For Most, It’s Still a Giant Encyclopedia

I've used this slide more often than not during my presentations:










I was thinking it was time to retire it but then I read this article in the Globe and Mail. It's basically a story about a teacher who's asking her students to do some research without using the internet. What I will say is I like a teacher who's willing to try new things and wants her student's to experience new things as well. She says,

"I want them to understand what they are perhaps missing with technology."

Fair enough. But when I read statements like this, I think she's missing something too.

At this age, they get stuck on Wikipedia being the answer to everything and they forget that people can be a really great resource.

I agree. Which is why I refer back to that quote. So the exercise goes on to talk about how kids went to post offices, called their grandparents all to find answers that were at their fingertips. Again, an interesting experiment that might lead to some good conversations. I think more teachers should be doing social experiments like this. But even as you Read the rest

The Thin Line Between Beauty and Sadness

I just watched the documentary Butterflies.

The film documents the lives of 6 youtubers who have found community, fame and vocation on youtube. Although the film is 3  years old, it captures the current state of social networks and online communities quite well. As I watched I had this weird ebb and flow of emotions. When they discussed how they've found others who shared common interests, developed some lasting relationships and have found a place to spark creativity, it made me smile. I resonated with much of what they had experienced. I've advocated for these same types of environments and opportunities for others. At the same time as they discussed spending 6 hours a day on youtube, being obsessed with subscribers and views and wanting to be recognized by strangers, I felt sadness. 

While I wanted to like the experience of these folks and point to their journeys as models for students to consider, I just couldn't get past their intent and motive. A few of them began as genuinely and innocently creating content out of personal interest and creativity, it seemed to quickly move towards a desire to be famous and a focus on themselves. Yes, they had Read the rest

The Importance and Seriousness of Silly

Saturday I was fortunate to be able to present at the Social Learning Summit for Classroom 2.0 and Discovery. it was a fantastic array of content which fortunately is all free and archived here. I've done plenty of virtual presentations before but this time I actually did it in front of 30+ teachers in New Brunswick

At any rate, this was a talk about an idea that I often allude to in my presentations but have never devoted an entire talk to it. Along with the help of some great friends, I shared some ideas about "silly". It's not the typical tool or how to session but there are some ideas here that I'm still working through and trying to fully understand. Like most of my work world, this is a sandbox presentation, playing with ideas and seeing if they resonate. You tell me. 

Blackboard Collaborate Presentation

Slide Deck:

 … Read the rest

So You’ve Decided to Follow Me on Twitter

I'll notice that during conferences, I'll often get a barrage of new twitter followers as a result of someone giving a presentation or workshop and suggesting to some new folks that I might be worth following. While it's kind and flattering that others might recommend me as someone to follow, I've always had some reservation about that. In workshops, twitter is shown as a powerful and great way for educators to connect with smart and like minded people. In many cases, these are educators new to the social networking particularly for the purposes of learning. The fear I have is that I represent the very reason many people think twitter is ridiculous. 

I frequently optimize the very essence of the banal tweet. 

So when a stranger reads that anticipating they might glean some insight or wonderful resource, they're likely a combination of disappointed, confused or annoyed. Sure, if you're following me, you might now by now this is par for the course. I will post the occasional mundane tweet but hopefully with a dash of humor or cleverness. Not always, but I try. If I bring a smile to someone once in a while, that means as much to me Read the rest

Pimp My Slide

I like design and I like making slides. We know that images can increase recall and understanding. You don't have to agree and this post isn't so much about convincing you of that as it is about the wonderful ways in which collaboration and push back can happen online and actually make things better. 

I've been thinking about the phrase which I have come to dislike, "it's not about the technology" I wanted to capture that idea in an image and began thinking about the way musicians use their instruments. Trying to find a name of someone who would be most recognizable I chose Yo Yo Ma. You don't have to acknowledge if you've never heard of him before because the image I found tells you all you need to know about his love of music and the cello.


​So I began with this:


After I posted it to flickr, Darren chimed in with this suggestion:


Try using a brown similar to the cello instead of yellow. You can use the colour picker in Keynote to do that.

Love the pic, and the quote.

I tried that and responded:

Tried your advice Darren

Read the rest