CBC Sask on Twitter

Jordan (a former student of mine) and I were briefly interviewed for a short CBC piece about Twitter. It is interesting to see the increased interest in the service by mainstream media, especially in the past several months.

Additionally, here’s an older piece from the CBC (March 2002) that discussed the implementation of highspeed Internet in every Saskatchewan school (was quite a big deal at the time). While there is a shared focus in the two pieces around connectivity, there is certainly a shift in what this means. In 2002, the focus here was in retrieving content/information. Now, the focus is much more on establishing human connections and social interactivity.

Connectivism & CCK08

It was our great pleasure to have had George Siemens as our guest in EC&I 831 on January 20, 2009. As requested, George gave us an overview of the changing views of knowledge in society, talked about Connectivism, and described the recent CCK08 experience.

The full Elluminate session was recorded and is available here. However, I have extracted George’s session (minus some of the course-specific conversation) into both a video file, and an audio only version. See below.

I want to take this opportunity to thank George for once again offering his time and expertise on these very challenging topics, and for engaging us in this presentation.

Enjoy!

366/2008 Project Complete

While mainstream media sites like the New York Times and Boston.com have already released their photos of 2008, they seem transfixed by the BIGGER picture. I say to you MSM, what about the photos that are most important to ME? Luckily, D’Arcy Norman inspired me (and many others) late last year with his 365/2007 photo project. I am quite proud and happy that I fully participated in the 2008/366 photo project. I took a photo each and every day of 2008, and managed to upload those photos daily as well. Here is the result of my work.

And here’s a direct link to the set if you want to see the description behind each photograph.

I have learned a lot through this project. I have learned tips and techniques that I think have made me a better photographer. I have learned a bit about myself in terms of my dedication and discipline to a project. I wanted to quit many times, especially on the days where I lacked motivation or inspiration. I learned to view the world differently and realized how many beautiful moments exist all around us. D’Arcy does a much better describing this through his discussion of “mindful seeing.” And, most of all, I learned what is most important to me. While we all take different meaning from the photographs we view, I am sure that from these photographs you can guess the things that are most important to me.

Thanks again D’Arcy.

And a Happy New Year everyone, all the best in 2009!

Talkin’ About School & Society

My colleagues, Dr. Patrick Lewis and Dr. Marc Spooner, are initiating a series of informal discussions that will hopefully help bridge the spaces between university scholars and the general public, and hopefully result in some very important conversations with people in our community. I am excited that I have been asked to lead off the first conversation which will be themed around “The New Interactive Classroom: Education, teaching & globalization.” See the official poster below:

Talkin' About School & Society - Poster

Come join us for snacks, drinks, and most importantly, conversation. Invite anyone who would be interested, and it doesn’t have to be people connected directly to education. We’re hoping for a great turnout!

This first event is scheduled for November 24/2008, 7-9 p.m. at the upper level of La Bodega in Regina, Saskatchewan. I hope to see you there!

Support Net Neutrality in Canada: Take Action!

I have posted about Net Neutrality in Canada before, but the issue has still not been resolved, and is currently in the hands of the CRTC. I received this message from the SaveOurNet Facebook group today with details of an upcoming decision.

In the coming days the federal communications regulator will issue a landmark ruling that has huge implications for Canadians’ access to the Internet. The CRTC decision will determine whether Bell and other big telecoms can continue to “throttle” Internet service.

Please take a few seconds to tell the CRTC to stop Internet throttling. Your voice could be the deciding factor!

Take Action here: http://saveournet.ca/content/take-action

The commissioners have already twice delayed releasing their ruling, suggesting that they are struggling to make a decision. We need to make it very clear to the CRTC which side the Canadian public is on. http://saveournet.ca/content/take-action

Until recently, Canada’s Internet was an open network – a level playing field for free speech and innovation. All that is now threatened by a handful of corporations that want to control a “gatekeeper network” in which they decide what content and services get the fastest access to our homes.

These companies have been caught:

• throttling or slowing Internet traffic to businesses and consumers;
• blocking access to websites that criticized them;
• crippling consumer devices and applications.

The upcoming CRTC decision will have major and long-lasting implications for our Internet. Our online level playing field of innovation and free speech hangs in the balance.

Please Take Action and invite your fellow Canadians to do the same!

Start here: http://saveournet.ca/content/take-action

I Can Has Neutral Internets

Please, do something. Do NOT take take our current level of freedom and access for granted.

Photo Credit: SMN

Why I Copyfight

Cory Doctorow recently wrote the piece “Why I Copyfight” in Locus Magazine. The short essay is insightful and discusses the relationship between copyright and culture, the disparity between copyists and copyright holders, and the reasons why people (should) continue to resist the tight restrictions of current copyright law. Some of my favourite snippets include:

    - “The existence of culture is why copyright is valuable.”
    - “… the reason copyright exists is because culture creates a market for creative works.”
    - “Content isn’t king: culture is.”
    - “Culture’s imperative is to share information: culture is shared information.”

Cory Doctorow

And the most common sense passage I have read in a long time regarding copyright law and enforcement must be:

It’s entirely possible that there’s a detente to be reached between the copyists and the copyright holders: a set of rules that only try to encompass “culture” and not “industry.” But the only way to bring copyists to the table is to stop insisting that all unauthorized copying is theft and a crime and wrong. People who know that copying is simple, good, and beneficial hear that and assume that you’re either talking nonsense or that you’re talking about someone else.

It is unfortunate that current copyright law is more transfixed on control and profit instead of culture and common sense.

Read Doctorow’s full article here.

What I Want For My Children

Cindy Seibel just linked to an excellent video at her blog “Technology for Learning“. Cindy says, “Every parent and teacher will be moved by what this parent asks of teachers and challenges other parents to do.” For me, this video is particularly important to me as my own little girl started preschool this year.

We bring our kids to school with so much hope, so much love, and so much fear. We ask and expect so much from our teachers, and this is why I feel so lucky to work directly in teacher education. I get to help shape the futures of our teachers with the hopes that they will benefit all of our children.

There was at least one piece of the video that was not agreeable to me. At 5:42, the video encourages us to “always believe that teachers want what’s best for our children.” At the more generalized level, perhaps. At an individual level, I do not feel that such blind faith would always be wise. For instance, I have had some teachers that have (seriously) scarred me for life. And I am not the only one. As parents, I think we need to use the other good points (like asking questions) to validate our hopes and beliefs for our chlldren.

The creator of the video is Heidi Hass Gable, do check out her blog. She’s done a great job here.

5 Year Old Boy Denied School Due To Long Hair

A five-year old Native American boy has recently been denied admission to Kindergarten due to his long hair (full story). The boy’s hair is kept long and braided in accordance to his family’s spiritual beliefs. The Needville School District does not allow boys with long hair to attend their schools.

Adriel’s parents want to enroll him at Needville Elementary School. Betenbaugh sent an e-mail to the principal, asking about kindergarten and explaining Adriel’s long hair. The principal replied that the district doesn’t allow long hair on boys.

On June 9, the family met with Curtis Rhodes, the Needville superintendent. Rhodes asked what religion upheld that Adriel could not cut his hair. The family explained there wasn’t a church or doctrine they followed, but they believe that Adriel’s hair is sacred.

Arocha said that his belief is to cut his hair after life-changing events, such as mourning the death of someone he loves.

Rhodes told the family Adriel’s hair would have to go.

I tweeted this story when I saw it a few days ago, and received this reply from Tim Lauer with the School Division’s website and motto “Reaching New Heights of Excellence.”

Here are notable quotations from the site:

We expect our students to exemplify that excellence through self-discipline, character, respect for ones self, and respect for others.

To the full extent of their individual abilities, students will be provided the opportunity to develop the ability to think logically, independently, and creatively and to communicate effectively.

All students will acquire a knowledge of citizenship and economic responsibilities and an appreciation of our common American heritage.

Enough said.

Update: Well maybe not enough. Bill Fitzgerald suggests that the following information may be useful. I will email the link to this blog post to the Superintendent. I also encourage you to pass along your thoughts on the issue.

Needville Independent School District
16227 Highway 36 South
Post Office Box 412
Needville, Texas 77461
Phone: (979)-793-4308
Fax: (979) 793-3823
Superintendent: Curtis Rhodes
Assistant Superintendent: Beth Briscoe