An Interview with Rodd Lucier

Selection_867Except for luck, I may never have met Rodd Lucier.  My old school board had people shuffling in and out of the DeLC (District eLearning Coordinator) position regularly.  When the position would become vacant, I’d be sent to regional meetings.  It was there where I met Rodd and he’s become of those special people who just keep pushing my thinking.  For that, I’ll be eternally grateful and I’m so happy that he’s agreed to share some thoughts with us.

Doug:  Probably the first area where you pushed me was on Twitter.  We both joined at about the same time – me because everyone was talking about it and I could see the potential.  However, you went over the edge and embraced it for a powerful learning tool.  I still remember going to meetings and you would just know things.  I felt under schooled.  That always impressed me and pushed me to get more involved.  What was your impetus to get so involved, so quickly?

Rodd:  Through Twitter, I discovered I was no longer ‘alone’.  I was one of those teachers who commonly had to teach with my door closed, because many of my colleagues didn’t appreciate that there was so much activity in my room.  Admittedly, it was sometimes organized chaos, but my students and I were always on a mission of some sort.  With Twitter, I saw the power and potential of linking with other experimenting educators, and felt obliged to introduce others to the potential folks like you and I had discovered through the generous sharing of ideas.

Doug:  Early on, I learned that you were a twin and I would have all kinds of engagement with you and your brother, Todd.  Now, I’ve seen enough movies to know that there’s always an evil twin.  Neither of you would confess or point the finger so I’ll ask one last time.  Are you the evil one?

Rodd: I’m probably the evil one… but you won’t discover the truth until it’s too late.

Doug:  It’s interesting to see how different your two careers turned.  Were the two of you driven by childhood passions?

Rodd: Our childhood was fueled by competitive sport… volleyball, basketball, baseball, track…  but more importantly, by street hockey, street football.  Today, it’s golf.  Growing up in a family of 5 boys, I’d wager my brothers and I could field a competitive team in anything from placid summer bocce to the roar of winter curling.  But it was as adults that we discovered similar passions for the connective web.  Although our professional paths diverged once Todd left traditional teaching to live and teach in nature at Northern Edge Algonquin, we introduced one another to collaborative tools, media production and PR strategies that have now taken root in all sectors of society.

Interesting unknown fact:  Todd was the one who suggested the use of a hashtag to host synchronous online discussions on Twitter.  The first ever live education chat took place due to his suggestion in March of 2009.

Doug:  That is an interesting fact.  That’s led us to do business as we do these days when it comes to structured chats on Twitter.

This all led to Unplugd.  As a Clinton native, I remember people on the bus checking into Elwood Epps’ Orillia store!  The “Letters from the Edge” is so interesting.  Do you ever go back into that archive for memories.?

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Thanks, UnPlugd  – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
https://www.flickr.com/photos/unplugd/6010048453/in/photostream/

Rodd:  The most powerful archives from UnPlugd12 and UnPlugd11 are scattered among photos (unplugd11, unplugd12), blog posts (unplugd12) and (unplugd11) and audio.  Participants in these experiences were able to forge unique bonds through a shared experience.  By engaging in authentic ‘work’ in a natural and unplugged environment, I think participants came to realize that ed-tech change agents are special people.  I was blessed to have had such smart and committed people to join me in breathing life into the UnPlugd experience.  And what’s most amazing, is to see how these incredibly talented people continue to connect and support one another.

Doug:  These days, you are a Student Success teacher at Regina Mundi in London.  How are you currently using technology with your students?

Rodd:  For the past 7 years, I’ve worked with kids who generally don’t like school (and too often, school returns the sentiment).  When I’m most effective, I’m able to introduce teachers to strategies that make school more interesting for students and teachers alike.  It’s still too common for teachers to see PowerPoint as a technological innovation.  We need to get kids involved in projects that are meaningfully connected to the real world.

Doug:  In your profile, you indicate that you’re a supporter of passion-based learning.  What does this look like in your classroom?

Rodd:  To me, passion-based learning is realized when students have the freedom to be joyful and zealous in their learning.  When challenges best meet the abilities and interests of learners, time disappears… or so says Vygotsky.  A few months ago, I had the chance to lead a group of students in the re-design of our high school which at only 53 years of age is due to be replaced in two years time.  Students were introduced to the architects charged with designing our new building, and over the period of 6 weeks, developed and pitched their ideas about how the outside landscape should be developed to promote the health and wellness of staff and students. This Specialist High Skills Major project proved to be an authentically engaging challenge for students who later shared their ideas with the board of trustees.

Doug:  You’ve been an early adopter of multimedia and I know you for your wonderful presentations.  The last that I enjoyed from the audience was “Finding Robin?”  What was your inspiration for that?

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Rodd: I think the most compelling presentations are those that hook you with an engaging story.  Although most of the people I share presentations with are of a generation that missed out on the Batman of our generation, I found it fun to revisit the campiness of the 1960’s T.V. show.  I think it’s fair to say that I commonly create slidedecks that I find entertaining.  I probably spend more time tweaking images and text than most people in the hopes that the results are as engaging for the audience as they are for me.

Doug:  I think that it’s important to recognize that Adam West was the REAL Batman.  Fortunately, we lived through it!

You’ve always been a big advocate of Creative Commons.  It most certainly shows in your presentation; you’re 180 degrees from Death by Powerpoint.  How long does it take you to put together one of your presentations?

Rodd:  At one time, all of my presentations were anchored by Creative Commons imagery.  I used to use a tool called Compfight to filter CC images from Flickr, but now I use the billions of photos in Flickr with the support of other online archives.  Recent revisions to the copyright act in Canada, including ‘fair dealing’ exemptions, have made it a lot easier to leverage compelling images for teaching purposes.  

Doug:  You’ll be a popular presenter at the BIT Conference in November in Niagara Falls.  Can your share your topic with us?

Rodd:  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and learning about gaming and play in recent months.  We’ll be looking at games both old and new, and considering the promise of gamification.  Do you know if there are many Poke-stops in Niagara Falls?

Doug:  There has to be many there.  We haven’t heard stories of people going over the edge in search of one though…

What led you to get involved with eLearningOntario?

Rodd: I saw the promise and potential of online learning tools through my work with the University of Western Ontario (now Western), and in my work with bringing gifted students together in virtual spaces.  The chance to share the possibilities with other educators was what compelled me to apply for the RELC position.

Doug:  In your time as a Regional eLearning Coordinator, you introduced and supported so many of us in the Western Ontario region.  I still remember and appreciate your patience with me as I was setting up classes for the first time.  In so many ways, you were so far ahead of the crowd.  I know that one of your frustrations was the hesitancy of some to embrace social media.  Do you feel a sense of confirmation now that you’ve been proven correct?

Rodd:  I was frustrated by a few things in my role as RELC.  I think the goal of floating all boats with a common tide prevented high fliers from doing more extraordinary things.  It was satisfying to see the Ministry eventually come to embrace social media.  Unfortunately, the Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram channels are now flooded by sponsored content and promotions.  Filtering through the noise in order to have conversations on social media seems to be much more challenging these days.  Still, the relationships we first built on Twitter are still the ones I value most.

Doug:  One thing that many may not know is that you’re a very good golfer.  How are you hitting them in this heat?

Rodd: I LOVE golf!  Now that my 13 year old son has been playing for a few years, I get to play more than I used to.   Why do I love it?  It’s played in the out of doors… in good weather.  It’s a sport can be played as an individual, partner or team.  As a game, it provides a differentiated challenge by adapting the starting point for competitors of different skill levels.  Golf’s handicap system allows all to play on a level playing field.  Golf is a game that you can only play well with patience and focus.  There is a lot to like about the game, even on days that it doesn’t like you back.

Doug: Is there anything new that has your attention?

Rodd: I think there is untapped potential in photos and video on social media.  There are now many teachers using tools like Instagram, Remind, SeeSaw, and FreshGrade to open their classrooms to families and communities.  I’m a big fan of FreshGrade as a closed community option, and have been testing out Instagram as a podcasting platform.  I love mashing up media in different tools that can result in a shareable product.  I currently use FreshGrade to share video with members of my high school volleyball team; and leverage the new 60 second time limit in Instagram to produce mini-documentaries.

Doug:  With all your contacts and experiences, you must have some thoughts – is Ontario on the right track?  Are we getting there quickly enough?

Rodd:  We’ll never get there quickly enough Doug.  

Tech in the classroom:

Do you remember when a filmstrip projector was combined with the record player in the classroom?
“Can I be the one to click forward at the ‘ding’?!”

And when a multi-reel film was played on a film projector
“Wait for the red!”  “Yay!”

And when overhead projectors replaced chalkboards
“Do we have to copy the whole note?”

And then data projectors replaced overheads
“The words on your PowerPoint are too small for me to read!”

And now that Internet video is here
“Another video… We’ve already seen that one!”

Advances in technology now allow for new types of tasks never before undertaken.  The best we can hope, is that pioneers will continue to take risks in engaging modern tools in compelling ways.

Doug:  Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us, Rodd.  It’s greatly appreciated.  This interview has brought back many fond memories for me.

Make sure that you add Rodd to your list of Twitter leaders – he’s @thecleversheep  You’ll be glad you did.

While at it, make sure that you check out and bookmark the things that Rodd has created and openly shares with others.

Blog: https://thecleversheep.blogspot.ca/
YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/user/roddlucier
Slidedecks:  http://www.slideshare.net/thecleversheep

You can find a complete listing of all of the interviews I’ve done for this blog by clicking here.

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