Educators

Robert Hunking Avon Maitland DSB
My Path of Learning community - trustee - learning

Doug Peterson Sessional Professor, University of Windsor
Off the Record personal - digital - footprint

When time allows, it would be great if you could support these reflective learners by leaving a comment on post that informs you; inspires you; or challenges you. If you know of other Ontario Edu-bloggers who should be included on this list, take the time to share details, and I'll do my best to update this post.

Photo Credit: torres21

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ontario Edu-Bloggers Please Stand Up

I recently discovered Chris Kennedy's blog, Culture of Yes, after watching his talk at TEDxVancouver. In his most recent post: Buy Local, Chris identifies edu-bloggers from his home province. In so doing, he can't help but wonder why so many voices seem to be centred in and around Coquitlam.

In the hope of inspiring more teacher-learners to share their opinions, experiences, and ideas, I feel compelled to do what I can, to introduce provincial colleagues to as many local teacher voices as I can. The first step, is finding Ontario teachers who blog:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bringing Infographics to Life

In a world that often finds itself awash in a sea of data, it's no surprise that readers can become entranced by tidy infographics. While most can recognize effective representations of data, it takes both a critical and creative thinker to condense data into a compelling visual model.

Even though infographics can help to clarify meaning, it takes a special teacher to bring data to life. In the exemplary presentation below, master teacher, Hans Rosling, condenses 200 years, and 120,000 pieces of data, into a compelling 4 minute history lesson. Part infographic, part animation, and part passionate explanation, Rosling's presentation is a model for how data can be used to tell a complelling story.

Exemplary Infographics
Infographic Designs: Overview, Examples & Best Practices
10 of My Favorite Infographics
50 Informative and Well-Designed Infographics
15 Beautifully Illustrated Infographics for Your Inspiration
30 Outstanding Examples of Data Visualization
When Information is Beautiful: 25 Useful and Well-Designed Infographics
50 Great Examples of Infographics
50 Years of Space Exploration
Good's Most Popular Infographics from 2010

Tools for Creating Infographics
How to Create Outstanding Modern Infographics
Periodic Table of Visualization Methods
Google Public Data Explorer
Lovely Charts
Many Eyes

Have you ever led students to create infographics to demonstrate their understanding of a concept?
Do you know of other exemplary infographics worth sharing?
Are there tools you would recommend for the design of infographics?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Expanding the PLN Playbook

I couldn't help but smile as I read George Siemens' 'most awesomest' commentary about PLNs. Exactly a year ago I wrote a shorter but similarly themed post, asking teacher-learners to see themselves as 'collaborators'.

As a learner who is passionate about leveraging the passion and expertise among a diverse population of connected educators, it's reassuring to see more and more evidence of collaboration among edu-tweeps.

While folks new to Twitter, often reference their interactions as the "greatest professional learning experience ever", we need to recognize this public sharing environment as a first step into transparent professional development.

Maybe Twitter can be seen as the entry drug to more significant network collaboration? In all likelihood, it will take leaders to create opportunities beyond synchronous Educhat conversations, in order to remind educators that professional learning can be amplified by reaching beyond 140 characters.

To that end, what are you doing to create the next EDUCON, MOOC, or TEDx? Are you modeling risk and reaching beyond your comfort zone? How are you contributing to the evolution of our professional learning playbook?

Me? I'm working with an incredible team to breathe life into an event that promises to model collaboration on a scale that's never before been attempted; but that's story for the new year. ;-)