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Showing posts from 2011

Travel in the Future

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My wife and I are heading off to Europe this year, specifically to Italy and Germany.  It’s quite an undertaking to plan such a trip.  I’ve talked to quite a few seasoned travelers to garner their wisdom about flights, hotels, car rentals, places to see, and to borrow Frommers travel guide books, etc.  But to be honest, without access to the Internet, I’m not sure how we would plan a trip like this.  We wouldn’t be able to do it without a travel agent/expert.  Note that the castle in this picture is located in Neuschwanstein, Germany and influenced the design of Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland, cool hey.  After a short stop in Munich, we will drive to this small German town, near the Austrian border, and begin our Romantic Road journey through various medieval towns.When my wife and I planned our honeymoon over 26 years ago (yes, I’m getting old), I recall us consulting with a BCAA travel agent.  They helped us figure out which cities to stop in and hotels to book, along the wa…

Be Amazed

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Every so often I just have to pause to contemplate the awesomeness of our world.  Technology has certainly brought the world amazing tools and services.  I’m reading an historical fiction book “The Seekers”, book #3 in an 8 book series.  The story is set in the late 1700’s, early 1800’s in the newly formed USA.  At one point a young couple migrates west down the Ohio river, acquires 20 acres, builds a crude cabin, begins to clear land, plant corn, and own a cow.  The harsh lifestyle is astonishing.  I suspect that most of us in the developed world take for granted what we have and enjoy.  Those early settlers lived on corn mush and semi-sour milk, every day, every meal.  Their cooking, bathing, clothing, labouring, entertaining capacity was very poor.  To reach the small village near the fort to trade with others, they walked four miles through harsh terrain.  At least they had ‘central heating’ for their cabin, a fireplace!  Think about the impact of central heating and electricity o…

The Technology Adoption Challenge

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People have optimal learning paths involving diverse means and difference paces.  Taking that to heart should drive us to personalize learning for adults and students wherever possible.  For years, society has accepted the efficient path of teach to the middle, keep to the schedule / pace, etc.  Not only in K12 classrooms but most places training or learning is offered.  In adopting technology, I’ve learned that we must differentiate the learning of the tool, in a real context, and at a pace suited to each individual.Technology for learning is gaining new emphasis and importance in education systems world wide.  In British Columbia our government recently published the BC Education Plan.  This lead message sets the stage for change:“our education system is based on a model of learning from an earlier century. To change that, we need to put students at the centre of their own education. We need to make a better link between what kids learn at school and what they experience and learn i…

The Seduction of Technology

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My wife and I love to go for walks in the woods, by a river, lake, or the ocean, or take our bikes for a ride in a park.  I like to get out and hike mountains (nothing too serious), and mountain bike ride deep in the woods up in the mountains.  There is something surreal about being connected to nature, away from the distractions of our smartphones, computers, tablets, TVs, and PVRs.  Actually we don’t have a PVR or cable channel package.  Good ol’ rabbit ears and a $40 digital to analogue converter gives us about 6 decent channels of digital HD for free! But I digress…  I wonder what we as a culture, a society, have lost or given up, by being so intertwined with our technology.  It has literally invaded all aspects of our lives.  You might be wondering why I, a person so passionate about, amazed by, and engaged with technology would even be thinking this way.  Well, I like to consider all angles of most topics and technology is no exception.  I become concerned about increased Techno…

Leading Through Extreme Change

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Do any of you feel like we’re in times of extreme change?  If you don’t, you must be living in an alternate reality!  I talk often about how change is exponential.  When we look back hundreds of years or even 30-40 years, things didn’t feel like they were changing all that quickly.  But now, when we reflect back just a single year we can marvel at what has changed, in particular how technology has changed how we do things, enjoy things, play, interact, work, and learn.  Notice the green (exponential) line in the graph.  The leading edge is history past where change was almost unnoticeable in one’s lifetime while we are now likely at the sharp up-turn point of change.“If you make some very logical, and even conservative, assumptions about where technology is likely to lead in the coming years, much of the conventional wisdom about what the future will look like becomes unsupportable”, The Lights in the Tunnel (Kindle 222)I’ve been in my current role in with Coquitlam School District fo…

Through the Technology Looking Glass

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“[Alice] ponders what the world is like on the other side of a mirror's reflection. Climbing up on the fireplace mantel, she pokes at the wall-hung mirror behind the fireplace and discovers, to her surprise, that she is able to step through it to an alternative world.  …Upon leaving the house (where it had been a cold, snowy night), she enters a sunny spring garden where the flowers have the power of human speech”, Wikipedia Nov 27, 2011.I participated earlier this week in an #edchat where people from all around the world weigh-in on a topic via twitter.  It’s kind-of like some other world, it’s not “real” rather it’s a virtual exchange of ideas.  It’s an exhausting experiencing trying to keep up to the rapid stream of ideas and to contribute your own.  I dropped in a bit after it started so am not entirely sure of the specific topic but I believe it was a question of whether technology improves or is essential to learning, teaching, and assessment. I also dropped in on a 1-day co…

A Purpose for School

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This fall I have been supervising morning recess for Kindergarten to grade 5 kids at a nearby elementary school. Although this is a disruption to my day and an inconvenience to how I schedule my work, it’s also an interesting experience. When the bell rings, hundreds of little people converge on the play ground and field with smile filled faces, energy, noise, and a determination to have fun. It’s hard to explain but this positive energy transfers quite well and I feel energized because of it. I sometimes wander into one of the Kindergarten classes to see what they’re up to. The other day, I saw lots of paper (painted) worlds hanging from the ceiling. Some of the kids told told me they learned what was inside and outside of the earth. I asked if the inside was made of “cheese” or “chocolate”, and one little person confirmed it was “chocolate”. I apologized to the teacher for messing up her lesson for that student. :-) There is relentless talk and endless books telling us of needed cha…

Ideas and Innovation

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Take pause for a moment and consider the vast sea of ideas active in our world right this second…  Can you picture it?  At any given time, billions of people collectively generate billions of ideas.  Unfortunately, most ideas never leave a person’s head or are only ever shared with a family member, or perhaps one or two close friends.  Ideas die prematurely every day because they are not able to take root in “fertile ground”.  Ideas need to mix with other ideas and they need to encounter support and experience conflict to survive and grow.In our increasingly digital world, ideas have never had it so good!  When a person chooses to enter in and engage with others in online spaces, it’s like a veil is lifted for them and they see what was hidden from them previously, a connected sea of ideas.  You can see the mixing of ideas take place through Twitter, Blogs, Wikis, Youtube, TED, Google +, Facebook, and hundreds of other interesting spaces.I’ve just started to read “Where Good Ideas Com…

Learning Exposed

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I’m impressed with how quickly the K-2 teachers involved in our District’s Making Learning Visible project are becoming both skilled documenters of early learners AND skilled users of digital tools for documenting.  Their purpose with this work is to collect and record learning events and experiences, to build a narrative from documentation to reflection.  Some of the purposes for digital documentation they are working with include:stimulating and supporting narrative illustrating a point providing evidence of learning opening up a conversation sharing an experience understanding a situation more deeply asking questions such as “What is going on here?”, “What have I missed?”, “What do I need to explore?”, “What’s the next step?” Digital documentation is “more than decoration”, “more than posed photographs”, and “useful in formative assessment”.  These teachers have had rich conversations about supplementing and / or replacing formal reporting to parents.One teacher shared how she vide…

Equity or Equality?

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There are clear examples of inequality in our midst.  This morning I was reading some articles about poverty levels, lack of access to clean water, millions of Americans and others pushed in recent years from the middle to the poor class (2008 meltdown), and the 10’s of thousands of Japanese impacted by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  I wrote about greed and the economy a few months ago and the news and the blogosphere are rife with articles about unequal distribution of wealth, food, property, education, disasters, and opportunities.  History is replete with stories of people living with inequality.  In my assessment I would say the gaps are increasing not getting smaller.  Public education has definitely been a reasonably successful equity builder over the years.  But I would not call education an equalizer.  Nothing in our world is that.I was having a tweet-convo yesterday with a colleague about the inequity that schools and communities face in British Columbia.  He express…