Lessons from failure

A couple of months ago I got a call from Lisa Junker at the ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership. She wanted to interview me about failing as a learning strategy. Out of that comes this brief article ….Lessons from failure: Unexpected Impact – Associations Now Magazine /a>. The story referenced in the article is one I have blogged about here
and here.

Scott Leslie on Trailfire

Creative Commons License photo credit: Carnavas
As part of the online Knowledge Sharing (KS) in International Agriculture Development workshop, we are exploring KS tools and methods and then sharing our learning via the KS Toolkit Wiki. One tool that came up for review was Trailfire. I had not heard about it, so I put a query out on my Twitter network and in moments, Scott Leslie, a Northern Voice colleague, came to my rescue. Here is a 15 minute podcast with Scott about Trailfire and related tools used to share and comment on our journeys across the web.

Podcast: Scott Leslie on Trailfire

This tool is a Firefox plug-in, so if you want a defined group or community to use it, they all have to be FF users and agree to use the plug in. It would be interesting to test this in the international agriculture research community. (Or any other community.) There is also the wonderful bit about serendipity – finding trails left by others – their annotations and opinions — on sites that you are looking at.

Scott also shared his pre-call prep notes — which I find interesting. (Thanks, Scott!) I’ve put them below.

If you are interested in more blog posts like this, please let me know — and what tools or methods that might interest you.

Trailfire notes

Firefox plugin that works in conjunction with a main site

allows users to create “trails” which are made up of sequenced web sites

a trail mark also allows users to add an annotation to the page, so that when you are looking at that page
with the plugin enabled, you see a small mark, mousing over it shows you the full comment and
provides a link to the full trail

the website allows you to share your trails with others

you can also have the plugin show ALL trailmarks that have been made for a specific page, not just yours, which opens up
all sorts of possibilities for finding other users and finding other trails, other contexts in which a page can be seen

you can also add comments to other people’s trailmarks, meaning that conversations can actually break out “on” the web pages where the
marks were left without the need for any additional server software

cross between a social bookmarking and annotation tool

Educational and Other uses
obvious one is for instructors to create a trail through a series of web pages with some educational objective in mind

but as students/learners can also create their own trails and marks, it also becomes a way to connect with other informal

it empowers users to connect and share with each other without requiring the individual sites to provide any facility or
containing mechanism to do so

simple way to add help commentary to websites – add a mark that leads off to further help documents and tutorials from whatever site
you are trying to use, or use the note to add help, like Greader shortkeys mark

a way to non-invasively annotate the web

a way to leave commentary for Others on websites

a virtual layer that overlays the web; this same technique is now being exploited by browser plugins like PMOG,
passively multiplayer online game, a game played ON TOP of the regular web through a browser plugin

cf. also medium (http://me.dium.com/ )

URLs mentioned in this podcast:

Blended Chocolate – why I love online learning

love the cacao - by choconancyFrom my talented friends in Australia comes, Blended Chocolate, a three part online learning module about chocolate making.

Now I’ve heard people talk about how online learning is lifeless and is boring. As I started looking at these flash based learning modules on chocolate, I realized two things. What Gary Sewell put together here both shows his/his team’s passion and taps into mine. That’s the magic sauce (well, beyond the chocolate itself.) Passion.

Look at Kim of Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand’s offering on Permaculture, all woven into a blog with lots of visuals, videos and a sense of warmth. Scan the amazing offerings people are making on WikiEducator. No one is making them do that!


Passion from the creators of the offering. Passion in the topic. Warmth in the invitation. Poof! Learning!

Our learning edges

Surfing Picasso by Greg Robbins Yesterday I was interviewed about “making mistakes in public” and how that allows us to get feedback and learn from others. My friend Philip Tarlow mentioned this Picasso quote to me last week, and it struck me as being about our learning edges. Doing things we aren’t quite sure we know how to do. Taking risks in the name of learning and doing.

” Thus when we used to make our constructions, we produced “pure truth” without pretensions, without tricks, without malice. What we did then had never been done before; we did it disinterestedly, and if iti is worth anything it is because we did it without expecting to profit from it. We sought to express reality with materials we did not know how to handle and which we prized precisely because we know that their help was not indispensable to use, that they were neither the best nor the most adequate. We put enthusiasm into the work, and, this alone, even if that were all that there were in it, would be enough: and much more than is usually put into an effort — for we surrendered ourselves to it completely, body and soul. We departed so far from the modes of expression then known and appreciated that we felt save from any suspicion of mercenary aims. “

Picasso, reported by Jaime Sabartes, Picasso: An Intimate Portrait, New York 1948

Image by Greg Robbins

A post for parents and educators about the internet

Sanzaru TooAs some of you know, I’ve adopted the edublogging community as a collective mentor. This passionate network of people using web based technologies in teaching and learning constantly inspire and teach ME lessons that I carry to the non profit and NGO sector. So today when I got a tweet about a post from Australian edublogger Sue Waters reporting that Al Upton’s amazing “MiniLegends” classroom blog was given a shut down order, I clicked right in and read… Al Upton & The MiniLegend’s Blog Given Order for Closure | Mobile Technology in TAFE. Sue references Al’s blog shutdown notice here.

I think these are two very important blog posts to read, comment upon and write about for a couple of reasons.

  • Finding wise and useful ways to work with children online is very important. Balancing knowns and unknowns, dealing with the school and legal systems challenges (!!!) must not overtake the core issue of helping children become savvy, responsible users of digital tools and media. So we all need to be involved in both the practice and the discussion.
  • Wise and savvy digital kids become wise and savvy digital citizens, employees, entrepreneurs and innovators. If we stifle them in grade 3, what can we expect down the road. The internet is here. We cannot cover our ears, eyes and mouths like the three monkeys.

Take a read. Pop on over to Al’s blog and give your input. This is a VERY important discussion.

P.S. Here is Al’s P.S. on his post. Worth repeating:

Please Note … Let’s embrace this as an opportunity to promote the value of blogs and online learning generally. There is no benefit in looking for blame here, there is enormous value and potential in celebrating our voices.

Creative Commons License photo credit: St Stev