Vision


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


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

“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.


Conversations about Unplug’d: Canadian Education Summit 2011 2

Unplugd 2011

Unplugd 2011

by Andrew Forgrave and Kim Crawford

This past weekend, 37 connected educators from across Canada gathered in Toronto for the Unplug’d: Canadian Education Summit 2011. While we shared a few initial hours getting to meet one-another face-to-face within the relative comforts of the Toronto Westin Harbour Castle hotel, after a few hours sleep, we boarded an Ontario Northlands train to South River, Ontario. From there we travelled 22 kilometres into the bush to the Northern Edge Algonquin resort. Off-the-grid (solar power only), and no Internet.

Unplugd11: Journey

The Journey to Unplugd11

The purpose of the summit was to allow us to gather and explore present-day issues and themes within education. Each of us came from various backgrounds in education, prepared to share and discuss an important-to-us element in education. The resulting work will be shared over the course of the next few weeks. But the relationships that were made, extended, and strengthened have a wonderful potential to take the Unplug’d 2011 experience even further.

Unplugd11: Conversations

Conversations at Unplugd11

Over the the next while, Kim and I will be reflecting on this amazing experience. Won’t you join in the conversation?

First Topic:
Unplugging to Connect (publishes Friday, August 12th)

Kim’s unplugd11 photos on Flickr
Andy’s unplugd11 photos on Flickr


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


The Future is Already Here 7

DougPeteTweetDeckThe Future is Already Here … it’s just not very evenly distributed.
William Gibson
Attribution

Listen to the NPR Interview Nov 30, 1999

Ontario educator Doug Peterson (@dougpete on Twitter) sent out a tweet yesterday morning which immediately caught my attention, “Just blogged: Great opportunity for Ontario Teachers. Yesterday, the Ministry of Education announced …”

A short link through to Doug’s Off the Record blog had me reading about the immediate availability of a new piece of OSAPAC-licensed software for use in Ontario publicly-funded schools, Bitstrips for Schools.  The Ontario Ministry of Education, supported by the direction of OSAPAC, had finalized licensing arrangements to procure a modified-for-education version of the existing Bitstrips, and was announcing that the augmented site was ready-for-access by Ontario teachers and students. Not only would the modified version provide an “education-friendly” environment, but it would also include an easy-to-use management framework.

Here’s my first attempt with the software (with a small measure of editorializing thrown in for spice):

TheFutureHasArrived

So, as referenced in piece above, shortly after reading Doug’s post, I was on the Bitstrips For Schools site. Within mere moments, I had activated my account, created a class grouping, and set up my student accounts. (The registration page included a drop down selector for school district, and then school — it then validated against my district email account. Easy Peasy.)

And it is in this ease-of-access that I find a profound potential.

The ease with which Ontario teachers can access this new software application, with all of its attendant student-collaboration potential, is unheard of in my experience  for an OSAPAC release. (Certainly the local implementation of Gizmos, for example (another OSAPAC-licensed web-app) — and the attendant user codes — have yet to make their way out into our schools from the district office. Not sure what’s up with that.) Granted, some teachers may require some support and/or training to make use of this software. Finding an appropriate curriculum context will also be important for others. But there’s no doubt in my mind that students will take to this with ease. The fact that it requires NO installation or subsequent technical support on the part of district IT departments, however, really strikes my fancy. And the ability for students to access the web-app from home, bodes well for where we need to be going. As an initial case-study, I see this as a wonderful indication of what is potentially to come. If the easy registration of teacher accounts and subordinate student accounts (as established via OSAPAC/EDU) works in this application, then it paves the way for OSAPAC and the Ministry of Education to employ the same strategy in rolling out other web/cloud-based applications. The sooner, the better. A provincially-licensed blogging or writing process tool, anyone?

Granted, this may run the risk of being potentially perceived by some as a bit of a challenge to local district edicts/policies — if they’re not already onboard — but I hope not. After all, the times, they are a’ changing. With eLearning providing education directly to some students in their homes already, we all need to be looking forward and embracing the aspects of educational technology that can truly work to empower learners and educators alike.

As for the Gibson quote, there’s no doubt that the uneven distribution of the future remains a significant issue for us all to wrestle with.

But I,  for one, applaud OSAPAC and the Ministry for their vision in taking this step forward. This act clearly demonstrates the potential for a more even distribution of the future moving forward …  🙂

What are your thoughts?  Is this a good way for OSAPAC and the Ministry to keep moving?