Streaming with your iPhone

We decided to take a drive down to see the lights at Niagara Falls as a family holiday outing. Ummm, how about adding a sprinkle of tech stuff to spice things up. Great idea! – left with my iPhone fully charged.

Prep Work: I had recently downloaded two apps to do live streaming from the iPhone to a website where others could watch live, or watch the saved video clips, provided they knew the web address. For this particular event I decided to try the QIK app. Once the free software was downloaded, setting up the software was a snap – register a user ID, password and email address and you are ready – it is that easy. Any video you shoot is streamed to the vendor website and linked to your account, in my case. Entry level accounts are free. Some upgrades are available.

At the Falls: Once we arrived and cased out some parking, I flipped a note out on Twitter and Facebook to announce my streaming experiment. I had lots of fun experimenting with the iPhone video as there was plenty to look at – Christmas lights, Disney light displays and of course the Falls themselves. Given the evening darkness, below 0 temperatures and the freezing mist, I was not sure how things would turn out. I was pleased with the results given the conditions. I am sure the steaming with ‘regular’ lighting conditions would yield great results.

As it turned out, my streaming experiment was viewed from Windsor, Ottawa, Florida, Oakville and Kitchener. Thanks to @dougpete, @kimmcgill@kpuddington, @kimsten, @trustsocmedia and @rebrouse for tuning in and providing some feedback!

Sample Video Clips

The Falls Take 1
The Falls Take 2
The Falls Take 3

Of course, it does take long to start thinking about all of the educational possibilities to use this technology for recording events, interviews, field trips, experiments …. how exciting!!!

Try the app: iTunes Link to Qik Live

I think with this app, ‘have fun’ goes without really saying it. 🙂

~ Mark

Video Conferencing with Skype

As a long time user of Skype, it is nice to see the use of this powerful, yet free, software package getting greater use in the classroom. Recently we have had a few more teachers in our Board asking to use Skype for classroom projects,  so we have installed it when requested. If it performs well in our network environment, it could easily be made part of our standard setup.

Of the Skype related resources listed below, the first two were of particular interest to me. The Skype an Author project seems like a natural way to connect reading and writing experiences in the classroom with the real world. The blog post outlining steps to create video content for blogs using skype offers some useful tips and could be a great resource in classrooms where blogging is part of the writing process.

One of my PLN members and Twitter user, teacher @zbpipe, has been using skype to connect to other classes to learn folk songs as part of their music and global studies. You can find additional information on Twitter about Skype in the classroom by simply searching for the term ‘Skype’. I keep a ‘Skype’ search open in my Seesmic Desktop application to keep up with new ideas and resources.


1. Virtual Author Classroom Visits: Skype an Author

2. How to produce video interviews for your blog using Skype.

3. Skype Directory for Educators

4. Skype in Schools wiki

5. Blog Post:  All Schools Should Skype

6. Download Skype Software

Give it a spin and enjoy the video conferencing!

~ Mark

Links for 2009-12-27

Links: 2009 12 27 — Interesting finds of the week

1. Redefining Digital Citizenship

2. Australian school tries to liberate teen brains

3. World Map of social networks

4. iTV app for iPhone/iPod Touch

5. Make a PDF book of your blog with Blog Booker

6. CNN’s top 10 trends for 2010.

7. Kobo, eReading anytime, anywhere

Happy learning.

~ Mark

Season’s Greetings

Season’s Greetings from my family to yours. Warm wishes for a safe, healthy and happy holiday.

~ Mark

Season's Greetings

Edu chit chat at ground level

We kicked today off with a lovely brunch hosted by very close friends – a perfect way to start the day! Many of the people in attendance are connected to the education scene in one way or another. Collectively we covered the range of parents, secondary teachers and department heads, vice principal, recently retired principal, university profs, soon to be teachers and me.

Of course, there was a healthy round of catching up on what is happening with the various families, plans for the festive season and, teachers being teachers, some ‘shop talk’ about what everyone was doing. So …. when it was my turn, I dived into the Ontario PLP experience I was enjoying and chatted about the potential powerful uses of social media tools in our system. Well, talk about start a multi dimensional conversation. I think we could have had a 2 day symposium with the brunch gang to explore the pros and cons all of the various options.

As a group, we represented decades of solid teaching experience. As a group, we represented an extremely diverse experiences in the areas of using, adopting (and embedding) technology in the way we teach, work and live.  We hit the whole range (minimum to maximum) of personal comfort levels, willingness to embrace new technologies, student engagement, the powerful potential of the tools available today and how the use of these tools would/could impact education in positive ways — a fascinating discussion to say the least.

We did cover one last point, and I saved it to last so it could stand on its own for emphasis — and it really struck a chord with me. The general consensus was that the typical teacher of today is not ready to embrace social media tools at this point in time for a number of reasons. At ‘ground level’

  • only a small percentage actually use social media tools
  • most teachers are not comfortable with the tools themselves, let alone embrace them in teaching
  • most teachers have not thought about embracing the power of social media in useful ways to support curriculum delivery
  • many teachers are not sure about the level of engagement the use of these tools may bring
  • some are curious about this ‘new world’

So, in yet another setting, we end up back at some of my favourite pondering points:

  • building communities and cultures of sharing
  • getting more teachers involved
  • etc., you can read my ‘list’ in an earlier blog post from this week

The important aspect of arriving at my favourite pondering points (again) is that I really trust the observations, opinions and insights that this group has about where things are at ‘in the field’. In some ways, this conversation was a reality check. Is the gap getting wider? In general, are we ‘preaching to the choir’?  More thinking and planning about systemic change, impacting the educational front etc. In some ways this is a nice lead into Will Richardson’s question, “what changed in 2009?”  Watch for an upcoming blog post where I will share my views on what changed.

~ Mark

The Coke Cake

Perhaps this holiday season you are getting together with family, the folks at work, or some friends through your online connections such as Twitter, PLP Ontario or Facebook.

If you are looking for something a little different (or a lot different) to make, why not give the Coke cake a spin. My sister passed along this recipe to me years ago. I have prepared it several times and each time it was a big hit.

Note: I have used different types of icing in an effort to vary the sugar levels!

Happy Festive Season.

~ Mark


Makes ones 9 x 13 cake.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of coca-cola
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows


  • ½ cup butter
  • 6 tbsp coca-cola
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coca powder
  • 1 pound (2 cups) powdered sugar (not icing sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For Cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan. Sift flour and sugar into a large bowl. Melt 1 cup of butter in a heavy sauce pan. Add coca-cola  and cocoa powder and bring just to a boil. Stir into flour mixture. Blend in buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Fold in marshmallows. Pour into pan and bake until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Baking time should be about 35 minutes.

Icing Preparation: Melt butter in heavy medium sized sauce pan. Add coca-cola and coca powder and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Fold in pecans. Spread icing over hot cake. Serve at room temperature.

Ontario Meetup: Are We Asking the Right Questions?

The recent Ontario Meetup online session provided the anticipated engaging discussion of educational directions. This particular session was led by @courosa. The discussion centred around the intersecting tensions in the K-12 educational environment between building online communities, embracing the value and power of social media tools and content filtering.

@dougpete captured the key points in his recent blog post  Getting Priorities Straight.  I have had the pleasure of having many engaging discussions with Doug around this very topic. I think he hit the nail on the head with his statement “From what we can see, there’s a real tightrope to be walked to reach the other side and keep the organization’s needs and the needs of the end user in balance”.

As I listened and participated in the online session, which wandered between the benefits and challenges with each of these areas, and since reflected on the nature of the discussion, it struck me that there may be a ‘new lens’ in the midst of this discussion. I am beginning to wonder if we are focusing on the right questions. It is my observation that there is a trend developing in these discussions:

  • building learning communities is the right thing to do in an educational environment
  • building a culture of sharing is important
  • content filtering policies can get in the way of reaching these goals

What I find troubling in these discussions, is that they often narrow to a focus on YouTube and Facebook, almost implying that the only way to achieve these goals is with the specific use of these tools.  I think the ‘new lens’ or focus on this topic needs to look at this from a different point of view. I am thinking more about change at the system level to embrace this in a more holistic way. Certainly, simply unblocking a site or two does not mean an education system of several thousand staff and students is ready to change and be instantly successful.

Assuming that building learning communities and establishing this culture of sharing are important, and fundamentally the right place to ‘get to’, perhaps the questions that need addressing are:

  • How do we get more people involved?
  • How do we make them comfortable in their journey to ‘jump in’ to this new world?
  • How do we best teach, practice and embed character development and digital citizenship for both students and staff?
  • How do we keep training costs to a minimum so that this does not become a barrier?
  • How do we move this agenda forward with or without the specific use of  ‘magnet’ sites such as YouTube and/or  Facebook?
  • How do we select some free/low cost tools so that
    • cost is not a barrier
    • there is some elements of consistency as teachers change grades and/or schools
    • the integrity of the environment (the ‘network’ = internal + internet) is reliable for all to use for both learning and business functions
  • Should there be some thought put into the ‘gradual release of responsibility’ concept being applied to social media use as there is in other curriculum areas?
  • As things change, and opportunities present themselves, we are promoting and celebrating the change(s)

These are the questions whirring though my mind. I want to extend a thank you to my PLP group and the participants of the Ontario Meetup group for continuing this important dialogue and keeping the discussion going. More thinking and planning to do!

~ Mark

Class visit for iPod project launch

This past week had a number of highlights:

  • Tuesday night Ontario Meetup online session with Alec Couros
  • Discussions with school administrators about content filtering and system readiness for change
  • iPod Touch project launch
  • a presentation from @AnitaBK to our Board’s consultant staff regarding our new library program design
  • ongoing discussions with @ron_mill, @hniezen and @rebrouse about keeping the conversation alive, keep pushing the envelope

So much to blog about, and not enough available time to blog this past week. Why are days only 24 hours long???

Thursday, I had the opportunity to visit the classroom of @kimsten for the launch of the iPod project. This particular class has been issued a set of iPod Touch units to use on a 1:1 basis for the balance of the school year. The iPods will be used both at school and at home.

The students had been issued their iPods a day or two before the ‘launch’. With expectations reviewed, students were busy with their first assignment – check out the iTunes store to see what applications were available and which ones captured their interest.

I appreciated the opportunity to attend the session and feel the excitement in the room as students eagerly waited for their turn to demonstrate their application choice to the class with the document camera. As one might expect, many of the students had investigated the games section. I was impressed with the number of students that had also explored other areas of interest and were prepared to present these choices. Chatting informally with the students, they shared a broad range of interests in the applications including google earth, wordpress (for blogging), puzzle/problem solving, interactive whiteboard (shared drawing), creation tools for art and communication tools. Some students were already taking typing lists to capture the choices of other students with the iPod notes application.

I know this will be an interesting learning opportunity for the class, and I look forward to being involved as they travel this mobile learning journey.  A few photos from my visit are displayed below.

Following the student presentations, the class was off to the lab to do a collaborative writing session using etherpad with @wattsup56.

~ Mark

Things that make you go hmmm


Last Friday, I wrote a blog post about the excellent session about copyright and the Creative Commons presented by @thecleversheep at the recent RCAC event.

Over the weekend, I became aware of the Artists’ lawsuit against major record labels for copyright infringement. While the lawsuit dates back to 2008, it keeps popping up in the news because new plaintiffs keep joining the case.

The issue has occurred because record companies no longer had to get a compulsory license every time they used a song. As long as the song was added to a list of music pending authorization. Essentially, this translates to using the song now as long as it was on a ‘pending’ list, and the artist(s) would be paid later. As you might guess, this did not work out so well – the promise of payment has not happened. The list of ‘pending’ songs is over 300,000 – YIKES. The copyright infringement lawsuit may be valued as high as $ 6 billion.

How ironic the the record companies will go after music sharing violations of various schemes, then hold out on paying the artists themselves. Hmmmm. Thanks to Twitter contact @NBCCSue for posting the link to this article.

Related Reading

1. View the ars technica blog post.

~ Mark

Links for 2009-12-13

Links: 2009 12 13 — Interesting finds of the week

1. Digital Media and Learning

2. NASSP: Shifting Ground

3. Stumble Upon: BBC article Children who use technology are better writers

4. Track iTunes for new apps with AppShoper (Thanks @msjweir)

5. Paper: PLC’s: Investing in Invention

6. Discovery Education: Conquering Technophobia

Enjoy the learning, keep up the sharing.

~ Mark