Learning and Influence

This post is from Mary Palin, Tribes Master and was originally posted at Tribes.com.

forkinroadTo learn requires ‘influence’; to influence others requires knowledge (a synonym for ‘learning’).

Right now, an online discussion is tweeting: the 31 day game. Two educators in Canada (one is also a Tribes TLC trainer) designed a professional learning game that promotes making a choice between two educational realizations. The first game challenged players to make a choice between two compelling videos; the current game considers cooperative learning strategies. Participants are forced to make a choice between the two.

Local CallIt’s not easy! You might think so, since both of the choices are really good. But that’s not the hard part; what’s hard is voicing one’s opinion – out there for all to read and comment on. That statement is ‘influence’; maybe it will influence others, maybe it will influence a retort, maybe it will influence a challenge to justify.

7-29-05 SlatsJust like in a classroom, there are potentially more who observe, watch, sit, or remain silent than those who actively participate, voice opinions, ask, or dispute. Inclusion is easy and inviting and comfortable. Community is a celebration, a feeling, an event. Influence is a challenge, a risk, and one cannot truly learn without it.

Typically, when implementing the Tribes TLC process, “influence” is identified as the opportunity for problem solving, decision making, valuing diversity and resolving conflict. But isn’t that also reminiscent of “learning”? When one learns, whether it is a concept, a skill, or a process, doesn’t that also involve some problem solving, decision making, valuing diversity (other ideas) and resolving conflict – both internal and external? I can tell you from my own recent experience of learning how to ride a motorcycle that it is most certainly is about ‘influence’

she's not zulu I don’t want to do anything stupid or embarrassing or wrong. But if I want to learn, then I have to risk making mistakes, being challenged, and defending my actions and reasons.

Just like those players in the 31 day game; the more we share, ask, challenge, and ‘tweet’, the richer the discussion and the more we learn from each other. So whether it’s in the 31 day game, the classroom, on the playground, among peers, or around the dinner table; be aware that your ‘influence’ is also a potential for others’ (and your own) learning. Plan your response, and before you say (or tweet) it, make it concise and thoughtful.

In Rodd’s (31 Day Game architect) words, “It’s a relatively simple idea that hinges on participation. You really will learn more if you engage in conversation, than if you worry about having the right answer…”

How ‘influential”!
Joris holds court

EdBookClub: Diving Deeper Into Learning

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Mónica and the turtle (Red Sea)Have you ever wanted to enrich a conversation with more credibility and dept of thought? Bringing this type of change is kind of like the difference from going to the beach, to going swimming on the surface of the water, to going snorkeling or scuba diving and seeing the beauty that is hidden beyond the eyes of the others. On a hot summer day many people trek to the beach with coolers of food and drinks, volleyballs, frisbees, and sunscreen. If you will, beach dwellers enjoy the view of and breeze from the water. Fewer people take the next step to actually go into the water and swim. The swimmers enjoy the cooling feeling of the water and feeling power of the water as waves crash into them. However, still fewer people actually get beneath the surface of the water, beyond the shining reflection of the sun, to see what is inside the water. This smaller number of people might snorkel or scuba dive to get beyond the surface, to see the life and the beauty that is within the water. A small group of people have formed an edbookclub to enrich the conversation on twitter by diving deeper much like the scuba diver who tries to see the life and beauty that is within the water.

What is edbookclub?

Basically here is how it works, Kelly or I send out a tweet asking if anyone has a book that they’d like to read as part of edbookclub. These suggestions are gathered and if there isn’t consensus, then an online poll is created to see what book we will read. Once the book is selected a schedule is posted at edbookclub.com that outlines when we will discuss specific chapters. Anyone can join and people who are interested just tweet that they want to read along and we put their twitter names on the list at edbookclub.com. Then as we read the book, each member of the book club tweets their thoughts, questions, comments, connections, and respond to the ideas of others with the tag: #edbookclub. Using this tag allows others to follow the conversation about the book, it kind of threads it all together.

Honestly, for the next part which is the best part you need to download the podcast! There is additional sharing by Kelly, Lisa, Travis, Danny, Euen, Len, Tom, and Yoon!

Extending a Digital Footprint: Stories of my Grandfather

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Grandpa Allaer and Ben planting a tree

CurvesInteraction with Grandpa happened in fields, over chess boards and with pointed fingers. At one point about 20 years ago, Grandpa decided that he could kill two birds with one stone. He wanted to have clean fields and spend some time with his grandchildren. So Grandpa would captain his well maintained Buick into the yard to pick my brother and I up, with the back seat full of Allaer grandchildren. When the Buick would stop at a field, with a cloud of dusk in it’s wake, the doors would open and the mess of us would stumble out of the car under the hot afternoon sun. Grandpa didn’t pull weeds in the morning with the discomfort of dewy soybean leaves. He also didn’t approve of using a standard issued garden hoe. Hoes only cut off weeds, they don’t get rid of the problem. The weeds were the public enemy number one, and we were the James Bonds of weed pullers. We were told to sneak up on the velvet leafs, sneak up on the lamb quarters then pull them out at the base of the plant and carry the soon to be dead stalk to the end of the row of soybeans to throw it out of the field. These actions would surely save another soybean life. But we learned. We learned that nightshade is the enemy, that garden hoes are for the lazy and to get a weed out you needed to get it’s root. We learned not to take the weeds of life lightly and they needed to be taken out at the root.

ChessQueen check is a term that anyone who has played chess with Grandpa has heard. When playing chess the most valuable piece is the king. If you’re king is killed, game over or ‘checkmate’. When you are about to kill your opponent’s king, you must warn them by saying the word check. It is the only piece that you must provide warning before taking. The second most valuable piece is the queen, which is a powerful piece. When immersed in a game of chess with grandpa there is likely to be a flurry of activity, which knights, rooks, and pawns darting precisely across the board. It is also likely that Grandpa will have captured most of your pieces in the process. Yet before grandpa would capture your queen he would warn you by saying ‘Queen Check’. Then promptly after pronouncing that your powerful Queen was in trouble, he would win the game. We learned playing chess with grandpa. We learned to lose. He is a merciful man who has no mercy when playing the game of kings. We learned to be honourable, to be upfront with others. We learned to compete hard but always show respect to opponents.

Grandpa Allaer and GrandmaAnd have you ever had Grandpa point at you and ask to you come over to talk to him? Have you ever sat across the table from him as he pointed to you? There would be a smirk in his eye and smile beginning to unfurl on his lips. When grandpa points he has a unique crook in his finger that the pointer (grandpa) uses to confuse the pointee (you) about who he is actually pointing at. And he smiles and laughs. We smile and we laugh. We learned. We learned to not take yourself too seriously. We learned that regardless of the imperfections that you have, it is important to have the grace to laugh at yourself

He instilled a strong work ethic in his children and grandchildren. He was an example of strong faith. Grandpa thank you for being a strong example. Thank you for teaching us life’s lessons. We learned to sneak up on life’s weeds. We learned to live honourably and with grace.

Grandpa Allaer

Top 5 Soft Tools (as of Spring 2011):

Bowl of cloudsThe internet has changed everything. As we move toward the future, generations are beginning to grow up never knowing a world without having almost every computer in the world connected together. This idea will be threaded throughout this list of the top tools as of right now (Spring 2011). Rodd Lucier, hinted toward this in his top 10 list, and when I questioned him on choosing a program, Keynote, that only runs on one type of computer, Apple, he asked me what would be on my list. The following collection of ideas is my response to his inquiry.

Why is this list called ‘soft tools’? Specific hardware devices, hard tools, are now feeling like a personal preference (e.g., iPad vs Dell laptop, Android vs iMac). However services, apps, and programs, or soft tools, that function across different devices are increasingly important. For me, a pre-requisite for a tool to be essential is for it to be connected to the internet or as it is sometimes ambiguous called: the ‘cloud’. This was reinforced recently when I purchased a new laptop on the way to a meeting. Usually, to configure a laptop to my liking it was a multi-day process. However, I turned the laptop on for the first time as the agenda began. By the time we were reviewing minutes from previous meetings, I had connected to the internet, aka the ‘cloud’, and accessed all my documents needed for this meeting without installing anything. So here are my top tools:

#1: Cloud Notebook: Evernote

Evernote2Evernote is my new notebook. I use it at all times. Previously, I used a paper Moleskine notebook religiously. Ever since setting up Evernote (yes I’m a premium member) I rarely write down things in my notebook.

One way I use Evernote:
– I rely on my notebook as an extension of my memory. Digital notetaking is something that I’ve tried from time to time with limited short term success. However, none of these solutions were long term solutions. I’ve began to use Evernote as my digital notebook, and something felt very different. The fact that my notebook (and notetaking capabilities) were available on all of my devices and computers in any location that I needed access was a key difference. My notebook might be packed in my laptop backpack, but my iPhone is in my pocket and I can find a note or make a quick jot note in that moment.

Another way I use Evernote:
– Using a paper notebook is great as it has tonnes of features: no batteries, no confusing interface issues, looking cool with my moleskine black book. However, my paper notebook had one huge limitation, to use it effectively, in this digital age, I had to use it with my laptop. Each entry is dated, so to find something in my notebook, I have to do a search in my digital calendar first then find the notes in my paper notebook. Then once I find the note, I usually find reference to digital files on my hard drive from presentation files to spreadsheets to pdfs to digital media. The only link in this chain that isn’t digital is my Moleskine notebook. Now with Evernote (the premium version) my notes are side by side with the digital artifacts by embedding all the content, files, photos of physical items, and todo checkboxes. Not to mention that time stamps, tags and search make finding items much easier.

Yes another way I use Evernote:
– The final way that I use Evernote is to share my notes with others. Sometimes I’m taking notes that affect others or need to be shared. Paper notes are quite limiting to share, but the email feature (yes, a simple email feature) allows me to quickly share notes as well as any attachments that are embedded in the note.

#2: Cloud Platform: Chrome or Web Apps within the Browser

ChromeThe window to the internet is very important, it has to be fast responsive and play nicely with sites and web apps online. Each of my laptops and computers (from Dell to Sony to Apple PCs) all use the same browser. Using the same internet browser helps keep my head straight, and its minimal interface is really helpful to keep the focus on the task at hand instead of the browser itself. So if you want to use the internet as the platform that will run essential computer tasks then a safe, secure, fast, and automatically updating browser is essential. Chrome is that browser. The Chrome Web App store is the source for these web tools.

One way I use Chrome:
– One way that I’m using Chrome, on all devices is by installing common web apps such as Weebly and Tweetdeck. No longer am I asking if a program is available in Windows or Apple version. Weebly is a website building tool that is housed entirely online. This program has been what I’ve used to create the unplugd.ca site. By using a web app that runs in Chrome, I’m able to update the site quickly regardless of what computer I’m using or my current location. Tweetdeck is a tool to view and update my twitter account. By running right in the Chrome internet browser my perception is that it is faster, uses less of my computer resources and doesn’t clog my task bar or dock with another application icon.

#3: Cloud Productivity: Google Suite – Docs, Gmail, Calendar

Create a New Form in Google DocsThe cloud is also a source of productivity tools, and my favourite suite of online productive tools are from Google. Google docs, email and calendar tools allow for the internet to run the program and for synchronous sharing of ideas, information, and authorship. Now I can log onto any computer and get a full suite of programs that don’t run from my laptop but from the internet. These programs are even able to run on my iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad through the internet.

One way I use Google’s suite:
– Calendar sharing is one way that I use the Google suite. I maintain a calendar and am able to share it with all those effected. I also get to see calendars from others who share with me. Previously this type of functionality was available to big corporate types with large IT teams supporting these programs. Google calendar has brought this to the ‘rest of us’.

Another way I use Google’s suite:
– Using an online suite of office tools (like word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more) allow me to work better with others. I am able to share folders, content, and files with others who are working on other projects. Just a few of my joint projects that I use Google docs to share and jointly edit content are: my pickup hockey league, a board of directors, a department at work, volunteers part of a local 10K race committee, and a focus group that I coordinate with shared agendas. No longer is there a question about which document is the most current. No longer is there a question about who has which file. No longer is there isolation of files that could be lost if a hard drive crashed.

#4: Cloud Communications: Skype

skype 2 videoThe internet and data allows no cost voice and video communications, including group conferencing, for those with a data connection. Skype, is the new ma Bell, and has become a verb. “We need to ‘Skype’ each other” has replaced “Give me a call”. Grandparents no longer just hear their grandchildren, but see them and make eye contact. Priceless. Actually sans price. Free.

One way I use Skype:
– I have used Skype with many groups to run meetings via audio conferencing. The unplugd.ca committee uses Skype to coordinate this upcoming project with people that are at a great geographic distance without any cost. Previously, just to coordinate many people who were in different geographic regions would require a budget for communications. Now groups like the unplugd committee can bring ideas forward at no cost.

Another way I use Skype:
– Skype also allows low cost phone calls to be made to ‘traditional phones’. When on the road this is ultra handy. No longer are phone calls to my boys at the mercy of large hotel charges or cell phone long distance bills. An internet connection allows me to make these calls for pennies.

#5: Cloud Storage: Dropbox

Dropbox LogoHard drives in ‘the sky’ are ultra important for two main reasons. Hard drives, all hard drives will die and having another copy of a document outside of the original computer means files live on after hard drives die. Wouldn’t it be great if your ‘my documents folder’ was on every computer you use? Using Dropbox the files/folders that you select are synchronized to the internet securely and to other computers of your choosing.

One way I use Dropbox:
– Cloud storage has personally saved my bacon. A few years ago I was in the midst of writing my thesis for my Master of Education. Right as I had some great content my computer died, the Apple Genius diagnosed the cause: a hard drive crash. My first thought was one of panic. What do I do? What about my thesis? I’m sunk! Then I remembered in the store that I had synchronized my thesis to an online storage space. Within 10 minutes I had my thesis downloaded. Phew.

+1 Cloud Content: Creative Commons

One more thing… the ultimate source of online content for use in a variety of circumstances is the vast online audio, images, text, and video that is licensed as ‘Creative Commons‘. This allows content to be used within the parameters that the creator outlines. That is huge. No need to be NBC to have access to media that will convey a message. No matter what computer, what program you are using, or what message you are conveying, you are able to access and use rich content from the cloud.

cloud computingSo there you have it, my top 5 +1 for spring 2011. I limited myself to only sharing resources that run in or use the cloud for functionality. Why? Because if it isn’t in the cloud, it might not matter. Because if it isn’t in the cloud, the tool will depend on how fast your individual computer is at the current time. Because if it isn’t in the cloud it is tied to a specific location. Sure there are specific programs that are required for specialized reasons. However, I think that the applications that most people use most should and have been proven to be in the cloud.

Your thoughts?
What is your list of top program/tools?
How have you used the tools that I have shared?

Tallest Building In Town: Serving Our Communities

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Our Lady of Help Church 4 by Herman Giethoorn
One warm summer day, I rode shot gun while my grandfather, then in his mid sixties espoused wisdom to me, his 11 year old grandson. We were driving toward Wallaceburg, which is a small town at the heart of the Great Lakes in southwestern Ontario, Canada, with the windows open in his mint Buick. The wind flooded into the car and through our hair as we both surveyed the trees and buildings that emerged above the green canvas of maple, oak, and ash leaves. My grandfather said to me, “Ben, do you know what the tallest building is in Wallaceburg?” And before I could respond, he answered his own question, “it’s the catholic church.” Sure enough, we both spotted the steeple to the catholic church well above the trees. I remember seeing the steeple, and noticing that at this moment in the 1980s, it wasn’t the tallest anymore but that a larger structure had grown up. My grandfather wanted the tallest structure to be the church, and it had been, but it wasn’t anymore.

I was recalling this memory recently, and thinking of how the tallest structure in town may be a reflection of what a community values. Might the addition or removal of ‘tallest’ structures reflect changes in society? In Wallaceburg during the early 1900s the tallest structure in town was Our Lady of Help Catholic Church. This certainly reflected the importance of the church’s role within the community and its importance. I wonder what the schools were like in this time period, how did they reflect the values in this community with a tall steeple presiding over the trees.

As the 1900s progressed, industry came to Wallaceburg including the brass and glass factories. The tower of glass factory eventually rose up, in prominence, importance and was higher than the church. Economic expansion changed the shape of the skyline, how they perceived themselves, and their town. Education did not lead to these changes, instead it reflected these changes and supported them. A secondary school was build and started to develop workers for these factories, tool and die shops, and related industries. The steeple from the church was still tall, but was reminder to its past prominence. The tall structures from the factories were reflected in the machine shop classrooms, summer jobs, and future ambitions of the students.

Wallaceburg is no longer a small but mighty industrial power. The glass factory has left, its tall tower dismantled. The tool and die factories have been reduced in size and number. The brass factory, which spawned locally famous musical groups, has gone. However the school still has the machine shops, retired glass blowers sell pottery and these relics, like the tall steeple remind us of the import role each played in years past. However, now as I drive toward Wallaceburg, now with my own son riding beside me, I point out the towers. I point out the steeple of the Catholic church. I show him where the glass factory used to rise above the canopy of maple, oak, and ash leaves. However, neither of us can miss the new towers in town. Cell towers showing the new prominence of communication, data, and connection. We check on wikipedia for information about the glass factory, using data from the cell towers, and I wonder how schools will adapt to reflect the new values that these towers reflect in this community.

Professional Learning Games: The Network That Plays Together Stays Together

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dee for three by romsrini, on Flickr

Each March there is a special time that captivates me. For a Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday I follow games from teams that I’ve never heard with players that I’ll never see again. There is something about the drama of a game. I’m not really into basketball, I prefer football, hockey, and baseball before basketball. However there is something that captivates me about this tournament.


What if a single elimination tournament came to professional learning? That is the idea behind the first ever educational Professional Learning Game (PLG) on Twitter. The person behind this is Rodd Lucier, you may know him as the Cleversheep, who also pioneered synchronous education professional chat on twitter with educhat well before the dozens or hundreds of current incarnations that live in twitter land today.

What is it?

The 31daygame is the first ever education Professional Learning Game. Where participants use twitter to “make a forced choice between the two competing ed’n themed videos. Which is the most compelling?” Over 31 days, the tournament will take place on twitter with the winner of each day moving on to the next round. (Here is the tournament bracket).

Untitled by Jess Rivera, on Flickr
Why it matters:

First, it is time to stop taking ourselves so seriously. The game context is interesting, and may keep the attention of people, who like me, enjoy tournaments, sport, and gaming. Are we going to have to make a choice? Yes. Will that hurt feelings? I hope not. I can take myself too seriously, especially online. This game is a way to bring playfulness into professional learning and do it in a social context. Lets adapt a saying from my childhood which was, ‘the family that plays together stays together’. What if we developed the principal that “the professional network that plays together stays together”?

The droids we're googling for by Stéfan, on Flickr

The second reason this matters is that it helps to uncover and expose us to more valuable content and ideas. Have you noticed that the internet is a huge place? There is too much to see and miss lots of this ‘stuff’? A professional learning game that forces us to choose between two items means that we need to consider both items. Ever tried to google search for ‘education videos’? I have, it is brutal. But if I play the 31 day game, I’ll be seeing 32 different piece of content (about something like education videos) that may be useful to me in my practice.

Her rash hand in evil hour by valkyrieh116, on Flickr
The professional learning game doesn’t just expose us to content, it helps find interesting content. Curation, which is often discussed by Jeff Jarvis, is something that the online education community needs. How do we cut through the clutter of google to find items of value? Must we rely on traditional educational curators, like publishers, researchers, and government organizations? In the information age, there is a greater need for curation. A professional learning game that harnesses the opinions of other educators may be a helpful curator and make online content more accessible to a wider audience of educators.

Finally, the most important thing about a professional learning game is that making a choice leads to reflection and professional understanding. The question, especially since the votes are in public, becomes what do I value and why? Am I willing to publicly commit to a choice, and what does that say about my professional identity? The criteria for making the choice is based on the purposefully ambiguous term: “compelling”. Since the criteria is not defined clearly externally, it is within each of us. As we vote, we uncover our own criteria that we value that is exposed when we make a choice.

So this March you will find me sitting on a couch with some popcorn kernels in the bottom of a bowl, and a laptop open beside me. I’ll be watching games involving 2 teams I’ve never seen before in the wee hours of the morning fueled by a half empty glass of Coke Zero and the adrenaline from the game. However, the laptop will be on the 31daygame. I’ll be watching education videos, making choices, reflecting, uncovering new learning and all while I’m playing a game.

Ears in the Water: Assessment for Improvement

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about the impact of assessments that are based on criteria versus percentiles and norms.  My thoughts about how all assessments don’t equally help students improve were kick started with smell of chlorine, beside the flutter boards at the local community pool.

The din of mothers with their babies and preschoolers splashing in the pool accent most Saturday mornings at the local pool.  Mothers and tots are led through actions and an awkward singing of such classics as ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ and ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’.  During these mornings you will find me sitting against a wall near the shallow end, with a towel on my lap, watching my four year old learning to swim.

Boris zwemlesThere are several parents, each living vicariously through the 5 little guys kicking, jumping, and splashing in front of us.   I know it is silly, but each time my son is asked to do a front glide or a back float with the teacher my attention builds and I mentally ‘will’ him to do well.  Each kick and turn leads me to hope that he will have improved since the last lesson. The parents act like a support group.  Red faces are evident when their child refuses to attempt something and each person has uttered the phrase, ‘it is weird, he loves the water when we are at free swim’.  After we all look away for the requisite moment, we murmur ‘it’s OK’ and ‘it gets better’ to the parent.  And when the teenage instructor handed my child a piece of paper that had water drops and smudges by the time it arrived on my lap, it only took a second to realize what it was.  My son had just received his first report card, although this was his mid-term swimming report.

The mid-term report card had about 20 different items listed and each was rated as complete, needs improvement, or incomplete.  I pretended not to care.  I tried not to look at it, you know it isn’t that big of deal.

What if the report had stated that Liam, my son, was in the 60th percentile of swimming proficiency for children his age?  How would I know how he could improve?  How would he know how to improve? I’m not sure the bell curve would have helped Liam.

Instead the report focused on specific skills that needed to be improved.  These were combined with what feedback the teacher gave to Liam during class to develop the criteria that will help him become a better swimmer.  It could have been said that he has a few areas to improve. But he was told he needed to improve on his back float and back glide. This was combined with what I’d overheard to be: Liam on your back float and glide, you need your ears in the water, your chin up, and your chest up.

Guess what?  The next week, for the first time this course when he tried the back float, his ears were in the water.  The teacher then just asked him to put his chin up and chest up.  Which he quickly remembered and did. As he splashed back to the side of the pool, his eyes searched for mine.  He pointed to his ears while his teeth were exposed with a large grin as water dripped down his face.

Bell CurveI was reminded that when reporting student achievement to parents, ranking isn’t as hopeful or productive as criteria.  With criteria we can improve, we can make a difference.  Clear criteria as someone learns starts a conversation. A conversation that that person has internally as they attempt to apply their learning and is followed up with people around them.

Liam knew what he needed to do to improve in the moment.  He wasn’t perfect, but he was improving by applying the criteria.  Is that a key principal for learning? Understanding the criteria that will help us improve?  If the teacher and the learner don’t know the criteria, how can we learn?

Thumbs up Jacob.Liam doesn’t care what percentile he is in, but his smile showed a deep self satisfaction with his improvement.  His smile was met with a thumbs up from me.
Ears in the water, check.



Photo Credits:

Boris zwemles by ianus, on Flickr

Bell Curve by vlasta2

Thumbs up Jacob. by thejesse

Unplug’d: Canadian Education Summit

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There is a guy I know, named Rodd.  He had a skype chat with me this past summer and offered a number of interesting ideas:

So, what would happen if educators from across Canada who were doing compelling things in the 21st century all got together in one physical location?  Not a chat room, a skype conference or a google doc, but actually face to face.


And what would happen if these educators not only met face to face, but also unplugged?  The focus of the time would be  on the interaction with leaders  in front of them and not connected to the grid.


Wouldn’t it be interesting to take a train up to a natural treasure, Algonquin Park, within the Canadian wilderness where the event will take place?  This summit’s location and activities would develop into a product and the product would reflect the participant’s interaction within this wilderness.

This conversation was followed up with additional skype calls that included folks named Alec, Dean, Tom, Bill, Darren and Zoe.  The result is an event we are calling, “Unplugd” (unplugd.ca).


Are you interested in being part of this event?

  • Do you attempt to use innovative practices in teaching and learning?
  • Are you interested in deepening your relationships with other innovative and creative educators?
  • Would you collaborate with teachers across Canada and become part of this larger group?

Invitations will be distributed in March/April 2011.

If this event is for you, let us know who you are.

That guy I know, named Rodd and a few other compelling folks will be unplugging to tell stories, deepen relationships, and share experiences.  The more I talk with these folks, the more interested I get.

So, what would happen if educators from across Canada who were doing compelling things in the 21st century all got together in one physical location?

What might happen? Something worth being a part of.

Infusion 2011

Beautiful North Bay, Ontario was the host to Infusion 2011 conference at Nipissing University.


The journey to get to North Bay, Ontario from Port Lambton took me on multiple small aircraft.


The excitement of travelling hit a crescendo when I met Mike Babcock (coach of the 2010 Gold Medal Winning Canadian Olympic Hockey team, and the Detroit Red Wings).


It was a real treat to meet Ken Waller face to face, a professor at Nipissing’s Faculty of Education, who I’ve known via the SMARTBoard Lessons Podcast for sometime.

It was a privilege and an honour to present the keynote address along with @kellypower.

The keynote address is below.

What if “Educon” was a Franchise?

This weekend Educon 2.3 occurred in Philadelphia.  All the edu-twitterati, who are hip at all, were at this educational mecca.  I, however, was not there.  My participating was limited to online tweets and watching some streams since I was presenting at Infusion 2011 in North Bay, Ontario.  However, I love the concept of Educon (and my experience attending last year confirmed my love).

I fell in love with Educon.  I did not fall in love with Educon because of the people, although the people attending are wonderful.   I did not fall in love with Educon because of the riveting sessions, although some of the sessions truly were captivating and built my thinking.  I did not fall in love with Educon because of the food, although Philly cheese steaks could be my early death if I lived there.  I fell in love with Educon because it’s context enforces truth, authenticity, and real discussion.

Educon occurs at a school, Science Leadership Academy (SLA) to be exact, and its Principal lead a team that practices what they preach.  The students aren’t just on ‘show’.  Attendees interact with students.  Students interact with attendees.  Basically, no exaggeration allowed.  You see what SLA is and what it is not.  No myth of perfection.  Just the refreshing view of reality and how one school is trying to serve the needs of students.  The beauty isn’t in the perfection, it is in the reality.

Educon had gotten me to think: what if all conferences used this model.  What if all of our conference learning was placed within the context of a school and included the students.  That is the discussion that emerged this afternoon on Twitter.  Below are the tweets that discussed this with @akamrt, @robwall, and I.  As usual, the tweets are in reverse chronological order, so read from the bottom up.