More Evidence of a More Playful Society & A Really Bad Trip

Those who have seen my “Cracking the Code of the ‘Native’ Learning Experience” presentation are familiar with my theory that we have become a more playful society. We spend our cognitive surplus in more interesting ways than ever before. 59410 snowmg1 316x422Here is more evidence, a photo taken down Glenwood Avenue, just minutes after Brenda and I had driven through last Wednesday on our way toward a hotel near the Raleigh-Durham Airport. WRAL.com invited people to playfully add to the photo.  You can see a slideshow of the photo manipulations here.

This part was not fun.  Often, when snow is in the forecast and I’m flying out, I’ll stay in a hotel near RDU the night before so that I’m only a shuttle-ride away the next morning. It had only just started snowing when we left the house for what is usually a fifteen minute drive. Shortly after riding and pushing our sedan up and down Glenwood Avenue and seeing the gridlock that had already formed in the in-bound lanes, we decided that she would not be able to drive back home. So we went straight to the airport, parked the car, and set out looking for taxis, one to take her back to Raleigh and one to take me to my hotel. The hotel shuttle had stopped running, as had the contracted airport Lincoln Town Car taxi service.

Smaller taxi companies had come to the rescue, older green and yellow and electric red cars and minivans, mostly from Japan and driven by young men with exotic accents. Brenda got one of the early ones, headed for North Hills. I got one of the next ones, delivering folks to airport hotels. After two hours of pushing, both ours and many other cars around us, I was in my room, and after another hour, Brenda had been let off at North Hills, from where she walked the remaining mile+ to the house, and lucky to do so.

The next day, I learned that my flight, one of only two leaving RDU that day, had been delayed until 12:00 noon, messing up my connection in Atlanta. Lacking the confidence change my connection on the web (Brenda does that stuff), I called Delta to do the rescheduling for me and I got a new itinerary, keeping the first class seats Brenda had paid extra for out-of-pocket.

I took an early yellow and green cab to the airport, planning to spend the morning in the Delta Sky Club. It hadn’t occurred to me that the lounge might be closed for the snow. No problem though. We had the rest of the airport to relax in.

The plane out of Raleigh, which had been parked there for two days, ended out leaving around 2:00 PM, because they’d waited until nearly noon to start preparing it, as even the engine needed de-icing. Trying to board with a 1st class boarding pass, I was informed that they didn’t have me listed in their manifest, that the Delta agent I’d spoken with on the phone had mistakenly canceled that flight. They gave me the last seat left, 16A, right next to a Duck Dynasty-looking fellow with a sleeveless shirt and tattoo on his shoulder that said M-R-Ducks. The part about the tattoo a bit of an exaggeration, but the rest of this is true.

Of course my delayed delay out of Raleigh caused me to miss my rescheduled flight, but on landing in Atlanta, a very friendly agent told me that I had already been rebooked on a new flight, leaving in an hour and a half. I walked over to the Delta Ski Club there, only to discover that it was more crowded than the concourse. So I spent 45 minutes in the lobby of the club, talking with Brenda on the phone.

The flight on to Louisville was without incident and I was lucky enough to grab a Ford Fusion Titanium to drive over to the hotel. The next day my talks at the Sacred Hearts Campus in Louisville went very well, such a gracious audience, and thankful too. Brenda and I both had been keeping them updated on my adventures of the previous two days.

Flying out of Louisville the next day was only slightly complicated by more snow during the night, the slight delay leaving me only ten minutes to get from gate B24 to gate A20 for my connection in Atlanta. I made it, though I’m sure that at my age and size, running all that distance with luggage was not a pretty site.

The good news is that every once in a while, I will have a trip like that, where everything that can, does go wrong. And then, I’m charmed for the next 24 months or so.

So, may the remainder of my speaking trips be without incident, and leave me with only the best memories of this professional life as a vagabond educator.

Nc snow meme: Attack on glenwood ave [Web series episode]. (2014). In Slideshows. Raleigh, NC: Capital Broadcasting Company, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.wral.com/wral-tv/image_gallery/13392751/

 

Magnificence and Beauty

Taken over North Carolina, July 29, 2010

It’s like dreaming — so real, until you’re back on your feet and navigating your terrestrial world. But when I’m in the air, flying above the clouds, it is a different place, so removed and foreign from the environment that nurtured by growing. I’ve mentioned before that I was already middle-aged the first time I flew in an airplane.

But I was reminded of the magnificence and beauty this morning, when I slide my pocket Canon’s SD card into my MacBook Pro, and downloaded about 40 shots of Chris Lehmann’s keynote yesterday (I find I can get at least one good picture when I just lay down on the shutter button and let it go, click, click, click, click…)

I took several pictures of the cloud, from the plane window yesterday as we’d started our initial descent into Raleigh. It was a thunder boomer and there were lots of other thunder boomers in the area, though we had a conveniently clear corridor into RDU.

The sun, which had already passed beneath the horizon was evidently still high enough that it still shown directly on the very top of the cloud, producing this gold crown.

Sometimes I just have to shake my head at what molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles can shape themselves into. It’s magic!

The Perfect Conference Attire?

X-Ray View of the Scottevest.

One of the most continuous and vexing conversations that I have with myself is about how I am going to pack for this trip? I learned many years ago not to check luggage. It introduces an uncontrolled variable into the success of my work and an unnecessary addition to the stress of navigating my way from home to job and back.

But what I end out with is an airline compliant roller-board that is so densely packed and heavy that I’m constantly deal with strained elbow from whipping it up onto the conveyor belt at security, and a continuous (and person) quest for the perfect computer bag — one that facilitates the necessities of work and connectedness, yet prevents me from packing the erroneous and weighty devices that I want to take but never get around to using.

I may have found the solution, the ScotteVest. Those who’ve seen me present may have seen my poking fun at wearable computing — the clear plastic computer jacket from MIT and cell phone that you wear on your fingers. But this may actually be practical, a 22 pocket vest that will carry — well watch the first video.

What’s more, it’s iPad compatible.

Here are some videos that illustrate the many features of the Scottevest:

So what might we see as the definitive fashion statement at ISTE this year?

Added later: Evidently, Scott Jordan, of ScotteVest is fairly social media-concious. I started following some of the video links, clicked back to the web site, and found a fairly rich web of social connections, including Facebook, a Blog with associated vlog, a YouTube channel, twitter, LinkedIn, a Flickr site, and MySpace.

What was especially interesting was a video conversation he had with Apple. Jordan upload a video to YouTube demonstrating some of the problems he was having with his iPad. Shortly after he posted it and received a number of comments from viewers who were having the same problem, he was contacted by a tech person at Apple who walked through a few things, and then excused himself saying that he would have to schedule a time to get back and go through the issues in more detail — and would Jordan mind making his video private.  He did did, thanking the tech and praising Apple for its responsiveness. He got an email back from the tech guy saying he was having difficulty in scheduling a time and to be patient — and then nothing. Jordan put the video back up along with a followup video bringing us put to date.

I did not follow the thread any further, but it’s simply another example of the drama of social media and customer relations that are (and I don’t use the term very often) transparent.

Coming Home from Asia

Five Reasons Why I Love Incheon International Airport
By Catherine Bodry

I’m back in the Naver Cyber Cafe at Incheon Airport, outside of Seoul, Korea. I don’t know what the worlds most wired country is, but this is certainly the most wired place I’ve ever been. I walked through one of the gadget shops here at the airport and it was pretty much what you’d see at Best Buy, except shinier and smaller. They don’t have iPads yet, but they’ve got some pretty cool looking web appliances.

Even my cell phones 3G Internet access is fast, at least as fast as my Time Warner Internet at home. My plan was to spend some time this morning at the hotel enjoying surreal browsing speeds, but there was a fee, and my initial calculation was $89.44 USD for the first hour. I’m pretty sure that was wrong, but it’s pretty good here at the cyber cafe.

A learning commons area adjacent to the school library. All of the furniture was on wheels — even the bookcases. I’m pretty sure this was Concordia School in Shanghai

It’s been a great week of working with educators at International schools from Asia and the Middle East. This is where I get pushed the most. It’s an interesting paradox, where you have educators who, for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is a sentiment that leads them to an ex-pat lifestyle), are naturally creative, innovative, and adventurous risk takers. Then, on the other hand, they teach students from families who have been successful and probably consider the traditional, academically rigorous, possibly Ivy League education that they enjoyed at least a big part of the reason why — and they naturally want the same for their children.

This conflict came out most clearly, as I read through and commented on the backchannel I had running during my keynote at the EARCOS middle school principals event. It pushed me a lot to re-examine aspects of my message.

Still, many of these schools grow and innovate. I can see two other reasons for this.

  • First, they have money. No-brainer. They teach the children of highly successful people, who can afford and are eagerly willing to pay a price for the curriculum they want for their children.
  • But number two is more interesting. Someone suggested to me that part of it was the transient nature of the schools’ staff. I’ve learned over the years that international educators typically work at a school for about 5 years. Being adventurers, they’re read for a new frontier. But the schools also desire that type of turnover, because new teachers bring with them new ideas. School becomes stale when the same teachers teach there year after year.

There’s one other idea I’d like to share here before I head over to my gate (and 15 hours in the air). Several times I heard people say and read in the backchannel,

Our curriculum is the contract with our parents.

It seems a powerful arrangement to me. Parents want their children in this school because of what and how children learn there. How much they learn is certainly an implied part of the contract. But it’s the actual nature of the learning that they expect. I never really knew what my children were learning — not really. I knew that they were learning to read and write and perform basic math. But the curriculum was never a part of the conversations I had with my children (try it. It can’t be done) and their teachers, and it was certainly not part of the up-front contract. Their schools were very slow to adopt web based classroom to home communication and it may be much better now. But it’s the statistics that are collected at the end of the year that fulfills the contract — and I do not see this getting better fast enough.

Odysseies of Learning

http://2009-odyssey.blogspot.com/

My friend, Janice Friesen, recently spent five weeks traveling throughout the Mediterranean.  Her husband is a religious studies scholar, and I assume this had something to do with the trip.  As part of the experience, Janice (an instructional technologist in Austin, Tx.) kept a blog describing what they were seeing and learning.  Before leaving, she invited social studies classes to monitor and discuss what she was writing.

I’ve read through parts of it, post excursion, and it’s fascinating.  The Mediterranean an area of the world that I have only glanced at (Barcelona, 1997), but would love to tour. 

What’s more, I see this sort of thing as a potentially motivating way to get students to talk about and challenge themselves to learn more about a region — by reading travel blogs.  When covering Roman life, the class might read those entries and then generate some questions from what Janice has seen and been motivated to write about.  Then, through discussion, the questions can be refined into research tasks and then, perhaps, personal blog writing, about digital tours.

You can read Janice’s blog at: http://2009-odyssey.blogspot.com/

Powered by ScribeFire.