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:

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.


Finding a Voice … On the Radio 7

About fourteen months ago, while following an online Elluminate conversation about MOOCs between Alec Couros, Dave Cormier, George Siemens, and Stephen Downes, someone made the comment, “Jim Groom should run his ds106 Digital Storytelling course as a MOOC.” I chased down Jim Groom (University of Mary Washington) on the Twitter and the Internet, and learned that the next session of his course was scheduled to start up in January, 2011. With the best of intentions and a new year’s resolution, I formalized my de•tri•tus blog as a repository for elements of the creative that might emerge from any participation. Little did I know ….

While it quickly became clear that my time was limited for daily participation in the ds106 course (at the time I was already deeply involved in The Daily Shoot, which could easily engage me for an hour a day, or more!), I followed the course tag #ds106 on Twitter, and very quickly noted the appearance of something called #ds106radio, the brainchild of Grant Potter from UBC. To say that it quickly became all that Jim Groom seemed to be tweeting about might be an understatement (not an overstatement), but ds106radio quickly took on a life of its own.

Fast forward to August 2011 and the Unplug’d: Canadian Education Summit. Two longstanding ds106radio participants, Giulia Forsythe and Bryan Jackson, were at the summit, and before we knew it, a broadcast to ds106radio was going out to the world via the Papaya Broadcaster app on an iPhone — (this was after the unplug’d part, as we were busing our way back south from Algonquin Park on the 400 highway). Zoe Brannigan-Pipe, Kim Gill, Heather Durnin, Stephen Hurley, and I were all amazed at the ease with which this could be done.

Shortly thereafter, I started to get into the ds106radio streaming gig (@zpbipe’s husband Brad and I debuted with a couple live guitar tunes at midnight on August 12th), and it was a short week or two later that Stephen Hurley and I had an extended conversation about ds106radio in Hamilton, following a dinner meet-up with the cross-North America travelling Alan Levine. Standing in the car park before heading off in our respective directions home, Stephen and I contemplated the unique venue that radio “broadcasting” creates — similar to, but different from podcasting, given that there are no re-dos and “live” is a significant part of the experience. We talked with excitement about the prospect of bringing the ds106radio experience to the public school level.

"#ecoo Guitar Jam" on Flickr, by aforgave

Okay, so “live” is a big part of radio. But there must be more than that. How about community? How about voice?

Just as the blogging medium seeks to engage readers with conversations, listening to familiar voices on a radio stream evokes imagination and stories and listener participation. When listeners can “speak back” in real time via Twitter (as is oft the case with #ds106radio), the folks on the radio easily tie the disparate listeners together in living conversations. Add in the ability to broadcast call-in Skype conversations (say from Tokyo, @scottlo), or host Name that Tune competitions (@shareski and @GiuliaForsythe), or live guitar — or other sounds (@BryanJack and @noiseprofessor), or spontaneous day-to-day life (@DrGarcia), or cross-country treks and conversations (@CogDog), or living-your-dream radio shows (@StephenHurley) — and you truly have a living community. As members migrate around the globe and explore new experiences (@onepercentyellow, currently in Peru, or ds106radio founder @grantpotter, recently in Halifax for his birthday Kitchen Party broadcast), the community shares with one another. Some of my favourite new music in the past year has brought to my attention via #ds106radio by @easegill from the South Pacific. The voices of the folks involved, as is oft the case with traditional radio, become capital-letter Voices that are influential in our day-to-day lives.

And so. An evolving, collaborative, sharing community. That’s what we’re looking for in our learning spaces, yes? Another way to give voice to our learners?

As we continued to explore the #ds106radio medium through the fall of 2011, Heather Durnin and I had a number of conversations about the possibility of creating an extension to The Idea Hive, the learning space that she shares with Clarence Fisher. Contemplating timelines, we talked of getting things going in the new year, and following a good number of Sunday afternoon Skype and Twitter conversations over the past few weeks, 105thehive.org was recently born. We joked about how it was as if #ds106radio had had a child.

Heather talks about her first experience going on the radio in her post, “105theHive Student Radio: A New Learning Space,” and her story is not unlike my own. Going live on the radio is one of those experiences that, having done it, gives you another level of comfort in sharing and collaborating. Trepidation, perhaps, the first time, but the community is supportive. And that’s what we’re looking to create for our students. A supportive space for them to develop new skills and voices. Whether it be playing an instrument, offering some personal thoughts on some favourite music, sharing views through a live conversation, or posing questions for the listening community, “going live on the radio” is valuable venue within which to explore, create, and find a voice.

So. Heather’s students will be taking the lead this coming week, with their first live broadcast set for 12:00 noon (EST) on Tuesday, February 28th. I’m hoping that my own students won’t be too long in joining them. Broadcasts can be recorded, and will, over time, form the basis of a collection of rotating content. In the interim, should you tune in to 105thehive.org (like right now, you know you want to!), you’ll be treated to a continuous stream of music, much of it shared under Creative Commons licensing.

Listening is as simple as loading 105thehive.org in your web browser and clicking the “Listen to the Stream” link. If you want to go fancy and use a streaming client app like FStream or Tunein Radio on an iDevice (or Tunein Radio for Android), simply use the URL 105thehive.org/stream/ to listen in.  Or, if you’re here, you can simply click on the play button below to hear the current stream:

So, please, do tune in — come and join us !! We’re excited to see where 105thehive will take us!

Logo for 105theHive.org

on Twitter:  105theHive


The Day Without Technology

The Day Without Technology

My youngest son and I had an interesting conversation this past Sunday as we were leaving the arena after his speed skating practice.  Rather than sitting in the bleachers fiddling with my iPhone as I am usually wont to do, I had instead just completed 20 exercise laps (walking) around the perimeter of the rink. During the 20 laps,  I listened to music on my iPhone, posted 3 messages to Twitter, and on my final pass, recorded a video of the loop for subsequent sharing. I figured that was an acceptable improvement over my usual practice.

But maybe not. It would appear that my continued use of the iPhone technology for walking is still problematic. Check out this conversation:

The Day Without Technology

So, the Saturday in question is tomorrow.  That gives me about 150 minutes now to make use of technology, and then I’ll be off for 24 hours.

[Subsequent to the recording, we negotiated that my use of technological amenities around the house for basic human needs is permissible, but not electric lights once it get dark. Also, apparently, cameras fall into the “not okay” list, so I’ll be foregoing pictures, too.]

However, I’m certainly looking forward to tomorrow. I’m guessing that my son will be less enthralled with his technology tomorrow, too. :-)

 


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.