Todd’s World

Day to day posts and rantings

Elevate 2008 – Instructional Design for 21st Century Learning through Videoconferencing and Supportive Technologies

It’s been a few days since my last post, but I’m just about finished a three hour workshop that is compelling me to post.

Dr. Sharon Friesen from the Galileo Education Network Association is presenting. The description of the class is:

Delivering courses through videoconferencing presents unique challenges and opportunities that need to be planned for. In this workshop, participants will learn how to engage students in a videoconferencing environment using effective instructional design methods and a blend of technologies.

Awesome! Great! Looks super! However the workshop was exclusively on a  couple of instructional design methods, and had very little to do with engaging students in a videoconferencing environment. I’m not sure why this presentation was done at Elevate this year, as it mentioned videoconferencing only insofar as it’s an example of something teachers need to do more.

Dr. Friesen certainly has a wealth of knowledge, but if I were looking for a workshop on how to design some instruction in a theoretical way, I’d be at the right place. Apparently many of us in the room were confused too. I’m hoping that many of the other sessions are more along the lines of how they were advertised.

That said, she did have some good tips on using blogs and wikis, and some great stories. Would’ve been a great 35 minute presentation. Great information reminding us of some resources, and that we must be clear with what our expectations are of our students, and how they will be evaluated.

Thank you for a good session Sharon, but it just wasn’t the session I was expecting.


August 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Edmonton Heritage Festival 2008

Wow! For the first time ever, I went to the Heritage Festival in Edmonton today! And what a lot of great stuff, and tonnes of people! Our whole family went, my wife, my kids (14, 11, and 4) and we enjoyed.

It started off with ETS’s Park N Ride at Calder. We parked for free, and hopped on a bus within minutes, and we were on our way! Navigated through the various exits and some police directing traffic, and our bus driver even reminded all of us to come back to the same spot when we were done, and there would be a bus there! Awesome service!

We arrived at Hawrelak Park at about 12:15 PM, and what a lot of people and pavillions! I must admit, I didn’t know what to expect. We were thinking there were going to be huge stages with performers, lots of great displays, and a few samples of food. Okay, we were wrong. Heritage Festival is all about food! Yes, there were some stages and performances, and some were pretty good, but, well, it’s the food everyone comes for.

Gotta tell you, we tried to buy one or two items and share with everyone so we could each get a taste, and not be full after one or two places. It was a good plan, and it worked well!

When we arrived, there were lots of people, but we didn’t spend more than five minutes in a line-up. As the day progressed it got busier and busier, and lines got longer and longer, and the weather got hotter and hotter. By the time we got to about 5:00 PM, we were done, and lines were like 30-40 minutes long if not longer in some cases. We hopped back on the bus, and got back to our vehicle. What a great time! But here’re some quick thoughts about good, bad, and ugly at the festival…

Cambodia – We ordered two Puff Cakes. It’s a fried doughy thing that fills your plate, and they douse it liberally with icing sugar. Delicious! And incredible service too! Cambodia you deserved a much better location. Their booth was in a horrible location that I think most people missed. The line up was never very long, but the food and service was awesome! Great job Cambodia!

Guatemala – We came for the Mango Slush. Hmm. No ice or slushy substance, just a slightly cooler liquid. Great taste, it wasn’t a slush. Service was good, ambience was good. Not a slush.

France – Crepes – Fantastic! Had one with chocolate! Again, they gave us two and it filled the plate! Our kids devoured it, ripping it apart, it was gone in minutes.

Borneo – Satay Beef and Chicken – Hmmm! Great flavour! The peanut sauce made it to die for. Too bad you got such a small teeny tiny portion… Tsk tsk, could’ve been a much bigger portion, but I guess it was only 2 tickets. Needless to say, it was great!

Romania – Elephant Ears! Egad! Could they possibly be any better? Doubt it! Line up was, well there wasn’t a line up! How could people not be there! (However when we left, there was about a 45 minute line up x 3! Romania has queueing figured out, must have learned from Disney.

Russia – Russian pop, and Sushki (ring shaped dry pastry). The pop – pretty strong stuff! One glass should put a lot of hair on your chest! Whoa! Kids didn’t like it, so I got the whole thing! I think my pipes have been thoroughly cleaned! Sushki – great stuff! My four year old took the bag, and wouldn’t let go, I think he ate most of them. Very tasty, cookieish is the best I way to describe it, but it looks like tiny bread rings. Pop – not so popular with the big kids, but the Sushki – it’s the quickest surest way to a four year old’s heart!

Outhouses – Okay, so there aren’t enough normally in the park, so they brought in a bunch. My four year old had to go, so we went. No toilet paper, and the “waste” in the toilet was only inches from the seat. I’m thinking perhaps some checking should have been happening. And the funny part is, it was still early, the line-up was, well virtually non-existent, and it had only been open for three hours. Someone hadn’t been checking.

Garbage – While I’m on the outhouse theme. Okay, so the Heritage Festival has been running for a number of years.. Surely someone can think up a good way to manage garbage! There were way fewer garbage cans than necessary, and many of them had full garbage bags beside them. I think there was only one guy in the whole place who was checking them, and he was pretty busy. Note to Festival folks – Need more garbage cans, better locations, and better management of said cans.

Thailand – Oohhh. Aaaah! A taste sensation! Had the Chicken Siam Curry on Rice. Great bargain at only 5 tickets, and your heap of food didn’t fit on the plate! Sadly I lost a bit just walking with it. (And I just about scooped it off the ground it was so good! 10 second rule apply?) Quick, friendly, line up went smoothly, and it was obvious how it worked. Great job!

Smoothie place – I wasn’t quite sure which pavillion it was with, and getting crowded. Okay, smoothie was great! On a hot day, it hit the spot, and the portion was a great size, all five of us had plenty in sharing just one! Thank you so much! You need to learn about line-ups or queues. It was one long line, but three people hiding behind the machines serving. Get three lines going, setup some simple ropes/queue, and it would go much, much faster.

Carribean – Boy were we looking forward to this one, and wow, were we disappointed. Three very, very, very long lines. Stood there for about 50 minutes at about 3:30 PM. Things are starting to get crowded. Where do I start? Okay, well we wanted three sno cones, a Jerk Chicken, Coconut Drops, and Jamaican pop. Jamaican pop was great. No coconut drops. Apparently they weren’t even planned. I think the folks in the pavillion were pretty laid back. Everyone dancing to the incredibly loud and blaring music. They could hardly hear you when you ordered! Slow, slow, slow, slow. Get all the way to the front – “Oh you want sno cones? Go to the side over there, the unmarked spot!” We could’ve had sno cones in 3 minutes flate! Sheesh! Jerk Chicken? It was a pathetic piece of chicken on tasteless rice. Not worth the seven tickets! What were they thinking? What were we thinking! Not worth the time, and the loss of hearing! Unbelievable. Note to festival organizers – If you’re going to locate a pavillion right next to where on a normal day, kids will run barefoot on the beach and play in the sand, make sure they don’t have pop bottles with those ancient twist caps. You know the ones that used to be on beer bottles only, that you needed an opener for? The whole area was littered with them everywhere! Kids and adults will be cutting open their feet for the rest of the Summer and into next year because of the terrible placement of this pavillion. Bottom line – Carribean was tasteless, poorly organized, and won’t be one we’re looking for next year.

Japan – Came for the Takoyaki – at 12:30 PM on Day three, sold out completely. Too bad. The line was short. Got a nice cold Coke and Lemonade though. Thanks much!

Thanks Heritage Festival People for a great opportunity to taste some great fare! Thank you ETS for amazing service! Thank you those pavillions that put a lot of effort into providing a quality, tasty feast! Thank you City of Edmonton for bringing the fire trucks, ambulances, and everything else, your display was awesome! We’ll be back next year, albeit earlier in the day, and likely without the 4 year old! Hopefully there are better bathrooms, more garbage cans, and perhaps something like free water?

One more thing, some of the dancing and presentations were really good, but there seemed to be a lot bunched together. Maybe an overall posted schedule, or something in our hands would have worked better. We missed a lot, but saw a few too. And location was bad for some. Some were a roped off area right next to the pavillions and they were packed, you couldn’t see anything. Some were stages, with sound systems, they were great.

One last thing there were some travelling around entertainers, balloon guy, magician, etc. Great idea! Magician was excellent! Free, and gave out business cards. Balloon guy was also excellent, but it was $2 for the balloons. I think these types should be paid by the festival, and allowed in free to provide this service. It was especially great for our littler kids!

August 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NECC 2008 – Seven Highly Effective Habits of Tech Administrators

Holy Honkin’ presentations Batman, Leonard rocks!

Leonard Niebo, who is the Director of Information and Instructional Technologies at Brick Township, just did an excellent presentation paraphrasing Covey’s Seven Habits for a tech crowd.

Leonard hit the amazing balance between Curriculum and Infrastructure – Gotta be at the table in order to be effective. Good point! It was great to hear his stories, especially the idea that they have a 1750:1 ratio of technicians to computers. His presentation will shortly be posted to his school website and it would definitely be worth your time.

I don’t know if his Board will let him present again, but it would be ideal to see him back at a future NECC where I’m sure the room given to him will be much larger, and it will again be packed around the walls, covering the floor and peering in from the hallway.

Great presentation Leonard!

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

NECC 2008 – Go Go Google Gadget: Using Google to Support Virtual Collaborations

Imagine my sadness when I arrived for this session 20 minutes early, and it was already full! Arggh! The despair!

But, have no fear, I went back to my conference planner, and the speaker, Kecia Ray, had posted a short blog with details of the presentation! Way to go Dr. Ray! Great example for every presenter, to help facilitate all of those who couldn’t fit into your session!

I’ve linked to the page here:

NECC 2008 is really well done, and I’m please to be attending! Next time I’m bringing my camera!

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

NECC 2008 Two MCUs and a Sense of Humor: Supporting K–12 Videoconferencing

Whoa! Now this was really, really great! I was expecting another bla bla bla, here’s some VC etiquette. Who knows how to VC, etc.

Was I surprised! Roxanne and Shane did an absolutely brilliant and outstanding job of doing some VC do’s and don’ts. Shane’s attitude and demeanor were super, and he added lots of great comment and he made us all smile! What a cool idea, singing for your class and singing along. (But I am curious how this sounded to him, was the delay annoying?)

Tip for Shane and Roxanne – camera placement is important yes, but it’s too bad they didn’t have the camera seeing more than 2% of the crowd.. It would have been easier on Shane!

Although Roxanne had a comment about microphones and video conferencing to Alberta, so I wonder who she was VC’ing to… Hmmm.

Anyone looking for a great resource or a great example of doing succesful video conferencing, you really, really need to get in touch with Shane and Roxanne.

Perhaps this link will give you more…

June 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Monday @ NECC

Can you believe it, I am actually in San Antonio at NECC! Besides the fact that it is really, really hot and humid here!

The first session that I wanted to attend today was The Principal Technology Leadership Institute: Convention, Connection, and Transformation.

However, sadly, it was already filled to capacity. I’m sure it was great, but there wasn’t even floor or wall space to attend! It’s too bad they didn’t put it in a larger room!

June 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Swimming, Sunday School, Movies, and Dinner

Saturday was a super amazing and full day! I started in the morning hanging out with Josh as we made a jewellery box and necklace as a Dad – Kid day put on by FCSS. It was a lot of fun, and especially interesting watching other dads have a lot of grief with painting and putting together jewellery. It definitely pays off having daughters around, as I think I’ve threaded my share of beads!

Saturday afternoon found all of us at the Barrhead Pool for our Swim Club’s first ever swim meet! We had tonnes of kids from Barrhead, Drayton Valley, Edson, and Athabasca. It was really, really well done! Lots of volunteers to do timing, food prep, cleaning, setup, tracking all events/times, etc. Way to go Barrhead Swim Club! And our referee was excellent! He was great with kids and he kept things moving along great! Thank  you sir!

In the evening, Katherine and Hannah went with Danae to the Water Horse. Apparently it was great, but perhaps a bit scary! (Although, to this day, I still don’t understand why the Roxy Theatre has to show previews of shows that kids would not be allowed into, before a kids show. Alien vs. Predator is not a kids show. But it was advertised)

And cold yesterday! (But I did wear shorts! – at the pool…) I picked up the kids, and my car really did not want to be out there.

Today I was teaching the Jr. High Sunday School class. What a great group of kids! I had a smaller class, only about 7, but they worked well together. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of weeks doing some crazy things in class.

After church, the guys got together to plan supper for Monday night. The men of our small group are cooking dinner for the ladies. Should be a good time. Some of us really don’t cook much, or, at all! But they want to get together and cook the meal together. The ladies are in for such a treat!

February 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s Friday!

Okay, so I thought posting a blog and keeping it up to date would be simple, but look, here I am TWO WEEKS later posting another entry! Sheesh! Yes Mom, you’re right, I’m too busy!

Today’s going to be a full day. Heading out to St. Mary’s this afternoon to ref a couple of Sr. Boys basketball games, and then home for the evening. Saturday I’ve got time with Josh at some project workshop for an hour, and then afterwards helping with our swim club’s first ever swim meet. Should be a great afternoon!

Hmmm. A thought just came to me, I think I’m supposed to be teaching Sunday School on Sunday, I guess I should call and confirm, and get that setup.


February 8, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Making an ice rink

So I’m still trying to get my outdoor rink flooded. Today I shoveled it off, and swept all the snow off. Then I grabbed the hose from the shop, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s still frozen solid! So it’s back to the pump house and hopefully in another half hour or so, it will be thawed enough so I can do some flooding. So instead I’m blogging.

Yesterday, after the Basketball tournament we decided to pick up some supper quick at KFC and then head home. Get to KFC and it’s only open until 8:30 PM! But it’s about 8:00, so lots of time. We order take-out and go home. We get home, and the “large” popcorn chicken turned out to be a “small” popcorn chicken. Check the receipt, sure enough, paid for a large one, but large did not begin to describe the portion we received. Now it’s 8:25, I call KFC, no answer.

So today, after church, I stop at KFC with my receipt and the container the popcorn chicken came in. The folks at KFC were very kind, and sent me with a replacement “large” popcorn chicken. (Now it’s in the right box, and life is good!) They apologized, and I thanked them and was very appreciative of the good service.

Then we get home, and open the box, and it’s only half full! It’s like they gave us the difference between what we got and what we paid for. (Which is fine, that’s appreciated) However, they gave it to me like they were giving me a brand new one, full.

As far as customer service, I think they’re on the right track, but still have some bumps to smooth out.

Okay, time to go check the hose!

January 20, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Todd’s Weblog

Hi! This is just Todd testing the WordPress weblog. I’m thinking this could be a very simple method for a church to post items like bulletins, sermons, illustrations, and just general notices.

See below, I’m attaching a document called SuperTrain 2008, this is the layout that will be used in Calgary for vendors at the model train show. But it could just as easily have been a bulletin, or the audio from a previously recorded sermon.

SuperTrain Floorplan

January 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment