Persian Lime

I ordered Myer Lemon trees and a year later realized that I was watering a Persian Lime tree- so much for making lemonade.

South Florida Beauty

Residents of South Florida are blessed with scenes like this one almost daily- I captured this training for one of my 1/2 marathons.

Reflective Self-Portrait

A quick self-portrait while photographing every day objects in a local North Miami Beach park. I love our local parks.

Fins Up!

Whether it's the marine life or American football, I love Miami's Dolphins. Go Fins!

Cool Water, Good Books and Fresh Air

One could argue that all is needed for a good life is warm sun near cool water in the fresh air with good book and perhaps some good company.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So, Meta!

Hello to my fabulous 5 blog followers!

Today I'm going to get so META it will make your teeth hurt.  For some of those in the know, I'm enrolled in a graduate certificate program in Online Instructional Development at Florida State University.  Currently am taking a course in Social Media Management.  No, we're not going to be on Facebook & Twitter ALL day- just on Mondays (j/king)!  Cut to the chase, first assignment:  propose a blog for the Final Project [insert impending doom music here].  Ain't that just meta?  A blog about writing a blog about...

My proposal is to create a blog using WordPress for my FSU LIS5385 Final Project about "ed-tech," ie using technology to complement educational endeavors.  I did some personal network crowdsourcing on what I should write about from my Facebook community and besides for "sleep", the topic that lept out at me was ed tech.  It is broad enough to encompass by passion for technology, learning and games. When creating my public Twitter list, I pondered what to call the list- maybe "ed tech folks" or plainly just "ed tech".  I wanted to encompass the being of all things ed tech so went with edtechness and that sounded a lot like contessa.  I'm (Sky) King, so why not be the edtechnessa?  It's a stretch, but gimmicky and fun.  I'm thinking steampunk meets royalty as far as theme images.

I then created a Delicious account (another part of the assignment) and added a few examples of ed tech blogs/websites of interest.  This article suggested the top ed tech blogs in the field so I started my journey from there.  The blog that would be most like my blog is Technology Tidbits, as it addresses different apps/programs used for learning.  However, I wasn't too keen on it's basic design that looked like it was just a display of advertisements.  Although, I did appreciate the consistency in the layout and the brief posts. Rather, I preferred the design layout established within's EdTech which appeared much cleaner and defined.

  • My objective besides having a deliverable for my Online Instructional Development portfolio and fulfilling the requirements of the LIS5385 course is to: examine and describe the potential use of technology in learning.
  • My key message is that technology can complement learning and that through examination one can determine the best tool "for the job" or objective at hand.
  • The target audience of this proposed blog is primarily educators- teachers and parents with a secondary audience of students. I'd prefer to keep the blog of general interest and not limit it to K-12 or Higher Education- we all can use tools to help us learn better.
  • Per the Edublog awards, the best edtech blog during 2012 (timeliness and relevancy are always important) is Free Technology for Teachers.  I couldn't help myself from taking the Google Maps corn tour.  Neat stuff.  Check it out!
  • What am I going to blog about?  Good question.  I could leave you hanging here until the first blog, but well I have to tell you because of the Final Project Proposal commands it of me.  I'll write about Carmen Santiago and simulation games, exploring that depending on your objectives and audience not all games are the same.  I'll write about the perspective of being a parent of a high school student- who two years ago received a macbook for my daughter's schoolwork while this semester received a USB lanyard and a Lenovo Thinkpad tablet running Windows 8 (at the New Student Orientation they beamed about not needing Dropbox to take advantage of a paperless classroom).  I'll write about the use of game elements in the courses I design as an instructional designer.  As well, I'll examine trends and pedagogy of technology use in classroom and learning environments, the newest, best and not-so-best.
Hopefully you'll join me for this blogging journey.  I'll be posting my first blog soon!  Thanks for reading.

Sky V. King,
the EdTechnessa

[revision 9/3: I have decided to filter my ed-tech posts down to include solely gamification and game element topics for this assignment.  My blog will be located at]

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

#BbWorld Day 1 Review

+Blackboard Inc. 's #BbWorld13 Day 1 Recap Video

A shout out to all the new VIP or non-VIP bloggers and to all the new #BbWorld attendees like myself.  Did I have any idea what would be in store for me?  Not a chance.

My journey started months ago when I entered a contest that I didn't think I'd win and did actually win.  I was chosen to be a VIP #BbWorld blogger.  So excited, especially since I've never been to Las Vegas before either.

Fast Forward to Vegas and I have my VIP blogger packet.  I try to enter the exhibit hall to "help" a friend (@MattAcevedo) set up his poster session.  Your VIP blogger pass does not unlock all doors- I was not allowed to enter the exhibit hall unless I stood on my head reciting the alphabet backwards, AND had an orange wristband.  No worries.

Soon after the reality of my VIP Blogger  badge was shown to me, John Chen (the happiest man ever?) told me about GooseChase and the #BbWorld13 Scavenger Hunt.  At first I wasn't going to enter, then I changed my mind when I saw how easy the initial missions were.  Participating in the Scavenger Hunt does help you see a large portion of what's available at the conference (the picture above was taken to "introduce myself"- score 10 points!) I did give up within 1 hour of the exhibit hall being open that night when one player had over 5k points and I was somewhere near 300.

The information above was written while at #BbWorld13 with the best intention that at the end of the day, I'd have a great recap.  Never got around to that, whether it was Vegas, those deep bathtubs with TVs in view or awesomeness-exhaustion, we'll never know.  I was even going to do a compilation of #bbworld13 tweets, organizing them.  Storify is a great way to do that, btw. What I remember about Day 1 is Clay Shirky's keynote, talking about LOL chickens (who knew there was such a thing) and getting my picture taken with him.  Did you know that people think he looks like Tom Hanks, with less hair of course?

I also met some super great  blogger folks (I'd be crazy to try and name them all for missing one would sadden me, but I did spend a lot of time with +Shayla Burroughs .  I would so do this blogger gig again.  It was awesome.  I think it made fitting in, finding my place in this HUGE conference easier.  I got to really connect with a few people, which if I wasn't a blogger the opportunities might have slipped through the sidewalk cracks.  I'm so happy that +Josh Murdock  blogged about being fitted for his Google Glass on his website and +Melissa Stange allowed me to check out her Glass.  I love tech so it was a little like Christmas in July!  Of course there was lots of tech at the conference, especially in the Exhibit Hall. I refrained from picking up most swag because I'm trying to live simpler, but swag was available with product demonstrations galore.

Day before the conference, I learned to: arrive early, pack a change of clothes in your carry-on and stay hydrated.  First day of the conference I learned that even though I love my purple wig and it definitely made me easier to approach/more friendly, it sho' is hot.  Can't imagine wearing it every day, all day.  It only lasted 2 days of the conference, unlike my excitement for #BbWorld which is still beating along like an Energizer bunny.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Maniac Monday (Wish it was Sunday?)

I'm coming to you ahem- live from the Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada- one day before the most exciting #BbWorld13 conference begins- where technology and education collide in 4th of July fireworks-style.  Attendees have been trickling in all weekend, either to get a few more days in Vegas, baby! or attend pre-conference summits/#DevCon13.  Not all roads were paved smoothly.  @certtechpro (Melissa's) luggage was lost. +Shayla Burroughs (@shaylamsb) flight was delayed [and Shayla's luggage is MIA- missing in action, but maybe also in Miami [revised to include the delayed @kellymedu (Kelly) and delayed @bhgd13 (Bill H.).  And well, I almost missed my flight because I was wearing new shorts with shallow pockets and in my pocket was my phone with ID & ATM/CC.  Said items fell out of my pocket in the car and only because the kindness of strangers (and not-so-strangers... Thanks @mattacevedo!), the fact that I was super early and the fact that I have an amazing partner who returned to the airport after dropping me off to return said very important items to me, did I actually make the flight.

Fast forward to an excellent uneventful flight via +American Airlines (thank you!) , a not-so-short stint of waiting for Godot
on the shuttle bus to the hotel(s)... I arrived dehydrated with a slow growing headache.  $6 for a bottle of powerade in the room and I didn't even blink as I downed that sucker. This was at 9am Vegas time.  After enjoying a lovely latte from Tintoretto Bakery when I finally ventured outside to go to Walgreens, I walked out into an oven.  I am used to heat.  Not complaining, just stating.  Miami is a sauna and Vegas is an oven.  Headache is retreating- have to prepare for celebratory "we (eventually) made it to Vegas" drinks.  For reference, Walgreens has a good selection of decently priced beer, wine and hard alcohol (that section is as big as or bigger than the healthcare section).

On a different note, the Venetian/Palazzo app doesn't have a "you are here" feature but when you can use the search function and it will give you directions from a point that you select to your destination.  Not as good as you are here, but well enough.  On another note, if you are not here... you should be.  If you can't though... me and my fellow #BbWorld13 bloggers will give you a glimpse into the awesomeness that is happening here.  Follow us here in the twitterverse!

I haven't seen one Elvis yet!  However, if you see the Chaos Monkey... let me know, @UXMoose wants to buy it a drink.  You can reach me via my telephone in my toilet closet/bathroom or at @skyvking (aka purple-wig wearing turtle lover).

Welcome to Vegas, baby!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Nothing To Do in Vegas?

Official VIP #BbWorld13 Blogger
aka Color Commentator
As you might know, I've been selected as an official VIP blogger for #BbWorld13 which according to my unofficial sources is the best conference every year to go to in my field- it also helps that we use Blackboard as our Learning Management System.  It's in Las Vegas, NV which I will now refer to Vegas because I can and life is short.  I've never been to Vegas (which neither has my partner and it's sad she can't come) and I've never been to a #BbWorld Conference.

If you know me at all, you know I'm a planner.  +Blackboard Inc. makes it easy to plan with their mobile app.  Please note that when I added the sessions to my iCalendar, it made each event 1 hour later than it is actually so I had to edit each one before I saved it to my calendar- don't even try it with iOS7 (beta).  One of the "must see sessions" that I won't miss is "The Ins and Outs of Designing an Exemplary Course on 7/11 from 4:15-5:10 in Venetian 1.  One of my top-notch collegues (Matt Acevedo) is co-presenting highlights from his Director's Choice winning course (the link shows a course tour video). Hopefully next year, I'll be doing the same as Matt (aka "the Doctor").

Need an idea of the amazingness of #BbWorld?  Check out this video for a taste test.

It may not be ALA battledecks, but even #BbWorld has it's own gaming (ahem, not gambling) through its Scavenger Hunt (click on the link for a video introduction to the hunt).  Maybe there will be another flash mob this year or some special guests?

Even after all this, there is VEGAS, baby!  Want to see the sights... check out the "strip?" Most #BbWorld goers got a sweet deal at a stay at the Venetian and Palazzo (they have an app for their property too!) Nearly every Vegas hotel on the strip has some kind of novelty to enjoy, like the fountains at the Bellagio.  From the Luxor, another great deal for a "slight" discount to see the sights.  Check out @Blackboard's suggestions for what to do during your conference downtime. My silly choice is to check out Toby Keith's I love this bar and grille just because I'm down home like that.

Less that a week #BbWorld13 or bust... And for future reference, what happens in Vegas- doesn't stay in Vegas (I'm a VIP Blogger, yo!).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Running on Love (ran out of coffee)

Clay Shirky (Twitter link).  What a name. Clay- of the earth.  Shirky- if you try to look up the name definition or origin, good luck.  The old Shirkys spread over the world and the name definition is different based on the region.  However, states that it's Gaelic from Ireland spelled O' Searcaigh and means- wait for it... "loving."

If you are familar with Clay Shirky's work, you'd know how apropos his name is, just how well it suits him.  He's known for the statement "the Internet runs on Love" so recap- America runs on Dunkin, the Internet runs on Love... and I never run (unless Zombies are involved).  What does that mean- the Internet runs on Love?  Definitely not a "prop" to Internet dating.

First, Clay Shirky is a writer and consultant, interested in the social & economic effects of the 'net.  He went to school for theater at Yale and honestly, he did a lot of other stuff.  Interesting stuff, don't get me wrong.  However, you can get all that filler information elsewhere (Wiki), even check out his blog or view his TED talks.  My friend after doing all this stuff (he hasn't really stopped doing stuff either), he writes a book "Here comes everybody".  In the book, he describes how people collaborate online through four key steps:
  • me-first collaboration, ie I share a link or hashtags etc.
  • conversation, ie we come together to talk about #GOT (very important!)
  • collaboration, ie we in a group come together to solve a problem with division of work (as if a group of rebels came together to figure out the best way to kill Geoffrey [the character we love to hate] and assigned tasks to get the job done)
  • collective action, in which Shirky states this is mostly for the future with emphasis on the fate of group as a whole is important.
The nature of such collab is the basis for Shirky's catchphrase "the Internet runs on Love."  Heavily reminds me of Stella saying, "I've always relied on the kindness of strangers." Basically through these steps listed above, individuals accomplish tasks that institutions used to do, for example media companies that provide journalism are now being upended by every John Doe with smartphone.  Even some news providing institutions now rely on social media updates from sources "on the ground".

Do you think "the Internet runs on Love"? Do you rely on the kindness of strangers, online (used Wiki? How do you think the "mass amateurization" of news affects journalism? 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hole in the Wall?

There's this very smart man named Sugata Mitra, who was interesting in complex computer stuff.  Then his interest moved on memory and learning.  He decided to see what would happen when he would put a computer in a "hole in a wall" unattended for children to use freely.  Turns out kids don't need a lot of training to learn something novel.  So awesome of an experiment, he won a TED prize- the first ever TED prize to be exact.  According to the word of Wikipedia, Vikas Swarup read about Mr. Mitra's experiments and influenced him to write Q&A, which became the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

In his latest blog post, he talks about education, physics and chaos theory connecting cells, flowers and learning.  Very academic, yet holds simplicity. Mr. Mitra is a professor of Educational Technology and his profile lists something of interest in his "informal interests": Science Fiction, Astronomy and Astrophysics, bio-informatics and genetics.  Must those who imagine a different future, love science fiction?  I do. This makes me think of Ender's Game (movie coming out later this year) by Orson Scott Card. Learning via playing computer games and situational role plays, a computer that learns from user's activities (see Mitra blog post about "Prime").

It makes me think about my iPod nano, my iPad, my smartphone, and my computer.  I feel like I should always be doing more with them.  Like my brain, I only use a fraction of their potential.  Is it that I don't need the power that the tech provides or is it that I don't know all the value my tech can provide to take advantage of it?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Open (Education) House

If you haven't been under a rock for the past year or absorbed in playing Candy Crush, you might have heard something about MOOCs.  A MOOC is a massive open online course.  Let's break it down- massive = thousands of motivated learners in a course.  Open meaning anyone can join (and usually free).  Online course means the delivery method uses the Internet to make it happen.

I've taken a few courses online through a couple of the MOOC innovator sites: Coursera, Udacity, edX.  There is more MOOC providers out there, in fact my university jumped into the mix.  Check out .  Not only do we provide free courses in English, but one in Spanish as well.  Look out for new classes in the future!  I'm putting the finishing touches on one of them this weekend.
Somewhere along the way I heard or read that the beginning of MOOCs was due to a lack of qualified employees in the IT field.  Someone created a MOOC, trained the students then connected those students with jobs in the field.  That's a great concept and for most of us, it sounds like a cheap way to "move on up."  It also provides an Ivy-League influenced opportunity for those who would never otherwise be able to experience it, as many of the universities are Ivy-League institutions.  However, most of these classes are a "lite" version of what the university provides for its for-credit/paying students.  In the late part of last year, some universities are providing some credit for successfully completing the MOOCs.  What about equivalency standards?

Here's another thought... is MOOCs the way online education is headed?  I think so, to a point.  It's been revealed that in our K-12 school district- all summer classes are virtual.  Tre bien (someone I know is taking virtual French lessons).  Time passes.  The new becomes old(er) and more common place.  Are MOOCs a trend like parachute pants, or more like beepers that transformed to cell phones and eventually to smart phones?  I'd like to think of MOOCs as an open house for institutions and their professors.  It's possible and probably that MOOCs will have some place in the future, but their lasting value depends on... the next step in our distance education journey.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blackboard will want me to be a BbWorld VIP blogger.

  1. Blackboard Learn is where I live.  As an Instructional Designer at FIU Online and taking graduate classes from Florida State University, I have two houses.  Inside these virtual houses I create, communicate, collaborate, learn, transact and engage- connecting with students, faculty and use integrated building blocks- the windows and doors of my house. 
  2. BbWorld Blogger 2013
  3. I write well, noticing and appreciating the "small" things. I can capture the humor, the reactions of conference attendees and the pulse of creativity energy.
  4. I've never been to BbWorld.  I see with new eyes- that perspective of novelty can never be recaptured.