Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm 'it' - thoughts on Wordle

So, here it is the morning of 'Awakening Possibilities' and I've got a million and one things to do. However, the first thing I saw in my Twitter feed was that I'd been tagged by John Evans in a Wordle meme. Since this is my first time being tagged in a meme, I felt I better make this a priority.

I've used Wordle several times in the past to create these unique word clouds. However, I've never created a Wordle with a blog RSS feed. I didn't realize that it was so easy to do this directly within Wordle.

This wordle was created with the RSS feed of this blog:

Image Source -

But, I also went on to create a Wordle with the RSS feed of another blog that I've been spending more time with as of late. This one's based on the IGNITE@Brooklands blog, which has been a space for 9 and 10 years olds to reflect on their experiences as they take part in a 3-day IGNITE Camp, designed to promote interest in technology and engineering.

I wanted to see how the two Wordles differed based on the target audiences. You see, TECH Talks is my professional blog, whereas the focus of IGNITE@Brooklands is the elementary students who are involved with IGNITE Camp.

As soon as I saw each of my Wordles appear before my eyes, two things became immediately apparent:

1) It's amazing how accurately Wordle captures the main focus and concepts. It's so obvious to see where my current interests lay, and it forces me to reflect on how my understanding of these concepts is taking shape :-)
2) The language that is used is so different dependent on the two target audiences.

Thanks for including me in this meme, John. It's always good to take the time to reflect on your own learning and understanding. It's all about 'Awakening Possibilities' that exist with all of the emerging technologies that we have available...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Interest IGNITEd :-)

For the last three days, I've been hosting an IGNITE Camp at one of the elementary schools in my division. The idea behind IGNITE is to 'IGNite Interest in Technology and Engineering'. This is done through building electronic circuits, dismantling computers and building/programming robots using LEGO Mindstorm kits. While engaging in all of these activities, the Grade 4/5 students were given cameras and encouraged to document everything through photos. We blogged about our experiences at IGNITE@Brooklands, we created VoiceThreads with our observations, and the students also created videos by assembling all of the many photos that they had collected throughout the three days.

IGNITE is a program that was initiated by IBM a few years ago, and our provincial Department of Education has modified IBM's initial concept for this program so that there are more curricular connections for the students and the activities are more global than compartmentalized...

We had many visitors throughout the three days - administrators, consultants, teachers and parents. Everyone who popped in was amazed by how engaged ALL of the students were. Thanks, MECY & IBM, for the opportunity to host IGNITE. Looking forward to seeing what happens over the next couple of weeks when we run two more IGNITE Camps :-)

BTW, I closed today's session by sharing Dean Kamen's TED Talks presentation. Dean's the inventor of the Segway, and he was approached by the US government to develop a prosthetic arm for injured veterans What he put together in only 13 months will astound you...


Monday, November 17, 2008

'Awakening Possibilities'

Consider this your official invitation to attend 'Awakening Possibilities', a live event being held in Winnipeg, Canada the evening of November 27th, 2008. I've been pouring a lot of time and energy into putting together this event as a follow-up to last year's MB Edubloggercon, which was sponsored by ManACE. Not only do we want to see you there, but we also want you to help us spread the word about 'Awakening Possibilities', so please share the following .pdf wherever you see fit - print in out and hang it in your staffroom, e-mail it to a friend, or post it on your blog or wiki -

'Awakening Possibilities' will feature short presentations by many prominent edubloggers. We'll hear from Darren Kuropatwa, Clarence Fisher, Chris Harbeck and John Evans, all of whom will be in attendance. We'll also hear from Alec Couros, Kathy Cassidy, Jeff Utecht and Dean Shareski, all of whom will be presenting virtually at 'Awakening Possibilities'.

We'd love to have you join us for 'Awakening Possibilities'. If you'll be anywhere near Winnipeg on November 27th, 2008, send me an e-mail to get involved -

Of course, no matter where you are, you can participate online. To find out more about this event, please visit the 'Awakening Possibilities' wiki.

I hope to see you there :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Incredible Journey

Image: 'Goldstream River' -

I have traveled out to Vancouver Island at least twenty times and there are many things that I love about the island. I've spent the last twenty years living in the prairies, but I'm not prairie born or bred, so I'm drawn to the mountains and the ocean. I love to get out on the water, sit on the beach and watch the waves roll in, and go for hikes to discover the panoramic vistas that await.

I've finally accomplished one of my longest-standing goals when visiting Vancouver Island - witnessing the salmon run. Typically, I only get to the island during the summer months or over the winter break, so the timing is off. Therefore, when I was invited to attend a November conference in Vancouver, I planned to hop onto the ferry and attempt to catch the coho as they trekked upstream.

For those of you who have witnessed the salmon run firsthand, I'm sure you'd agree that it is an awe-inspiring experience. They fight so hard to make progress up the river, knowing full well that once they reach their destination, they've truly reached the end of their journey.

I tried to capture the essence of the salmon run in the following video. While it is impossible to bring this experience to life without witnessing it firsthand, this video should give you an idea of the scope and magnitude of the challenges that the coho salmon face as they push onward and upward... enjoy :-)

The Salmon Run

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Over the last few days, I've felt like banging my head against the wall on more than one occasion. The hotel where my conference is being held, and where I've spent the last couple of nights, claims to offer wireless Internet access to all of it's guests. The picture above captures the essence of the quality of their wireless access - a snapshot of a 3.3 MB download that still requires 18 minutes to complete...

I guess I've just become used to connecting to the internet at much faster speeds than this, because I feel so restricted by ridiculously slow connection speeds. Although my connection almost never times out, it is painfully slow even for menial tasks like loading flash-free webpages.

Last night, I almost went off on a little rant about this issue, when it took me 40 minutes to attach a 2 MB file to an e-mail that had to be sent. I was prepared to question whether the hotel even had the right to call this access. But I'm glad I caught myself, because I was reminded of the fact that for many people around the globe, access doesn't come any better than this. I sometimes take it for granted that the fast reliable access that I have day in and day out is an experience shared by all, which certainly isn't the case.

As frustrating as this can be, it pays to remember that slow access is far superior to no access...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Down By The Bay... follow me :-)

I've been in Vancouver for the last couple of days for some SMART sessions, and I wanted to get out and see some of the sights around town. I decided to go for a 'little' walk - almost seven hours of meandering around Vancouver's vibrant streets and serene sea walls.

I've embedded my adventures from last evening into the following Google Map. Take a closer look at some of the great views along the way :-)

All Around Town

View Larger Map

There's no better way to learn a city than to get lost in it's streets and rivers.
Hope you've enjoyed my adventures :-)