How do you feel?

We’ve been busy talking about digital footprints and our on-line presence, present and future the past few classes.  My student intern just asked the class “does a digital footprint happen by accident?”

That got me to thinking – how does my digital footprint develop?  Of course, we know we play a large role in developing and managing our own profiles, but how do we begin to assess the power of what we write/publish?  How far can it reach?

This little fellow feels fine.

This little fellow feels fine.

We can create our own portfolios, blogs, websites, etc and shape our presence through these on-line presences, but is that all there is to it?  Can we just avoid a Digital Footprint by not posting anything? What about the google full of other data out there with our name on it that we don’t have as much control over? What about the tagged photos in facebook? What about information posted by organizations of which we are a part?  Obviously, as more and more information becomes available in digital form and search tools/aggregators become even more powerful management tools, it will be even more imperative to have the skills necessary to assess and manage our own profile.

As an example of the power of the Internet to bring our feelings and ideas together, my student intern is showing the class We Feel Fine,  a new website that aggregates, connects and mashes together the plethora of feelings and emotions posted in the billions of blogs around the world.  Amazing.

So, what do our kids need to know about this power of the web?  How can we best prepare them for an increasingly connected world where they will be visible at a click of the mouse?

Technorati tags: technology, education, whipple, learning

Photo Credit: Então, Uploaded to flickr on November 12, 2009 by Malu Green!

Me…an audience of one!

It was just around 8:20 this morning. I had just fired up my laptop and turned on twitter, skype and my other connection tools, but didn’t check to see who was on yet.  I was half listening to the morning announcements and then I heard it, the familiar sound of the skype call.  Someone was calling me, at this hour of the morning.

Cape Spear, NL; as far east as one can go in North America

Cape Spear, NL; as far east as one can go in North America

Without looking I answered, figuring it was one of my colleagues from Asia or Oceania looking for some info, but lo and behold the voice was a more familiar one. Being east of the east (the Eastern Time Zone that is), we rarely see anyone up and around from North America – most are still dozing or going through their morning routine.  However, there is one time zone even more east than Atlantic, and that belongs to our wonderful friends in Newfoundland and Labrador.

This morning, it was that province that beckoned me.  I recognized the first voice as that of my teaching colleague Keith Pender, who also happens to be a colleague from the softball community as well through his post as the Umpire-in-Chief for the province.  He teaches at a small rural community about an hour south of St. John’s – the provincial capital.

And then I heard them – his students.  He had promised them an audience using their new Mac computer in the class, and he delivered.  For the next three minutes I provided them with an authentic audience of one. While the audience might be small – it was not insignificant.  They were delighted to play the new song they were learning for me, and I was delighted to listen.

This is exactly the kind of opportunities our kids need to address the three critical questions (see previous post on this here) we/they need to address to prepare them for their future; how do we prepare them to be information artisans, how do they learn to develop personal learning networks and how to develop/manage their digital footprint. By connecting with me, Keith was able to model for his students how his networks allow him (and them) to learn, the role of an authentic audience and how music (and art and photos and video and…) all have a critical role to play in the information landscape of the 21st century – rivalling text as their tool.

For me, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet and engage with some wonderful young people through a colleague – and a gentle reminder of why it is we do what we do.

Technorati tags: technology, education, whipple, learning

15 minutes of fame…

Another in the installments of free wifi spotting.  I am at the airport in Ottawa on my way home through Toronto.  YOW doesn’t have free wifi, but – if you agree to fill out a brief survey – the airport will give you 15 minutes of free connectivity.  Guess I’ll have to type fast!

Andy Warhol said that everyone had their 15 minutes of fame.  Guess this is mine.

Proud of my hometown

On Monday of this week we awoke to news that vandals had done significant damage to the cenotaph, the monument in my town that honours our veterans and serves as the central focus for Remembrance Day ceremonies.  This just two days before Remembrance Day itself.  In a smallish, close-knit town next to a large military base, this was a significant event.

I don’t have a significant record of military service to honour within my own family, but my wife’s father (deceased) and her mom were both involved in the war effort – her dad as a Canadian servicemen in WWII and her mom working on the home front as a young lady in her native England. She later met her husband to be and immigrated to Canada as a War Bride.

Today, because I am travelling, I missed the service.  In retrospect, if I had of been thinking, I would have attempted to be in Ottawa earlier for the national service – something I have always wanted to do.  With the damage to the cenotaph, it seemed particularly important to show my respect and express my thanks.  Now comes news of the tremendous outpouring of support for the veterans as the community rallies to repair the cenotaph.  I am always proud to be from Fredericton, but even moreso today.

To all of you out there, past and present, from Canada and other democractic nations from around the world, who fought for our freedom, thank you.  We will remember.

Photo Credit: Fredericton Cenotaph, Uploaded to Flickr on August 15, 2009 by Ed Corey

Free the web…

I wouldn’t call myself a road-warrior, but several times a year I get on a metal bird for one reason or another – usually a conference, softball event or, more rarely, pleasure. This time it’s softball as I am off to Ottawa for Softball Canada’s AGM. For those of you who haven’t flipped over to the “About Jeff” page, I am an international softball umpire and currently the National Deputy Umpire-in-Chief for Softball Canada.

Today’s routing takes me through Halifax, an airport I frequent rarely. It’s been several years since I’ve been here and it’s easy to see why it always seems to be ranked high on lists of business-friendly airports. Today, another pleasant surprise – Free wifi!

Halifax International Airport - home of FREE wifi!

Halifax International Airport - home of FREE wifi!

Now, coming from Fredericton and our city-wide free wifi, I should come to expect this service as part of daily life. But the fact is, unfortunately, most airports and municipal wifi services are rich for the infrequent traveler. Try and find free wifi at O’Hare, Toronto or Montreal. Today, here at YHZ, it was as simple as clicking, entering an email (I assume I’ll be getting some promo emails so I gave them the G-mail account I use for such purposes) and away we go.

Now, for those of you who are jealous of my find, comes word that Google is giving travelers a digital Christmas present – free wifi in 47 airports across the United States.  You’ll have to likely suffer through some marketing, but now, thanks to the folks at BigG, you too can make your airport time connected without pulling out a credit card.

As I sit here in a very quiet departure lounge (it is Remembrance Day) there are about twenty people waiting at the gate for the flight to Ottawa.  More than half are on laptops or handhelds, connected to home, work and the world.

Technorati tags: technology, education, whipple, learning

I Teach Very Little…

It’s been a while since I made a contribution to the blogosphere. After taking August off to refresh and spend time connecting in other ways, I returned to the classroom for the first time in three years in September.  Then my dad passed away, so my first couple of weeks were befuddled.  But now we are back in the groove and transitioning from my previous position as a Technology Learning Mentor to a classroom teacher.

Being back to the classroom and working directly with kids has been tremendously exciting. I have landed in a great spot. While it’s officially called “Middle School Technology Education” or MSTE for short, I prefer to call it creativity class.

At Nashwaaksis Middle School, the “computer technology” program is quite a bit less structured than most classroom learning spaces, or even most computer labs. I was lucky to inherit this well developed, student-centered, module based program that promotes learner creativity and content creation. Two colleagues that understood that students really learn through producing authentic content, not by memorizing facts, have developed this program over the course of many years.

Learning to fly

Learning to fly

Our MSTE program is part of a larger PRA (Practical Related Arts), with other rotations including woodworking, art, music and guidance. I get each class for 8, 9 or 12 weeks. Students are able to choose one or two modules, walk themselves through the process of using a tool, design their own project and create content. With about a 50/50 mixture of Macs and PCs, they can choose from standards like video production, stop motion animation, digital photography and photoshop to less traditional modules like Lego robotics and flight simulation.

I haven’t done much with the program yet, preferring to sit for a couple of rotations and assess it’s strengths and weaknesses, but I have done one major shift. The modules used to be Intranet-based, available only within the school. They are now web based, accessible to students and the community, with a connection through the school website. It’s still a work in progress – some modules are not up yet – but I am a firm believer that the web offers us many opportunities to extend our classrooms to connect with students in a way they see as valuable.

There are two elements and ideas, however, which I already know I want to develop further. First off, one thing I found as a classroom teacher was that what students did in one room wasn’t transferred or connected to learning in another. I am looking at ways to encourage teachers to use MSTE time for applications to their classroom learning. Secondly, all the modules are currently centered on computer-based tools. I will be looking to develop and implement modules that use web-based tools (kids are already using them in class already).

It really is a great place to be. Many might say that I “teach” very little, and in the traditional sense I guess they are right, but that the kids are learning a lot.

Technorati tags: technology, education, whipple, learning

Image: Learning to Fly, Uploaded by Jeff Bauche._.·´¯)

Touch ’em all!

This is my fourth time in Memphis attending Lausanne Collegiate’s Laptop Institute conference.  The first time I came with one other teacher, the second time I came alone.  Last year I was able to convince school and district admin that more teachers needed this experience, and we ended up with nine staff members attending.

This year is special however.  Last fall I received an invitation for Nashwaaksis Middle School to be the 2009 Spotlight School at LI.  This would mean a lot of commitment – both financial and human – from our admin and staff.  We gladly accepted.  It’s a $20,000 ticket for our school, with funding coming from a variety of sources – to whom we are very grateful.  But more than that, our teachers made a huge professional commitment to prepare presentation proposals, make arrangements, get their presentations together and deliver the goods here in Memphis.

As we start day 2 of Laptop Institute, I couldn’t be more proud of our staff.  I’ve been doing this conference presentation gig for quite a while now, but I do recognize that, for many teachers, there’s nothing more scary than laying yourself on the line to your colleagues.  Many were nervous – very nervous. But from everything I heard and saw yesterday, they rocked – absolutely hit a home run!

Like a proud dad, I am just as excited about what this will mean for them and, by extension our school and, most importantly, our kids!  Their professional growth as learning leaders will be incredible.  While I would have stacked our staff up with anybody, anywhere, I can already see another huge shift in ideas, motivation and skills. I can’t wait to get back to school.

Touch em all guys! Just a few more innings to go today.

Technorati tags: technology, education, whipple, learning, laptopinstitute, laptopinstitute09

Back in Memphis..

I am back in Memphis again for Lausanne Collegiate School’s Laptop Institute.  This conference is a special place for me for many reasons, not the least of which it is the spot where I experienced a revelation of sorts during my first visit here.

You see, I was a laptop teacher for two years and was experimenting with digitizing practice and some other ideas, but hadn’t really been exposed to the powerful opportunities of 1:1 and the idea that it wasn’t about the efficiencies of technology, but the fact that it gives us an opportunity to fundamentally change how we teach and, more importantly, learn in our classrooms.

I still remember the moment my story of learning was interrupted and changed forever.  David Warlick was the opening keynote that year.  Not to bore you with the details, but his message blew me away.  His ideas of literacy and learning were like a shot of adrenalin that jump started my passion for change. Later, I had a chance to chat with David on the bus to the hotel.  I began reading his blog. He challenged us to start blogging.  I did.  The rest is history.

I am excited to be back.  As a veteran I am happy to say that that initial trip or two alone has led to 10 staff coming last year and this year we have 14 staff attending.  Not only that, Nasis Middle is this years Laptop Institute School Spotlight Award winner.  Our staff are pumped as they get set to present sessions on the great stuff they do in their classrooms.  I am so proud of them.

More to come from Memphis!

Technorati tags: technology, education, whipple, learning, laptopinstitute, laptopinstitute09

Unfinished business

One thing I have learned quickly in my relatively short career as an educator is that many things can change in a very short time.

Three years ago this coming August I was going about getting set to return to my classroom the next week.  I shared this classroom with another teacher and sixty wonderful students.  For those of you who haven’t thought about the opportunities afforded by team teaching believe me when I tell you that the collegiality, flexibility, support and collaboration makes it the only way I would want to create a learning community.

One evening I received a call from the District’s Technology Learning Specialist. He was offering a position as a Technology Mentor, where I would be supporting teachers and students in leveraging technology for learning.  This was to be an acting – or temporary – position.  After a day of reflection, I accepted the position.  It wasn’t an easy decision.  I loved my teaching partner and the students.  But I felt like I was being given an opportunity to continue my advocacy work for school change.

As I write, I am wrapping up my third year in this temporary spot, having enjoyed every minute of the opportunity to learn and share with many colleagues.  But I always felt like there was something left unfinished in my classroom experience.

Now comes word of budget cuts, and my lack of seniority means I am heading back to the classroom.  Despite the never ending expressions of sympathy about this turn of events from colleagues, I am excited about this change.  I do know some mentor-teachers who are fearful about any possible return to the classroom, but I am not one of them.  I enjoy spending time exploring with students, connecting as co-learners, to each other and the world.

The biggest question was where I would choose to be placed.  I was asked about a variety of interests, but it really came down to two assignments.  One is in a small, K-8 rural school where I started my career.  I absolutely love this place.  It is everything a learning community should be; open, collaborative (grades are multi-age), innovative. The 6-8 middle school is all in one huge space with three teachers and around 65 kids.  There are no limitations on schedule or space.  Frankly, it’s ideal.  The only drawback is that it has, like all too many school, a serious lack of connectivity.

The other choice was to return to Nashwaaksis Middle School.  “Nasis” is a large, urban middle school (~800 students).  The administration here, like KRS, is tremendous.  However, it, like many large schools, is beholden to the beast of sheer size.  While some gains have been made in terms of flexibility, scheduling and space remain constant struggles.  But, and this is HUGE, it has a 1:1 program in Grades 7 and 8.  From experience, I can attest to the opportunities this can create.  I have been given no commitments regarding grade, subject, etc, but I do know that I want my students to have access to the global learning community.  Without the tools, I would feel like I am cheating my kids.

After several days, even much agonizing that the ones I spent three years ago, I have chosen to return to Nashwaaksis Middle.  I have roots in both schools, but my commitment to, and belief in, having kids connect to each other on a global basis for learning was the tipping point.

It’s not about the technology.  Having laptops for all my students was not the issue.  It came down to a decision where I felt like I wanted to see just how having kids connected with other learners can change the narrative.

I have learned a lot about telling a new story of learning in the past three years.  I am excited to put those new ideas and knowledge into practice.

Call it unfinished business.

Technorati tags: technology, education, whipple, learning

Photo Credit:  Unfinished Business, Uploaded to Flickr on March 5, 2009 by Giara