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Apr 18 / Justin

Reflections on ADE 2011

This was the first year I applied to be an ADE and I feel very honored to have been included with such a great group of people.

The ADE institute was in many ways what I thought it would be and in some others quite different – so in my reflections I’ll sort though my thoughts about both categories

How it met my expectations

  1. A focused group of passionate educators – This was a group that “got each other” right off the bat to some extent. That made for good interactions and conversations. Because platform was not an issue (for obvious reasons) and ideology was not an issue (we are all brought into the idea that technology is key to learning)
  2. Lot of great communicators – To get in you had a make a video and express yourself well. At the end of the day ADE is part of the marketing function at Apple so it makes sense that Apple picks people that are good communicators. I learnt a lot about good communication from watching others. One of the best parts was watching the application videos and seeing the variety of was people tackled that.

How it was different from expectations

  1. Not as “product focused” as I would have thought. Really were it not for all the macs you would hardly realize this was an Apple event. A real credit to Apple. Of course this crowd hardly needed convincing!
  2. Lots of collaborative work. I thought this was great. I thought in particular the Saigon 360 project was a great learning experience from both a group dynamics as well as technology standpoint. There were a lot of “type A” personalities at the event and so it was fascinating to see how people worked together.

What I took away:

Firstly I took away an expanded network which was on of my objectives. Secondly I now know more about the ADE experiance and process and so I’ll be in a better position to support teachers who want to be ADEs with their application process. Its a shame there is not another class in 2012. However, I can also understand pulling an event like this together is not easy!

My branding part is not done. However, I feel as though I started on that journey by getting this website up and running again. If I keep it up I’ll get there. That too I owe to ADE as it was making the application video that motivated me to do it again.

Thanks to the advisory board who I know worked hard on this and a congrats to our HKIS class of ADE2011.

Apr 18 / Justin

HKIS Transition to Gmail


After many months of planning (well years really) HKIS is ready to make the jump to Gmail. It was funny that I sent the email out to the employees at HKIS from my hotel room at the Apple Distinguished Educator institute (more on that later)

Google makes it pretty easy to signup your school to Google Apps but making the transition from one complex email and collaboration system (for us GroupWise) to another is defenily note. Nor is it east to just automatically use the tools in the Google Apps suite in educaitonally powerful ways.

To present our transition plan to the community I recorded a keynote presentation below. You can also see more informatino on our public website. I think our plan is fairly detailed and will put us in a good position to leverage the tools for learning (even more than we are doing already)



Apr 9 / Justin

Who am I?

Who am i?

I’m at the current Apple Distinguished Educator institute in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. We are in the first full day and one of leaders of the “conference” Rebecca Stockley took us through a group exercise in which we had to write “our story”. The story I share below in full transparency turned out to be rather high level. Maybe it means the fundamental “shift” that defines my life was my move international. That would be true for many international educators I suppose, although I didn’t make the shift as an educator (or a professional) which is somewhat different I think in terms of our I define myself.

All of this is supposed to build towards a “brand” that defines us. The story below is only one of many I hope to create over the next few days.

Once Upon a Time
Everyday… I would wake up in my small suburban town in Rotorua New Zealand
But one day… My parents said we were moving to Hong Kong
Because of that… I was thrown into an international setting with different people from many places
Because of that… I had to consider who I was and who I wanted to be
Because of that… I realized I could live anywhere and do anything, I went to Australia and studied economics and politics
Until finally… I came back to Hong Kong to work in education
Ever since that day… My identity became my own, not a function of my place or my role
The moral of the story is… NO MORAL JUST YET

Feb 15 / Justin

21CLHK Conference in Two Days

I’ve been pretty quiet in the last few days in part because I’ve been pulled between my full time job and my other full time job helping organise the third annual 21st Century Learning Hong Kong Conference. This year the conference is is being held at West Island School.

It promises to be a great PD event for all those that attend with a good combination of practitioner focused strands, visionary keynotes and sponsor sessions.

I’ve been doing some of my own learning whilst preparing this year too. Rather than use Word to do the conference program as I did last year this y ear I forced myself to use Pages. Partly I did so because I wanted to export the file into ePub. This means conference participants have conference information on their iPhone/Touch/Pad in an easy to read format. This combined with the fantastic iPhone website that one of our students at HKIS created will make for a very mobile conference.

If you are joining us at 21CLHK I’m looking forward to seeing you in a couple of days!

Feb 8 / Justin

The future of teachers according to: Seth Godin

I have to admit to not having read much of what Seth Godin has published. Although I have to admit hearing his comments about his own publishing style I do agree with the many people I’ve heard say he is very insightful about building reputations online.

What I thought was really interesting though is his comment on teaching. He made the following comment in response to an interviewers question: “Do you think the best teachers have to, in a sense, be entrepreneurs?”

“We don’t need teachers that will read a script in front of the class, because we can now hand the script to the student whether it is on video or written. What we need are teachers that can [broke in field]? running. That can see how this connects to that and help the person make the leap, and that skill is very different. I mean I’ve met some entrepreneurs that could teacher anything but they are similar skills in that you take something that is not all put together yet, you put it together, you sew it up. You say here – and that win, that transformation that makes me so excited about teaching. Is watching the nickel drop, seeing someone who was struggling today be successful tomorrow just because you connected two things for them”

I really like the image of teachers being entrepreneurs and connectors. There is a lot more that could be said about this but the idea that teachers today don’t reply on a “script” but that cultivate good sources from online and elsewhere and provide to students as necessary. Or the idea that what require from teachers is essentially the same as we want from students: creativity, innovation, metacognitive. Not subject experts per-se but experts at making connections – at learning.

Feb 6 / Justin

Teacher development

I found myself struck by a particular tweet from Christopher Sessums which was a post on his blog.

I found myself quite taken by the quote taken from a article: “Changing how teacher improve” from the Harvard Gazette. The article itself has a lot of context that does not interest me. However, the post does point towards something that I have thought about quite a bit. When I tend to think about where I’d like our teachers to be I think about the idea (this is only natural right?). However, it is not realistic to hold people against a figment of my imagination. I don’t think I’m alone in this tendency.

The quote implies (and the article argues) that teachers are more likely to see the need for change and the probable first steps if they begin thinking about where they are at that time. This is a much more practical approach from the stand point of human motivation and is also a more personalized approach.

Feb 4 / Justin



I thought an appropriate first post would be a reflection on my personal learning network. It will after all be this PLN where I draw my inspiration to post on this blog.

I garnered this inspiration to post based on a recent dip into Twitter and reading quickly though this individuals blog. I liked the mind map format for the PLN and so attempted one of my own that you see below. I used a google chrome app Lucid Charts (check out the app store if you haven’t recently). Its a pretty cool online diagramming software. On my Mac I would use OmniGraffle which is probably still more fully featured and you are less likely to lose all our work when Chrome crashes (!!!) but it was good to experiment and would be a better choice if collaboration was necessary.

I went a step further than the blog post above by attempting to put in percentages for the amount of waking hours I spend under each item (or category if items.)  The percentages are really pure guesses (although some data from my account at RescueTime helped) but it was a useful exercise in thinking about where I get information and just how much time I spend with different notes in my network. A key assumption is that the items are not mutually exclusive. i.e I can be using my phone in a face to face setting, or a computer in a meeting. Thus the numbers add up to more than 100% – gasp!

The numbers represent time but probably don’t represent the impact given mediums have on my thinking. For instance printed materials (in which I would include all the PDF’s stored on my hard drive collected over the years) only represent a small amount of time but have an outsized impact on my thinking. Academic work is deeper and more processed than the average blog post. Conferences too have a bigger impact on my thinking than the time represented actually attending them.

The key lessons for me is keeping an eye on where I’m spending my time. The categories on my site will to a certain extent represent the categories you see above in my PLN so that will be one way of keeping track.

Feb 2 / Justin

First Post

Here we go again.

I’ve had a couple of attempts at creating a blog over the last couple of years. None of he attempts have had much staying power! I’d like to start again but like all great enterprises this time around I’ll fix everything that was wrong about the first couple of attempts 🙂

This time rather than focus on the abstract and create a branded web property this time I’m putting the blog under my name rather than Essentially the purpose of this blog is getting my thoughts together, so creating a blog called “BluePrint”, as if I had all the answers, was arrogant really! This time I’ll own my own thoughts (though I may not stand by them). Within my site I’ll still call it the blueprint blog, but I’m done with creating an edifice outside of myself.

This time I’m scheduling myself. Each day (or as close to it as possible) I’ll make a post. This is to try and shake a “should I post it or shouldn’t I?” I’ve found myself caught up in previously. Each post doesn’t need to be an essay.

This time I’ll create categories to post to. This should create some structure where previously it was open ended.
Anyway, those are some simple rules moving forward. I’ll do my best to follow them! Right now these categories are: Article review, conference, interview, work, “Found Things” for interesting things I find online