Take Your Kyle to Work Day (take 1): @ The Letter M Marketing

photo-2As part of my “Take Your Kyle to Work Day” project, I had the unique opportunity to spend a day with the fine people who work at The Letter M Marketing. TLM has a long history, and an impressive list of clients.

What struck me most about TLM is their engagement with the community. They approach marketing as a genuine conversation. This conversation helps businesses and organizations tell their stories, build connections and co-create meanings.

This boy has a new (‘nother) blog

Howdy.

To kick-off my journey back into academe as a student, I’ve created a new site. I’ll use it to document and share research and activities related to my Masters of Arts program. It’s partially a blog, partially a journal, partially whatever you want it to be.

kyle's masters

So far, so good. Have a visit, if you’re interested. Follow along, if you’d like.

kylemackiemasters.wordpress.com

This site will still continue to see some action.

Learning from each other, while we do our thang!

I’ve been watching the first season of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (thank you, Netflix). My kids love it. The show stands up pretty well. The theme song is damn catchy.



Did you know that William Henry “Bill” Cosby, Jr. earned a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts? It’s a fact.

What can we learn from the gang’s stories?

  • Effective learning should be relevant and take into consideration the learners’ contexts. Learning is highly situational. The Gang learned on their terms, on their turf.
  • Media can be an effective tool for learning. The Brown Hornet cartoon-within-a-cartoon bumbling superhero episodes were short, brilliant, engaging learning-bytes and conversation starters.
  • Learning is social.
  • A song or 2 can always help. People learn in different ways, and let’s not forget what the arts can teach us.
  • The show is built around the power of experiential learning. Cosby guides the gang through Kolb’s model of concrete experience, reflection, abstract conceptualization and active experience.
  • Learning can be fun. “And if you’re not careful, you might learn something before you’re done.”

Will it blend?

Back to the running thing. I was explaining to my mother-in-law about my new addiction hobby. She was interested in the “program” I’ve been a part of: 12 weeks to 5k.

I started to dissect it for her: describing the formal course of study (Mondays and Wednesdays, lead by the instructor), the community of practice (Fridays, more of a study group), and the independent activities (Saturday/Sunday, optional, self-study). “It’s a lot like blended learning”, I suggested.

flickr.com/photos/barkbud

cc: flickr.com/photos/barkbud

As her eyes glazed over, I went on to equate the program to a piece of curriculum, with learning objectives, milestones, assessment criteria and the rest. Then it started to flow: the importance of the learning community, critical reflection of the practice, using evidence and analytics to show progress and guide decisions, goal setting and celebrating accomplishments…

Running and Learning: any time, any place, any path, any pace

I was in Vancouver, BC for a wedding this past weekend. The city has so much going for it in terms of its natural beauty. Too bad about the horrendous real estate prices (and the fault line). I was there on vacation, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet up with some of the folks who were in the city for Northern Voice 2011, and some of the fine folks who are part of the ds106 radio community. If you haven’t checked out Northern Voice or ds106 radio, go back and click on those links.

Vancouver has some great places to run, so I did.

kitsalano run

A jet-lagged Easterner on Mountain Time, I was up early and able to take advantage of this “bonus time” to get out and explore. I wasn’t familiar with the city, but thanks to my GPS-enabled phone (as well as signs and helpful fellow runners), I was able to navigate to the sea wall without too much difficulty. From there, I charted my own path and set my own pace to get there. I had a sketchy plan, but took some side-trips to when a new trail caught my curiosity. My “coach”, the voice on my running app who I’ve named Sally, gave me up-to-the minute stats and help, “Time: twelve-point-zero minutes. Distance: one-point-two-kil-ometers”.

When we design courses, curriculum and systems to support teaching and learning, I think we can look to the freedoms and opportunities inherent in the act of running and see what we can learn from the “any time, any place, any path, any pace” tagline. (I’m borrowing that from the Florida Virtual School, who appear to have it trademarked. Let’s hope they don’t mind too much.

Guelph: Putting the Higher in Higher Ed., since 1964

rock climbing

cc: flickr.com/photos/macieklew

If you know Guelph, you know that Gordon Street Hill is more than a change in elevation. The University sits atop the hill, allowing one to rise out of the depths of downtown and ascend to the glory of higher education.

Now don’t read me wrong, I love the UofG. I’m an staff member, a volunteer and an alumnus. As I said in a previous post, it’s a comprehensive, world-class institution, dedicated to excellence in education.

Again, don’t read me wrong, I love Downtown Guelph. It’s a creative place, with some wonderful, intelligent people doing awesome things.

“The Hill”, however, presents some considerable struggles connecting the University and the Community; physically, culturally and mentally. I’ve talked about this a couple times recently.

I’ve been thinking about this over the past couple months, as we were putting together ePortfolio Week. A tool like an ePortfolio is a powerful one because it’s focus is on the user as opposed to the course. As such, it an serve as a platform for connection between academics, extra-curricular, career and community life. One of the goals was to have an event take place downtown, to make a direct link between “life atop the hill” and “life below”.

eP week lecture

I’m heartened by the fact that I’m not alone in the discussions around the need for University-Community engagement in Guelph. There has been some great work done through a number of partnerships recently to connect the two: Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, Café Philosophique, Café Scientifique, Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium. There are certainly other initiatives I’ve left out.

What are other Universities doing to bridge these gaps? How can we continue to build University-Community engagement? Do physical structures help? Better transit? Funky new initiatives and partnerships?