The Nessie Awards – 2010 Edition

The Nessie AwardOnce again, it’s that time of the year. I time for pleading, needling, pandering, giving and receiving. No, not Christmas, you silly rabbit – Awards Season!

I know you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats for this year’s Nessie Awards (this year with a new Award Statue – the old one seemed to scare the children) so, here we go:

Favourite New Subscription(s)

A brand new category this year. And… it’s a tie! Between two posterous blogs. And two Brits who I got to meet for the first time last summer.

David Kernohan works as managing the UK OER initiative for JISC, but his blog at is intended to, as he says, “deal(ing) with the gaps between my ‘day job’ at JISC and my general personal interest in openness and education policy.” And that it does, with incisive clarity. Since I started following in July, David has been absolutely on fire with a string of posts about the de-funding of education in the UK as well as the ins and outs of OER.

Joss Winn is the owner of the other winning site,, which is markedly different than David’s. Joss uses this posterous site to gather clippings, sometimes with notes and commentary, about his latest (and I must say – prolific) readings. His focus is often around resiliency, peak oil and Marxist theory, and I greatly credit reading his feed and some wonderful exchanges with Joss over the last 6 months for en-courage-ing me in my own pursuit of these topics, interests I’ve always had but always sublimated so as to be a polite Canadian.

The “Blog which Posts Least Often and Yet whose Every Post I Anxiously Await” Award

This next award is a recurring category with some fairly distinguished past. recipients. This year’s recipient is not as well known but is even closer to my heart. This year’s award goes to my friend and colleague Paul Stacey for his site, Ed Tech Frontier. Paul is not a prolific blogger, but each post is incredibly well written and thought through. Paul really does deserve more credit as a thought leader in the field of Open Educational Resources and is one of the Canadian’s in my opinion making the biggest practical difference in the field, not waiting for changes that may never come but helping to transform government funding from within.

The “Blog whose Posts remain ‘Keep Unread’ in my Reader longest (and not because they are boring!)”

Another regular award (and one that really is meant as a compliment), this year’s go to Graham Attwell for As I tweeted recently, Graham is on my short list of edubloggers who I have yet to meet in real life but hope to soon. Graham is especially impressive to me for how consistently he has articulated a vision of personal learning and the importance of a critical stance both towards institutions and technology. Like other past recipients, Graham’s feed stays unread for long periods as I am often daunted to open it, there often just being too much good stuff in there.

The “Makes me Laugh My Ass off Most Often” Award

In past years this award has gone to master satirists for their intentional work. This year, though, I can’t help but award this to an organ that, I’m pretty sure unintentionally, makes me laugh my ass off almost every time I read it. The award this year goes to The Chronicle of Higher Education Blogs (and it’s unfair to pick on their blogs, because the whole damn thing is so often funny, but this is a “Blog” awards thing.) Making fun of The Chronicle is, well like used to say, like “shooting fish in a barrel” but damn if they (and the people who continue to look to it for validation) don’t deserve it.

The “Most Unsung EdTech Blogger” Award

This award is always a tough one to give, but also one of my favourite to award, because they are so many great overlooked edubloggers out there, but at the very least I can do my small part to bring attention to a few I think deserve it. This year’s goes to friend and BC colleague Grant Potter who blogs at Network Effects. Awarding this for being an “unsung edtech blogger” doesn’t go far enough, though, to express the richness that Grant brings to the blogosphere and our province. Not only has he done some amazingly innovative work at UNBC on Open Sim and WPMU, his blogging about his projects with his kids is truly inspirational and demonstrates a lifelong learner, pure and simple. And the man plays a mean, well, pick your instrument! Yet a more humble soul I don’t think I know. I know I feel grateful every chance I get to work with Grant as well as every time we get to hang out, which is not nearly often enough.

The “Makes my Jaw Drop and Scratch my Head Most Often” Award

This year’s winner is a very recent addition to my RSS reader and not someone I had ever run across before, though as soon as I did I ran his site past some trusted colleagues and found that sure enough they were already engaged in conversation. Giorgio Bertini blogs at Learning Change and could easily have one any number of the awards above; his rich, thoughtful posts often stay unread in my reader for fear my head will not be able to handle them. I love his approach as he is not looking at learning simply from a technological or institutional perspective, but instead running his site as an action research project to enable, as he writes, “collective intelligence of communities of self-organized educational and change researchers to develop their potential as change agents.” Right on, I say! Check him out.

Most Valuable Twit Award

Last year saw the introduction of some new Twitter-focused awards, which I’ll continue on with this year. The MVT (Most Valuable Twit) is a tough one, because I feel blessed to connect with so many smart, creative and skillful folks from around the globe on twitter. But in terms of sheer quality references, it is hard to beat @courosa. Alec has an immense twitter network himself, and he acts as a fantastic hub, redistributing great references while making connections, between people, countries, sectors. His impact on educational twitter users makes me think of him as the “OLDaily of Twitter” except with more acting credits to his name.

Tweet that made me LMAO

Twitter makes me laugh, a lot sometimes. It is hard to pinpoint one tweet that made me laugh more than others (partly because I don’t capture all the ones that I find funny.) but going back through my twitter favourites, I found a tweet from someone whose tweets pretty consistently make me chuckle. So this year’s Nessie for “Tweet that made me LMAO” goes to Darren Barefoot, not only a damn funny guy, but skilled communicator and intrepid organizer of many past Northern Voice events.

The Nessie Lifetime Achievement Award

And to go out with a bang, a new category, the “Nessie Lifetime Achievement Award.” I can think of no one better to give the inaugural award to than the inimitable Alan Levine. You may know him better as @cogdog, and whether you realize it or not, if you work in online learning there’s a good chance you’ve ended learning or using something he’s done. (Seriously – some of us have taken to wondering if he’s not superhuman or maybe one of the un-dead, he never seems to sleep!)

cogdog avatar
The CogDog

Alan really is the consummate open educator – I know some people attribute the idea of “blogging your process” to others, but it was Alan who for me first exemplified this practice. The number of times one of his posts comes back as the answer to a google query never ceases to amaze me, constantly showing the value in sharing early and often. And it doesn’t stop with blog posts – Alan’s feed2js really was groundbreaking when he released it, and it is STILL the simplest piece to insert RSS I know of. I use it all the time. If you ever get the chance to see Alan present, take it. He makes it seem so effortless (though anyone who knows him knows how hard he works) and constantly innovates on stage and in virtual worlds. And don’t listen to any of his guff decrying theory – I mean, don’t get me wrong, he means it, he is foremost a practitioner, but he also has a deeply reflective and thoughtful practice.

Congratulations to all of this year’s Nessie Winners. The cheque is in the mail. To all those who didn’t win, better luck next year. But like I always say – if you really want to make sure you win an award, run your OWN awards contest! – SWL

There’s a war goin’ on here, donchaknow?

I hate to use war metaphors, not only because they refer to a practice I abhor but because they are so trite. But I am getting tired of people blindly accepting the official line of copyright and intellectual “property” as some sort of eternal right, rather than the modern (and increasingly faltering) invention it is. The relationship between “content,” “owners,” “culture” and “folk” morphs and fluctuates over time, and whilst the people who have built up whole industries on selling you content would have you believe that the only role you have is as a consumer, an empty vessel into which they can pour their contenty goodness, it’s time we fought back. So join the not so secret revolution, share your content, use those non-rivalrous goods to make the world a better, more beautiful place. This one’s for you, Jimbo Groomie!








The Nessie Awards ’09 Edition

Hard as it is to believe, a year has gone by and it’s that time again, silly awards season, and so without further ado I bring you the 2009 Nessie Awards (with new improved award categories!)

Tweet that made me LMAO

In order to keep up with the Jones, we here at the Nessie Awards have introduced a whole set of new awards to acknowledge the profound wonder that is Twitter. The first, 140 characters that litertally caused me to fall to the floor, is this tweet from @dougsymington “A computer without a Microsoft operating system is like a dog without a bunch of bricks tied to its head.” Enuf said.

Tweet Containing Largest Amount of New (to me) Resources

If you are like me, you regularly find great tips and learn about new sites and services through tweets. But rarely have a received one like this award winning tweet from @BryanAlexander (“Wondering about schools using free semantic plug-ins and add-ons, like Tagaroo, Semanti, TrueKnowledge, Clearforest, Semantic MediaWiki.”) that alerted me to not 1 but 5(!!!) resources that were pretty much completely new to me. Bryan is also an exemplar of twitter use in general – modest in his volume but almost always with novel or high quality references, and a smattering of personal notes and responses that show him engaged as a person and with twitter as a network.

Most Valuable Twit Award

This is a tough one, there are so many people I value on twitter, but consistently and without fail D’Arcy Norman, @dlnorman, posts useful, informative tweets, details of his life as a Dad and a renegade biker combined with his unique blend of fracktarded sarcasm. D’Arcy, we never did manage to foment the twitter revolt and lead them to the promised land of Jaiku, but even if it had just been you and me, well that would have been fine. Ok, maybe not.

The “Blog whose Posts remain ‘Keep Unread’ in my Reader longest (and not because they are boring!)”

Hopefully people understand this award as a compliment – I keep things “unread” in my Google Reader to indicate I must come back to them, and will keep marking them “Unread” even after I’ve read them once to remind me to come back to them again. I was incredibly fortunate to get to work with this year’s award winner, David Wiley, author of the Open Content blog, in organizing the Open Education conference in Vancouver, and it represented for me a peak experience I am so grateful for. David represents one of those people from whom I have learned enough now that when he writes something I don’t understand or even initially think I disagree with, there is enough trust there for me that he *has* something for me to learn that I will come back to it, numerous times, make the effort to understand.

Blog I misunderstand the most but wish I didn’t

Which perhaps makes this next award bittersweet – for Dave Cormier’s blog is the one which I feel I have the most to possibly learn from but time and again find myself not “getting.” Maybe it’s the tone (which would be ironic, because while I don’t think I hold a candle to Dave, I do think we share a certain gadflyish quality) or the draftish nature of some of the posts, but I doubt it. I fear it’s me. All I can say, Dave, is I have not given up at all, meeting you this summer has made me much more committed to trying to understand what you are getting at, as I think there is something there even if I don’t really get it. Remember, I am a *slow* learner.

The “Makes my Jaw Drop and Scratch my Head Most Often” Award

So I pity anyone vying for this award, as last year’s winner, Tony Hirst, could likely be the lifetime recipient, but fairly consistently, not just this year but over the past decade, Scott Wilson’s work at CETIS which he often documents at Scott Wilson’s Workblog, disrupts my day with yet another breakthrough, new idea to pursue or code to play with. I believe work such as that on widgets and the wookie server will ultimately prove to be, if not the straw that breaks the LMS’ back, then at least the crack that lets the light in (and out). I still have Ensemble open in a browser window 6 weeks after he mentioned it to me on twitter (trying to figure out what to do with it). And his work on PLEs in general leads much of higher education’s thinking and work in this area.

The “Blog which Posts Least Often and Yet whose Every Post I Anxiously Await” Award

I should probably alter this blog award title a bit because really, Martin doesn’t post particularly infrequently, but I’ll keep it the same for consistency with last year. This year’s winner, Martin Weller of The Ed Techie, represents a very special combination for me – an ed tech academic who is able to bridge the worlds of academic respectability and the blogosphere, who walks the talk by constantly exploring new tools and techniques and who is also a great guy to banter with on twitter. As much as I admire David’s work on openness and Scott’s work on PLEs and widgets, I admire Martin’s work on academic recognition for non-traditional scholarly work for addressing yet another key piece in the puzzle for how to start overcoming the intertia of the academy.

The “Most Unsung EdTech Blogger” Award

And finally, these year’s “Most Unsung EdTech Blogger” award goes to…. Clint Lalonde. If you don’t follow Clint, I highly recommend that you do – his posts are always thoughtful and informative and low key, like Clint, but typically contain more than you first realize (or more that *I* first realize), also like Clint. I feel very fortunate to have Clint as a local colleague and friend, and Camosun is lucky to have him.

So that’s it for the 2009 Nessie Awards, but one last note. I am not totally oblivious to the absence of women from the awards. This absence represents all sorts of deficiencies, in ME, but what it doesn’t represent is an absence of women who make a big difference, both in our field and to me personally. I will not name them all here, I hope they know who they are, but I will promise to personally keep examing my own relationship to gender, to inclusivity, to technology, power and communication. I am a slow learner, but I refuse to stop trying. – SWL

Introducing…The Nessie Awards!

Well, it’s that time of year again, awards season. And rather than write yet another screed against awards, you know, how a blogroll link, a comment, heck even just being read, are the blogosphere’s real rewards, (‘cos really, I mostly can’t stand them,) I thought – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

So, without further ado, I bring to you this year’s winners of the first ever Nessie Awards, which comes with its very own gold plated statue of…me!:

(N.B. I am the only member of the Voting Academy for the Nessie Awards, named after my online pseudonym and favourite WKRP character. Don’t like it, sue me. Better yet, start your own awards! Everyone’s doing it 😉

The “Most Starred Items in My Google Reader” Award

This is a pretty easy one to guess, if only because of the sheer volume of posts he generates every year. But ‘starring’ an item is definitely one of the ways I note that a post was significant for me, and this (empirically verifiable) award easily goes to:

It would be hard to overstate the impact that Stephen has had as an individual in our field, let alone his impact for weaving together huge numbers of people in a large distributed network of learners and practitioners through OLDaily. We don’t always agree (though I think we disagree on far less than we agree on), but the fact that he has consistently been willing to engage in conversation about this, online, out in the open, is part of the reason I consider him one of my teachers.

The “Makes my Jaw Drop and Scratch my Head Most Often” Award One thing about the internet; if you follow the conversations, you start to realize what an insane number of really smart people there are out there. This award could easily have been won by any number of people who continually write things (both posts and code) that simply amaze me. But this year’s winner, with whom I was hugely fortunate to spend a few days this year in Logan Utah, is:

Tony could easily have won the next award too, because not only does he regularly blow my mind, he posts mind blowing material with such frequency I sometimes dare not open his feed. Indeed, I also award the “Blog Whose Feed I Dare Not Open” to – Ouseful! Tony’s claims that he’s just a “script kiddie” are entirely too modest, and yet in some ways, spot on. This is why he holds such a dear spot for me, because in small ways I aspire to this style is well – it’s not about showing off, it’s about showing what YOU TOO can do, and more importantly, what your learners CAN (or SHOULD BE ABLE TO) do with your learning content, your data, your systems, if you would only trust them.

The “Blog whose Posts remain ‘Keep Unread’ in my Reader longest (and not because they are boring!)” My Greader unread items is kind of like my inbox; I purposefully mark things unread in an effort to come back and give them more time, the time they deserve to digest them. If he was still posting at all, this award probably would have gone to Ulises Mejias, whose dense musings I could never simply skip yet they inevitably took me a month to get through. But I’ve seen hide nor hair of Ulises. so the award must go to:

Konrad’s insight into education is deep, and he is one of the few K-12-foccused bloggers who I follow simply because he forces me to think more deeply about the education process itself, not not just the institutional structures.

The “Blog which Posts Least Often and Yet whose Every Post I Anxiously Await” AwardAnother award winner who I feel incredibly fortunate to have finally met in person this year. He does not write short posts. He does not write posts very often. But every time I notice his feed has an item in it I go there immediately, knowing it will take a least a week, if not a month, to digest it, this year’s winner is:

Gardner is another one of my teachers (but to say that seems to imply that there are people who I read who are not, which just isn’t true), one I very much cherish as he comes at this from the perspective of master teacher, yet doesn’t flinch in the face of us arm flailing geeks, helps to translate and bridge these worlds, a role I too seek.It is hard to explain to people who see this as just a ‘job’ or even a ‘profession,’ but some of Gardner’s writing (and the speech I heard him give last year) have had profound existential effects on me, like only the best teaching can.

The “Makes me Laugh My Ass off Most Often” Award I hesitate in handing out the award named thusly, because it might imply that you shouldn’t take its receipient seriously. Far, far from it. You ignore him and his amusements at your peril. Yet the blogger who simply has me, as they say, ROTFLMAO with the amazingly funny ways he finds to communicate powerful ideas is:

For those of you who appreciate his sensibilities online, let me tell you, you don’t get half the effect until you’ve actually met the man (again, another luminary who I got to hang out again with this year; it has been a banner year I tell you). One minute Jim will be holding forth on D.C. punk bands, the next swinging into a description of Civil War-era literature, all the while making you implore him to stop, please stop, my sides hurt from laughing so hard. They don’t call him ‘The Rev’ for nothing.

The “Most Unsung EdTech Blogger” Award This is another one that could have gone to a huge number of people (indeed, if I could, I’d give one out to you all, but hey, these gold award statues of myself don’t come cheap!) This blogger acts as an exemplary blogging citizen, writing insightful posts, useful comments, linking, connecting, yet in my experience doesn’t get nearly the recognition he deserves as an original thinker (and original voice) in the blogosphere. The award for “Most Unsung EdTech Blogger” goes to:

Chris has taught me as much as anyone I read, and like many of my favourites, he codes it too. He is a Master Teacher as well as an educational technologist, and if you ever get a chance to attend a session with him face to face, do. But do you read him? Go, I urge you, check him out.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, your gold plated statue of me is in the mail! And hopefully the “real” awards organizers take this in the spirit it was intended. They are people whom I respect greatly. Just a bit of fun, eh? – SWL