Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Digital Scholar, Manga Version

This week the Change11 Mooc is faciliated by Martin Weller and we are looking at The Digital Scholar.

His most recent post he tells us that his new book is finally available in open access.

And goes on to tell us that open access means:

  • open as in arms
  • open as in doors
  • open as in ended
Regarding open-ended:  “If anyone wants to take the HTML version and create an Egyptian hieroglyphics version delivered via 1988 version of HyperCard – well, they can”
That made me laugh out loud.
Then I see that in the comments he chides that he is looking forward to the Manga version of his book.
Well, Martin, I’m all too happy to oblige. I present to you, page 1 of The Digital Scholar, Manga Version:

The Digital Scholar

Mobile Learning

What does this set up in terms of ‘have’ and ‘have-not’?

On one hand, North America is a continent full of people who ‘have’ too much. Far too much. Shouldn’t we pay more for things? We have SO MUCH!

The problem, I think, is that our over-abundance over-shadows that there are millions of people in North America just scraping by; marginalized groups we tend to overlook.

What can we learn from Zoraini Wati Abas and Open University Malaysia?

Canadian Universities would be under huge scrutiny if they ever paid for the text plans for students to allow for SMS communication.

But what about those marginalized groups? Northern communities, new immigrants, Aboriginal groups, homeless, the working poor are all groups who slip through the cracks. Some of them live in third world conditions but they have to live with first world expenses.

There is such a diversity of need within the student population. How do we implement something that is fair and balanced?

Student loans are helpful but after the six-month grace period interest starts accruing. My Ontario Student Loan paid for my tuition, textbooks, rent, and day care. I’m still paying it off and at this rate it will take about 15 more years (at least). I am loathe to calculate the total cost of my education. What if I had to use my student loan to pay for exorbitant cell phone rates too? Because my class required it?

As Ontario aims to reach a 70% post-secondary attainment rate, we need to be looking at these non-traditional learners and ask ourselves where they are in terms of mobile learning.

Do they have cell phones? Are they old cell phones like my ancient mocked phone? How would they feel in a class where everyone else had a smart phone? Would they be at a clear disadvantage? Can they afford to send texts, surf the web, interact with their phones as we would hope?

In what circumstances are education providers expecting these learners to choose between groceries and a mobile device?

I wish I had more answers but I guess change comes from asking questions. And I have a lot of those.

I just finished High School

Well, 20 years ago. But still. I really remember high school like it was yesterday; I am often surprised when I realize I am NOT 16 years old anymore. (How’d THAT happen???)

My Photo Album

My Photo Album

Inspired by Michael Branson Smith, Cheryl Colan, Lou McGill and Alan Levine, I have been sucked into the black hole that is reminiscing about high school.

I don’t have lot of photos of me because I was usually behind the camera. I loved my Pentax K-1000 SLR and I would spend hours taking pictures of anything and anyone who would let me.

I often reflect on the things I learnt during high school but this will be the first time I’ve ever put them into writing.

I guess there are three main take-aways.

Own your shadow, but don’t forget to cite
I was lucky enough to spend my summer as a lifeguard. Shift rotations meant I had a lot of free time to read. I befriended two brothers who also worked the pool and we had an informal book club. They suggested I read Robertson Davies, Fifth Business. I was delighted to find rich allusions to Carl Jung‘s collective unconscious and parallels to Jungian archetypes. Once back at school I took two English classes simultaneously. I was so enraptured with Davies that I decided to do The Deptford Trilogy for both classes for my Independent Research Projects. The problem was that both my papers were not sufficiently different from each other and I soon learned that you cannot steal quotes from yourself. I plagiarized myself and I was charged with plagiarism. In high school. Thus began my lifelong interest in academic integrity. I watch with interest when academics use and reuse their own papers. Do they always cite themselves?

Leading from behind

When I was 16, our school board arranged for all student council executives across the Niagara Region to go to a remote northern Muskoka campground and spend 4 days reflecting on leadership. (Sound familiar, unplugg’rs?)

Leadership Camp- Improv

Me, Doing improv at Leadership Camp. I was funny. Really.

Leadership Camp was a bit anticlimactic, however, because upon return I had a debrief with our vice principal, Mr. M. He solemnly informed me that he noticed I wasn’t actually a very strong leader. He noticed I wasn’t very opinionated and I tended to hold back and let others lead. I tried to explain that I felt that some groups needed leaders from behind. That in a group of 60 kids all vying to be The Best Leader, it seemed almost anti-leadership and unproductive to compete. I felt the best thing would be to identify gaps and help move things along. From behind. Leading from behind. He kind of shook his head in disagreement but I stand behind that idea. And to think he thought I wasn’t opinionated…

Making Art is Never a Waste of Time
This I learned in high school but it took me many years to crystalize as a Truth for me.

I was never happier than in art class. My teacher would play Enya and I’m certain if I’ve ever reached a zen like state of bliss or nirvana this would be it, with a paintbrush in hand, music in my ears. Alas, I believed that art was a hobby not a profession, so I didn’t ever pursue it as a “career goal”.

This was complicated by the fact that I also discovered how much I loved physics. Using mini cars, ramps and ticker tape to turn x, y, z variables of calculus into manipulatable objects before my eyes was really fun. It was difficult at first but over time, after solving equation after equation I remember the exact moment where the anxiety of confusion subsided into epiphanies and confidence. I often relate vectors to real life situations, like swimming in lakes with currents.

Years later, when I learned Adobe Illustrator I could appreciate that beziers handles were the slope of a curve. Beyond the math required for computing much of my science background has informed my love of art and vice versa.

Learning goes beyond a mastering a set of skills required for a job. It is an enthralling and creative endeavour that does not need to be bound to purpose. Although learning objectives are useful for teachers, learners do not always need to have articulated outcomes. Loving to learn for the sake of exploration and discovery is enough. The connections will happen and the results can be innovative and magical. Science and art are not as distinct as some want us to believe. Allowing yourself the time and space for art is essential to learning anything. We are all artists, to be sure.

So, go make some art, damnit!

I am the Morning DJ on DS106

In the wee hours this morning, resident genius Grant Potter slipped into a 3 hour #snorecast. This is not unusual.

It’s a pillar in fact. If you do a #snorecast, you are truly epic. Right, GNA?

[blackbirdpie id=”115054972340678656″]
[blackbirdpie id=”115056312852811778″]
[blackbirdpie id=”115057298765905921″]

And before I know it, David is on the radio playing Sounds of Silence (the Simon & Garfunkel version not the Grant Potter actual just Silence version).

The archive is lovely (I didn’t get the start of it); the recording starts a bit into the song.

@dkernohan sings Sound of Silence

David played one of his favourite songs and then mentioned that he had been discussing with Nigel, our NZ DJ (who also lives in the future) that the following song should absolutely be DS106’d (that’s a verb, right?)

I am the Morning DJ on DS106

Modified from Harry Chapin, W.O.L.D.

Hello Honey, it’s me
What did you think when you heard me back on the radio?
What did the kids say when they knew it was their long lost daddy-o?
Remember how we listened to the radio
And I said “That’s the place for be”
And how I got the job as an FM Jock the day you married me?
It was two kids and I was was into AM rock
But I just had to run around
It’s been eight years since I left you babe
Let me tell you ’bout what’s gone down


I am the morning DJ on DS106
Playing all the hits for you wherever you may be
The bright good-morning voice who’s heard but never seen
Feeling all of thirty-five going on thirteen

The drinking I did on my last big gig, it made my voice go low
They said that they liked the young sound when they let me go
So I drifted on down to Tulsa, Oklahoma to do me a late night show
Now I worked my way down home again, here to Boise, Idaho
That’s how this business goes


I been making extra money doing high school sock hops
I’m a big time guest MC
You should hear me talking to the little children
And listen what they say to me
I got a spot on the top of my head, just begging for a new toupee
And a tire around my gut from sitting on my butt
But it’s never gonna go away

Sometimes I get this crazy dream
That I just take off in my car
But you can travel on ten thousand miles and still stay where you are
I’ve been thinking that I should stop disk jockeying
And start that record store
Maybe I could settle down if you’d take me back once more

OK Honey, I see
I guess he’s better than me

I love it so much because our friends from the future in NZ, Japan, UK are often broadcasting when it is the very wee hours here in Canada. I often wake up to sets. I do so love my morning DJs on DS106.

Filtering for Bags of Gold

Last night I stayed up incredibly late. Combed over the Change MOOC threads. Analyzed my opinion about comments on the main site vs my blog. Signed up to help with the eBook project. Listened to DS106Radio. Y’know a usual Friday night.

Around 5am I drifted off to sleep as I think I hear It’s…Later…Than…You…Think was playing. I don’t remember any of the episode.

Data Visualization of a Learning Community?
[Screenshot from: Deb Roy, MIT Media Lab Ted Talk March 11, 1011]

But I had the oddest dream

I was sitting with all the listeners from across Canada (BC, ON) and the world (NZ, USA, UK, AU, JA)


even though we were geographically far apart
we could still see each other
we were sitting on this large patch of sandy earth
plugged into our devices
I was on my laptop
others had mobiles
a few people sat at large desktop PCs

then suddenly
the ground moved upwards
and we weren’t on the ground at all
but rather a giant sieve box

like the kind that maybe you’d use during the gold rush
to filter out the gold from dirt
or what they use for compost
to filter between nourishing earth and waste
and the box lifted the listeners and their devices away from the earth
and the sand fell through the sieve
and all that remained were the listeners
having a conversation
and the words shapeshifted into
these incredible hybrid beasts

they were
beautiful and slightly grotesque mashed up beasts
straight from mythology
Miyazaki’s Totoro inspired,
or something from Spirited Away
impossibly combined
hirsuit insect dinosaurs
grasshopper legged yeti

and all the listeners sat physically in this filtered sandbox
but trapped
with giant brick walls around us
we were in a box
though we didn’t notice
because we were
having fascinating conversations
but people from the outside the giant walls
below our huge sieve box
in the rest of the world
had no idea what was going on
and it was impossible to describe the beasts of the conversations properly
and the outsiders couldn’t see the beasts
so they were just mythical

soon enough,
outside the box
the beasts rose in popularity
out of context
not as pieces of conversation
rather, instead, as products on shelves
children had them as beloved stuff toys
colouring books
there were handcrafted interpretations for sale on etsy

at first we enjoyed the popularity of our beasts
we had shared the wonder of our experience
and they were so flippin cool
of course they should take many forms
beyond a conversation

I wanted to collect all of the beasts
to put on my shelf


there was also this acute sadness
a loneliness
a feeling of incompleteness

that we were unable to describe the feeling
of sharing
of being
and learning together
of the ideas
that sprang forward
without commodifying it
or objectifying it


In honour of my twitter getting hijacked by badge discussions, I made an animated GIF of the most frequently tweeted youtube link, “We don’t need no stinkin’ Badges!” (which also is listed as one of the most racist film scenes ever)…



For a more thoughtful treatment, Audrey Watters Storified the whole #dmlbadges after the livestream this morning.

I storified some of the interesting responses to Mozilla’s Open Badges announcement #dmlbadgesless than a minute ago via YoruFukurou Favorite Retweet Reply

But my very favourite tweet of the day is this one by Tim Owens:

I made a badge. You may give it to people. It’s quite revolutionary. than a minute ago via Twitter for Mac Favorite Retweet Reply

Hello Worlds. Colliding.

Typing Ghost In TheShell


So…I’m going to try and participate in two MOOCs this term.

The #Change11 MOOC introduces “participants to the major contributions being made to the field of instructional technology by researchers today. Each week, a new professor or researcher will introduce his or her central contribution to the field.”

By contrast, #DS106 is crazy, freeform, tickles my imagination, gets my creativity flowing and apparently will take me to the (centre of the Internet.)

Are they polar opposites? One is so fun and the other seems so serious.

The important thing [to me] is that they both have their heart in the right place. I mean, at least neither of these MOOCS involve being a ‘Beta’ For a Commercial Launch

I’d really like to try to bring the fun and passion I have for #DS106 to #Change11. I really hope I can keep the discourse high AND pump out a killer animated GIF at the same time.

I might just slack off. I’m really good at twittering the night away, listening to DS106radio; I have a new dog to walk, and books to read for Book Club.

StoryBox Remix & Four Icon Story

StoryBox on my PuterBox

Just last month, Alan Levine (@cogdog) and his StoryBox rolled through Ontario and made the landmark stop here in Welland, Ontario.

I have been excited about the concept of the Pirate Box project since Grant Potter first mentioned it and then quickly built one. I got to see it in action at Northern Voice ’11.


@noiseprofessor was inspired by Grant’s and built @cogdog’s Pirate Box, which was subsequently renamed a StoryBox. The project has been discussed in length. In fact, I frequently re-read @noiseprofessor’s I Left This Pirate Box Here For You To Read post when I need to see and feel the “magic of the ordinary”; when I need a reminder to look at things with wonder; basically when the world feels like it’s dragging me down and I really just need inspiration. It works because the excitement that wells up usually keeps me up far, far too late as I try to finish some silly (but magical) project.

I have already submitted a few things to the StoryBox through the DropItToMe and it was really neat to see my photos, video and drawings nestled among contributions from all over the world.

As I perused the StoryBox, I pulled out a few other contributors’ interesting tidbits of video, photos, audio.

One of the funniest and cute videos is of taxidermic Gophers anthropomorphized.

What?? What does that even mean?

Um, ok, sorry- I mean- it’s video of a bunch of teeny stuffed dead gophers doing human things (like playing musical instruments, making snowmen, on a farm, hunting, eating dinner, etc).

Weird, right?

Clearly the ONLY thing to do with that would be to remix it with new audio. When I first heard @noiseprofessor’s ‘musics’ #ds106radio broadcast practicing his new banjo I just knew I had to mix his #banjocast with the Gophers.

Hence the birth of The Gopher Project. I had archived the first banjo session but I couldn’t quite find the right clip to use. So imagine my delight when @noiseprofessor did a second #banjocast. I was actually driving home listening on my mobile during the broadcast. Without haste, I pulled over to the side of the road to made a special request:

I just LOVE his response. He laughs and laughs and wonders what in the world I could possibly be talking about and then…he just starts singing an old folk song The Fox..for Gophers!

Well, of course, you KNOW I would not ever post my Gopher BanjoCast here, on the Internet, as per the tacit agreement that StoryBox contributions are to be “happy accidents you stumble upon”.

What I really want is for you to try and meet up with @cogdog, buy him pretzels and a beer (or two) and take a peek into the StoryBox. Look for my remixed video. Look for all the photos, drawings, poems, videos and audio clips submitted from people all over the world. And then? Then I’d like YOU to remix and re-upload to the StoryBox.

Of course, geographically speaking it may be impossible for you to come in contact with the StoryBox. And I am truly sorry about that.

So, for YOU (and in anticipation of DS106 Fall semester starting), I will further describe my Gopher Banjo Fox Remix with a Four Icon Story:

Four Icon Remix

Cookies for CogDog #CookieLove

Picking up ingredients for #cookielove for @cogdog's mom, Alyce.

The DS106 and DS106Radio community amazes me, pushes me, enthrals me. Repeatedly.

Behind the blogs, animated gifs and audio samples exist some of the most incredible, inspiring and REAL people.

So, when I found out that one of my favourite broadcasters, co-hosts and listeners Alan Levine lost his mother, Alyce unexpectedly, one day after the 10 year anniversary of his father’s death, it was heart breaking. His epic odyssey was put on hold, plans changed and a long drive rerouted from recreational visits to one back to his hometown.

The day he got the terrible call no one wants to receive, he went on #ds106radio and played a tribute to the lovely cookie lady. A repeat broadcast for #ds106radio.

CogDog’s network is a lot wider than DS106 & DS106radio and as some very articulate people have pointed out, Alan shared his mother with us; he shared her loving ideas. Through reading about her and hearing her, we knew her.

Gardner Campbell in his special broadcast, said it so well:

“I’ve never met this woman but anyone of us who have met Alan, we HAVE met this woman and we will continue to meet her. Or anyone in his network which spans the globe knows that his mother lives on for the rest of our lives”

Wow, that’s so true!

Then Martha Burtis created a Google Doc: inviting us to all bake cookies for cogdog and give them away, just like Alyce would.

It is something simple yet beautiful we could do.

Many tweets and pictures and blog posts have flowed.

My 11 year old daughter and I made our batch this morning and delivered them to the Humane Society volunteer dog walkers.

Gave #cookielove to Volunteer Dog Walkers at the Welland Humane Society.

There are also stories from even more people who don’t tweet, use Flickr or blog. My Mom loved Alyce’s story so much that she was inspired. She already makes a batch a week for my grandma but now she’s planning on doing an extra batch to give away.

My friend and neighbour Wendy was up visiting a family friend at a remote cottage this weekend. She still managed to bake and send me this email today:

My mom made smarty party cookies for our birthdays rather than cake. Nana’s recipe box was bequeathed to me and I am now the proud maker of these special cookies and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate cog dog’s mom than to share these cookies with someone. Unfortunately, there were no strangers around so (fortunately for him) friend Phil receives the bounty. He promises to tell strangers though.

Ellen shares some #cookielove at the cottage.

“Recipe” transcends mere incredients and portion sizes.

My other friend, Wendy (on the other side of Canada) writes:

Recipes handed down form a bridge across which we can travel and visit those long departed. The memories they stir, the love remembered, shared and passed on again every time we pull out our stained copies and begin the familiar motions of preparing them.

It’s so nice to know that Alan is “blown away” by all this cookie love. Through Alan’s network my heart went from broken to warmed. There are some fairly profound connections floating around out there.

Then as icing on the cake (cookie?) Jennifer Dalby had a really great idea to do a narrative recipe and submit it to the StoryBox:

@giuliaforsythe So it doesn’t even have to be a special recipe, but could include personal descriptions of the process, the love…less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

I love how one great idea builds itself into a better one. Just like that.

So, bake cookies. Take pictures. Tweet it. Blog it. Submit the narrative recipe to the StoryBox. Or do it and only tell the person you share the cookies with. However, you do it, just share some of that #cookielove

And there’s no need to limit it to just Sunday September 4 but any day.

Because CookieLove is not a finite resource within a discrete time. Magically, the more love you give the more love you feel. Alyce was a wise woman.