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Goodbye to a dear friend – Chanaka Goonewardene

The network went down on Saturday the 16th June. It was more like a system malfunction when our dear friend Chanaka Goonewardene left us. Each of us – and our spouses, and our children, and our parents – have stories to tell of Chanaka. Not just Peterite stories but tales of banking, of spontaneous trips on trains and buses, of backstage events at the Lionel Wendt, of birthday parties, rugger matches, and job placements for school leavers…. the chapters about Chanaka and his involvement in people’s lives would fill a small library.

To say Chanaka was a doer is an understatement. He juggled so many projects the word multi-tasking was coined with him in mind. He never failed to call us on birthdays, or remind us of important days, to shuttle people around to events. If we wanted to know something or plan something we didn’t need Siri or Alexa – we would first ask Chanaka. When I met him a week before, he managed to say, “Machang, you have my mobile. Call me!” I said I would; Like most of us, I needed to figure out so much, but could not make that call.


And on top of all his accomplishments, he was a truly faithful Catholic, supporting every church and priest he came into contact with. I like to think he formed his own ministry. God loaned him to us as an evangelist, an example of what but means to love our neighbour, and as an unassuming friend. The lending terms were short and seemingly unfair. But in his short span of time, the dividends snowballed. Chanaka accomplished what would otherwise take several lifetimes.


Today as I write this, soon after we laid him to rest, I am sure St. Peter must have been thrilled to have Chanaka back home – to set up and manage that eternal network we could all plug into.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2018 in Communications

 

Bandarawela, a hideaway too often misunderstood

Don’t believe Lonely Planet. Don’t look at the once-sleepy up-country tea-trading town of Bandarawela only as a place overtaken by tuk-tuks and buses. That’s just one part of a town that’s outgrown it’s status as a hub for tennis tournaments, a wholesale vegetable trading route, and where some of the finest tea comes home to roost.

The Bandarawela I know is still in tact, if you care to look. The quiet three-mile walk past old churches, convents, and a haunted house. The breathtaking switch back (in these parts we call them ‘hairpin bends’) up to Pilkinton Point. A quick dip in the waterfall on the way to Diyatalawa, and so much more.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2018 in Sri Lanka

 

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Dan Wool’s ‘Cubicle Podcast’

Podcasting just keeps evolving!  Whenever I bring up the topic, either in class or is a media discussion, I find the old definitions are inadequate. The production quality, and the platforms have changed. The content creators have certainly got more comfortable with the format.

So this week I like to showcase a podcast from an old friend, Dan Wool. A solid communications and PR pro (he co-taught a webinar with me in 2010), Dan is now on his way to becoming a doctor!  His podcast focuses on –what else?- health issues. His website, cubicleclinic.com is filled with his take on health and lifestyle issues cubicle dwellers face.

If this topic interests you, please click on this link, or the icon on the right and give it a listen.

 

 

 

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Immersive classes, where students learn by doing

The phrase ‘hands-on learning’ often becomes a placeholder for many things. If it does not involve experiencing the subject matter, then it’s still theoretical.

There’s a school in San Diego that doing something really amazing with teaching through experience – or ‘learning by doing’ as some call it. (It is featured in ‘Creative Schools by Ken Robinson.) At High Tech High, subjects are intensely focused on real world challenges. One project, for instance on Urban Ecology is described this way.

Students will discover how humans interact with nature in urban ecosystems. They will understand the terms sustainable and efficient in order to apply them to designing improved modern cities. 

Students end up publishing an  ‘magazine’ on the Urban Ecology, talking on publishing roles.They hold staff meeting with their Editors-in-chief, who are none other than their teachers!

Is this EdTech? Is it a computer class? Can this be used to demonstrate ‘rigor’? Yes to all three! But looking at their class structure, and philosophy, it seems that this kind of pedagogy is very different. In the end it’s not about exams, but about preparing for the real world.

 

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The best tool for Storytelling or Digital Storytelling

The equivalent to the Google classroom is the Adobe classroom. Later this month, Adobe offers a class ‘called Explanimation.’ An awkward word coined to describe animation to explain, or tell a story.

Too often however, Storytelling is linked to software. From iMovie, to Glogster; from Visme and Animoto to Audacity among many others. Humans told stories around campfires before most technologies were invented. So tools like these should not become a crutch.

Storytelling –be it digital or analog– requires being able to describe something succinctly. Long before firing up the software the ‘story’ needs a structure and focus. There’s the tried and tested Beginning, Middle, and End. Or the Introduction, Conflict, and Denouement, if you will.

Students are natural born storytellers, but they often freeze up when it’s time to sketch things out. The best technology for this? Something invented in the same year that Shakespeare was born – the pencil!

 
 

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Behind the Mic: Communications class explores podcasting

The podium and the microphone –two devices invented 200 years apart –could both be intimidating. My communication class students had prior to this, worked off their stage fright with several impromptu, scripted , and extemporaneous speeches. But juggling the technology here could be demanding on the first try.

For this assignment two groups each worked on a short script – basically Talking Points – for their podcast. I asked them to create a show with a ‘story’ element. They then used Audacity to record it. The results shocked them, too! This group’s work turned out like a PSA with glimpses of Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds. They even downloaded and used a background music track from FreeMusicArchive!

 

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Blockchain fuels the sharing economy – Aaron’s article

For anyone considering dipping a toe into crypto-currency, there’s one person I’d like to point to – my son, Aaron. He’s worked with currency models from social currencies to crypto. The former is a way communities print and use their own money to sustain local industries. (One currency uses the line ‘In Farms We Trust’ as a way of thumbing its nose to the Federal alternative.)

His recent in Shareable, is titled “Blockchain as a force for good: How this technology could transform the sharing economy.” 

Blockchain is being adopted by restaurants, the energy sector, and the city of Austin, among others as he explains in the long piece. It’s definitely worth a read., even though I say so myself!

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2018 in Disruptive, Technology

 

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