Posts in Category: Uncategorized

Remixing SXSWedu 2015: XIM on #MIX

I thought to try an experiment at SXSWedu this year and invite a few sketchnote enthusiasts to collaborate on a collaborative sketchnote using FiftyThree’s innovative collaborative drawing platform, Mix. So we sat down andknocked  around ideas and settled on XIM, or Experimental Impresssionism. 

I’m hoping to get some insights on two things:

  • Can we tap into the crowd’s collective insight at a conference? We’ve figured out how to tap session content through tweets and shared Google Docs and the like, but I don’t know of any instances of trying to capture a collective and global impression of a conference. I want to see a conference through other people’s eyes.  What themes emerge, what dots get connected. I am not interested in capturing the details of a presentation or workshop–that sort of stuff is easy to come by. I want to know if we can capture the process by which people synthesize all they learn at a conference.
  • How might I use @FiftyThree’s Mix to make this happen. I feel confortable using  collabroative note-taking tool such as Google Docs, but I want to know if collaborative sketches work any differently. Mix seems like the best platofrm to try this.

A huge thank you to Amy Burvall, Honoria Starbuck and Sean Ziebarth for volunteering their time. But what I most value in them is their wilingness to try on ideas, pretty much sight unseen. They put me in my mind of Anthony Burrill:

If you’re at SXSWedu–heck even if your not–join us on the Mix


QQ: Do schools have an obligation to help students get more sleep?

Sketchnote Primer

The how-to video I made for the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute in San Diego, July 2014.

A number of colleagues asked if they could use it in their classrooms–by all means! I have just two things to ask in return:

  1. credit for the video and,
  2. if you introuce the idea to your students let me know. A colleague and I are setting up some research to see how sketchnoting works in schools and I’d be grateful if you’d let us know how you are using it.


#ade2014 Institute Summary

Still noodling on this…

I thought Wilson, Barry and Jackson revealed a sweet spot, an animating tension big questions and intense, tightly focussed inquiry. The offsites at the ADE Global Institute mapped onto this nicely and the Scripps trip, in particular, is a great visual metaphor for this: there is the broad context of the ocean which seems to be asking big questions, the long converging lines of the pier focussing to a point where sharp minds work with intensity on the smallest things in the sea.  

I’m not yet sure if the spirit of restlessness and entrepreneurship come out of this space or contribute to it.

What I carry in my bag.

Curating Content with Findery



Flickr co-founder, Caterina Fake, has released an iOS version of her latest startup, Findery. It’s a socially-curated travel guide: think Foursquare meets Twitter meets TripAdvisor, says TNW.

The iOS native app (and Android version is reportedly in the works) taps into the original, web-based platform so there is a lot of data out there for general travel. And because it taps your phones GPS, it can automatically alert you to what’s in your are right now.

But I am interested to see if this might be used as a curation tool for the field school model of learning my students and I are developing. Findery users can build so-called notemaps, which are collections of notes about specific places that can be share publicly or–and this is important–shared among a group of specific users, e.g. a group of students. This has potential to be a great curation tool for students.

findery & field school


Get Outta My Head: Quibbling with Brain Science

inside your head

Between societal changes and technological breakthroughs, it’s become abundantly clear that the human brain is transforming the way it processes and learns information.

How Technology Trends Have Influenced the Classroom, Carl Hooker

I’m not so sure, Carl* First of all I don’t see any evidence anywhere that we have changed the way we process information. We have certain capacities for understanding the world– reason, sense perception, emotion, language, intuition, imagination, memory, faith–and we have been using the same for ages. Maybe we mash those up differently on Flipboard than in the Spectator, but I don’t think that amounts to a transformation of brain processes. Now, we might argue that homo sapiens have greater reasoning capacity than, say, Cro Magnon did, and in that sense, transformation has occurred. But that leads to my second doubt: I just don’t think enough time has gone by under the influence of modern technology to produce evolutionary changes in our brains. We are, physiologically speaking, fundamentally the same as we were millennia ago when Aristotle was describing us as mimetic animals. What you’re describing as our craving for interaction, for example, Carl, is not new but rather the activation of something latent, I think.

I am at a loss to understand why we in education drive to biological accounting (think of the recent influence of neuroscience on educational conversations) though I suspect it has something to do with our nearly pathological need to quantify ourselves and our taste for reductionism. In any case, what we are seeing is cultural, not evolutionary, change and to see what that looks like we don’t have to look back very far at all. Clay Shirky was the one who tipped me to Elizabeth Eisenstein’s wonderful look at The Printing Press As An Agent of Change:

What Eisenstein focused on, though, was how many historians ignored the transition from one era to the other. To describe the world before or after the spread of print was child’s play; those dates were safely distanced from upheaval. But what was happening in 1500? The hard question Eisenstein’s book asks is “How did we get from the world before the printing press to the world after it? What was the revolution itself like?”

The reason all this matters is that a biological accounting gets us looking in the wrong direction–inward instead of outward. Learning is at once both a personal and a social act. Like Eisenstein’s historians, we’re overlooking the transition between those two. Our brains aren’t transforming the way we process and learn; we, as whole persons and as cultures are changing.

*Carl is a fellow Apple Distinguished Educator and I love his take on tech. His presentation as SXSWedu this year was a brilliant–and theatrical!–plea for keeping some balance in our digital and analog lives.

No Textbooks Please: Twitter Data Sheet

Twitter archive #sxswedu + #notext

Here’s the link to the Twitter archive spreadsheet that is capturing all the tweets with the hashtags #swswedu and #notext posted during (and after) my session, No Textbooks Please: Students as Content Authors at SXSWedu. (I’ll embed the live sheet once I figure out how to make embedded web pages behave in a responsive site.)

This was a demo of the data gathering phase of the field school model I presented at the session (see step F in the sketchnote here.) The sheet is live and since you helped make it, it’s yours to mine and curate.

If you find anything interesting, please post your comments here.

Many thanks

No Textbooks Please: Sketchnotes

No Textbooks Please 1

No Textbooks Please

These are my sketchnotes for my #SXSWedu presentation, No Textbooks Please: Students as Content Authors. Thanks to everyone who attended–I had fun.

In the second image, which presents the field school model I’ve been developing with my students, I’ve also mapped on Ruben Puentedura’s edtech quintent (dig into the slide deck after the jump) using red labels. This edtech quintet is a more powerful idea than his SAMR model, IMHO: If SAMR tells us how, the quintet tells us what and why.

edtech quintet

Portraiture by @amyburvall