Sunday, May 29, 2011

Do You Have a Robin?

Batman had Robin; Simon had Garfunkel; Jordan had Pippen; Abbot had Costello. Each of these duos had an impact that was arguably greater than any one might have had without initial collaborative success. Alone, each of these folks might have made a difference, but it was as members of a team, that they had their greatest impact.

In education, that someone who helps you change your little corner of the educational landscape is priceless. The partner who listens to your ideas; the sidekick who gives you encouragement to try something different; the colleague who nudges you when you need to get back on track... these are the people who help you be your best. But the special connections who join you in a collaborative project; who present alongside you at conferences; who join you in drafting that grant proposal... these are the people who truly amplify your impact.

Even though these folks might never have met B.T. (before Twitter), a few examples from my Personal Learning Network serve as exemplary case studies, demonstrating the power of partnerships:

1] Heather Durnin and Clarence Fisher recently led their charges to collaboratively publish a book.
2] Dean Shareski and Alec Couros began presenting as 'Lazy Professors' but are regularly in the same time & space.
3] Zoe Branigan-Pipe and Doug Peterson co-presented at the OSLA Faceoff, and continue to learn from one another.
4] Ben Hazzard and Kelly Power started #edbookclub, but this year, they also teamed up to deliver a keynote presentation.
5] Chris Lehmann and Scott McLeod are about to publish What School Administrators Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media.
6] Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson co-founded Powerful Learning Practice, and regularly push one another's learning.

While it may be tempting to gauge the success of one's Personal Learning Network by counting Twitter followers or blog subscribers, the true measure of your professional impact, may be the number of dynamic duos with whom you've become professionally engaged. Do you know any folks who would make a terrific team? Why not put them in touch? Who knows, if you reach out yourself, maybe there's a Robin out there waiting to join you for a spin in the Batmobile?

Photo Credit: Bounce; Rodd Lucier

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"So... What do you do for a living?"

The Elevator Pitch is a meticulously crafted message, usually to sell an idea to a prospective investor. It is generally a short audio highlight reel, commonly used as a sales pitch, but I think it can be useful in many different situations.

For me, the most apt time for me to use a short, engaging presentation, is in introducing myself. Whether meeting educators for the first time, or striking up a conversation with fellow golfers on the tee block, I'd prefer to pitch myself as something more than 'teacher'. I just don't appreciate the baggage that sometimes comes with the job title, especially when I'm not sure about the other person's past scholastic experience. Maybe that's why my most recent name badge listed my job title as 'Education Change Agent'.

A Skill Worth Teaching
In recent months I've seen a few teachers offer students the opportunity to prepare a TED-style talk on a topic of personal interest. While the preparation and delivery of a compelling talk may be a rewarding learning experience, I'm not so sure it's as useful a skill, as the more concise, face-to-face elevator pitch. The ability to enter into an engaging discussion by way of a carefully crafted and well-rehearsed introduction is a practical skill, mastered by few.

With practice, students will be able to tell compelling personal narratives, with confidence, in under two minutes.

1] Role play having students confidently introduce themselves to prospective employers;
2] Give students a 30 second opportunity to sum up their individual contributions to the class or group;
3] Encourage individuals to 'sell' a thesis or project proposal;
4] Allow groups to develop product pitches along the lines of 'Dragons' Den' or 'Shark Tank'.

Kids who model a strong, positive self-image are more likely to be successful in school, work and life. Take the time to lead your charges to the gift of a unique personal elevator pitch. And while you're at it, prepare yourself for the next time you hear the invitation: 'So... What do you do for a living?'

Photo credit: Marco Wessel, James Provost

Monday, May 9, 2011

Motion Capture Animation

This short video and an accompanying audio podcast, tell the story of how motion capture, and 3D technology are being used to fill the demand for special effects, animation, and videogame production. The interview with Tobias Wiegant took place at Canada 3.0.

If you found the video of interest, you might like to review the full length audio podcast.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Machine is Indeed Using Us

Does this title sound familiar? It's very similar to Michael Wesch's viral video from a few years ago: The Machine is Us/ing Us. When I first saw this video in 2008, it inspired me to write a series of posts about how users of the World Wide Web, were Teaching the Machine. Now, just three years later, it seems as if the machine has become smart enough to customize the information it provides to each of us.

Yesterday, after hearing Wesch describe how his video went viral, participants at Canada 3.0 were called by Sonija Monga, to reflect on how we derive meaning and insights from our networks.

By virtue of my membership in a network that is already functioning as a bit of a like-minded hive, I discovered an answer to my question thanks to a tweet from Alec Couros, Take nine minutes to consider Eli Pariser's warning: Beware online "filter bubbles"

I don't know if the machine can yet answer these questions, but there are many things we need to think about:

Is there a problem with each user being the recipient of customized service from a news provider; an online store; a search engine?
Does the machine know enough to provide us not only with relevant results, but also with an unbiased determination of the most important content?
How good are our personal learning network at discovering content from varying points of view?
How might a young person's unseen profile and early online habits, affect their future online experiences?