It is all in the numbers!

My daughter sent me this interesting bit of information yesterday. I have always been interested in numbers and decided to share this today.

A once in your life event will happen today, August 7 , 2009

At 12hr 34 minutes and 56 seconds on the 7th of August this year, the time and date will be

12:34:56 07/08/09

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

This will never happen in your life again!!!!

~ Mark


Missed the ‘noise’ today

How ironic! – talk about 2 days of contrast.

Yesterday my blog post was about managing the ‘noise’ from technology – keeping technology working for you while keeping your life balanced and avoiding information & technology use overload.

Today, there was a big silence in technology land. I was initially puzzled by the quietness of Twitter. Hmm, my session seems to have timed out. I can’t log back in. Now I jump into trouble shooting mode.

Maybe it is:

– my browser: different browser, same issue
– my computer: same results on another computer, checked 2 browsers
– an access issue: try logging in through a Twitter client – no luck
– our network: check with staff, everything is A-OK on our end

Dig in a little deeper:

– compare: try to access from my Blackberry – no luck
– more comparing: can not connect using my Blackberry as a wireless modem

Now I am convinced something serious is up. I contact a friend and fellow blogger who works in another Board. He was having the same experience but had learned that Twitter was experiencing a major Denial of Services (DoS) attack. Now the only plan of action is to wait! It is up to the staff at Twitter to sort through this mess.

What did I learn from this?

I learned I missed the tweets – the trickle of communication coming in from Twitter. I missed learning from the information posted through the tweets and related links. Perhaps more importantly, I recognized how much I learn each day through Twitter and other social media networks and how the people I interact with have become part of my PLN.

It appears the DoS issue has been resolved – YEAH! I am happy to be connected to my online PLN group again and ready to learn and share.

~ Mark

Technology ‘Noise’

Given the times we live in, with technology exploding everywhere, new apps being pumped out daily, user generated content, web 2.0, mobile devices, anytime anywhere learning and business (and the list goes on…) an interesting point for pondering is Technology Saturation. Has technology taken over how we spend our time? Can we/do we balance our lives? Can we unplug when necessary or appropriate?  Focus versus time fragmentation. Does technology use negatively impact the way we spend personal time? family time?  Can you put limits around your technology use that work for you and your family?

From the last week:

I read Will Richardson’s blog post on technoslavery. It is a great article and I would recommend you read it.

Staff at work were talking about technology ‘noise’. They feel they are being bombarded with so much information they are being less effective, rather than more effective. We had an interesting conversation about dialing into the ‘right things’ for them – focusing on information that would be a difference to them in a professional or personal way. At the end of the day, a reduction of participation in mailing lists would be an easy place to reduce the ‘noise level’. There was agreement that being connected to the right people and information sources is important – the PLN concept.

Other discussions focused on social media. How do companies and educational institutions manage social media? Block access to effectively ban it during work hours? Some companies allow use for business purposes related directly to the company – the tweet your products viewpoint. Other leave social media open, and work toward appropriate use. That is a good thing. After all, social media does provide excellent networking and collaboration opportunities while adding to the technology noise level. How do you control your social media time in your non work time?

I think this all boils down to using technology effectively. Do the things that work for you, that help you to be more effective at whatever it is that you do (work, hobby etc.). None the less, it is an interesting point to consider. Lots to think about. I am sure this topic will keep bubbling up as we have more time the think and observe.

As for me, I am powering off for some sleep before I get back online first thing in the morning 🙂

~ Mark

iPod Roundup

As we cross the midpoint of the summer, my thoughts turn to projects for the next school year. One of our initiatives will include more extensive work with iPods in the classroom. I have been checking net based resources over the last month and thought I would share some of the links in today’s post.


iPod Touch: School wide Implementation Classroom 2.0

on Ning: iPods in the Classroom

on Ning iPod Teachers

Why iPods? K-12 project

Classroom project (with commentary) iPod Touch Project

iPod Touch Classroom Mobile Learning

iPod survey Google spreadsheet back end

Interactive multimedia iPods and whiteboards

The Wired Educator: iPod in every classroom

The Wired Educator: iPod Touch in the classroom

David Warlick: a blog post

Ed Tech Bytes: Managing a Class Set

Enjoy the reading!

~ Mark

On the Beat: Mill Race Festival

I spent a fair bit of time this weekend at the Mill Race Festival. The festival features traditional folk music performances, dance groups, children’s performers and arts & craft vendors. For me, this is one of those treasured events that is a stone’s throw from your home that you don’t get around to attending often enough. I am glad I made it this year. Hats off to the organizing committee for producing such an excellent and enjoyable 3 day festival. I was really impressed with the selection of performers and number of venues available people to take in. Well done – take a centre stage bow! 

I wanted to highlight two performances that really impressed me.

The Outside Track

This festival was my first opportunity to hear The Outside Track. They are 5 member multinational ensemble with members from Scotland, Ireland and Canada. The Outside Track plays leading edge modern traditional music. The ensemble was formed when they were all students at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. 


Norah Rendell (vocals, flute)
Ailie Robertson (harp)
Fiona Black (accordion, fiddle)
Mairi Rankin (fiddle)
Gillian O’Dalaigh (guitar, flute whistles)

The Outside Track has a unique fresh sound. I was really captivated by the energetic performance, the variety of selections and superb musical excellence! I was fortunate to hear their exciting performance a second time at the festival. The Outside Track is a fantastic ensemble with an exciting future ahead. Take advantage of the opportunity to hear them whenever they are in your area. The next concert is in Goderich ON at the Celtic Festival.

Additional information about group, tours, CDs etc. is available at their website.


David Sinclair & Fernando Barros

David Sinclair is a Flamenco guitarist born in Toronto. He now resides in Granada, Spain. David has dedicated more than 10 of his 30 years of guitar playing to Flamenco music. I have had the distinct pleasure of hearing David performance at private house concerts. It is truly an amazing experience to hear a performer in such a quaint setting. 

This year, David appeared with Fernando Barros, a self taught Flamenco singer. Fernando is comfortable with all Flamenco styles and interprets them with depth and authenticity. Right from the first note performed, it was clear we were in for a real musical treat. David and Fernando really bring the music from the Flamenco culture alive – you literally felt like you were in Spain.  It is obvious the two enjoy performing together when you hear and see their interaction of voice and guitar as they weave their way through the complex musical structures.  I was intrigued with the range of colour expressed in their performances: subtle nuances in the music to intense Spanish dance rhythms.  I look forward to the next opportunity to hear them perform.

Additional information is available at David’s website.

~ Mark

The Future of the Print Industry

By happenstance, I came across an interesting collection of articles and ideas about the future of publishing.

The first article I read, in my paper based but soon to be electronic Alumni Gazette, was titled Does the Print Industry Have a Future? Noting the emergence of e-readers such as the Kindle, author Jenni Dunning raises the issue of newspapers and other paper-based printing companies struggling in the economy, struggling to latch onto a secure vision of the future and in fact, struggling to know how best to survive. Other factors include moves to various electronic forums and our collective efforts to be ‘green’. In my mind, the key point she made was to stop focusing on the newspaper of the past and look at how journalism can be delivered in the most effective way. Read Does the Print Industry Have a Future?

Later in the day, I found a Twitter post that caught my eye called Textbook Deathwatch. The article looks at the use and cost of textbooks in the K-12 education arena. Noting the challenges of slow change in large systems, resistance to change, high cost, competing costs in school boards, shipping costs of print materials and the rapid rate at which books become outdated, the author puts key questions right on the table?

1. Are textbooks the best use of instructional funds?
2. Are their more effective ways to utilize available funding?
3. What would a system look like that was much more ‘e-based’?
4. If ‘e-based’ is the solution (in whole or in part), then how do we change more aggressively?

Read Textbook Deathwatch

Looking at this from the end user point of view (consumer, learner or worker), there are many possible solutions to moving to e-based content. We have been talking about this in my Board too, in particular about the use of iPods in this regard. Admittedly, this prompted me gather some updates on the current status of the various e-readers. The links below will provide fairly current information.

Wired’s eBook Reader Roundup
A Kindle and Sony comparison
Sony now offers 1,000,000 eBooks from Google books

Getting back to the original point, the future of publishing, I don’t have any doubts about the future of publishing. I think it is a case of what it likes like. We will always need excellent journalism, reporting, resources, instructional materials and ways to effectively prepare, deliver, read and use them.

To my way of thinking, if the e-readers are going to go anywhere, at least in the education systems, we have to avoid hardware, software and electronic rights management issues that really only serve to build islands of incompatibility. In turn, this would limit the possibilities for students and potentially make the move to e-readers (and e-content) more expensive than it needs to be. If this happens, then we would end up with the e-reader system that continues to challenge the funding questions identified earlier.

Ultimately, this falls into the same jungle of issues as content filtering and students & teachers using personal equipment on Board owned networks (network access control) etc. Lets hope that sanity and smart thinking lead us to useful and cost effective solutions within the education realm that allow for e-based reader solutions, more electronic content delivered in a way the is easily utilized by Board or personally owned devices all in support of better learning and teaching.

As I am writing, I recalled seeing an interesting podcast outlining a very innovative approach to publishing. I was able to locate the presentation by Richard Baraniuk from Rice University. In this presentation, he introduces Connexions, an open-access publishing system. This presentation is well worth the watch and provides an excellent example of the future of publishing. View Richard Baraniuk’s presentation (18 min.)

~ Mark

Social Networking in Education: Friend or Foe

Last night I read Joe Corbett’s post on ISTE Connects: Is Facebook the Enemy of Education? While looking for Facebook applications for education, he came across research indicating that Facebook could negatively impact studying. The general indication from the research was that Facebook is a distractor – Facebook users typically spend less time studying which in turn negatively impacts grades. Now, hold this thought!

Like Joe, this got me thinking and I decided to review some of my recent readings on the topic. The links below encompass a good selection of views on the subject.



Social Network Access: available or blocked/content filtered
Classroom learning vs. socializing
Supported by teachers, not supported by administration
Social Networks are just tooks – can we use them in educationally effective ways?
Keep the issues separate
Social Networking is part of web 2.0 literacy and digital citizenship


Reference Articles/Blog Posts

Classroom 2.0: The Value of Social Networking

Sue Water’s Blog: Educational Networking and Staying Out of My Face

Cool Cat Teacher’s Blog: It Is About Educational Networking NOT Social Networking

Fran Smith, Edutopia: How to Use Social Networking Technology for Learning

Harold Rheingold: Attention Literacy

Mark Carbone: recent blog post re school content filtering and social network access


OK, you have been holding that thought …. I believe you will find Joe’s article interesting, and it includes a reader survey. His post and survey are at: Is Facebook the Enemy of Education by Joe Corbett, ISTE. Have you voted yet?

~ Mark

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