remembering christopher

I never knew Christopher John Gabriel Pfoh, but his family and friends miss him. They donated a memorial bench along the Bowmont pathway, and this week marks the second anniversary of his passing.

I often stop at this bench to rest briefly – it’s the first bench after I get to the Bowmont pathway. I never stop for long, but have often wondered about Christopher.

Christopher John Gabriel Pfoh
March 21, 1989 – July 20, 2006
“Yo, don’t worry about it, just come and sit.”
“I’m not gone, my journey’s just begun.”
Love you Sweetheart, Love you Brother Chrissy.
Lovingly donated by Family & Friends

iPod Touch keyboard add-on

Real keyboard, connected to iPod Touch via USB through iPod Camera Connector accessory.

I want this. Well, maybe with a slimmer keyboard. Possibly a foldable version of something the size of the Apple Wireless Keyboard (pictured below). Doesn’t have to actually BE wireless, though. I’d be FINE with a USB cable, and even with slapping rechargeable batteries in the keyboard to prevent an additional power draw from the iPod Touch…

Apple Wireless Keyboard - perfect companion to my iPod Touch? Please?

This would make the Notes app much more useful. And the WordPress app. And email. etc… etc…

rethinking the digital photography sessions

I’d planned to keep doing episodes of the sessions, even going so far as to map out a few on the wiki. But, the folks at Inside Aperture are doing such a fandamntastic job, that there isn’t really much point for me to do Aperture-related screencasts, which is really all I’d done so far.

I’m going to rethink the sessions a bit. Maybe they’ll evolve into more of a storytelling thing – picking a shot and talking about the story behind it, and how the shot was composed, taken and processed… Something like that might be more interesting for everyone, rather than just duplicating a set of screencasts.

iPhone/iPod Touch native app for WordPress

Well THIS is the best mobile blog posting interface I’ve used. Thanks to Automattic for the app!

It also supports offline writing of new posts (but not of editing existing posts without an active connection). Very cool. I’ll be using this app a LOT!

Here’s a screenshot of the blog post/edit interface:


on the future of education

I’ll keep this rant short. I don’t know what the future of education is, or will be, but I do know that it’s not “web 2.0” despite the hype.

Education is, always has been, and always will be, about the acts of teaching and learning. It is not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, a form of technology. It is not a suite of distributed online tools, no matter how buzzword compliant they might be.

We need to move past this infatuation with technology, this desire for shiny things to change everything, and get back to basics. To storytelling. To valuing and respecting the work of all participants (students, teachers, and others). To working together to teach our children, and ourselves. To extending the activity outside of some industrialized classroom and into the community.

Sure, “web 2.0” has a role in this – in providing tools to enable individual publishing and collaboration – but it is NOT the technology that is the future of education. It’s people. Without proper philosophies and pedagogies, all the shiny websites on the planet don’t add up to a hill of beans.

(donning asbestos underoos in preparation for ensuing deluge of fire and brimstone)

Learning Community – Blogging and Student Publishing

We held our first gathering of the “Blogging and Student Publishing” learning community last week. It was a small, informal gathering – only a handful of profs were able to make it due to summer schedules, and another handful of staff. I think the small group was actually a very good thing for a first gathering, though, as the conversation was extremely engaging and dynamic – something that may have been lost in a larger group. What I loved about this gathering, is that we were able to reproduce much of the vibe from the Social Software Salon event held a couple of years ago at UBC. I’m hoping to to much more of this kind of thing, to get faculty members together and properly caffeinated in order to get the conversations flowing.

We talked about many things, but I think the common thread was that this is really not about “blogging” or even technology. It’s about what happens when students are publishing their own content, and collaborating with each other. What does that mean for assessment? How do you properly engage a class of 100 (or more?) students, having them all publish content, exploring various topics, commenting, thinking critically, and still be able to make sense of that much activity?

Since we stepped back a bit from technology, we defined student publishing more broadly, to also include such things as discussion boards and wikis.

We talked a bit about blogging as an ePortfolio activity – that it may be effective for students to publish various bits of content through their blog(s) and then to let it percolate and filter until the “best” stuff is distilled into what is essentially an ePortfolio – and maybe THAT’s the artifact that gets assessed. The activity through the blogs is important, but every student will participate in a different way. Maybe it would be a valuable thing to even make blogging itself an optional thing – but those who don’t participate will have had less feedback and refinement of their ePortfolio artifacts.

I gave a quick demo of the eduglu prototype site to show some of the strategies could be used to make the workload more manageable – social filtering of content within the site, organic groups based on projects and topics, etc… There was a fair amount of interest in those ideas, and I’ll be refining the prototype over the summer.

We’re going to be having learning community gatherings on a regular basis – I’m hoping to have more faculty come out to the August event (date TBD), and have it keep growing from there.

I’m also starting work on a learning community around mobile learning (mobile devices as a platform for teaching and learning), and another on course design (to tie in with our ISW and FTC programmes here at the TLC).

My next immediate task for the learning communities project is to polish off the community hub website – which will provide a place for coordinating the various communities, as well as providing a way for faculty and staff to identify and create their own communities.

Links discussed during the gathering: