Like you, I spent much of my time learning to think with a pencil in my hand. The results of our school learning and thinking were captured on paper that wound up on the teacher’s desk. Textbooks and notebooks were both medium and message. Although the pencil remains a versatile tool that influences our thinking processes, we need learners to be agile with a variety of tools.

Today’s learners have the potential easily create and manipulate documents, photos, audio and video files, are developed across a variety of different devices and a in variety of non-paper formats. The work of their learning no longer simply translates into stacks of paper on a teacher’s desk.

As our learning and working flow more easily from one medium to another, how will this affect the flow of our thinking?
How must we adjust learning over the next three years in support of a smoother #thinkingflow?



Getting Charged Up About #edCamps

"Devices a-Charging" animatedGIF by @aforgrave

“Devices a-Charging” animatedGIF by @aforgrave

On the eve of #edCampPTBO (Peterborough, ON), a goodly number of us have our iDevices and batteries plugged-in and charging in preparation for tomorrow’s learning. With the Twitter chats, the shared Google notes, photographs, and websites to bookmark, educators tomorrow will be connecting both face-to-face (F2F) and over the Internet.

Having attended two Ontario #edCamps so far this fall — (#edCampToronto and #edCampBarrie, images above) — and ten Ontario #edCamps to date over the past three years, I continue to be inspired by the energy and enthusiasm that teachers all over the globe share when they gather together on Saturday mornings for grass-roots organized professional development. For the most part, these events are not organized by school districts, but rather by active and self-directed educators within a geographical area — quite frequently mobilized and organized through conversations on Twitter. Check out the hashtag #edCamp.

I am especially pleased to know that there will be twenty-five #edCamps taking place over this coming weekend and next. I’ve not always paid attention to the numbers each weekend in the past, but I’m thinking that this current intensity is reflecting the continued surge in interest in the #edCamp personal professional learning model. (Scanning ahead into 2015, the currently scheduled events average around 4-5 per weekend. Here in Ontario, and following quickly on the heels of Toronto, Barrie, and Peterborough,  #JEDCamp Toronto will run on Sunday, October 26th, and November 8th will feature bothOntario’s #edCampOttawa and #edCampSWO (South Western Ontario).  April 18th will bring #edCampHam (Hamilton), and informed sources tell me that #edCampIsland (Manitoulin Island) 2015 will take place  in May.  Keep an eye on the edCamp Wiki for new announcements.

"25 EdCamps Over the Next Two Weekends" image by @aforgrave from edCamp.wikispaces.com

“25 EdCamps Over the Next Two Weekends” image by @aforgrave from edCamp.wikispaces.com

Featuring participant crowd-sourced agendas, participant-facilitated conversations and sessions, the free-form nature of the day lends itself very well to individualized and differentiated learning. With anywhere from 5-10 concurrent sessions to choose from, participants vote and then devote their time according to the “rule of two feet” — if a particular session is not meeting their needs, participants simply move to another session and pick up there.

If you’ve not yet attended an #edCamp to find out what the buzz is all about, why not?

Update: Images from #edCampPTBO (Peterborough)

Beautiful Fall Colours en route to #edCampPTBO
Welcome to #edCampPTBO !!
Lotsa Good Learning in the room #edCampPTBO
All #RedShirts Survived #edCampPTBO #ST:TOS
Cathy Beach (@beachcat11) and Shelly Merton
It's @colinjagoe and @beachcat11 at #edCampPTBO
Mitch Champagne (@MitchChampagne) opening talk
Get and Stay Connected at #edCampPTBO
The Session Board at #edCampPTBO
#edCampPTBO Session Board
Math: Open Questions and Problem Solving
Math, Open Questions, and Problem Solving ... #edCampPTBO
@Kerrlaboration at #edCampPTBO
Talking about Maker Spaces at #edCampPTBO
Talking about Making Stuff, at #edCampPTBO
Learning about Sesame at #edCampPTBO
Cathy Beach (@beachcat11): Digital Learner
@Jackie_Waller at #edCampPTBO
Continuing the Conversation at #edCampPTBO
Learners at #edCampPTBO
Conversations at #edCampPTBO
@mpilgrim7xgy and @Jackie_Waller and @colinjagoe
@Jackie_Waller and @colinjagoe
Welcome to #edCampPTBO at Fleming College
Sir Sanford Fleming (3D Anaglyph)
Sir Sanford Fleming
Battery? Check. Memory Card? Oops. #edCampPTBO




Relive 30 Days of Learning in Ontario

“30 Days of Learning in Ontario April 2014 Collage” by Andrew Forgrave, on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA)

Ontario educators Donna Frye and Mark W. Carbone have been spearheading the Ontario School and System Leaders Edtech MOOCommunity this spring. In April, the OSSEMOOC blog shared 30 guest posts, one each day, written by Ontario educators as they reflect on aspects of their own professional learning over the past month.  The broad prompt for the posts was “What Did I Learn Today?” and today Donna and Mark continued to encourage us all to make our own professional learning more visible and more collaborative:

We all have a story to tell, and we learn from each other. Together we are stronger and wiser. Connected learning takes many forms: observing, reading, asking, reflecting, writing, speaking, audio, video and collaborating. Connected learning and leading is a participatory culture. It takes time, time to jump in, time to create new routines and time to build comfort. Courage is needed to put yourself “out there” and find your voice. It is worth the risk to gain insight, broader perspectives and recognize that “the smartest person in the room is the room”.

from 30 Days of Learning in Ontario: What Did We Learn Today? (posted today, May 1st)

The Posts

If you did not have an opportunity to follow the 30 Days of Learning in Ontario, I invite you to relive the experience by reading and commenting on the following posts from the past 30 days!

As we advance into the month of May, the Ontario School and System Leaders Edtech MOOCommunity will move ahead to explore the topic of Digital Citizenship, and I look forward to following, and participating in, the conversations that ensue.

Join in by following @ossemooc on Twitter, by monitoring the #ossemooc tag, and keeping an eye on the OSSEMOOC blog.

The learning continues …

Let’s Look Behind the Cloud of the #ontsm Tag 16

“#ontsm Visualized” by aforgrave, on Flickr

There is a wonderful opportunity for Learners and Learning lingering behind this visual representation of participants who used the #ontsm Twitter tag over the past 60 hours or so. Dig into the conversations and tweets, and join into the conversation yourself.  While this cloud capture image was made last night, there’s a whole related, yet untagged story developing on Twitter today and the emerging collection of blogs posts that have arisen since yesterday’s Pearson social media “summit” event. More will follow.

While I hope to find the focus and the time to extend my thoughts again on this blog in the coming days, at this point I’d like to float out some initial points that (I think) folks need to let resonate a bit:

 What’s Going On?

  1. the traditional publishing industry is undergoing a need-to-survive process of redefinition in the age of the Internet, web 2.0+, and mobile devices; education publishers are part of this larger group
  2. social media is a rapidly growing force in our society, of which we are only beginning to understand the effects;
  3. educational institutions, governing agencies, and schools are at varying stages of an initial response to the recent advances in technology that are already exerting a massive influence on informal learning;
  4. connected educators are actively seeking and wanting to help education evolve in response to the same forces;
  5. the institutions of learning will be required to undertake the same need-to-survive process of redefinition that newspapers, the music industry, television, and other “published” media have had to address since the high-speed Internet connected world has arisen — post-secondary institutions are already at it — ask them about MOOCs.

I fear that too few educators and educational institutions are as yet actively engaged in real conversations about where formalized learning is headed in the medium-to-long term. (Envisioning where we’re headed takes research and focus, we don’t yet get support for Google 20% time for innovation in our line of work.)  Our parent partners and our society in general are not yet asking this question loudly enough — but one day, they will.  Our learners, from their own perspective, ask this question on a daily basis.

Economics and Learning

There is a not insignificant tension between the decisions made in an effort to influence / respond to economic pressures on one hand, and the laudable goal of educating ourselves and our children on the other hand;  one need only look at recent decisions within the province of Ontario related to the provincial deficit and contracts to see this at a superficial level. However dig below that and ask questions about how closely what schools do relates to the larger economic picture (standardized training for jobs, the factory model of learning, corporations the provide education content) and one can see that there is a close intertwining of the two. Stepping back and educating for the love of learning and creativity and art is hard to do from a standpoint of a business case. It’s much easier to design teaching for concrete results, than it is to create an educational environment that support learning for creativity.   Please note that I use the words teach, teacher, student, schooling distinctly from educator, learner, etc.)

Get Involved

The Pearson get-together yesterday was only one instance of a gathering of educators in one space where the beginnings of conversations about the future of learning, social media, technology, communities, pedagogies, business took place. Conversations at grass-roots edCamps are continual (to date, there have been eight instances in Ontario, edCampHamilton takes place this coming weekend), conversations at events like the annual ECOO conference (#ecoo13 bringITtogether.ca October 23-25 in Niagara Falls) are in preparation, and the conversation is ongoing during the in-between times at events like the annual August Unplugd.ca retreat in Algonquin Park. And of course these discussions occur all the time online, and at other events outside the boundaries of our province.  Anyone should feel that it’s okay to share their thoughts on these issues.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy to marginalize / ignore / dismiss / avoid that which we do not understand, or that which we fear, or not to focus attention on that great big elephant over there in the corner of the room in the hopes that it is just a figment and will go away if we wait long enough. It can be too easy to say, “that’s not my job,” or “that’s above my pay grade,” , or to feel ignored, or to delegate our collective responsibilities to someone appointed to “deal with it,” or, after countless attempts, to give up in frustration and stop trying to make a difference.  That we develop and exercise our voice as part of a collaborative effort remains one of the most important — and social — potentials that social media provides for us. For this reason, it is important — dare I say, critical — that educators understand and act to see that it clearly understood by our learners (and, by extension, society) as we move forward. Why should we let our learners be subject only to the dominant Voices of the traditional institutions and publishing agents? Should we not seek to empower everyone with an educated Voice?

Perhaps it’s time to see and ensure that our role as educators extends beyond the boundaries of our classroom walls — in the same way that we seek to integrate the external world within them.

Where is Learning going?

I invite you to join in this conversation, here, and with the authors of other posts written in conjunction with this event.

How About a Little Social Media for Your Learning? 1

This weekend, a number of Ontario educators active in the sphere of social media will be gathering in Toronto to converse about the role of social media in learning and in schools, courtesy of Pearson Canada.

Many of the participants are already known to one another through online interactions via social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and have had opportunities become familiar with the works of one another via blogs, online webinars, and other mediated means. But a significant number have also had the oh-so-familiar experience of meeting for the first time face-to-face, and in many cases have been gathering periodically in recent years at events like the OTF Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century conferences, the annual ECOO Conference (#ecoo13 bringITtogether.ca) or Minds on Media events, or get-togethers like the Google Apps for Education Ontario Summit, held this past Saturday and Sunday in Kitchener, Ontario.

“#ontsm OnYourMarkGetSetGo ItsNotARace” by aforgrave, on Flickr                                        (visualization of the #ontsm tag before the start of the event)


If you are interested in following the conversations via Twitter, you may wish to access one of the following:

Courtesy of the Martin Hawksey (@mhawksey) TAGS5 google script code, the tweets are being captured now and will be available as an archive after the event. There’s always lots of goodness in the raw feed. But I’m also hoping to tap into an online webinar that Martin is offering tomorrow, where he will be sharing some of his experience in unpacking the interactions stored within such collections of data — perhaps I’ll be able to share some insights coming out of this collection — in addition to insights that will no doubt come from the experience itself.

You know, the stuff that goes on in the interaction space between the tweets … 


Broten: Oxymorons, Verbs, and Grammar 3

“@Dalton_McGuinty must feel ashamed right now. #rally4edu” by aforgrave, on Flickr

January 3rd, 2013 was a sad day for Ontario Educators, for Education, and for the democratic rights of Ontarians.

Kudos to Dave Lanovaz (@DaveLanovaz on Twitter) for posting his open letter to the Premier of Ontario on his blog Thursday morning. Check out the conversations in the 65 comments posted there in the last 36 hours.

If you’re not from Ontario or haven’t been following the education drama here over the last few months, you can read details of Thursday’s news in Doug Peterson’s post, The Hardest Job, as shared on his blog Friday morning.

All in all, neither a Merry Christmas nor Happy New Year for those of us dealing with an unwillingness to budge on the part of the Minister of Education, her negotiating team, and the Liberal Government. 

However, on the upside, there was an opportunity for some language learning lessons for the Minister of Education, Laurel Broten (@LaurelBroten on Twitter), as reflected in a number of conversations Thursday morning on Twitter.  (Note that even though the Minister of Education’s Twitter account immediately followed a lot of Ontario edTech leaders when it was first created (who gave her that sage advice?), she has never once replied to any of my DMs or mentions. (Like the time on August 28th when I personally invited her and @Dalton McGuinty to come out of Queen’s Park and meet with us on the lawn during the #rally4edu.) Nothing. Not interested in listening or talking, I guess. 😥

So. On with the language learning opportunities for Minister Broten and the government:


In reflecting on the words Ontario’s Education minister yesterday morning, it seemed as if the actions of her government were at odds with the language in use.

Broten announced Thursday that the minority Liberal government will impose the contracts [collective agreements] on approximately 130,000 elementary and high school teachers under the controversial Bill 115 before students are set to return to the classroom on Monday. from CTVNews.ca

In seeking to provide a bit of commentary and perhaps some tension-breaking levity (thanks, Alana!), I posted the following update on Twitter.

Broten Oxymoron1

I was increasingly amazed throughout the day as my phone continued to beep and chirp every time someone retweeted or favourited the tweet. Imagine my surprise Friday evening when a Twitter summary email (“the following users have tweets for you”) listed that @msjweir, @mkgoindi, @tk1ng, and 37 others had RT’d the update. Seeing that, I clicked on the View Details button and grabbed this — four hours since the summary email had added another 20 odd additional retweets. Go figure. Another one popped up as I was writing this!

“Regarding that Level 5 Exemplar…” by aforgrave, on Flickr

I do my best folks. Every once in a while something like this resonates with people. I think we all see and understand the deep unintended irony inherent the Minister’s words and actions.

But that wasn’t all.


Broten also announced that the Ontario government will now move to repeal the bill – known as the Putting Students First Act – as it “has achieved what it was put in place to do.” from CTVNews.ca

Continuing in the soul-saving spirit of humour, @acampbell99 shared a definition yesterday morning of a new verb, “broten,”


This morning I received my latest copy of The New Ontario Education Dictionary of Words (it is updated daily), and, just to check, I turned to the appropriate page. And there it was.  (Coincidentally, this is quite an interesting collection of consecutive, yet somehow relevant words!!)

Pg 216


One final note. I thought I was having a conversation yesterday with the Liberal Press Office on Twitter.


In receiving the mention from the Media Office account (@LibPressSec) in response, I checked out their Twitter updates and found that there were perhaps 6-10 updates that were being posted, over and over again, directed at various folks who where clearly commenting on the day’s events. Rather than engaging in conversation with the folks posting on Twitter, the account was simply re-using the same statements, ad nauseam. The one that I received had a problem with the participle. (It wasn’t the only one with that error, but I saw it reposted over and over unchanged.) I don’t know if they ever #brotened it or not, as per my suggestion. They were probably not listening either.

However, now that these little language lessons have been carefully documented, I’m most certain that their learning will commence.

With over 130,000 educators in the province on the job, the government will be sure to get the message.