I Couldn’t Manage a Starship if I Wanted To


But, I’ll confess that I’ve always wanted to.

Jamie Weir retweeted some advice from Jean-Luc Picard

What great advice!

I was curious about the account “PicardTips” so I used the lookup feature on Hootsuite.

Wow, look at the Klout this man has!

What about moi?

Obviously, not even in the same galaxy, out scored 64-56.

Have you checked your Klout?  Do you have more Klout than the good captain?  (Do you care?)

Do you believe that your influence can be reduced to a number?  Do you believe that it matters?  (Again, do you care?)

In the meantime, I spent the rest of the day practicing.

“Engage”

“ENgage”

“enGAGE”

“ENGAGE”

It confirmed to the family that I’ve lost it.

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Beautiful Statistics and Storytelling


One of my favourite university courses was my first full course in statistics.  I still remember the first day when our professor indicated that there were two ways that she could teach the course.  One was through number crunching and the other was through story telling.  She indicated that her approach would be story telling and that there was another section of the same course offering the other approach if anyone wanted to change.

I didn’t change – I’d been through the whole registrar process a previous time and didn’t want to go through THAT again.  I decided to stick it out and I’m glad that I did.

Her message and it’s stuck in my mind all these years is that you’ll be more effective in communicating the statistical results of anything if you can present it in a story.  It made sense at the time and it makes even more sense as we get bombarded with statistics and numbers on a daily basis.

In education, I’ve sat through so many presentations about research results.  So many of the presenters probably took the “other course”.  Persuasive discussions are shown via Excel spreadsheet which you’re supposed to get onside with because Excel is “the industry standard”.  To help you understand the results, watch the presenter show how she/he highlights rows and columns and cells to make the point!  You might even be lucky enough to get your own printed copy with the highlighting already done!

On the other side, I once worked for a superintendent who turned out the most engaging presentations.  Every one was a story!  While I’m unable to remember a single presentation from the first method, I can still remember some from the second.  One, in particular, was on the district’s love with paper, printers, and photocopiers.  Grounded in statistics, you would sincerely have to dig to find them, (they were there…); the message was embedded in the story which was filled with imagery – trees, recycling bins, home fridges, …  It was so powerful and memorable.

One of the reasons why I’m a fan of the infographic is that they tend to take that approach.  Of course, at the heart, you’ll find statistics but the presentation of a good infographic tells a story and takes you along for the ride.

You may have noticed some Twitter messages recently from Vizify.  Hopefully, you’ve been notified or tagged in one because statistically you showed up significantly in someone’s timeline.  My most recent tagging was from Teresa Marrello.

After receiving a few of these, I decided to check it out myself.  If you want to jump to the end of the story, my video is stored here.

It was with a little hesitancy that I proceeded because Vizify wanted me to grant access to my Twitter account.  But, I realized that I could revoke the access afterwards so I went forward.  It was only a few seconds later and my movie of 40 seconds was created.  I watched it to see where my major interactions were from the past year.

A lot of it made sense.  I’m an early riser and am most active personally first thing in the morning over breakfast and the morning news reads.  The rest of the day is random, scripts, and could be at any time.  It would be interesting to see how much was actually done on weekends when my days aren’t exactly scripted!

After the movie, I wondered “Is that it”?  My whole year summarized in 40 seconds.

Fortunately, Vizify lets you do what a statistician would call “drill down”.

So, is there more than just my top three topics?

Definitely, but I am happy that I am seen to be promoting the wonderful efforts of Ontario Educators.  How about my “Golden Followers”?  Top three and that’s it?  Poor Brandon – he tries so hard.

The site does allow you to dig a little deeper.  I didn’t realize how much “coffee talk with Linda” had transpired!

There’s Brandon!  Just missed the cut.

In fact, Vizify does allow for a little editing of their results or you could even add another scene to your story.

Now, that’s what I call a great storytelling approach.  Now, certainly, I could access the entirety of my Twitter history if I wanted and then build my own story using my software tools.  Vizify does a nice job of taking on some of what most people would call their highlights.  If you’re interested in this statistical approach to analysing yourself, do it at their website.  If you have a classroom Twitter account, I’ll bet your students would get a kick out of the results.

When you’re done, you should probably consider revoking access to your Twitter account until the next time you want to run the routine.  It’s just security common sense.  While you’re there, you should probably take a look at all of the applications that you’ve allowed access to your account.  If there’s no clear reason why they should, here’s the chance to turn it off.

Managing Social Media


Hootsuite posted this to their blog and made it available on December 29.

Managing Your Social Media Profiles While On Holiday

I suppose that it could, or should, be posted/reposted during any holiday period as a way to remind folks that there is a great deal of power available in the tools that you use.  In this case, Alyssa Kritsch is pointing to some of the strengths of their product which has become the social media browser of choice for me.

As I read her article, I realized that I was using the features that she talks about on a daily basis – not just when I’m on holidays.  Also, in the reading, I detect that perhaps her intended audience was for business but it all rang true for me and I’ll bet it does for you.  After all, we’re all selling something – ideas, concepts, promotions, friendships, learning opportunities, …

I recall a comment I heard from an edtech “leader” once and he was running down the concept of a Twitter workshop.  “Who needs a workshop on Twitter?”  I suppose that there may be some merit to the concept if all that a workshop did was cover signing up, sending a Twitter message, replying, favouriting, and sending a direct message.

Is that all there is to it?

Absolutely not.  Hopefully, by the time you get to this line in my blog you’ll have opened the link above in a new tab and read it.  Effective Social Media use does involve using the tools for more than sending a simple message or reading a couple of others.

Under the hood of the tool that you’re using, there are many features that will empower your presence.  Even something as simple as scheduling a message or a post to your blog or a picture to Facebook at the time of your choosing lets you take control.  Another simple technique of sharing an article the moment you read it helps feed the community of learners of which you’re a part.

One feature of Hootsuite that I use all the time is access to my Twitter Lists.  My Ontario Educators and Ontario Educators 2 lists are invaluable for keeping focus on Ontario things.  (And it makes #FollowFridays easier too!)  I also realized that I have a particular sleeping pattern.  Basically, I sleep at night.  There’s a whole other group of people who are busy tweeting and sharing while I’m asleep.  My way of coping is to create a special list for them – Over There – so that I can catch up when I get up.  Any list that you create would have to be done to meet your needs, but why not do it and increase the value of being connected?

The power of sharing cannot be underestimated – the more you share, the more people share back.  Consequently, you and your community of learners have the potential of being just that much more informed and, ultimately, smarter.

And isn’t that what we’re all here for?

If you care to share, what tools do you use to manage your social media presence?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Christmas Week but that didn’t stop the blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.  Here’s some of what I caught this week.

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What Would You Do?

I think that David Fife’s latest post points out the very worst of social media and a disturbing trend.  We all got a giggle with the “United Breaks Guitars” bit and now it seems that many people take to social media to complain about issues that are better handled in person.

In this case, it was a community member railing against a school using an anonymous Twitter account.  David asks “What would you do?”

It’s pretty difficult to deal with issues if the complainer doesn’t at least identify her/himself.  Certainly the worst that could be done would be to respond on Twitter.  Anyone who’s ever gone through a flame war knows that you can’t have a successful resolution online.  It only deteriorates.  Yet, if it’s ignored, it’s probably going to continue.  I think taking the high, professional road offers a contrast to the ranter that might get some results.  If it’s legitimate concerns, invite the complainer into the school to talk about the concerns.  That’s how solutions are found; not by public shaming.

In the same way, I think that sites like Rate My Teacher or Rate My Professor just serve to amplify the very worst in social media.  If you don’t have the ability to take on an issue up front, then hiding behind an anonymous handle is just wrong.  It would be interesting to se the response of this parent (if it is one) if their child was bullied online by an anonymous account.

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In case you missed her posts the first time through, Eva Thompson teased us with this Twitter message.

In doing so, she refreshed some of the content from her blog that she had posted earlier.

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Why Anne is a Slow Writer:  Reason #1

Intrigued by the title, I was drawn in to find out why.  Even this dog person could possibly understand the pictures that go with this post…

… and story!

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Education Library Blog

The blog from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario is worth bookmarking and reading daily.  Denise Horoky, who I interviewed here keeps the site fresh many times daily from stories from all over.

It’s wonderful to have someone who has already curated the best of the best for you to enjoy.

Now, I’ll never be confused for a learned man, but I was strangely drawn to a recent post “The End of an Era for Academia.edu and Other Academic Networks?

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Thanks to those who keep writing and contribute.  It’s always inspiring to read a good blog post.

Check out the blogs at the links above or you can get the entire collection of Ontario Edubloggers here.

My Tweets Do Not Reflect the Views of My Employer


How many times have you looked at a person’s Twitter profile and read this?

They may not, but once thrown on your wall, they can stick.

Writing on the internet is like writing with permanent marker.

It takes the events of this past week to remind us of this.

It’s a heck of a way to get a Wikipedia entry or to trend on Twitter.

At times, it seems like there’s a competition to outshock each other.

Is that what it takes to get attention these days?

You may well be speaking on behalf of yourself and not your employer but it may not matter in the long run.

Digital image, digital footprint, digital future … we’ve all read about this.  Some have paid attention; some have not.

I’ve seen the debate – “Should I have a personal profile and a professional profile?”  Maybe, but just remember that at the end of the day, you are you.  Disclaimer or not.

Thanks to Miguel Guhlin for sharing this story.  Does common sense need to be legislated?

Documenting the #RCAC13


During October and now December, I’ve had the privilege of co-chairing two conferences with two amazing folks – Cyndie Jacobs and Doug Sadler.  Both events were instrumental in bringing together Ontario Educators for an event of learning, sharing, and reflection on practice.  The most recent event was the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Symposium 2013.  Hashtag for the event was #RCAC13.

This is a really unique event.  Unlike ECOO which tries to reach out to the province, the RCAC Symposium’s audience is Directors, Superintendents, Principal/Vice-Principals and technology leaders within districts and schools in Southwestern Ontario.  There are lots of PD events for this type of people but the RCAC Symposium allows for a smaller, intimate, intensive, one day learning event about technology and teaching.  I’m not aware of any professional learning event that attempts to do this in the same way.

It’s always nice to sit back and reflect on a conference when it’s complete.  If you have more “that worked wells” than “wish we’d done thats”, it’s a success.  My sense is that we had more “that worked wells”.  It wasn’t perfect – as my co-chair noted, “if it’s all working perfectly, you’re not using enough technology”.

The biggest thing, and it’s always a technology conference bugaboo, is that the internet worked – and worked well.  We’ve gone through a number of different attempts over the years with the Lamplighter Inn and this year’s implementation seemed to work nicely.  I had only one complaint and it was shown to me on a computer that was connected and we looked at an email together so…

In this post, I’d like to share three ways that the conference was documented for me.

The first was just one of those things that fell into place.  My co-chair, Doug Sadler (@sadone on Twitter) and I were having a last minute check of things on our “minute-by-minute” document on Wednesday night after all of the helpers had headed off to bed.  We were pretty happy with the way things were shaping up and, as we typically do, we were sharing our latest technology finds.  He showed me this new app (Noom Walk) that he was using as a pedometer on his phone.  I showed him a graphing app that I used (My Tracks) for much the same thing but I thought it would be a hoot to try out the app that he showed me.  Besides, my old pedometer had gone through the wash and no longer works!  He indicated that his goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day.  My dog would love being with him!

Next morning, I was up and working on things at 4:30am and I just slipped my phone in my pocket as I was out to check the setup in the ballroom, the foyer, and the breakout rooms.  The restaurant in the hotel wasn’t open when I was ready for breakfast so I hopped in the car and headed out to Tim Horton’s.  I had to get some donuts for a purpose during the conference anyway so it was no biggie.

Then, Symposium hit and the typical tasks were done.  Checking that presenters were good to go, moving door prizes in and out of the big ballroom, walking and talking with people, attending a session, etc.  At day’s end, it was a matter of packing up all the stuff, filling the car, and heading home eventually to be greeted by the dog who needed his evening walk.  Later, I had a chance to sit on the couch and wondered why my feet hurt.  I remembered – Doug’s app – I looked and it had indeed been counting for me.  12,157 steps!  That’s a lot of walking.

The second documentation was pictorial.  Yes, I had my phone and took some pictures but they pale in comparison to having it done right.  But, here’s a picture I took anyway – the Lamplighter Poinsettia tree.

Poinsettia

Andy Forgrave had his amazing camera and tripod on the go.

Now, I know he probably would have taken a ton of pictures but he put together a nice collection in a Flick gallery.  If you couldn’t join us, or if you just want to remember, take a look here.

And, finally, what’s a technology conference without Twitter.  We used the hashtag #RCAC13 and put it right on the cover of the program. There was no excuse for not knowing what the hashtag was.  People didn’t miss the opportunity.  Tweets were flying from all over the place.  Certainly, the majority of them came during the two keynotes but you’d find them in every breakout session as well.

All the way home, I could hear my smartphone chirping away letting me know that there was another tweet in the works.  I was dying to read what was happening but, of course, you don’t tweet and drive.  Upon my arrival, there were a lot of private messages but certainly even more to add to the activity from the day.

To keep track of things, I created a Tagboard of the day’s tweets.

I also put together a Storify document of all of the Twitter activity.

What a great collection and it’s interesting to work backwards through the timeline to remember what a great day we had.  If you’re not into Tagboard or Storify, certainly just a Twitter search for #RCAC13 will get the job done.

I know that those in attendance, and those who were ineligible for door prizes but joined us virtually all found that something that expands their understanding and learning about how technology makes a difference for students in the year 2013.  After all, to paraphrase keynote speaker Gary Stager, you can’t be teaching the 21st Century learner if you’re not a learner yourself.

And, I’ll award the “Tweet of the Day to Rodd Lucier”…

If you attended the conference or were just following the hashtag, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please add them below.

Sharing the News About Nkwiry


Yesterday, I took a look at Brian Aspinall’s newest software release – he calls it nkwiry.  You can read the post here.

As I was taking the dog for a walk in the park, I started to think about just how people find out that there’s a new software title on the market.

OLD SCHOOL

It’s actually pretty sad, but if you think back just a few years ago, it would typically be a big company that would release a title.  There might be a news release.  They might put an advertisement on their website.  A magazine might get a complimentary copy and write a review and the curious subscribers might order a copy.  Or, it might be delivered to your favourite technology store and it appears on a shelf.  If you were lucky, the store might even feature your software.  It’s a tedious process, but if you reach the right people, it turns into sales.

NEW SCHOOL

This is where Jaimie and I started talking about nkwiry.

Here’s Brian, an author who develops a title; how does he get people to know about it and give it a try?  I know that when I was writing Doors for PCBoard, I had a high profile BBS that would make the software available and people might find out by dropping by there and then move the information to discussion boards.  Such a pattern doesn’t exist these days.  But, we do have social media.

Here’s what I saw happen today.

I wrote a blog post about it.  I have new post announcements sent out automatically via my Twitter account.  That’s where the numbers start to get interesting.  Now, the numbers only make sense if we live in a perfect world and every one of these numbers generate interest but it’s the best I can do.

So, I have 8,159 followers on Twitter.

But, it doesn’t stop there.  There are a few others who take my new blog post announcement and then share it themselves.

Let’s do a little math here.

  • GBDataStream – 208
  • nick_chater – 9,257
  • dougpete – 8,159
  • Marisa_C – 7,631

Just formal announcements on Twitter generate the potential of 25,255 announcements.  Of course, they aren’t unique but it’s still interesting to think that announcements have gone from 0 -> ~25,255 from 5:00-5:09am.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Those are just blanket announcement services.  There are people who are just trying it out from having read about it and then they share it to their networks.  Check how whose talking by doing a Twitter search.  Results here.

Doing a little math on the followers that I was able to find based on Twitter search.

  • cyberjohn07 – 1,648
  • MrCampbell2 – 179
  • nobleknits2 – 531
  • DavidFifeVP – 4,943
  • mraspinall – 2,457
  • avivaloca – 5,686
  • shelpike – 189
  • JPCelfIT – 23
  • 4_teachers – 3,418

So, that generates another 19,074 people who potentially know.

Now, let’s not forget the people that are reading my blog.  That’s another 5,579.   I also pin the post to Pinterest where there are another 118 followers and Google Plus for another 1,161.  Oh, did I mention it also went on my Facebook wall where I have 480 friends.  That’s another potential 7,338 readers.

Again, we know that all these are potentials, but I have the potential total now sitting at 51,667.  I would think that’s a pretty interesting number for one day.  Just think about tomorrow when news about nkwiry hits the RSS readers, people try it in their class and blog/tweet about it or it shows up in your daily readings.

It’s not just that people are aware of the new product.  If you’ve been following the discussion, Brian has been adding features “on the fly”.  From my post, we’ve had a discussion about adding tags and he’s already implemented thumbnail pictures of the resource being bookmarked.  Within 24 hours of release, the product is evolving!

It’s kind of interesting to see OLD SCHOOL compared to NEW SCHOOL.  I hope that these potentials work into real people for Brian so that he feels the sense of accomplishment for the production of yet another classroom friendly and student respectful resource.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that social media doesn’t work!  Help the cause, please share Brian’s works with your colleagues.  They’ll thank you.