Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Learning Across States - In Real Time!

Today... in the time span of about one hour my day took a twist I didn't expect... After my morning ride, I received this tweet, retweeted from Laura Coughlin:

So, naturally, I had to see what was going on in Laura's day of learning with Dean Shareski!  I clicked on the link provided.  I heard Dean speaking about technology... even about how BOOKS changed our culture - suddenly we didn't need to learn from people to get information - we could READ. By ourselves. (Obviously, there's more to it than that, but that was the gist - had me thinking all day!) I could even see Dean walking in front of the screen, clicking an app on his phone so the slides changed on the presentation. The only downfall was that the volume was a little low, and I could only see half of the screen. But hey! I could be in the same room as Laura, learning in St. Joseph, MO, even though I was in my own home in IL!

Next, I saw her tweet...

What to do?  Open up Today's Meet, of course!  Just clicked on the link and BOOM! I was THERE! I could see a couple of notes typed by a couple of people I didn't know, regarding Dean's presentation.
I still couldn't believe I was there.  I ran to my husband and showed him the video and Today's Meet, and he couldn't wrap his head around it. He thought they could see us, however, because he said, "Well, turn it away from me!" (Not quite Skype...)  I was so blown away, I had to tweet it out...

And then, just when I was feeling really guilty for "listening in" on a day I didn't pay for, was able to watch in my PJs (if I so wanted), and could even participate on the sidelines, I heard the volume go up on the presentation.  Great! Now I didn't have to strain to hear him! So... I "talked" on Today's Meet and thanked them for raising the volume, but asked if they could move the camera up a tad.  And VOILA! Someone in MO kindly moved it - I could now see the entire screen at their presentation!  I felt even more guilty then, but so utterly AMAZED! Unbelievable. Just when I was thinking how utterly incredible it was I was feeling like a participant in the room at EdWeek St.Joseph School District (#edweeksjsd), I received this tweet...

Still amazed 10 hours later, I had to write this post. This was one hour of my life - a true Genius Hour - and I learned of the power of technology. It may seem a simple thing to some... set up a camera, set it up to produce a live stream, set up a back channel such as Today's Meet, and ta da! ANYone, from ANYwhere, can participate. The whole hour, I was just astounded at the power we have as teachers, but we need to be learners so students can have the same benefit. We all need to have our own Genius Hour. What will I be learning during my next personal Genius Hour?  Well, of course, Melissa Corey archived the video, so I'll return to that another day and be stunned all over again...

A huge thank you to St. Joseph School District for sharing out your week!!!


  1. Joy,
    Thank you SO MUCH for joining our day of learning! Setting up the livestream can be a bit of a task (encoding video and audio, working with XML files, hooking up the peripherals) but it is so worth it when others can participate and extend our learning! EdWeek SJSD is held each June, but I'll be sure to keep you in the loop anytime we livestream other speakers throughout the year! Thanks again and I look forward to learning from you!
    Melissa Corey

  2. A very cool reflection, Joy...

    I have to giggle a little bit at your feelings of "guilt." Don't feel guilty. We're glad you could join us. You know, it really is so easy to share such things that it is almost an afterthought forbid as this point. Plug in a camera, connect it to the web, and "open the door" to your learning. I was more than happy to take six steps forward to bump the camera up a notch upon request. ;)

    Melissa makes all the rest look easy, eh? And you're right, I'm sure she has already embedded the archived livestream for future deference. (be sure to poke around the wiki a bit and find not only last year's archives, but also the slick little highlight videos Melissa and her husband Brent laid down... cool stuff for sure)

    That said, as simple as all I this really is to do today... it is quite impressive that teachers are willing to spend a hard-earned day of vacation in a quest to learn such progressive things. Given that fact, it's really more of a crime to NOT share such an event.

    Thanks again for the great reflection, and stay in touch.


  3. Oh, Joy, this is so awesome! I missed out on the whole thing until reading it today. Yeah!

    I like Sean's comment that since you're spending a hard-earned day of vacation to learn, that it's more of a crime NOT to share. That is touching! I have gained so much respect for SJSD after their Edweek!

    I love to read your passion. You are an inspiration to others, and your influence is growing every day.