Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Digital Artifacts & The Twitter Test

Last night, I had the opportunity to present a couple of sessions at ManACE's 'Making Connections' TIN. I've sat on the board of the Manitoba Association for Computing Educators for several years, and have had the opportunity to present many sessions and take in lots of great presentations through our Technology Information Nights (TIN's).

We host TINs around the province several times a year, and often have between 20 & 50 people in the room. The sessions that are presented often demonstrate the use of leading edge technologies, and I've always wanted to increase the profile of our TIN sessions to include even more participation from around the province and around the world.

This has led me to consider different ways of connecting with an audience, and I've played a pivotal role in pulling together some innovative events through ManACE over the last couple of years. Events like the Manitoba Edubloggercon and Awakening Possibilities have involved Skyping in presenters and uStreaming the content out over the intertubes so that we could engage our virtual audience and impact more than just the people who were in the room.

These events have given birth to several other events taking place within the province, like Windows To The World last spring and, more recently, the Media Literacy event that Manitoba Education Citizenship and Youth (MECY) and the Manitoba Association for Computing Educators (ManACE) organized as Manitoba's contribution to our national Media Literacy Week celebrations.

Through these events, and through my affiliations with the ManACE Board and membership, I've had the opportunity to collaborate with many amazing educators. I've learned a lot from my network and, I'd like to think, I give back to my network in many different ways. I think that one of the greatest strengths of planning and delivering sessions as described above is that all of the content is archived on the web. This allows for professional learning opportunities to take place anytime and anywhere. These digital artifacts that have been created will continue to impact the educators who stumble upon them (or actively seek them out) for many years to come. We're leaving a legacy of learning online so that educators can continue to reap the benefit over time.

On that note, several people were hoping to attend last night's ManACE TIN but were unable to be there in person. I had several requests to uStream the presentations so that they could participate from a distance. I wanted to make the content available to a virtual audience, but we didn't have the time or resources to pull it together on short notice. But it got me thinking about how I could archive the presentation in a different way. I thought about whipping out my Flip Mino HD to capture the sessions. Instead, I opted for trying out a little experiment.

For the last couple of years, I've been dabbling with an application on my Mac called Screenflow. It's a very powerful app for creating polished screencasts, and you can also capture external audio and video at the same time. I wanted to try capturing the presentation as it appeared for the folks who were in the room & record the audio to accompany the presentation.

All I had to do was click record the content of the session, then stop the recording at the end. When I got home, I opened the recording in Screenflow, exported it to Quicktime (coincidentally, it's only 66mb for 33 minutes of footage...) and uploaded it to Vimeo. I chose Vimeo over YouTube simply because not as many school divisions block/filter access to Vimeo.

It took no time or expertise to crop, render or encode the video. Just a couple clicks of a button and I was done. I'm extremely impressed with the ease of capturing this presentation, and am happy to say that it has now been archived and made available for your viewing pleasure :-)

BuildingYourPLN from Andy McKiel on Vimeo.

Due to the ease of capturing and sharing this presentation, I plan to adopt this technique a little more often over the coming weeks and months. I'd love to hear examples of how other educators create and share digital artifacts :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Outta This World!

This morning I got to be part of something very cool - connecting a handful of high school students with Dr. Robert Thirsk, a Canadian astronaut who is currently orbiting earth aboard the International Space Station.

This was an incredible experience for everyone involved, and a moment that will live on forever in the minds of these students.

Dr. Thirsk graduated from John Taylor Collegiate here in Winnipeg, so this was a very unique home-coming celebration. In fact, Dr. Thirsk made reference to his high school chemistry teacher, George Bush (no, not that George Bush...), who was actually in attendance this morning. Must be nice to re-connect with your former students when you can see how far they've come ;-)

Each of the students who participated in this event had the opportunity to ask questions of Dr. Robert Thirsk. You can have a listen to the entire audio content here:

This event was attended by some local media, so I would expect to see some coverage in the local newspaper (Winnipeg Free Press) as well as on television (CBC News).

This was an experience that I won't soon forget. I just wish I had enriching opportunities like this as I made my own way through high school years ago :-)