Thursday, 5 July 2012

Mobile UC inside and outside the classroom - are we asking the right questions? 3/4

Do you remember being in the7th grade? It is an easy one for me, I had the unique opportunity to partake in a one year program  (standard school year) and stretched it to two.

A pessimist would say I failed and need to repeat in order to relearn what I didn't know.  An optimist would disagree and clearly state that you have a fresh canvas to paint. For me, it comes down to asking bigger questions:

1) What did I learn?
2) What changed?
3) How do I embrace change?
4) What is possible?
5) What lessons have I learned and how will I apply them?

Transformation happens when we ask difficult thoughtful questions of ourselves and seek a different outcome

"First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination." Napoleon Hill

Most recently (June) we wrapped up our first annual Edge Challenge Contest. We reached out to Students, Teachers, Faculty and early stage Start-up Companies. The initial goal was to have each contestant share their vision to how they would  transform a learning experience inside and outside the classroom.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Mobile UC inside & outside the classroom 2/4

Has this ever happened to you? You select random on your playlist and Shazam you hit a song that you know very well but upon a another hear something different, unique and engaging.

I've been a lukewarm fan of the punk rock trio, The Police. But upon further digging I discovered layers of music I never heard over commercial radio. The distinctive marriage of rhythm, bass and guitar provide a unique mash-up of ska, punk, pop and rock. Add in a funky time signature and a catchy guitar riff and it is a completely different presentation of the song. Da do do do ...da da da....indeed!

Turning to mobile, how are we encouraging students to develop, program, build, architect something cool -  relevant and necessary!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Mobile use cases inside & outside the classroom 1/4

Over the next four weeks, we'll explore some unique use cases from inside and outside of the classroom. To kick-off this week's post, our guest blog is presented by Jon Eby, from our mobile software dev team. 

There's a question I frequently find myself dealing with that I'm not a very big fan of:
 "Where do you see mobile in the classroom going?"

This is usually followed by a discussion or at least a few comments about texting in class, poor attention spans, people being more comfortable messaging each other than actually talking to each other, and so on.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Best practices for students building mobile apps for mLearning

Recently, I sat down with Bill Lee, our product manager of mobility capturing a few ideas and thoughts about encouraging students to embrace mobile application development. 

Additionally we discussed insights for students to build out their portfolio and work experience thru contests and networking events. (see video below)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Impressive line up of Judges and Guest Speakers for D2L's Pitch Night

Downtown Kitchener will be the place be Wednesday, March 28th as eager young minds share their ideas to transform education through mobile and web technology with the end goal: improve a learning experience.

Sponsored by Procom; the event will take place 5-8pm at the iconic Tannery Building. With a Grand Prize of $1,000 and several door prizes and mentoring opportunities -  this event promises to bring forth fresh ideas that will impact a positive learning experience inside and outside the classroom.


Mobile Development Challenge Starts at the Grassroots for mLearning

Published on Desire2Learn's learning insight blog (Tues, March 20th)
During the past few months, I’ve had a great opportunity to engage with students and faculty at our local Conestoga College. In one of my several visits, I discovered their inaugural ‘4x4 Challenge’ – an internal technology development contest that really peeked my interest. I was intrigued; why would students dedicate Reading Week (their week off from school!) to work on a project that may never see the light of day? Not to mention, with limited resources and time (4 days x 4 nights), could they even pull it off?
After speaking with Ignac Kolenko, Chair of the School of Engineering and IT at Conestoga College, the answer was a resounding ‘yes’.  Innovation and ideas are thriving at a grassrootslevel. Students are self-motivated, driven, and have a great deal of pride to deliver something meaningful – something that matters.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Your idea + Mobile + Education= mLearning

For the past few months, we've been talking about innovation, mobility and transforming education thru mLearning. At the foundation of any big idea there are several small ones that are not so perfect, well thought out or even sound half intelligent. 

Do you remember the first time you took a spin on your new bike without training wheels? I still have a scar on my forehead to remind me of that day. Luckily for my daughter , she has transitioned from training wheels to balancing on two wheels in less then week. Unlike her Dad - she has a helmet and knee pads.  

How does transformation takes place? Do we step out of fear and embrace bravery? Why are so afraid to get up in front of people and share an idea? It is really true that more people are afraid of speaking in public then dying? 

So here it is - Desire2learn is providing a platform not to be perfect for one night. 
Bring your idea - your pitch - tell the world (it will be recorded) how education will benefit from your gem and change (the game) how mobility is used in our schools, on campus and how we learn......(how to enter below)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

5 ways to avoid mobile application lost and found + $25,000

Last week we discussed how 33 innovative College students spent four days building out several comprehensive mobile modules for their Campus contest. Aside from endless amounts of coffee and pizza – the end goal was to showcase a working prototype and gain invaluable industry experience.

So – what’s next for these young entrepreneurs? How can they further gain exposure and interest in their mobile application? Are there opportunities to commercialize their project? How do we instill innovation, creativity and building something that matters…..?

Sunday, 26 February 2012

College Students build mobile prototypes in four days

This week I was fortunate to be involved in a local mobile application development contest, sponsored by the Technology / Engineering Facuality at Conestoga College.  Under the careful direction of Ignac Kolenko, Chair, School of Eng and IT; “Ig” challenged his students to create and design working prototype in 4 days. A $10.00 gift certificate to a local coffee shop and Pizza served as inspiration to the teams (33 student’s) working day and night to produce some outstanding prototypes. 

RIM (Playbooks) and Communitech (resources, facilities and food) served as the primary sponsors for the inaugural event. Several volunteers at the College also chipped in over the 4 day reading break to ensure students had access to labs and resources.

The students were split into two groups: 

Group #1 - Blackberry/Playbook

RIM provided (and a few new Playbooks) links to HTML5 development on Blackberry/Playbook devices: 

Friday, 17 February 2012

Lessons from Thomas Edison and mLearning

Last week we discussed Failure and the 5 Big Questions for mLearning. This week I’ll focus on lessons learned from failure. It is through our own experience and how embrace change can have the courage to innovate.

To truly appreciate innovation; we need to study Thomas Edison, a master of transforming ideas into modern day marvels. Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t invent the light bulb, but rather improved upon an idea. Mr. Edison was methodical and persistent in his approach to get it right – but the key to his success was his ability to adjust and be nimble. In his seven steps of development he carefully documented his findings. (from inventors.about)
  1. the parallel circuit
  2. a durable light bulb
  3. an improved dynamo
  4. the underground conductor network
  5. the devices for maintaining constant voltage
  6. safety fuses and insulating materials
  7. light sockets with on-off switches.
As an eternal optimist, here are a few quotes that capture the spirit of Edison's lessons learned......

Friday, 10 February 2012

Failure and 5 Big Questions For mLearning

Last week we discussed the call for innovation and the opportunity to create, collaborate and build technology that matters. Like most great ideas we also need to study FAILURE first.
An optimist will tell you failure is simply many tiny adjustments to success. A pessimist will tell you why they don’t like your idea and may elect to give you many reasons why your approach is flawed.

 ….taken from Wikipedia – defining Failure
Thomas J. Watson is attributed with saying "If you want to succeed, double your failure rate". Wired Magazine editor Kevin Kelly likewise explains that a great deal can be learned from things going unexpectedly, and that part of science's success comes from keeping blunders "small, manageable, constant, and trackable". He uses the example of engineers and programmers who push systems to their limits, breaking them to learn about them. Kelly also warns against creating a culture (e.g. school system) that punishes failure harshly, because this inhibits a creative process, and risks teaching people not to communicate important failures with others.

For me, FAILURE is not even trying, giving up, passing the buck, not taking the road less travelled and not engaging in the risk = the missed opportunity.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Keith Richards and mLearning (Part 4/4 on Innovation and collaboration)

This week we wrap up our four part series on innovation. Wikipedia defines Innovation as: a creation of better or more effective productsprocessesservicestechnologies, or ideas that are accepted by marketsgovernments, and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a new idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself.
In my Innovation for Dummies post, we discussed the power of music as a creative art form how it can transform both the listener and the musician playing the song.
In the case of Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones legendary guitarist) it is his ability to pull off several iconic classic rock guitar riffs with style and ease. When asked how he remembers all the chord progressions from The Stones vast catalog ….he responds “I don’t get caught up in memorizing songs – it is more of a feel – I let my fingers do the walking – I just trust my instincts and try to never play the same song exactly the same….that would be awfully dreadful.”

Friday, 27 January 2012

Innovations for mLearning: Hammer vs. Lego (part 3 of 4)

Guest post by: David Kruis

Shawn asked me to guest post this week, and as Director of Mobile Strategy at Desire2Learn, he suggested I explore some of the innovations in the mobile industry as they apply to education.  Of course it’s hard to not to immediately think about recent announcements by Apple and how they are entering the school textbook market by using iBooks, iPad apps, and desktop tools to help streamline the creation and delivery of textbooks.  While Apple is not the first ‘etextbook’ solution on the market (,,, etc), they certainly generate plenty of marketplace buzz, and know how to bring technology to the masses. 

Friday, 20 January 2012

Willy Wonka an Original Innovator?

In last week’spost, we talked about who inspires you to reach for the stars, encourages you to challenge conventional thinking and pushes you to attempting something daring?

Recently, I’ve introduced my six year old to the 1971 classic movie, Charlie and the Chocolate  Factory.  (From Wikipedia..)The story features the adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka. The factory is full of strange and fantastical rooms, including a chocolate-mixing room that looks like a huge garden, where everything is made of candy and there is a chocolate lake in the middle, a research and development room with dozens of complex machines designing new forms of candy, a nut-sorting room with an army of trained squirrels that sort the good nuts from the bad, and a TV studio-like room with a giant "Wonkavision" camera, which can teleport giant bars of chocolate into people's homes through their television. The factory is staffed by small, pygmy-like men called Oompa-Loompas.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Innovation for Dummies?

Over the past weeks I’ve been eagerly anticipating the post-holiday season to indulge in “new music” releases.  As an amateur musician, I appreciate when an artist provides an alternative version of their song. A quick search on YouTube and presto I have an acoustic version of a favorite song that I can enjoy on my iPhone or Blackberry. (we're Bilingual in Canada)  Nothing compares to the capturing the raw essence of a live acoustic performance.  It is honest, organic and innovative (unique from the original)

Speaking of live performances, have you ever been to a concert that was lame? Did they just mail it in? Was it a recycle of their old hits? With all respect to Sammy Hagar the 2004 w/ Van Halen tour was dismal.  Blame it on poor health, band tension, greedy ticket sales or pitching recycled hits – still lame from the seventh row. However, I am awaiting the new album on Feb 7th – A Different Kind of Truth =-)

Friday, 6 January 2012

mLearning -Students push Admin to do more with mobile

I never understood all the excitement regarding end of year Boxing blow out sales. How do those darn advertisers create so much pent up demand having us wait all season to spend – spend – SPEND? Do people actually stand in line overnight to secure the best possible deal? Is this kinda like the 80’s when you set up camp outside of your local Ticketron (now Ticketmaster) outlet hoping to secure front row tickets to your favourite band? 
I’m still bitter …..for me, it was John Cougar Mellencamp -The Scarecrow Tour 1986. I waited in line for 22hrs for great seats – the outcome, last row nosebleeds @ the Gardens. Now with technology – I can beat the box office – there is a mobile app and connection for that! (U2360 Front Row – best live show ever)