Ontario voices


If you listened to This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio yesterday morning, you would have heard Stephen and me make reference to a new series of podcasts that Stephen was involved with.

Stephen was commissioned (volunteerissioned?) by ECOO to have interviews with a number of Ontario educators who are on the front lines, teaching in these challenging times. The series is titled Ontario: Learning Together at Home.

I did know that Aviva Dunsiger had been on the podcast as I’d already listened to her thoughts and that was all that was posted.

Soon, a number of other podcasts appeared

  • Aviva Dunsiger
  • Tim King
  • Jason Trinh
  • Colin Jagoe
  • Alanna King
  • Danika Tipping

The list of names wasn’t terribly surprising. Many of the individuals have been presenters at provincial conferences for years. Jason was a new name for me so I listened to him with extra interest. To this point, he was a name on one of my Ontario Educator lists. Now, I know a great deal more about the gentleman.

I found their insights interesting. They come from different disciplines and panels (I was surprised there weren’t more elementary educators). Even geographically, they were nicely spread across at least Southern Ontario. Of course, the husband and wife team are a great deal closer!

Stephen let it slip that there’s another one in the pipeline.

Their stories are short and I think you will immediately empathize with them. They do reveal some important insights about how they’re getting through the current situation.

I would encourage you to visit the voicEd Radio site and listen to one or more of these. It’s a nice reminder that all teachers are on this ship together.

On a personal note, as a person who doesn’t get out much these days, it was absolutely terrific to hear all these recognizable voices again and visualize them in the rolls that they describe. I’ve been in sessions led by them all. Thank you to each of you so much for sharing your stories.

Podcasting Dead?


Alexander Wolfe asked the question and gave his opinion about the life of podcasting.

http://informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/01/is_podcasting_d.html

Not surprisingly, Information Week is a business resource and I would suggest that business has different expectations than education. He notes that podcasting came onto the scene 10 years ago and has not been the overwhelming success that many predicted. Heck, 10 years is just starting in educational adoption years!

In December, the Western RCAC hosted Will Richardson first as a keynote speaker and then secondly for a hands-on session on all things Web 2.0. (whatever that is) Here we have some of the most powerful educators in the province who were greatly appreciative of the insights to Blogging, Podcasting, Screencasting, RSS, etc. that Will shared. If this was an insight for these people, what about the general populace?

Furthermore, the Ministry of Education is bringing Will to a conference in February to share his message at the provincial level conference.

As with most things, I think that you need to put things into their perspective. If your outlook is that your business is going to make a gazillion dollars selling podcasting, yes, it’s probably time to move on.

But get past the business sense. In education, we talk about writing and publishing for an audience. In this case, the levels of citizen journalism open all kinds of doors for schools, teachers, and students to have their say within their own little sphere of influence. I really enjoy it when I hop onto a classroom website and listen to the student voices talking about what’s important to them. Therein lies the power of the technology.

It’s not easily done though. With locked down desktops, lack of a place to post your podcast, the need for a quality microphone, the teacher who really wants to make it happen has to jump a number of hurdles to do it. Kudos to those who have. I heard a keynote speaker last week talk about how Rip Van Winkle returns to a classroom and remembers it being exactly the same as before he went to sleep. Yeah, kind of a cute little story and educators always love cute little stories. There may well be classrooms like that, but not all of them.

Let’s celebrate those who take on the system, they make it work, they publish their student/class/school in an open world and make it happen at all odds and with a great deal of effort. These are the real heroes and I would submit that while they’re not getting listenership in the thousands, they are reaching their intended audience, they are addressing all kinds of curriculum expectations, and they have motivated classrooms who want to tell their story.

To them, podcasting is certainly far from dead.

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Will Richardson at Symposium


Symposium 2007 was last week in London. We had another terrific turnout even with the threat of bad weather. But, after 2006, we can deal with anything!

The morning keynote speaker was Will Richardson who set a terrific tone to the day. His focus was on the Read/Write web and how it has the potential to motivate students to use the web for good purposes. I had to admire Will as he was way out on a limb expecting to have decent internet access at a hotel. It’s one thing to have a presentation and step through it page by page, but to illustrate what you are talking about live is impressive.

His message was well received. The focus at the conference is on ideas. There are no vendor displays or vendor sessions. You listen and get engaged with the hope that folks would be inspired enough to say “I could do that” and then go back to their reality and make it happen. I know that after Will’s inspiration that there are lots of folks that are going to try.

And, after all, that’s the very best that you can expect from a keynote speaker.

Check out Will’s work at http://www.weblogg-ed.com