reflectively assessing my professional goals

2014 school yearend sad but always transformative


“When I say goodbye to Grade 12 who stands before me, I see a transformation- a blessed miracle in a way…”

Last night I yelled at my wife.  No one deserves that. I never yell at my students so why can’t I just handle myself.   I have some homework to do….  hopefully we all get a chance to transform.

I had such a volatile confusing emotional day Friday.   Sad, angry even, yet oddly sweet.  I lost my mindfulness.  My mood this week was already frayed.  It takes energy to stay optimistic when your livelihood and career are always under attack.  It’s not ‘just a job.’  We should not be looked at like factory robots on the line.  Our kids are not in the Hunger Games.  Urrggh!  No excuses for yelling.  I am trying to describe the paradox that is THIS school year-end.    I am sharing reflections and observations of perhaps the last day of school.  Ranting? maybe a little. ( I’m trying not to yell. ) Weird because it isn’t June 29?  A year-end burdened with labour strife and a looming province wide strike.  Friday 13th was sad because of the lockout and rush surrounding a potential teacher strike.  Not a day with the usual calm stream of officious tasks.   It was a trailer for World War Z….

Since my first teaching assignment back ( way back) in 1980, June has been a month of reflection and often bitter sweet observations.   Just as one feels excitement every September, I experienced a kind of grief every June.   With elementary classes it was the closure of a small family.  Kids and parents you got to know well.  Teacher and students engage with each another often for more hours than their own parents.   In high school, particularly Grade 12, June is a collective goodbye.  Most of the goodbyes are forever.   I will never see the teens that my colleagues and I help nurture into adulthood.   When I reflect on this moment I’m perhaps somewhat sentimental but on some level every teacher has a great deal of emotional investment in their pupils.  As a teacher-librarian ( non-enrolling) the system sees me as a burden yet it also provides me with potential seldom know.  I am able to know hundreds of teens.  I am safe harbour.   I am design and maintain the library as a learning commons- a hub of cross-curricular and extra-curricular culture.  My school library has average of 1100 patron visits each day (How many people visit Premier Clark’s office in a day? ).  I meet all staff and faculty.  I engage with a huge number of students.  Some barely know who I am.  A few rare teens, whom I might have coached, know me almost like a father. 🙂   When I say a final goodbye to a Grade 12 who stands before me, I see a transformation- a blessed miracle in a way.  It’s like an ’empty nest’ experience for me.  I  shake a hand or share an exchange no longer as an authoritative figure but as an adult- as an equal.

I survived Friday because of the only thing- teenagers!   Students wanted services but they also rewarded me in novel ways.  The rewards that are evident, when we invest in relationships with students, rise into full view in June.   The roles, trust and demeanor of the teacher-student dynamic is exposed.   Maybe corny, but you can feel the love.  We are in big trouble if/when our public schools become factory day cares for housing the less fortunate children.   Revisit Charles Dickens.  I believe excellent public schools are more than ‘Fraser Institute’ criteria.   I believe that vulnerabilities and earned honesty that surface toward year-end is a powerful measurement too.  Quality personal and effective scholarship has a cost.

A cost to student and teacher well-being.   Not just by tax dollars and a social contract but in cooperation volunteerism and leadership.  There is a also a cost to everyone.  We can all be pushed too far, too fast. 2014 is also NOT 1966 or 1986 or even 2006.  With Career Maps, ePortfolios, Term 4 projects, Prom, dresses, Prov.Exams, bursary deadlines, fees, forms, Grad credits, cell phones, textbooks, parking passes, social media selfies, gowns, awards…It’s a big bad world out there! It can be very scary. I believe our teachers understand this cost and often reign in the pressure downloaded from family and the school boards etc. Teachers get accused of giving too much homework and being tough markers, .etc but they have bosses too. It takes trust and balance.


Graduation – It’s not all just parties and fun!


Sure, there are disappointments, conflicts, and even the occasional behaviour misconduct that arises when the school year-end pressure gets turned up.  We all secretly chuckle with the Grad goofs and worry sick about those dangerous ‘parties’ but we also expect a great deal from our Grade 12 class.  The system, teachers, parents, community and peers place a huge amount of expectation and yes- grad hoops to jump through.  They experience pressure toward year-end most adults could not imagine.  It’s not all just parties and fun!  Sometimes I think there is a human cost to the urgency our system moves with yet there is a balance required.   Excellent schools build a culture with just enough drive to achieve pressure and the support network for those students who struggle or have unique needs.  Yesterday was not so balanced.  Terrific students were my #FF.  They brought the balance with patience, smiles, and love, even though I know many were fighting back tears.

That human experience is seemingly ignored by politicians, policy makers , journalists, or negotiators.   We only hear about empirical data or the need for schools to ‘productive’ and ‘accountable’ – business models and flowcharts.  Sure, as teachers, as administrators, and as an institution, we sometimes fall short; however, I witness a huge percentage of Grads cross the threshold into adulthood known as commencement.  They often surprise us with creativity, talent, motivation, vision.   Many adults could not play in the same sandbox as these kids.  Sometimes these very inspirational children, now adults, have overcome immense odds.  Some have conquered such negative childhoods.   Most of these transformed little people are capable, literate, and knowledgeable adults because of public education.  This k-12 success isn’t curricula, funding or strong policy; (although it’s all integral) but predominantly the result of the healthy, constructive and caring relationships students have with teachers.  The paradox is that, memory fades and we always remember the ‘bad’ teacher. So many people seem to carry disdain but the facts contradict the criticism.  For years now BC schools are top ranked internationally in reading, math and science. Despite being all-inclusive schools and not well-funded elitist academies, BC public education is deserving of respect.

As Peter Mansbridge writes in 2013, we demand miracles of our teachers yet refuse to meaningfully support them. “And we ask that those teachers turn each of those children, each of our children, into productive little citizens…”(CBC)

Today’s high school is not your grandfather’s high school!  Today’s teachers deliver a masterful service under our modern times far beyond the grumpy principal’s strap or rote learning  geography facts.   Like master parents, teachers are Swiss Army knives of child rearing with the added investment of years of university and ongoing pro-D.   Today, teachers are computer experts, idea bankers, encyclopedic reference books, search engines, Tweeters, counselors, coaches and first aid attendants.   Mostly schools are safe houses and certainly equal access opportunity facilities.  Public education and it’s teachers take on all comers.  No one is turned away at the door.  Public school teachers were pioneers for access welcoming and accommodating handicapped and special needs children into the classroom.  Today’s Grad is a generation of inclusiveness. 2014 Grad has some integrated and social relationship with dozens of our disabled. Today we truly understand the term ‘special needs’.  It’s not class size and composition.  It’s a cultural revolution of sorts but we all need to pay for it not just kind tolerant teachers.   We need to be grateful we have that door open but it’s steadily getting closed.

Our teachers, my colleagues, are magicians.   It takes a community of parents and public to properly raise children but right or wrong,  my colleagues have had an increasingly bigger role.   Many taught my own children and enriched their lives.  Preparing children for this complex and sometimes dystopic looking age is challenging enough without bashing the very people we need to embrace.  Recruiting talented, skilled and caring people( especially men) into this current environment is a gargantuan feat.  A strong community supported public education is simply the obvious strategy for a healthy diverse modern society.  Without criticizing the individual hard working teachers in private schools ( BC Gov calls them ‘Independent Schools’) the private, public subsidized schools do not address the multiple needs of our complex 21stc culture.   Letting tax dollars follow students/parents wherever they choose( Charter schools) immediately creates levels of service. As we see in US examples, a charter school system generates ‘ghetto’ underclass neighbourhood schools. We don’t need more segregation we need less! It takes a village not magicians.

Public education is not a product, like iron ore or natural gas.  It’s a critical institution for any democratic society.  As people lose rights worldwide, democracy is weaker and weaker.  Our teachers, against assorted odds, are the effective practitioners.  The public school option worldwide, is under duress yet the world-class effectiveness of our BC model has endured.  This is not accidental. The BC teacher has adapted and compensated for the benefit of our children.  As I reflect now in 2014, massive changes and the strain endured by my colleagues to maintain excellence is clear.  The taxpayers and society in BC has superior service and value for its dollar. Simply balancing the books by education cuts ( and breaching ethical and legal contracts with unionized teachers) is not prudent governance or social policy.  I’m screaming ‘cautionary tale’ or George Orwell as loud as any experienced teacher/citizen/adult/parent can.  { I’m yelling again! Calm down…. }

Friday may have been the most stressful, negative, and chaotically managed school day I’ve ever experienced-yet.   Teachers find a way of supporting one another but students have a way of lifting you up too.  Teens are not all headaches.  Teenagers can also be a gift.  So, after horrific mismanagement and bad governance of our public schools I still can be hopeful.  During  a period supposedly for just collective ‘bargaining’ ( collectively, like adults, seeking mutual labour fairness and stability)  we all struggle and suffer again.  Teachers are taxpayers and parents too.  They don’t deficits.  Today we try to avoid conflict in an honourable and vital institution.   BC teachers try to fight propaganda and myths while defending their own employee rights. Simultaneously teachers try to be role models and maintain positive relationships every day with their students.  A very fatiguing experience. We aren’t perfect. We screw up but we are also human.  Doctors, nurses, police officers and yes politicians screw up too.  We approach our students well-being seriously. What is unique about teacher’s approach is there is no profit motive. We are earnestly just want a fair wage and environment to do our best.

So as I reflect on another June school year-end, with the usual melancholy but spirited hopeful heart, I thank the students that have transformed me- again. We hear negative noise and atrocities about teenagers but it’s pop culture myth not typical reality.  I’m writing today to tell you, in spite of ‘helicopter’ parents, cultural upheaval, economic recessions and poor governance, I have witnessed these past few months, a cohort of Grads that deserve boutonnières and corsages not ridicule.  When I protest or lobby for employee rights I also defend the right of students to receive the level of service from us as I am accustomed.  These high school students I served every day ( I literally mean every day. With the Internet , their is no school bell whatever Gov Lockout says we help on unpaid/time off ) are resilient people.


Spikey- Queer? Unique? Perfect.

A strong learning experience from childhood to adulthood is the desired goal and process of schooling.  My students illustrated this.  Our graduating teens are a testament to the enduring effort and gifts of all those kindergarten, elementary and secondary school educators. Thank you ever colleague. To all those engaging teens who willingly participate, I thank you.  On behalf of our wide community, I thank you.

Indicative yesterday, in our parking lot, was a Grad Council boy, pail and broom in hand, cleaning up a school mates mess. After stopping and chatting ( it’s not Lockout tutoring) with another male colleague, we said our goodbye with a handshake as equals.

I serendipitously met a hardworking father Friday volunteering to help the school. He was dropping off his busy daughter’s library books. I had worked with his talented daughter who frequently was a patron of our learning commons. Moments earlier I had just published her photo project on our blog. I felt obliged to introduce myself as we had previously never met. He was so happy and very appreciative and thankful for what we had provided for his darling Grad. These moments are rare fuel for a tired teacher in June.

Another example yesterday was the dozens of students lined up; patiently waiting for their very busy and stressed out teacher-librarian, who made the effort to greet me, or chat goodbye or offer gifts, yearbook signing, handshakes and hugs. They understand the confusion, break in routine and human tension under the labour conflict. Many students, under their own pressures to hand-in projects, textbooks etc, chose to face their own melancholy or anxiety and share.

One grade 12 girl, who has achieved more growth this year than any A+ in English, spent time in the library visiting.  Day after day, over months trust can develop and this is very important.   Like when my own daughter moved away from home, we both knew, today was a threshold life moment.  Conquering some of her historical anxieties, and recognizing my mood, this girl courageously asked ME if I wanted a goodbye hug.  She transformed herself. She grew from an awkward scared girl into a nervous but capable young woman.  She is resilient.  She is also now educated and very well-read.  There is no reward or gift that equals sharing that!

So Friday was a day of mixed emotions. Maybe our last this season? Flawed and emotional, Friday was not our usual school day; however, as usual, our students soldiered on with their teachers.  Surreal almost, my disdain with the treatment of teachers by our elected officials kept under wraps, I was buoyed up by kids!  Open minds, strong character and generous hearts abound among our youth.  Not without incident of course, but students support each other through their k-12 journey.  The majority of students try hard and grow. With kindred spirit, students learn alongside their teachers.  Whether kindergarten crayons or coral princess gowns and black tuxedos, students grow largely in part because of the dedication of teachers.   The school of hard knocks is pretty effective too but I think you and I wish we could reduce that class size.  Students learn, earn respect and mature without us teachers, its just a hell of lot harder.  In multiple ways, despite negative forces all around, teachers nurture our children.  They find a way to transform raw materials into a thing of beauty.  Celebrate that. Respect that. It’s really all any one of us desire.






Bulgutch, Mark. “Inside the News with Peter Mansbridge.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 09 Aug. 2013. Web. 14 June 2014. .

“PISA – OECD.” PISA – OECD. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2014. .



Obstruction FOI practice may be very prudent
I’ve been studying the topic of digital citizenship and student privacy rights rather intently of late because I’ve been trying to develop a course of action and teacher’s guide for student blogging. It’s all part of my grow plans but it stems from a continuum do Ed Tech initiatives in SD23, my role as a teacher-librarian and supporter of student technology initiatives. Just as Audrey Watters outlined so nicely, Diane Ravitch recently blogged about the growing concern of student privacy in the USA.

PRIVACYPrivacy and protection is critical and BCs FOIPPA laws provide clear and maybe oppressive boundaries yet we know there is a large digital elephant in the education room. It appears as if the rapid corporatization and Chartering in the US, which has given rise to massive information sharing by Pearson, Google et al, may have started an ugly precedent that will not be easy to roll back. In that front, we in BC should be happy about the conservative pace we’ve connected our children at school. Keeping strings attached to our FOI may be very prudent even if it appears obstructionist at times.

We need to be very vigilant about who and what genie we let out of the bottle…. protecting student content of all kinds, not just demographics or achievement, is a prudent but also very professional essential aspect of instructional design. – Al Smith , Kelowna

“What lies ahead for student privacy when private companies, government agencies, and a wide range of researchers have greater access to student data and information? I mentioned earlier the “business of education.” …. Business is booming and groups like CCSSO are benefiting. Technology startups aimed at K-12 schools attracted more than $425 million in venture capital last year.” (

In 2008 and 2011, amendments to FERPA gave third parties, including private companies, increased access to student data. It is significant that in 2008, the amendments to FERPA expanded the definitions of “school officials” who have access to student data to include “contractors, consultants, volunteers, and other parties to whom an educational agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions it would otherwise use employees to perform.” This change has the effect of increasing the market for student data.

For example, the amendments give companies like Google and Parchment access to education records and other private student information. Students are paying the cost to use Google’s “free” servers by providing access to their sensitive data and communications.

The 2011 amendments allow the release of student records for non-academic purposes and undermine parental consent provisions. The changes also promote the public use of student IDs that enable access to private educational records.

These amendments are critical to supporting initiatives like Common Core that depend on collection of student data to monitor implementation and measure success. Schools across the country will contract with third-party vendors to provide products, programs, and services in order to meet the Common Core requirements — and government agencies and researchers will be mining student information for studies and databases. The FERPA amendments are paving the way toward greater accessibility to student data while providing no meaningful sanctions or protections against breaches of student privacy. As amended, FERPA will loosen privacy protections while helping to promote the business of education. (


It Takes a Village Network

Thanks to Jacqueline van Dyk for inspiring some ideas again! It Takes A Network , 03/07/13

You write another illuminating post that just adds to my growing appreciation of how we connect. As popularized in Hilary Clinton’s book (or the African proverb, whichever is attributed) It Takes a Village, perhaps the ‘network’ is the new appropriate analogy? Both really do make sense and in some clear connections, they really are not that different.

As part of ETMOOC Connected Learning, I’ve been browsing and reviewing Godin’s Tribes and related to the TED conversation about social networks. What seems apparent to me is that as we are getting more and more advanced with our internet tools the actual internet has become so transparent to more and more that we are revisiting human conclusions that we really knew all along. We are moving full circle and recognizing that we are still about human relationships and communication. We NEED each other. Rampant individualism and competition doesn’t produce the results we were told to believe. Zealot communism produced animosities and erosion. We need community not communism. We need to network.

KSSowls_7713I’ve been doing far too much reflection these days, perhaps because I’m processing my PGP, or more likely because I’m in the twilight of my career and considering several leaps of faith- both involving the people in my life, in my network. One would think after 30+ years of teaching that communicating, collaborating and networking with students, parents, colleagues, educators and the community I would feel empowered? Well I recognize strengths and know many people but empowered means I feel I can navigate successfully toward a goal. That is a very tricky task today because the goals and routes are a moving target. Education ( and educators ) are loved and hated for that very reason, society thinks they value us but knows something is also awry. I see similar issues in health. In fact I think our entire social contract is under strain for the same reasons. Societal change has been so rapid that structures are creaking at the joints.

The entire concept of ‘education’ and its purpose is under serious attack and revision. The ‘open’ movement brought on by technological innovation and a shift of social values has people aspiring to ‘open education’ outside of the institutional restraints of credit courses, etc. is a vital example of learning for its own sake. It is in many ways a network or community that sprouted from various disruptive birth parents and nurtured by a tribe. Tools like blog hubs, Google+, Storify, YouTube, TEDx, Twitter have become just various doorways into the same big tent.  It isn’t just pure altruism but there is no coverage charge, dress code or guest list. There is no tuition or pre-requisite.  As a mature student, with a 5 page CV I cannot enrol in a my local university without an academic recommendation letter and two professional recommendation letters! Really? Don’t they want  my money? Am I a risk? Risk of what exactly?  Have they heard about open learning?

Jacqueline Van Dyk, blogs about many poignant things but her It Takes a Network addresses a program

Judy[Halbert] added, “But for that synergy of passion, inspiration, mutual support and effectiveness, the network members must be united by a strong sense of collective purpose. Again, it all comes down to relationships.”

In my personal life, I have been successful and rewarded when I am honest, communicate and give generously. When I have conflict, it is when I was deceptive, scared and selfish. Learning and teaching is no different from any other human endeavour. Build a house, climb a mountain, feed the poor – we need to build trust. It takes a village!

“…In a network of partnerships, nothing gets done without trust. We tend to engage and share openly with people we feel we can trust. As in the brain power video, we strengthen connections that work and prune those that don’t…”

I am now asking, how does one contribute to that collective purpose? I’m just another villager.  I wish I was a shaman.  Even so, I’m not sure what I would do?  How does the village find consensus? How does a series of vital networks impact the lives of people, or students that are not connected? How do we welcome our kids and families into the tent? I don’t want digital tribal warfare. We have enough tribalism as it is! How can our new skills and new tools change the outcomes? How can our ‘network’ be different from a ‘village’?


Vision, Planning and hazards building digital neighbourhoods

Connected learning is like building digital neighbourhoods. Yes, one good analogy but it takes more than vision and skill building. It takes planning and plenty of patience because it can be a neighbourhood with pot holes, speed bumps and detours. I excitedly thought I had a new paved cul de sac but discovered a dead-end so now I need to design some new routes and modes of transport. How do I build digital neighbourhood for my teens when I cannot have them blog?

Swim Lessons

(Swim Lessons by ICMA Photos)
It was more than curiosity or insanity to join #etmooc, it was also an effort to develop assets and insights that may be needed while building my professional growth plan. My PGPs have always had a collaboration and teacher in-service theme over the years because I believe it is important part of my role as a teacher-librarian. Our role lends itself to developing and sharing resources including human capital. I’ve run into a serious obstacle.

This week I’m rethinking the entire process and priorities. BC Provincial FOIPPA law and our District policies prevent me from advancing student activities into publishing their own blogs or using social media creation. I have a conundrum. Developing connected learning as my PGP focus and synthesizing teaching practices with colleagues is on pause because I’ve run into policy barriers. Apparently our students, if directed or guided in class by teachers, cannot publish content outside our nation and preferably should be inside our WAN. I have been expanding my training sessions, peer tutoring and collaborative teaching plans to reflect my growth and understanding in the field. I have many teachers demanding support and excited about their new-found skills. The natural scope and sequence is for kids to develop their own digital portfolios and learn discourse in their digital neighbourhood. Now they may inquire online but not create or share online. Emailing digital assignments to their teacher is not a sufficient paradigm in my mind.

“Just having a teacher blog is not a new neighbourhood. It is still an old paradigm in new clothes. Our students need to be on the street with us, not shut ins “

I’ve spent a great deal of personal time studying the ways and means of bringing sound pedagogy into 21stC progressive practices. I believe we owe it to our students to provide opportunities AND a level of skill in digital citizenship and connected learning. Just offering Distance Learning options in a course guide does not suffice. Just saying you desire citizenship does not suffice. It is wholly inadequate to transition our pupils without any training or experience using social media tools for scholarship. Assuming that independent Facebook hours or a birthdate ensures a ‘digital nativeness’ is foolish. We need to teach them as well as we teach anything else. Ill also argue that in doing so will make our students preparedness in the sciences, arts or any specialty stronger.

Our business leaders, our community, our government and our own district want more modern, relevant and personal learning methods but handcuffing teachers assets, by policy, lacks practical and ethical integrity. We are not adequately preparing our students for college, workplace or civic life. In my mind, not having kids writing, creating, sharing , managing their digital content ( blog being the core ) is akin to teaching swimming without water. It’s like teaching sex education by only talking about family planning.


(image, Al Smith,CC-ncsa )
I do not question my district personnel interest in youth just the opposite. We are well off and advanced in so many ways. Our team, top to bottom, love kids- that I truly see. Even my IT technicians love our kids. Network Use Agreements outlines internet usage for students and faculty and obviously safety of youth is paramount. I get that part intensely more than most but if my government hires us to take care of our children and be responsible for their education every day, I think teachers are very capable of implementing new online publishing experiences safely and in fact help prepare students well.

“…The existing educational model with its expert-centered pedagogical planning and publishing cycle is too static and prescribed to accommodate the kind of fluid, transitory conception of knowledge that is necessary to understand the simplest of Web-based concepts.”

(Cormier, 2013)

We ( society ) are currently not preparing youth well enough now. They need more proactive skills while on the digital streets. They are driving around without else so by restricting their short stories, essays or image mash-ups to paper or Word docs that only a single teacher ever sees is akin to letting our kids only dip in the plastic kiddies pool and never jump into the deep end of the pool until they graduate from our school. A well designed classroom and mindful digital pedagogy with student blogs as a core, is a scholarly neighbourhood full of critical thinking and all the content and skills other found in a paper classroom. Fear that blogging is another risky “add-on” is simply nonsense. Blogging is the new duo tang. An ‘A’ student blog can be an honours student’s 3ring binder with wings.

“…If the world of media education is thought of as a rhizome, as a library à la Eco [in The Name of the Rose], then we need to construct our own connections through this space in order to appropriate it. However, instead of that solitary groping made by Brother William, we see as our goal the co-construction of those secret connections as a collaborative effort.

(Tella 2000, 41)

I was devastated for a while. My peers are disappointed. I am meeting with senior management soon to either create a solution or at least make a position clear. Take account. My school admin understands my anguish. They are my team but a large high school has other problems pot holes to fill in. Not everyone sees my passion about this topic as important, never mind urgent. I’m already trying to find new routes through or around the neighbourhood. Maybe I can get WordPress MU installed and running on site? Or get by until Sharepoint is enabled? I have people. I have assets. I’ve seen the power connected learning and social media can have on academic engagement. Vision? Dream? Hazard? Not sure, but the status quo, regardless of how good is no longer good enough. STAY TUNED.  I’m a connected learner and I will find solutions. 🙂
– Al Smith @literateowl


#etmooc Connected Overload? It’s like a World’s Fair…

So we are full swing into ETMOOC. JAN 21 week and I’ve observed a few posts concerned about CONNECTED OVERLOAD. Connected Learning – Tools, Processes & Pedagogy, includes so many themes, devices, strategies and preferences. This ETMOOC, in some respects is a fantasy a World Exposition of EdTech whereas most of us function in a village children’s festival kind of reality. We operate in traditional schools with many restraints, obstacles or just on a pedagogical scale that makes many discussions here seem fanciful. Connectedness seems so ad hoc and well… massive.

I don’t think we need to feel too overwhelmed nor discard the apparent chaos.  Clearly this is a new paradigm not a mandate.   I’m a MOOC rooky but for 32 yrs I’ve explored through technology innovations and pedagogy shifts.  Not many gadgets or new world order alarms me but this is the largest busiest online gathering I’ve experienced.

I’m no expert but here is my take on this digital World’s Fair? My advice? Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." -Theodore Roosevelt. -26th president of USA (

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” -Theodore Roosevelt. -26th president of USA (

This massive group should organically help you find interests and new learning. If you get lost? Send a Tweet and Google+ call out someone will oblige a hand.   One thing is certain for me.  I’ve read more fascinating writers and educators this week than the past year. 🙂   Alec’s (@courosa) infographic for last week inspired my international take on connected learning and information overload. and my World’s Fair metaphor….

“It’s rather like a World’s Exposition, with all the pavilions, performers, food carts, exhibits and enthusiasts strolling along the causeways…you choose to tolerate the long lines and crowds because it’s a fanciful collective that you choose not to miss…”  

I’m reminded of Expo 86 when my wife and I took our new toddler down to Vancouver to enjoy the shiny new spectacle that was -THE event.   It was too, in many ways. It preceded the Whistler Winter Olympics placing Vancouver, BC  on the world stage.  Maybe some of our international folks even traveled here back in the day?   Like any big fair, the scale and pace of activity that drives the massive venue, events and people is extraordinary.   Expo86 was an explosion to the senses and overload to the curious who couldn’t feed themselves enough of this global fodder even if it now seems a little  manufactured and cliché.   Musicians, artists, skytrains, space exhibits, food carts…. The delightful thing about Expo 86 was all the street entertainment.   Time passed quickly while waiting for the pavilions because there was something to entertain you.  The fun and even the poignancy of the event was the little serendipitous discoveries.  The artists and musicians….  Maybe a large MOOC is like that. Perhaps it is the little busker who lights your fire?         More>  Promo Expo86 video...

"Heh, did you visit the UN yet? C'est magnifique! " CC Attribution 2.o by colros

“Heh, did you visit the UN yet? C’est magnifique! ”         CC Attribution 2.o by colros

-The pavilion mural ‘Indigenous People of the World’, was painted by Paul Ygartua. Inspiration works in weird ways, because his print now hangs in my bedroom and I’ve been thinking global ever since…

Indigenous People of the World Ygartua, 460/800

Indigenous People of the World Ygartua, 460/800

I’m getting a bit of déjà vu now taking this ETMOOC because I know that the real wonder of the world is out there beckoning and that a massive open expo isn’t the same as being there yet I’m willing to partake in the insanity. I think a MOOC is rather similar. All this collective intelligence, global experience and delicious gadgets to avail myself! A madness that I know has some delightful exhibits and many people to see.  Hell, I had fun just mixing it up with folks in the pavilion queues! I knew upon arriving and all those lineups of visitors that I’d never see it all.

Plan A – scratched. information overload. Plan B? CONNECTED LEARNING  3 days changed to 6. And buy another pair of shoes. – Al Smith

MASHUP or MIXUP Manifesto?


Wow. You have nailed it for me Carolyn…

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 4.16.18 PMI struggle SO MUCH with this RIP REMIX model because as a librarian I also defend intellectual property and intellectual referencing vigorously. I despise those people and agents that exploit the creative product and ideas of others without any credit or even worse plagiarizing the ownership. Even recently the Director of Education Toronto Public School Board resigned because he ‘ripped off’ his own doctoral thesis. What is fraud? What is plagiarizing? What is mashing? Some academics even doubt the ability to teach ethics.  Even colleges are confounded by massive accountability and cheating problems. Ethics is no breezy artsy passive topic. I believe that if we taught philosophy classes like old school liberal arts education, we could solve some of this quagmire even with the technology condundrums.  ( Brazil high school students all must take 3 years of philosophy courses.)

Perhaps understanding Socrates is better than trying to provide useless career education that has expired before it is even delivered? Our BC kids receive hundreds of hours of instruction toward CareerEd credits for graduation that may contribute nothing? Just a thought?

The current #etmooc tools and skills allow us to ignore many social values.  What is the role of educators in this matter? Should we bother? Wall Street, Washington, etc. all have a conundrum of ethics that has to addressed somehow. Killing innovation by copyright/licensing laws isn’t smart yet inventiveness is dependent upon property rights.  People do not invent or invest anything for free. Would authors write books if they could never pay the bills?  Would Steve Jobs have been innovative if someone else could simply copy his patents without recourse? Add free press and educational applications to the mashup argument and you get serious confusion.

I see teachers responding to the dilemma by killing creativity or limiting learning opportunities. Research projects are being cancelled for ‘in class essays’ because they can’t cope with plagiarized or non original content. I believe the solution is about integrating technology with sound pedagogy and instructional design but…

I do not have answers.  I have more questions than answers.