Perseverance


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)

#edCampPTBO
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

 

 

 


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.


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:

Oxymorons

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.

Verbs

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,”

Broten_verb

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

Grammar

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

LibPressSec_Grammar

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.


Reflecting on Steve Jobs … 6

Steve Jobs Tribute Haiku

We learned this evening that Steve Jobs has passed away. The founder and visionary leader of Apple, Inc. had announced a month or so ago that “the day had come when he could no longer fulfil his obligations at Apple, and that the time had come for him to step down.” Having been on medical leave since January, the news suggested that his health concerns had continued. And now we know that must have been the case.

To combat the sombre tone of the news, I chased down some music reminiscent of Steve’s vision and dreams, and together with a recording of his 2005 Commencement Address to graduates at Stanford, and shared a broadcast on #ds106radio at around 9:00 pm. During the broadcast, some thoughts and memories started to emerge. I’ll share those thoughts in a subsequent post. For now, here are some excerpts from selected lyrics from the playlist.

“When you dream, what do you dream about?” 
—  from When You Dream by The BNL

 “A man has dreams of walking with giants
To carve his niche in the edifice of time
Before the mortar of his zeal
Has a chance to congeal
The cup is dashed from his lips
The flame is snuffed aborning
He’s brought to rack and ruin in his prime.”
— from A Man Has Dreams from Mary Poppins

“Birds singing in the sycamore trees …
Stars fading, but I’ll linger on …
Sweet dreams till sunbeams find ya …
Dream a little dream of me …”
— (excerpts) from Dream a Little Dream of Me by Louis Armstrong

“I’ll give you panavision pictures, ’cause you give me technicolour dreams …”
— from Technicolour Dreams by The Bee Gees

“Cheer up, Sleepy Jean.”
— from Daydream Believer by The Monkees

“…take a sad song, and make it better …”
— from Hey, Jude by The Beatles

Steve Jobs Commencement Address, Stanford 2005

YouTube Preview Image

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” – Steve Jobs, 2005

Think Different*

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

The words from Apple’s Think Different campaign seem to describe Steve Jobs to a T.

We’ll miss you, Steve.

* Gizmodo has a great Steve Jobs Tribute Video based on the “Think Different” audio.

 

 

 


Unplug’d 2011: The Change We Need

It is clear that many significant and long-lasting effects will result from Unplug’d 2011: Canadian Education Summit 2011.

Chapter 1: The Change We Need

However, one of the early and tangible products to emerge from Unplug’d 2011 will be a multiple-format publication, “Why ________ Matters.”   Comprised of a series of short essays written by unplug’d delegates, the book shares the unique perspectives of each participant, and gives a compelling voice to educators from across Canada.

The first chapter is titled, “The Change We Need.”  I had the wonderful pleasure of working together with 5 other Canadian educators on this section of the book. Together with Lorna Costantini (St. Catherines), Darren Kuropatwa (Winnipeg), Shelley Wright (Moose Jaw), Jaclyn Caulder (Penetanguishene), and Chris Harbeck (Winnipeg), we collaborated to produce this first chapter, which releases this week. My contribution, entitled “Why Self-Direction Matters,” appears within (as PDF) (ePub).

To accompany each chapter release, groups selected one personal narrative to illustrate the chapter’s chosen theme. Our group was unanimous in selecting Shelley Wright’s piece, “Why Social Justice Matters.” Her story appears below. I encourage you to listen to Shelley as she tells a story of remarkable student-led engagement.

Isn’t that an amazing example of learners engaged in a real-world task? Wow. Shelley’s students’ project truly exemplifies The Change We Need.

Subsequent chapters of “Why _________ Matters” will be released online according to the following schedule:

Chapter 2: Voices and Choices  week of August 22nd
Chapter 3: Shift Disturbing week of August 29th
Chapter 4: I Wonder  week of September 5th
Chapter 5: Creating Conditions for Change  week of September 12th
Chapter 6: Empowering Self – Empowering Others week of September 19th

Print copies of the publication will be available this fall.


New Tech Comes To Education … Slowly, But Surely 1

I’ll be honest up front — this won’t be an overly long post. For one, I’m not sitting at my desk/keyboard in my comfy office chair. For two, I’m writing this post on my iPhone, via the oh-so-wonderful WordPress app [get it], which let’s you do such magic. And for three, you may infer from the timestamp on this post and from the subsequent (yet to be written) paragraph What I Should Be Doing Now — instead of this. [For another reference to What I Should Be Doing — check out Should Be Sleeping ]

Google Doc on iPhone

Rather than go off on a tangent about a recent conversation concerning teenagers sleeping with their cell phones, I’m simply going to state that I decided to undertake a bit of bedtime reading this evening (morning) before firing up aSleep [get it] and heading off to Dreamland. And given that my grade partner and I are planning on meeting tomorrow to discuss the essays which our respective classes of grade 7s are currently working on, I figured I’d take a look at some of the work that my students shared with me earlier today (yesterday). And so I simply fired up Safari on my iPhone, logged into my class’ GoogleDocs site, and started reading. Shared with me, you see, not by printing out a piece of paper which I would have had to have carried home and had sitting here within reach, but rather shared with me electronically. And, in a number of instances, shared with me electronically from the students’ homes, after school, as they each completed working on their writing according to their own timeline!

Now I realize, for some, this won’t come as a grand revelation. As previously discussed, Yes, The Future IS Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed. But, for all my years of forays into the intersection of technology and education, I’m still finding the combined capabilities of these converged/juxtaposed technologies to be all quite magical. Adding to the realization that I can read my students from-their-home submitted work from-my-home on my phone, came the complementary acknowledgment that I could also blog about it, including an image of a doc (note, too, that I have removed the student name — on the iPhone — using a simple iPhone app called iRetouch [get it]) without leaving the extreme comfort of my current reading location/posture.

Providing feedback on the writing will need to wait for morning, when I can access the full editing capabilities of the full Browser interface. But the reality is that New Tech IS coming to education — and that is a good thing. Granted, at this point, it’s my personal iPhone and the setup-by-me Google Apps site that’s bringing this future a bit closer. But my principal is supportive of this direction, and is actively working to get us a half-dozen Netbooks to further allow our students to collaborate in new ways. So the Slowly, But Surely is happening. And other pieces will fall (or be contrived to fall) into place.

What does it take to help these changes come about? Some research. Keeping an ear to the ground. Trying to see new evolutions and how they might help learners (and educators) go about the wonder of learning in better ways. Finding support. Collaborating. Championing innovation. Persevering. Not settling for the Status Quo. Pushing the Envelope. Reflective Practice. Beginner’s Eyes. Yada Yada Yada.

[Appended: Being Willing To Try. Being Willing To Do. (Yoda Yoda Yoda)]

I’m conscious that I would prefer to have some inline hyperlinks up above for a couple things, and that I’ll place them below for expediency, along with the pic (auto appended by the WordPress app). I’d also likely apply a but of text formatting, were I writing this full-bore at my desk. But it’s time to launch aSleep. Good night.     NOTE: Dec. 16th, 2009.  This post was enhanced (links added, bit of text formatting) via desktop/keyboard.

iRetouch app

aSleep app