A Great Reunion

We often hear from folks that we should honour and respect those who went before us in educational technology and thinking.  How many times have you heard the statement that we “stand on the shoulders of giants”?

I think that one of my to-dos should be to create a list of those who have helped influence and shape my thinking.  I honestly know that it would be a huge list; I’ve learned so much from so many.

It nearly knocked me off my chair when I received an email from Roger Wagner recently.  I had the honour of meeting Roger at an NECC Conference years ago although I’m sure that I was just a blur of people.  You may not know who he is but, if you do anything with technology in your classroom, your approach most assuredly has his influence all over it.

In my first year on the OSAPAC Committee, I had a friend give me a demonstration of Hyperstudio on his Macintosh computer.  At the time, I was a typical Windows snob and didn’t pay much attention after I got the answer “No” when I asked “Does it run under Windows?”

Something must have stuck because soon after, Hyperstudio was released for Windows and I became an instant fan.  Here was an incredibly powerful multi-media authoring tool that even the youngest of students could use.  We put out a call, evaluated, and ended up licensing the product for the province.  If memory serves me correctly, it was version 3.12.  I have no idea why that number sticks in my mind or if it even is correct but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Hyperstudio did everything that you could expect in the classroom.  It was a whiteboard space; it was a creation space; you could manipulate and organize objects on the screen; you could program those objects to do things; you could incorporate audio, movies, voice; you could go full screen and present using Hyperstudio.  I distinctly remember people coming up after presentations I’d done wanting to know what Powerpoint template I was using.  Hah!

It became the thing that shaped so much of what I envisioned technology could do for student learning.  I was giving Hyperstudio workshops every week, it seems.  I still remember the introductory workshop – I got floor maps for every school in the district and we would use the scanner at the professional learning facility to scan the school and we would make clickable areas over the classrooms and link to things like student work, pictures in the room, record teacher and student voices, etc.  We were making virtual tours for everything.  I even remember giving a workshop at the Western RCAC Symposium entitled “The Answer to Every Question is Hyperstudio“. 

Why do I remember that?  When Roger reached out to me, he had indicated that he had saved a copy of my handout from the session.  I’d made it a PDF file and put it online.  Nothing ever does go away!

I had become such a Hyperstudio enthusiast that one page every month of my newsletter was called the Hyperpage where I shared what I had learned about Hyperstudio the previous month.  There wasn’t an issue that I hadn’t learned something new.  Hyperstudio seemed to be equally as popular throughout the district.

The one thing that was missing, of particular interest to the primary grades, was Canadian Currency that students could manipulate/group.  As an OSAPAC member, I helped create a collection of Canadian Currency that, of course, worked with Hyperstudio.  I learned that our money is actually created in two places – The Royal Canadian Mint and the Bank of Canada.  I did not know that!

With this background, my back and forths with Roger were so powerful and filled with memories.  There came a time when Hyperstudio was purchased by MacKiev and, quite frankly, after a while the buzz had gone away.  Hyperstudio stopped working on a particular version of Windows and it no longer became the staple that it was.  In fact, I thought that it had been abandoned.  With my renewed connection to Roger, I found that it was back with version 5 along with a new product Hyperstudio Author which works with iBooks.

And yet, all of this is about software which is rich in itself.  The richer discussions came with thinking about empowering students with the proper tools.  There, Roger really gets it.  He stands on the shoulders of Seymour Papert in his thinking.  I just sat back and soaked in his thoughts.  Hyperstudio wasn’t just a program.  He viewed it as an operating system for student thinking and creation.  It’s not encumbered by other things on the computer.  I know that we love our web tools but they do have limitations.  Each does its thing well but you may have to visit 4 or 5 different places to get the full multimedia experience and then build your final project.  Not with Hyperstudio.  By design, it has everything built in.

Roger does indicate that he’s still active with the CUE group and I hope that they appreciate how significant that is to have someone as a member who truly understands the power of multimedia creation and how it makes everyone more conversant with the technologies.

I know that I was completely honoured that he reached out to reconnect and I hope that this connection remains in place for a long time.  If you remember and appreciate, you can get involved with software purchase or connections through a Facebook group.

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5 thoughts on “A Great Reunion

  1. Roger Wagner is a treasure. 🙂

    Of course, we were all thrilled when HyperStudio took hold. It went well beyond what HyperCard could do—especially in its support for kids and teachers through prompts built into the software. (This annoyed me at the time being a HyperCard fan, but really was exceptionally useful for most teachers and kids!)

    I first met Roger at a friend’s party in Hollywood. What an event that was. It was a bit of a who’s who of characters from the edudigital world at the time! Hall Davidson, Coco Conn (who’s house it was), John Perry Barlow (who was throwing the party), Zach Leary (yes, Timothy Leary’s son), and others who have sworn me to secrecy. 😉

    As for Roger, I was star struck in meeting him—silly me—the reality is that he is a genuine human being who had created a brilliant piece of software that really—like Logo—should be a staple for schools these days as well.

    We are going down a scary path as we flit from one ‘digital learning tool’ to another without exploring and maintaining these gems. More importantly, as you have said Doug, both Roger and Seymour have educational visions that must be renewed and revived if any of this is to really matter for kids and teachers.

    So glad that Roger has reconnected with you. Maybe he’ll fly up here in his wee plane and take us for a spin! 🙂

    Peter

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  2. I’m excited to check this out, but I’d love to see a version that runs on an iPad–People have been wanting something like HyperCard on that platform for years.

    A few years ago a friend wrote up an appreciation of a mentor who had just passed away and it inspired me to write an homage before that happened (http://teachbetter.co/blog/2013/01/08/an-homage-to-chris-welty/). Be glad you wrote about Roger while he has a chance to read it himself!

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  3. Doug – thank you for your kind words and a great telling of the HyperStudio story. For your readers that are interested, here’s a link to the pdf of your now-classic “The Answer to Every Question is HyperStudio” handout from back then:

    http://bit.ly/1AtEqWc

    It’s interesting to compare that written list to the image here: http://bit.ly/1BBhN3G

    That image is part of this introduction to the current version (5.2) of HyperStudio: http://bit.ly/HSTestDrive

    There are a number of other pages that I’ve created over the past few years to convey what you’ve more succinctly described in your post:

    http://bit.ly/hsgreatway
    http://bit.ly/HS5ForYou
    http://bit.ly/RWsStudio

    In their total, they are no doubt rather overwhelming, but they serve to show why it’s just not possible to create a HyperStudio-equivalent for the iPad, and how much HyperStudio has grown in its huge variety of possible projects, even in recent years.

    Most importantly though, this post, as do many of your others, and Peter Skillen’s comment, helps keep us mindful that technology can be an amplifier of a student’s learning and future potential, and that we need to be continually conscientious in using technology for more than “edutainment” and just chasing shiny things.

    Roger

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