"Up To Speed" Interview

Whenever I drive to or from work I like to listen to CBC radio. On the way home I listen to Margaux Watt who hosts "Up To Speed". So on Friday, after my Extreme (web 2.0) Lesson Plan Makeover workshop I was a little chuffed to be interviewed by Margaux on her show.

A friend recorded it and sent me the audio file. It's only about five minutes long. While we were talking the podcast I do with my students, Student Voices, came up. Margaux suggested she might play one of those interviews on the radio. I don't know if that will ever happen, but if you listened to the show on the radio and came here looking for those podcasts you can find them here.

Two five minute talks in as many days ... I can say exactly two things about five minute talks:

(1) Five minutes is very short.

(2) Five minutes is very hard to do well.

Here are my five minutes on the radio:

Photo Credit: cbc at night by flickr user sashafatcat

Extreme (web 2.0) Lesson Plan Makeover

All across Manitoba on Friday, teachers came together in about 28 different Special Area Groups for an full day of professional development workshops. I was invited by EBIT (Educators of Business and Information Technology) to do a presentation. Mine was the host school and the organizer of the conference is a friend so I said yes.

The idea was to a have more of a conversation than a presentation, where everyone came with a lesson plan they thought they might like to rework to take advantage of the affordances offered by social media and the suite of free tools available online. I shared a number of examples of how I had done this with some of my own lessons.

About 45 minutes into the workshop people started warming up and we had some good discussion. I tried to keep the focus more on pedagogy than tools but that can be hard in a session like this. Judging from the feedback afterward I think folks walked away happy for having been there. I created a wiki as a reference point for the folks that were there.

One of the examples that captured people's imagination was the mapping project my son is working on. It's not done yet, so I guess I'm outing him early. Many people seemed tickled at the idea that they could leave him an encouraging comment on his Google Map where he's bringing together text, images, and video to give an overview of the book Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker. Remember, what he's got there right now is mostly a partial rough draft, he should have it done in about another 7-10 days. In the meantime, feel free to leave some positive comments or suggestions for him on his map. ;-)

Here are the slides and audio from the session, available here and there. A comprehensive list of links we referenced should be there by the end of the weekend.

Audio (1 hr 41 min 25 sec)
Fast forward through the boring bits.

5 Minutes To Make A Difference

I'm sitting at the 2008 Manitoba Edubloggercon being held at the Princess Street campus of Red River College in downtown Winnipeg.

Eight presentations later things have become a little more organic. People are asking questions and the chat room in Ustream is replying instantly with answers, links, information, and resources to share. John Evans has just invited people to come up to his laptop right now and he's setting them up with twitter accounts so they can start building their personal learning networks. Brian Crosby just skyped in to answer questions about students at risk. People are just starting to get a sense of what comes from sipping the electric kool-aid.

Andy McKiel is the brains and brawn behind all this. He arranged the venue, made sure there was food and drink, coordinated the schedules of eight crazy busy people from two Canadian provinces and Thailand (the airports there are still closed today, Jeff Utecht showed us the role twitter is playing in the capture of the airports). Andy is a class act in everything he does. More Manitoban teachers need to know how fortunate we all are to have him as the President of MANace.

All the talks are (or will be soon) archived on the wiki Andy created for the event. I gave one of the five minute talks. I actually managed to stick to five minutes. It sort of helped that the slideshow was advancing on autoplay. If you're interested in my "5 Minutes to Make A Difference" here is the slidecast:

Also available as a video archive from Ustream.tv:

Live Broadcasting by Ustream

Photo Credit: Red River Community College by flickr user camd

MB Edubloggercon 2008: Awakening Possibilities

That sounds a lot better than calling it a pre-SAG event. (If you're not from Manitoba that's the unfortunate acronym for our provincial professional development day organized by the various Special Area Groups we teachers are all affiliated with in one way or another.)

We had a blast last year so we're looking to have a good time again this year. Andy McKiel, president of the Manitoba Association of Computing Educators (ManACE) is the brains behind getting together some food, folks, and fun while we share some ideas about the evolution of teaching and learning today. You're invited to join us!

The theme this year is Awakening Possibilities and Andy has invited me and 7 other people to give short talks as a focal point of conversation for the evening. We're modeling it on Chris Lehmann's breathtaking talk at Ignite Philly last month. We'll each talk for 5 minutes; 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide.

I will be part of the Manitoba contingent as will Chris Harbeck, Clarence Fisher, and John Evans. We'll be joined, via skype and/or Ustream, by our friends and colleagues from Saskatchewan Alec Couros, Dean Shareski, and Kathy Cassidy as well as Jeff Utecht from Bangkok, Thailand.

All the details are in the poster below (download a copy and share it around where you are). Andy built a wiki where you can find more info and a digital archive of the evening afterwards.

Hope to see you there!

The Permanence of Ephemera

I was listening to the radio in the car tonight on the way home from a parent info night at my kids school and thinking about email. Many people don't regard email as meaningful communication; it's not really connecting because it's so transient. Like online ecards. All this online stuff is so ephemeral. It's not as meaningful as stuff that takes more time to do, like sending a "real" card.

I don't buy that.

The ephemera of online "stuff", stuff you can't touch, is an illusion. Places like the Internet Archive and OurMedia.org (actually, they're in cahoots with each other) allow you to store an unlimited amount of your digital "stuff" online for free, forever.

This got me thinking about my students class blogs. Some of them are four years old now.

Those students (who were in grade 12 at the time) are in University now or have entered the workforce and are living their lives far beyond the boundaries of the classroom where we met. The papers they handed in, the exams they wrote, the assignments they did in class, all the "real" stuff they did is long gone. Irretrievable really.

The digital stuff they did, the scribe posts they wrote, their reflections on where they were in their learning and what was going on in their lives as it impacted them at school, the digital photographs they took, the projects and assignments they published online, they're all still there and they will likely remain there for a considerable amount of time to come. They will likely be able to show off their finest stuff to their kids. Perhaps even their grandkids some day.

It seems to me these digital ephemera have a lot more permanence than any of the paper and pencil work they did in school.

I received an email from a student of mine from about four years back. It was a thank you note. The kind of note a teacher is blessed with rarely. Perhaps once in a career. I'm keeping it. Backed up in two different online spaces. I don't know why, I just want to. It hasn't added any clutter to a busy household with four kids in it. It has added meaning to what I did four years ago and what I'll continue trying to do tomorrow morning.

Just because digital "stuff" is easy to create doesn't make it less valuable. In many ways it adds value, and permanence.

Then again, maybe it isn't so easy to make "digital stuff"; meaningful digital stuff. I'm still trying to get my head around it all.

Photo Credit: Elegant green wisp by flickr user Cheekybikerboy

I read the news today. Oh Boy!

That's the subtitle of my latest remix of my Numeracy across the Curriculum workshop. I was invited to speak to the staff of Chris Harbeck's school on Friday morning. The entire presentation (slides, audio, video) is archived on the wiki that supports this workshop. I've included lots of other links and resources for teachers. If you know of anything I should have included or should work in for next time please let me know.

This is one of the most difficult talks I've ever given. How can teachers, in this case k thorough grade 9 (students aged 5 to 14), weave the teaching of numeracy into their regular curriculum; teachers of English, Practical Arts, Social Studies, Art, Music, and Elementary teachers who do it all?

At one point in the slides you'll see The Hidden Problem is highlighted. The hidden problem is two-fold but the aspect of it I find most troublesome is not the one that was talked about in the research I read. (Links embedded in the slides.) Listen to the bit where I talk about the dinner party in the second half of this excerpt from Chris' Ustream:

14 minutes 5 seconds

And "Portable Learning" For All

The value of Wikipedia is becoming harder and harder to contest. This particular remix of Wikipedia (5500 articles, 20 volume encyclopaedia, 34 000 images, and 20 million words) should be downloaded by school and burned to dvd for every teacher and student to take home in their pocket.

And while you're at it, for your own professional development read what Wes has to say and download the entire K12 Online Conference (3 years worth of high quality PD) to carry around in your iPod. Take it in on the bus, or any time you have a free moment; maybe over coffee in the staff room. If you have a video iPod you could share it with a few of your colleagues.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia by flickr user Octavio Rojas