Jeff Lebow – Technology and Learning Leader of the Year

I’m adding my voice to the throngs(see list) of folks nominating Jeff Lebow as a Technology and Learning Leader of the Year. I’ve never nominated anyone for an award before… but, over the close to ten years I’ve known Jeff, I’d be hard pressed to imagine anyone who is more worthy, and less willing to admit it.

I arrived in Pusan, South Korea in the late fall of 1998, and ran into the first real social networking person i’ve ever met. I found Jeff in an expat bar, video camera in hand, recording something that was compelling. I forget what. But I do remember that the a few days later i went to one of the two or three internet places in town, and checked out the photos of the night that I met him on Pusanweb… a place where people went to share their idea, their photos and their experiences with other people that they know (sound familiar?). I had found my first link to something familiar in a foreign land, the first handhold to something understandable. It was, for me, an avenue for belonging.

It is this ability to engender a sense of belonging… of allowing them to feel like a ‘part’ of something, rather than a ‘recipient’ of something that I’ve always seen as Jeff’s special gift. When i first approached him (after the three times I said I ‘really wanted to be part of something’ and didn’t do it) about being part of something, he was gracious, he was humble about what he knew. Amazingly generous in handing out the knowledge he had. Frank about what he didn’t know. We worked together on various projects in Korea. He showed me the discussion forums he was using with his students, really, was the person who got me started being serious about education. We did some webcasting. Did some conferences. Had a great time.

A while after we moved back over to NA, Jeff skyped and asked if I wanted to do some webcasting he’d worked out using skype, shoutcast, and a few other tools. That day a bunch of folks showed up to the show. I was, as you might expect, a little caught up in what i was saying, and not maybe as keen at bringing in the community as I maybe would be now. Jeff turned on the spot, introduced himself, us, worldbridges… and started a dialogue. In about 5 minutes he made those folks (in fact… the webheads) feel like they owned the place.

It’s been over two years since that day. We’ve got several large communities that grew out of those early webcasts. When people talk about joining the community on Edtechtalk, for instance, we have a simple response. “Is it ‘worldbridgy’?” If it is… then it’s fine. If it isn’t… then not so much. It might, if I were to admit it in a dark alley, just as easily be called ‘Jeff Lebowness’. The communities that grow around Jeff… like edtechtalk, like webcastacademy and a multitude of others in the worldbridges family all share some common values, and they just so happen to be the same values that Jeff exudes in every webcast; passion, empathy, acceptance of difference, an interest in connection, a wonder in learning new thing in people and tech, and… as weird as it might sound… he’s just really nice. You can hear this attitude in the skype chats that run around the worldbridges community (I’m subscribed to three that do very interesting edtech work), in the nine show on edtechtalk… in the webcastacademy communities… people are friendly, they are helpful… AND PEOPLE LEARN.

Leadership, in my mind, is not simply about setting an example. It’s about setting an example that, when followed, makes people feel better about themselves, and makes them better actors in their lives.

Jeff does exactly that.

Edtech Conference at UPEI – September 29th

Well here comes the self serving public service announcement. We have an uber-cool conference coming up on the 29th of September at the University of Prince Edward Island and we want YOU to come. ALL ARE WELCOME –> kick off at 9:30am

New Media Literacies in Learning Landscapes
Our speakers

REGISTRATION IS 20 bucks. Register here. We’ll feed you (lunch), show you a good time (by talking about cool stuff), and you’ll get a chance to come to Charlottetown Prince Edward Island.

For those of you still nervous about going to the website to register, I’ve copied the workshop descriptions. We’ll also be starting things off with a keynote from Will, and ending the day with a panel discussion rounding out the panels feelings about what all this technology stuff is about anyway.

Will Richardson:

Blogs, Wikis, and Powerful Web Tools

This session will introduce interactive and collaborative tools available for working online with students, including blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, social bookmarking, and aggregators, and will examine the implications of these tools for what it means to teach and learn in the 21st century. The evaluation of online collaborative work and policies for security and safety will be explored, as will ideas for capitalizing on the potential online audience to encourage student engagement.

Sharon Peters:

Personal Displays of Connection: Flattening Classroom Walls for Meaningful Conversations

This session will examine how students are connecting with peers locally and at a distance using the Internet and social networking environments outside of school. Research on the value of collaborative learning spaces and what students themselves have said about their participation in educational collaborative exchanges will be presented. A rationale for using shared virtual learning spaces in education, best practices in online blended learning for educators and what learning outcomes are evident in the online space will be shared with participants.

Jeff Lebow:
Streaming & Archiving Live Multi-class Interaction

This session will provide an overview of the possibilities and challenges involved in producing, recording, and publishing live, interactive webcasts. Including live interaction between students from different locations and cultures can add a ‘magic ingredient’ to new media projects, along with another set of challenging tasks for participating teachers. The agenda for this session will include:
– technical aspects and options for ‘webcasting’,
– overcoming administrative, logistic, and classroom management obstacles
– getting beyond the ‘wow’ of live interactivity to facilitate meaningful communication and learning
– live interaction with remote participants who have experience and/or interest in webcasting with students.

Elana Langer:
The Image of Learning

A hands-on, how-to session exploring ways teachers at all levels can incorporate digital video effectively and creatively into their classroom practices. This workshop will cover various uses of video including peer to peer filming, documentary, and instructional video, and will give participants the opportunity to learn strategies for optimal utilization, storage, and assessment of students’ video work.

Dave Cormier:
The Design Shop for Online Projects

This interactive workshop will explore ideas and options for integrating web technologies into the classroom, from the grassroots level up. Through a review of some of the newer free technologies available for the classroom, attendees will work together to plan, start or join projects with their own students. Come with your dream project in hand or in mind: at the end of the session you will have a list of goals and potential paths to getting some of your ideas online.

Dr. Alexander (Sandy) McAuley:

New Media, New Literacies, and Knowledge Building: A Framework for 21st Century Learning

The explosion of new media is contributing to a generation of children who come to school with significantly different ways of interacting with each other and the world than do their teachers. How might schools best respond to and build on these new literacies? One possibility is to engage students in “knowledge building:” using new technologies to contribute to a focus on posing problems and working with ideas to create new knowledge.

see you there?

Blogging – Not ‘IF’ but When and Where. UPEI presentation

These are the notes for a presentation at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) on the 4th of September, 2007 as part of the Let’s Talk Teaching day. In short, the presentation will try to explain that we need to move beyond the question about whether blogging is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘useful’ that is not ‘should I use blogs in my classroom?’ and move on to the question ‘what is the most effective use of the blog in my classroom?’. I’ll start by covering the position currently held by the audio, what we/I think blogging is, how participatory knowledge production is the new black, and then converge on the more practical matters of how one get into ‘this blogging thing.’ I encourage everyone to comment both before and after the presentation… It might help someone to do a better job 😛

Some introductory questions.

  • introduction – who am I?
  • What are we trying to do today?
  • What is a blog?
  • How many people here read? write? use blogs?

The case against blogging
The above link is from a classic article written in the Chronicle of Higher Education in the summer of 2005… Just about the same time as I started blogging full time with this blog. Here’s an excerpt.

A candidate’s blog is more accessible to the search committee than most forms of scholarly output. It can be hard to lay your hands on an obscure journal or book chapter, but the applicant’s blog comes up on any computer. Several members of our search committee found the sheer volume of blog entries daunting enough to quit after reading a few. Others persisted into what turned out, in some cases, to be the dank, dark depths of the blogger’s tormented soul; in other cases, the far limits of techno-geekdom; and in one case, a cat better off left in the bag.

The pertinent question for bloggers is simply, Why? What is the purpose of broadcasting one’s unfiltered thoughts to the whole wired world? It’s not hard to imagine legitimate, constructive applications for such a forum. But it’s also not hard to find examples of the worst kinds of uses.

  • How can blogs be used as part of the research process?
  • What would an interesting academic blog in your field look like?

One person’s journey.

  • How do I blog?
  • For my personal blog, blogging is the one place where I get to finish my sentences. Now… my sentences are often long, and perhaps too often meandering… but it does give me a chance to get thoughts out that otherwise wouldn’t make it to the public discourse. It gives ideas that I’ve had, or that I’ve noticed, a chance to circulate through the online network that I currently work with. They come back, and comment… and my thinking gets better.

    For my community blog ( is more of a question of participating in a community effort. This is an audio blog, that we use as part of our webcasting. The whole comes together to create the content, to publish it and, more importantly, to ‘syndicate’ it out across the internet.

    The only video blogging that I do is on youtube. I use youtube for my personal learning objects that I want to store for later use. I’m not really sure that anyone is reading that as a feed…

  • RSS
  • fresh RSS

    What is RSS?

    Important: it’s not necessary to understand much about RSS to get a lot out of it. In fact, marketing studies such as this one are showing that of all the Internet users currently taking advantage of RSS feeds as part of their Internet usage, only about 25% are even aware that they are using RSS feeds! You may already be using RSS feeds without knowing it — but a little knowledge about RSS will take you a long way toward getting maximum benefit out of this simple technology. Our goal here is to introduce enough about RSS so that you can use it to make your work, life, and research more efficient.

  • Emergent Communities
  • Blogging for me is about community. Communities tend to form around different bloggers or different topics of shared interest. By going to a website like touchgraph you can get a quick sense of what kinds of things are happening in any given community.

  • The Long Tail
  • An article published in Wired magazine in October 2004 detailed the concept of the long tail. The concept is based on one of the critical differences between meatspace and the internet. The ‘real world’ is bounded by space. The ‘internet’, for the most part, is not.
    long tail
    Are we not, as academics, always serving the long tail?

take a breath… question?

Teaching and Blogging

  • Blogging into a class from students.
  • Here’s a class on ‘Open Education’ a master’s course at the University of Indiana. The key reason for this use is that the participants retain their own content. It becomes part of their ‘portfolio’ of work. It’s an inversion of the regular ‘send the paper in and forget about it’ model that is the defacto standard in more of education. This model means that the content of the conversation lives on. It can become parts of conversations going on anywhere.

  • Blogging into a class from ‘experts’
  • Feedbook
    Here’s a simple example of what an edtech feedbook might look like if I was teaching a course. It includes my blog (optional, of course, if you don’t have one… just don’t include it.) This gives an opportunity for the classroom curriculum to be current, to be surprising, and, in many cases, for students to find resources that the teachers weren’t aware of. This also gives the students a reading list that they can take with them through their careers.

  • Blogging out from the classroom by the professor
  • There are bunches of ways in which blogging can be useful coming from a professor. Anything from announcements for classes…

  • Aggregating by concept
  • This is a webpage that is aggregating information related to snowclones. This means that any content that is posted to technorati on the somewhat new and obscure field of snowclones will show up on this site. It also takes the blogs of people who work on snowclones as well as any ‘’ account tagged with the word ‘snowclone’. In this particular case, in aggregates the comments from a moodle forum that the presentation was using as well.

Are there ways in which this can fit into your practice?

Where does someone begin?

  • Finding Blogs
  • There are several ways to get started with finding blogs that would fit with your position on the long tail. Technorati is the main place that people usually go to find blog posts. Another effective way is to find a trusted node. Once you find one blog that fits your tastes, take a look at what they read.

  • Netvibes
  • It’s very difficult to post this here… because i can’t give you access to my netvibes account.
    link to a short tour of my netvibes account.

  • Blog software
  • I use two different kinds of software for my blogs. For my personal blog I use wordpress and my community blog uses drupal. We also use elgg for our communities of students at and There are also a cagillion blogging services… I recommend

    Does anyone want to try a specific topic or genre?

    How do some others blog
    science blogging

    Art theory
    Huge list of academic bloggers
    Science bloggers
    Science Bloggers conference

    Recap – 8 slides to sum up


    Blogging, like ‘academic writing’ is a vague label that really doesn’t do justice to the complexities of the subject it is meant to cover. Blogging is appropriate any time that people need to be kept ‘up to date’ with a topic, a person, images, videos… It should not be seen as a yes/no decision, but as a tool which, like everything else, works better when used appropriately. 🙂

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