Learning is Change

A Hobby Computer


I have always been given a work computer. In every single role, since I began teaching in 2004. This is what they have been since I (or rather, my Apple ID) started keeping track:

  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) – University of Colorado
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports) – Aurora Public Schools
  • Apple MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.5 13” Retina 2012 – Denver Public Schools
  • Macbook Air – Northstar Knowledge
  • Apple MacBook Pro “Core 2 Duo” 2.4 13″ Mid-2010 – Edmodo
  • Apple MacBook Air “Core 2 Duo” 2.13 13″ (Mid-09) – Douglas County Schools

Before that, they were iBooks or eMacs or some other thing that allowed me to get my work done.

And yet, I have always used these machines to do other things too. From writing to socializing to doing the slightest bit of gaming. And yet, when it comes to actually making a living from a machine of my very own, I have never had an easy way to separate things out. Sure, I have always had a home computer or device.

I have multiple Macs and a few iPads, all nearly 10 years old by now. And they have served me well. But, I’ve never been able to put away my work computer, my day job life, and then open up a hobby computer, the one that I want to build into what I become.

I have made a few attempts with a 2010 iMac, but every time that I boot it up now, it seems to be mocking me with the amount of time it takes between clicks to get anything done.

And yet, I may have found a solution for just such a (first world) problem as this:

My partner, Kara, purchased a Macbook Pro this past year. It is was the perfect computer for her combination of Nursing, Acting, and Production work. And yet, because she stopped running her own business (mostly), it has now been relegated to sitting in the corner of our wet bar, gathering dust.

And even though I have wanted a space of my very own to work from, whenever I feel the inspiration strike, when Kara tasked me to figure out what I wanted to do with this computer, I couldn’t.

I couldn’t think of any way to productively use this MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.3 13” Touch/2018, one that is exactly one year older than the amazing machine that my day job has paid for.

And then it struck me: this is the perfect development machine. This is the machine that I can use to finally build an app that I can call my own. This is the computer that I can use to make my own way in the world of developers and designers. Of writers and builders. It is fast enough to do anything I can throw at it, and light enough that I can carry it around to anywhere in the house that feels most productive.

It feels like the new way of interpreting Virginia Woolf’s, “A Room of One’s Own.” Except, this time, it is a laptop of one’s own. And yet, I will still share this machine with others. It is not just mine and it is not something that I alone will build things upon. Kara will continue to make things here when she wants to.

And if my kids want to help me to build apps, then they can do that with me here too. For now, this machine will rest underneath our couch, just waiting for one of us to grab it and learn or build something with it.


Finally, a replacement for Hangouts on Air (that works on mobile too)!

I’ve been trying to figure out how to stream to YouTube from a mobile device for years. For a while, I was using a mobile version of Wirecast, but it was really limited and hardly ever updated (April of 2018 was the last time). And when Wes Fryer brought the imminent shutdown of Hangouts on Air to my attention about a month ago, I felt some further urgency to figure it out.

Ultimately, I wanted to keep streaming to YouTube but not lose the ability to add participants and have a great video “roundtable” experience. Furthermore, though, I wanted to finally have a way to stream a video conference while on mobile. Hangouts on Air never made the jump from Desktop/Laptop-based browsers to mobile, and I think in 2019, going fully mobile is probably the best way to approach video streaming. 

After a lot of trial and error, I think I finally figured it out. Now, given my bias toward using iOS devices (iPhone and iPad), this is a solution that currently only works for those. However, I did some preliminary searching and it does look like there are some options for using the YouTube live streaming server (RTMP protocol) on an android device (or chromebook that can run android apps). Someone else would have to verify that, though.

Regardless, here is how you set it up on iOS:

  1. Go to your Live Dashboard in YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/live_dashboard?nv=1
  2. Scroll down until you see the Server URL and Key and Copy both of those to something you have access to on your iOS device (Google Keep, Apple Notes, etc.)
  3. Download the EveryCord App from the App Store ($1.99, but it really does an amazing job and, in my opinion, is totally worth it!)
  4. Open the app and tap the Broadcast section.
  5. Paste in your Server and Key from your notes document. 
  6. Use the “settings cog” to configure your stream for audio and video.
  7. Open Control center and long press on the Screen Record icon (Swipe down from top right corner of screen on anything iOS 12 or newer).
  8. Select EveryCord and make sure you have microphone turned on. Press Start Broadcast – Your Live Stream is Up and Running to Youtube (but, you can go back to your dashboard link to make sure)!
  9. Open Hangouts Meet (or any other video conferencing system you want to use) and invite your colleagues to join you.
  10. Use your iPad/iPhone however you want, but remember, if you navigate away from Hangouts Meet, you will only get the audio and not the video sent to YouTube.

I hope that all makes sense. This may be too many steps for some folks, but it actually presents a lot more opportunity than simply having Hangouts on Air limp along any further. I mean, you now can stream anything you want from your mobile device, including a hangouts call from anywhere!
 If you are looking for a full tutorial that walks through (or just shows) how to make this all work, here is a live streamed version where I demonstrate how to live stream with this process (how’s that for meta): 

Sorry for Low Resolution, but you get the idea!

I need to write.

I write when I need to write. And lately, that has been all of the time.

I guess I'm trying to see just how easily I can write when there is no one watching, when I know that it really will only be stumbled upon and not actively sought out.

I'm testing out what works best, to see where my "work work" stops, and "the other work" starts. The other work is making contributions to the world from here, with raindrops on the window and the dark night outside.

I know that I am simple in these moments. The same kind of simple that I see in other folks when they want to be left alone. When there is something that is in their heads, when it will not be shook free except with a great deal of concentration, and perhaps a little bit of love for what is being created.

I often see those who are looking to give of themselves with a very specific kind of return on investment. I don't begrudge those who wish to have a good time or to feel good in their giving, but I do find it odd to frame that good time in the guise of giving back to the community. Giving should be something that truly matters to others, and not as a check box to be crossed off. And that kind of giving can be a lot harder. The box is so easy to check off and be done with. The work of building community or tending things that no one else will tend to is really hard.

The kinds of things I want to give are intentional and specific. I want to know who I am giving to, and why.

I do not want to be a bundler. We need fewer bundlers. Of money, or ideas, or of experiences. We need more folks who can unbundle. More folks who can take the wrapping off and separate out the purposeful from the perfunctory.

I often pat myself on the back for doing a good job of parenting, or not drinking, or even just finding ways to stay balanced within my life. But the enormous pats on the back that I hear from all around Twitter or in physical spaces of privilege are so loud in my ears. They are frequent and sound like clapping. A cacophonous refrain that seems to drown out all others when I am with them.

So, I try not to be with them always. And I try not to join that sound when I feel good about reading to my children or making time to answer questions or help others to make meaning. Those are things I should be doing anyway. Those are things to be built upon and not rested upon.

And so I write. I write for myself and I write for my future. I write to help uncover "the right work." I write to make sure that my blind spots are not too large or my bundles of privilege too big. I write to make sure my contributions are meaningful, if only to those who stumble their way across them.

Embedding video within a Markdown Document

Markdown is supposed to be a way of “writing for the web.” And the idea is not to try and recreate all of the tags that already exist in HTML, like <iframe>.

So, the following video should just embed correctly with the code that I paste in from Youtube:

The code itself can show up like this:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_D6fUxgEju4" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Demo Time: Wonda VR for Creating robust 360 degree video experiences

Wonda VR Demo

“Next-Gen Social Learning XR Platform” – Demo from Maria Gemayel from Wonda VR

  • We have a philosophy of democratizing immersive learning.

  • VR is no longer a technology that is unknown or hard to come by.

However, the creation tools are still really hard!

Use Cases:

  • Language Learning “Immersion Programs”

  • Creative Writing
    • Capturing videos and using them to present multiple environments for storytelling

  • Leadership Training – Hearing the “internal monologue” of individual participants within a meeting

  • Campus Tours

  • Medical Training – Branching for how to interact with patients or other roles

Creation Tools:

  • Collaboration features within the web-based environment

  • You can also see “results” for who is watching/experiencing the sessions

  • Multiple viewers can see the same experience at the same time

Platform Availability

Roadmap for Wonda VR

I’m super intrigued by this platform, and I am excited to play around with it. I wonder how the collaboration tools work. The branching scenarios could be huge for building rapidly and creating more robust experiences.

Special thanks to @maria_gemayel for conducting this demo and for helping to share the work that Wonda VR is doing to democratize Virtual Reality for students and faculty.

Posting with Markdown

This is my first attempt at posting and updating posts with Markdown.

I’m currently making this attempt on my iPad Pro with a wonderful app called mWeb.

Watch as this post grows throughout the day as I try more Markdown kinds of things. Here are the resources that I’m using to learn Markdown and get all of the syntax right, which is something I have wanted to do for years!

The part that I like most about this setup is my ability to continue to edit the post and have it synced across all of my devices as a plain text file. There is no need for logging into WordPress or to mess around with the WYSIWYG editor.

In order for this to work as an ongoing workflow, however, I need the following things to occur:

  • I must learn all of the syntax for robust markdown editing
  • I must keep an organized folder of my writing
  • I must continually come back to this process to ensure it works with new hardware and software (I can’t wait to see what new functionality will come with iPadOS 13.)
  • I must not rely upon merely the plain text, but rather think about how I can expand to embeds and other types of robust elements within my writing.

Blogging from the Original iPad in 2019

The original iPad has always held a special place in my heart.

Sure, it is ugly by modern standards, and the software that it runs is quaint and outdated at best. And yet, it is still highly functional. It does everything that it did when I got it in 2010. It browses the web. It reads and can send email. It can download apps. It also still has much of the same text manipulation features that my new iPad Pro does (copy-paste, selection and contextual menus, etc).

I find that amazing. The fact that a piece of hardware that is nearly a decade old can still feel fresh and inviting is truly a testiment to the enduring design. Even more so, it is a testament to those folks who are still maintaining software that can run on it. One such piece of software is called Blogpad Pro

It is a highly robust blogging platform that connects to modern WordPress sites and allows for auto-saving, image inclusion, and visual editing of your posts. The same app that you can download for your modern iPad is the one that functions on the original. 

And so, I am blogging with it. In 2019. I have decided to dedicate a special spot in my home office to creating regular blog posts from this “antique” technology. It is now a dedicated machine for writing. And it is exactly what I need. 

I do not need another machine that does everything. I do not need another computer or touch-based device that distracts me while I use it. Rather, I need something that I can quickly turn to and write with. I also need something that I can start writing from and pick up the writing from any other device. One, that will sync with the modern world, and I think I have found it. 

And all it took was realizing that one of the best keyboards that Apple ever made was the one that they attached to an iPad 1 dock:

I bought this dock/keyboard on ebay for $10 (with free shipping!) and it was possibly the best money I have spent in quite a while.

This setup now sits on my desk, and I can fire up the Blogpad Pro whenever I want in order to write down my thoughts. It is a distraction-free environment, with a lovely keyboard. In fact, given that it sits there as a “dumb terminal,” it is all the more likely that I will turn to it for reflection and idea sharing. Everything I do on this device has to be intentional. I cannot quickly do much of anything except for write. And write I shall. 

I wonder, what other types of devices could I be putting to better use. Ones that I believe are past their prime, but might serve as wonderful additions to the overall environment of intentional technology use within my home.

#DigPINS Week 4: Scholarship is User-Hostile.

I’ve been in a feud with The Denver Post, one that they mostly don’t know they are a part of.

I keep on tweeting at them, telling them to remove their requirement for me to disable the “anti-tracking” features of my browser, just so that I can read an article on their website. For the record, I refuse to do this and I will live with the consequences. I will live by pushing the articles from their website into Pocket, which has a far better reading experience anyway. The consequences of this decision are that I do not see ads on their website, I do not see any of the other articles that are vaguely related to the one I wanted to read, and I see their content and service as something to avoid in the future.

Unintentionally, I found this idea of “User-Hostility” worth exploring for our #DigPINS Week on scholarship. While I do not see News and Scholarship as the same, I do see the same type of user hostility that The Denver Post is attempting here every time that I try to find a research article on Instructional Design or pedagogies for Authentic Learning.

So, I would like to set up some tenets for user-hostility I see living within our modern Scholarship ecosystem. Some may resonate more than others and some you may have heard before:

PDFs and Printed Journals Are User-Hostile formats

While I do love listening to a PDF using Voice Dream on my way into work, the PDF leaves a lot to be desired in terms of what the Open Web has to offer us. PDFs, and particularly, research PDFs (that form the vast majority of the scholarship I see online) are a DEAD medium. The words may as well be written on stone for all that they change after they are published. PDFs, once accessed and downloaded, will never change. Unlike a webpage that can be easily updated, reformatted, or shifted between platforms, a PDF is not adaptable to fill the needs of the learner or of the scholar herself. Once it is created, it is left untouched. By formatting the words and ideas into a page-based format, whether they end up being printed on paper or not, we are saying that there has been no advancement in the technology of sharing knowledge since the printing press. Page 1 of our writing does not have to the same on every device and it does not benefit the experience that it should be thus. Furthermore, our scholarship is more than just text and images. It is embedded conversations and video and manipulatable data. PDFs take all of that away from us and present a user-hostile learning experience without an alternative to access the content.

Pay-Walls and On-Campus Network access create User-Hostile platforms

For the most part, the scholarship that I most want to read requires one of two authentication methods. Either I need to have direct access via my own login and membership information OR I need to be on the wireless network for my institution (which show up as the partial screenshots above). Either of these things allows me to download full-text versions of research articles or to do advanced searches throughout all of the Pay-walled materials of a given repository. Clearly, I am grateful to our library for having the forethought to work with all of these partners to keep me from having to sign up (and pay for) each scholarly resource I would like to read or use within my work. But, this doesn’t change the fact that the moment I am off campus, I no longer have the “global credentials” that I require in order to conduct my research.

This has the (perhaps intended) consequence of forcing me to be on campus for all of the extended sojourns into academia. Alternatively, it also makes me put off doing this work until I can get a good chunk of time set aside. It makes me actively not want to do this type of work, and so I often will find (and use) lesser resources because I am able to do it from my phone or from my home. This kind of gatekeeping makes it so scholarship is more rarely seen by those outside of institutions of higher education. It feels like these platforms are actively discouraging scholarship by forcing a geo-fence around reading and interacting with existing works.

References/Works Cited/Citations without hyperlinks are User-Hostile practices

References are the stuff that great scholarship is made of. Building upon decades of learning from your peers is how giant leaps in knowledge and process happen. And yet, all of the references found within nearly every piece of research I read are simply lists of authors and dates. It feels like taking a time-warp back to my middle school days trying to look up MLA-style for my encyclopedia entry every time I look in the references to learn more about a particularly poignant author or idea.

And yet, there is a simple solution. Hyperlinks have built the web into the vast (and searchable) repository of the world’s knowledge. They help preserve connections between thoughts and build a through line across years of progress. References are not mysterious. They are how we build an argument or show our work. We should be able to hyperlink to individual articles, to paragraphs, to annotations, or to diagrams within another’s work. It shouldn’t be hard, and yet because most research is published as PDFs (see above for more ranting), these kinds hyperlinks break all of the time. It makes me think that perhaps we should be building canonical solutions for annotation built upon open standards that allow for us to reference specific words within a PDF. Oh wait. That already exists.

Regardless, this can’t be the way that we become modern scholars. Our world is hyperlinked. So too, should be our writing.

Siloed Publications/Sources create User-Hostile Research and Literature Reviews

As good as Google is about trying to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” they really struggle with doing this for materials that are stuck inside files not publicly accessible on the web. They also struggle to create the kind of robust filters and citation searches that a single publication or research aggregator can do for the works housed on their site (because they own all of the meta-data too). And so, as any good little researcher should, I go to the half-dozen sources I know will house the best research on a given topic and I do separate searches there.

In doing this, I know that I miss things. In fact, I probably miss more things that I find because this method of search (and taxonomy and repository) is so broken. Even if I diligently use my bookmarks and create custom search feeds for the different publications I trust most, I do not have any confidence that the materials I find will be exhaustive (or even robust enough to be considered thorough). And that is both user-hostile and incredibly frustrating.

Now, I’m not advocating for all research to be catalogued directly with Google. Rather, I’m advocating for treating scholarship as a first-class content type on the open web. Just like files or web pages or images or videos, research should be searchable (from anywhere). I should be fairly certain I will find the best resource if I search with the right terms, not search in the right repository.

Let’s make scholarship less like The Denver Post and more like #DigPINS.

The open network of learners that I have been learning alongside for the last four weeks has been amazing, and I want to thank each person I have interacted with on Twitter and in the Pedago.me Slack. Here are a few good ones that I can link to because they are an on OPEN PLATFORM:

#DigPINS Week 3: Where does your Pedagogical Authority come from?

Let’s set the record straight: I do not have a Masters or PhD in Instructional Design.

So, how can I claim Pedagogical Authority with faculty members or my peers who do?

That’s what I would like to reflect upon during Week 3 of #DigPINS. Yesterday, I was a part of a conversation with a subset of Pedigo.me, which is a group of instructional designers and other folks who have a ton of Authority for doing online learning and related work. In our discussion of pedagogy and digital pedagogy and even critical digital pedagogy, the following question came up (I’m paraphrasing): “Do you think that it is OK to do the work that we do, without being steeped in, and deeply understanding, learning theory?”

As it turns out, nobody wanted to argue the point that you didn’t need to understand learning theory or the history of research on learning theories (or at the very least, what good teaching and learning practice looks like). But, multiple folks on the call went so far as to say that their work in learning design was predicated upon the authority they claim from their education on the subject, specifically their advanced degrees (Masters/PhD) in learning theory, Educational Technology, or Instructional Design.

Now, I have always struggled with the idea that going through a Masters program or a particular series of study that is credentialed by an outside institution as the ONLY way to claim authority. (I’m sure my bias is showing here a bit.)

I understand that is the way that a lot of the world works, and that you can claim authority by the education that you accrued from an institution recognized for doing that work. The system of authority is well worn and can be leveraged successfully by many. You took classes in “this topic” and all of “those classes” added up to “such and such degree” in “this concentration”, and you were able to claim that authority. You were able to say to the world that “this institution” will vouch for me, “this place of learning” said I know how to do something and I have demonstrated it to them sufficiently to put the degree on my resume. And in some ways, you are saying that others should listen to you based upon “this credential.” That is the root of a certain type of authority.

And yet, I cannot do that.

So, my Pedagogical Authority has to come from somewhere else. I could say that I know “what is best for learners” or I know “what is best for teachers and faculty members”, but unless I can draw upon a separate authority, those are just words. Essentially, I must rely on a form of validation that is not externally established. I must carry it with me.

So, I would propose that an alternative Authority comes from two things: Expertise and Experience.

Expertise is the ability to demonstrate that you have a particular skill set.

Experience is the actual work of demonstrating that skill set.

Authority, of this type, should come from the combination of your expertise and your experience. I have expertise in instructional design, and I have experience helping to create courses or helping to develop effective facilitation techniques in the classroom and online. I have both expertise and experience for participating and leading online forums, online classes, and on my communities. I have expertise in building things online. Lots. of. Things.

I do not have credentials that say that I do those things. I do not have an engineering degree that says I can build apps or make the next great VR experience. I do not have an instructional design degree that says I know how to make a good course or use universal design for learning. And yet, some folks to grant me the authority to do those things (and pay me for them, actually). They have validated my expertise and provided the opportunity for me to gain more experience. They believe I have sufficiently demonstrated my expertise and shared my experience such that I can engage in the work that I do.

So, I guess I have the authority without the credentials.

As I see it, the credentials simply short circuit the expertise and experience argument. They serve as a substitution for experience and demonstrated expertise. Those with credentials don’t have to share their portfolio to prove they can do the work, but I do. I have to provide examples of the ways in which I have transformed learning environments or made important contributions to the cannon of learning. I have to look at job applications for the line that reads, “substitute an advanced degree for x years of experience in the field.” And, I have to be okay with that being enough.

And yet, in many ways, I feel like some folks use the advanced degree as a crutch. It is a reason not to share a portfolio of work. To “hide behind the transcript” and not have to actually implement the things learned in a PhD program or show that they make sense in the classroom or online space. Now, I don’t want to discourage people from going for higher degrees or disparage people who are doing research or those who choose to demonstrate in a formalized way and cultivate their expertise, backed by an institution of learning. But, I do want to be able to claim my own hard-won Pedagogical Authority and speak to Faculty members, and to even peers, who have those credentials. I want others to be able to see that I have done my research, I have gone through the process of teaching and learning, for myself.

I do not claim the same authority that you have as a PhD holder. But, I do claim authority. It is not the authority of formal research into Learning Theory. But, it is the authority of applied and action research. I do not claim the authority of learning in a graduate level classroom. I claim the authority of applied learning, on the job.

More than that, I claim the authority of passion. I claim the authority of Geeking out about obscure corners of the internet and READING AND ANNOTATING ALL THE THINGS. I claim the authority that can only come from years of demonstrating value to others. It is the years of folks wanting, needing, and using the things that I have created that allows for me to claim Authority. I hope that works for you…

With all of that said, I’d love to ask:

From where do you claim your pedagogical authority?