Saturday, May 30, 2009

Britain's Got Talent - The Winners

Susan Boyle came second in the Britain's Got Talent final to these guys - the dance group Diversity:

Amazing performance...

Here is Susan Boyle's performance in the final:

I'm sure we haven't heard the last of Susan. You decide who the real winner is...

My Virtual Cross-Canada Trek 2009 - Bienvenue Au Ville de Quebec

Now 929 KMs from home, just passing by Quebec City. Quebec City is on eof the oldest in Canada - full of great sites, sounds, and tastes, including La Citadelle, regimental home of the legendary Vandoos - Le Royal 22e Regiment of the Canadian Army.

As the weather gets better I'm making greater daily progress as I keep walking across Canada. Next major destination is Montreal, a mere 272 KMs down Autoroute 20. I prefer the scenery along the South shore of the St.Lawrence River to that of Autoroute 40 and the North Shore.

The trek continues...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Seal Clubbing - The True Story???...

Sometimes the best way to deal with the uninformed and hysterical is with humour and satire. Graphic design and digital animation learners at CONA (College of the North Atlantic) in Newfoundland and Labrador, have done just that with an amazing;y well done rebuttal to the European Union's ban on seal products due to the EU's perception of the seal hunt being barbaric and cruel (how barbaric would it be if seal pups were ugly? Hmmm...). Here is their amazing video "The Shame of The North Atlantic" (pay close attention to the name of broadcast company...) - enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Virtual Cross-Canada Trek 2009 - Bienvenue Au Riviere-Du-Loup!...

With the weather getting better, I've sailed right on through New Brunswick, passing through Edmunston and now find myself in Riviere-du-Loup PQ, 820 KMs from Halifax.

Several people have remarked that I am looking thinner although I've only noticed minor changes so far - I'm in one more hole on my belt, clothes are fitting a little better and I definitely have more energy. Still a long way to go...

I have no idea how much I weigh and probably won't weigh myself until the Fall - for me it's not about how much I weigh, but rather how well I feel and I am feeling good. Looking forward to a long summer of walking, with the next two big stops being Quebec City and Montreal. Bring on the hot weather and the miles!...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Bluenose 5K 2009

I took part in the Bluenose 5K walk/run earlier today for the second straight year. The 5 K is one of several races run on the Bluenose Marathon weekend. The 5k was actually called the "Ben's Smart Walk/run" after the title sponsor Ben's Bakery and their Smart bread.

The day was cool, cloudy, drizzly/misty, and a little windy - apparently almost perfect race conditions (there is a long tradition of the Bluenose race day having terrible weather). Things got started at the Metro Centre where race bibs and t-shirts were picked up.

Interesting start – the Metro Centre was a ZOO! They need to do a better job of organizing – I checked in and they did not have my size t-shirt (despite registering in January), so I ened up with a men's large which may cover one arm (I usually wear XXXL t-shirts). What happened apparently is that people asked for sizes bigger than they registered for and they were all out of XL and XXL (what I had asked for as it was the biggest size they had made).

There was also little evidence of Bluenose hospitality – two women swore at me when they ran into ME!! What’s that all about? I did notice a significant improvement in attitude after the race, so I will attribute the lack of friendliness to “race face” :-). It was a sea of humanity, verging on a mob :-)...

The weather was perfect once we got started– cool, cloudy, a little breezy, and misty – I was cool all the way (but still SWEATY!!!). Did not see a single person from NSCC, but did run into others I knew including John O'Donnell. John was my padre when I was commanding officer of 33 (Halifax) Service Battalion. For the last several years he has been one of the driving forces behind L'Arche here in Halifax. They just opened their Halifax home after many years of hard work.

I twittered my progress on the walk/run (I mostly walked) - it was so cool tweeting the whole thing (you can follow it using the hash tag #bn5K or checking out my Twitter stream)– hopefully I didn’t go overboard – I think I am truly a twitterholic now – the sense of immediacy and community that you get with Twitter is just too cool. I actually felt like I was being supported by people coming along with me. I also posted some pictures at Flickr.

I felt great after the walk and am already thinking of next year - perhaps the 5K run? Hmmm...

Update: Even with all of the Twittering and conversations along the way, I finished the 5K walk/run in 54:15, almost 4 minutes faster than last year - the 1008th finisher. Next year I'm gunning for the top 1000...

CNIE 2009 Ottawa - Some Final Thoughts...

Well, CNIE 2009 in Ottawa has been over for a few days now and I'm home and back to work in Halifax. This post is just a few final thoughts on the conference and my experiences there, and some lessons learned and thoughts for the future.

First, let me say that CNIE was a great conference for me - with it's focus on innovations in education it was right where I wanted to be, talking to a lot of like-minded people doing some amazing things with education, teaching and learning, and learning technology. Along with my collegue and friend Carolyn (Randommind), we gave our first presentation at a national conference and it went extremely well - I will be presenting at conferences again (in fact I cannot see myself going to a conference in teh future without presenting - it just adds so much richness to the experience. I plan on attending future CNIE conferences - CNIE 2010 is in St. John NB, a car drive away for me.

I plan on talking to the leadership at NSCC about becoming a member of CNIE - I think it is an organization that is in line with a lot of the things we are trying to do, particularly with blended and online delivery of learning.

The other major activity I engaged in at CNIE 2009 was tweeting the conference. The sense of immediacy and community that I got from twittering "live and in real-time" added so much to the conference plus I got to meet some amazing people who were doing exactly the same. I am truly and completely sold on Twitter now as a teaching and learning tool and I see all sorts of application for it in both face to face classroom and alternate deliveries (I think it would be very cool to add a Twitter stream to an online course - I feel another post coming on...). I certainlly plan on continuing to Twitter at future conferences and events...

Ottawa is a great city for a conference, and the Chateau Laurier is an amazing and elegant hotel, but holding CNIE 2009 in a hotel that basically had no wireless network and inconsistent Internet connectivity was a mistake. I can't remember the last time I used a network cable in a hotel room - it's been a while. If the Chateau Laurier is going to continue to host tech conferences, it needs a reliable wireless network throughout the hotel. I know this might not be that easy in such and old and well-built edifice, but at $13.95 a night for Internet service, cost should not be a factor (hint - join the Fairmont President's Club like I did and the Internet is free).

For me the following were the highlights of CNIE 2009:
  • Presenting at the conference
  • Twittering the conference
  • George Siemen's keynote
  • The Westminster College presentation on project based learning and competency-based assessment
  • My NSCC Colleague's presentation on the Chemo Prep programme
  • The Red Deer College Presentation on redesigning computer learning
  • being there with my NSCC colleagues and meeting a lot of mazing educators doing some very innovative stuff (and stuff is a technical term)
All in all a great week in the Nation's Capital - even had time to meet up with old friends - thanks again for supper Jason! Check him out, he's brilliant...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

CNIE 2009 Ottawa - Day Three

The first session I attended on Day Three of CNIE 2009 was "BOLD - Blended Online Learning Design - An International Research Initiative". The study Web site is The study was conducted at two universities ("X" and "Y"). Several things came out of study:
  • A mix of synchronous and asynchronous online delivery was best - a psychological and sociological connection develops with faculty and learners
  • Flexibility was a key element liked by faculty, learners and others surveyed
  • Equity of access was important (comparing F2F and online)
Instructional Designer feedback included:
  • Potential to create more active learning environments
  • Important for ESL learners - can re-read and review multiple times
  • Easier to monitor learner participation
Learner Feedback included:
  • Flexibility
  • Quality
  • Group Reflection
Faculty Feedback included:
  • Ease
  • Flexibility
  • Everything at their fingertips
There was lower attrition in synchronous courses as compared to asynchronous course - learners wanted a synchronous component to foster group and community.

An ongoing study, BOLD validate a lot of my thoughts on what works in any delivery method - we really do need to be delivery agnostic - focus on strong outcomes and course development that creates the best course possible that can be delivered in multiple ways. Hmmm...

The second session of the morning was "Computer Learning 2.0 - A (Re)Design" This seesion was presented by three librarians from Red Deer College. The team, resonsible for computer learning at Red Deer College moved to a project-based multiple modes of delivery system of computer training at RDC. They shifted to projects with rubrics - learners needed to apply learning and higher level thinking to complete projects as opposed to completing "Menu" style assignments. They came up with some really innovative projects that not only allowed learners to grasp and obtain the technical skills that they needed, but also developed critical thinking and problem-solving skills too.

They have developed a series of online "Lib Guides", including one for this presentation - very cool stuff.

The closing keynote, "Fuelling Innovation Through Millennial Entrepreneurship" was by Andrew Fisher, Executive VP at Wesley Clover, an investment vehicle for Terry Matthews, founder of Newbridge Networks and Mitel among other companies.

Much of his presentation had to do with how innovation and entrepreneurship went together and that as innovative educators there was much we could do with regards to commercialization etc. of our innovative ideas and products.

An OK presentation, but I felt that he didn't really "grab" the audience, probably not always an easy thing to do on closing a conference. He did have a valid point - as educators we do nee dto at least think about entrepreneurship and commercialization and organizations like Wesley Clover who could support further innovation. Hmmm...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CNIE 2009 Ottawa - Day Two Sessions

The first session the day that I attended was " Canada's e-PhDs". It was a review of current e-PhD programmes online - their challenges, retention and professional socialization. It is anticipated that the growth of e-PhD programmes will be exponential which is a great thing for someone like me who is currently exploring online doctoral programme options (if anyone know of an online EdD programme that costs less than $40 K, please let me know).

Interestingly enough, a quick comparison was done with residential PhD programes. Residential programmes have the following charateistics:
  • No formal prep for teaching, service, or positions outside academe
  • 50% completion rate
  • 7-8 years to complet
  • 4-5 years to withdraw
  • Distance ed completion rate 60%
Some food for thought. All in all an interesting survey of online programmes from a retention perspective, but not the information session that I had expected.

The next session I sat in on was presented by my NSCC colleagues Carolyn and Kelly - An Online Chemo Prep Programme for Cancer Care Nova Scotia - this was an amazing programme delivered online to a total of 75 pharmacy technicians around NS on chemo preparation, to ensure standard approaches and practices in the mixing of these toxic medicines.

The program was delivered using Elluminate and a discussion board with a hands on "playbox" - inexpensively made up of the tools and equipment used in chemo prep. Learners used the playbox to practice and the theory was delivered and discussed through Elluminate and the discussion board. All participants got together face to face once to take an OSPE - and Objective Standardized Practical Exam.

This was an amazing programme that sets an example for delivering any intensive hands on course online through the combination of a "playbox" and an OSPE - very very cool and I will be definitely looking at this model for delivering such courses as IT hardware and networking. Great job Carolyn and Kelly!!...

The next session was "Developing a Community of Inquiry in a Mobile Learning Context" and was delivered by a team from Athabasca University. Much of the world (China was mentioned with over 500,000,000 mobile devices) is going directly from little technology right to mobile devices and this team has developed a model for mobile learning. One of the questions they are investigating is how is learning the same and different on a mobile device? To date there has not been a lot of research done on mobile technology and mobile learning, but as Clarke (1994) said - "learning doesn't change because the medium changes". Hmmm... I wonder if that is really true?

The remainder of the session discussed their evolving model of mobile learning which includes a device aspect, a learner aspect, and a social aspect with an information context (it's represented by a complex Venn diagram). Interesting stuff and something to think about. They did provide a great rubric and it's located here - - check it out...

The last session of the day was "Project-Based, Competency-Based Blended Program Innovation" by Dr. Michael Sutton of Westminster College in Salt Lake City.

This is an amazing accellerated professional degree completion program for business people looking for a BBA - no courses, but a series of competency assessed projects that run in project streams, each stream a major competency. a totalof over 40 major comptencies were identified in conjunction with business leaders and they were grouped in sets.

Learners need a miniumum of six years of business experience tp get in and the programme takes approx 18 months to complete if done in contiguous semesters.

This is the way adult education should be delivered - not hung up on courses and grades but focussed on applied project learning an competencies - a very cool presentation and a great way to deliver adult education...

Day Two was a little more mixed in the quality of the presentations, but the information was great and very thought provoking - a lot of learning that will take some time to reflect upon. Hmmm...

CNIE 2009 Ottawa - Day Two Keynote

Day Two of CNIE 2009 brought another full day of sessions and twittering. The day began with a keynote from Dr. Thierry Karsenti. A copy of his keynote will be available on his Web site. He talked about "ICT and Education - Information and Communications Technologies in Medical Education - The Major Challenges". Interesting method of presentation - most of the keynote was in French with English slides (and simultaneous translation) - a truly Canadian approach.

Dr. Karesnti identified four main challenges:
  1. Preparing physicians for the changing behaviours of Internet savvy patients
  2. Patients can readily interact with healthcare professionals without leaving home
  3. To motivate physicians in training to use ICT to find information, learn, and develop
  4. To change medical education practices
Patients are changing - now much more participative in their own healthcare and medical knowledge is no longer the perogative of health care experts. ICT needs to be seen as a way to get patients more engaged in their health care not as a nuisance - this creates serious challenges to the way initial and continuing medical education is done.

Telemedicine is becoming increasingly common, as are digital patient files and the increased use of handheld and other mobile devices. There is a need to raise the awareness of the benefits of ICT to physicians in training - ICT training should be manadatory in initial and continuing medical training (in any professional training for that matter).

Virtual communities and blogs are on the increase in medicine - Ask Dr.Wiki for example - that are directly targeting medical students and practitioners.

To better prepare physicians to deal with patients who may be better informed of their condition than the physician, ICT training needs to be compulsory inmedical education.

An interesting keynote that while not only pointing out the need for ICT training and skills in modern medicine, made the point that these skills and knowledge are pretty much required universally in all walks of life. A great start to the day...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

CNIE 2009 Ottawa - Learning Is A Team Sport

This post is about the presentation that my colleague, Carolyn (randommind), and I gave at CNIE 2009 Monday afternoon (right after lunch in fact). The subject was "Learning Is A Team Sport, Or a Conversation About Learning In The New Millennium". Our presentation can be found on SlideShare if you want to take a look.

First just let me say that both of us had a blast presenting. This was the first time presenting at a national conference for both of us and quite frankly, I cannot wait to do it again. Much of the credit for that has to go to the incredibly engaged audience we had - the room was full and they played along with us.

The genesis of our presentation came out of a roundtable discussion that I had about a year ago at NSCC's Festival of Learning - many of our faculty come from a learning environment that was based on the individual - test, the term paper was king, a teacher told you what and how to learn, and that this is no longer where we or our learners are. As faculty we need to understand that learning is now in fact a collaborative process - between faculty and learners and between learners and learners and that we need to figure out what that means.

The presentation was interactive and participative, probably a good thing for right after lunch. I began with a simulation of the old classroom - "Sit down! Be quiet! Put your books away, pay attention to me, you are going to learn!". That seemed to get everyone's attention and allowed both of us to introduce ourselves and begin our conversation about learning as a team sport.

From there we moved on to a sorting exercise where my co-presenter asked a series of questions to separate the audience and to also get the audience to begin to know and understand each other. It's an amazing way to get learners to know each other and to get to know your learners. Carolyn did an amazing job of the sort - she owned the room and she was getting compliments well into today. For many of our audience it was the single biggest take away.

We then posed two questions:
  1. Does this impact the way we teach?
  2. What does all this mean to you?
The audience then did a Think-Pair-Share for 10 minutes (we only had one hour for the presentation). Once the time was up we asked for people to share their answers to our questions and the answers were quite amazing.

We heard the following:
  • How do I do this with little or no support from my organization?
  • How do I assess learning that's collaborative? (Maybe that's next year's presentation.)
  • Lots of comments on how they could use the sort activity in their courses both face to face and online. The sort was the highlight of the presentation
There were several more absolutely amazing comments, but we were both so absorbed in the conversations that neither of us took any notes. Next time we get pwople to tweet :-). The line of the conference may have come out of our conversations around the questions when one of the audience referred to the old style teacher-centric model as "full frontal teaching" - it was an apt description and was quickly twittered across the conference and beyond.

The presentation was over before we knew it - what an amazing hour and thanks to everyone who attended for being so collaborative and giving - you all clearly demonstrated that learning is indeed a team sport. I learned so much that I will "collaboratively re-purpose" and use in my own practice. The greatest thanks though must go to my co-presenter - together we did an amazing job that we could not have done alone. Thanks so much Carolyn...

CNIE 2009 Ottawa - Day One And Twitter

Day One of the conference started off with a keynote from George Siemens. His keynote was titled "A Firm Foundation", and was quite interesting and thought-provoking, with some thoughts on education needing to be rethought and restructured. Some interesting numbers, including the facts that young users are not the greatest users of the Internet and that the 70-75 year old segment is the fasting growing sector (Pew Internet).

One important thing for me that came out of this keynote is the affirmation of the need to develop information literacy skills - the use of information literacy and information is critical and skills need to be developed. There is an issue where physical aspects haven't changed to meet the way information is being used - that is so true - just look around at information sources and how they are changing regularly.

Check out the presentation - very interesting.

Perhaps the single most important thing I have done at this conference was engaging in active twittering of the conference (tag #cnie) - it added such a dimension of richness and inclusiveness, along with immediate feedback and community - it was and is a spectacular way to engage in a conference (or I suspect any live event). Not to mention a great way to engage in conversation and get others' perespectives on what is happening around you.

Sat in on a presentation about critical thinking online - lots of good demographic numbers on internet use from the Media Awareness Network, a great resource on media and information literacy for K-12 (with some PSE application too). Talked aboutthe dominant reading pattern online is in the shape of a "F", and that a lot of really good content gets missed if it's outside the "F". One thing that was recommended to foster critical thining online was to separate entertainment from content and on eof the examples given was the Field Museum. Learners need to develop skills to successfully navigate and search he Internet - again that theme of information literacy came up.

The next presentation I attended was on "Web-Based Tools - The World Beyond The LMS" - much of the conversation was getting to the idea that Web 2.0 tools provide services beyond the ability of many LMSs, but that there needs to be a value add to use them - if the LMS will do most of what is wanted, then movingtos trange and unfamiliar Web 2.0 tools might not be the best. Ther needs to be a value-add to make the move. I am a strong believer of using Web 2.0 tools for learning, but like anything, use the right tool - the one that does the job and allows effective teaching and learning to occur.

The presenter also talked about how to train faculty in the use of Web 2.0 tools and build their comfort in their use. Web 2.0 has to be about ease of use and having the technology fade into the background. Personally I think that is the great advantage of Web 2.0...

The last presentation of the day was from Martha Burkle, the Cisco Chair in e-Learing at SAIT. It was a "Journet Through Second Life to Facilitate Hands On Learning". What SAIT has done is take their Robotics Lab and recreated it, along with other elements of their programs in Second Life - the SL Robotics lab is connected to Moodle through SLoodle and is a fuly functioning facility complete with testing and evaluation components - an entirely hands-on experience. I am quite sure that an entire online course could be developed and run this way.

Also took us on a tour of a TV studio set up for learners - they had full control rooms and camera setups allowing for simulated brodcasts and programming a great adjunct to their real world program. SAIT has creayed an engaging and creative learning environment in SL, but like a lot of them it has been driven more by "champions" that universal acceptance and adoption. Hmmm...

All in all an amzingly engaging and absorbing day - some incredible presnters and a lot of enaged attendees - twittering really was the icing on the cake. I can't s
Publish Post
ay just how much more it adds to the conference experience - you have to try it!

For me the overwhelming themes of the day were information literacy - just how critically important it is, and that innovation in teaching and learning needs to be supported, but also needs to be done with an understanding of the effects of innovation on faculty and learners and that the supports must be there for both. Lots of Hmmm... from Day One...

CNIE 2009 Ottawa - The Crackerbarrel

My apologies for not blogging sooner, but between a wonky Internet connection (very little wireless in the hotel. Note to self - travel with a network cable...) and a very busy and interesting CNIE 2009, it's been an effort to post.

CNIE 2009 has been a great conference so far and I'll describe it in detail in future posts. The conference got off to a great start with a crackerbarrel - a combination opening ceremony and round table discussions. Some of the tables I sat at included:

  • Web 2.0 - The Dark Side - an interesting conversation around what is difficult or bad about Web 2.0 - for me very little, but for many of the K-12 ecucators attending, the issue of cyber-bullying has become a big one. I wonder, is this something that we as PSE eductors have to be concerned about? Hmmm...
  • Is Your Avatar Student Better Than the Real One? Learning Opportunities in Virtual Environments - a lively discussion on teh efficacy of Second Life as an educational and learning tool (I think it's an amazing educational opportunity).
  • Graduate Study Online - Teaching and Learning Persepctives - we talked about graduate level education online - does the same rigour and scholarly work occur in an online programme - the consensus was that they did (which I agree with having an online graduate degree myself).
A great way to start off the conference and get to start that networking process that I always find so energizing...

Saturday, May 09, 2009

CNIE 2009 Ottawa

I'm off to Ottawa later this morning to attend CNIE 2009. CNIE, the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education, is a national organization of professionals committed to excellence in the provision of innovation in education in Canada.

I am also co-presenting at the conference with a colleague - this will be my first presentation at a national conference and I'm really looking forward to it. We are presenting on "Learning is a Team Sport - Or a Conversation On Learning In The New Millennium". It should be a lot of fun.

I'll be blogging my conference experiences, and for the first time I'll also be twittering (hondomac if you want to follow along) during the conference as well, using the hash tag #cnie2009. That will be a new experience for me, and hopefully one that will help me better understand the use of Twitter as a learning tool.

Well, off to pack. See you in Ottawa!!...

(Image - CNIE Logo)