June 24, 2008

McKerouac - A Month Stateside

It takes about two days, really, to get door-to-door from Edinburgh to anywhere in the States, so one might as well make as much of an invitation Stateside as one can.

Thanks to an initial generous invite to keynote Alan November's Boston-based Building Learning Communities (now sold out and with a long waiting list) later in July, and a tentative word-of-mouth twit/blog/email digital breadcrumb trail, I've been able to set up a month of events, conferences and research in the USA, with the total cost the Scottish taxpayer amounting to no more than about four nights in a hotel. A fair return on investment, I hope, from the following activities:

Greenville_sc June 25th: Greenville, South Carolina
Contact me: Drury Inn Suites
I'll be keynoting the Upstate Technology Conference on some of the Participation Culture work I've been doing, and providing a few workshops on gaming, pro podcasting and exploiting digital images for learning. I'm really looking forward to meeting an increasing number of SC educators who have come out of the Twitter woodwork and blogosphere these past few months to virtually greet me. I'll also be thrilled to kick off one of about three rencontres this month with David Jakes, who I've not yet had the pleasure of hearing doing his thing.

San_antonio_riverwalk June 27th: Arrival in San Antonio, Texas
June 28th: EdubloggerCon, San Antonio, Texas

Contact me: Hilton Palacio del Rio
Two things. First of all, I'm wondering with my 'spare' night in San Antonio whether Mr McLeod is anywhere nearby - or would like to be - for a reenactment of our Malt and Hops sesh last February. Secondly, I'm hoping to share some impromptu thoughts and, above all, I want to really get to the bottom of where US education is at in 2008. With every blog post from the States, I have to say, the virtual heads hang a little lower, a little more frustrated with a perceived lack of interest, progress or time and money to do things right. This is not the case in some other countries I've been fortunate to visit recently, including India, Slovenia, New Zealand or Holland; I'd love to understand why the States seem to be at a crunch point, see whether, in fact, they are, and, importantly, what might be done to reverse that. This group of educators is probably the best placed to look reflectively on a touchy issue. Hopefully some of them won't mind giving their rundown to camera.

June 29th-July 2nd: NECC, San Antonio, Texas
Contact me: San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk
I've ended up swinging a mini panel gig at this, thanks to the generosity of Uncles Will and Jakes. It's on the potential of video streaming for learning, for professional development, for, I dare say, entertainment.
For this week I'll be blogging primarily over at Connected Live, and hopefully updating with some video. LTS colleague Andy Pendry, currently working as the Technology Adviser for Glow, Scotland's national intranet, somehow managed to wangle a ticket and will be there, too, along with some BBC Scotland colleagues. I'll attempt to record a few wags of chin with them.

Burbank July 3rd-6th: Burbank, California
Contact me: Safari Inn, Burbank
The foothills of LA will be my home for a few nights as I finish off an eight-part video podcast production for learners of Spanish back in Europe. It's going to be launched on the MFLE later this summer, providing something a bit more attractive to an audience of teens back home, showing what Mexicana teens in the San Fernando Valley get up to, the strains they have with the older generations and the pressures they face in their day-to-day life in this huge City of Angels.
The (young) production company, Alas Media, is one that was a twinkle in our eye last summer as I canoed with Marco Torres' proteges Rosa and Miguel, trying to convince them that starting their own company would be a lot more exciting at their age than following the more traditional routes university was leading them down. Hopefully, what's turned out this past year has confirmed that for them. I'm just looking forward to spending July 4th eating Mexican, if I can find a home that'll take me in :-)

New_york July 6th-July 10th: New York City, New York
Mrs Edublogger and Mc Mini will be joining me in New York for some (required) holiday vacation. Any ideas what we should see and do? So much to choose from, and we don't want to shatter ourselves. In fact, is it possible just to chill in the Big Apple?

Boston July 10th-July 22nd: Boston, Mass.
Contact me (from July 14): Newton Marriott
Heading back up to Boston for more hols, with a few days near Harvard Yard before taking the T-line to Newton for the Building Learning Communities conference that kicked this itinerary off in the first place.
I'll be running a pre-conference workshop which still has a few places left if you're quick: come and enjoy taking some time in what gaming culture can bring to learning in the classroom and at home.

Come the opening day of the conference proper, I'll be a tad nervy as I deliver my keynote, It's Not All Native Wit, trying to get to the bottom of what makes some education systems 'good' and others less good. The title comes from the slight annoyance I've had over the years when demo-ing ideas for the classroom: "It's alright for him, he's young/a guy/a geek/got more time than I do/hasn't got kids of his own/can't sleep at all (delete as applicable)". For me, it's nothing to do with possessing some kind of pedagogical super powers or working a longer day than anyone else. I haven't and I don't. This talk will hopefully get to the bottom of what can make teachers even more remarkable beings than they currently are. I don't know what the reaction will be to a talk based on an annoyance, but this, after all, is where most innovation comes from: a problem or challenge that needs a quick, cheap long-lasting solution. I'm hoping this won't be any different. I'll let you know in a month...

Other sessions include more digital image work, a keynote follow-up and an appraisal of the trials and tribulations of this past year, trying to get more Local Authorities to follow East Lothian's example, and empower their staff (or make the staff feel empowered) to get online and share.

If you're around in any of these locations over the next month, do get in touch. I can't guarantee to be able to have a beer with everyone, though I don't mind trying. Above all, if you have places I need to eat, local foods and drinks I need to sample, or locations I have to visit, leave them in the comments here.

Pics: Greenville hills  |  San Antonio Riverwalk  |  Burbank LA  |  New York  |  Boston


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I hope your visit to the states is a good one and I'm glad you start off with a visit to my city! I can't wait to meet you tomorrow at UTC!

The lift up to the top of the Rockefeller Centre is a blast - and the view's spectacular. And don't try to walk through the plate glass doors of the Apple Centre in NY - they're pretty invisible but very hard!

Ewan, RE: New York

I'd second Chris - plump for the Rockerfeller instead of the Empire State if you want to see New York from up high.

It's perfectly possible to chill in NYC. Take a stroll around Central Park and while you're up in that neck of the woods, the American Museum of Natural History is simply wonderful and the Hayden Planetarium is amazing.


when you get around to buying your daughter a laptop will it be a case of a McMiniMac ?

I agree with the above comments, re: NYC. If you're in on a Friday, there are some museums such as the Morgan Museum (part of NY Public Library system) and the American Folk Art Museum that have free admission. In Lower Manhattan, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the Native American has free entrance during business hours.

I'd agree with going to Central Park if you just want to chill... with it being so close to so many museums, it can't be beat. Also, I second the Rockefeller Center comment. The elevator ride is pretty great.

You might need to check, but I do know that on Saturdays, the Dept. of Parks/Recreation in NYC hosts free kayaking.

Head to Nintendo World in the Rockerfeller - lots of fun. For those with vertigo like myself can I recommend the lift coming down.
My fav spot has to be Central Park people watching and the chicken guy on 53rd.

If you get peckish, I found this post to be very useful:


Took the mini bones to NY and Boston last summer - central park is great as is the childrens zoo they have there - small but great. Agree with comments above about the Rock - the view is much better than the Empire - Toys R us on 42nd street is amazing they have a ferris wheel inside!

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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