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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.

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

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.

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

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:

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

Thanks again Nigel and crew!

PS: for what its worth, I am compiling an index to all of the sessions and related materials at

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An early 90s builder of the web 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.

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