Happy Blog Day!

It’s August 31st, so here’s wishing you Happy Blog Day 2008!

Got a blog? Want to take part? You can find more info at the official Blog Day website, where you’ll find the full story about what it’s all about.

Essentially, here’s what you do…

  1. Find 5 Blogs that you find interesting.
  2. Notify the 5 bloggers that you are recommending them as part of BlogDay 2008
  3. Write a short description of the Blogs and place a link to the recommended Blogs
  4. Post the BlogDay Post (on August 31st) and
  5. Add the BlogDay tag using this link:
    http://technorati.com/tag/BlogDay2008 and a link to the BlogDay web site.

http://danielfelice.com – I used to teach Daniel back in the late 90s. He was an amazing kid, super smart and very web savvy. I know I learned lots more from Daniel than he ever learned from me! He currently lives in Ireland with his partner, works in the technology business, and is always looking for new ways to monetise his blogging.

http://lindajoh.wordpress.com – This blog, which chronicles the adventures of a Canadian gone Down Under, is actually my girlfriend’s blog. Linda started this about a year ago as a way to keep her family and friends back in Canada updated on her new life in Australia. It’s developed into a very nice blog, getting regular traffic and building a good collection of interesting posts.

http://www.whiteboardblog.co.uk – I found this blog about interactive whiteboards while I was doing a whole lot of IWB research recently and think it is one of the best IWB resources I’ve found. Danny Nicholson has a really deep understanding of the technical and pedagogical issues surrounding the use of IWBs and I always manage to get some new insight into the technology when i read his blog.

http://moodleman.edublogs.org – There’s no doubt that Julian Ridden is onee of the most knowledgeable Moodle guys around, and his blog The MoodleMan Blog, is full of amazing gems for anyone who uses Moodle in their work. With homemade video tutorials, excellent tips and tricks and plenty of useful info, it’s a blog worth reading.

http://eideneurolearningblog.blogspot.com – For anyone interested in how the brain works, this blog has tons of really interesting information and insights into current brain research. Often containing useful tips for educators interested in how people learn, this blog is worth a read.

Till next year!

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It's about the Conversations

We may be just a couple of NYFBs, but I had the pleasure yesterday of catching up with Jenny Luca from Melbourne, author of the Lucacept blog. Jenny was in town with her friend Helen to attend a presentation by Garr Reynolds on how to do better presentations. We made tentative plans to catch up and fortunately things fell into place and we were able to actually meet up.

After the ridiculously difficult task of finding a parking spot, made all the more difficult by the fact that I left my wallet at home and so had no money to pay for even meter parking, I eventually found a legal parking spot only a short walk from where we could meet. Thank you universe.

Jenny is one of the refreshing voices in the Aussie blogosphere, with so much passion and enthusiasm for education and how technology can make it better. I was very keen to meet up and have a chat. After finally meeting on the corner of Grosvenor and George streets, I suggested we go take a look at the new Sydney Apple Store at King and George, just a few blocks away. We talked all the way up the street, into the Apple Store, up the stairs, and I think we talked the entire time we were there. Helen got into the shopping spirit and picked up a nice set of Bose speakers for her son’s Mac, but I think Jenny and I just talked the whole time.

Eventually we went over the road, found a little coffee shop in the Strand Arcade, and sat and talked some more. As Jenny and I observed numerous times, it really IS all about the conversations and although I love the intellectual to-and-fro of the blogosphere, there is something very nice about having a face to face conversation. Jenny has a lot of great insights and ideas, (despite her insistence at being a mere noob, her Clustrmap gives a different picture!) and I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to catch up with her in person.

Heck, it’s even made me an even more LR.

Going Live vs Doing Life

My daughter once performed at a large choral event where she sung a solo piece. It was the first time she had performed in front of a sizable audience and the first time I had any idea that she had real singing talent. As a father, it was a beautiful thing to see, and I was very proud of her.

Naturally, as a proud dad I was there with my video camcorder in hand and taped the entire performance. The event was over two evenings so I also went back the next night and taped it again, then took the two pieces of footage, dumped them into Sony Vegas and made a two-camera montage of the performance. It’s still on YouTube if you want a look.

Although I was present to see her perform twice, my strongest memory of that event is the video that documents it. I do recall sitting in the hall with the other people and thinking how awesome she sounded live, but what I see on the video has, over time, become the more pervasive memory.

Likewise, back in 2004 we did a 3 week trip through Central Australia with about 25 of my 4WD club friends. It was an amazing trip, taking detours into some of the most remote and beautiful country in Australia. We ventured up the Oodnadatta Track, swam in thermal pools, visited the remote East MacDonnell Ranges and took the back roads to Kings Canyon and Uluru. We had mechanical issues, lots of laughs and a great time. When we came back, I collected the hours of video footage and thousands of photos and produced a short video of the trip to show at a club meeting. Again, you can find that video on YouTube.

Just like the 4 minute video of Kate singing, the 9 minutes of video footage from our Central Australia Outback experience has come to be my primary recollection of the 21 day trip. I occasionally have to stop and remind myself that there was a lot more to that trip than just those 9 minutes.

While I totally understand the need to document our experiences with video and photographs and other media, I think we need to be aware that life still needs to be lived and not just experienced through a camera viewfinder. It’s a balancing act, because I know I have footage of events and experiences that I will want to look back on in years to come and be very glad I captured them. However, I’ve also become very aware that even as I capture events for posterity, I don’t lose sight of the actual experience of living the moment in which they occur.

I started pondering this as I watched the steady stream of Twitter messages coming out of NECC. As you would expect, the tweets are flowing fast and furious with so many edu-Twitterers all in one place. Twitter is an incredible networking tool for groups, and you can see it being used to connect, communicate and coordinate. Whether it is to arrange a place to meet for coffee, notify the start of a presentation or comment on what’s being said in a meeting, Twitter is an awesomely useful tool. As I read them, I just imagine that many these tweet messages are being created on mobile devices and I’m getting this mental picture of people wandering about with their cellphones in hand furiously tapping away on hard-to-use keyboards to create this flood of tweets to the outside world.

I could be completely wrong, and maybe some of the Twitterers will leave a comment about how they deal with the whole mobile tweeting thing, but I always find that in order to tweet about what I’m doing I have to mentally stop doing it. To me, it’s more than just multitasking, it’s about mental timeslicing and taking your attention off the here-and-now of what’s actually taking place around you in order to tell the Twitterverse about what’s going on around you. This is not meant to be a criticism, and I’m glad that people do it so that others who wish they were there can get an insight into what’s going on, but I hope that folks find the balancing point between actually living the event and spending all their energy helping the event “go live”.

I know that multitasking is an important skill, but sometimes I wonder if we push it too far and try to engage with (or create) so many sources of information that we miss some of the richness of the actual experience itself? Maybe we need to relearn how to just “be” in the moment and let that moment flow over us so that our experience of an event will be the pervasive memory and the digital documentation of the event will simply be a nice reminder later. How do we find that balance between capturing and sharing a moment and actually living it?

Image: ‘Tribute To Guitarist Pat Martino – Scan+03+07

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