Google’s ‘Expedition’ project visits Arizona

So I’ve got ‘Google Cardboard’glasses ready, and I’m excited to hear that Google will be here in Arizona this week. It’s part of their roll out of Google Expeditions – a classroom project using virtual reality. A few weeks back I applied to have them come out and run VR sessions, so –fingers crossed — I’m hoping my school gets picked.

So what’s Google Expeditions? There’s a good explanation here on this EdTech site, EdSurge. The Google team is visiting selected schools in the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Brazil, Canada, Singapore and Denmark. Each school will get an Expeditions kit – probably a VR ‘Cardboard’ headset, and apps. I noticed that the ‘expeditions’ feature a wide range of topics from ancient civilizations and rain forests, to space and historical events.

Think of it Expeditions as a virtual field trip, or more appropriately, an immersive experience that you could not get out of a text book – something I touched on in the recent Sri Lanka STEAM workshops for teachers.

Science and Tech Workshop in Sri Lanka

Just got back from a short trip to Sri Lanka, where I conducted two workshops for teachers.The first was in Maharagama on Dec 15th & 16th. The second workshop was in Kandy on Dec 18th.

Here are some stories about the workshops:

Much thanks to my co-presenters:

  • Dr. Paul Funk – Engineer, US Dept. of Agriculture, New Mexico (Via Skype)
  • Ruben Gameros – Autonomous Collective Systems Laboratory, Arizona State University (Via Skype)
  • Scott Logan – Montessori International School, Mesa, Arizona (Via Skype)
  • Lal Medawattegedera – Lecturer, Open University of Sri Lanka
  • Nalaka Gunewardene – Science writer, author, trustee of the Science and Development Network
  • Nazly Ahmed – Web App Dev at Social Seed Media

Also the two Keynote Speakers:

  • Dr. Ajit Madurapperuma – Dir. Of Information Communication Technology, ICTA
  • Dr. Nalin Samarasinha – Astrophysicist at Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona (Via Skype)

Finally, thanks to the American Center in Sri Lanka who made this possible – especially Joshua Shen.







Hands-On Engneering – Spaghetti Tower Challenge



Hands-on session on Audio Recording

Scot Logan & Students

Hands-on session on Motors and Electro-magnetism

Scott Logan & students at Montessori International School, teach class – via Skype


Aaron Fernando facilitates session


Using audio and video for content creation


Photography in Science – From SLRs to GoPro

Nazly Ahmed, Social Seed Media explains Depth of Field


Engineering & Problem Solving – Building a Solar Oven

Paul Funk, US DOA


Teaching Science Writing

Nalaka Gunewardene

Cardboard 2

Future Ready Classroom – Google Cardboard & Augmented Reality


Future Ready Classroom – Teaching Robotics

Ruben Gameros, ASU, teaches class on robotics – Via Skype

Joshua Shen - STEAM Workshop Introduction

Joshua Shen  Delivers Opening Address

STEM Student Ambassdors to visit Sri Lanka

STEM Ambassadors - Salt River Elementary 2Two students from my school district have been invited to visit Sri Lanka as ‘STEAM Ambassadors‘ in December.

They will represent the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community at two workshops for teachers on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. The workshops will be held in Colombo and Kandy.

The students are:

  • Dominique Grey, a sixth-grade student at Salt River Elementary.
  • Haley Smith, a seventh-grade student at Salt River High School.
  • Maria Chavez, the school’s Parent/Community Involvement Specialist, will accompany them, as well as one parent of each of the students.

Listen to the story here, on KJZZ.

Citizens’ voices matter

A few years ago I conducted a series of webinar-style workshops for the U.S. State Department, for content creators, educators, marketers and those in traditional and new media. The workshops were called  “Passport to Digital Citizenship.”

I was convinced that citizen’s voices would be valuable, and –despite technological barriers and people who would try to keep them quiet– they could be heard.

So today, as my book is about to launch, I am thrilled to see this report by CNN on the importance of citizen-driven media.

Journalism has been forever changed — I’d argue for the better — thanks to the fact that people can interact with media organizations and share their opinions, personal stories, and photos and videos of news as it happens. This year’s nominated iReports are prime examples of how participatory storytelling can positively affect the way we cover and understand the news. 

(“36 stories that prove citizen journalism matters.” By Katie Hawkins-Gaar, CNN | Wed April 3, 2013 )

When we talk of  ‘participatory journalism’ we mean that ‘CitJos’ work alongside traditional media. They are not here as a replacement model, but to complement the changing media industry. Of the 100,000 citizen stories submitted to in 2012, they used 10,789 –having vetted them first.

I just interviewed the creator of a leading citizen journalist outfit in South Asia, and he stressed the importance of community guidelines, and careful design.

Citizen journalism, and the power of citizen voices is a big section in my book, Chat Republic.

Meeting online with Zipcast

Looks like SlideShare has pulled out one more stop as it adds a powerful web meeting feature with Zipcast.

It has always been a challenge when I host a web event, to find an application that doesn’t involve a download.  The Pro features are really good, especially the custom channels and analytics. After one small hiccup, the flash player detected my camera and mic. I plan to use it in an upcoming webinar to compare it to GoToMeetings, which has been very reliable so far.


Top speakers at tomorrow’s Social Media event

Social Media AZ - SMAZ 2011If you had planned to do it and procrastinated, today (Thursday) is the last day for any discount codes for Social Media AZ (SMAZ)–the much awaited annual event.

The event is tomorrow and you may buy your tickets at the door, but it will cost ya! $225!

The keynote will be by Jay Baer (of Convince & Convert), and Amber Naslund (of Radian6). They will talk about their new book, The Now Revolution. All attendees will receive a free copy of the book! More background here when we interviewed Jay on our radio show two weeks ago.

Several speakers from other states will be presenting as well. They include:

  • Kamran Qamar the president of mobile development company.
  • Patrick Seaman (Mr. himself!)
  • Christian Briggs (chairman of BMC capital)

Check out the line up of speakers, here.

In case you’ve been to a SMAZ event before, do note that there will be new topics this year covering mobile, location, search, and e-commerce.

Register today!

My graduating Class of ‘digital citizens’

Just got off from the awards ceremony in Colombo, where I spoke, via Skype, from a spare bedroom, to a gathering of 35 attendees who qualified for a certificate.

This was the conclusion of a 6-part series of webinars I conducted for the US State Department, at the USIS in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The series was called Passport To Digital Citizenship.

Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis who addressed the group after me spoke of the ‘Republic of the Internet’ –a very fitting reference, considering the times we are in as nations and communities meld together into a global community that is at once powerful and complicated –as Republics are!

Many of the graduating class are already very active members of this diverse, passionate Republic, using  social media that is becoming their glue (to hold things together) and the thread (an infinite, unravelling ball of thread, that is) that binds us all together. See larger picture here.

Some of you in my class are already moving forward, collaborating and connecting across your specializations, ethnic communities, employee networks and global and local communities.

First, to all of you in this graduating ‘class’ of digital citizens, congratulations! But as I mentioned in my address, don’t just hang that certificate on your wall.

Put it to work. Go light a fire under a sleepy old organization that is stuck in ‘anti-social media’! Show people the power of collaboration and digital storytelling through social media.

Because this blog, Hoipolloi Report, is all about those voices out there, I am taking a step to add a few guest bloggers over the next few weeks. The first of them will be two people from the Class of 2010 Digital Citizens. Who will they be?

Stay tuned!

End Note: A big thank you to Steve England, Dan Wool, Gary Campbell, Derrick Mains and Dave Barnhart who were my co-presenters in this series.

Are you a Hootsuite or Tweetdeck person?

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who divide the world into two sets of people, and those who see us as one big blob of humanity…

OK, more seriously, while presenting Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, at the webinar on Thursday night (it was Friday in Sri Lanka)  it struck me that these two interfaces, while similar in terms of dashboards, appeal to two types. After all, Hootsuite is a web-based application – no downloads necessary. There are some who are not very comfortable with apps that don’t reside on their computer.  Tweetdeck on the other hand, is a slick application that resides on your desktop (now also for the iPad and iPhone. Both are great search engines in their own right.

In my experience Tweetdeck gives you a lot more search results.

Tweetdeck Advantage: Try this: Look for “Floods in Pakistan” on Tweetdeck. The Search within Tweetdeck gives you a real-time feed of tweets. BUT you could get a broader, deeper set of results by going to, and searching there. The same phrase gives you this. It is a lists of Lists, that also give you a snapshot of the number of followers of that list and the number of tweets a day by people on that list.

Hootsuite gives you a lot more filtration.

Hootsuite Advantage: To conduct the same search on Hootsuite you could either do a quick search using he magnifying glass icon and it brings up a floating column with results, or you could create a permanent feed. But what I like about Hootsuite is that you can then sort through those results using the pull down tab and selecting ‘filter.’ This is very useful when searching for a keyword, organization name or hashtag within the results.

So what’s your dashboard preference? Does it say something about your work style? How does it simplify your search?

Replace dirty filters! Stop content clogging up your pipes!

On last Friday’s webinar I asked Dave Barnhart to co-present with me on the final in this 6-part series on Passport To Digital Citizenship. Dave is a social media coach who runs a successful business practice around blogging strategy, micro-blogging and web content. Steve England was also on hand with his mobile marketing insight on how all this plays out as we take our tools and our content into a wireless world.

In this session I focused on filters and deep drilling!

We had previously taught attendees how  to create content, leverage the channels, connect and interact with audiences. So in this final seminar, I asked them to consider what it might be to be on the other side of the equation -as recipients. Too Much Information (TMI) is clogging up the arteries, and customers, readers, listeners and viewers may be filtering us out. What do social media filters look like? How do they provide us with deeper insight?

We’re talked about  Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Bloglines and much more! It was a great rounding off of what we do a both communicators and recipients!