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.

Internet Addiction?

Several people I know have recently confessed of their perceived addiction to the Internet. I do not think this diagnosis can be described as broad as “Internet addiction” without getting a better understanding of what exactly draws them to connect (e.g., socialization, information, gaming, combinations of these, etc.). In any case, I believe that addictions associated to existing and emerging technologies are real, and understanding these will be of increasing importance to educators, parents, and our youth.

Internet Addict!

Chinese doctors recently “released the country’s first diagnostic definition of Internet addiction” in the midst of increases to psychological disorders attributed to Internet overuse. The country will officially designate hospital psychiatric units to treat cases of Internet addiction.

So, do you fit the bill?

Symptoms of addiction included yearning to get back online, mental or physical distress, irritation and difficulty concentrating or sleeping. The definition, based on a study of more than 1,300 problematic computer users, classifies as addicts those who spend at least six hours online a day and have shown at least one symptom in the past three months.

See full article here.

Update: There is a better article on the same development at the Times Online.

Photo Credit: nataliejohnson

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.

Video Explaining the Internet from 1995

I find this quite interesting. Parts of this video make me feel like we have come a long way in these past 13 years, while others make me question if things have really changed in any significant way. via Waxy Links.

Lately, I’ve started collecting old VHS tapes about the Internet from the early- to mid-1990s. While most of these are pretty corny — think Gabe and Max’s Internet Thing — they also inadvertently captured pieces of the web that don’t exist anywhere else. The Internet Archive’s earliest snapshots were in late 1996, so anything before that is extremely sparse. The videos, silly as they are, still represent valuable documentation of the early web.

I spent most of the day yesterday working on a workflow to digitize VHS tapes, settling on VCR to MiniDV camera my Macbook Pro with Firewire. These tapes are pretty worn, so the quality’s not great, but that almost adds to their charm.

See many other related videos here.

The Web Is Agreement

The Web is Agreement is a fantastic hand-drawn poster by Paul Downey, created on behalf of Osmosoft for the 2007 BT Open Source Awareness Day.

The poster, drawn in the style of the Lord of the Rings’s Map of Middle-Earth, delineates the various pitfalls along the way of creating an open source, creative commons work on the Web.

The Web Is Agreement

Visit the original size image on Flickr for a better look.

Paul Otlet – Tratado de Documentación

This is a short but interesting video describing excerpts from Paul Otlet’s “Tratado de Documentación”, the Book on the Book. This work seems to predict multimedia content distribution much in the way the Internet currently provides.

From Wikipedia:

Paul Otlet also aimed to extract “substance” from books much like we strive to separate content from presentation on the Web, and then cross-link this substance with other contents and automatically provide enriched combinations in ways unforeseen by the original book authors. This vision is strikingly similar to Tim Berners-Lee’s late-1990s concept of the Semantic Web.

The video on Otlet fits really well with this ad from Nokia titled “The Essay”.