A Conversation With Severn Cullis-Suzuki

Severn Cullis-Suzuki will be our guest at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina this March 4th, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. CST. The title of the talk is “Education for Sustainability: Touching All Of Our Lives”. I will be live streaming the event at my Open Thinking Ustream Channel. We invite you to attend face-to-face or virtually.

Some of you may know Cullis-Suzuki from this viral video titled “The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes”, filmed in 1992 when she was 12 years old.

More information about the event can be found here.

No Child Left Thinking – Dr. Joel Westheimer

Dr. Joel Westheimer is presenting a public lecture at the University of Regina on Monday, January 25th, 3:30-4:45 (CST). I will doing my best to stream the event live via this Ustream channel.

Details of the session are found below.

“No Child Left Thinking: Democracy at Risk in Canadian Schools”
Dr. Joel Westheimer from the University of Ottawa will be delivering a free public lecture to the university and broader community on Monday, January 25th, 2010 3:30pm-4:45pm Education Auditorium (U of R) on the topic of social justice, citizenship, and democracy. His talk is provocatively entitled: “No Child Left Thinking: Democracy at Risk in Canadian Schools” .

Dr. Westheimer’s bio:
Dr. Joel Westheimer is University Research Chair in the Sociology of Education and Professor of Education at the University of Ottawa. He is co-founder and executive director of Democratic Dialogue. Westheimer teaches, researches, and writes on democratic engagement, social justice, activism, service learning, and community in education. He has published books such as Pledging Allegiance: The Politics of Patriotism in America’s Schools (2007) which Teacher Magazine called “this year’s most important education book,” What Kind of Citizen? Schools, Civic Education, and the Promise of Democracy (forthcoming, 2009), and Among Schoolteachers (1998). He also publishes widely in newspapers, magazines and scholarly journals and addresses radio and television audiences on shows such as Good Morning America, More to Life, The Agenda, NBC TV News, C-Span, NPR, and CBC radio. Westheimer has received numerous awards including:the 2009 Canadian Education Association’s Whitworth Award; an award for Education Research that honours an individual or research collaboration (research team or organization) who has made a noteworthy contribution to educational research in Canada, the Daniel E. Griffiths Award for Excellence in Education Research, the Jason Millman Award, and Outstanding Research of the Year Award from the American Political Science Association’s Division on Teaching and Learning. In 2005, he was named John Glenn Service Learning Scholar for Social Justice by theJohn Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy.

Update: The recorded session is available below.

An Open Access Journal is Born

We have just launched a new, open access journal titled in education. While the journal is set to cover various topics in the field, the first issue is a special volume focused on technology & social media. I was the guest editor of this issue, and you may want to read the editorial that gives an overview of the entire process, and outlines the contents of the issue.

I’d also like to use this opportunity to announce a second call for papers. The theme of the issue was quite popular, so we will be offering a second issue of the same theme to be published in Spring 2010. See the call for papers.

Please feel free to pass on the information. And, if you are interested in submitting a paper, please let me know. Thanks for reading.

We’re Back!!!

I was fortunate enough to teach EC&I 831 last year. It’s an online, open graduate course focused on educational technology. I had a wonderful group of students registered in the course, and before long, we had a wonderful network of informal learners that became an important part of the course experience.

And, we’re back! In fact, I have two open access courses running this semester. See ECMP 455 (undergrad) and EC&I 831 (graduate). In both courses, one of the main assessments is based on the reflection and development of a personal learning network (PLN). I am hoping that I will be able to help students build their PLNs, and have them reflect on the types of activities and experiences they have. I am hoping that their discoveries will help us understand more about PLNs, how they form, and their implications for teaching and learning.

In terms of the open access, in a nutshell, I am in a process of “thinning the walls” for my students. We began with private conversations about connectivity and networking (this is new for most students), and I am hoping that students will slowly emerge themselves in the more public spaces. Some have already taken the plunge and can be found on Twitter and in other spaces. If you look in the “participant directory” of each course site, you will be able to see their shared biographies. Some have already developed short introduction videos (posted to Youtube).

There will be synchronous events that may be of interest to many of you. To start with, in EC&I 831, Dr. Richard Schwier will be joining us Tuesday (Jan. 13/09), 7 p.m. (CST) to take us through a brief history of technology in schools. From my discussions with Rick, he’s got some really neat things up his sleeve and I know this will be a great session! I’ll be information on how to join this event (for those interested) via Twitter shortly before the session.

I invite you all to help, and would love if you could engage these individuals, help them with their questions and concerns, and support their learning. I am hoping that this will be an important experience for all of us!

Centre for Future Storytelling

The MIT Media Lab has announced the creation of the Centre for Future Storytelling through a Partnership with Plymouth Rock Studios.

With the establishment of the center, whose research program begins immediately, the Media Lab and Plymouth Rock Studios will collaborate to revolutionize how we tell our stories, from major motion pictures to peer-to-peer multimedia sharing. By applying leading-edge technologies to make stories more interactive, improvisational and social, researchers will seek to transform audiences into active participants in the storytelling process, bridging the real and virtual worlds, and allowing everyone to make their own unique stories with user-generated content on the Web. Center research will also focus on ways to revolutionize imaging and display technologies, including developing next-generation cameras and programmable studios, making movie production more versatile and economic.

Future of Storytelling

This is an exciting project and I look forward to the innovation and possibilities that emerge in the coming years.

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!

Busy Time Rants

I have been busy with a number of things these days. Here are a few thoughts on the what is happening.

re: TLT08

I just came back from the TLT 2008 conference in Saskatoon. It was an excellent conference, and much better than last year. Highlights for me include the amazing keynotes by Rick Schwier and George Siemens, and excellent presentations by Brian Lamb and Dean Shareski. Unfortunately, I missed the keynote by Stephen Downes, although I heard it was amazing. Luckily, I was able to catch breakfast with Stephen and Dean the first day of the conference.

I was a part of three presentations at TLT. First, I presented with Kyle, Vi, Tiffany, and Ashley regarding our Digital Internship Project. Second, I co-presented with the Edtech Posse (Rick, Dean, Heather, Rob) on “The Posse Round Up 2.0“. Finally, I presented again with Rob regarding the Graduate course we recently co-taught, EC&I 831. I am currently researching the process and outcomes of this course, and Rob and I presented some of our initial observations. It was great to have met, former students of the course, Cindy, Dan, and Shaun at the conference as well.

I was also very lucky to have finally met some terrific people for the first time face-to-face. Jen, Cindy, Brian, D’Arcy, Kirk and Kelly … you are all amazing people. It was great to finally meet you all in person, and I really hope I get the chance again!

I would also like to congratulate those that won awards related to course design at the conference. We have so many terrific instructional designers, multimedia developers, and instructors in Saskatchewan, and it is great to see many of you recognized for your hard work. Also, congratulations to the organizing committee for putting together a truly excellent conference.

On a less congratulatory note, to the people that continuously asked the question “what about the cyberpredators?” at almost every presentation, take some to read this or this or contact me, and I can help you get over this fear.

I would also love to have a conversation with the gentleman who voiced concerns (and then walked out) regarding teachers using decentralized funding to buy non-standardized equipment (as mentioned in Dean’s session) and the implications for sustaining technical support. I believe your point was that the purchasing should follow the institutional/division priorities. Here are my thoughts on this.

Start with division priorities that are focused on student learning and supporting innovation throughout the system. Let us forget the term “technical support” and focus on “innovation support”. Let us make the first term a misnomer. If a school division cannot (for instance) get Macs to play nice with a Windows network, your technicians are not doing their job, or they need to go back to training. Technology implementation decisions that are based on technicians’ lack of knowledge or vendor biases are not likely sound decisions. Divisions are learning organizations, and continual learning should be the expectation for all members. And if economics is the stated excuse, why not partner with other school divisions to increase cost-savings? Locking in to single vendor agreements to save tiny margins on the bottom line is ripping off your students, and IMHO, is inexcusable whether it is with Apple, IBM or CocaCola.

There is where I usually rant about open source software and free tools … but I will leave that argument for today.

re: ECMP 355
I am very happy to be teaching a May/June course to undergraduate students related to the appropriate integration of technology in the classroom. My students have begun blogging, and are starting to get the feel for it. Feedback and comments on their posts would be greatly appreciated, and you can subscribe to the ECMP 355 megafeed here.

For course interactions, we are using Moodle again. And, I do not believe it has been officially announced by the University of Regina is making a full move to Moodle from WebCT by Fall of 2009. I am happy to be currently testing the latest U of R release. If anyone would like to see the course, let me know and I will get you the guest password.

re: St. Louis
I am very excited to have been asked by Elizabeth Helfant to present at MICDS in St. Louis near the end of May. I will be speaking to English and History teachers (my original areas of study) regarding personal learning networks and technology integration. I can’t wait!

re: ICICTE in Corfu
I also have had my paper accepted for ICICTE in Corfu in July. I try to get back to Greece every couple of years to revisit my roots. This conference has been an excellent in the past and the venue is always on a Greek island. I highly recommend the country, the people, and the conference.

re: Life
Life is busy these days. I am currently in North Battleford, and teaching in La Ronge tomorrow (yes, on the long weekend) with our Community Based Masters of Education program. I am happy to have my family along with me for the rest of the trip and I am hoping to take some nice photos (and a few deep breaths) along the way. Northern Saskatchewan has much beauty to see. Here’s a shot I took near Battleford today.

Family @ Battleford Bridge

Yes, I am extremely busy with teaching, research, presentations, and family. However, life is good and as I reflected in my last post, I am a lucky, lucky man.

EC & I 831 Tour of Second Life

A bit more than a week ago, some of the participants of EC&I 831 , a few other guests, and I had the fortune to be led through Second Life with Kirk Kezema as our personal tour guide. I have not had much experience with this virtual world, and so I thought it was best to have someone with a better understanding lead the tour. Kirk was an excellent choice, and he masterfully led our tour group through various Second Life locations including:

    # Information Communications Technology (ICT) Library
    # Georgia State University
    # Discovery Educator Network (DEN)
    # Teacher Network Center
    # International Spaceflight Museum

Kirk has blogged about the experience here. I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Kirk for the wonderful experience. I know it took some time setting up the tour for such a large group, and it really helped all of us better understand the educational potential of the tool. Thanks again!

Shares(ki) Tells His Story

Dean Shareski was our guest in EC&I 831 this past Tuesday. Dean did an incredible job of sharing his story of virtual and face-to-face experiences with his “personal research team”. This team includes many well known educators, Dean’s colleagues, his students, family and probably you … the person reading this. Dean’s presentation was engaging, there were several lessons learned, and my students have reacted very positively in their own blogging spaces.

Dean’s Slide Deck:

You can also experience the entire presentation through the recorded Elluminate session.

Thanks again Dean. This was a terrific presentation, and you have represented yourself very well within the growing list of amazing EC&I 831 presenters.

History of Educational Technology (Dr. Richard Schwier)

We were very fortunate to have had Dr. Richard Schwier present to the students of EC & I 831 on the History of Educational Technology. Rick is a professor of educational technology and media at the University of Saskatchewan and he’s been one of the most influential individuals in my educational life. And as far as credibility goes, you need only to look at his long list of publications and awards to realize that the man knows what he is talking about.

The session was done in Elluminate and with Rick’s permission, I have provided several pieces below. The slides have been uploaded to Slideshare.net. I attempted to synchronize audio with the slides, but Slideshare just wouldn’t take the audio. I have also included a link to the Elluminate session. Finally, I have provided a video link hosted by blip.tv.

Slides at Slideshare:

Blip.tv Version:

Elluminate session and wiki page.

Regarding the Blip.tv Version:
I wanted a rich copy of the presentation in something other than Elluminate. Brian Lamb suggest blip.tv a while back and I have been hoping for a chance to try it out. I am sure there are many easier ways of doing the same thing on a Mac, but this was the process I used to complete the blip.tv version.

    1) I ran the Elluminate version, and isolated the part of the screen I wanted recorded. For some reason I wasn’t able to record the audio and video together, so:
    2) I recorded the video using Quicktime Pro (not free) pointed at Camtwist (free).
    3) I recorded the audio using Wiretap Studio (not free), a GREAT audio tool for the Mac.
    4) I combined video and audio in iMovie ’08, and exported as a (default) .m4v file.
    5) I uploaded this raw file (217MB) to blip.tv. It took less than 1.5 minutes to upload, and no conversion was necessary. I am incredibly impressed by this service!

If anyone runs into problems with the huge blip.tv version, let me know. I am in ideal conditions, as it is after 1am and I have the University network all to myself. I’d like to see how it performs for the rest of the world, I assume not very well.

Darren Kuropatwa – Day In The Life

My students, colleagues, and I are extremely lucky to have had Darren Kuropatwa as our guest this past Tuesday. Darren presented “A Day in the Life of a Teacher Teaching with Technology“. It was a wonderful presentation that seems to have really inspired the session participants.

Here’s a bit of what they are saying:

What a great experience in class tonight. Darren Kuropatwa is a math teacher who embraces technology in his classroom and shared with us his typical day (from start to finish!). He painted a wonderful picture and shared his class blogs, his insights, and his passion. Thank you Darren. (Cindy)

The presentation this week with Darren Kuropatwa was very inspiring. As the feeling of this new technology that we are learning is at times overwhelming, this presentation was a breath of fresh air. It was nice to see how this technology can be worked into the classroom. (Leah)

I have only one word to say . . . Thanks! I had the privilege of listening to a presentation from Darren Kuropatwa, who in my opinion, is an expert in the field of Educational Technology. . . this is very obvious!! He is someone that, in a perfect world, all educators would strive to be like. Darren (for those of you who don’t know) is a teacher who teaches a variety of grade 9-12 Mathematics classes integrating the use of technology to amplify student learning. In the eyes of a self-proclaimed ‘rookie blogger / techie’ , he is someone that I learned an awful lot from last night. (Travis)

We were very fortunate to have Darren Kuropatwa present to our EC&I 831 class last night: “A Day in the Life of a teacher teaching with technology“. I think I sat through most of the presentation with my jaw on my keyboard! He is absolutely AMAZING! (Connie)

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Darren Kuropatwa, an educator from Winnipeg. After witnessing how Darren incorporates technology into his classes I am giving him the label of ed tech guru. What he is doing within his classroom is exciting, cutting edge, engaging, etc, and that is through the eyes of an administrator. (Dean)

I agree. Darren is an amazing, innovative, and inspiring teacher. But don’t take my word for it.

See the session summary, view Darren’s slides, or view the Elluminate session recording.

Thanks again Darren!

EC&I 831: Upcoming Ed. Tech Grad Course

I am really excited about this coming semester. About a year ago, I received a Technology Enhanced Learning grant to begin creation of an online, Graduate-level, educational technology course. The result is EC&I 831, and here are just a few of the details.

    - I am developing the course with the help of Rob Wall who we’ve dubbed the “social capital philanthropist” for this educational experience.
    - We have an enrollment of 30 students, about twice what is usually expected in an online Graduate course, so Rob’s role will be especially important (no pressure, Rob).
    - We are trying our best to use as many free and/or open forms of technology as possible. Blackboard/WebCT were never options for the course. Exposure to and use of open, free, and social tools is a priority.
    - We have a tongue-in-cheek course trailer made up entirely of public domain video footage.
    - There are both synchronous and asynchronous components of the course. The synchronous components will take place Tuesdays (presentations/conversations) and Wednesdays (hands-on sessions).
    - And probably most exciting is our amazing lineup of presenters for the duration of this course. Presenters will include (couple yet to confirm, in order of appearance) Darren Kuropatwa, Richard Schwier, George Siemens, Sharon Peters, Dean Shareski, Clarence Fisher, Stephen Downes, D’Arcy Norman, Brian Lamb, and possibly others. There were many more I wanted to ask, but I know I am so lucky to have these individuals participate.
    - All sessions will be recorded and available. The course will be entirely transparent and open.

Throughout the course, we will be looking for ways to participate within the edublogsphere. If you have an edublog that would be of interest, please add it to the wiki.

To find out more details about the course, check out the course wiki (more info to come soon), subscribe to the course blog, or contact me.

I have very high hopes for this course. Please wish us luck!