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I come from a family of Esher lovers!  So when one of his classic lithographs  – Waterfall -

Escher - Waterfall

Escher – Waterfall

was listed as the inspiration behind a new app which has just been released, I couldn’t help oooh’ing and aaah’ing along with others in my family as we sat around a smartphone ‘playing’ Monument Valley.

So beautifully crafted.   So nice to ‘play’.   Clearly this is the kind of app which can turn any of us into ‘gamers’.

Being mesmerized by illogical paths that link up when clearly they shouldn’t, the developers take us on a whimsical journey with the little princess who lives in the land of M.C. Escher.  Released just a few days ago, the app is destined to be a phenomena.  Just a few days ago it hit #1 as a top selling app on Trials Fronteir, PadGadget and AppShopper.

A review I read on the Collosal website says it so succinctly:

The hype surrounding the new iOS game Monument Valley by ustwo has been almost impossible to ignore the last few days, and after downloading the puzzle game last night I was able to see why after about 30 seconds of playing. This is simply unlike any game that has come before it. Heavily influenced by the drawings of M.C. Escher the game is so aesthetically beautiful the developers include an in-game camera that lets you take pictures you can share as you play. But this game isn’t just about pretty architectural landscapes, the gameplay is as entertaining as it is brilliant—instantaneous changes of perspective and gravity propel the game forward in unexpected ways.

Collosal: Step inside an interactive M.C. Escher Drawing wiht Monument Valley.  April 3, 2014

Take a look for yourself – you’ll be hooked!

No matter how often I see a 3D printer at work, I’m still mesmerized by its power and beauty.  So it’s exciting to realize that the opportunity for anyone to own a 3D printer has just moved that much closer.

M3D has developed a 3D printer that is lighter, smaller and incredibly affordable.   Designed for beginner users as well as expert users, this 3D printer is touted as being completely effortless to use.   Needless to say, the availability of easy-to-use software is an absolute plus.

The developer’s aim – to put a printer in every single house – certainly doesn’t seem all that far away.  Within 11 minutes of its launch on Kickstarter their fundraising goal of $50,000 was met!   As I blog, the amount pledged is quickly rising to $1,500,000.   Amazing – just watch the tally.  It jumps up by hundreds within seconds.   Clearly the developer’s are not alone in their belief in this new product.

And ….. for the record – I want one!!

M3D

How many times have  you fumbled through your wallet looking for the right card to pay an account in a restaurant, to pay the doctor’s bill, make a simple purchase at the supermarket or redeem a gift card voucher?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably accumulated a bunch of credit, debit, gift, and membership cards.  With so many customized cards matched to specific accounts, how much more convenient would it be to have one card to handle them all?!

This is what has been developed by Coin.  Well worth the investment perhaps.  Take a look:

With shipping set for summer 2014, I wonder whether it will be available or usable in Australia.   Certainly there’s lots of interest.  The video which went viral back in November 2013 when it was released now has nearly 9 million hits!  I wonder how many have been pre-ordered or whether, like me, people are waiting to see the real McCcoy before purchasing.

I’ve become passionate about the value of online learning.

Apart from being so convenient to attend – how much better can anyplace, anytime learning get?!  The power of being able to connect with experts from near and far is another feature of online learning which is quite awesome.  Being able to complete an accredited program while working through an online course is another added bonus.

So when I read about a new offering by Cengage: Career Online High School program for public libraries in the Heartland Newspaper – I got quite excited.   With a trial being run last January by Los Angeles Public Library, the program is set to go nationwide in the US this month.  Offering high school dropouts an online alternative to traditional studies, the program allows them to receive a career certificate in a variety of different areas, including child care, education and homeland security.

Talking about the program, Julia Freeland, an education research fellow says: “We anticipate that 50 percent of all high school courses will be online in some form or fashion by 2020 …..”  She gives a nice analogy of the power of online learning:

Freeland equates online learning with the advent of the transistor radio in the 1960s, when the new device became a vital information and entertainment source by providing an affordable and portable alternative to the bulky vacuum-tube radios that preceded them.”

Online Learning in Libraries Targets High-School Dropouts.  February 10, 2014

How great it is to see Libraries taking a leading role introducing innovative programs.   Read more about the Cengage Career Online High School

How would you respond if you were asked the simple question:

What is the most important thing you have learned?

Stop for a second if you like and consider the answer …..

For me, as I’ve said so often on this blog, it has been the process of learning, of constantly expanding my horizons and developing deeper understandings about subjects I never thought were within my grasp.  It is this which has brought me untold joy.

My learning journey over the last four years is something I never expected to happen.   Perhaps, in part, it is this unexpected discovery that has brought me such considerable joy.   But I know, deep down, that it is more than this.  Often, I am overwhelmed by the realization that I am, as I get older, still able to learn, still able to develop new skills and still open to new ways of being.   The feelings of joy and exhilaration that this learning has brought and continues to bring to me is, in short, fantastic!

Being able to share my learning journey along with my joy of learning with others either by blogging or by sharing face-to-face, is a side benefit that brings me a deep sense of satisfaction.

So when I heard Bill Clinton’s response to this simple question which has just been released on a ‘Big Think’ video, I knew I had struck gold!

How much more simply can it be said?

I think the most important thing that I have learned is that there’s more to learn …. that we should all be hungry for a lifetime ….  your brain is a gift … we’re most likely to form new neural networks later in life by learning something new.”

Sometimes I revel in the fact that not all I discover on my cyberspace learning journey necessarily relates directly to my professional learning pursuits.

So ….. coming across CamMe was a very cool discovery!

Winning the Most Innovative Mobile App Award at the Mobile World Congress 2014  the description on the Awards 2014 page describes this cool app:

CamMe is a gesture based camera app that changes the way people take pictures, allowing you to take pictures from distance without touching the device. Just raise your hand, close it to activate the camera, CamMe will count 3, 2, 1 and you can pose and smile, a great new selfie will be taken. CamMe is powered by PointGrab, a leader in gesture recognition software solutions offering a natural way of interacting with devices. Over 20 million CE devices are already enabled with hand gesture control powered by PointGrab on world’s top brands including Samsung, TCL, Skyworth, Lenovo, Acer, Fujitsu.

The Judges’ Comments suggests that this app could be revolutionary:

An App that changes the way we take pictures forever. Utilizing clever hand gestures, this cool and ingenious app is for the new age of the Selfie!

Exploration of this app has given me far more though.   Looking around the Mobile World Congress 2014  website has opened my eyes to a world I’ve only peeked at to date.   More than 85,000 people attended this annual event in Barcelona in late February this year.  With an amazing array of keynote speakers, exhibitors, workshops, presentations and more, it would certainly be a buzz to attend.  With dates already set for 2015, the temptation to attend such a conference in such a magnificent city as Barcelona is very tempting!!

This very cool video put out by the develops of CamMe certainly makes  a great impression and hec – I’m sure there’s far more use and application of CamMe beyond checking out the latest fashions!

It’s not often that I am lucky enough to have two lots of publicity about me in the one week, but that is exactly what has happened this week!

Sometime ago – late last year in fact – I was invited by The iwbNet Team to present for a second year at their annual conference: schoolstechOZ.  Having already had the experience of presenting for them in 2013, I didn’t hesitate. They are a wonderfully supportive organization and the professional focus they have is second to none.  And with headline speakers for the conference in September including Alan November, Judy O’Connell, Stephen Heppell and Alec Couros to name but a few, why on earth would I hesitate?!

So I’ve committed to present two consecutive sessions this year about a topic I am passionate about: PLNs: A game changer!  With sessions running for just 50 minutes each, I plan to talk fast, so that I can share as much as I possibly can with anyone out there who hasn’t already discovered the joy to be derived from their own PLN!

As part of the publicity campaign for this conference, it was exciting to receive late last week, this poster created by The iwbNet Team to advertise my presentation as one of the many happening over the three day conference.

PLNs - A game changer

As if this wasn’t enough to finish off a week, the first part of last week saw the culmination of some chats I’ve been having with Pearson Professional Learning who, under the leadership of Elizabeth Lonergan (also known to some of us as Libby Howe)  approached me to talk on the very same topic!  With a full day devoted to this presentation – three ninety minute sessions – clearly I will be able to engage more with my audience and talk just a tad slower!

Pearson ProfileListed under the extensive list of presenters, my profile went live earlier in the week and my presentation:
PLNs: Get connected. Grow your network. Accelerate your learning!  have been confirmed for April (Sydney) and May (Melbourne) with the possibility of another session in another state still under discussion.   I’m also waiting to hear whether I’m to get an opportunity to present for Pearson on my other passion: Engaging Readers in our Schools.  An update to my Pearson profile will let you know the outcome of those discussions.

I’ve been really lucky over the last couple of years to have been given opportunities to present at a few different conferences.   Once I gave my first presentation, I knew that I’d found something I really enjoyed doing.  Being able to share my professional experience with others is satisfying.  Knowing that I am able to inspire others to adopt new methods, new routines and new paths is also very inspiring.   But most satisfying of all is knowing that I’ve succeeded in sharing my own passion.  I strongly believe that

passion is the very essence of teaching and learning!”

Perhaps the best aspect of presenting however are the hours spent in preparation.  Yes, sometimes preparation for a presentation can be tedious and involve many, many hours, but because much thinking and reflection is required the side benefits for the presenter provide great hidden opportunities:

  • taking time to think – it’s fantastic!
  • reflecting on your own knowledge of issues and concepts
  • realizing how much you really know about a topic
  • acknowledging that you have skills and thoughts worthy of sharing
  • providing a focus for your own reading and research
  • opportunities to synthesize new thoughts with old as new knowledge is consolidated
  • networking along the way with other professional contacts
  • figuring out how best to communicate thoughts and ideas; how best to explain a point or share a concept
  • sequencing thoughts to be communicated
  • planning a logical sequence of slides or examples that illustrate a point

Some time ago, when attending a conference attended by teachers from a wide range of disciplines, some words of wisdom were shared by the presenter:

Consider taking time to “give back”

They are words which have reverberated with me as I consider my own career path.   Discovering the joy of learning and the joy of sharing what I have learned are strong motivations for my continued blogging.  Presenting at conferences on topics about which I feel passionate would also be fulfilling.   My ‘About Me’ page highlights more of my professional aspirations.

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