Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Beyond Boundaries

If you're anything like me, every once in a while you feel you deserve a bit of an escape. A little break from the daily grind - a temporary reprieve from your routines - a change in scenery.

For me, one of those occasions presented itself just after I dropped the girls off at school this morning. I was walking back to my car, thinking about how good it felt to be running a few minutes ahead of schedule, when I noticed the flat tire.

That, in itself, was enough to make me shudder. However, this problem was confounded by the fact that it was -40 outside, with a brisk wind to boot! If there's any humour to be found in the problem that I faced this morning, it's that when I recount this story it doesn't matter whether I specify that the -40 was farenheit or celsius - I'd hit the breaking point! Changing a tire when it is that cold outside is something you probably want to avoid :-)

But back to the purpose of this post... if you're an educator looking for ways to move beyond your boundaries, sometimes all you need is a little push. While we're usually bound by curriculum, limited access to resources, competing initiatives and insufficient time, every once in a while something happens that forces you to look at your situation from a different perspective and consider some alternatives.

That was my goal in organizing 'Awakening Possibilities' a couple of months ago - to encourage educators to open their eyes to some of the possibilities that currently exist when looking to make their classrooms more conducive to teaching and learning. With the support of many amazing people (Jeff, Alec, Kathy, Dean, Clarence, John, Chris & Darren - and Brian, our 'surprise' presenter...), I'd like to think that we've really started making a difference in getting the word out there to more educators. Not just reaching those educators that already realize the benefits of collaborating through the use of emerging technologies, but some of those educators who haven't yet been exposed to the available tools and resources, those educators who must realize the potential.

All of the presentations that took place during the Awakening Possibilities event will continue to be available on 'The Archives' page of the wiki. Several of the presentations are also available in other formats and different locations around the blogosphere. From embedded uStream videos, to slidedecks and audio podcasts, all of the content that was shared throughout the evening is reaching a different audience all the time. Every day, new teachers are getting turned on to the potential that technology affords.

My eyes were opened to this reality in mid-December, when one of my colleagues approached me to share something. They logged on to A Difference, and proceeded to show me the slides from Darren's presentation and gushed about how his message resonated with their thinking. And this is someone who is not tech savvy, who doesn't typically read blogs and, unfortunately, who isn't 'connected'. When she asked if I'd ever heard of this presenter, I sheepishly pointed to her the role that I played in helping to get 'Awakening Possibilities' off the ground ;-)

Immediately following the Awakening Possibilities event, Darren posted his slide deck and the audio from his presentation to his blog. I'm doing my bit to 'pass the torch' by remixing the content and making it available in another format, in another location, thus making it even easier to share Darren's message. Please, do yourself a favour and take five minutes to watch this presentation and consider how you could move beyond boundaries to make more of a difference in your teaching...

Also, if you'd like to download this video to share with others in your school, please feel free to download and share the following file:

Thanks for reading,
BTW, the photo that inspired the title for this post was shot by my brother-in-law, Jonathan Davis (no, not the lead singer of Korn), at the Grand National Zoo in Seoul. I could stare at this picture for hours - it's perfect :-)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Apple's Latest & Greatest?

I just saw this video that @caseywright shared on Twitter and it had me laughing out loud. I've been a Mac user for several years now, and I always eagerly await their announcements about the latest and greatest products to hit the market. Apple has certainly raised the bar when it comes to innovation in design and aesthetics. However, there have been some hilarious spoofs of Mac products. This is just the most recent one that I've come across.

Here's another recent jab at Apple that recently aired on Matt Groening's The Simpsons. In this episode, Lisa's thrilled to find out that their mall just got a 'Mapple Store' and the whole family shows up just in time to catch 'Steve Mobs' keynote address...

And then there's Mad TV's iRack sketch. It's been around for over a year, but it still gets me every time:

While I fully understand that Apple has it's critics, I still think they do an incredible job of designing and marketing their products. The shroud of secrecy that veils each new Apple release generates a tonne of hype and interest in all things Apple. And just look at the amount of exposure that Apple gets from the mainstream media that they don't even have to pay for. Despite all of their critics, in my book...

Apple = Cool

Gotta get to the Apple Store and pre-order myself one of them there MacBook Wheels ;-)