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Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Happy New Year



Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to all.
A special wish for a more peaceful year than current world circumstances might indicate.
Here's to diplomacy and peaceful resolutions.

I don't have any resolutions to share for the coming year; however, I have begun to turn my attention to school. Classes begin next Monday. To that end, I've updated my Objects in Action page.

The page contains examples of "objects" I hope to use in my work as Training Developer for SMART Technologies Inc. My online M.Ed. classes at OISE/UT provide direct experience in the value of online collaborative knowledge-building efforts.

The goal is to engender a discussion which leads to a community of stakeholders, which leads to an "online self-organizing social system" intent on leveraging techology for learning.

JOIN the discussion.

Monday, December 30, 2002


What a difference a day makes:

December 28, 2002
A picture of Sam, with the Calgary skyline in the background

December 29, 2002
A picture of Sam in the snow, with the Calgary skyline in the background

Woo hoo, we finally got some snow!

Thursday, December 26, 2002


Another post compliments of Kim in Baltimore:

Hey cool! Nope, I don't mind. In fact, I found that these people now
have a website. It's www.christmasstreet.com

Check it out - it has photos!

Thanks Kim, I love the site the folks on 34th St have put up. It's a great site with lots of cool pics. I especially like the "live webcam."

Tuesday, December 24, 2002


Merry Christmas everyone.

Some pictures I took of Lake Tahoe that I'd like to share in the spirit of the season.

I used the 30-day trial version of Express Thumbnail Creator to make these pages and I'm impressed by the ETC. I highly recommend it to those who'd like to make thumbnail images of their graphics.

You'll notice that I've once again sacrificed image quality in favour of reduced file sizes.

This is a choice I'm comfortable making to facilitate access by dialup audiences.

Compliments of my friend Kim:


There is one street in Baltimore, 34th street, where all the town houses
on either side of the street decorate... and you
should see them! Unbelievable! They call it the "miracle on 34th
street". People come from all over to see it - usually have a cop
directing traffic - it is very popular! And just before you get to that
street there is a house that looks like Ralphie's house from "A
Christmas Story" - and yes there is a leg lamp in the window!

Monday, December 23, 2002


I've posted some examples of recent work on objects.

I'm having fun using Roomware(TM) to make movies and am excited about the opportunities the medium presents.

Anyone with a SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard, Windows Media Encoder and connection to the 'net, can be a "webcaster."

Very powerful stuff.

Click here for details.

Thursday, December 19, 2002


Happy Holidays


Good will and peace to all


Season's Greetings from samlab.com

NOTE: Special thanks to Mikel Pointmeier for his work on the graphic above.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002


Another post from Ventura, CA.

Here's a picture I took last night at sunset on the beach.

A picture of Ventura Beach at sunset

Monday, December 16, 2002


A post from Ventura, CA.

I'm here to conduct a SMART Master's On-site session at the Ventura College tomorrow afternoon.

I'd hoped to have some pictures to post, but there are some severe rain storms in the area -- not the best for picture taking. The good news is it's not snow ;-)

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Friday, December 13, 2002


Another post from the road, this time from the Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport. I'm at the Ameritech "service center" using the provided connection to make this post.

I'm assured there is no charge for local calls; however, I had to use my credit card to make a call which kinda begs a question -- here's hoping.

Today's session in Irvington went well and I enjoyed my visit to upstate New York. I find that I'm energized each time I get near the Big Apple. It really is a remarkable spot.

Next week I'm off to Ventura, CA early in the week. There was some talk that I'd be extending my stay with a trip to San Diego at the end of the week, but I'm not sure if that'll happen.

I'm happy that I've got a break coming up between Christmas and the New Year. For the most part I enjoy travel, but I'm looking forward to staying home for a bit and catching my breath.

Thursday, December 12, 2002


A quick post from Elmsford, New York.

I'm here over night ahead of a SMART Master's On-site session tomorrow morning in Irvington, NY.

Again I'll be working with a group of educators looking for ways to integrate SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboards into curriculum development and delivery in the classroom.

Following the session it's back to LaGuardia for a flight to Calgary, by way of Minneapolis, for the weekend.

On Monday, I'm off to Ventura, CA to deliver another on-site session.

I'd hoped to post a picture I took today on the way into LaGuardia, but I'm not able to edit the photo to reduce file size with the software available on this computer, and I don't want to post pictures that will be too big to be readily accessed by dialup readers of this blog.


Wednesday, December 11, 2002


More technical difficulties. My home PC has crashed hard. Toward the very end of today's 6:38:58 PM post, the "blue screen of death" reared its ugly head.

The poor thing is still locked up and I'm going to have to unplug it to have any hope of seeing something other than blue emanating from the attached monitor.

The good news is that blogspot.com had saved my post on the server.

Once I connected another computer over dialup I was able to publish the earlier post and make this one.

Blogger and dialup to the rescue once again!

This entry is to explain what's going on in the posts from Oct 22 -- 25 and Dec 5 -- 6. In the fall and again today, with last week's pics, I managed to corrupt the link to a graphic. This in turn disabled the edit function for the post with the graphic and the one before it.

There's nothing I can do to fix it. I can see the broken link but can't change or repost it.

Right-click on the broken link and choose Properties -- you'll be able to see the first part of the mess that supposed to be the link (URL) for the picture.

I've got a call into my friends at blogger

I'm sure Evan Williams and his crew will be able to help me out. They've have done a remarkable job of providing a "post from anywhere there's a phone jack and a dial tone" medium.

I joked last year that it once was, "whatever happens on the road, stays on the road." Now it's "whatever happens on the road, goes on the web."

This year it was true, where I haven't broken the links ;-)

Tuesday, December 10, 2002


Another picture from the start of the Women's Downhill and Super G.

This time with the FIS Start Referee, Eric Henry -- barely visible inside the tent.

Eric is a great guy and treated us to daily weather reports from Sydney, Australia over the Race Jury Channel before each race. It was +41 C one day!

Eric Henry, Start Referee, barely discernible inside the Start Tent for the Women's Winterstart Downhill and Super G races at Lake Louise

He and his wife Jackie travel from Down Under each year to work the races at skilouise.com

Both are great people and big contributors to the success of each year's races at the Lake.

A picture of Sam, the lab, on Lake Louise

I'm still trying to find some time to edit and post some more pictures from my week at Lake Louise, but it might be a while. In the next week I've got trips to New York, NY and Ventura, CA.

On top of that, I've just completed the intake survey for my next course at OISE/UT CTL 1799H SV Special Topics in Curriculum: Enhancing Holistic Learning with Computer Technology with Dr S. Karsten.

This will be the first course that I've taken that uses both OISENet's First Class and WebKF -- so far it has been one or the other -- for course content. Checking two sources for posts from colleagues may take a little getting used to.

I've come to prefer First Class although I must say that the "look and feel" of WebKF has improved since I saw it last.

"Classes" don't begin until the beginning of next month, but my experience in the couple of online courses I've taken to date has taught me that getting a jump on the action is always advisable.

I'm also thinking long and hard about my decision to take two courses in the spring semester.

Two courses and a nearly constant travel schedule may not work -- I've got slightly less than a month make up my mind.

As always, watch this space for updates.

Monday, December 09, 2002

More about this year's World Cup Downhill at Lake Louise.

The track at the Lake is for the women what Kitzb├╝hel is for the Men == the hardest course on the circuit, and pretty much the limit of human physical and mental endurance.

Travelling at speeds in excess of 100 KPH on skis takes something not many people have. Some veterans on the Net Crew at the race sport shirts with the following:

Slalom and GS and are disciplines . . . downhill is a cult.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Today I managed to make it out of the Communications trailer at the Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup and onto the race course. I rode a couple of lifts to the start of the Women's Downhill course and took some pictures.


The Start Tent serves as the staging area for racers. Preparing for each training run and race requires a great deal of coordination and effort from many groups and individuals.

The view from inside from inside the tent is very impressive, although I'm sure that is the last thing on the minds of atheletes as they prepare to hurtle down the mountain at speeds in excess of 100 kph.

Nonetheless, looking out across the Bow Valley provides some spectacular views.

No comments:

Wednesday, December 04, 2002


More from Lake Louise. Today it was colder (-21 celsius @ 0700 hrs) but warmed up nicely with brilliant sunshine.

During today's training run, an Italian skier had a fall and the Medical response skills practiced yesterday were put into action.

Prompt response by Medical staff ensured that the injured racer was treated on-site and transported to the bottom of the hill in a matter of twenty minutes.

Like all types of "first response" it is preferable that it not become necessary; however, I can say that the international field of racers gathered for Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup are fortunate to have a truly world-class medical team to respond as required.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002


A post of Sam himself after a hard day on the Lake.


Another post from Lake Louise.

Today was the first training run for the Women's Winterstart Worldcup Downhill at Lake Louise. It was an overcast and snowy day at the hill and it took some time to complete the training run which consisted of over 60 racers.

Following the training run, the Medical staff practiced the evacuation procedure they'll use to transport racers injured during the race.

Wardens from Parks Canada are slung beneath a rescue helicopter and arrive at incident scenes to provide assistance to "traditional" Ski Patrol personnel, and transport injured racers to further medical attention.

Today's pictures show:


  • the Pilot, Warden and Patrollers preparing for the exercise,


  • the helicopter heading to the "scene," and


  • as well as the helicopter flying overhead while returning with the "injured racer" (in this case a Patroller) and Warden slung beneath the helicopter.

Monday, December 02, 2002


Another post from the World Cup at Lake Louise. Today's picture was taken early this morning -- around 0800 hrs -- long after course workers had boarded lifts to prepare the race course for Tuesday's training run.

Sunday, December 01, 2002


A post from Lake Louise. I'm here for a week to volunteer at the Women's World Cup ski races. Today the men's Super G was held.

I learned today that it is very difficult to photograph subjects (in this case skiers) moving at speeds in excess of 100 kph.

This is one shot that actually had the skier in frame :-)

Saturday, November 30, 2002


Here's a picture that a friend from work -- Andy Leung -- took of me as I was packing up my camera to head up to the World Cup Winterstart 2002 at Lake Louise for a week as a volunteer radio dispatcher.

You can see more of Andy's photography at this link.

Watch this space for pictures from Lake Louise, starting tomorrow.


Friday, November 29, 2002


Online delivery presents an opportunity for developers to reach out and post resources. Learners are encouraged to take online resources and "run with them."

MIT's OpenCourseWare (OCW) and OPEN KNOWLEDGE INITIATIVE (O.K.I.) are exemplary.

Online curricula and blueprints for making more is a beautiful thing.

MIT is to be commended for its online offerings.

It's exciting to see what's transpiring online as communities -- collectively and individually -- evolve daily.

Thursday, November 28, 2002


Oliver Wrede posted URls to some fascinating research he's doing on Using weblogs to teach on April 28, 2002 to the eLearning Forum's blog.

Shame the Forum's blog seems to have ground to an abrupt halt with May 30, 2002 posts from a "marketeer" which read, in part:

"What we are looking to find out is can engineers with the necessary background be of use to eLearning or Training Organizations? Is there enough work out there to justify build a business model based on this focus?"

A picture I took on my way to work this morning.

Another I took at the end of the day.

And one my mate Damian took in between.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002


Today I posted a picture I took last month on the way home to Calgary from Utah.

It shows the beginnings of the snow cap for the year. After several years of drought there is very little in the way of snow. The little you see is what have arrived in the first weeks of October, 2002.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002


The search for the SMART Education Object continues. I hope to use task analysis to define which objects need to be considered and how. The trick will be to encapsulate sub-tasks or objects so that each learner will be able to use them according to individual learning and performance improvement needs.

Subject, Media, Application, Review, Test, Evaluation and Outcome -- present my concept of the model. In the beginning I imagined the SMART part of the model to be specific to the learner and EO part of the administrative domain.

The key to all of this is that a "critical mass" of learners collaborating with one another in an online setting ("online self-organizing social system" Wiley, 2001) is required to make the model work.

Analyzing tasks may help to define the questions that need to be asked of learners. Once the task or performance standard has been defined learners might be presented with the "frequently asked questions" (FAQ). At school or at work, there are individual tasks that are performed. This is especially true in an online environment. Once standards have been set, tasks have been defined, learners can be prompted with questions:

  • What do you need to get done?
    Get connected to the local area network at work

  • What will you use?
    Hardware and software

  • Do you know how to accomplish the sub-tasks required to get the job done?
    Make connection, access domain, input username and password

  • Is there anything you don't understand about how to accomplish the task(s) at hand?
    What's my password? How do I get a wireless card for my laptop?

  • Were you successful?
    I've accessed the network


The ultimate goal is to a CANCORE-based repository of objects learners will access as needed.

Rubrics, scenarios, ("story-centered curriculum" Schanks) and ascending levels of support will be provided. Ideally learners themselves will begin to refine and tweak objects to better meet individual and group needs.

Monday, November 25, 2002


Today I visited Calgary Technologies Inc. to deliver a SMART Master's On-site session for the SMART Board (TM) interactive whiteboard.

Once again, I got a lot out of the time spent with this group of learners.

Dialoging with technologically adept learners is exhilarating -- especially when they start asking the hard questions ;-)

Sunday, November 24, 2002


Today I spent some time working on my model for the SMART Education Object (SMARTEO). Specifically, I used SMART IdeasR software to begin mapping my model to the CANCORE specification.

I'm fortunate to be able to use SMART Roomware(TM); in this instance -- the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard and SMART Ideas -- to make a graphical representation of this model.

I am a kinetic and visual learner and the ability to draw and see a model developing makes the development process easier.

Saturday, November 23, 2002


Yesterday's DailyLinks from elearningpost.com -- include one to the work of another group of education/learning object theorists I've researched and admired which, in turn, contains links to other authors regular readers of this diary may recognize.

This month's Sidebars column -- Published by the Learning Resources Unit of the British Columbia Institute of Technology to support and recognize innovative practice in distributed learning at BCIT, and in the greater educational community -- contains links to object repositories as well as other "primers" on objects, including:

Stephen Downes of the U of Alberta and Warren Longmire of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)

I'd recommend each article to those looking for information on objects and their use in online education.

In the nearly twelve months I've been keeping this blog, I've seen the same names and groups appear time and again. I can see the online community begin to validate and emulate the work of peers it respects.

Because I believe very strongly in the concept -- it's gratifying to see "object" theorists essentially become an 'online self-organizing social system (OSOSS)." The 'net allows authors and researchers to lead by example and one sees the same names being cited again and again.

Friday, November 22, 2002


This entry was written aboard a Northwest Airlines jet on the Minneapolis-to-Calgary leg of my journey home from Newark. Good to be heading home after more than a week on the road.

My heavy travel schedule as of late has meant that I've not had a lot of time to work on the SMART Education Object (SMARTEO) model over the last few weeks, and has me more than a little worried about my impending (online) return to classes at OISE/UT in January.

The upside is that the medium means attending classes while travelling is possible, if less than practical.

That said, the SMART Master's sessions I'm delivering continue to provide me with "data" regarding the "needs" of those learning about the products of SMART Technologies Inc.

This "information gathering" is helping me to both conceptualize the evolving SMARTEO as well as determine what may or may not be practical in addressing the learning needs of SMARTians and customers.

Thursday, November 21, 2002


Today I delivered a SMART Master's Train-the-trainer session to faculty and staff of Ocean Gate School in Ocean Gate, N.J. It was a pleasure to work with these educators and collaborate on how to integrate interactive whiteboard technology during curriculum development and delivery efforts.

Following the session I travelled the Garden State Freeway and the New Jersey Turnpike back to Newark.

I'm extremely thankful that I don't have to make this commute on a regular basis. I've enjoyed my visit to New Jersey, but I certainly am not going to miss the freeways of the Garden State.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002


A post from Toms River, NJ.

This morning I flew from Detroit to Newark. This afternoon I drove a rental car from Newark to Toms River.

The learning continues. Today I learned that drivers on the freeways of New Jersey are every bit as aggressive and generally as "crazy" as those in Southern California.

In fact, from what I've seen on the freeways of America in the past few months, it seems that speed limits are definitely "optional" across the country.

I'd go as far as to suggest that you put yourself at risk by driving at or below the posted speed limit -- as the flow of traffic passes by at a relative velocity of 20 or 30 mile per hour.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002


Today I delivered a SMART Master's Event session in Detroit. The session was held in the Penobscot Building in the city centre.

The Penobscot Building is an impressive structure. Impressive enough in fact that its lobby served as one of the scenes in 8 Mile. (it "played the role" of the lobby of the radio station B. Rabbit (Eminem) visits during the movie).

Today's DailyLinks from elearningpost.com include one to the CANARIE intiative.

As the description of the link indicates, the CANARIE initiative, "involves the development and application of grids, repositories, web services and new approaches to sharing and collaborating."

Monday, November 18, 2002


Today I delivered a SMART Master's On-site session to the staff of Telcom Credit Union in Southfield, MI.

The Credit Union has a Rear Projection SMART Board(TM) 3000i interactive whiteboard and I really enjoyed working with staff to help them get the most of this integrated SMART Board for the training and presentation work done at the Credit Union.

Sunday, November 17, 2002


Today I went to see Eminem's new movie, 8 Mile.

Since I'm in Detroit, I wanted to see the movie on the street from which the movie takes it name.

To that end, I visited the Phoenix Theatre, Detroit's Neighborhood Theatre at 8 Mile and Van Dyke. I really enjoyed the movie and agree with some of the reviews I've read that liken it to Rocky.

8 Mile, while provocative and raw, is never gratuitious and is inspirational. It speaks to the integrity and strength of the human spirit and what's possible when one believes in self and seizes opportunities as they present themselves.


Saturday, November 16, 2002


Another post from Detroit.

Yesterday I had the good fortune to present a SMART Master's Train-the-trainer session to administration staff of the Detroit Public Schools.

I really enjoy working with educators. SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboards are extremely effective teaching tools and educators "get it."

The sessions I deliver to teachers and educational administrators present fantastic opportunities to workshop and dialogue while exploring implementation strategies for the classroom and I always learn as much, if not more, than my "students" -- as was the case with yesterday's session.

Thursday, November 14, 2002


A post from Detroit, MI.

I arrived this afternoon to deliver more SMART Master's On-site and Event sessions to SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard customers. On my way to the Motor City, I spent time reviewing the Building Educational Metadata Application Profiles whitepaper I referenced yesterday.

I liked the "Interoperability and Pragmatism" section of the paper and hope to be able to apply these concepts to the SMART Education Object. I'm also looking forward to learning more about the learning object and metadata work being done in Australia.

I'm especially intrigued by how standards (The Le@rning Federation Metadata Application Profile, CANCORE, Learning Object Metadata) are converging and how pragmatism will ultimately define the usefulness of object-based education and learning for all stakeholders.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002


Today's link comes to us compliments of Damian Bolton, friend and cube-mate at SMART Technologies Inc.

Damian asked me if I'd seen the Distance Education Clearing House page at the University of Wisconsin -- I hadn't and I thank him for sending it along.

Today's revisiting of the work of "object theorists" I respect led to Norm Friesen at CANCORE. While in looking at what the CANCORE gang had been doing since my last visit I discovered the Building Educational Metadata Application Profiles paper by Friesen, Nigel Ward and Jon Mason.

The paper addresses "interoperability" as it relates to the distribution of objects -- a huge issue for developers -- and is the result of an Australian-Canadian collaboration:

In particular, it provides an overview of metadata implementations for managing and distributing Learning Objects and the practical issues that have emerged so far in this domain. The discussion is informed by examples from two national education and training communities – Australia and Canada

The fact that Damian joined us from Australia in May means that today's post is another example of an Australian-Canadian collaboration. Thanks mate, eh ;-)

Tuesday, November 12, 2002


I continue to revisit some of the sites I've been to over the past year to see what's "the latest" from those that have shaped my notion of "objects" as they relate to education and learning.

Those familiar with the model I've produced for the SMART Education Object will know that the work of David Wiley -- specifically "online self-organizing social systems (OSOSS)" -- forms the basis of the model.

I visited Dr. Wiley's site again today and found that he's posted several presentations related to his ongoing work on objects.

Use the "Page Down" key to scroll through the *.PPT presentations at the link above.

Monday, November 11, 2002


I made my way to the Cenotaph in Calgary today to pay my respects and remember those who gave their lives in service of Canada.

I think it is important -- perhaps now more than ever -- that we take the time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, "lest we forget."

Sunday, November 10, 2002


Today I spent some time working with SMART Ideas(R) to refine the model of the SMART Education Object (SMARTEO).

SMART Ideas allows users to save content in two different html-based formats. You can see the SVG version of the SMARTEO at this link.

NOTE: Some of the internal links within the model won't be active -- these links still point to files on my local hard drive.

I'll work on these and posts updates in the coming days.


Saturday, November 09, 2002


Winter has made an early arrival in southern Alberta.

Canada Olympic Park (COP) and Lake Louise have both been open for a week. I haven't skied or snowboarded yet this season, but I'm scheduled to work the Winterstart Worldcup Downhill and GS Races at Lake Louise again this year, so it won't be long before I'm on snow again.

Today I learned more about the "Auto Panorama" function on my Olympus C-720 Ultra Zoom camera.

The "stitched" picture that I've linked to at the bottom this post, started life as a *.jpg file that was nearly 7 MB in size and had physical dimensions on the order of 40" by 10" -- great if you're looking to produce a poster, but not practical for web posting -- to one's blog, for instance.

Producers of web content need to make their content relatively easy to access if they want it to be seen -- if the download takes too long your audience won't wait. They'll cancel the download and point their browsers elsewhere. You've got on the order of 15 seconds before users will be hitting the Stop button on their browsers to cancel a given download.

With that in mind, follow the link below to access a 203 KB version of the stitched "panorama" shot of Early winter in Calgary I made today.

Friday, November 08, 2002


Once again I struck gold today in the DailyLinks from elearningpost.

As is usually the case, In search of the perfect e-tutor from Fastrak Consulting, contained more valuable links.

The Learning to teach online (LeTTOL) link is a case in point. The home page for this accredited on-line distance education course is another example of how learners are accessing resources via the 'net.

For me the key is that online educators, trainers or tutors learning and becoming accredited online, means that each will "walk a mile in the shoes" of their students. I know that completing studies toward an M.Ed. online is giving me a new appreciation of the challenges facing online students.

I can also attest to the benefit of being an online tutor. It really is true that you can't fully appreciate a subject until you teach it. I learned this last semester when I had the opportunity to tutor some colleagues at OISE/UT and co-moderate a class conference.

Resources from the Fastrak article.

Links from the LeTTOL site.

Thursday, November 07, 2002


More about Hot Potatoes.

While in looking at the wonderful resources posted on Paolo Cutini's site, I came across a link to Hotpotatoes.net -- a hosting site for content produced with V 5.5 of the software.

I'm once again very impressed with what I've seen so far. This resource allows teachers to score the progress of students and provides an effective avenue for feedback to both the online instructor and student. Very powerful stuff.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002


Another great link from elearningpost.com.

Preparing Teachers to Use Learning Objects provides background and implementation advice for teachers who would like to teach with objects.

There are a number of great references to the "state of the art" including reference to the work done by the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT).

Definitely worth a look for those who'd like to know more about the "nuts and bolts" of developing and delivering object-based curricula.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I was in looking at the toils of the Half-baked gang at UVic again over the past couple of days. The Hot Potatoes suite continues to evolve very nicely.

They've added a certification program for trainers that is unlike any other I've seen. I told a colleague today that the certification process itself represents extremely effective instructional design. Competencies are clearly defined and a "fill in the blanks" web form allows the prospective trainer to list the URLs of exhibit sites for evaluation. Paolo Cutini -- a certified trainer -- has done a great job with Hot Potatoes.

I'm especially impressed with the evolution of the Hot Potatoes. The developers have done, and are doing, a great job of keeping their product effective and relevant. No mean feat in the 'net world of the last few years ;-) For instance, I found the following on their site this afternoon:

Export to XML formats compliant with IMS e-learning specifications (if and when these become stable and practical)

The thing is ... they're not joking; their medium is constantly changing -- I remain very impressed by the way they're keeping up.

Monday, November 04, 2002


I've been revisiting some sites in my research and visited Robert Schank's occasional column -- Educational Outrage.

I found his July 4, 2002 column particularly germane in my efforts to refine the SMART Education Object (SMARTEO).

Stay tuned....

Saturday, November 02, 2002


I'm looking forward to getting back to shool. I'm in the process of putting together a proposal for my Major Research Project (MRP) for my Master's of Education degree at OISE/UT. My intention is to leverage the work that I've done on the SMARTEO model and apply it to have learners use "online self-organizing social systems" to meet their own education, professional development and training needs.

I'm excited by the prospect of an "of the people, by the people, for the people" approach to online-based education -- as outlined in the SMARTEO model. I'm especially intrigued by how face-to-face (F2F) and online "conferencing" impact those educating themselves about technology in general and SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboards in particular.

Furthermore, what benefits are gained from a group or team approach which involves SMART Roomware(TM) to build knowledge and educate all "stakeholders."

Click here for an *.rtf version of the SMARTEO whitepaper.

Friday, November 01, 2002


A Happy (belated) Halloween to all.

I travelled back to the Great White North from LAX on All Hallows Eve. Palm trees to snowshoes. (snow on the ground and daytime "highs" around freezing in Calgary).

I'd expected the passengers to be the wild ones outta Los Angeles but the "scariest" thing I saw was an Air Canada ticket/gate agent -- in a "Friday the 13th'd" goalie mask -- telling the passenger he'd just checked-in to: "Have a scary flight!"

He kept his mask on throughout the boarding process and it took everything I have not to comment as he looked at the picture in my passport.

The highlight of my trip to southern California -- notwithstanding my encounter with "Jason" -- was my visit to Yucca Valley High School. I worked with faculty of the Math and Science departments there who can really make the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard (SBiw) sing. I was there to deliver a SMART Master's On-site session on the SBiw and learned a great deal from these "power users."


Sunday, October 27, 2002


A post from California's San Fernando Valley.

I flew into LAX last evening, picked up a rental car and made my way to Chatsworth, CA.

In the next week I'll be delivering SMART Master's event and on-site sessions in Chatsworth, Pomona, Yucca Valley and Anaheim, California.

This will involve considerable driving on the freeways of Southern California. Regular readers of this diary will remember my posts of a couple of weeks back regarding my adventures on the highways around the Toronto area. From what I've seen so far, let's say that if the freeways in Southern Ontario are "Triple A," those of Southern California are the "Big Leagues."

I have an Italian restaurant to recommend for those visiting Chatsworth. Last night I went to Sergio's for dinner and was very impressed with the food. Definitely worth checking out for those who like Italian food. I had the Shrimp Italiano -- delicious. My only quibble, and it's minor, is that I they don't make cappucinos.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Lake Tahoe

Today I delivered a SMART Master's On-site session to staff at Bently Nevada in Minden, NV. I was very impressed with their operation. They have a wonderful facility which includes a breathtaking view of the Sierra Nevada mountains across Carson Valley.

Following the session I made a trip over these same mountains to visit Lake Tahoe. This is a very beautiful part of the world and I look forward to visiting this part of Nevada again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002


30000 ft on the way to Nashville, I hope. The pilot told us before takeoff that we may be diverted to Louisville due to fog in Nashville. We heard that the weather was improving just as we left Denver -- I hope so. My drive is two hours south of Nashville as it is. Louisville will add a number of hours to the journey. Tomorrow's SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard Master's session at Arnold Air Force Base marks the first of six sessions in the next nine days.

I'm writing again from my favourite jet -- the Canadair Regional Jet from Bombardier. The good news is that I was able to secure an exit row aisle seat (8B). I'm really not looking forward to experiencing a non-exit/bulkhead seat on one of these babies; but, given the 80 to 100% travel I'm doing these days I'll no doubt have the pleasure at some point.

On the academic front, I'm happy to report that I was able (yesterday) to register for a Spring semester course at OISE/UT. I visited the Repository of Student Information (ROSI) and managed to enroll in CTL 1600 Implementing Dynamic Web Interaction for Education with Dr. Robert McLean.

When I met with Dr. McLean a couple of weeks back he told me that this is the first time this course has been offered online and he's not sure exactly how it'll turn out. The course itself involves common gateway interface (CGI) programming and producing "front ends" for collection of data from users and should prove to be very technically challenging. This will prove especially so if my travel schedule continues at its current pace.

As always, watch this space for updates.

Friday, October 18, 2002


Well, I made it home again in one piece after a couple more flights on the Bombardier-made Canadair Regional Jet. (I'm getting a little ahead of myself, I'm making this post on my laptop at 30,000 ft with the hope of being able to post it after landing in Calgary)

Retraced the route I took to Austin -- through Salt Lake City and on to Calgary.

For those of you out there who think there isn't much room on a "regular" jet -- give your local regional/short-haul carrier a try and see what your knees think of the experience.

If you're anywhere near six feet tall, let alone over, you'll want to leave yourself enough time to secure a seat in the emergency row...and pray they don't shoehorn someone in beside you!

The most "exciting" part of the journey (so far ;) was the approach to Salt Lake City. I had a seat in the bulkhead (the "front row") and was close enough to "the action" to hear what was going on in the cockpit.

About half-way through our "final" (I thought for a minute it would be just that!) approach, the jet banked sharply to the right and slowed appreciably. This maneuver stalled the aircraft and set off the "watch out you're going to crash" alarms in the cockpit -- "woop, woop, woop" -- as we dropped like a rock.

I'm happy to report that the pilots quickly remedied the situation, righted the craft and we landed safely.

On this trip I learned that:

  • National Guard personnel out of Camp Mabry in Austin, TX are doing some neat things with technology, especially video and I look forward to working with National Guard staff on SMART Board (TM) interactive whiteboard-based video-conferencing

  • Travellers are well-advised to leave lots of time for clearing security at the Austin airport

  • Sitting at the front of the plane -- especially when there is no first- or business-class involved -- may not be all it's cracked-up to be.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002


Quick post from Austin, TX.

Arrived a few hours ago via Salt Lake City, UT. Both the flight from Calgary to Salt Lake and the trip from Salt Lake to Austin were on Canadair Regional Jets operated by SkyWest Airlines. The trip from Salt Lake to Austin (DL 3916) was memorable because of our flight attendant.

"Jim" was a high-school teacher for 30+ yrs and has worked as a flight attendant for 15 months, he told us. He provided excellent service to those on our full plane and he received a rousing ovation from all passengers as we taxied toward the gate in Austin.

I'm sure it would have been a standing ovation, had the captain not had the "fasten seat-belt" sign illuminated ;)

Sunday, October 13, 2002


On Friday night I was unable to get the dialup connection to work in my hotel in Detroit.

Ironic given my "16.8 dialup connection, no less!" comment from Sturgis earlier in the day. It wasn't the fastest, but at least it was a connection.

The Airport Marriott had highspeed and such, but I couldn't get my dialup connection to work. Might have tried harder if I was staying more than eight hours. Landed in around 20:00 hrs on Friday night and a 0630 hrs flight on Sat morning -- meant a 0400 hrs wakeup call, so I wasn't as motivated as I might have been.

Things I learned on my trip to Sturgis:

  • Chicago is closer to Sturgis than is Detroit
  • Traffic on the freeways in Michigan, while as heavy as that in southern Ontario, moves at a much faster rate
  • If my experience in Michigan on Friday (a mix of cars and semis in very close proximity at 70+ MPH) is any indication, more incidents like the crash in Wisconsin are inevitable

Friday, October 11, 2002


Today's posts are being made from Sturgis, MI....over a 16.8 kps dialup connection, no less!

I'm happy to report that I was able to visit both the registrar and my academic adviser -- Dr Robert McLean -- at OISE/UT while in Toronto. While I still have some work to do and obstacles to overcome, at least now I have hope that I'll be able to complete degree requirements for my M.Ed. in Curriculum with a specialization in Computer Applications via online studies.

I'm also happy that I was able to meet with Dr. McLean to discuss my proposal for the "major research project" I need to complete to satisfy degree requirements. As always, watch this space for developments.

While at the registrar's office, I learned that students typically enroll for courses in both semesters of the following academic year as soon as course lists are released in March of each year. I mentioned to the registrar that they might do well to mention this to distance students and these same "distance" (i.e., online) students should be given "first right of refusal" on these courses given that they do not have access to face-to-face courses.

Bottom line -- get in there to register as soon as courses become available -- even if it is nearly a full year before classes begin!

OK -- for those of you reading the Oct 8th entry and saying:

"Duh! Why didn't you [me] take public transit and avoid the traffic?" On the 9th, I tried.

In the process I learned that parking is at a premium in public transportation lots between Burlington and Toronto. I stopped in lots in Burlington (Aldershot actually -- this is where the problems started -- silly me, I'd driven past the "Burlington" sign expecting just that).

There was all the parking you'd ever want but the train was at the next stop -- Burlington. I jumped in the car and head for the next stop -- Oakville. I circled this lot looking for a parking spot long enough to see the train entering the station.

My next stop in search of "park and ride" parking was at the Islingtion subway station. No luck there either. I made my way back to the Gardiner expressway to continue the drive into Toronto and was into the city about the same time as the train. I saw it again just before the Union Station stop.

Suffice it to say that my trip west to Hamilton at the end of the day -- unlike the trip east during "non rush-hour" took longer than it would have on the train ;)

Tuesday, October 08, 2002


Another post from Hamilton, ON.

Today we finished up at the World Workplace tradeshow in Toronto. The show ended at 1400 hrs and I managed to get on the road to Hamilton shortly after 1430 hrs. Once again, I was amazed at the traffic I encountered, especially so given the time of day (i.e., well before rush hour).

I can't imagine what it's like to subject one's self to this type of fray day after day by commuting in and around Toronto -- if the traffic itself doesn't kill you, the wear and tear on your heart will.

I guess the fact that the on-ramp I took to enter the Gardiner Expressway (part the Queen Elizabeth Way -- a four-lane freeway that tracks along the northern shore of Lake Ontario) had a sign indicating that the ramp closes weekdays at 1500 hrs, should have been a clue to what awaited me on the "expressway."

While there is no question that there are benefits to living in the "big city," traffic congestion surely isn't one of them.

Monday, October 07, 2002


A post from Toronto, ON.

I'm here working the World Workplace tradeshow. It's been a number of years since I've been in Toronto (I completed my undergrad at the University of Toronto in 1990) and the city has changed. Maybe it hasn't changed that much -- it may be more that I'm not used to the congestion in traffic and what seems to be limitless road construction.

I attended Homecoming festivities at the University of Toronto on Saturday and had the good fortune to attend a lecture given by Dr. Kim Vicentes on "human factors" as they relate to computers. I'm intrigued by the work being done by Dr. Vicentes and his colleagues. I'll post more information here in the days to come.

While in Toronto this week I hope to be able to visit OISE and resolve the registration problems I'm having regarding the courses I need to complete my M.Ed. While I welcome this opportunity, I'm disappointed that a "face-to-face" visit to the school seems required.

I'd truly hoped that I'd be able to complete my degree entirely online, and still hope to complete coursework online, I'm disappointed that I have to "resort" to visiting the campus to resolve the problems I'm having.

Friday, October 04, 2002


It's been a while since I've made an entry.... this one from Hamilton, ON.

I've just completed two days of training in Pecos, TX for the Pecos Barstow Toyah ISD. Day one was spent with a group of "power users." I spent day two with a group of teachers who have just begun, or are about to start, using SMART Board interactive whiteboards in the classroom. I had fun with both groups and, as always, learned a lot from each.

I really enjoy working with our customers to explore creative ways to employ our products to better do the jobs they do -- in this most recent instance, creating and delivering curricula to K-12 students.

Educators are big fans of our products. Time and time again I hear, "I don't know how I ever taught without it!"

On day one in Pecos I heard one teacher tell another that if he was forced to do without his, he'd quit. "Life's too short to teach without one of these," he said as he pointed to the SMART Board interactive whiteboard at the front of the room.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002


Another post from the road. This time Columbus, Ohio.

This post contains another in a long list of references this blog has made to elearningpost.com.

I think the Daily Links mailing list is the best online newsletter out there. I've been a subscriber since near the beginning (Sept 2000) and I've yet to see anything less than first-rate links to online resources, theories and writings.

The following excerpt has been taken from today's Links and addresses both the notion of online learning and blogging:

CONFERENCE BLOGGING: ONLINE LEARNING 2002
Online Learning 2002 kicked off at Anaheim yesterday, and thanks to these amazing bloggers, we can virtually be a part of it.
Stephen Downes's photo gallery
http://www.downes.ca/photos/anaheim1.htm
Jay Cross's presentation followup
http://64.224.94.100/blog/

Tuesday, September 24, 2002


Tonight I reaped the benefit of an internet adventure.

When I purchased the latest release by the The Tragically Hip, In Violet Light, I became a "card carrying" -- one was included inside the CD case -- of the theHipclub. Registering in the "club" meant a chance to pre-purchase tickets online.

I was ready to go at the assigned hour and my "quick draw" on the keyboard led to front-row seats at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium -- a fantastic concert and some great photo opportunities.

Sunday, September 15, 2002


Well -- looks like I've run out of options at OISE/UT this fall. Regular readers will know that I've had trouble registering for courses this fall. I thought I'd done what was needed to get registered -- obviously not. Given my experience in the fall I thought I'd be proactive and register for the winter term. Deadline to apply isn't until the 10th of December, but the one course I've checked on is full.

I'm disappointed and somewhat discouraged by this experience. My first reaction was to invoke the "where the sun don't shine" clause and take my business (read tuition dollars) elsewhere. It may still come to that, but, for now, I've decided to stick it out. I'm not sure what exactly I can do -- maybe "independent studies" is an option -- I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile I intend to continue my research into "online self-organizing social systems (OSOSS)." I've based my design of the SMART Education Object (SMARTEO) on OSOSS and continue to encourage stakeholders to provide feedback on the model and how they use it to design, develop and deliver curricula. I'll continue my research in this area -- whether or not it eventually leads to course credit -- and will use this forum to keep a record of proceedings while looking for an understanding faculty member.

NOTE: The model at the link above was produced with SMART Ideas(TM), concept-mapping software from SMART Technologies Inc. -- the model uses Scable Vector Graphics (SVG) and requires SVG Viewer from Adobe.


Saturday, September 14, 2002


elearningpost.com is two years old and seems to be getting better with age.

I've been a subscriber to the Daily Links for most of this time and consider it to be a fantastic resource. These two gems recently appeared on the same day:

Marty Lucas' Demystifying Metadata -- provides a "way in" for those learning about metadata.

Jay Cross' thoughts on "objects" -- Being Objective -- as they relate to learning is education is another case in point. I'm familiar with the work of Jay and his colleagues at internettime.com and found his thoughts intriguing. I'm especially interested in the observation that current "object-based" designs don't take instructional design into account.

I was especially interested in what both authors had to say given the relevance to the SMART Education Object (SMARTEO).

My intention from the beginning with SMARTEO has been to ensure accessibility for "non-technical" audiences and include an "instructional design" component directly into each object.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002


Another post from Dallas.

I'm not sure what to write on this the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America; however, I feel the need to write something. I find myself dealing with many of the same emotions I had a year ago -- shock, sorrow, anger, disbelief, outrage.

I've been very impressed by the way that Americans have dealt, and are dealing, with the attacks of a year ago. The strength of spirit shown by Americans in general, and New Yorkers in particular, has been inspiring. Stories of individual and collective heroism continue to be broadcast by news media.

For me, the biggest credit to the American people has been the lengths they've gone to ensure the distinction between the perpetrators of these crimes (the so-called "Islamists") and the larger Muslim population. This is a true credit to the memory of those lost a year ago and to the very fabric of the society so viciously attacked.

I personally believe that the agenda of bin Laden and his ilk was to drive a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims with these attacks by engendering fear and mistrust. They misjudged the resolve and integrity of the American people -- individually and collectively -- as evidenced by the response to these attacks.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002


I'm making this post from Dallas, TX.

I'm here to deliver training at a SMART Master's Event. It's been a rainy couple of days in the Lone Star state. There were some flood warnings on the news last night. Yesterday was windy and overcast, but the rain is holding off for the time being.

As always, the humidity is the most striking aspect of the climate. I walked from my hotel (La Quinta Inn and Suites) to the convention center (City Center) we're presenting at tomorrow and I was soaked with perspiration within minutes of leaving the hotel.

On the academic front, I'm sorry to report that I still haven't been able to find a course to take this semester.

This is especially frustrating given the fact that I've been attempting to secure a spot in a course since the end of June (deadline was mid-August) with no success.

I've sent another e-mail to the registrar expressing my disappointment, asking for suggestions re registration/waiting lists and how best to secure a refund of tuition if no courses are available. I'm hoping that the notion of a "refund" brings a sense of urgency to proceedings -- especially since courses begin today.

The Master's of Education degree -- Curriculum with a specialization in Computer Applications -- I'm taking at OISE/UT is the only one that can be completed entirely online. They may want to begin providing a disclaimer along the lines of "Provided you can get registered in the @#$%ing courses!"

Tuesday, September 03, 2002


I happened across this page while stumbling around at OISE/UT looking for an e-mail address for the registrar.

Seems they'd sooner you'd visit in person rather than "electronically." Full rundown of "office" hours for the month of September, but nary so much as a phone number, let alone e-mail, for those Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC)/"distance[ed?!]" students.

Classes begin next Monday, so I'm hoping to get a seat in a course sooner vs later.

I've also had difficulties getting registered for online courses in the past. I'm sure this helps to explain why so many CMC courses have a face-to-face (F2F) component. In fact, there is often a F2F "initiation" where students learn about software applications, form study groups and generally get acquainted with people and process.

That said, I like being able to work and live 2000+ km away from the physical campus as I complete degree requirements -- it adds to my learning of CMC-based pedagogy. The "medium is the message" -- if I may.

There is considerable debate regarding the merits of a "CMC-only" education. The only thing I know for sure is that I'm happy to be completing my Master's of Education degree entirely online. The opportunity to attend graduate school at a Canadian "ivy league" university -- completely via CMC -- provides a context for learning and research into the connection and literacy issues germane to CMC-based education.

Monday, September 02, 2002


I ran into this link while researching online learning. It's a great presentation by Philip C. Candy I found on the Events in Oxford page. It speaks to my "self-directed" view of 'net-based learning:

Putting the 'learning' back into eLearning
Kellogg Seminar, 24 April 2002
Prof. Philip C. Candy's talk is available as a PowerPoint presentation.

Abstract: Self-directed adult learners attempt to navigate in an
information landscape without landmarks, and to make sense of (and impose order on) the profusion of stimuli they encounter in cyberspace. This presentation develops a model for designing software and creating structures to support lifelong learning through formal, non-formal and informal means.


Sunday, September 01, 2002


Last week I was back in California -- this time to the San Francisco Bay Area -- to conduct SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard (SBIW) Master's Program On-site sessions.

On Wednesday morning at Eden Area Regional Occupation Program (ROP), in Hayward, CA., I worked with beginning to advanced users who provided some great classroom curriculum-integration suggestions. In the afternoon at Oliver Worldclass Labs, Inc., in Benicia, CA., I brainstormed with a group of "super" users who kept me "dancing as fast as I can!"

For me the real key is to use these sessions to define a group of participants -- "SBIW Stakeholders" -- and then offer the online self-organizing social system (OSOSS)-based SMART Education object (SMARTEO) as a framework or "scaffold" to guide, develop and maintain the construction of a knowledge base to meet the needs of all stakeholders.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002


I'm making this post from the Denver International Airport -- thanks to a " free for a limited time only" high-speed internet connection provided by Qwest.

Denver has a variety of amenities for the traveler. The Qwest Business Center offers a series of cubicles (makes the business traveler feel right at home!), each with both a dialup and high-speed connection, good lighting and comfortable chairs. Just the ticket for "road warriors" looking to get some work done during layovers. It's nice to be able to check e-mail, directions to hotels and training sites and confirm rental car reservations while in transit.

Still no word on school for this semester. I've got until the end of the week to register for classes, but haven't been able to secure a spot in any of the classes that interest me. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to secure a spot in a course. I also intend to apply for spots in spring semester courses -- and all other semesters, for that matter -- well in advance of the registration deadlines. The classes themselves are taxing enough without the added pressure of wondering if you'll even get in!

Watch this space for progress updates.

Monday, August 26, 2002


Today I had our VP of IS ask me about blogs.

I told him that blogs would be a great way for us to build a knowledge base.

This diary has proven to me that a record of the learning process is valuable in considering not only what's been learned, but -- arguably more importantly -- how it's been learned.

Friday, August 23, 2002


Got back early this morning from San Diego, CA -- America's Finest City. This marked my the first of what I hope are frequent trips to Southern California. San Diego is a beautiful city.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with the staff and faculty of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education (Mission Valley Campus) of Point Loma Nazarene University -- , during a SMART Master's Program On-Site Session for the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard.

I learned a lot at Point Loma -- I learn a lot each time I interface with SMART Roomware(TM) customers.

I love to learn. For instance, in San Diego I also learned that the weather was unseasonably cool [65 - 75 F -- "winter temperatures"], I'm becoming increasingly fond of cities with palm trees and Junior Seau has a great restaurant in Mission Valley.

Thursday, August 15, 2002


It's back to school time.

It's been a while since I've been a returning student. I'm looking forward to getting back to it. I'm on the waiting list for one course and will have to look around if I don't get in. From my limited (2 semesters) experience -- spots become available once students appreciate what's involved in terms of work.

Colleagues in courses have stated that online M.Ed. courses at OISE/UT are two to three times the amount of work of face-to-face (F2F) courses. Some felt that there was a comparable increase in the quality of the learning afforded the student. Others felt overwhelmed by the intensity of the online learning (in this case, asynchronous conferencing with periodic synchronous chats) environment.



Sunday, August 11, 2002


Bring your "A" game and course-management skills to Royal Oaks in Moncton, New Brunswick. I consider myself lucky to have carded a 107 yesterday.

At one point I carded five "sevens" -- everything from double to quad bogies -- in a row. Notwithstanding this sorry fact, I definitely recommend a round at this Canadian Maritime gem. As a "deal" or "value for your money," this course ranks up there with Kananaskis outside Calgary, Alberta. Although the course is inland, it very much looks and plays like a links course. The course is very well-designed and maintained with carpet-like fairways and greens.

Green fees of $65.00 -- what's that, about $ 22.50 (USD)? -- make Royal Oaks a "must play" when in Moncton.

Friday, August 09, 2002


A post from vacation. "What I'm doing on my summer vacation," if you will.

I'm in Moncton, New Brunswick -- Canada's only officially bilingual (English/French) city -- after a week in Ontario. For the past two weeks, I've been cottaging, golfing and catching up with family and friends in Eastern Canada. I'm having a great time.

Last week I golfed Eagle Creek in Dunrobin, ON was especially fun. It's designed by Ken Venturi and presents a challenge. Many "risk-reward" holes and hard-to-read greens make this a tester for golfers of all levels. The advanced tees present opportunities to "run" the ball to the green. Forced carries over water and waste bunkers are in store for golfers from the other tee boxes.

The course "played long" because it was soaking wet from thunderstorms the night before and I struggled to a 102 -- the first time in a while that I wasn't able to break the century mark.

I've just booked a time for tommorrow at Royal Oaks, "the first Canadian course designed by Rees Jones." My father-in-law tells me that George H. Bush played there last week. I'm looking forward to playing the course and hope that I able to score a little better than I did at Eagle Creek -- I'll be back with a post following the round.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002


An edited version of a post I made today to my KMDI journal

I continue to be impressed with the way the series evolved over the spring. I was especially impressed with the way Dr. Baecker and his staff responded to feedback I provided regarding my experience and that of classmates attempting to attend the webcasts. All aspects of the series -- from production to archiving -- underwent significant improvement over the course of the 2002 series. I'm excited about next year's offerings. I'm particularly interested in the "social" aspects of technology and how groups of learners at remote sites might engage and build a knowledge base.

Ideally I'll one day have a journal like this describing my online participation in a course offered by the KMDI.

I'm half-tempted to write and ask Drs. Baecker and Nolan if I can be an online participant (auditor?) of the inaugural offering of KMDI 1000Y this fall.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002


I've updated my web site. I've added a link to my KMDI page.

The page was prepared as coursework for CTL 1606 at OISE/UT and offers my reflections on participation in the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI)'s Spring Lecture Series.

Dr. Ron Baecker and his team are doing some incredible work and I encourage you to check out the archives of the series.

Friday, July 12, 2002


Last night I returned from a trip to Kansas City, Missouri and Leavenworth, Kansas. I was there to conduct SMART board TM interactive whiteboard Train-the-trainer sessions for the administrators, faculty and staff of the Command & General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

I had fun dialoging with these "power users" of our software and technology and I learned a lot.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002


At Training 2002, held in Atlanta in February, I attended two sessions by M. David Merrill. Dr. Merrill told us that he is a great fan of Howard Gardner. I bring this up because my recent travels on the 'net have taken me to Dr. Gardner's site. His AN EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE: The Foundation of Science and Values seems especially pertinent to me as I look for ways to engender online self-organizing social systems (OSOSS) for knowledge building.

I also heard Merrill say that he considered Dr. David Wiley's concept of OSOSS (Wiley and Edwards 2002) as pooled ignorance. While there may not be much to show for efforts just yet, the authors recognize that their model requires a "critical mass" and:
We see the prime areas for future research in OSOSS as twofold: more thorough ethnographic and discourse studies of existing OSOSS, including grounded theory studies that could guide the creation of software infrastructures to facilitate the development of these communities, and studies of ways around the weaknesses in OSOSS. The main obstacle to this research will be the large numbers of participants necessary for self-organization to occur, but the promise of the OSOSS approach merits the effort on the part of researchers. 1

I've proposed the SMART Education Object (SMARTEO), an OSOSS-based learning and teaching strategy for the employees, customers and clients of SMART Technologies Inc. My hope is the model will provide a way for interested parties to engage with others and ultimately become one of the "large numbers of participants necessary for self-organization to occur."



Sunday, June 23, 2002


Last week I was in San Antonio to conduct a SMART board TM interactive whiteboard Master's training session and work the SMART Technologies Inc. booth @ the "National Educational Computing Conference". The Nexus in Texas was a blast.

This conference presented an opportunity to "preach to the converted." The attendees I encountered on the show floor "got it." It was nice to hear the interesting stuff our customers are doing with RoomwareTM. These technologically proficient customers presented challenging questions, which are always welcome. There's a kick to be had helping customers use our hardware and software in creative ways.

On the way to the airport on Thursday, I had the good fortune to be able to spend a few hours visiting the Education Service Center, Region 20 in San Antonio.

Man, what a facility! It's packed with people and resources with the expressed aim of providing service and support to educators.

My "behind the scenes" was conducted by Dr. Eddyth Worley. Dr. Worley is a dynamic and engaging individual who had us in stitches throughout.

The tour itself featured:
  • "modular" meeting rooms
  • state of the art computers -- labs, mainframes and networks
  • full television studios
  • the nation's second largest producer (behind the federal government) of Braille
  • supplies and facilities for preparing teaching materials
  • a greenhouse
  • a "lending library" for amphibians and reptiles
I remain very impressed. I've never seen anything like it. This link provides a little background on Dr. Worley's work.


Friday, June 14, 2002


I had the good fortune to visit Manhattan on business this week, Sunday through Wednesday. I can't say how much I enjoyed "living and working" in New York -- even if it was only for three days.

Regular readers of this diary will know that a week ago I was raving about the merits of New Orleans. I'd now say that I'd be quite happy to alternate between New Orleans and New York. Both cities are something to behold. The Big Apple is as "energized" as the Big Easy is "laid-back."

On Monday I attended a free concert Broadway Under the Stars in Bryant Park. It was a beautiful evening to be out, so I bought supper to go at the Parkside Cafe on 40th St, read the Times and watched the park fill up in the hours before the concert.

The concert itself was magnificent. Eighteen musical numbers were performed by a variety of Broadway dancers, musicians and singers. The highlight for me was Linda Eder's rendition of "If I Had My Way" -- a song written since the attacks on the World Trade Center. The tribute to the thousands who had been killed on September 11, mere blocks from where I was standing, moved me to tears.

On Tuesday evening I visited "Museum Mile" and took advantage of free admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The little I was able to see of the museum impressed me and I'd definitely like to get back to see more.

Bryant Park has "free" offerings -- on Monday nights -- throughout the summer -- definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, June 13, 2002


Another gem from elearningpost.com. "Online Learning Community (OLC) Researchers [Chih-Hsiung Tu, Ph.D. and Michael Corry] have attempted to define OLC from its four basic components: community, learning, network, and technology (Office of Learning Technologies, 1998)" in RESEARCH IN ONLINE LEARNING COMMUNITY.

There is no question -- in my mind at least -- that community needs to be a part of any learning experience -- especially online. Guess that makes me a "social constructivist."

Saturday, June 08, 2002


Galileo.org has some very interesting "self-organizing" work underway. The Galileo Network Projects page lists current projects. The Alberta 2005 By Kids for Kids project represents an example of what can happen when participants meet online to socialize, "self-organize" and generally construct learning. As with all learning, the journey is always more important than the destination.

Having the student drive the process of meeting Learning Objectives seems to me to be an effective way to ensure that learning needs will be met. Providing a means for faculty, staff, students and learners to "connect" online to determine how best to meet their educational needs will help to ensure that skill and knowledge gaps are bridged -- by and for the members of the community itself. Powerful stuff.

As an online student, I know there's nothing quite like getting the "straight goods" from a classmate. I know I'm less concerned about asking a "stupid" question of a peer than the prof. Besides, the peer has first-hand experience of the online environment and may recognize my situation and contextualize the information provided. "Yeah, I know that's a drag, happened to me too, here's what I did ...."






More on OSOSS -- Gaming the system: How moderation tools can backfire by Derek M. Powazek, Posted 2002.05.30 and cited in the 2002.06.07 edition of the dailyLinks from elearningpost.

Friday, June 07, 2002


I've updated my home page at OISE to reflect ongoing research in online self-organinzing social systems (OSOSS). Click here to learn more.

Well, I made it back. Because this is a learning diary I thought I'd write a little about the things I learned this week in the Big Easy:

For instance, I learned:

  • how to eat crawfish
  • how to get to Bourbon St.
  • do not enter into bets with anyone you meet in the French Quarter

Thankfully, I didn't have to learn any of these the "hard way."

After four days spent at a trade show, the Big Easy is one of my favorite towns. Rich with culture and history there really is something for everyone. The Mississippi River brings trade to the port of New Orleans. Port cities are notorious for the "characters" they attract. Think of any major port city. Pick your favourite -- Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Montreal -- each has a character and a culture all its own. I'd pick New Orleans for my next visit out of those listed. Don't get me wrong -- the other cities certainly have their selling points, but I'd pick the Big Easy for a return trip by a long shot.

I've never encountered a city with such a wide variety of both music and food options. I can't imagine what the city's like during Mardi Gras. Given what little exposure I had to the French Quarter (Sun through Wed nights in June) I can't imagine what happens on weekends, let alone Fat Tuesday.





Monday, June 03, 2002


I'm making this post from New Orleans, LA. The site of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) annual conference for 2002. I'm here to work the booth we have on the exhibitor's floor of the conference. I know from personal experience that the SMART Board(tm) interactive whiteboard is a very valuable tool for trainers and I'm happy to be here demonstrating the Roomware(tm) product line for the training market.

I'm also enjoying the city of New Orleans -- the food, the music and the culture have all been great. The heat and humidity have been a bit of an adjustment for this Calgarian to handle, but after the winter-like spring we've had in the Great White North, it's a good problem to have.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

I'm making this entry from Arlington, Virginia. I arrived to do customer training last Monday, Memorial Day here in the U.S. My hotel is near the Arlington National Cemetery, I visited the cemetary and attended the service at the Women's Memorial. It was moving to hear the tributes to the men and women from a number of countries who had lost their lives in conflicts dating back to the World Wars.

Sadly there were a number of tributes to women and men lost in the Sept 11 attack on the nearby Pentagon. It was also noteworthy -- to me at least -- that the Queen Mother was also recognized, due to her stalwart support of the fighting effort in the second World War. "America has lost a true friend."

I was also moved by the ceremony and the scope of the cemetery itself. Row upon row, acre upon acre, of crosses marking the graves of those who gave their lives in service of their country is something I'll not forget. A very sobering and awe-inspiring experience.



Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Follow this link to access a PDF version of the SMART Education Object SMARTEO "whitepaper."

Those that need it can click here to access Acrobat (i.e., PDF) Reader.


Monday, May 06, 2002

Well, I finally got my paper for OISE/UT CTL 1606 submitted. It presents the research behind the SMART Education Object (SMARTEO) -- my proposal for an object-based educational strategy for my employer SMART Technologies, Inc. I'll post a link to the paper when it's ready for public consumption

NOTE: I offer this public apology to Professor Owen for the paper's state as it arrived in his inbox last eve. Given it was overdue I sent it without a "printed edit." My printer is out of ink and I didn't want to leave it to this morning to get it off to him. It'd been due the previous Wed. and I was anxious to get it submitted ASAP. I found a few minor edits I needed to make. I guess my excuses are indeed my own and there's mine.

This link outlines the SMARTEO in its current (06 May 02) state.
I used the post as HTML function of SMART Ideas(R) to make the model. It is extremely basic -- some might say crude -- by design. The goal is to provide enough of a framework to be useful without being overly prescriptive. The hope is that this will facilitate constructivist object building for both technical and non-technical learners. Pick a subject and your choice of media and make a SMARTEO.







Friday, May 03, 2002


A good link on task analysis "strategies and practices" by Bettina Lankard Brown.

Of course an important first step in determining the training or education needs of a population is to define what I expect them to be able to do. "What tasks need to be accomplished?" Once this determination has been made, then I can begin to assess the learning/training "gaps" or "needs" of each individual learner.

This will allow me to apply a construcitivist or problem-based approach to group-based information communication technologies (ICT) learning. Once the tasks (problems) to be accomplished have been defined, I can begin to define a strategy to address these same needs.

Thursday, April 25, 2002


More extremely cool stuff -- here's the link Wiley et al. reference in the granularity paper.


One down, one to go....

I got the first paper submitted last night, and have until next Wednesday to get the other one finished and submitted.

There are many factors to be considered, but I think I'm getting close to a proposal for an "object-based" strategy that makes sense. I keep coming back to the question I asked Dr. Terry Anderson during one of the Spring Lecture Series lectures hosted by the KMDI. "How granular -- big or small -- should objects be?" Dr. Anderson indicated that this remains the focus of research and that there currently isn't a "good" answer to the question.

Here's what David Wiley, and friends, have to say about objects and their "granularity."

Monday, April 15, 2002


The Open Knowledge Initiative is really exciting.

I think MIT's captured the "hacker ethic" with this "open source" offering.

"The education wants to be free."

As invigorating as OKI is, not everyone is as enamored with the notion of "free" or "open."

Here's an article I read in Shift magazine on the weekend. Shift.com - 10.1 - feature - THE PRIVATIZATION OF OUR CULTURE offers a glimpse of the "not everyones" of the world. I think it's tone is more "sinister" online.

This whole "good" and "evil"; "open" and "closed" motif, may be a direct result of recently watching two modern day "morality tales" writ large. I saw both Frailty and Changing Lanes on the weekend.

Frailty was my favourite by far, but be advised...it will "disturb" you.

Changing Lanes wasn't too bad either, just that Bill Paxton's directorial debut is better.

Film critic now too!


Sunday, April 14, 2002


Well, that's it for classes this semester. I've got two term papers to complete by the end of the month, and am thinking that the earlier I get both submitted the better.
I can't believe how much I learned this term. My mind is reeling, trying to take it all in. Those two papers I mentioned will give me a chance to consolidate my thoughts, I hope.

Then it's back to school in July. Or maybe not....

I've already been in touch with a professor at OISE/UT regarding a seat in a course that starts 02 July, 2002, but I'm having second thoughts. It might be the fact that I've been going too hard for too long, but I might take the summer off. For me, summer vacation has a nice ring to it.

Which reminds me, I've got a little writing to do before any time off.

Note to self: "Write ^&*%ing papers!"








Friday, April 12, 2002


The Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI) at MIT is now bearing fruit. And I thought metadata was something. OKI has more to say about sharing knowledge....

Here's a highlight from the OKI whitepapers page.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

edublog "is an initiative to develop a web-based journaling tool (blog) focused on educational use and users." Here's an example from the edublog archive:

Friday, September 21, 2001
Laurel, the Edublog workstudy assistant for 2001-2001 has strarted a blog called Edu-Blogs which will focus on compiling a list of all discussions on blogging, metabloging, and educational use of blogs. You can send stuff directly to Laurel.
Posted 5:03 AM by Jason Nolan

Dr. Jason Nolan and his colleagues at the University of Toronto are doing all kinds of great stuff. Achieve, for instance, is very cool.

I've read a lot this semester about the opportunities for reflection online learning presents. The asynchronous environment lets one reflect before "posting" and to look back on lessons learned. For me the most striking aspect is the snapshot of "process" digital archives provide. Not so much what you know as how you came to know it. Blogs provide an opportunity for anyone to track their learning on any subject.

Speaking of archives, I revisited parts of this week's lecture to provide Dr. Druin's response to my question about "design partners."

She told us that the youngsters she studied (22 individuals between the ages of 3 and 6) became "partners" through a series of "stages." As the preschoolers progressed they were, in turn, learners, critics, inventors, and design partners. As you'd expect, individuals progressed through these stages at different rates. Typically, three months were spent in the "learning" phase.

She added that her current research involves longitudinal studies of the "impact" of this early exposure to technology on learners.




Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Today's Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) Technology in Support of Learning and Teaching, lecture:

      The K-12 Classroom of the Future

by Allison Druin, was fantastic. Here's a note I jotted during Dr. Druin's lecture:


3 - 6 yrs of age private and public playschools considered
Only 1-2 kids at computer at a time. Kids naturally gather in "clumps" around computer.
Fair amount of discussion and interaction among kids. "Mouser" didn't do all the work....
Teachers never used the technology with the kids. TV and video are used much less than computers. Generally, only one computer/classroom (14 total rooms)

More information at the Human-Computer Interaction Lab & College of Education, at the University of Maryland.



I was also intrigued by Dr. Druin's thoughts regarding "design partners" -- the "kids" themselves. What a concept! Made we wonder about the impact:

5:38 p.m. Question from Doug Symington: What are your thoughts regarding how your "design partners" are affected by the experience? For instance, in what ways does their involvement affect their view of technology and how it might be used in education?

Visit the Series archive to hear Dr. Druin's response.