I finally get Instagram

Like most new, emerging social media tools, I'm willing to give it a shot. Instagram has been around for a bit and I downloaded the app soon after it was launched but as a pure photo app, didn't really interest me. I found Camera+ for example to offer better tools and effects that met my needs and workflow better. In fact I became annoyed with the filterization of every photo taken with instagram. Watching people posting their filter filled images took me back 1997 when I introduced PowerPoint to grade 7's and saw them create slideshows using every transition, font and animation. Add to the fact that Facebook purchased Instagram and my lack of interest in that space, I had no reason to use the app. 

But I finally figured out, it has nothing to do with the app. Duh. 

Last week I keynoted the Saskatchewan Middle Years Conference. After sharing two keynotes and 3 workshops I had a woman come up to me and tell me, "I finally get you". Of course I asked what she meant but she said she uses twitter somewhat sparingly and was told to follow me and yet was confused but how I was … Read the rest

What makes a Great Online Presentation?

With K12 online conference 2009 under way, it leads me to ask what makes a good online presentation? How do  you create compelling online content that can and will be reused. Remember these are not live sessions but rather presentations in a variety of formats intended to be used in a variety of ways by a variety of users. That's challenging to say the least. I applaud anyone who tackles such a task.

Since its inception in 2006, it's been interesting to see the presentations evolve. The decision last year to go to a more "TED-like" format was a good one in my opinion as it  addresses the amount of content in the conference but also gets presenters to get to the point. Twenty minutes is long enough in any context but on the web it's particularly daunting to keep folks interested.

There have been a number of delivery models and to be sure, and a clear winning style has not been established. However, there are a few concepts that seem to work, at least for me.

While it's hard to separate content from design, here are a few presentations that use some techniques that I think make … Read the rest

7 things you might not know about me

Angela, Barbara tagged me and I’ll oblige.  I thought I had already done one of these but I guess it’s slightly different.

With the amount of sharing I do, I’m not sure if there are 7 things people don’t know about me, but knowing I’ve likely broke the TMI rule several times, here goes:

1. I never planned to go into education. I began my
undergraduate studies intending to go into journalism.  During my first
2 years, I spent time helping in a church pre-school program (I have no
idea how that happened). Several people recognized my love of kids and
suddenly I did too. Having a blog has rekindled my love of writing.

2. I took my daughter with me to University. I was married at age 20. We had our first child 2 years later while we both attended University. My daughter was born 3AM on a Saturday and I wrote a final exam at 9AM that day. The following year was my last year of school and when the babysitter bailed, I’d cart her to class with me. I don’t recommend it but it worked for us.

3. I taught grade 1 for 6 years. … Read the rest

The WOW factor still matters

I’m not sure if this says more about my social life or my connected life but whatever. You can judge for yourself.

So it’s Friday night, my wife is out watching my girls perform in Annie. (I’m really a good parent, I watched them on Saturday I just don’t need to see it three times). So I find myself watching Jeff Utecht in Bangkok on his computer, streaming his former colleagues in Shanghai gathering together on a Saturday watching presentations from K12 online.  You may have to read that sentence twice to get it.

Jeff held a similar event a couple of years ago.  2 years ago, streaming video was not readily available but Jeff did record some of that event for viewing after the fact.  Today, streaming video is as easy as email. But Jeff had to do some fancy configurations to stream his Skype call from Shanghai back to Bangkok out to the world. I was concerned that the internet might break at any moment. Jeff has a reputation.

As much as I live this stuff everyday, there is still a WOW factor here. The WOW of an almost seamless discussion with people who care deeply … Read the rest

I’m sure I’m doing it wrong

According to many definitions of good teaching, I don’t qualify:

  • I don’t clearly state objectives
  • If I do state them, they are as fuzzy as all get out
  • I have a hard time measuring student progress
  • My course syllabus changes almost daily
  • I never use tests
  • I constantly stray off topic

There are likely a multitude of sins I have not listed.

Here’s what best summarizes my teaching approach:

Me can be swapped for students. Thanks D’arcy for the graphic.

This is what I want for my students.  While I have many shortcomings, I’m good at finding smart people who are willing to spend time with my students and share what they know.  I’m also blessed to have a number of people in my network that willingly comment on my student’s blogs and encourage them to reflect and learn.

As I work with teachers in K-12, I’m bound to work within a structure that values grades, systematic growth, accountability, and to certain degree uniformity.  Without going into all the details of the implications of these values, I don’t discount them all and work to extract the aspects of these ideals that are most beneficial to students. Some days that’s hard.  … Read the rest