2014 Kiwi Tour: Round 2 of 2 at AUT

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It’s Thursday. I have presented every day last week and this week, and here is the finish line. Today we returned to downtown Auckland for a followup to Tuesday’s talks at Auckland University of Technology.

A good start was a flat white with Thom Cochrane and Vickel Narayan at Remedy coffee house. I could see going to a spot like that on a regular basis.

The first session was actually only half mine; they asked me to give feed back to some project presentations– they were billed as Pecha Kucha style, though none of them used the format. Those nice Kiwis, they let it slide. And its okay because I got a lot out of hearing about these other projects. More than I get by yacking.

I’m relying on my tweets for notes.

First up was Ben Tuhoe Kenobi, who is part of the AUT Colab — I bet he relies on the middle name to try and dispel the Star Wars puns. But he’s really into games and hacker culture and share with us his efforts on creating community and opportunity around games with PIGsty where that’s Play Interactivity and Games Studio. He told me the story over lunch of the unintended way the acronym developed, that it was almost a joke but his supervisor said go with it.

Ben had so many projects to tell, and many of them, because of being highly interactive, don’t convey themselves in a slide deck. I suggested opening with a demo or using more video — like the Colab live drawing timelapse video

Or this one demoing a face tracker (The MOA is the name for the mobile video rack they use a lot to bring into spaces)

Also it’s really hard to get info from PIGsty in Google+, its not really organized.

Next Adrienne Moyle @AdrienneMoyle from the Auckland University shared her efforts as part of a large multi-institutional AKO project (Aotearoa National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence) Learners and mobile devices (#NPF14LMD): A framework for enhanced learning and institutional change:

There are two significant gaps in current knowledge about learners and mobile devices. Firstly, ‘net-generation’ learners do not automatically apply the functionality of their devices to the attainment of deep learning outcomes. Secondly there is a lack of studies on integration of findings from m-learning research into sustainable change in curriculum, policy and infrastructure. The project will address these gaps through a range of methods and approaches as outlined below. The key deliverable for the project is a range of practical strategies for students, teachers and leaders to utilise the affordances of mobile devices for pedagogical transformation and empowering learners.

There looks like a lot of community building forming going on in this project and it will be interesting to see how they use mobile/social media to loosely connect it.

The next presentation was by Hugo Goodson on the use of social media in paramedicine

This tied in nicely to a question I had about open sharing from a nursing faculty at Victoria University Wellington about how paramedics can share what is most valuable from their real experiences without it infringing on privacy of patients. What they do in the field is so useful for teaching, and Hugo is experimenting with encouraging parademics to use Google+ and Facebook as a place to do this.

I was wondering if instead of capturing live action in video, if they did something like professional sporting events, where athletes can give commentary like a post game show — they can talk about the experience almost in the moment without necessarily filming it all. I also shared the Microsoft innovations on Hyperlapse video where long drawn out shaky go pro can be made smoother and more of a consumable experience. Maybe a GoPro that could be silenced by voice command?

It’s encouraging to see how much R&D is going on here at AUT!

Then it was my turn to open up the StoryBox

Someone put a photo of my showing the Storybox IN the Storybox

Someone put a photo of my showing the Storybox IN the Storybox

As usual, I sent the audience out first to collect media and waited until they were back to have them connect to the box and upload. It really would take at least a 2 hour session to get to the remix and creating from the box, and I am going to be thinking about how that can be done.

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After lunch and as my closing act for this trip, I got once again to talk about the best thing on the internet.

Of course people love it, especially when you show a lot of examples of student / participant work. They seem to grasp the idea of a course structure that mimics the form of the internet. There were the questions of copyright, and how to get students to understand it. My two approaches in talking about is are:

  • Students are not going to embrace Creative Commons based on my extolling its virtues up front. So I weave into their work assignments that call for them to both provide attribution for their work and use resources that are licensed. The hope is, and sometimes the outcome, that after benefitting form the richness of what is shared, they might get the idea about giving back. A few do.
  • And rather trying to scare students about “getting in trouble” or “sued over copyright”, I share how my hope is that students get a takedown notice from Youtube. It’s a prime moment to talk about this situation. I want them to ask if its right. And then I can make suggestions- they can of course circumvent by posting on vimeo, but that does not address the problem. I think its worthwhile to file a YouTube appeal. It’s actually easy. I’ve been way more successful than not. And then its a point to ask them how critical the song/clip is, about ways to express the message w/o copyrighted stuff. But yes, to me its a golden opportunity when students get hit by the issue, rather then us trying to “protect” them from it.

And that was it for the day! We had a lovely dinner at Thom’s country home, so far south I felt like I was going back to Hamilton. He makes an outrageously good pizza. Amazingly, I was so busy eating pizza, I never took any photos.

The next day was another sunny stunner, and I had a good trip down to Auckland via a ferry to spend some time city wandering (and have a nice lunch with a sibling of an ed tech friend)

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In case I had any trouble finding home, I saw a walking map. I was tempted to jab the dude at the location of Strawberry and say “THAT”S MY HOME!”

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From one tired dog to another (Hallo Kay), it’s been a whirlwind tour, and its winding me home.

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2014 Kiwi Tour: Up North to Northtec

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Each day so far this week has required a one hour earlier wakeup time. I shall protest (politely) this trend (just kidding, Richard!). Today back to 5:30 because of the 2 hour drive from Auckland to Northtec in Whangarei (that’s “Wh” as in “F”). Northtec might be thought of as close to a community college, but in addition to certificates and diplomas, they offer undergraduate programs as well, many of them in occupational area. I think they have like 60 locations all over the region north of Auckland.

I have to say they had me at their program (pictured above), the idea of Vasi Doncheva and her team. She totally went with the storytelling theme (see the PDF version), drawing campfire, watering hole, and cave from Thornburg’s Campfires in Cyberspace: Primordial Metaphors for Learning in the 21st Century. I mean that- go check it out it has all the references linked.

Sadly I did not get to meet Vasi, she was called to a meeting in Hamilton, but I was left in more than capable hands of Jane Arlidge.

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I was told the schedule might be up in the air given than most of the staff were off because it was school holidays. But we had a very active crew that did show up.

They had me at the first walk in to the meeting room. Gareth had arranged an analog campfire, an electric fan with red and yellow cellophane attached as flames.

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This again was a day that started with my overview of Storythinking > Storymaking > Storytelling

They were participatory, asking questions, taking us on tangents in the first 5 minutes. There was a really good discussion on storytelling in nursing, and I can tell that there is just a lot of really grounded teaching experience from the faculty that are in the room.

This round of pechaflickr was on the tag “muddy” (I forget how we even got to that as a word) and this might have been the best crew I have seen to carry the thread from the previous person, and circling back to a recurring theme (I believe it was a dog of all things).

I think they liked it.

We also got in a round of Five Card Flickr Stories with a group authored story of “Message in a Bottle”.

A few days later I heard from a NorthTec teacher:

I used your five card flickr platform to inform a speaking session in my English Second Language class this morning. We did a whole session based around random picture storytelling. The first three rounds we worked on as a class, each student taking a turn to add something to the story. On many occaisions, students were all trying to add something at the same time. The last round we did, I had the students choose the pictures, then write their own story to share with the class. We had lots of laughter, lots of language and lots of learning.

The Storybox then came out and enjoyed some time in the sand pit

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I sent them out of the room with the quest to find media for it, and I got a bot concerned they might not return. It’s because they were having too much fun finding, making images. What’s interesting is that i do not explicitly say “you can work together” so its interesting to see how many people do end up collaborating.

And a good sign of a workshop is when the classroom is empty and the participants are outside making stuff

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A few examples of media that snuck out of the storybox contributed in this session

Two Guys 14 Fish

Two Guys 14 Fish

This is some kind of response for "a smile"

This is some kind of response for “a smile”

This could be a "friendship" shot; this work truck was sitting outside the meeting room

This could be a “friendship” shot; this work truck was sitting outside the meeting room

There again was a lot of good conversation about potential use cases for the Storybox. As usual, people are intrigued by it, but never quite get the big Aha about what one might do with it. A definite appeal I did hear was how it might be deployed in places without internet access.

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After another standing/chatting lunch, I asked them to help with a favor requested by Viv Rolfe in the UK- she was working on a remix video related to Richard Hall’s professorial talk, and asked people to send a recording of a long drawn out “LOL” (I am still not quite sure the connection). I decided to ask them for help, and oh did they, recording quite a protracted chorus.

You should catch Viv’s wonderful video

The afternoon ended up more of an open discussion of openness and sharing and issues of copyright and more topics I am now struggling to remember. Sigh. I wish I had managed to blog it in the moment!

I had a marvelous time with this crew, they were very present but also willing to have a bit of fun. My kind of folks.

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And you know what? Utopia may be closed for renovations but if you go up the road to Whangarei you will find something better.

2014 Kiwi Tour: Round 1 of 2 at AUT

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Tuesday brought a glorious blue sky day to go into Auckland again, today to do sessions at Auckland University of Technology. My contact/host today was Thom Cochrane, who like Claire Donald yesterday, I first got to know in my 2004 visit to UNITEC (my scheduling of return flight was bad in that I missed by one day seeing Mark Northover, whom I’ve known from previous visits and has also come here to Arizona).

We met up with Thom in his regular spot to start his day, a hip coffee shop named “Remedy” down on Queen Street. Today’s brew was a long black. Very strong.

The first session was one not exactly done before, but drew on parts of Being On/Of The Web and Beyond the MOOC Hyper: Open Connected Courses. Thpm’s title as he posted it, Affordances of the Open Web

This spoke to me to draw in a bit of Donald Norman’s Design of Everyday Objects to talk about affordances from a design sense- the way the design of real world things suggest their function (and give feedback).

This led me to start with a collection flickr tagged photos of shower interfaces that seem to require a bit too much text to describe how to use them.

I used a set of quotes about open from Nancy White (“openness is an attitude”) and Davide Wiley (“open facilitates the unexpected”), but new this time around, added one from Catherine Cronin’s ALTC talk Navigating the Marvellous: Openness in Education:

“…Although we can connect and interact within both physical spaces and bounded online spaces, we cannot easily share what we are doing with a wider audience, nor can we invite our networks into our learning community. The message remains: what we do here is separate from all else we do. Formal learning is divorced from rather than integrated with informal learning practices and networks.”

Then it was trying my arm wave about the distributed network structure designed by the internet creators, and how ds106 and other “connected course” leverage that model – it is what the web is made of. There’s also the thing where I show sequence of simple symbols leading into


I pose these as questions to see what people come up with; I suggest that much of what we see as online, even open learning as a lock at the entrance door, even be it just a login.

Then it was a flyby of a collection of open distributed aggregated courses, leaving with an arm twist to participate in Connected Courses.

Then it was a break for lunch and conversation. Thom gave me a tour of the center he runs at AUT that supports a lot of experimentation and development in mobile and social technologies. I’m not sure I got a cleat answer why his computer was quarantined

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It might not be representative, but I’ve been noticing at these events that during meals people tend to stand and talk in small groups. It’s not for a lack of chairs, but my hunch is they enjoy moving around and talking in groups. Just a guess. I enjoyed listening to Dee (?) who is and works with Maori projects in mobile/social media. She told me all through their history, the Maori were quick adopters of new technologies and shared that the usage rates of mobile technology is very high across the Maori people. I was curious if there were any non mainstream social spaces that were popular, but it sounds like Facebook is the big player there.

After lunch, I did 2 more hours of Storythinking > StoryMaking > Storytelling

This might be one of the talks I’ve done the most. I had always thought I would get tired doing a talk over and over, but it’s never quite the same, and these last few have gotten something added. removed, refined each time. I’ve added more video examples to show the elements of storytelling, and have to admit, that while I have seen them many times, now, the Google Nexus one and the Budweiser Puppy one still hits me emotionally. That is the thing people pick up on when I compare two examples.

But you know what also works really well? The first element I talk about is the importance of a powerful opening, “a once upon a time” that pulls you in, and Frederick Brown’s Knock is a gem, plus it shows a story can be just 2 sentences AND it shows the power of an unexpected twist. I totally owe this one to Bryan Alexander.

There was a lot of really good discussion and commentary from the group. After going through the idea of stories having a shape, I ask how that story shape might play out in other forms of communication. I often ask about using that structure in an email or a presentation. There was a really good one shared by (??) Abbie (he said it was a nickname) a graduate student who said he used an approach like a story shape in the way he framed feedback to students.

Wow, I am using that one in the future. Like tomorrow.

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We did a round of pechaflickr with maybe 28 people participating. They chose the tag “vampire” and it did not disappoint! Two people got stumped when an airplane showed up (it’s a British fighter jet). It’s really fun to be able to give them examples from their own participation about adding elements to the shared story not in the photos, and how people do (or do not) manage the handoff when the photos change.

Another full day, another great group of educators met. I return here Thursday for more.

And at the end of day? Ahhhhhh

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2014 Kiwi Tour: The Auckland University

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Monday. In Auckland. This means morning alarm clocks, dressing up, getting in the car, and going downtown. Hey, is this A JOB?


It’s a visit to The Auckland University, for the first of 4 speaking days in the area. This campus sits at a beautiful perch above the dowtown area, the middle part nestled amongst a park, and crowned by the classic citadel, a clock tower. It includes the Old Governor’s House, and a bunch of other buildings. On the other side of a thick rock wall, you find modern glass and steel campus facilities.

In the morning we met Claire Donald at the offices of CleAR, the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education. The last time I saw her, it was 2004 when she was at UNITEC.

For the morning session, Claire invited me to do a session for a Course in (Re)Design for Active Learning that included staff and graduate students; they had expressed in interest in the Storybox and we got a longer time slotted for this than my other sessions, so we not only got to do the activity of putting media into it, but a rich discussion of what its potential might be.

My memory will fuzz here, but some of the questions they had sent me earlier included:

What is the role of context, more specifically the lack of it, when interpreting a time capsule, and how the process of compiling one could be a powerful learning process in a variety of courses (e.g. determining what is salient and how to communicate this accurately to an unknown, uninitiated audience)?

What does a learning or teaching artefact communicate when stripped of its context? How do we choose artefacts, or recontextualise them, to communicate authorial (i.e. our) intent?

If we furnished students with these, could the recorded context support their interpretation of their deliberate measurements and observations? Could, for instance, an ecology student record all of birdsong, wind, vegetation and topography, and play through them again and again, unavoidably concurrent, to grasp a Gestalt not attained by summing the individual parts?

There were ideas about having perhaps the StoryBox not be a short term experiment, but maybe set up as an installation in a classroom (or museum space) so there was an planned, ongoing series of activities the called for sharing in and out of the box.

(note, my tired brain is totally missing a lot of the discussion here, so I am leaving it hoping for some neural rekindling later)

I was able to go a bit further and show them the build in Imageboard and the baby wiki I installed on the box.

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After lunch we got a special visit to a unique spot in the building- the top floor apartment which belonged to the original owner of the building. It’s been refurbished with a kind of private Victorian era parlor club, and its views are insanely beautiful.

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After a walk across campus, I got set up for my afternoon talk (after a bit of confusion over a double booking of the room), a repeat of the Shar-E-Fest keynote, Being On/Of the Web

There is an audio recording of it.

This version included at the end the bit that happened to me this week with my photo and catfishing — mostly to show (I hoped) that they way to counter this kind of evil/malice on the web is to use the affordances of the web itself.

I think it was in this session that someone asked a question about what happens to our digital presence after we are no longer alive. I spoke about some of the web services meant to keep your digital presence present– later Claire sent me a sad story that just played out the day after my talk. Jared Noel is was a yound doctor diagnosed with cancer.

In his Boredom Blog (tagline “When Chemotherapy gives you too much time on your hands…”) he’s been quite open about sharing his efforts to deal with the disease. His health care did not cover an experimental drug that was thought could extend his life, so an internet appeal raised the hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for it; plus, in his last year he became a father.

Jared passed away the day someone asked about the question of who will maintain all our digital “stuff”– it looks like Jared wrote his last post and wanted his site to remain present after he was gone.

Jared passed away this morning, peacefully, at home, surrounded by love. This final blog post was written on 25 September when it was clear to Jared and all close to him that his time was nearing an end. To those who have followed this blog from the beginning or picked up along the way – thank you for journeying with Jared, for your camaraderie and encouragement. Sharing this journey gave Jared more purpose and fulfilment than can be expressed in words. We are so proud of him in every way and grateful for the immense love he brought to our lives. We will miss him always. Hannah and Elise.

From Jared

On Wednesday 8th October 2014, I passed away at 1125 hours.

The time leading up to my death was mixed with days of feeling well and days of feeling pretty terrible. I am thankful that we only have to go through this process once in our life. I would have liked to have written more leading up to my death but the reality was that the medication and my state of mind made it impossible to write coherent statements and turn them into phrases and paragraphs.

This reminded me of Derek Miller, a brilliant and openly sharing Vancouver photographer who I got to know through the Northern Voice conferences. Derek was diagnosed with cancer too, and blogged all through his chemo and efforts to stay alive. And like Jared, Derek and made plans for his last post and wanted his site kept open after he passed on.

His site is a legacy, and lives on at http://www.penmachine.com/:

Here it is. I’m dead, and this is my last post to my blog. In advance, I asked that once my body finally shut down from the punishments of my cancer, then my family and friends publish this prepared message I wrote—the first part of the process of turning this from an active website to an archive.

If you knew me at all in real life, you probably heard the news already from another source, but however you found out, consider this a confirmation: I was born on June 30, 1969 in Vancouver, Canada, and I died in Burnaby on May 3, 2011, age 41, of complications from stage 4 metastatic colorectal cancer. We all knew this was coming.

So there it is. This stuff matters. Facebook will not care about keeping your presence alive, other will other web services. They are ready to flush the data ASAP.

It’s on you to preserve your bits and memories. But don’t take my words as gospel, maybe consider what an eminent doctor wrote

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2014 Kiwi Tour: Weekend at Nigel’s

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A fitting end to the first week of the tour. Five days, 4 locations, 2 cities, 13 presentations. And now for a break in the action, a chance to catch up (whatever that means) sleep late (sort of) and relax at my friend/host Nigel Robertson’s home in Hamilton. The sessions Friday were at his spot, University of Waikato, and we toasted that with some Good George brew at the campus pub.

The plans for the trip included both the front end weekend (before the talks) at Nigel’s as well as this middle weekend, I imagine chances to tour around, hike, etc. I did not count on getting to New Zealand in the middle range of a marathon running cold, so the first weekend was squelched with me being kind of sick, and the second with me kind of tired.

Still, we enjoyed home cooked food, and just relaxing, being kept well anointed with a stream of Nigel’s eclectic beer collection. On Saturday morning I had a wonderful breakfast meetup at “Jacks” with Friends Jenny and Terry, who I last saw here in Hamilton when I did a talk at Wintec in 2004

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We’ve still not sorted out when, but think it was 2002 or 2003 that they came and visited me in Strawberry, when Terry had a business trip somewhere out West.

Then Nigel and family took me out for a visit to Raglan, starting with a fine Roti lunch at a place called “The Shack”. I had learned at my breakfast that Jenny and Terry had taken me to Raglan in 2004 but I had no memory at all.

We started hiking from a parking area where we went through some bush and over the ridge to the beach; but at the top of the ridge the rain busted out and we took shelter in a somewhat enclosed metal barn. The rain let up (as it does) and we found that the back of the barn had a huge graffiti message of “Shark Gong”, here nicely placed at the end of the rainbow

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We made it across to the view over the beach, and the rain returned; once again we took shelter (this time in the resttooms). After that, we made our way down to the black sand beach, and the sky then opened up clear. The surf was crazy crazy rough

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Right after the place where Nigel’s son played on this big rock…

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.. he got stranded on a higher pile of a large log; a series of two huge waves crashed in amd almost went over the boy. It was a bit scary for all.

Once home, it was again and relaxed night of food, beer, music, and looking up weird facts on the web. Yep. I had given Nigel a special Arizona treat; a lollipop with a scorpion inside, which Gus made a big show of eating. He also got curious about the Storybox, and even tossed in a few pictures before I left Sunday

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Nigel then drove me back to Auckland, where I would be based for the second week of the trip. That was the weekend of recharge, and by the end, pretty much the droop and dreck of the cold had gone away, where0ever is the place they go.

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I really appreciated and cherished the conversations and low key time spent with Nigel and his family, adding to the long list of my internet friends whom I’ve shared spaces and memories with in their homes. That’s been a real (like genuine) rich part of my experiences. And I am lining up more.

Now… on to week 2.

2014 Kiwi Tour: University of Waikato

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Yes, praise be the Flat White coffee. When I arrived in New Zealand my first trip in 2000, jet lagged like a wet dog, I lurched into a coffee shop and asked for a coffee. When they asked me what kind of coffee I wanted, I was stumped. Then I had my first Flat White, later short blacks, long blacks, etc… I think Aoterea might man Land of the Warm Flat White.

Friday of my first week of Shar-E-Fest Tours brought me to the University of Waikato, arriving with Nigel Robertson (I have been staying at his home in Hamilton). We stopped at his office in the Waikato Center for eLearning where I was warmly greeted by Tracey Morgan and their colleague Troy. While Nigel went to organize logistics for the morning meeting, Tracey and Troy took me down to the student center for a precious… flat white.

I cannot recall the context (it had something to do with music we liked in high school), I got a little kiwi education about the culture of “Bogans” Apparently someone they knew did a dissertation on Bogan Culture.

Because PhDs.

This was all in fun, of course.

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The morning session Nigel had coordinated was a format a really liked, because it was not just me yacking and clacking over slides. He made my visit one of the sessions of the Waikato Teaching Network meetings. This is interesting to me as I often note in my visits to campuses that there seems to be little time we devote as educators to having discussions about the ways we teach- not just the whats and hows but the whys. The network is described

The network is a group of University staff who meet approximately six weekly to contribute to discussions around aspects of teaching practice. While a topic is advertised prior to the meeting, there is also a sharing time that allows for staff to raise issues for subsequent discussion. Topics have included ways of recognising and providing evidence of good teaching; finding a balance between teaching and research; raising the profile of teaching, including in the structures of the university; providing formative evaluation of teaching; and working smarter not harder.

The format we had talked about was breaking the 2 hour block into equal sections (after mingling and munching tiny sandwiches, that is important, it left abut 30 minutes per topic) (one observation after attending a few of these events with food here in New Zealand. People stand up and eat- this way they do move around and mingle).

The setup was that I might introduce a topic for maybe ten minutes and move it into a discussion with the participants (see the flyer). The topics Nigel suggested were:

  • Openness/sharing — I did the basic setup and idea of True Stores of Open Sharing)
  • Hands on Storytelling activity — we did a round of pechaflickr
  • Overview of ds106 — of course not humanly possible in 10 minutes!

We went long on the first topic, but hit some interesting ground about obstacles to sharing and the concerns over “giving it all away”. As expected, they really ran wild with pechaflickr:

Again, it worked to point out how some people are able to add elements to their spoken part that are not literally in the images. We also took time to make conjectures about why photos are tagged with “teaching” and the metaphors or ways teaching is shown in imagery. There was some interesting gently pull and tug with an instructor who “wanted to know how to assess this activity” and could not see a direct way to plug it into his curriculum. Others in the room filled in the answers much better than I could.

I ended up doing a speed tour of ds106 in the last 15 mintes, but hey, they have a local champion here in Nigel.

The afternoon started with my talk on Storythinking > Storymaking > Storytelling which is my grab bag of “What works” or what’s effective for digital/web storytelling

This talk is one I am in a groove on right now, and has progressed (I think) far from the ones I did before on 50 Web Ways to Tell a Story.

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After that we did a hands on session with the Storybox. Maria (left in the photo) wins the prize for the most bouncy in the chair excitement. Before I even finished introducing the concept of a digital time capsule, she had already connected to the box and was uploading media.

In the box was some rather coordinated shoe arrangement:


One of the best things recorded was a maniacal laugh from a librarian (this session was held in a library classroom, in the “way back”). I was watching when it was recorded, and I knew I would use this in a demo remix I made that might (see the end of Librarian Power)).

There was a guy in the back I could tell wanted to ask a lot of questions. And I am so glad I got ones from WG. He did suggest my use of prompts was skewing the collection range of the images. I agree and also am going to say “I needed to use something.” And we talked about students who have their preferred media mode of learning. But WG was asking pointed questions in the genuine sense of curiosity, not the chest pumping head games you see some academics do.

Here is where my brain is fuzzy on the other topics that came up. And I ought to get some sleep.

Of we did end the day on a proper note:

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Thanks again Nigel and crew!

PS: for what its worth, I am compiling an index to all of the sessions and related materials at http://cogdog.wikispaces.com/Sharefest+2014



As Cogdogblog awoke one morning from uneasy dreams it found itself transformed in its posts to something else.

Not at all an insect.

But absolutely changed.

If only he could remember how to blog.

Surely it was not difficult.

Surely there was a Manual.

Surely there was a Professional Development Seminar by a World Known Leader.

If only he could remember why he blogged.


He went back in time, or in his head in time. There was a place. A building lacking decor. A building lacking a center. A building with no soul. No one lingered in the lobby. It lacked even a water cooler

The windows were shiny.

But his desk at least was situated under a window.

Dull black machines blinked on the grey laminated desk. Attention must be paid. Protocols were posted. Process reviews were regular.

He functioned. He was the poster of productivity

He did not dream.

Dreams did not exist.

People woke up as people. They went to work in their gray pleated suits, traveling aboard gray pleated trains.

Coffee was served in regular portions.

Coffee was not permitted at the desk.

Coffee instead did the dreaming.


He showed up as usual at 9am on a Tuesday.

The building was gone.

Instead he bought a ticket to Morocco.

The change in light, the tenor of spice, the volume of laughter might have invigorated some one.

Instead he worried about small pieces of cake.


The fire broke out in the receptionists area. Everyone looked at him slyly because he always held a lit cigarette. But he know, as well, that the receptionist would sneak a puff in the supply room. One knows their own kind.

But she was no where to be found.


Instead, the fire department showed up, carrying woodwind instruments.

At least order had been restored.

Once the trucks rolled away, spewing diesel exhaust on the spectators, he pulled his office chair from the charred wreckage. It lost one wheel, but could be balanced against the remaining bricks of the rear garage. Crows circled overhear, completely bored.

But hey, flight is always a thrill.

At last he had something to blog about.

This thing, it was done.


My blog has been *ensored. This is done in fun, Simon! I think a future DailyConnector might be to blog in the style of someone else in Connected Courses.

2014 Kiwi Tour: Victoria University of Wellington

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Day two in Wellington took us up to the top of the Terrace, where the Victoria University of Wellington is perched. A bit of traffic direction confusion provided a detour though downtown, a place I have wandered before, but we were on track once spotting the beehive shape of Parliament (hey I took a photo here back in 2000)

We met up with Stephen Marshall, who looks marvelous in a bit of Navajo decoration

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

The sessions they had requested for me in both the morning and afternoon were related to storytelling. In the morning I did my newly remade “what works” in digital storytelling, Storythinking > Storymaking > Storytelling

I’ve filled it out more with examples to demonstrate principles, such as comparing the differences between two technology product commercials, but one has a more “storified” approach; compare


As always, Kurt Vonnegut’s Shape of Stories video goes over well. I love pointing out how brilliantly he brings the point home using the presentation technology of a blackboard and chalk.

Also new in the mix is are video examples shown in the Budweiser Puppy Love video, where the dramatic tension is first edited out.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

In the second hour I had the entire room do a round of pechaflickr; I like asking the group to each take a turn, but I also give anyone the option to not participate. One man in the back opted out (others told me he is one of the funniest people around) as he wanted to observe. I realized later how right it is to not force people to participate, they should always opt in (he thanked me after).

They chose the tag “viking” which did well for providing a good mix pf pictures. I have taken to noting as it goes around, when people augment the picture with something not literal, and at least 3 people (group size was 24) did it in this round.

This of course always goes over well, and totally changes the energy level in the room. I like to start with this in other sessions, but it worked good as a bridge from the more presentational part to something more active.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Next I introduced the Storybox and sent the group out to gather media, then showing them after how to contribute back to it. Again, because we had about 35 minutes, we mostly got to the adding part and not much into the examining/creating part.

Some sneak peaks of media, a lot of people follow the suggestion for a photo of shoes, several in imaginative formations– wouldn’t the future people of the world be able to tell something about life in 2014 from it’s footwear?

Eight Shoe Lineup-- a peek nside the Storybox

Eight Shoe Lineup– a peek nside the Storybox

The mysterious black garbed person

The mysterious black garbed person

Following a fine lunch in the campus cafe, my afternoon session was the whirl wind tour The ds106 Files: Outbreaks of Infectious and Open Acts of Creativity, an augmentation of the first version spotted a year ago in Alaska

I try to give a sense of the benefit of the distributed/aggregated architecture, the lovely syndication bus, and why we make this choice to have people publish, reflect, and create in the spaces they manage. In other sessions about it as a mode of a Connected Course, I have been trying to make a distinction between how we feel in a room we rent (a hotel) and a room we live in (our own homes).

There was a lot of energy and excitement about the Assignment Bank. I’d like to be able one day to do more with the part we tend to do least with, the ds106 inSPIRE. This was the brilliant concept developed by two student’s in Jim’s class in Spring 2012 — a place for participants to nominate the work of others that have “inspired” them. Fleshed out, you can cultivate a “best of ds106″ (or whatever course it is) as picked not by the instructors, but the participants.

I was inspired by a flyer I saw in the hallway:

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

“Change the Web: Change the World. Can you make a difference through digital technologies?”

I hope the answer is yes.

It was then off to the Wellington airport for a return flight to Hamilton, quite the bumpy affair with a high windstorm coming in to visit. There was this weird guy looming in the airport, he might be involved in some local industry

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

This was a super fast breeze through of Wellington, not giving it nearly the attention worth its attractions. I had hopes of visiting the Reserve Bank Museum of New Zealand where they have a working version of the MONIAC, an analog based computer developed by New Zealander Bill Philipps in the late 1940s.

But we ran out of time.

I will be baccccccccccccck.

2014 Kiwi Tour: Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

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(From almost a week ago, hoping to catch up on the blog back log blogging)

After the end of the Tuesday sessions of the Shar-E-Fest conference in Hamilton, Richard (my host, driver, and handler) drove us to the lovely small airport where we boarded a plane to Wellington, about an hour by the beats of the propellers. It was a cloudless day and dramatic to be over the rugged hills and mountains, not to mention flying into a city that is sprinkled like sugar crystals on the craggy hills overlooking the sea.

We stayed over in a quaint Motel in Petone, just across the street from the beach, and near where the Hutt River empties into the Harbor. There were plenty of good choices to eat on Jackson Street, we found a great Vietnamese place. I swam laps in a bowl of noodle soup. I spotted the country of Brew Zealand, a fine sounding place to live.

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog
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Automated WordPress Blog Comment Spam Emptying

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by maol

Frequent words I heard as a kid was reminding me of my household chore– “TAKE OUT THE TRASH!!!”

I’m finally getting around to doing it regularly.

Even with Akismet running on this blog, I have seen it accumulate more than 1000 trapped spams per day, and by the time the count hit 10k, the WordPress interface hung on how long it too to empty the spam odored trash. The only way to clean out was to jump into the database via phpMyAdmin, and manually run an SQL command.

I finally decided to set up a cron script to do this, and here is how I did it via my Reclaim Hosting cpanel (I await some technowiz to tell me how bad my approach is). I am essentially doing a command line database query to empty the comments marked as spam (the ones that Akismet IDs as spam).

To do this you will need info that is stored in your wp-config.php file on your server- they will look something like:

// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define('DB_NAME', 'mygroovydatabase');

/** MySQL database username */
define('DB_USER', 'trickyusername');

/** MySQL database password */
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'X4somehiglhycryptic8password');

  • the name of your wordpress database (below referred to as DB_NAME)
  • the user name that logs into your wordpress database (DB_USER)
  • a password for that database user (DB_PASSWORD)

The thing you are looking for in your cpanel is Cron Jobs down in the Advanced Section

Finding the Cron Jobs

Finding the Cron Jobs

When you add a new cron job, you need to choose how often it will run. Mine is every day at 4am; but a more reasonanle setting might be as shown below, every other day at 3am

add new cron job

The command is the big deal here. Mine looks like this, you will have to fill in your own values (no quotes) for DB_NAME, DB_NAME, and DB_PASSWORD (and make it all one one line, I broke mine up so you can see it)

  --database=DB_NAME -Bse 
  "DELETE FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_approved = 'spam'"

Note that there is no space after “-p” and your database password, so for my fake example above, it would look like

mysql -u trickyusername -pX4somehiglhycryptic8password
  --database=mygroovydatabase -Bse 
  "DELETE FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_approved = 'spam'"

So far, I am finding it is keeping the number of flagged comments to a more reasonable number.

I did get more powerful solution from Brad Emerson that essentially blacklists IPs at the server level, and am hoping to sort that out eventually.

For now, I just wanted something to keep the database from bloating from all the trash that piles up.

I do not fault anyone else for making the choice, but I refuse to turn off comments. Call me a masochist. And sometimes… sometimes.. it is mildly entertaining to see what floats through. It’s kind of like occasionally lifting your floor to scan the sludge for curiosity of how life can exist down there,