It was an honor, privilege, and a hoot to be invited to come to Melbourne to do a 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story presentation for the PLP Network project here.

This all came about because in October, during my road trip, I paid a visit to the home of Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach in Virginia Beach (get it, beach? beach?). We have known each other for a long time online but had never met in carbon form. Over dinner, she told me that her colleague, Will Richardson (whom I did not get to meet on the loop) was unable to attend the culminating meeting for their project in Australia, and would I be interested in going in his place to do a keynote?

I think I said yes before her question ended.

Thanks Will, we had way too much fun talking about my qualifications being a pony tail. Thanks for also sending me the audio clip I used to introduce you as one my my online avatars:

So that was my meal ticket to make the big crossing, but you have to bring your best stuff, and I hope I did. I mixed up my usual presentation with some new elements.

All of the presentation stuff, including slides and links are at I had thought about doing a live broadcast to ds106 radio, but port 8010 seemed to be blocked, so I recorded my own audio (71.7 Mb / 1:14:40)

I had my Keynote autotweeting in active mode, to share links, and draw people in from the outside when the activities started.

The reason this was special is because the very first 50 Ways workshop was done in Australia, back in October 2007 on my 2 week whistle stop tour of every capital city for the Flexible Learning Framework.

So I started with the Amazing FLower story that happened there, for no other reason than is pretty amazing.

Made My Heart Stop
Made My Heart Stop flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

I also used a more recent story that came out of a presentation I did for Alec Couros’s ECI831 class, one that Kevin Stranack shared about a bit of family discovery that started with one out of the blue email.

Before going into the 50 Ways bit, I set up a few activities based on the ARG activity Sheryl and her team had set up for the participants here– it was a story about the PLP penguin, Periwinkle who had somehow gotten him/herself tied up in a boxing match with a tough kangaroo named Joey.

The think is we know about this as an event, but I wanted the groups to do some work on how these characters developed their personalities, do some creative activities to develop their personas. I went back to an activity I learned of in the late 1990s, when I worked on a project at maricopa with a colleague Liz Warren, who teaches at South Mountain Community College.

We took an activity she had already developed to foster creative writing, built around the ideas of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, and made into a web tool for that and more. Stunningly, it still sits on the web server at Maricopa, though it is not fully functionally — see

This really happened because by another sheer accident of timing, the night after I returned home from my 5 month road trip, Liz was doing a live storytelling event in Pine, AZ, and I went to see Tellebration again and to say hello.

Anyhow, before the writing prompt questions for the 17 steps of the Hero’s Journey, Liz developed a series of questions designed to help outline the main character’s traits; and I used these same ones for my group.

I split the room in tow, and had half the room work on the questions about Joey’s character and half do the same questions about Peri (created in open Google docs) — they took to it with more activity and energy than I could have dreamed of!

PLP ConnectU Meeting
PLP ConnectU Meeting flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I had to pull them out of the google docs while they were still writing and laughing.

To use thids material and introduce them to another tool, I asked for a volunteer to come up on stage and lead the choices of photo for a 5 card flickr story (I had gotten people to tag about 300 photos with the project tag plpconnectu).

Lois was a great sport (see her story) — I set the group out to do their own, and again, they really ran with this activity.

We still had a lot of ground to cover.

I wanted to extend the story development process, again leaning on Liz Warren’s Hero’s Journey approach. I made the groups switch, the people who had worked on Joey’s character, now had to review the traits about Peri, and enter the responses to the Call to Adventure stage for Peri — and likewise, the other group do the same for Joey’s Call to Adventure

Again- well I had to work hard to get their attention back. I then got two more volunteers to come up on stage and do a pechaflickr round of improv /a> with those plpconnecu tagged photos.

Both Trish and … (ugh was it Rob) both did pechaflickr the way I envisioned it; not be being 100% literal, but also by keeping their banter moving between slides.

I had to rev the session into 9th gear, running through the media search and the examples. We clearly did not have time for them to do the story creation with the 50+ tools, but I had but one more new trick in my bag.

I told them that I have been asked to develop a thing that would help pick the right tool for people, and I had that ready- it was devised to take biometric input and learning analytics to provide a predictive tool selection- all they needed to do was click “pick” on the 50 Ways Tool Picker

Try the random tool picker.

And that was the whole show.

I have to say this was one of the most high powered groups I’ve gotten to present 50 ways to– and I have had some great groups. It changes the whole atmosphere when you have people who are on the edges of their seat and willing to jump in and play.

And with that, my work here in Australia is done, and its 2 weeks of play time.

Big Fluffy Pup
Big Fluffy Pup flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Time to go play!

Featured Image:

PLP ConnectU Meeting
PLP ConnectU Meeting flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


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