Tuesday, February 21, 2012

We Glow Like Fireflies

Have you noticed there are more of 'us'?
If you haven't noticed, then you haven't been paying attention.

More than ever, educators have taken to social media in general, and Twitter in particular, to connect with like-minded colleagues.

Like fireflies, we're letting ourselves be known to one another through the use of our own secret signals. Tweets are being used to build communities of learners on levels never seen before. Hashtags are binding learners who share common interests and a common vocation.

If you were on Twitter three years ago, you might have participated in the first synchronous educational chat. Like so many fireflies, we were in wonder at the discovery of so many educators ready to talk about teaching and learning.

After taking time to introduce ourselves to one another, the tweets came so quickly, that it was next to impossible to keep up. Looking back at an interesting parallel, I'm smiling in the knowledge that it was in the quiet of the nighttime that we found one another.

And it continues today...
We use Twitter to hail distant colleagues.
We nudge local teachers to share their own firelight.
We inhabit a digital staffroom where the the lights are always twinkling.

We do deep in our thinking - #edbookclub.
We follow distant conferences - #educon.
We play games - #namethattune.
We think in public - #pencilchat.
We build relationships - #PLN.
We become a community - #ds106.

We find ways to let our light shine... on our own time... in the night time.

And though we sometimes dim our lights, going dark to live in the physical world, we always come back. We're drawn to the light of an ever-growing cadre of educators who, to paraphrase Rob Fisher, "care so much about teaching and learning that it hurts."

Time lapse photos of Japanese fireflies were the inspiration for this post. I first encountered them in my daily 'Wired' news feed, and after following a few links, I discovered that they have been re-posted multiple times by fans. Finding the original images on the Digital Photo Blog, I was happy to discover that the images are licensed for sharing under a Japanese CC license by Tsuneaki Hiramatsu.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Publishing With iBooks Author

You may know that I have a twin brother, Todd Lucier who is talented in too many areas to mention. The skills he acquires are often ahead of the curve, so sometimes he ends up learning by way of trial and error. His most recent learning adventure was discovering how to make use of iBooks Author.

While many authors collaborated on the UnPlug'd Facilitators Guide: A Strategy for Getting to the Heart of What Matters, Todd took it upon himself to push us, and himself, to republish this work, making it available in Apple's iBook Store. If you're considering publishing your own resources some day, you might just want to bookmark Todd's tips for future reference.

"With iBook software there are four different versions of the finished product.

1. Preview. Your iPad must be plug'd ;) in with the current version of iPad software and iBooks open (updated version). You see the book as it will look in finished form. Best to use this to make all the edits required prior to publishing.

2. Save. (Creates a .iba version for editing in iBook only) - It happens in the background and you don't have to do anything to produce this version. Nice that it automatically saves the current state of your document and the historical versions (Haven't figured out how to do it, but its there). Note the "Save a Version" option creates a new version of this book.

3 Publish. (.itmsb version - itunes music store books? ) This version is great if you are ready to publish your book immediately to your iTunes iBook account. Saves a version of the book ready to post to iTunes - automagically opens iTunes Producer so that you can fill in the meta data and publish! This version puts the book into iTunes!!!! NOTE: You CANNOT use this option if you are publishing a new updated version of your iBook. See 4 below.

4 Export. (.books) Exported version is the way to publish a version of the iBook for sharing on a Website directly or sharing with others by posting to Dropbox or Google Docs so that they can see it. NOTE: If you want to make changes to your iBook after it is published using iTunes Producer, you MUST use Export to get the .books version to replace the original. Then in iTunes Producer, open the original Published version of the book and on the Assets Tab select the exported version of the book.

Whew, it's crazy, but as a rat in the maze I was able to figure it out after a half dozen uploads of the new book without seeing it appear in iTunes.

Final word of warning: If you have multiple accounts, or change your password on iTunes Connect, iTunes Producer will not know this and will continue to try to upload your work - bringing up repeated error messages and a bounce to Apple FAQ's that have nothing to say about the error you are receiving. You'll just have to muddle along until you realize what's going on.

Have fun."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Roll Down the Windows

Every day brings changes to our world. Tools evolve; ideas emerge; projects are born. Through your personal learning network, you are already immersed in this change; but what about everyone else?

Your face-to-face colleagues may not truly understand it, but by now, they probably realize that you are part of some larger learning community. I like to suggest that it's time to take these colleagues by the hand, and to introduce them to this dynamic online world of professional learning. The good news is that there is an easy, and not-so-intimidating way to do it.

Like a dog in a car, the world just whizzes by, seemingly beyond our control. Even so, we choose to participate. We engage in conversations that matter. We keep informed about what our colleagues are doing. We amplify the best ideas we encounter. We share.

Sadly, many of our colleagues are so immersed in the day to day experience, that they may as well be riding along behind tinted windows that are rolled up tight. Focusing only on the path they're on, most of our fellow teachers have no idea of the range of thought-provoking conferences, collaborative projects, or innovative tools that are just outside the window.

How do we best introduce teachers to the test pilots among us who are creating and sharing a new vision for education?

My number one suggestion, is to invite your co-workers to roll down the windows in order to get a sense of what's happening in connected classrooms around the corner, and around the world. It's easier than you might think.

You don't have to share a new teaching strategy.
You don't have to impress with the latest gadgets or web tools.
You don't have to coach the development of personal learning networks.
You don't have to introduce Twitter, or hashtags, or social media.
You don't need to teach about curation or subscriptions.

Begin by rolling the window down just a crack, and your colleagues can experience a world of continuous learning. Here are just a few ways to introduce your fellow teachers to people and ideas that inspire.

1. Share the link to one crowd-sourced online newspaper.
The Tweeted Times is where I get my morning fix for the stories I may have missed the previous day. Another I visit for stories shared by my Ontario colleagues, is Doug Peterson's: The Best of Ontario-Educators Daily.

2. Point colleagues to one news feed.
Here, educators can read engaging stories that highlight the thinking of fellow change agents. The stories change every day, but the link stays the same.

3. Share a link to one of the pages you use to collect bookmarks.
Your entire bookmark library may be of interest, but you might also share only a specific tag like 'classrooms of tomorrow'. When you find something, they'll know where its at.

4. Point app-lovers to one education news aggregator.
A few years ago, I developed 'Clever App', a tool I use to access the news from my PLN at least a few times each week.

5. Send your friends to one great blog each week.
If you're a regular reader of blogs, why not share the feeds to some of your favourite writers?

6. Email one story a day.
You have access to dozens, but a teacher who never seems to have the time, might get hooked on one a day if you choose wisely.

7. Pro tip: Automate
If you have yet to discover If This, Then That, you might be interested to know that you can automate delivery of news to your colleagues. If you tweet a link, have it automatically posted to your delicious feed or to your blog. If you bookmark a resource, have IFTTT automatically email it to your friends.

Once they get a breeze in their hair, your colleagues might be eager to join teachers far and wide are learning and sharing everyday. On their very own, they may wind that window all the way down and ask you how they might more deeply engage in this world. It's then that Twitter, blogging, and personal learning networks might become part of the conversation.

What's holding you back? Go ahead and share one resource might lead a teacher to make a habit of professional reading every day. If you roll down the window, your colleagues may well engage in conversation across the hallway... or around the globe! It doesn't have to be overwhelming, just choose a simple way to share the powerful connections you've already discovered.

Photo credits: Zilla in the Car by Vagabond Shutterbug; Sheep in a Truck by smcgee; Coaster rider by Fellowship of the Rich