Posts in Category "Uncategorized"

January 24, 2013

What’s in Your Toolbox to Engage Students?

Kanchan Chellani, currently a math teacher at New Milford High School, is a strong believer in making the learning process fun, interactive, and meaningful for students. To engage students in her classroom, Mrs. Chellani has utilized a variety of tools to help her develop an interactive, student-centered learning environment. Through the use of technology, collaborative learning exercises, and teaching mathematical concepts in the real-world and interdisciplinary context, she has managed to successfully work towards creating this desired positive and energetic blended learning environment. Some of the many methods Mrs. Chellani has employed in her daily instruction include integrating Smart Board interactive review games and videos to reinforce prior learning, case studies performed in the computer lab so students understand the significance of the material taught, and team assignments to foster a collaborative working environment.

Since the “flipped” approach to instruction is proving to be a key asset in modern education, one of Mrs. Chellani’s recent initiatives has been to provide students with a means to learn independently utilizing digital content. Starting in December 2011, she began using Edmodo, an online platform that enables innovative and social learning, as a way to share online videos and content on the relevant topic for her students to view and assign online polls to complete in order to foster discussion on the topic the next day. Although enabling the “flipped” approach to instruction using Edmodo has transformed the way material is taught and comprehended by students, it has been difficult to find resources that combine curriculum delivery, real-world examples, and assessments in a cohesive manner. As a result, she has started to create her own online learning modules, using the software Adobe Captivate.

Adobe Captivate is a highly, user-friendly digital content creation software that fosters interactive eLearning content. Mrs. Chellani has made use of the tool by creating learning modules that teach the basic mathematical concepts, as well as, provide practice problems, real-world examples, and assessments that allow for better comprehension of the material in an organized fashion. In these learning modules, instruction is provided using digital content, simulations, videos, screen captures, voice-overs, etc. to meet the visual, auditory, and tactile needs of the diverse student population. Once the instruction has been provided, guided practice problems and real-world examples are then discussed to reinforce the learning of the mathematical concept and to illustrate its’ significance. A variety of prompts and formal assessments are also embedded within the project in order to ensure that the learning has taken place, to develop higher-order thinking skills, and to facilitate discussion in the classroom.

Here’s how it works!

  • Students go onto www.learnmatheasily.com and select the assigned video for homework.
  • Students view the instructional portion of the video (both mathematical content and real-world applications) and complete guided practice problems, prompts, and formal assessments embedded within the video.
  • Students come into class the next day with a solid foundation on the mathematical topic. The teacher utilizes the aforementioned prompts to facilitate class discussion and assigns polls via Edmodo to ensure that the learning has taken place.
  • SMART Board interactive review games, case studies, collaborative learning exercises, group projects, quizzes, and tests are assigned in class to reinforce the learning in a differentiated fashion and probe deeper into key mathematical topics.

 

Using Adobe Captivate, Mrs. Chellani has been able to create an engaging and interactive learning experience for her students that not only helps them understand complex mathematical concepts, but also helps them understand the real-world significance of those concepts.

5:10 PM Permalink
January 21, 2013

Create e – Training with Adobe Captivate

       e -training is the training process via electronic media. The process presents skill training and knowledge gaining, which focuses on the training and self-study. Participants are free to attend according to their available learning time, opportunities as needed. The content is designed to provide knowledge in multimedia, including the text, images, or sounds and animation. In preparation of e-Training system, there are many tools to assist in the design and development phase. But there is one tool that helps designers develop e-Training is easily and quickly. This tool is a program called Adobe Captivate.  It allows the creation of teaching materials and interactive multimedia content. To begin using this software, select the Software Simulation to start the project.

       e-Training คือ กระบวนการฝึกอบรมผ่านสื่ออิเล็กทรอนิกส์ เป็นกระบวนการจัดการฝึกทักษะ เพิ่มพูนสาระความรู้ ที่เน้นให้ผู้เข้ารับการอบรมนั้นเรียนรู้ด้วยตนเอง ผู้เข้าอบรมมีอิสระในการเข้าศึกษา เรียนรู้ตามเวลา โอกาสที่ผู้ฝึกอบรมต้องการ โดยเนื้อหาขององค์ความรู้จะถูกออกแบบมาให้อยู่ในรูปแบบมัลติมีเดีย ซึ่งประกอบด้วยสื่อที่เป็นข้อความ รูปภาพ หรืออาจจะมีเสียง รวมถึงภาพเคลื่อนไหว ซึ่งในการจัดทำระบบ e-Training มีหลายเครื่องมือที่ช่วยในการออกแบบและพัฒนาระบบ e – Training แต่มีหนึ่งเครื่องมือที่ช่วยออกแบบพัฒนาระบบ e – Training ได้อย่างสะดวกและรวดเร็วคือ โปรแกรม Adobe Captivate ด้วยเพราะว่าโปรแกรม Adobe Captivate เป็นโปรแกรมที่ช่วยให้การสร้างสื่อการเรียนการสอนและสร้างในรูปแบบ interactive multimedia โดยเริ่มต้นของการทำงานให้เลือกที่ Software Simulation เพื่อเริ่มต้นสร้างโปรเจ็ค

9

           Then set the size of the screen and select the Recording Type recommend.

Training:  Use the training mode when you want the user to try the procedure during the movie. The movie moves to the next slide only after the user has performed the previous action correctly
Assessment:  Use the assessment mode when you want to test how well the user has understood a procedure. You can set a score for every correct click. You can also set the number of times the user can attempt a procedure. When the user fails to click the right option in the number of attempts provided, the movie moves to the next step. The user does not get any score for the failed attempt.

This is a simple procedure that will be creating E-training system for use in teaching or to your work.

10

        จากนั้นกำหนดขนาดของหน้าจอและเลือกรูปแบบการบันทึก
Training: เป็นรูปแบบที่ใช้ในการฝึกอบรม เมื่อต้องการให้ผู้เข้ารับการฝึกอบรมทดลองปฏิบัติในขณะที่บันทึกวิดีโอไปด้วย วิดีโอจะเล่นไปสไลด์ถัดไปเมื่อเข้ารับการฝึกอบรมปฏิบัติตามขั้นตอนที่กำหนดไว้ได้อย่างถูกต้อง
Assessment:  การใช้งานในรูปแบบ assessment เมื่อต้องการทดสอบความรู้ ความเข้าใจในขั้นตอนการทำงานของผู้เข้ารับการฝึกอบรม โดยสามารถกำหนดคะแนนสำหรับการคลิกที่ถูกต้อง สามารถกำหนดเวลาในการปฏิบัติในแต่ละขั้นตอน เมื่อผู้เข้ารับการฝึกอบรมคลิกผิด สามารถกำหนดจำนวนครั้งในการทำงานภายใต้เงื่อนไข โดยเมื่อวิดีโอเล่นไปในสไลด์ถัดไปผู้เข้ารับการฝึกอบรมจะไม่ได้รับคะแนนในกรณีที่คลิกผิด

ขั้นตอนเพียงง่ายๆเท่านี้ก็ทำให้คุณสามารถที่จะเริ่มทำระบบ E-training เพื่อนำไปใช้ในการเรียนการสอน หรือการทำงานของคุณได้

3:48 AM Permalink
January 10, 2013

Let’s make the face look slimmer

You have to see video clip for support this tutorials

When viewing the video tutorial on the makeup, you will see that making slimmer face requires many makeup items. It is a complex process. The next step in helping to make slimmer face is to start using Photoshop.

1. Open the image file that you want to edit.

 

1

 

2. After opening the image file, before starting image editing, duplicate the Layer in order to copy the picture.

2         3

 

3. Delete the original file, to prevent confusion by dragging picture to the trash.

4

 

4. Then adjust the size of the face by selecting the Filter menu and select the menu Liquify.

5

 

5. You can select the size of the brush head for easy operation.

6

 

6. Use the brush head to adjust the size of the face, and as you gradually adjust, you must verify that the size of face looks appropriate. When finished, click OK.

7

 

7. When the two images are compared, you will see the difference.

19422_002

                                               Before  

8

                                         After                                                                                    

Thank you: Get it beauty SELF and Youtube

 

9:01 AM Permalink
January 8, 2013

Hey Dad, What is a JPEG?

dragon_1

In the process of parenting two kids and growing as an Adobe Education Leader each new year, I realize I have a responsibility as a dad to help my own kids grow into the 21st century.   It has been comforting for me and for them to come home after school, telling me with excitement about what they have been learning in their internet safety program at school.  I bring up with them about naming files and organizing their assets with computer folders.  They tell me about learning about this already.  I have moments of feeling humbled and surprised by how much they are learning at school.  I decided as a dad to get involved from the beginning, teaching them computer literacy skills.  The idea is for my kids not to notice that dad has now just shown up in their  technology world.  I don’t want them to have this experience of a sudden jolt of dad looking over their shoulder.  I have decided to sit down with my kids once a week, becoming a guide and coach for them, having them identify with me as a helper.  I have introduced and working with both of my kids on these programs and skills:

 

Photography: (Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Photoshop, Bridge) – Downloading Pictures, Scale and File Type and Naming, Organizing Their Assets, Importance of Metadata, Photo Safety and Appropriateness).

Video: (Adobe Premier Elements) – Downloading Video, File Size, Video Output, Formats for Publishing, Video Safety and Appropriateness, Editing).

Email and File Storage: (Google Applications, Creative Cloud) – Filtering, Folders, Naming, and Search.

Presentations: (Microsoft Powerpoint, Adobe Presenter 8, Adobe Connect) – Lighting, Webcam, Recordings, Slide Creating, Importance of Audio Setup, Audio and Video Integration.

Website: (Google Sites): URL’s, Tables, Photo Scaling, Uploading, Organizing Assets, Color.

Social Networking: They are not old enough to have their own Facebook Account

Mobile: (Adobe Collage, Adobe Connect Mobile, Adobe Photoshop Touch, Adobe Ideas).

My vision and hope is by teaching them basic and more advanced skills of Digital Photography, Video, Asset Management, Emailing and Texting, Online Presentation and Website Development is that when it is age appropriate for them to have their own mobile devices and have access to social networks that they will be leaders amongst their peers, helping educate others what is safe and appropriate, and becoming very skilled for their own future.

dave_ael_picture_2

 

Dave Forrester

Connect Shaman

 

8:37 PM Permalink
October 30, 2012

A Professional Graphic Artist who is a Teacher … OR A Teacher who is a Professional Graphic Artist?

What am I? A teacher? A professional Graphic Artist/developer? HMMM….

Maybe I can figure this out by discovering which came first…Which occupation came first for me? Was I a teacher of the digital arts first, or a professional digital graphic artist/developer? Well, in my case, they pretty much came simultaneously.

I had gone into the UCLA Extension program because I was offered the opportunity to work with UCLA Law School to design the graphics for their new admissions application website. At the time I did not have a clue what digital graphics were or what I needed to deliver to them. I had 3 months to learn it and deliver. I had gotten my hands on Photoshop 3  (NOT CS3, but 3!). I had to figure out how to use it, and FAST. I also had to learn about website production. I jumped in and took the classes I needed to help me, and got the job done on time. I had so much fun, I signed up for their Professional Designation in Digital Arts certificate and spent the next 3 years immersed in the world.

When I graduated from my UCLA Extension program, I was offered an opportunity to teach Final Cut Pro at a small private college. I told my friend who was the connection with the college that I had just learned it. He was so adamant with his argument…”Well, you know more than they do!” So, I took the challenge. I found out that I LOVED teaching the digital arts!

My teaching career got a bit stalled because, well, I never graduated from college. I didn’t have a Bachelor’s degree (this is a whole ‘nother story!). So, after 3 years of going to school for the digital graphics arts, I was in the rhythm of studying and went back to school. I graduated from CSULB with my BA in Studio Art, and went on to Pepperdine U get my Master of Arts in Educational Technology so I could teach in a “real” school.

In the meantime, my digital arts career and skills grew. I garnered a few key clients that allowed me to progress my skills and digital arts knowledge. I discovered not only how to do them, but how to work with clients in the professional world. When my opportunity to teach again came to me, it was because I had industry experience as well as the digital arts experience. I was hired to develop a digital media class for the web. It is now called Digital Media Production as it now caters to all devices.

Today I split my time between teaching my classes; Photoshop, Dreamweaver II, Fireworks, the Digital Media Production class, building my new classes; Adobe Edge Animate, Social Media, and WordPress,  with my freelance digital arts career. So, which one comes first in my life? Which one is “me”? If anyone asks me (other than a prospective client!) what I do, I first say I am a teacher. I feel that every job I complete as a professional artist/developer is a step in learning what is out there to share with my students. Bringing the real world projects into the classroom is a key feature in my classes. My students LOVE this! They appreciate that I can show them tips and tricks that will help them move their careers forward quickly when they are ready.

Technology is changing at a break neck speed. Studying is key to staying on top of  the curve. Do I study because I am a teacher, or do I study because I need to provide the newest and the best for my professional clients? The circle keeps going around. I am a teacher. I am a professional digital graphic artist/developer. My studies include growing my skills in teaching as well as technologies. It takes many hours of study to keep up with the technology changes going on right now. As a teacher, I MUST stay ahead of the game. I have to be ready to provide appropriate tutorials that teach the students what they will need to be competitive in the world when they graduate. I also need to build my skills in the newest technologies so I can provide my clients with the most up to date technology for their companies so that they can stay relevant and on top of their competitors. It is also for me! I love to learn.

And, just one plug here… tv.adobe.com
Now that is where to go to learn the newest any time!

If someone was to ask if there were any careers in this world where working in one builds the skills for the other, I do believe I have the answer! The circle keeps turning….

3:19 AM Permalink
October 20, 2012

InDesign Folio Builder

I had to get my computer re-imaged and re-install Adobe CS6.  Since I have done so I can’t get the folio producer to work.  When I open the folio producer it tells me “A software update is required to use Digital Publishing Suite. Please go to the Help menu and select Updates to get the required software.” O fcourse, when I go to updates it is grayed out.  I tried heading out to the Web and grabbing different updates but nothing will work.  Below is a screen shot of my issues.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

7:30 PM Permalink
October 1, 2012

WHAT IS EXCITING MY STUDENTS

When teaching a beginning Photoshop class, it is very easy to elicit OOHS and AAHHHs from my students. Showing them a filter or an adjustment layer can set the classroom into a frenzy. Two weeks ago, in my Media Production class, we covered how to change a type layer into a shape layer (PS 5) and use the pen tool to create a typographic design. I could not get through the lecture because the students wanted to try it… like NOW! Last week, it was animation in Photoshop (Our department does not have AfterEffects). One of the students began planning a birthday animation surprise for her sister.

I love it when I get this type of reaction in my classes. It is something I strive to accomplish. As mentioned, it seems to be easily accomplished when teaching Photoshop. It becomes more difficult for me when teaching anything web related. I have been teaching our Dreamweaver II class for 7 years now. It is an eye opener class for the students, as I do not hold their hands as much as in a beginning class. I lecture and demonstrate a taste of a new technology, and then I set them free to learn and discover it on their own. It is a skill I feel is necessary because they will be on their own soon. As important as this is to a graduating college student, it may not elicit as many loud cheers for the technology they have been sent out to learn, as it can be time consuming to “master”. I do get very excited students when they learn that they can do it themselves.

My Dreamweaver II class does not teach where the buttons or commands are, or much that was covered in Dreamweaver I. The class is geared towards actually using the tool and discovering how to incorporate the new technologies out there, such as jQuery and web fonts. Dreamweaver CS6 has made this much easier for me, as it has incorporated them into the interface. So, this semester, I got a very excited group of students that came in with some extremely fun projects. And, it wasn’t Photoshop!

I brought in my tablet and demonstrated Proto to the class three weeks ago. When they found out the HTML and CSS files can be brought into Dreamweaver to work on, they again got all flustered and wanted to dive in immediately. The big question at that time was “Is there anything like that for the desktop, or do I have to buy a tablet?”.  I could only answer, not yet, and I am not sure.

Then on September 24th, it was my turn to get excited when I attended the Adobe Create the Web tour in San Francisco. When I returned to my classroom, I felt privileged to tell the students that YES, there is a desktop version of the Proto tool, but oh so much better!

When I played the keynote  video piece about Reflow for them, cheers erupted in the room! YES, real cheers. All of us are so excited to get our hands on this piece of software and give it a try. I have yet to cover the new Dreamweaver CS6 responsive web design tools. It may be difficult to get them excited over them. Reflow stole the show. That is OK with me. Yahoooo, YIPEEEEE, and OH BOY… even I am excited.

Keep it up Adobe, you guys are really nailing it with some fun tools for us to use and teach. Incorporating the most popular technologies into our favorite tools makes the teacher’s job easier, and the users very happy. When the job can get done faster, we love it!

6:35 PM Permalink
September 30, 2012

Changing Digital Tool Sets and Education

CHANGING DIGITAL TOOL SETS AND EDUCATION


Tools. Craftsmen love their tools. Without a proper set of tools, their jobs would take much longer, and probably would not be done as well. If you were to speak to someone who works with tools, they would tell you that they have favorite tools among their collection. You will hear a story about how they will use these favorite tools constantly, and utilize the rest only when necessary. The craftsman will covet and care for these tools, as old favorites just cannot be replaced with new ones and have the same feel in their hands.

When better tools do come about, the craftsman may give them a try. It may take a while, but the new tool probably will work just as well, and probably better than the old favorite. Suddenly, the craftsman has a new favorite tool, and has found that it saves time and produces solid work.

I spent many years working with hand tools as a jeweler. I have a set of favorite tools that are on the front of my bench. I have new ones that I bought along the way to replace the favorites, but they remain in the cupboard waiting for me to pick them up. One pair of pliers had been in my hands for over 30 years, the “needle nose” is long gone, ground down so many times to keep them sharp. One day I just could not get the tip into the spot I needed to get the work done. Out came the new ones and the job got done, quickly and cleanly. Out went the old ones.

My full time days as a jeweler have been replaced with digital media production and teaching the techniques. I have been having fun producing and teaching the skills to build websites, videos, digital graphics, etc. for over 12 years now. I have favorite tools and technologies for doing my work here as well (Ok, mostly Adobe’s toolset!). I have seen tools and technologies come and go during this time. Some of them I was very happy to watch disappear (Director), some I miss.

This industry is always changing. Learning never stops. There is always a new technology or “digital trinket” coming out that needs special treatment from us to work. Right now, our industry has been turned on its ear with so many new and evolving technologies that are coming out much faster than ever before. Technologies are here and in the hands of consumers that our current tool sets do not provide what we need to get our work done in a timely fashion. All of a sudden, I don’t have a tool (let alone a favorite tool) for some of the jobs I need to get done.

I am always studying to keep abreast of what set of tools are available so I can work efficiently and keep my students on the cutting edge. Adobe is providing its users with toolsets that are moving forward at almost as fast a pace as the technologies. The new set of Edge tools and services are indicative of the company’s hard work to provide the cutting edge tools necessary for today’s HTML 5, CSS3, and JavaScript environments.

I teach in a community college’s Computer Information Systems department. Besides Microsoft Office, our classes include web design/development and the study of computer applications. The Adobe applications our department focuses on are Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, and Flash (gone are Flex and Flash Catalyst). Right now, we are in a broil over how to proceed with our department and college web developer/designer certificates. It may take a student 3 (now with budget cuts maybe 4) years to get through the certificate program. Technologies are changing too fast to keep the certificates stable for that amount of time. If we do not change them, we risk becoming stale and out of date, providing an education that will not be what employers are looking for when the students graduate.

Our certificates dictate certain Adobe application classes are required be taken, with others as electives. When the landscape of application/technology choices change so fast, the certificates become out dated in months, not years. With the “death” of Flash as a web technology, Flex and Flash Catalyst were “killed” too. Flash I is still a requirement for our certificates, Flash II is an elective. Flex and Flash Catalyst are also electives. Our certificates are becoming “littered” with technologies that are not pertinent, and missing the ones that have become so.

The Flash platform technologies will not provide the job skills necessary for our students studying web technologies when they graduate. It is very difficult to ever know, in our field, what will be the job skills in 4 or 5 years, but we have to try to provide what we know right now to the best of our abilities. As of today, this is HTML 5, CSS3, and JavaScript. The release of Adobe Edge Animate this past week, with the offer of using Animate free for one year, should help to make the transition from Flash animation to HTML 5 animation a bit easier. The willingness of the instructors and curriculum committees to let go of their favorite old technologies and learn the new ones fast enough to keep moving forward is a key factor.

Schools and technology departments must make an effort to plan the new methodology for teaching the new workflows at a speed equaling the various technologies release, a plan to embrace the tools that will provide the modern skillsets for our students. The college’s ability to provide pertinent certificates will require some study and discussion to come up with an answer that will allow the fast pace of change.

Loving our tools means we love to work. Sometimes, even when it is so difficult, we must leave the tools we love and embrace the new ones. A modern web requires modern tools.

12:48 AM Permalink
August 2, 2012

IT and Creative Design Education in China

Hi All,

I am a new member of this community.   Thanks for Professor Tom Green who introduced me to the AEL program, and I’d like to share some experience with other members across the globe.

I am a lecturer of AnimationSchool, Shenzhen Polytechnic.  Our college is currently ranking at the top place in China’s polytechnic education system.  Every year, during the summer vocation, we hold training camp to teachers from other colleges across China.  So I believe what’s happening in our college is typically what’s going on in the whole ofChina’s college/Polytechnic education.

China is currently upgrading it’s industry.  Big cities like Beijing,Shanghai,Guangzhouand Shenzhen have moved manufacturing industries far away from the city.  More new spaces are rebuilt for IT, culture and creative industries.  The trend has driven colleges/universities to train more high quality students to satisfy company’s needs in human resource and skills.  The key question we keep asking ourselves is how our student can adapt the company’s need after graduation. 

I’ve summarised the method into the follow key points.

1. Investigate company’s need, establish connection with companies, particularly the leading companies of the industry.

2. Invite company staff to get involved in course syllabus design, to make sure what we teach is what companies wanted.

3. During teaching terms, we invite company technical key staff to give presentation to student on what’s happening in their daily work.  Sometimes we lead students to visit the company, experience the atmosphere. 

4. When designing a course/program, we try to design it as an integrated one rather than small pieces.   Teachers must work together to make sure the knowledge they teach is able to put together to workout something useful.  So when the student complete the whole program, they will be able to finish a completed work.   

5. Encourage students to find job/internship early.  Pay attention on their feedback.  To know if what we taught to them is useful or not.

I remember 4-5 years ago, many teaching staff here were highly focused on teaching the tools command by command.  The teaching content was largely functional oriented.  Student can only learn bits and pieces in the curriculum and they have to put the knowledge together by themselves.  The students by then were not interested in learning the software, and they were not sure what they can do with the software packages.  Later, the college authority realised this is not a very good way to teach, so they pretty much forced teaching staff to change to the new way of teaching. 

Looking back, I think inviting the company staff to join the development of new courses helps a lot.  First of all, they can give good suggestions on what’s useful and should be taught.  When the students doing their coursework, it has to simulate some typical work scenarios, so they understand the how and why.  The ultimate goal is to let student’s work be close enough to the real-world task. 

This type of teaching is becoming popular across China, but I think still the majority schools/colleges are sticking on the old way of teaching.  It needs time to promote.  

But nothing is perfect.  Many Chinese students lack of independence and novelty.  I think this is a very critical issue.  Partly it’s because of the Chinese culture, but more importantly is to do with the social atmosphere and some industry’s old traditions.  After all, Chinais still heavily relying on outsourcing project from overseas.  Imagine when you take other’s money and do the actually work under command, it doesn’t allow you to raise many ideas, no matter good or bad.    

So, I hope to do my work to patch it.  To lead the students look around the world, exchange ideas with other academics, and find more creativity via collaboration.   I guess the way I am doing is pretty new in China’s IT and creative design education.  Welcome to give any suggestions. 

Thanks for reading.

2:54 PM Permalink
June 4, 2012

Goin’ Down the Road: My Teaching Philosophy

My title alludes to Don Shebib’s iconic Canadian movie version of the Iliad—the classic account of the collective journey brought back from beyond the margins of the known—from the creature comfort of the status-quo or the cozy confines of the Hobbits’ shire, in the case of J.R. Tolkein’s novel, The Hobbit.

Teaching, for me, is a story of adventure, of audacity and derring-do. The complimentary aspect of teaching is, of course, learning and the two are mutually interdependent aspects of the same thing—a journey of transformation that, necessarily, brings tectonic shifts in our collective worldview that in turn changes the way we see ourselves and the way in which we engage the world. It is a process of invigoration whereby our lives are given deeper meaning and purpose.

I suppose I chose the awkward, Canadian version of this iconic journey for its allusion to the film whose lack of polish gives it a certain honesty and rawness that lacks the gloss of something that has been overly refined. Refinement and process for me are anathema to the sort of real and visceral learning that typically happens when we wade into uncharted territory—all else is sophistry and formulaic to my mind and this can be the source of some philosophical inconsistencies teaching in a Community College with its traditional emphasis on what the Sophists referred to as “techne.”

I am greatly influenced by the Greek philosophers and, although I derive inspiration from pioneers in holistic education like Rudolph Steiner, I am a Platonist at heart.

I see my role as a catalyst in the ongoing process of the personal transformation of those with whom I am privileged to share time along the path of an incredible adventure that leads us ever forward toward the unknown horizons of a shared dream. Along the way, we listen and help to draw out one another’s hopes, fears and dreams in order to facilitate the process of mapping the route that we have travelled and to reflect on that journey in order to provide a contextual narrative that will help to ground our decisions for setting course for new, uncharted shores. I embrace the wisdom of Poet Robert Frost in his classic “The Road Not Taken.”

I encourage my fellow travelers to be explorers as opposed to tourists—to eschew the proven, vicarious and rote in favour of the novel and risk-laden experiences that enrich the threads of one’s personal narrative and make life and learning interesting and engaging. I encourage trust—trust in oneself, in others and in the possibilities of meeting the unknown. Trust in oneself breeds confidence in one’s abilities to face the unscripted challenges of life. School can too often be nothing more than a “canned experience” that mitigates risk and seeks to contain and restrain by delivering standardized, routinized and predictable outcomes that are at odds with the unpredictable and intractable nature of everyday existence. Trust in others is an essential ingredient of our collective identity. It is the glue that binds us and enables us to do things collectively in a way that transcends the limitations of the individual and allows opportunities for our collective energies to be given sublime, concrete expression. It engenders a form of free and responsible citizenship whose greatest goods come from active participation in the co-creation and co-stewardship of the common good.

A long history in improvisational theatre has taught me the value of collaboration and the importance of both giving and receiving of offers of talent and ideas and how, when we collectively surrender our egos and allow for a space where co-creation can occur, the results can often be sublime. I have learned to accept that failure is an inevitable and important consequence of this sort of experimental and experiential approach to collective creation. I am not interested in what one knows, rather, I am more interested in learning about what we don’t know today—tomorrow and sharing in the process of how we achieved these insights—the narrative of the road. To that end, collaboration is an important dimension of the learning activities in my environment.

Teaching and learning for me constitute an environment that is complex and highly interdependent. It is a whole that transcends its mere constituent parts. It brings many entities into highly complex relationships that, when cultivated, help us to find who we are in these relationships and to experiment with different aspects of ourselves in relation. It is an ecology of deep personal—even spiritual growth and revelation that intertwines relationships forged in a communal search for meaning.

The ecosystem of learning is not limited to clichés of Teacher, Student, Class, School, etc.. I believe that it is an integral part of the broader social, political, psychological and spiritual ecosystem that serves as a space where all dimensions of our collective lives from the rote and banal activities of the everyday meld with our boldest experimentation, where failure and triumph, grieving and celebration meet one another with the sole purpose of allowing us to collectively dream of a brighter tomorrow and to set about investing in this belief through audacious creative endeavours that will bring our dreams to fruition.

The learning ecosystem is an economy of transformation that values the sharing of ideas and earnest effort as its currency. It is an engine of change that facilitates our collective migration from the status quo towards a more sublime ideal. It is a story that has been in the making since the dawning of humanity and one that we continue to write. It is a collective narrative that takes form in informal discussions with faculty and students, formal strategy and planning meetings within the institution, negotiations between management teams and union heads, assignment creation and execution, marking, revision, daily communications with all stakeholders, writing job and grant recommendations, counseling, performing and participating in surveys, posing and answering questions, listening, speaking up, advocating, admonishing, facilitating, meeting, joining, refreshing, participating, excelling, failing, observing, reporting, measuring, analyzing, phoning, emailing, SMSing, Facebooking, Ryppleing, Reaching out, liaising, apologizing, owning, etc..

The reductionist, hierarchal and categorical view of this economy of transformation that sees only teacher, learner, class, school, etc. is an anachronism of the industrial era—a mechanistic view of reality and is out of touch with the hyper-connected 24/7 internet age. The age of instant, ubiquitous and searchable knowledge challenges us to see ourselves in new ways, governed by new relationships in this new techno-cultural milieu. We have been radically interconnected to a degree where paradigms of time, place, authority and knowing take on a radically new dimension that I have heard referred to as a “digital pentacost” in reference to the Christian tradition where people are born into a new time wherein all nations share in the discovery of life changing spiritual vision that cannot be predicted or contained—allowing them to break from status quo ways of being and moving to a new ethic that embraced an open mind to the possibilities of the future. This was a time when traditional paradigms of knowing and communicating were superceeded by new (spiritual) abilities that could transcend barriers of time, space and even language.

We live in this time where embracing the comfort of the known ways of being and doing will certainly result in a continuation of our unsustainable destruction of our ecosystem and our very humanity. There is a pressing need for us to be brave enough and audacious enough to wander down a new path together and the teaching and learning environment can create the sort of climate that is appropriate for seeding such a transformation.

I don’t think that this is something that we can teach in the classic sense of filling the empty cup, rather it is a decision that we must invest in together on all levels by all stakeholders and that we must have courage to move quickly and decisively to walk the walk together and take “the Road not taken!”

To this end I have spent the last 9 years struggling with the challenges that our new ecosystem presents for teaching and learning. During that time I have worked on developing a teaching methodology dubbed RISK-based learning (Rapid Integration of Skills and Knowledge) that uses collective, crowd-sourced approaches to dealing with rapid technological change and its corollary of obsolescence. I have given over 12 presentations to University and College educators from Montreal to San Jose on this topic and was recognized with the McGraw-Hill Award for Innovation in Teaching & Learning in 2007. I have enjoyed the privilege of being an active member of both the Adobe Education Leaders and the Apple Distinguished Educators groups where we work to advocate best practices in the integration and use of technology in teaching and learning.

6:06 PM Permalink