Category Archives: 6. Leftovers

As the name suggests – uncategorised thoughts and musings

A mighty unplug

Unplugging a bit is healthy.

I have just returned from a month of long flying (with two young kids), welcome and goodbye  kisses, visits to relatives, ‘pigging out’ on summer berries of all kinds, cave visiting, gondola riding, kids first touches of snow and fun with it (high altitude), balmy strolls, visits to farms, family barbecues, nice tweet-up(s) with outstanding, switched-on e-practitioners Alja (@ialja), Danilo (@dkozoderc) and Arjana (@abfromz) , hiding from summer hail, running and hiking in valleys, hills and mountains, playing dragons and knights in countless castles with our older one, trying of all kinds of solid and liquid delicacies (many home made), connecting with childhood friends, lunching with and attending a concert of a local musical legend, swimming, checking ‘what’s new’, right-hand side driving on the road, crossing borders to neighbouring countries at a drop of a hat, (re)living the emotional highs and lows  of the local World Cup team heroes, gaining two kilos, watching my parents loving the play with their grandchildren whom they see in the flesh so seldom, introducing backyard cricket, and, believe it or not, a lot more of these things in my home country Slovenia.

But the highlight of the trip was a climb on Triglav, the highest (2864m), almost mythical mountain of Slovenia and one of its most prominent and well known national symbols. It has long been an important ‘to do before…’ item on my list.

The preparation for the climb started long time before we set foot on the mountain. After a few months of running to get in shape, getting the right gear and listening carefully to our guide (“… you have to be darn clumsy to fall but you have no business there if you are scared of heights or suffer from vertigo.”) we set off in the afternoon from Vrata Valley (1000m alt.) and made it to Kredarica hut (2514m alt.) before nightfall, just as Spain and Germany started their World Cup semi-final on screen.

The next morning, a smaller party of us set off right into the just about vertical cliffs and narrow ridge for the summit, standing at 2864m alt., then took our time on our 5.5 hour return hike to the pick up point at 1200m. You can see a few shots below but that is a fraction of the magic we experienced on the mountain (for accompanying notes, you can check the set on Flickr)

Yes, one would need a poet to describe the beauty of the view from the summit (and many those below too). It’s a different world. A world where the silence sounds differently, where an Australian ‘cooo-eee’ magically reverberates from the cliffs and valleys for an incredible time and amount of echoey replies, where you wait for the chamois and mountain goats to rest and show their amazing rock-stepping skills, where you see cliffs, sprinkled with plaques in memory of those who met their death right there by slipping, being struck by falling rocks or lightning (very common in bad weather!), where you see how crumbly and fragile the whole mountain really is, eked away by the constant cycle of ice, heat, lightning strikes, even human intervention (yes, the once mighty glacier has just about melted away!!!). In one word, the two days on the mountain were – humbling.

In all this time, I fired up Twitter maybe once every day or two, checked the goings on at Mt Orange Moodle Demo Site (kinda my baby I am now looking forward to working on, made a promise to Martin, will write more about in near future), checked my email for any fires burning … and it felt so good to ‘lie low’ and unplug a little that I am now glad to ‘reconnect’ online and jump into a pile of projects refreshed, inspired and with a picture of Triglav on my desktop to remind me to be humble and to stop and unplug every once in a while.

I’m back 😀

A Prezi

Nothing terribly brainy from me today…

I gave up on Prezi twice before but last couple of evenings I finally got my head around it. It takes a little getting used to conceptually (endless depth and width of canvas) but it is a fun tool with some pretty cool final output.

Here is little presentation about Moodle (gee, how original 😉 ). While navigating you can play full screen and autoplay too (‘More’). Feel free to share, copy, rename, even print this Prezi out if you like. My first…

A Prezi

Nothing terribly brainy from me today…

I gave up on Prezi twice before but last couple of evenings I finally got my head around it. It takes a little getting used to conceptually (endless depth and width of canvas) but it is a fun tool with some pretty cool final output.

Here is little presentation about Moodle (gee, how original 😉 ). While navigating you can play full screen and autoplay too (‘More’). Feel free to share, copy, rename, even print this Prezi out if you like. My first…


Mysterious Globe
'Mysterious Globe,

“Hello World” is a simple game I often play with my 4 year old son (‘Mr 4’). We fire up Twitter, say ‘hello’ from Fremantle, Western Australia, get a globe or an atlas (old school, I know, but it is wonderfully tactile) and wait to see where people are saying hello to us from.

Within minutes, we get at least ten replies. Some come from around the corner, many from around the world. We look each of the places up, we talk about the person who said hello, what language people speak there, what the weather is like there now, time of the day, what sort of things people eat there and so on.

Yesterday, we got replies from Fremantle, Perth, Northam, Sydney, Hobart (Australia), Elgin (Scotland), Birmingham, Leek, Ringwood, London, Lichfield (England), Johannesburg (South Africa) Grand Rapids, Detroit (United States). The range and number of replies depends only on the time of the day we play “Hello World”.

Mr 4 and I love the game.

Now, I am not some pushy parent who wants their child to do things like memorising countries of the world by heart (Mr 4 might do that anyway, whether I want it or not). But I do want my child to see that there is a big, diverse, exciting world out there waiting to be ‘discovered’ today and any other day.

In the parlance of a classic TV ad:

  • Twitter followers: 1378
  • Replies to our “hello”: 14
  • Worlds: 1
  • Sense of wonder about the world: priceless

PS. Dedicated to those who think nurturing connections online with Twitter is a waste of time…

Human Eddies 2009

Thank you!
Thank you!

Yep, it’s time for the annual ‘Eddies’ ritual of nominating peers for this year’s Edublog Awards (nominations close on 8 December!). This is so hard!

I think of the people mentioned below not as ‘winners’ but rather as a particularly skewed list of people and connections that shape and help me think, learn and … be.

Best individual blogIra Socol‘s SpeEd change

I stumbled upon Ira’s work about mid-year and never left. You will just have to read his excellent insights laced with hope and guidance. We have hit it off personally too and editing the “Why is everyone an expert on education?” post series right here on ‘Human’ has been a highlight in my own professional career. Thank you Ira. I know you don’t care much about awards but here is a tip of a hat to you and your work!

Best individual tweeterAlec Couros (blog)

This is an ‘impossible’ nomination but this friendly Canuck’s tweets are simply a great mixture of links, insights, personal moments, humour and tweeting style, his blog a must to subscribe for edu-things ‘Open’. Thanks Alec!

PS How’s the #hamster going? 😀

Best new blogSimon Carabetta‘s West Coast Left

Simon is a blogging champ at our school, running and managing our school blog (College eVoice) and his own. His enthusiasm is contagious around the school and, importantly, among the kids! Simon’s blog is a healthy bunch of insights of a living, breathing classroom teacher growing and changing by the day. To many more Simon!

Best resource sharing blogLarry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day

Larry, if you read this I got a question for you: When do you sleep? You are bloody amazing with your posts, lists, links, advice, comments, tweets, insights. If you can sustain this pace by all means – you are making the world a better place! A sincere thank you from myself and dozens of kids and staff around here who have benefited from your hard work.

Most influential blog post – Marion Brady at ‘Education reform: Wrong Diagnosis, So Wrong Cure

Another ‘impossible’ one. I have read many great posts this year, many of them linger, this one is to quote and act upon. Often. Go and read it…   Thank you Marion.

Best teacher blogDarcy Moore’s Blog

OK, he is an administrator/teacher … but that just doesn’t matter. Last year I think I called him a leader who leaps over 30ft chasm with one 40ft leap, not two ten-footers like many in his position. After all his work this year, particularly on developing professional learning networks, 1:1 programmes, connectivism etc (etc etc etc) he is still one of the people I’d have a beer anytime, anyplace and we wouldn’t be out of time or out of place. Thanks Darcy, can we clone you?

Best librarian / library blog – Jenny Luca’s Lucacept

More than a librarian! Master of Nings, literacy and engagement of kids from Melbourne – here is tip of a hat to you from across the Nullarbor. Our rapid-fire tweet-distractions when writing reports are turning into a personal folklore 🙂 Thanks Jenny, you rock!

Best elearning / corporate education blogGlobal Classroom

The tireless Joe Thibault and his team run a blog full of stories to tickle every moodler’s heart. I love dropping by and checking what fellow moodlers come up with and make a difference where it matters most – on the ground! Thank you.

Best educational use of audioPodkids by Paul Fuller

He is not the winner of 2009 Australian Innovative Teaching Awards for nothing. Podkids bring the world into their Year 4 and 5 classroom and make things that many adults would be proud of. Here is to them and their wonderful, humble and very clever, passionate teacher and a friend. Cheers Paul!

Best educational use of video / visualDave Cormier‘s “Presenting With Live Slides”

I share so many things and interests with this fella I wish I could share the desk with him one day. I often drop by his blog for a dose of his take on things open, rhizomy, messy yet wonderfully raw and clear of hype. You will just have to read/view his ‘Presenting with live slides’ post and the video. If that’s the future…sign me up! Cheers Dave and thanks for all your ‘stuff’. An assemblage to connect to 😉

Best educational wikiIndispensible Tools (Drew Buddie & “the crowd”)

Yes, lists and collections of tools abound but I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve dipped into this one. It’s the clarity, brevity and the fact it is all ‘crowd sourced’ that keeps me coming back. Drew ‘Digitalmaverick’ Buddie, take a bow across the oceans! Thanks mate.

Best educational use of a social networking serviceClassroom 2.0

As Nings and networks come, Classroom 2.0 takes the cake for things ed-te(a)chy. Steve Hargadon‘s (whom I had a great pleasure of sharing a meal with last month in Perth when visiting with another favourite and friend Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach) project is just a stunning example of collaboration and technological, pedagogical and, often, emotional support across the globe. Well done Steve and the team!

Lifetime achievementStephen Downes

Lucid, insightful, tireless, respected … I stop before inflating superlatives. If you know/read him, you are probably nodding now. Enough said – thank you Stephen!

There are sooooooo many more people to mention here but I will save it for the “Christmas special” post.

Now, I beat the deadline for nominations. Have you? Here is that link to 2009 Eddies again

To PhD or Not To PhD

Balancing on the Invisible
I have shared a fair few of my crazy thoughts with all and sundry on Human. Here is one that has been bugging me for some time now and burst out this week.

This morning I had a meeting with Dr Jan Herrington, Professor of Education at Murdoch University here in Perth, Western Australia. It was a very friendly, honest, open, productive and, as tweeted straight afterwards, a “frightfully successful” meeting about the potential of me starting to work towards a PhD degree, supervised by Dr Herrington. Her research interests read much like an awesomely researched, thoughtful academic version of my passionate scribbles here (on my blog). In conversation, we have traversed so much of edu(tech) territory with an amazing ease and understanding of two people ‘in the field’. Within an hour, we have mapped out a rough outline of the project, theoretical framework and possible methodology (freakish! – more on that another time). Dr Herrington’s methodical approach to completing a thesis project and her philosophy on writing were music to my ears after the six years (or seven, forgot it myself) part-time effort of an arduous Masters research thesis. Over Twitter, I even got high recommendations about Dr Herrington by one of her former PhD students. Not to mention I would probably be working closely with my best friend Dr Greg Thompson, who actually introduced me to Dr Herrington. And more. It all looks so seductively ready to go…

My modus operandi has long been “why not?” in many things. But this one is a big chunk, big enough to ask: “Why do it?” (My wife asked me the same question, rightly so.). Here are my top reasons, all with their positive spin and endless question marks not stated but assumed:

  • I am curious and love learning, thinking and doing what I believe in.
  • I love pushing the boundaries.
  • I am passionate about technology being the catalyst for not just how we learn but what we (never cease to) become as a result of using it.
  • I am uncomfortable with the prevalent mainstream, myopic schooling system mired in technicalities that change nothing that really matters.
  • I like creative yet disciplined, logical, thoughtful effort that makes sense to people and ends up being significant.
  • I am slightly mad (a necessary pre-condition many PhD/EdD candidates tell me… 🙂  )
  • I know I can do it.
  • I would have an excellent supervisor and mentor.

Yes, the title and job prospects and all that are nothing to be sneezed at and I don’t pretend I would not like them but I recognise the foolishness of it. Because there will always be more …

And while I ask myself ‘can I endure the endless hours of research, painstaking editing, drafting, re-shaping and processing things, can our bank balance cope with such a project, can I sacrifice hundreds of hours I would otherwise spend with my family, are there alternatives etc etc …’, please feel free to either advise me with a reasonable encouragement or a sobering kick in the butt, or generally share your views on the question: To PhD or Not To PhD?

Thank you. Sincerely.

PS. Our “Why is everyone an expert in education?” series will continue very soon. Last two weeks have been crazy for the three of us writing. Coming up!

Humble and thinking

Why do I blog? To organise my crazy mind, articulate what I may use in conversations and, if fortunate, offer an insight to (mostly) complete strangers. It is actually quite humbling to open up to the world.

Here is very briefly what Seth Godin and Tom Peters think about blogging. And it rings true…

PS. If you are an educator and haven’t started a blog – have a go. You may want to start with Edublogs. The name says it all (no, I don’t get paid by Edublogs).

Sunrise 09

Rottnest sunrise

Before going back to school tomorrow, here are a few of my professional aims for the year.

  • Continue to try, question, reflect on how digital technology (DT) can enhance and/or threaten the purpose of education (not schooling!) as it see it: to extend the understanding of the world beyond our immediate experiences while respecting those experiences, and through that learn how to function as individuals together in ever-changing societies.
  • Continue my “deliberate practice” and get as many colleagues, students, friends as possible to enjoy DT for the humanity it can enable and enhance.
  • Write a book on Moodle (yep, working on it!) and continue to teach and learn (with) this phenomenal resource.
  • Work on EVICTS becoming a useful point for collaboration between teachers.
  • Run a Philosophy & Ethics course for which I have worked hard to get into our school.
  • Attend and/or present at a MoodleMoot somewhere.
  • (Continue to) love serendipity afforded by social media but say ‘no’ when sleep and rest are needed.

May another Antipodean school year begin!