Innovative Professor & Closing the Gap Conferences

26 10 2008

I took the summer off from blogging, and have been a bit slow to get started. 

I recently gave the Keynote speech and a breakout session at the “Innovative Professor” conference in Teneessee.  Very cool conference with a lot of Web 2.0 technologies and energy.  From there, I went to the “Closing the Gap” conferenence in Minneapolis and presented with Steve Kann, VP of Engineering at Wimba.  Never been to either before, but like a lot of conferences, it was great for the people you meet and the sharing of resources.  Here are my top take aways:

1.   Utter Command – Voice Commands for Dragon for better Windows interface use. UC commands work across all programs. No matter what programs you use, you’ll be able to do everything by speech that you can using the keyboard and mouse, usually faster.”


2.  Scale Liberated Learning –  Chattanooga State is interested in using the ViaScribe Wimba bridge web in their classes –


3.  TobiiATI – has ran technology programs for people with ALS  


4.     Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (Learning 2.0) –


5.      Web 2.0 Directory –


6.      Assistive Technology Social Network –


7.      Sign Smith – Takes text and makes sign language with computer avatar (And my mind leaps to taking my speech output-into-text, then into Sign Smith!)


8.      Open Source Assistive Technology –

On the flip side, after seeing a half day of Second Life for Education, I am not sold.  Seems like a very engaging environment, but there is so much going on and such a steep learning curve, I can’t see it scaling across a lot of users.  Plus, the computer and network minimum requirements seem to be very high, as not more than three of us could get in at a time.




Anterior Dislocated Shoulder

3 06 2008

Yet another baseball injury!  I slide into second base head first, and caught my right arm on the bag peg, which was infront of (instead of under) second.  Another guy on the other team hurt himself on that peg earlier in the game as well… nice job, eh?  For a summer slow pitch league, it’s taken more damage on people than I could have guessed.  Irony was, it was Allison’s first game back since the concussion, now I’m on the DL list.

Good thing I’m part of this Liberated Learning project, I’ll have plenty of chance to practice using speech recognition technology for the next 4 – 6 weeks while my dominant arm is in a sling.

Eastern Canadian City – Halifax

1 06 2008

Just home from Halifax, which was great.  Was there on the Liberated Learning project, which uses speech recognition technology to imporve the access to information.  It was my first time to Halifax, and it’s an energic little town with a ton of live music and energy (most likely fueled by the numerous universities in the area).

Also had a chance to see a lot of the local sites, including the Citadel, the Alexander Keith’s Brewery (those who like it, like it a lot), walk the waterfront, and have a few pints in a few bars.  Best day was probably the Friday, as I went with Phil from Dalhousie out to the Bay of Fundy, and then that night saw The Sadies play forever.  They rocked the place hard with nearly 3 hours of surf guitar bluegrass foot stomping madness!  Absolutely loved it – exciting technology evolution and a cool city to do it in. 

Cue the numerous tourist photos (group shot is the Liberated Learning project partners from Saint Mary’s University, IBM, Canadian Hard of Hearing Assosication, Learning Disability Association of Canada, and of course, Neil Squire Society).


Coast to Coast – Victoria to Halifax and back in one week.

24 05 2008

Next week will be a cool one, but a lot of flying.  I’ll be in Victoria Monday and Tuesday for the BCANDS conference – BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society.  I’ll be speaking about Neil Squire’s parntership with the Penticton Indian Band, and the services we’ve offered: primarily Employ-Abiltiy and our new Community Navigator program.

I then fly to Halifax, to attend the Liberated Learning meeting, a multimedia accessibilty and speech recognition technology project.  The new software provided through IBM takes pre-recorded media and transcribes the text at ~90% with no voice profile training.  It’s truely remarkable, and I get pretty excited about it’s applications for people with hearing loss, meeting learning styles, and literacy applications.

I take a sea-plane Monday morning, and get back home at Vancouver airport on Friday night.  Time to load up the iPod with tunes and video for a lot of flying.

Personal goal – get my feet wet in both the Pacific and the Atlantic ocean in the smallest time window possilbe.

33rd McGraw-Hill Ryerson, National Teaching, Learning & Technology Conference

1 05 2008

I’ll be presenting at the 33rd National Teaching, Learning & Technology Conference at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC on May 14, 2008.  I’ll do my best to cover my favorite topics in the 1/2 hour I have: Assistive Technology, Employ-Ability, Liberated Learning, and how we use Wimba to reach and engage people with disabilities.  It’s always a bit special when I can do things at SFU, as that’s where I completed my post-secondary education.

“We are part of an ever-changing world in which education contributes and participates. Rapid change permeates the interrelated elements of the educational ecosystem. These changes provide new opportunities for teaching and learning in innovative ways. How are we responding and adapting to this new horizon; and more importantly, how can we ensure our teaching continues to be even more dynamic, relevant, and sustainable in an ever-evolving global society? Come and join your colleagues at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. to hear keynote speakers, concurrent session presenters, and workshop facilitators address these topics.” 




Neil Squire Society

11 04 2008

I work for the Neil Squire Society, which uses technology, knowledge and passion to empower people with physical disabilities.  My current role is the Distance Learning Coordinator.  Primarily, I deliver career development, and computer skills as part of our Employ-Ability program.  What’s really cool about it, as the “job title” may indicate, is that I do it online using Wimba to partner organizations and individuals in other towns around Canada. 

This has taken me to quite a few places, and I hope to share some of the better stories when I’m bored sometime.  Maybe copy and paste some of the general “cool” bits of trip reports.  Right now, my work is primarily funded by the Government of Canada’s Opportunities Fund.  So you could consider this a way to see how well your tax dollars are spent.

To teach online, I use Wimba.  They recently published an article on how I use Wimba.  It’s a pretty amazing platform and works really well.  I’m a pretty happy customer.  For me, the phone bridge option and the archiving are huge benefits.  Plus it has an API, which leads me to…

A side project that helps pay the bills is through the Liberated Learning Consortium.  It is basically a group of people using voice recognition to improve accessibilty for the deaf and hard of hearing.  I’ve worked with them and help develop a piece of code that allows what I’m saying to be read in Wimba, with varying degrees of accuracy depending on how well I follow good voice recognition practices.  I presented on this work at the inaugural Wimba Connect conference in Orlando, Florida.

I’m sure some of my work stuff will fill this space.  I really like what I do, and like to share it.  In fact, I think by using tags & categories, it might make it really easy for me to organize and collect my work information for reporting, public relations, success stories, etc etc.