Friday, March 19, 2010

TEDxOntarioEd - The Winnipeg Satellite Event

Looking forward to the upcoming TEDxOntarioEd event?

If you're anywhere near Winnipeg and would like to participate along with many other like-minded individuals, please register to attend this event in person.

Of course, you could take in most of the content while eating popcorn in your pajamas. However, you'll miss out on some of the rich virtual & F2F conversations that will be taking place at the Winnipeg Satellite event and many of the other TEDxOntarioEd Satellite events that are taking place synchronously around the world :-)

There is no cost to participate in this event.
And - we'll have refreshments & prizes!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

LISTEN - A Song Mosaic

Image: 'Megaphone' -
My good friend and colleague is at it again - incorporating his love of composing and performing music into his teaching and the learning that takes place in his classrooms. I wrote about Ryan Miller several months ago (Rockin' The School Community) when he had written and recorded a song celebrating one of the schools in our division.

Ryan was recently the recipient of a provincial grant that enabled him to develop a project that focused on student engagement, student voice, social justice and the infusion of technology across the curriculum. He tied all of these themes together through music, by composing and recording a song that showcases lyrics that were contributed by individual students.

The result is LISTEN - check it out:

Ryan refers to LISTEN as a 'song mosaic', as it unites so many voices and important ideas in a very meaningful way. The collective and collaborative nature of this project serves to demonstrate the power of banding together to make a difference.

Thank you, Ryan, for allowing me to share this project in such a public way and for providing your students with such rich learning experiences. It will make a difference :-)

For more information about LISTEN, or to access the song/video where access to YouTube may be filtered, check out

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Digital Artifacts & The Twitter Test

Last night, I had the opportunity to present a couple of sessions at ManACE's 'Making Connections' TIN. I've sat on the board of the Manitoba Association for Computing Educators for several years, and have had the opportunity to present many sessions and take in lots of great presentations through our Technology Information Nights (TIN's).

We host TINs around the province several times a year, and often have between 20 & 50 people in the room. The sessions that are presented often demonstrate the use of leading edge technologies, and I've always wanted to increase the profile of our TIN sessions to include even more participation from around the province and around the world.

This has led me to consider different ways of connecting with an audience, and I've played a pivotal role in pulling together some innovative events through ManACE over the last couple of years. Events like the Manitoba Edubloggercon and Awakening Possibilities have involved Skyping in presenters and uStreaming the content out over the intertubes so that we could engage our virtual audience and impact more than just the people who were in the room.

These events have given birth to several other events taking place within the province, like Windows To The World last spring and, more recently, the Media Literacy event that Manitoba Education Citizenship and Youth (MECY) and the Manitoba Association for Computing Educators (ManACE) organized as Manitoba's contribution to our national Media Literacy Week celebrations.

Through these events, and through my affiliations with the ManACE Board and membership, I've had the opportunity to collaborate with many amazing educators. I've learned a lot from my network and, I'd like to think, I give back to my network in many different ways. I think that one of the greatest strengths of planning and delivering sessions as described above is that all of the content is archived on the web. This allows for professional learning opportunities to take place anytime and anywhere. These digital artifacts that have been created will continue to impact the educators who stumble upon them (or actively seek them out) for many years to come. We're leaving a legacy of learning online so that educators can continue to reap the benefit over time.

On that note, several people were hoping to attend last night's ManACE TIN but were unable to be there in person. I had several requests to uStream the presentations so that they could participate from a distance. I wanted to make the content available to a virtual audience, but we didn't have the time or resources to pull it together on short notice. But it got me thinking about how I could archive the presentation in a different way. I thought about whipping out my Flip Mino HD to capture the sessions. Instead, I opted for trying out a little experiment.

For the last couple of years, I've been dabbling with an application on my Mac called Screenflow. It's a very powerful app for creating polished screencasts, and you can also capture external audio and video at the same time. I wanted to try capturing the presentation as it appeared for the folks who were in the room & record the audio to accompany the presentation.

All I had to do was click record the content of the session, then stop the recording at the end. When I got home, I opened the recording in Screenflow, exported it to Quicktime (coincidentally, it's only 66mb for 33 minutes of footage...) and uploaded it to Vimeo. I chose Vimeo over YouTube simply because not as many school divisions block/filter access to Vimeo.

It took no time or expertise to crop, render or encode the video. Just a couple clicks of a button and I was done. I'm extremely impressed with the ease of capturing this presentation, and am happy to say that it has now been archived and made available for your viewing pleasure :-)

BuildingYourPLN from Andy McKiel on Vimeo.

Due to the ease of capturing and sharing this presentation, I plan to adopt this technique a little more often over the coming weeks and months. I'd love to hear examples of how other educators create and share digital artifacts :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Outta This World!

This morning I got to be part of something very cool - connecting a handful of high school students with Dr. Robert Thirsk, a Canadian astronaut who is currently orbiting earth aboard the International Space Station.

This was an incredible experience for everyone involved, and a moment that will live on forever in the minds of these students.

Dr. Thirsk graduated from John Taylor Collegiate here in Winnipeg, so this was a very unique home-coming celebration. In fact, Dr. Thirsk made reference to his high school chemistry teacher, George Bush (no, not that George Bush...), who was actually in attendance this morning. Must be nice to re-connect with your former students when you can see how far they've come ;-)

Each of the students who participated in this event had the opportunity to ask questions of Dr. Robert Thirsk. You can have a listen to the entire audio content here:

This event was attended by some local media, so I would expect to see some coverage in the local newspaper (Winnipeg Free Press) as well as on television (CBC News).

This was an experience that I won't soon forget. I just wish I had enriching opportunities like this as I made my own way through high school years ago :-)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Am I Media Literate?

Over the past few weeks, I've been working collaboratively with some amazing innovators from around Manitoba. We've been planning a series of projects on the topic of 'Media Literacy', which has forced me to continuously ponder the question, "What does it mean to become media literate?"

Here in Canada, the Media Awareness Network offers some great resources to help teachers, parents and students understand what it means to be media literate. They've broken media literacy down into several components, including the ability to access, consume, evaluate and create information. The Media Awareness Network is also responsible for establishing Media Literacy Week, an annual event that's celebrating its fourth occurrence November 2nd-6th, 2009.

Media Literacy Week will feature a variety of live events taking place across the country. Here in Manitoba, we're (MECY & ManACE) planning a unique event that features short virtual presentations from many innovative educators across the country. Mark your calendars for the evening of November 2nd, as you won't want to miss this event! Even if you're nowhere near Manitoba, the presentations and the panel discussion that follows will be broadcast via uStream to facilitate virtual participation :-)

Another project we've been working on has to do with demonstrating media literacy. We've created a short video to spark people's thinking about what it means to be media literate. It's been posted to YouTube, and our hope is that this seed video will prompt teachers and students from around the world to post their video responses to demonstrate their own media literacy. This video should generate some great classroom discussions about what it means to think critically & creatively, and to use technology ethically & responsibly.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this video that we've produced. And I'd love it even more if you shared it with your students and/or your fellow educators. If you took the time to pop over to our YouTube channel to post a video response, that would REALLY make me happy :-)


Friday, October 2, 2009

The Tides of Change

Image: 'time disappears' -

As Google Wave begins to wash over us, we're bound to see another dramatic shift in the way we access ideas & information, and the way we connect to friends, family and experts in the field.

Over ten years ago, Google began to shift our thinking. For years, they've been increasingly impacting our online experiences. Google has been the dominant factor in shaping the internet r/evolution...

Google's success comes with a price - they have to answer a LOT of questions. While Google can provide quality answers to some excellent questions, they're also required to address many questions that are trivial, mundane, ludicrous and even absurd. Google doesn't have a choice - they must instantly produce an answer to any question that is asked.

As an educator, I've often told my students, "There's no such thing as a silly question". Well, that's just not true. By taking a look at Google's auto-complete entries when typing in a question, you'll come to discover that there are, indeed, many silly questions. And what's worse - millions of people around the world are asking the same silly questions! Here are just a few examples of the questions that are being asked of Google:

Are you one of the 17,500 people who've already asked Google this question?

Okay, maybe this is a good question ;-)

1.3 million young males with low self-esteem just gotta know...

Almost 3/4 of a billion people have gone to Google - hoping to see their own name atop the list?

No, really... to whom were these questions asked before Google???

How many times have you thought to yourself, 'If I had a nickel for every time I answered that question...' Well, Google's found a way to do just that - it's how they've built up their billions...

And that's just the beginning. Let's sit back, relax, and watch what happens as Google Wave spawns the new tides of change :-)

Now I just have to wait until I get to dip my toes in the water - I'm hoping Google Wave washes it's way toward me soon...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Into The Unknown

Image: 'They came...'

I've been travelling a little bit this summer and it's caused me to spend a fair amount of time pondering the places I've been - the paths I've walked and the sights that I've seen.

I've come to the conclusion that too many of my trips are repeats. I'm often forced to return to previous destinations out of obligation. The paths I walk are well worn and the sights I see have been tainted by experience.

I long to explore new spaces and visit different places. I have a strong sense of adventure and always want to see what's around the next corner. I need to venture into the unknown and explore the many possibilities that exist.

All the while these thoughts are running through my head, I'm thinking about my kids. I understand how important it is to lead them into different places. It's up to me to show my kids a world of opportunity and to keep them safe while they explore it.

It's our responsibility, as parents and as educators, to expand the horizons for our youth. We don't want our students to feel stuck - we want them to take the reins and control their own destiny. But many of our kids need to be shown some of the paths that exist and they want someone to walk down those paths with them - just a helping hand to get them started.

Technology holds the key to showing our kids all of the many paths that exist. There are so many worlds that they can begin to explore with just one click.

Where will you guide them?