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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Happy New Year to all.

As I reflect back on '03 I'm struck by how lucky I am and all that I have to be thankful for. Spending this holiday season with family was a great reminder for me of just how lucky I am. Here's a picture from a "jam session" my sister- and brother-in-law hosted last week. (that's Jeff third from the right)

A pic from last week's jam session -- a great time was had by all

It was a marvelous time. The music, the food and the company were all first-rate.

I've also had the good fortune to interact with a couple of "service providers" in the past week and would like to recognize them here:

Graydon and Mike and all the staff at the The Driving Force's offices in Calgary were particularly helpful and have gone "above and beyond the call of duty" in their dealings with me this past week.

Also a very special thank you to Greg Stewart, Service Manager at Glacier Toyota in Kalispell, MT.

Greg has single-handedly reaffirmed my faith in Toyota and has gone a long way toward overcoming negative impressions. I can say without hesitation that if I buy another Toyota it's due to the service I received in Montana, and that Mr. Stewart and his staff make some others pale by comparison.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Had a marvelous Christmas in Whitefish, MT with my family. Huge thanks to Jim and Janet for the use of their condo for the past week, we enjoyed the comfortable surroundings and the lengths to which they went to ensure our comfort.

Also really enjoyed our trips to Big Mountain.

You hear a lot about "family" resorts, with "something for everyone," but Big Mountain certainly meets the bill. There really is something for everyone and the staff are extremely accommodating and friendly.

Indeed, all the locals we encountered were particularly friendly and I'd certainly recommend a trip to Whitefish and Big Mountain.

Here's a picture taken on Christmas morning:

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Here's a picture of my nephew Symon working on the 3000i in our offices in Calgary.

Symon working on the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard

Friday, December 19, 2003

This post from from ~35,000 ft on an American Airlines flight from Philly to Dallas on the 18th.

On my flight we have a number of American servicemen and women on their way home from Iraq. I can't imagine how happy they must be to be on their way home.

Once again, notwithstanding what one thinks of this or that US foreign-policy decision, I think it's imperative that we recognize and respect the debt we owe these young (and young they are) men and women for the time they've spent in harm's way and the job they continue to do. This fact wasn't lost on the passengers on today's flight.

As we made our final approach to Dallas, the pilot came on the intercom and thanked the soldiers "for all your service" and welcomed them home.

The spontaneous applause following the pilot's announcement made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Welcome home indeed and thank you. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday, all the best in 2004 and here's to the safe and soon return of your colleagues.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

A post from Harrisburg, PA.

Today I had the pleasure of working with faculty, staff and guests of the Penn State University -- Harrisburg during a Train-the-Trainer session for the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard. I learned a lot from this group and thanks to all for making today's session both fun and educational.

This marks the last session for 2003 and I'm looking forward to taking some time off to recharge and regroup. I'm not sure exactly how I'll react to not having any work-related travel, or school work, to do for a couple of weeks, but I'm sure I'll manage somehow ;-)

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Greetings from Sacramento. I'm here after delivering a training session on the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard. My trip to Northern California has been good. The weather hasn't been the best, but it is certainly much warmer here than in Calgary and surrounding area.

I'm making this post via a wireless connection from the Sacramento airport -- once again, thanks to Phil. Wireless connections are slick indeed.

On the school front, I've got an essay due by end of business tomorrow. The good news is that I have a substantial part of it already completed. CTL 1000 -- Foundations of Curriculum -- with Wayne Seller @ OISE/UT has been a great course. The subject matter, and the way Wayne presented it, has taught me a lot about the principles at work in curriculum development and how best to apply them.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Some reflections on this year's Winterstart World Cup @ Lake Louise.

It was an extremely interesting year for me in a number of ways. Personally, my involvement as a volunteer and as the "on-site" representative of my employer, SMART Technologies Inc. meant that I was a very busy individual over the course of the two weeks I spent in Lake Louise. That said, it was extremely gratifying for me to be involved in both capacities and I feel that I was truly involved in something special.

I had the good fortune to be able to use our hardware and software to perform the function of scribe for the World Cup Business Forum on Corporate Governance which was hosted by organizers on 28 November, 2003. Attendees and panelists represented a "who's who" of Canadian business and I learned a great deal by virtue of my involvement in the forum as scribe.

I used SMART Notebook software to capture my handwritten notes during the forum and make the conversion to text. Ultimately I used SMART Notebook software to export the contents of the file to PDF for delivery to session participants.

The Canada AM shoot was a lot of fun; notwithstanding the 0300 AM wake-up call participation required ;-)

I also enjoyed working with Kerrin Lee-Gartner to produce a segment whereby we used the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard in the lobby of the Chateau Lake Louise to describe a section of the downhill course the Women were running at the Lake. Unfortunately, bad weather last Saturday meant that two feeds or versions of race coverage were produced -- one for European audiences, and one for domestic delivery.

The net result was that the segment we worked on "ended up on the cutting room floor" as was not aired. Nonetheless, staff at CBC was quite excited by our technology and I fully expect to see SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboards, and related software, in use by CBC Sports in the future.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Another post from the Lake.

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of working with the staff of Canada AM in the lobby of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Here's a picture of Jeff Hutcheson using the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard during a segment of the show.

A pic of Jeff Hutcheson using the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard during a live broadcast from the lobby of the Chateau Lake Louise

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Another post from Lake Louise. This time with a link from my good buddy Dan McMahon.

Dan's band Shenanigan played at the Westjet Home for the Holdiays Ceilidh(TM)

The "party in the kitchen" included the new leader of the Conservative Party, Peter McKay, who drew the ticket for the 50/50 draw (#704212).

Even with a 44.0 Kbps connection, the webcast was a blast. Access to an event via the web that was indeed top-drawer.

Thanks for the heads-up Dan, the Ceilidh was a blast!

Hope you can make it out to Lake Louise for another.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Today was a dream at work.

I got to set-up the 3000i in the lobby of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise following a stint with the Communications team at the hill.

I'd awaken at 5:20 -- ten minutes before the alarm -- much as I do when "on the road" w/ SMART. Perfect. Finally I was going to be early (knowing I'll be in one place for 19 days, and this mountain air have been conking me out ) then I awoke at 7:24, a full 24 minutes after scheduled opening. YIKES!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Rick Elves; Brett and Sheena Holt; and Dale Plum for having my back in the Communications trailer this morning. It's been a long while since I've had a jolt like that ;-)

Notwithstanding the startling start, my day was great. The afternoon at the Chateau was really something. In the lobby of a rail-baron-built castle, surrounded by snow-covered mountains. That and the fact that our stuff is so cool I had to interrupt my set-up three times to answer questions and requests for demos.

And while there's no doubt our hardware is truly "state-of-the-art" our software's even more amazing.

I often talk about how lucky I am for the work/school connection I have; I'd say the work/volunteer one's even better ;-)

For those of you "in the hood," the snow's better in the Canadian Rockies than it's been for a long time.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

A post from Lake Louise -- as indicated in my last post, I'm here again working the World Cup ski races. This year I'll also be doing work on behalf of my employer, SMART Technologies Inc., providing technical support and training for the equipment we've donated to be used to post race results in the lobby of the Chateau Lake Louise.

For those of you in the area, the snow is FANTASTIC. This is by far the best start to the season, in terms of snow accumulations, that I've seen in the five years I've been involved as a World Cup volunteer. I'd definitely recommend a trip out -- there's some good coverage on all runs and certainly worth the trip.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

A post from the airport in Dallas (DFW) via a wireless connection.

Thanks to my buddy Phil for the wireless card that made this post possible.

I wasn't able to find a free "hotspot" and had to pay for the connection, but the $6.95 for the connection through midnight today is much better than the "$0.50/minute" they want at the "laptop kiosk" to my right.

I land back in Calgary at about 2200 hrs this evening. Tomorrow I'm in the office and then first thing Friday morning I'm off to work the World Cup Races at Lake Louise.

They've already had more than a metre of snow at the top of the mountain (120 cm) -- which bodes well -- not only for the races, but for the general public as well. It's been a few years since we've had lots of snow and I for one am excited.

It's been a while since we've had too much snow for the races (believe it or not this can be a problem. If it continues to snow heavily, crews will need to "groom" the course -- with snowcats, shovels and skis -- to remove the excess) but it is better than not having enough ;-)

Check out the Snow Report for the latest conditions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Here's another gem from Daily Links @ elearningpost.com and Jay Cross and his colleagues at internettime.com.

The provocatively titled blog entry -- We are the Problem: We are selling Snake Oil -- and the responses it has generated over the past couple of days, is a prime example of power of 'net-based collaboration.

I know from my experience as an on-line student @ OISE/UT that on-line "knowledge building" works. It's nice to see an example in the "real world" -- very cool and power stuff. A practical example of how powerful a learning medium the net can be; notwithstanding, the prevalence of "snake oil" ;-)

Sunday, November 16, 2003

On the road again....

Home for a few hours -- long enough to do some laundry and attend last night's annual party @ SMART.

A special thanks to Dave and Nancy, our hosts, for a wonderful party. It was good to see "all hands on deck" and get together. My travel schedule means I haven't seen the gang in Calgary as much as I'd like, and last night provided a good opportunity to visit with colleagues. The food and beverage and entertainment were excellent as well -- thank you.

This afternoon I head to Memphis ahead of a training session for faculty and staff of the Marion Independent School District in Marion, AR.

I'm looking forward to a return trip to Memphis and I'm debating spending the ~$25 for the Platinum Tour @ Graceland. Here's a pic I took last May.

As always, watch this space for updates ;-)

Friday, November 14, 2003

Today I decided that I'd get in touch with Health Canada to let them know that the yellow "SARS" forms they're handing out to inbound passengers on international flights are a waste of their time, my money, and trees.

"Travellers" are informed that they may have been exposed to SARS "during your time outside Canada"
(that's the only affliction they name, one assumes there may be others ;-)

I've been getting one of these forms on every filght into Canada from the States since about a month to 6-weeks AFTER the SARS mess went away the last time.

Today they didn't have enough of the forms onboard and no one was allowed off the plane until all forms were distributed and completed, so I finally decided to get on the phone and beg them to stop.

Visit http://www.sars.gc.ca or call 1.800.454.8302 to get more information.

While I'm at it, I'd like to compliment Sean, the gentleman I just chatted with, on his professional and courteous telephone manner.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Here's an entry from today's Daily Links from eLearningpost.com. I've been a subscriber, and a big fan, of this mailing list for years now. It provides nothing but first-rate links to all things elearning. The entry below outlines the latest from another's work I've followed, and respected, for years -- David Wiley.

David Wiley: THE FUTURE OF LEARNING OBJECTS
Just attended a workshop by David Wiley titled, The Future of Learning Objects. David's presentation was, clean, simple, and surprising to many, very easy to follow. Most LO presentations tend to be very arcane, but his was very entertaining and engaging. Guess this says a lot of the person himself. Here are my takeaways:

* There are various types of learning objects. Content objects, strategy objects, discourse objects are some that are in use, but there could be many more depending on context.

* The higher you get in Bloom's taxonomy, the greater the need for social learning. So, a LO on facts is fine in the stand-alone mode, but a LO on synthesis or application would benefit more if they include the social aspect -- the discourse object.

* When it comes to learning objects, instructional design is actually context design.
Content, structure, strategy, and instructional design affect the granularity of the LO. If one starts with strategy, this affects the granularity as it affects the content, the structure and the ID.

* Some innovative approaches to LO design include Separability (content is separate from presentation); Usability (entering metadata is more usable); Computability (classification of LOs, taxonomies, ontologies, semantic web); Sociability (social recommendations, self-organizing groups); Sharability ( MIT OCW ,Educommons )
http://www.reusability.org/blogs/david/
http://ocw.mit.edu/
http://educommons.org/

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

A post from Houston, TX.

Travel from Dallas to Houston this morning meant that this is the first year in a while that I've not attended a Remembrance Day service. It's known as Veterans Day here in the States, but the message is the same.

It's a day to stop, remember and reflect on the price that many have paid, and continue to pay, for the freedom we enjoy.

Lest we forget....

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Greetings from Dallas. Had an early flight from YYC to DFW this morning. Flying at 0700 hrs gets you where you need to be, but getting up at 0430 hrs is something that I'd like to do on a regular basis.

Had a very hectic week in terms of work, school and volunteer activities. Being involved in all three has meant that my time-management skills get a real work out. Traveling to conduct training sessions for my employer means that I spend a lot of time on preparation and follow up in terms of logistics. I also spend a fair amount of time on the design and development of the curricula we deliver at sessions.

School takes a good deal of time in terms of keeping up with assigned readings and reading and contributing posts to the course discussion threads. We are expected to log into the course interface (WebKF) at least three times a week; however, I try to get in to check posts at least once every two days. Longer than that and I find it difficult to keep up.

Volunteering this week meant two days spent programming base stations and handheld radios in preparation for this year's World Cup ski races at Lake Louise. Indeed, between travel for work, and a couple of stints "at the Lake" working the races, I'll not be spending a whole lot of time in Calgary between now and the end of 2003.

As always, watch this space for details....

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Safely back in Calgary.

Had a rant prepared -- "penned at 37,000 ft -- re my experiences on Air Canada today, but fortunately came across something more "post-worthy" along the way.

By the way, Calgary had snow while I was away -- well over a foot of snow which is still on the ground. At least the ghosts are happy =8-o The course crew for World Cup has a smile on their face too no doubt. Every little bit helps.

Halloween ghosts in trees in the Snow


Looks like we've already played the last golf round of the season in this part of the world.
Could have played a round this AM with a colleague from Washington (thanks Gary), but my flight was just a little too early -- the course is right across the river from Reagan.

Thanks to Joel and Michael, as well as Gary, for the contribution each made to the success of yesterday's session hosted in their offices. I know that the participants benefited from the opportunity to interact with each of you. Thanks from me and them.



Thursday, October 30, 2003

Another missive from the road -- this time Arlington, VA.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to post, which is really too bad.... Today's approach to Reagan National Airport took us over the Washington Monument and the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, as well as a nice view of the National Mall and Capitol in the background.

Here's a map showing the relative locations of the sites listed.

I scrambled to grab my camera out of my bag and snap a pic or two only to discover that the batteries were dead. Too bad, would have made a nice picture. I may try to get out to get some pictures before I leave the area on Saturday morning.

On the topic of "missed photo ops" -- I had dinner last night, compliments of Mark and Kate, at Le Mont Restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA.

I can't thank them enough for their hospitality and treating me to a "Five Star" experience. The company, the food and view of the city at night were truly spectacular and an experience I'll not soon forget.

Visit the restaurant's link above to see a daytime picture of the view from the restaurant. As you might imagine, the view after dark is magical.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

A post from Pittsburgh, PA. Here over night ahead of a trip to Washington, DC in the morning.

In today's USA Today, I read an interesting article about netday.org: "a non-profit organization that promotes technology in schools"

Netday has an on-line survey -- at the link above -- that they'd like students to complete before November 5th, 2003.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

A post from Wheeling, WV. Here ahead of a training session tomorrow on the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard. I flew from Calgary to Chicago, then to Pittsburgh and then drove the rest of the way.

Wheeling's about an hour from Pittsburgh, and the autumn colors of the trees provided some nice scenery along the way. The leaves aren't as vibrant as they were two weeks ago, but they are still very colorful.

My thoughts are with those I worked with last week in San Diego, CA and I hope they haven't been directly impacted by the destruction caused by the wild fires currently ravaging Southern California. Here's hoping that firefighters are able to get the situation under control soon.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

More thoughts rising out of considerations of the "hidden curriculum." In essence the impact that circumstance and society have on the delivery of curriculum. I'm really enjoying the exploration of pedagogical semantics we're undertaking in CTL 1000. A recurring theme in our discussions is that teachers, trainers, coaches, facilitators -- educators -- interact with learners in ways that mimic educational experiences they've enjoyed....

Along the lines of our discussion, I've been considering teachers who've made a big that made a huge difference in the way I view pedagogy.

NOTE: I continue to interact with "huge difference" educators as a graduate student @ OISE/UT. In fact I've been extremely impressed with the "computer-mediated communication (CMC)" faculty I've encountered in the last two and a bit years. They've all been first-rate. Some a little more challenging than I may have been prepared for, but all most capable and engaging.

In terms of those before -- in the "formative years" if you will -- there are a few who bear mentioning for the positive impact they had on the way I look at the world :

  • Wayne Haramis, Shirley Kucharuk and Susan Teske of Queen Elizabeth Public School
  • Brian Yuke of Central Public School,
  • Les Anderson, Dave Lesaux, Lew MacDonald, Chuck Miller, Brian Percival, Charles Robinson, Gary Scott, Barry Stevens of Renfrew Collegiate Institute
  • Grieg Henderson of the University of Toronto


Indeed, the introspection required when considering of the hidden curriculum has made me realize that I owe those named above -- and many more -- a great deal in terms of what they taught me by example in their classes.
(There are also a number of individuals who provided "non-examples" who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty;-)

Although all the interaction I had with teachers over the years has been face-to-face, much of what I've learned F2F is directly applicable to the on-line interactions I have with colleagues in CMC environments. CMC can be a great leveler in the student-teacher dynamic, if the teacher will allow it. Relating to learners "at their level" is something that's applicable to all learning environments -- be they CMC, F2F, or "blend" or "hybrid" of both.

That's exactly why I enjoyed my interactions with those named above -- they made an effort to reach out to the learners they encountered in their classes. Each established an environment of mutual respect, which informed day-to-day interaction in the class. The positive impact this had on "classroom culture" was welcome, productive and every bit as possible in CMC environments. I know this to be the case by virtue of my CMC-based studies at OISE/UT.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Here's a picture I took of Torrey Pines Golf Course, home to the Buick Invitational and the Junior World Golf Championship.

A picture from behind a green at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, CA


California is a wonderful place.

It must have been truly magnificent before automobiles ruled it.

Here's hopin' Arnie sticks to his guns in terms of alternative fuels. Hydrogen powered automobiles would certainly help the air quality everywhere, but it would be especially welcome in CA. I'm really looking forward to seeing the proposed retrofit on the Hummer -- that's gotta be expensive....

Speakin' o' Ahnnnnnn--ooooollllddddd, I heard that he's got a new handle. I think it was CNN last night where I heard that he known in some circles as the Gropenfuhrer -- which will make sense to those following the recall/gubnatorial race in California.

I went looking for references to what I'd heard last night, and came up with the following @:http://www.kevinroderick.com/scgi-bin/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=781
Ahnold, however, if his 16 or so accusers are telling the truth, has broken the law on countless occasions. If the shoe was on the other foot, and Ahnold was a Dem, CA Republicans would be calling for Herr Gropenfuhrer's indictment and removal from office. Unfortunately, my fellow Democrats are not nearly as vindictive as I would like for them to be.
You just gotta love politics on the left coast of the U.S.A. Of course many would argue that the politics begin with Hollywood's portrayal of "reality." Whether this is true or not, it's apparent the two will soon be closer bedfellows. There's something surreal about the Governor of California starring in Terminator movies while in office.

He'd rightly argue that he's just doing his job as an actor, and everyone knew the score going in -- or thought they did --- but it still seems a little "out of bounds" to me.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Here's a picture I took last night of the San Diego Presidio.



The view and the grounds are definitely worth a visit. The park-like setting provides a welcome respite from the buzz of the city that surrounds this oasis of tranquility.

The Presidio, as one might expect, is next to Old Town in San Diego.

I had dinner at the Casa De Pico, one of several restaurants in the Bazaar del Mundo, and I would definitely recommend it as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

A post from San Diego, CA.

I'm here ahead of a training session on the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard tomorrow.

It's good to be back in Southern California, and in San Diego, one of my favorite cities.

In CTL 1000 we've recently turned our attention to the concept of the "hidden curriculum" and how it relates to curriculum development and delivery. While making my way through the recommended readings on the subject, I couldn't help but think of the exposure to rhetoric I had during my undergrad at U of T. Specifically with Dr. Grieg Henderson of the Department of English and how he was fond of saying that what wasn't said was as important as what was -- in a given piece of writing.

Indeed, what the educator doesn't include in a given class on a topic is as important as what is covered in terms of course content. I was also intrigued by what Dr. Terry Anderson had to say -- again in another assigned reading -- in terms of the hidden curriculum in distance education. Regular readers of this blog will recognize Dr. Terry as one of the speakers I interacted with during the KMDI's spring lecture series of a couple of years back.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Quick post from O'Hare Airport in Chicago, IL.

I'm at a payphone in the concourse checking mail and killing time during a 6-hour layover on my way back to YYC. Flights in and out of these smaller centers (e.g. Wilkes-Barre, PA) are a challenge. Not only do they invariably involve smaller jets or prop planes, but scheduling connections is a nightmare at best.

This morning (feels more like last night at this point) I got up at 0500 hrs to make my way to the airport to begin journey back to Calgary. We landed in Chicago @ 0900 hrs and am not scheduled to leave for Calgary until 1450 hrs.

The weather is fairly nasty in Chicago today and I have fingers crossed that we'll be able to get out of here on time and get back to YYC @ ~1730 Calgary time. This will mean that today's trip -- if all goes according to plan -- will take on the order of 14 hours door-to-door. Wish me luck ;-)

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Greetings from Wikes-Barre, PA. I'm here ahead of a session tomorrow in Taylor, PA. This isn't exactly how I planned to spend my long weekend (it's the Thanksgiving weekend in Canada), but Riverside High School is having a professional development day for faculty and staff tomorrow (Columbus Day in the United States), so the date wasn't negotiable.

That said, I have a lot to be thankful for:
  • I have a loving and supportive family

  • I enjoy my job and school

  • I'm enjoying my visit to Pennsylvania, the leaves on the trees have turned and resulting colorful countryside is something to behold
    Up close and personal with a Maple tree in Wilkes-Barre, PA
  • The sun is shining today, and

  • The Packers are leading against the Chiefs

[added 24Oct03 -- not that I'm any less thankful;-), but the Chiefs cames back and tied the game, and then scored following a fumble to beat the Pack -- at Lambeau no less -- something that's just NOT supposed to happen]

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

It's quite amazing how much the 'net has changed since I began my trek towards an M.Ed. what seems like a long time ago. It's been two years since I began, but it seems longer.

In the beginning I thought it was neat to be able to register for courses on-line. Now I'm posting videos and paying tuition on-line. (Speakin' o' which -- it helped to pay for the upgrade on their site -- I like the new look ;-)

Notwithstanding my jokes, I'm very happy with the quality of education offered at OISE/UT. As I said a couple of posts ago, I'm also learning a lot about the "foundations of curriculum" in CTL 1000. I love delving into the theory behind curriculum development and delivery. For instance, the difference between traditional -- "sage on the stage" and constructivist "guide on the side" classrooms --- be they face-to-face or on-line-- may not be as cut and dried as it first seems.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Quick post from a training session I'm attending at the Calgary offices of Apple Computers. A colleague from SMART and myself are here educating ourselves about Macintosh 10.2 operating system. Jeff and I now travel the continent delivering Windows-based training.

Following today's session we'll be in a better position to deliver training sessions for Mac-based customers. I've been impressed with what I've seen during today's session and look forward to becoming more conversant with the Mac OS and what's possible.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Another post from Calgary. It's taking a little getting used to -- being in town for an extended period of time. I'll definitely be making up for time at home in the next couple of months.

A week Saturday (the 11th) I leave for the first of series of trips which will keep me on the road through the end of the year. Some of the travel I have planned is personal (my trip to Lake Louise to work the World Cup ski races) but the bulk of time away is work-related.

Indeed, a rather hectic travel schedule for work for the past year and three-quarters, means it now feels strange to be home for more than a few days at a time.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Been back in town for a couple of days and looking forward to being around for a couple of weeks which has been a rarity of late. Work and school are keeping me busy and it'll be nice to be able concentrate on both without having to see an airport or hotel room for a few days. I really do enjoy all the travel I do for work; however, it can be a little hectic and tiring at times.

I'm really excited by what I'm learning in my Curriculum Foundations at OISE/UT. It's been interesting for me to discover the theoretical concepts behind what I've considered "accepted practice" in the field of instructional design.

While I think it's true that CTL 1000 might be best taken early in one's M.Ed. courseload, it's of obvious value no matter where it falls in one's list of courses (it represents course #6 of 8 required in my case). I'm especially interested in applying these theoretical principles to the design of materials we use at SMART.

As always, watch this space for updates.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

A post from Arlington, VA.

Today's session was a lot of fun. It was great to work with a group of technically proficient educators looking for ways to integrate SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboards into the curriculum. It was a great day and thanks to all for the hospitality.

This evening I took a couple of pictures of the The Marine Corps War Memorial which is just down the street from my hotel. The monument is probably one of the world's most famous statues.

Notwithstanding the frequent differences I have with US foreign policy (see the "weapons of mass destruction" fiasco), I believe that it is important that servicemen and women who have given their lives in service of their country be recognized and respected for the price they've paid, and continue to pay, no matter what one feels about the decision to send them into harm's way.

Picture of the US Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, VA

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

A post from Stafford, VA.

I'm here ahead of tomorrow's session for educators at a juvenile detention center in the area. I'm really looking forward to working with faculty and staff at the center and am especially keen to compare notes on their experiences working with "at risk" youth.

I have experience -- "in a galaxy far far away, a long time ago" -- working with "behaviorally exceptional" youth and I'm really excited by the prospect of relating what I know about "reaching out" to special needs populations and how the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard might be used to engage what can be very challenging audiences.

I'm very interested in hearing the thoughts of faculty and staff regarding the transformational power of curriculum they deliver to their students, and how we can work together to integrate the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard into the mix.

I'm happy to report that my hotel and the site of tomorrow's session are with power and have managed to "weather the storm" Isabel brought to the area. I've just seen on the local news that many in the area are still without power.

I'm sure that crews are doing all they can to restore power, but I'm also sure that those without have had enough of "lights out." Here's hoping that all subscribers have power returned soon.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Quick note from Greenville, SC.

Today I had the opportunity to work some educators who are new to the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard. I enjoyed working with faculty and staff of the Hollis Academy. It really is something to see how excited our customers are as they begin to wrap their minds around the possibilities interactive whiteboards present in terms of "reaching out" to students.

Tomorrow I'm off to Stafford, VA ahead of a a Master's session on Wednesday. I'm a little hesitant about what I'll find in the way of destruction in Isabel's wake, but am hoping for the best. Stay tuned....

Friday, September 19, 2003

Today I spent the morning programming radios for use at this year's World Cup ski races at Lake Louise.

I've been involved as a volunteer at the races for a few years now and really enjoy the opportunity to "live and work" in the mountains for a week or ten days each year. We have a great group of volunteers and it's a blast to be part of the team that works hard to put together the track which tests the best men and women ski racers in the world.

If you're a strong skier and have some time you can volunteer the last week of November or first week of December, we'd love to hear from you.

Visit worldcupwinterstart.com to register as volunteer for this year's races.


Thursday, September 18, 2003

This month's Wired magazine has an article on an software application that has the potential to revolutionize the way media is presented on the web.

proce55ing.net is:
a context for exploring the emerging conceptual space enabled by electronic media. It is an environment for learning the fundamentals of computer programming within the context of the electronic arts and it is an electronic sketchbook for developing ideas.

I've been in to look at some of the examples that have been posted and am excited by the prospects this open-source software application presents. There's absolutely no question in my mind that open-source is indeed the way to go when it comes to on-line development.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm very keen on the notion of open source development and truly believe that the "open" part of the equation is exactly what makes it so powerful from the point of view of the social constructivist.

I find that I keep coming back to the notion of the "social" as it relates to the learning and teaching I do. It's stating the obvious to say that we don't learn in a vacuum. I'd suggest that all learning is necessarily "social" in nature. I'd also suggest that "open" systems -- be they for developing software applications or curricula -- are inherently both social and constructivist in nature.
It's been an interesting couple of week in terms of contact from former high school classmates as a direct result of this blog.

"Are you the Doug Symington I went to high school with?"

I've had this question a number of times over the past couple of years this blog has been live, but the answer has been "no" until the last couple of weeks.

To this point, it seems, I've been confused with a namesake from Winnipeg, MB. It's been neat to reconnect with other alumni from my high school and to catch-up with what former classmates are doing with their lives, although it's hard to believe that it's been nearly 25 yrs since I left high school.

Almost as interesting is how much more I enjoy school now than I did then ;-)

Monday, September 15, 2003

I'm continuing to experiment with multimedia and web delivery. I'm also interested in the notion of the "implied author" as described by Wayne C. Booth in The Rhetoric of Fiction(1961) and how this relates to on-line multimedia.

For instance, because you know that I'm the author of "clouds over phoenix" 540K WMV are you more inclined to cut me slack in terms of the "low res" of the video than if I was a corporation or organization?

What are the implications in terms of the ability to self-publish on-line multimedia learning or education objects?

And yes, it is good to be home.

Friday, September 12, 2003

A post from Lexington, KY.

I'm here following the sessions this week in Morehead and ahead of my trek to YYC, via Houston, in the morning. I'm happy that I'll be in Calgary in the early afternoon tomorrow -- not so enthused with the 0630 hrs departure time though.

Had a good week working with faculty and staff at Morehead State University and I'm looking forward to keeoing in touch regarding the good things they're doing with their SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboards.

I got to Kentucky last Sunday and as much as I've enjoyed my visit, I'm looking forward to getting home for a while.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Greetings from Morehead, Kentucky. I'm here to conduct a series of Master's sessions on the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard at Morehead State University.

Once again I'm excited by the prospect of conducting workshops for educators interested in leveraging interactive whiteboards in the classroom.

This week also marks the beginning of CTL 1000 -- Curriculum Foundations with Wayne Seller at OISE/UT. I'm really enjoying the courses I'm taking at OISE/UT. They amount to a lot of work -- especially given my travel schedule -- but I'm learning a lot and like the fact that I can apply my learning in the day-to-day work I do for SMART.

Nice to have the ability to apply theory to the "real world" on a continuing basis.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Today I prepared for a trip to Kentucky, Morehead University specifically, for a full week of "SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard Master's sessions" with faculty, graduates, staff and students of the school.

I'm really looking forward to having the opportunity to dialog with such a diverse group for an extended period of time. Being able to spend some time with users in their "natural habitat" is extremely valuable to me as I look for ways to connect with learners.

The reason I find this exposure is so valuable is that it permits the opportunity to "tweak" the curriculum. I'm really lucky to work for SMART Technologies Inc. We've got some really neat products for educators and I couldn't have better exposure to customers using our hardware and software.

I've got to thank Professor Lynn Davie for a great course this semester. I especially like what he has to say about active learning and constructivism. Whenever I can get learners to "buy in" I try to encourage them to implement both of these concepts.

We considered the role of the instructor as part of our learning this semester. To wit, what is the proper degree of "engagement" on the part of the instructor. Needs of learners to feel connected and supported as a member of a learning community versus the necessity to challenge them and encourage them to engage in the self-direction and discovery constructivist learning requires.

I submit that Dr. Davie has done an admirable job of balancing the course of CTL1611--Summer2003. I learned a ton this summer. I said I'd learn a lot about CGI scripts and Perl and I did. Also learned that I may be dyslexic where UNIX is concerned ;-)

The chats I had w/ colleagues James and Simone left the biggest impression on me. It was great to be on an academic project team that met synchronously daily. This might not be significant for most students, but it certainly was for this part-time graduate student who participated in these on-line chats over dialup connections all over North America. Doing what was necessary to "get connected" no matter where or what I was doing, or how slow the dialup connection was, gave me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Over the Labour Day weekend I had a summerMaple Bridgit conference running which included a live video from a webcam, a *.wmv movie playing on a loop, and an electronic "sign in" sheet. I'll have to check with the software developers for the definitive word, but I don't think my "multimedia experiment" qualifies as "streaming"; nonetheless, it does approximate it. The future of computing is conferencing. Synchronous communication is king.

Thanks to those who took the time to sign-in during the summerMaple conference and to whomever erased all the names on Friday evening:

"What up with that?"

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Yesterday I had the good fortune to work with staff from the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, AB. Staff from the museum made the trip from Drumheller to our offices in Calgary for training on the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard. It was great to work with the group from the museum and to see what it is that they're doing with our hardware and software.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Things are looking up. I broke 90 on the golf course day for the first time in a long time. Got out in 42 which is pretty good for me these days, and at least gave myself a chance.

After we got back from golf I used SMART Notebook software to make a tutorial on Adobe Premier. Specifically, how to use it to export to *.MOV or Quick Time format from *.AVI files. I know, pretty heady stuff! It is when you're struggling to provide low-bandwidth versions of streaming video in Windows, Real and Quick Time formats.

There's no question in my mind that video will come to play a larger role in our on-line lives. Yesterday I had the good fortune to meet with Mike Laurence of Brock University, compliments of my buddy, and work colleague, Dan McMahon.

Dan's been working with Mike on some videoconferencing and integration projects at Brock and when Dan told me a while back that Mike was working on "objects" I was interested in hearing more, and had the good fortune to see some of the neat stuff Mike and his team are doing at Brock.

It was great to videoconference with Mike and some of his colleagues from Brock yesterday. It's neat when you finally get a chance to put not only a face, but a character or "persona" to an e-mail, name or voice. I look forward to working with Mike and his group into the future and think it's in connections like these were we find the true power of on-line communities, as well as another example of how "open philosophy" can be brought to bear on the dissemination of knowledge and educational resources.

Along those lines, Mike and others are looking for help.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

I'm posting today about my experiences working with Simone Laughton and James Mercer, colleauges in CTL 1611 at OISE/UT with Professor Lynn Davie.

Simone, James and myself are working on a term project for our course and I'm extremely impressed with the quantity and quality of the work my two colleagues continue to produce. I've been involved in other "teams" in some of the other courses I've taken at OISE/UT, but nothing compares to this experience in terms of what I'm learning and what we're producing as a team.

Both Simone and James are very capable and intelligent individuals and I feel very fortunate to be a member of the their team for our term project in CTL 1611. Nothwithstanding the high motivation of the members of our team -- arguably the most important factor of successful teams -- I think our daily synchronous chats over the past few days has contributed to my sense of "belongingness." Guess making the effort to "sync up" daily speaks to motivation as well. It also helps keep us "on track" in terms of design and development for our project. I would strongly stress the importance of regularly scheduled -- and attended -- synchronous chats.

A heartfelt "thank you" to Simone and James for your individual and collective efforts on our summerMaple term project; a practical demonstration of how efficient "distributed teams" can meet and build team projects.

I'd also like to apologize to my fellow passengers at the back of the plane, literally, on Northwest Flight # 103 from DC to Minneapolis this morning.... I was having a listen to some of the *.wav files I have on my laptop and managed to open a file that, when played on a loop, sounded like some type of alarm -- much to the consternation of those within earshot. Sorry about that folks; my bad, I'll try to be more careful in the future.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

A post from the airport @ YYC (Calgary) ahead of my trip to Washington, DC.

I'm just back from a quick trip to the kiosk down the hall to get some antihistamines. A couple of Sinutabs laters I'm hopeful that my sinuses don't explode upon pressurization in the cabin. I've got a few hours @ 30,000+ feet in my future and hope the meds take effect and prevent much more in the way of discomfort. As it is, my head feels like it's in a vise.

On this trip I'm off to do a training session for the Washington Jesuit Academy. The Jesuits are world-reknowned for their academic acumen and I'm excited by the prospect of working with faculty and staff at the academy.

Today's trip was pretty good. Today's flights had lots of spare room and I was even able to stretch out across three seats and have a nap on the way to Minneapolis on the first leg of the journey. Nice to be able to catch a nap and let my sinus medicine work its magic.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Some posts from earlier in the week from Nebraska:

August 19 , 2003:

A post that I penned during the flight from Calgary to Minneapolis. The first leg of a journey which will include a flight from the Twin Cities to Sioux Falls, followed by a trip in a rental car to O'Neill, NE.

I was a little late in getting to the airport this morning -- I was only there about one and one-half hours prior to my flight. I usually like to be at the airport a full two hours or more before scheduled departures. I've found that being early improves my chances of securing a seat in one of the exit rows, and extra room (i.e., a couple of inches) for my knees these seats offer.

Long lineups -- at the ticket check-in counter, U.S. Customs and security screening -- meant I was close to missing my flight. In reality I had lots of time (~10 minutes to spare), but I find it stressful waiting in lines minutes before my flight.

The fact that I wasn't at the airport as early as I might have been also meant that all the seats in the emergency row(s) on this plane were taken. On the upside, my friendly neighbourhood Northwest Airlines representative saw her way clear to upgrade my ticket to First Class today. Thanks to her, I'm enjoying the bigger seat, breakfast and beverages in seat 3B on today's flight.

I can still hear the screaming babies a few rows back, but they don't seem to bother me as much on a full stomach ;-)


August 21, 2003:

Another post from a plane. This time a "puddle jumper" from Sioux City to Minneapolis. I heard the flight attendant telling another passenger that the plane we're on is made by Saab. It's a twin prop with space for about 30 passengers. "Space" is a relative term as I sit with my knees up around my ears and crushed into the seat in front of me.

Yesterday's session with the teachers of O'Neill Elementary and invited guests went well.

There are a couple of "power users" at the school and it was good to have them involved in the session and I know that having Katie and Cole relate their experiences with the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard in the classroom was beneficial to all in attendance.

On the school front, I wasn't able to connect to our term project disscussion space as often, or for as long as I'd have liked -- I'll have to make up for lost time in the next couple of days.

I've installed Helix Producer from Real Networks and have been playing around with it as a tool for "encoding" Real media files for our project.

Ideally I'll be able to work up versions of "streaming media" in Windows, Quick Time and Real formats.

Of course having these three formats for streaming media will go some way towards ensuring accessibility.

Notwithstanding the question of file format, the biggest challenge remains solving the question of file size vs quality of media. I still struggle with the question of "...how do we make streaming media accessible for 'net-based audiences with slower dialup connections?"

The more I work with "low res" videos, the more questions I have about the use of the medium itself and I've not been able to reconcile the "size/quality" question. In essence, if I get the files, and streaming bit rates low enough to be accessed over dialup, the quality is so poor as beg the question, "why bother."

The answer may lie in a blend of media -- audio, graphics, html, text and video -- to ensure coverage for all audiences as well as the integrity of the content itself. Above all, I think it's imperative to ensure that all audiences have "equal access" to multimedia resources.


Monday, August 18, 2003

A post from YYC ahead of a trip to O'Neill, Nebraska for a session with a group of local teachers. I'm looking fwd to meeting and working with this group of educators. I find myself very fortunate to be able to interact with customers with SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboards, many of whom are educators.

The fact that I'm an M.Ed. student who gets to interact with faculty and staff in school districts across North America rocks. The scope of my travels provides exposure to "local cultures" and approaches I wouldn't get with a smaller "territory."

I look forward to learning lots in Nebraska!

Managed to get some multimedia files posted this evening. They're very rough and I'll wait a bit before I publish "public" (i.e., "here") links to the files.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Another post from Minnetonka. The last post was abbreviated thanks to the latest virus lovesan/blaster.... I had to get the post made prior to my XP-enabled laptop shut itself down.

Training session with faculty and staff of the Minnetonka school district has gone well -- I really do enjoy working with teachers during the Master's Sessions we deliver. It's great to see educators excited by the possibilities that interactive whiteboards represent for technology integration in the classroom.

I'm currently in the process of downloading/installing patches for another laptop. (I've got two laptops with me on this trip -- turned out to be a good thing given my problems with the other laptop).

Unfortunately I've got a number of video files on the afflicted laptop I've been working on for my term project for CTL 1611, the summer course I'm enrolled in at OISE/UT.

A couple more session tomorrow and then I'm back to Calgary to see what I can salvage from my virus-ridden laptop.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Our trip to the Maritimes was a blast. The wedding in Cape Breton was a lot of fun, as was our visit to St. Andrews by the Sea, NB. Golfing at the Algonquin was one of the highlights of the trip to NB.

I'm in Minnetonka, MN ahead of training for teachers with the local school district.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Greetings from Cape Breton, NS. We're in Glace Bay for Dan and Wendy's wedding and have been staying at Vespers By the Sea, Bed and Breakfast. Joyce, the proprietor has been taking great care of us and we're all enjoying our stay.... The wedding is this afternoon and I think we're all looking forward to the ceremony and the reception afterwards.

Tomorrow we have a brunch scheduled and then are off on a whale-watching excursion. I hope to have some pictures posted in this space over the next day or two -- stay tuned....

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Greetings from Antigonish, NS. We're here on our way to Cape Breton for Dan and Wendy's wedding this weekend.

It's been a long day of travel (been up since 0400 hrs Calgary time) with about 6 hours of flying time, and 5 hours by car. The hour and a bit we spent sitting on the runway in Toronto before taking off for St. John, NB didn't help much!

It's great to be back in the Maritimes -- really looking forward to experiencing the food and hospitality this part of the world is famous for. As always, check this space for updates. I'll try to get some pictures posted between now and my return to Calgary on August 8th.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Here's a post from the old faithful P100.

It feels strange to be typing away on Win95 1998 computer technology.

Had the 28.8 fired up to test a page with "inline" video and graphics.

An experiment in "accessible educational audiographics."

Here's a link to the "test page."

The CTL1611 Assessment cited above -- made with the FAST interface from getfast -- will eventually be linked to this page.

Friday, July 25, 2003

A post from Calgary....

It's been another hectic week at both work and school. Happy that this interface is working again thanks to the help of the good people at blogger control. The interface continues to improve and I'm happy with the technical support I've received.

This week I've been working with common gateway interface (CGI) scripts and "worlds" in Adobe Atmosphere for school projects. Both represent extremely powerful tools for on-line work and collaboration and I look forward to exploring more. As always, watch this space for details.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Greetings from Little Rock, AR. It's been a couple of weeks now since I've been able to make posts live on my site. I continue to tweak this interface in the hopes of getting posts to show, but am beginning to think I'll have to give up on blogger and take my blog to another forum. Indeed I should be able to post my own CGI script-based blog following my work this summer in CTL 1611. I'm learning a lot in Prof. Davie's class and am struggling to keep up with the workload.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I've been having trouble posting and have resorted to an attempt by mail.
------
self-directed 'net-based learning
http://www.learningdiary.blogspot.com
Still not able to make posts public. I'm able to get them to the blogspot server, but not "live." Technology is great when it works. In addition to this mess, I'm also trying to get a CGI script to work on the server @ OISE/UT.

Not having much luck on either front, but am continuing to work on both.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

A test post -- this interface has been down for a few days and I haven't been able to post.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Another attempt at a post -- Blog*spot's been down for a few days and I haven't been able to get my page to display.

The timing's good -- I'm learning UNIX, Perl and CGI so I may have to branch out on my own. I'm hopeful that my friends @ Blogger/Google will have us back on-line soon.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

It's been a hectic week. Work and school have kept me hoppin'; however, I was out golfing five times between Thurs night and Sunday morning.... That was good ;-)

My "standards" assignment for CTL 1611 is proving to be most educational.

I've learned that the W3C MarkUp Validation Service is an awesome tool. It allows you to "validate"any file or web page for HTML 4.01 Transitional compliance. It also gives a line-by-line breakdown of how to remedy any errors found.

I'd recommend that you make a hard copy of the results.

I found it helpful while working on this page.

I'll work on a "hack" to make the font in the table on the left look the same as this page; however, I suspect that tweaking the external Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) would be simpler.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

"Back to school" caught me by surprise this time.

Got an e-mail yesterday from Lynn Davie @ OISE/UT telling me that a spot had opened-up in his summer session of CTL 1611. Boom, I'm a student again.

I'm really looking fwd to the course. I don't know much, if anything, about UNIX/CGI scripts, but I'll certainly learn alot more between now and September ;-)

I'm especially interested in "completing the loop" with "learners." On-line assessments which assess and prescribe and "serve-up" activities, exercises, quizzes and tutorials for learners "on the fly." Definitely a "non-trivial" task, but XML, SMIL and SVG might make it easier.

How does one assess and tutor the beginning user of on-line learning technology?

I'd suggest that the notion of community is key. Some call it a community of practice, others refer to it as a knowledge base. Call it what you will, I think there's is absolutely no denying the importance of the social aspect of learning.

Indeed, whilst exploring Dr. Davie's home page I happened across a paper he authored with Jason Nolan.
(Dr. J is the Scholar in Residence at the KMDI).

"DOING LEARNING: BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONIST SKILLS FOR EDUCATORS" -- a "constructivist" theory of learning which accounts for the social nature of any construct.


Constructionism - the N word as opposed to the V word - shares constructivism's connotation of learning as `building knowledge structures' irrespective of the circumstances of the learning. It then adds that this happens especially felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it's a sandcastle on the beach or a theory of the universe...


I still struggle with how to make technology more accessible and engaging for learners. Until stakeholders are engaged in and by the process, the interaction required to form community won't be present. Regular readers of this diary have heard me talk of the importance of synchronous communication to "on-line communities."

Currently I'm experimenting with synchronous video. From what I've seen, I think it's a very valuable tool for "learner(s)...consciously engaged in constructing a public entity."

Saturday, June 28, 2003

The Web Resources – Grants page @ EDcompass is definitely worth a look.

Educators will find links to granting foundations and "jump pages" with links to others.

Friday, June 27, 2003

I recognize that there are marked improvements in the interface I'm using to write this.

You can't see it, but the interface this text is being typed into is "sleeker" than it was a short while ago. (Google purchased Blogger a while back and the posting interface is showing the infusion of $)

There've been a bunch of XML- and javascript-based improvements -- save your post notices and such -- to the interface.

I'm surprised by my negative reaction to the change. Even though I appreciate the improvements, I'm still "out of my comfort zone."

For now, I'm already getting used to it and am sure I'll be a big fan in no time ;-)

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Today I learned that connecting webCams is a "non-trivial" -- as our programmers call them -- problem when it comes to my webMedia exploits.

Better have the feed if you intend to 'cast moving video. I was wrangling with XP and v6 of MSN Messenger. The camera I've been using all along wouldn't work, so I pulled out the ATI "All-in-wonder-USB" card and hooked-up my Olympus C720.

It took a bit o' work, but I was able to get a feed going for a while.

The point of all the "technological hijinx" is that I'm intent on generating the "on-line self-organizing social systems" (Wiley 2002) I've been going-on about since the beginning of this diary.

Today I was looking at the examples posted on this page, hosted by TechSmith and it got me thinking about my Objects in Action page.

My "objects" above are by no means exemplars; however, I'd love to see what some motivated on-line educational researchers could do with our software @ SMART Technologies Inc.

If nothing else, I hope it encourages you to say, "I can do better than that." Even better if you post examples ;-) Let's see what you've made on SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboards and software.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

More about Bridgit.

My webMedia experiment continues. The current conference includes live video from Calgary, AB.

webMedia_VI is shared from my desktop. I have a webCam and a "sign-in" page use the Pen tool in Bridgit to add your name or mark.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Friday, June 20, 2003

It's been a busy week.

Flew to Denver on Monday, Minneapolis on Wed and home last night.

Sunday's Bridgit experiment went well and I have another webMedia-- webMedia_III --data-conference running now.

You can see a GIF of golf swing and a live webcam from Calgary. Click this link to launch the Bridgit client. (...my apologies to those reading this as an archive....)

You can also use the Pen tool in Bridgit to write your name on the "sign-in" page.

Visit Bridgit for more information.

Sunday, June 15, 2003


I've had a webMedia experiment going for the past couple of days. I'm using Bridgit Data-conferencing Software to share my desktop.

I have open a movie I made on the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard, a GIF file I made of my golf swing, a live video feed from our offices in Calgary, and a SMART Notebook file.

Visit this page to download the free client. Select webMedia_test from the conference list and c'mon in for a visit.

If you'd like you can use the Bridgit Pen tool to add electronic ink to the Notebook Software file that's open on my desktop.

The conference will run until later today (~2200 hrs Mountain Daylight Time (MDT)).


Friday, June 13, 2003


I've added some links to the SMARTeo model on the SMART Ideas(R) software Server.

The nice thing about SMART Ideas(R) Software is the ease of posting navigable links to all the levels of your "concept map." Click on layers of the model above to explore "inside" the model. Making maps for activities and tutorials is as easy as drawing and producing objects and saving them to the server. examples.

Your development group can work on the model on the server -- synchronously where practicable -- and keep a record of how the concept came to fruition.

The "Playback" feature allows newcomers to "see what's happened" to the model since last visited. Good way to provide a context of "how we got to this point" in project completion.

RussW also asked me about another offering from SMART Technologies Inc., Bridgit Data-conferencing Software. Bridgit allows for data-conferencing -- desktop to desktop -- without an install on the "client" (your!) PC.

We have truly state-of-the-art technology in "interactive whiteboards" and related products at SMART Technologies Inc., and I feel very fortunate to be able to work with our hardware and software on a daily basis.

Thursday, June 12, 2003


Did some work on the SMART Ideas(R) Server last night. My buddy Russ stopped by and I took him on a tour of the model. Russ indicated he'd like to see voice-over-IP(VOIP) added.

SMART Ideas(R) software now supports synchronous chat, but Russ' point -- over the phone last night -- is well taken. "Voice conferencing" is very valuable in tutoring beginning users of technology.

Russ also mentioned that issues of copyright are particularly tricky -- especially in terms of altering exisiting objects for reuse. To wit, while in looking at what CANCORE had to say about Rights I happened across a couple of gems.
  • One regarding the intent of the specification:
    Rather than being a rigid, parsable set of rules, CanCore encourages common, consensual element semantics that have their own benefit in increased resource discovery and metadata interoperability.

  • and a reference to the Creative Commons which in turn led to this Flash tutorial on the difference between "the Big C" and "cc" -- Get Creative


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003


It's been a while since I've had a chance to post. The trip to 'lando was a busy one.

Today I got a mail from the Open Knowledge Initiative @ MIT that included a link to sourceforge.net the site of OKI's release of Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs) Released for Educational Software and Learning Management Systems


The Common Services OSID package is available on SourceForge at http://sourceforge.net/projects/okiproject. Software developers are encouraged to use the SourceForge discussion forums to provide feedback and comment.

Thursday, June 05, 2003


Greetings from infoComm 2003.

It's been a busy, exciting and rewarding week in Orlando. Today marks the final day of the exhibition and it's been great meeting with customers, dealers and resellers over the past few days.

It's also been great to experience the excitement generated by the hardware and software products we've introduced.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003


A post from Olathe, KS. I'm here ahead of a Train-the-Trainer session on the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard tomorrow.

My hotel is across the parking lot from the Great Mall of the Great Plains. It's the biggest outlet mall I've ever seen -- they say it's a million square feet. Had a quick run-through near closing tonight, but will have to go back for another look tomorrow evening.

On Friday I'm off to Orlando, FL to help with setup of our tradeshow booth for Infocomm. I'll also have the opportunity to provide training for some of our resellers next week at the show. This marks my first trip to Infocomm and I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, May 22, 2003


Here's something I found @ EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION FOR GROUP PROJECTS: THE VALUE OF SYNCHRONICITY by Mercer and Davie. Presented @ TCC 2002.


Online computer conferences or discussion forums (asynchronous CMC) provide a learning environment that supports group collaboration very well. The dialogue of the course is always available so that learners can revisit their discussion, and reflect thoughtfully on their responses. They can then compose and edit messages as their time permits (Burge, 1994; Daugherty & Funke, 1998). However, the feelings of isolation, lack of immediate responses, difficulty making group decisions, and a sense of information overload leave many students quite frustrated (Benbunan-Fich & Hiltz, 1999; Hara & Kling, 1999; Wegerif, 1998). In response students, researchers and online teachers have recommended the inclusion of synchronous communication to asynchronous CMC courses (Bullen, 1998; Carr-Chellman, Dyer, & Breman, 2000; Higgins, 1992; Mason, 1998; Mitchell & Bacic, 2000).


I know that on-line group work without collaboration won't work. In fact in a reflective term paper I wrote a little over a month ago, I suggested that a lack of synchronous communication amongst the members of our project team really hurt us during one assignment.

Indeed many of the "frustrations" listed above were expressed by members of our group. From where I type, the "difficult making group decisions" rises to extreme without synchronous (i.e. chat or "real time") communication.

I'd also suggest that the true value of synchronous CMC (computer-mediated communication)-based education will become fully apparent as we move beyond ASCI or text-based interfaces. Drawings and objects and "virtual" environments to facilitate a community-driven dynamic knowledge base.


Back to Calgary from sunny San Diego. I did get that 20 degrees back, interest too! Sorry to report that I didn't get any pics on this trip.

I really enjoyed working with learners while conducting SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard training over the past two days. Interactive whiteboards are exciting tools for educators and students of technology. I have both "educators" and "students" attend my sessions. I get a charge out of participants' excitment regarding the educational application of the SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboard.

I remain keenly interested in leveraging our hardware and software to further development of a dynamic knowledge base related to these same products. A case of the medium truly being the message. As noted, a "sharing culture" within the community is needed for this model to work.

Sunday, May 18, 2003


Made it back to Calgary. The temperature here is about 20 degrees cooler than it was in Ottawa when I left.

Head to San Diego in the morning -- hope to get my 20 degrees back with interest ;-) I'm down there to deliver training and check out the ASTD's annual conference. Stop by the SMART Technologies Inc. booth -- #1837 [I'll be at the conference for most of the day on Wednesday] to say hello if you're in the 'hood.

Had a great weekend in the Ottawa Valley. The party last night was a blast. Great to see "all hands on deck" and get the chance to visit with some I hadn't seen in a decade or more.

Managed to mix a little "work" into the trip as well, although meeting over wine with two colleagues I'd only interacted with on-line hardly qualifies as work ;-)

James Mercer and Lynn Holden are doing some great work in multimedia and virtual reality. I'm excited to have the opportunity to work with them and members of their community and am especially interested in working with them on synchronous delivery models. James' concept of the Thinking Fish is fascinating.

James was a colleague in my most recent course at OISE/UT. It was a blast working with him and his students at Arnprior District High School this semester and I look forward to working with him and colleagues into the future.

A post from Renfrew, ON. Here this weekend to attend a birthday party for my mother. It was good to visit with family and friends and we had a great time last night.

A picture of Barb and her brood

Tuesday, May 13, 2003


I was in looking at the project pages of colleagues in CTL 1799 Enhancing Holistic Learning with Computer Technology and happened across this gem on Nicole's site.

Educators and learners will find many valuable resources on our collective and individual pages. I'd recommend a trip in for a look.

Sunday, May 11, 2003


Last week's Nexus conference at U of T looks like it would have been great. Sorry I missed it. Some great speakers and topics listed in the schedule.

Happened across the Faculty Online Support Services (FOSS) site while exploring the conference site. I highly recommend both links to those interested in the "state of the art" of 'net-based learning.

The Novice User Resources and Advanced User Resources pages (linked from the FOSS page above) are especially valuable for those designing, developing and delivering on-line curricula.

Thursday, May 08, 2003


Here's a picture I made by stitching together some shots I took outside yesterday's session in Mississippi for the Army Corps of Engineers.

You can see Enid Lake in the background.

A picture of Enid lake, Mississippi

Wednesday, May 07, 2003


Greetings from Memphis, TN. Had an interesting morning.... I awoke to severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings on the local TV. Turned out that I was headed directly into the path of the severe weather. Happy to report that I only got soaked getting from my car to the session this morning and that I didn't encounter any twisters on the way.

Stopped by Graceland on my way into Memphis. I didn't sign up for the tour, but did take a couple of pictures from outside the gate. Here's one of the plaque that's outside the mansion.

A picture of the plaque located outside Graceland in Memphis, TN

Note the names that have been added to the wall of the grounds. The block-long stone wall, and the sidewalk in front, are covered in the names of those who've visited.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003


Quick note from Batesville, MS. Haven't encountered any of the severe storms that were forecast. Seems as though the worst of the storms have hit a little to the north of where I am.

Have a session in Enid, MS and then am off to Memphis tomorrow over night.

Monday, May 05, 2003


It's still snowing a little on and off as I write this. Tomorrow through Thursday, I'm off to Mississippi -- Batesville and Enid to be exact.

I land in Memphis and make my way south. I looked in at the 10-day weather forecast and see that I'm in for 90% chance of rain and "scattered strong storms" over the next couple of days.

Saturday, May 03, 2003


Here's a picture I took earlier this week in Cincinnati.

It's a great town and I highly recommend both the Crowne Plaza Hotel -- I took the pic from my 16th floor room -- and the food at the Rock Bottom across the street beside Fountain Square.

A picture at sunset from the 16th floor of the Crowne Plaza hotel in Cincinnati

Wednesday, April 30, 2003


Greetings from Cincinnati. Here to deliver training on SMART Board(TM) interactive whiteboards and Camfire DCI. Today I travelled to Columbus to deliver training at one of our reseller's locations.

The weather has been nice during my stay in Ohio. There was some rain on the way south on I-71 from Columbus today, but at least it wasn't snow.

I make my way back to Calgary on Friday and would like to get out to the mountains this coming weekend to get some skiing/'boarding in.

Friday, April 25, 2003


I was in looking at what Jay Cross was up to and see that internetime has become meta-time. Jay's moved from links -- 'net time was a "jump page" -- to a blog format.

Neat to see the evolution of on-line learning. To wit, Jay's entry today about the work of Wil Thalheimer.

Jay cited an improvement of 112% with e-learning, which sent me looking for an explanation. Here's what Thalheimer had to say:

E-learning is unique in its ability to easily utilize the four learning effects just described (spacing, delayed feedback, relearning, and reducing the retention interval). Totaling the percentage-improvement estimates (based on reasoned extrapolations from the research), e-learning can be expected to improve learning results by 112% or so. This number was conservatively estimated by adding the individual maximum estimates (40, 25, 110, 50) to get 225, and dividing that number in half to be conservative. Given e-learning’s unique capabilities, we can expect a well-designed e-learning program to outperform other types of learning programs by over 100%, a two-fold increase in learning.

Even if he's only half right, that's a big improvement. For me the accessibility that e-learning provides for learners is the key. The ability to post to forums like Jay's and participate in synchronous chat and webcasts means that anyone with a connection to the 'net can be part of a knowledge-building community.

Open-source intitiatives like those at OKI and eduCommons and CANCORE further broaden the scope of access of on-line education for all stakeholders.


Thursday, April 24, 2003


One good link deserves another. Here's one to my friend Drew Bennett's site.

I've known Drew since he was the proverbial "knee-high to a grasshopper." He's a talented young man and it's a pleasure to watch him grow and develop. Drew tells me he's planning a visit in Calgary on his way west to the coast, the middle of next month.

Employers in the Vancouver area looking for an accomplished musician, with the technical chops to produce his own recordings, might want to pay Drew's site a visit and drop him a line.


Drew at the mixing board


Wednesday, April 23, 2003


Here's a graphic I got from my buddy Phil.

Who knew that the (former) Iraqi Information Minister was/is a fan of the Wings?

A picture of the Iraqi Information Minister offering his opinion on the fate of the Red Wings in the first round of this year's playoffs

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Good news! I managed to register for next fall's section of CTL 1000. Finally. The fall would have been the third time in a row that I had missed a spot. Learning indeed.

Last year I learned that one needs to register far in advance -- Selia, our prof in CTL 1799 -- told us that she's already been contacted by students seeking Winter/Spring 2004 seats in the course.

For the course I enrolled in last night, the calendar instructs students to contact professors by e-mail prior to Aug. 15, 2003 for September classes. After my registration last night, there are two spots remaining. This course is prerequisite for the M.Ed and I was starting to get a little worried about going another year without the course.

Had that been the case, I'd have definitely had to get in touch with the gang at the KMDI and begged to have been their first "Computer Conferencing Course" on-line participant.

Here's a gem of a PDF I found while in looking at the lectures from this year's offering of KMD 1000 Y.

Monday, April 14, 2003


It's been a while since I've posted about my friends at the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) in Toronto.

My wonky -- pretty well every Thursday dans le road (i.e., flying somewhere) work schedule -- has meant that I've missed nearly all this year's 'casts. In fact, I've only been able to join a couple of the live 'casts.

The good news is that the 'casts are archived. Each lecture from the last two seasons -- in your choice of WM QT or Real format, an extremely nice and very rare example of "accessibility" -- to be viewed at your leisure.

In fact the only downside is that the archives don't allow for synchronous chats with the moderator. Chat -- along with slides and audio and video of the speaker all in one interface -- provide a perfect environment for "computer-based" learning.

The fact that they've done it all on an architecture which allows 'casting to audiences connected at 56 kbps makes it all the more valuable.

This semester as a Computer Conferencing Course student at OISE/UT has taught me the value of "synchronous" in the conferencing equation. Synchronous communication approximates verbal communication and lends a human element to proceedings that's otherwise not there.

I've also learned that ensuring all can access the technology being used (e.g., some might not be able to connect at 56 kbps) is equally as important when using "computer conferencing" for education. Of course it's all about "trade-offs" -- where are you prepared to drawing the line when it comes to "system requirements"?

I suggest the KMDI has done a nice job in this regard. Granted not all will be able to connect at 56 k, but it's pretty much a requirement for streaming media. The interface has continued to improve and grow more "user friendly" in the years (a couple preceeding the archives) I've been attending 'casts. ePresence walks you through a wizard-based "system check" once you register. This ensures that you'll know you can "get connected" come game time. You'll be ready to login and join the discussion.

I know I get a charge out of asking questions of the speaker and chatting with the moderator from "x" thousands miles on the other side of the continent.

Drs. Baecker and Moore et al. continue a fantastic job. Well done.

Friday, April 11, 2003


I'm still working with different types of webMedia and am having fun. One of my colleagues (Geoff) in CTL 1799 has been able to clue me in to some of the differences between WAV and MP3 files and I look forward to presenting some examples of each, if I can.

During discussions with my prof in CTL 1799 the topic of "objects" has arisen again. Seems as though there are a lot of questions within our group about objects and how exactly they might work in educational settings. Regular readers of this blog will know that this is an answer I've been "in search of" since I began this forum in January 2002.

I keep coming back to the work of David Wiley at Utah State University. I first happened across Wiley's work when tracking references M.David Merrill made at last year's Training Conference in Atlanta. Again, this is old news for some of you. The point is that I continue to be impressed with Wiley's work, and he's been busy.

His Keeping the Baby and the Bathwater page provides an example of the "state of the art" where objects are concerned and is a good point of entry for anyone wanting to know more about objects and how they're being used. The bathwater page contains a reference to eduCommons -- here's a link to a "quiz" I made with a development tool they've produced.

Those interested in knowing more about objects will find the Wiley's Writings page valuable for the wealth of information on object-based education.

I see that Wiley has added a link to his blog since the last time I visited his site (i.e., within the last month).

Wiley continues fantastic work in this area and I look forward to continuing to keep abreast of the "good works" he's involved in and continue to believe very strongly in the efficacy of the "social system" outlook he brings to the examination of objects and on-line learning communities.


Wednesday, April 09, 2003


Made it home from Phoenix.

Here's a GIF of my swing with the "big dog."

Animated GIF of my golf swing from a MOV file I made in Phoenix earlier this week

Monday, April 07, 2003


More from Phoenix, AZ.

Yesterday I managed to get out for some golf. I played nine holes at the Maryvale Golf Course, one of the municipal golf courses operated by the city of Phoenix.

Following the round I headed to range to work on my swing.

As you can see from the animated GIF below, it needs work ;-)

An animated GIF of me working the kinks out of my swing

I used the AMI GIF Construction Set to make this animation out of a series of JPG files I made with the Screen Capture Tool of SMART Notebook software and Microsoft Paint.

I used Notebook to take a series of "area captures" of a QuickTime (MOV) movie I'd made of my swing. I then copied and pasted these "captured" images into Paint and saved each as a JPG. I then used the GIF Constructor Set Animation Wizard to make the animation.

You can see that a couple of the frames were a different size than the rest. This resulted in the "white lines" across the bottom and sides of a couple of frames in the animation above.

Sunday, April 06, 2003


Another post from Phoenix, AZ.

I've been out taking some pictures around the city and have put together a couple of panoramic shots. One from Camelback Mountain and one from South Mountain Park.

Camelback Mountain is north of downtown and you can see downtown Phoenix on the horizon, center-right, in the picture below. The mountains of South Moutain Park can be seen center-left.

A picture of downtown Phoenix from Camelback Mountain

As its name suggests, South Mountain Park is south of downtown Phoenix. Take Center Ave south to access the park. In the picture below you can see downtown Phoenix and Camelback Mountain, center-right, in the backgroud.

A picture of Phoenix and area from South Mountain Park