Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Over lunch today, I had an opportunity to speak with Ryan Bretag. Ryan is an instructional technology specialist and is the mind behind one of the most innovative learning spaces I've come across. The space is called 'The IDEA' and is located within Glenbrook North High School.

If you'd like to learn more about how this learning space came to be, our conversation has been posted as this week's episode on The Clever Sheep Podcast.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Alec

Last week I got an invitation from Dean Shareski to participate in the construction of a crowd-sourced 40th birthday video for Alec Couros. If you know Alec, then you know that a collaborative project like this is the ideal way to honour such an effective connector-collaborator.

Happy Birthday Alec Couros from shareski on Vimeo.

I can't help but smile at the performances of so many of my favourite tweeps. In merging over 70 video submissions from Alec's friends, Dean did a wonderful job. What viewers may not realize, is that Dean also did an amazing job at scaffolding the exercise for participants.

After gathering volunteers, Dean shared a link to the song, and matched participants to specific lyrics on a 'Thank You for Being a Friend' Google Doc. In stretching the limits of his DropBox account, Dean leveraged DropItToMe to gather clips; and goodness knows what he did from there!

Happy Birthday Alec!
Thank You Dean, for orchestrating such a celebratory production!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Andy At the Apple Store

Yesterday afternoon, my colleague, Andy Forgrave and I set out from the OTF 21st Century Skills Conference, to visit a brick and mortar Apple Store. Our goal, was to write a children's book to document our trip. I think this is a nice model for how a slidedeck can be used to turn photos and blocks of text into an e-book.

After sharing the original slidedeck, I thought it would be interesting to invite text submissions for new versions. Almost immediately, this fresh take was contributed by Karen Littlewood

One day Andy went to the mall

There was an apple on the wall

Andy wondered what’s inside

It was unlike any apple he’d ever spied

he felt like he was being led

then the glowing apple was on his head!

He thought and thought and thought some more

Then took a step inside the store

The store was like a tekkie fair

On the wall, a Macbook Air

Andy saw an iPhone 4

And a wall of programs in that store

Cords and cables far and near

Beautiful headphones so he could hear

Little shuffles in colours bold and bright

And free Internet, time to check some sites

Andy sat and played a while

That Mighty Mouse sure has some style!

The pics in the game made him stare

Then he got a sticker for playing fair

Andy looked at the man in blue

He knew he had one last thing to do

He could help the customers too!!

One last pic in the Apple store

We all know Andy will be back for MORE!!

The set of photos that were used to create this 'book', are now available for download. If you or your students would like to remix 'Andy At the Apple Store', or if you take this idea and create an entirely new product, I'd love to learn about it...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

'Learning Spaces' of Tomorrow

This past Sunday, Zoe Branigan-Pipe and I had an opportunity to work with teachers at the Science Leadership Academy. Titling our workshop, 'Classrooms of Tomorrow', our intent was to lead teachers to design solutions based on what they'd learned at Educon. Ideally, groups were to develop ideas into plans that could be implemented as soon as... tomorrow.

Zoe and I had spoken many times about how we might capture the conversational spirit of Educon, and in the end, we decided to leverage LiveScribe smartpen technology to archive the conversations of on-site participants. We were also purposeful in engaging our online audience, who also collaborated in the design of a learning space using Scribblar.

A Few EduConversations
The pencasts below are interactive. If you click on a button that says 'plan' or 'conversation', you'll be able to hear the discussion that led up to each group's design solution. Otherwise, you can click on any element in a groups design, to hear their thinking about that particular element. Each group was asked to design a space in consideration of 3 big ideas; so click on any keyword if you'd like to hear the group's rationale or design focus.

Design Team 1
brought to you by Livescribe

Design Team 2
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Design Team 3
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Design Team 4
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Although we couldn't capture the audio, our remote group had a conversation that resulted in the design of this space:

In the end, the word 'classroom' proved to limit the thinking of some participants who struggled to think outside of that box. As a result, our conversation is now called 'Learning Spaces of Tomorrow'. Consider this post as the public presentation of the ideas of our participants. What jumps out at you?

Photo Credit: Andy Forgrave