Friday, May 24, 2013

Pulling the Plug

As summer approaches, it's often the best time to reflect not only on the accomplishments of the passing school year, but to consider what it is that really matters most.  The UnPlug'd experience has always been about connecting in meaningful ways with co-learning teachers embroiled in a common lifelong mission as learner and leader.  And as much as that connecting with others does matter a whole lot, lately I've come to recognize the importance of connecting with my immediate world.

In the adrenalin rush that comes from being noticed, or from being invited to hang with the cool kids, or from having one's idea valued by others, we sometimes forget the reality that there are other people in our lives that are more important than those we may strive to impress with a witty tweet or an artful photograph, or a compelling blog post.  And even as surely as we treasure our daily lives with immediate family members, we won't be able to add full value to their lives, if we don't take care of ourselves first.

So, as summer approaches, I'm sensing the need to unplug... to go deeper, and to once again figure out who I am, and what I want to be when I grow up.  Seriously, having recently turned the page on 50 years, I can't help but wonder what else it is that I'm supposed to be doing, now that retirement from teaching is approaching like that stop sign just a few miles down the road.

It so happens that I'm also dealing with a mostly minor health issue that calls for me to 'stay out of the sun'.  As you might have guessed, I see hiding in the shade as a metaphor of sorts.  It will be a rare treat to be free from teaching online this summer, one that is calling me to be quiet on the social media front as well.  As one who commonly seeks distraction from distant folks I'm happy to call my friends, it will be no small feat.  Ironically, some of my shade will come from the withdrawal of what had been planned as this summer's UnPlugd13 summit.

In lieu of organizing an opportunity for others to forge deeper connections through, I'll be taking that time and attention to truly focus on my personal needs.  I'm going to spend a few months being still.  I will relish reading, in place of tweeting; thinking in lieu of blogging; meeting face to face instead of gathering in virtual spaces.

Before I take leave to my shaded hammock, I wonder:
What's your plan for rejuvenation this summer?

Friday, April 26, 2013

UnPlugd13: Fuel Your Passion

Who: Educators and their families
What: A summit for educators interested in making meaningful connections with colleagues while pursuing a wide range of creative and recreational pursuits.
When: August 5-8, 2013
Where: Northern Edge Algonquin
Why: Because we’re worth it!

Over four days and three nights, you will interact with kindred spirits who long to share stories and ideas amidst the natural splendor of Algonquin park.  You’ll be amazed at the meaningful connections you can make in an off-the-grid setting.

Whether your yearn to engage in rich conversation; to dive into uniquely Canadian recreation; or to dine on nutritious and delicious meals, you’re sure to find the unplugd13 experience to be rejuvenating in ways you’ve never imagined.

UnPlugd13 is limited to the first 40 participants, so if you are at all inclined to join us, visit the registration page while space is still available.

Learn More:
·       If you’re not yet familiar with the concept of learning and relaxing in an unplugged setting, consider visiting, or review photos and reflections of recent participants.
·       Follow past participants via #unplugd11 or #unplugd12.
·       Feel free to connect with me via phone, email or video conference.
·       Join in on the pre-event conference call for registrants.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Letters from the Edge

It's here!

'Letters from the Edge' is the collaboratively authored 'book' from this past summer's UnPlug'd 12 event.  We really struggled with the challenge of authoring a book that could be accessible by on any multi-media device, so rather than adopting a portable book format, we settled on HTML5.

Coding our book using modern HTML, results in a work that can be experienced in similar ways whether viewing on desktop, tablet, or smartphone.  The format also allows us to engage audio, video and photo elements to deliver a multimedia reading experience.

I encourage you to take time to savour our e-publication.  The letters were written and edited by educators from Canada, the USA and Australia who participated in the first international UnPlug'd event.  Video and audio elements were recorded at 'The Edge', our host site, which is perched on the border of Algonquin Park.

UnPlugd12 authors can be followed on Twitter and through the personal blogs which are highlighted alongside each letter.  Although the back-stories are known only to the participants, I'm sure that you'll be able to relate to the lessons shared between the pixels.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Personal Learning Neighbourhood

A few days ago, Ben Wilkoff posted From Network to Neighbourhood, a reflection on the cul-de-sacs of his personal/professional learning network. This morning I was walking when I received a message from Jabiz Raisdana who teaches on the other side of the planet.  His note prompted me to take a minute to reflect on some of the more distant members of my PLN.

There are many, many other educators with whom I engage in public (and private) conversations on a regular basis.  My neighbourhood/network was founded in late 2007 via Twitter, but has expanded many times since that time through a range of tools, experiences and events.    If you're still trying to make sense of Twitter and the role it may play in your own PLN, Keri-Lee Beasley and Jabiz Raisdana have just published Twitter - A Cultural Guidebook.  The book is based on Seven Degrees of Connectedness, and is available as a free download.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Visualizing Connections

The relationships we build with other online learners will vary depending on the frequency of our connections and the nature of our sharing and collaboration.  In this diagram,  I've drawn on my personal experiences in specific learning environments, in an attempt to highlight the intellectual and emotional connections I've made with colleagues.   

Although we don't often think about our professional relationships as being 'intimate' or 'emotional', over time I've come to value my online relationships far beyond the intellectual connection that first drew me to this online world.  

Is it possible to highlight such rich and evolving relationships in a personal/professional learning network (PLN) diagram?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

7 Degrees of MOOC

In one of the opening sessions for #ETMOOC, Alec Couros hinted at the ubiquity of network connections when he shared the link to The Oracle of Bacon.  That site, based on the Six Degrees of Separation, highlights the interconnectedness of the acting community.

I prefer to consider the range of connections within what many educators now refer to as the 'PLN' or personal learning network.  In recent months, I've done a fair bit of thinking about how educators in the online world experience at least Seven Degrees of Connectedness.

The 7 Degrees Infographic was collaboratively developed in an attempt to qualify the wide range of relationships we experience online.  My original blog post later led to this K-12 Online Conference presentation that goes into more detail about the tools and connections many are now familiar with.

Knowing that ETMOOC participants are engaging in many and varied experiences with co-learners, I'd be interested to know whether or not these stages resonate with participants.  For those new to blogging, tweeting and sharing online, it might be even more enlightening to revisit this infographic at the end of the course.

HOT OFF THE PRESSES: My colleagues on the eastern side of the planet have just released Twitter: A Cultural Guidebook which is based on the 7 Degrees of Connectedness.  What's more, it's a free download.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Wheels Within Wheels

"Wheels within wheels in a spiral array, 
A pattern so grand and complex, 
Time after time we lose sight of the way, 
Our causes can't see their effects."


#ETMOOC is Overwhelming. So, Let's Make Some Meaning
by Ben Wilkoff 

Like Spokes on a Wheel
by Rodd Lucier

Week One Graph through Social Media Research Foundation
via Marc Smith

Friday, January 18, 2013

Like Spokes on a Wheel

As the ETMOOC gets underway in earnest, many of the participants will be blogging about their learning, some for the very first time.  As participants draw connections between their ideas, these blog posts will rub up against one another, and like spokes centred on a common central idea, we'll all be able to move forward together.  This, in spite of the fact that reading habits, (and consequently writing habits) are changing.  These ideas led me to the two minute reflection below...

Related Posts:
We are Called to be Open Spokes in a Fidgital World by Ben Wilkoff
Imagining a Classroom without Blogs by Clarence Fisher

Photo credit: Spokes by kozzmen

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Projecting Anatomy

Many of my colleagues are making use of mobile apps as teaching tools, and it seems to me that more might give it a shot if they knew what it entailed.  Here I profile a few anatomy apps that are 'free' for a limited time along with the dongles that make projection possible.  If you coach or train as an athlete, or if you teach anatomy/health/fitness/biology, you might want to download these particular apps before the offer ends.


and don't forget to tell your friends about AppsGoneFree.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Making Connections as a Fidgital Native

Today, I connected the ideas of three distinct authors writing words 10 years apart from one another, on different platforms. Below, I use my voice, to highlight the connection I made between two invented terms: 'screenager' and 'fidgital'.

Consideration of that connection, led me to a new term: 'Fidgital Native'. I wonder if that phantom vibration in a student's pocket will be used as diagnosis?


 So, what did I connect?
  Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Pop Culture is Actually Making us Smarter by Steven Johnson
Welcome to Generation "Fidgital" by Katie Mcdonough
Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants by Marc Prensky

Does this lead you to consider any related connections you'd like to share?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wheelchair Dreams

My colleague Jim Pedrech may not realize it, but his sharing of a recent TED Talk has reminded me that the technology at our fingertips needs to be leveraged for tasks yet unimagined.  Just as Sue Austin has experienced something extraordinary thanks to a blend of assistive technologies, we need to encourage our students to use modern tools to invent, rather than to re-create.

After viewing my take, be sure to to take a few minutes to reward yourself by dreaming with:
Sue Austin: Deep Sea Diving... in a Wheelchair

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Secret to Finding 'Good' Free Apps

Have you ever wondered how folks know when good apps suddenly become 'free'?  My secrets are revealed in this short video.

Resources mentioned in this brief podcast include Free App Alert and AppsGoneFree. It's also worth visiting if you want to see which apps folks recommend, whether paid or free.

What's your source for finding apps that fit needs you never knew you had?

Microphone Extension

There are more than a few benefits to having an extended range microphone connected to your recording device. Items mentioned in this video include:

3.5mm MICROPHONE ADAPTER FOR iPad iPod iPhone;