Dawson City Road trip w/ timelapse and maps

Compiling a few media artifacts from (one of) my summer vacation(s) this year, the Whitehorse -> Dawson City sojourn, I had to share this sweet timelapse video I created from the RV drive up. I was travelling with my sis and her family, to check out the Dawson City Music Festival, and if you don’t blink, you may be able to catch one of my nephews pit stops along the way.

Whitehorse —> Dawson City: Timelapse #DCMF – On My Way from jason toal on Vimeo.

The entire journey was 532 km, but we started the video on the second day from a little place called Carmacks. Total distance 355 km. In geeking out to write this post I created a G map to both check out the distance and give this video some context. To take it a step further, here is a test of the embedded map. (which was not as straightforward to create as it should have been).

View Larger Map

You can’t post a timelapse video without a sweet piece of music to bring it to life, and I got lucky with the audio here having recorded many of the performances I saw at the festival. Listening back to my archives I came upon this amazing track from Sam Martin recorded SANS the haggard, but in a gospel set at the St. Pauls Anglican Church. The lyrics to “On My Way” (Mavis Staples version) not only fit the theme perfectly, referencing travelling to freedom land with my sister and brother, but also was a match at 3 minutes and 33 seconds exactly!

To complete this post I felt some photos were necessary, since I got some amazing ones of the churches in Dawson and as well I’ve been trying to figure out a workflow to use google services for photo sharing.  Nothing good to report here!  I created an album in G+ which I think is public but I cant embed here as a slideshow like I might with flickr. There does seem to be ways to accomplish this using Picasa, but synching these photos to cloud services is still confusing me greatly. Finally I gave up and stumbled into making a collage in in Picasa.

Dawson City Music Festival 2013, A roadtrip with nephews

Some churches in Dawson City while on roadtrip with my nephews to check out the #DCMF


Sunflower seed sharing —> Harvest

Sunflower seed project – Harvest time from jason toal on Vimeo.

It’s September! And for may Sunflower growers its time to start preparing to harvest your seeds. For those of you that took part in the seed sharing project this spring, I hope you have been successful growing this year, and will consider harvesting your seeds in a timely fashion, and save them for distribution to YOUR network in what ever manner you see fit.

Recipients from last years batch of seedsI have a list of participants that I will be following up with that shows the progress I have recorded thus far. A couple of mentions. Alan Levine, (the first to respond to my post and also to grow his sunflowers being from sunny and hot Arizona) has documented his progress in amazing detail. Way to go Alan! Looks like you were able to harvest your seeds juuuust prior to this post. As long as you keep them cool and dry over the winter, they should be in fine shape to redistribute next year. Giulia Forsythe whom also was quick to respond has been documenting her progress in a similarly awesome fashion, which if this picture is any indication still need a ways to go before the are ready for harvest.

For anyone else that is going ahead with sharing photos on flickr I have created a sunflower seed sharers group, for you to join and add your images.

As for my own progress, I faced a few garden plot challenges this year, but eventually was able to start a plant from seed outside, and although it was planted very late got some very good results.

One good sunflower

This photo was just taken a few days ago, and is featured in the video above. It’s still going to take a week or two to fully mature, but I will be keeping a close eye on them during this time to save them from potential rain and/or bird disasters.


NV13 Northernvoice 2013 – some sketches

This past weekend was the 9th annual Northern Voice conference, June 14 – 15, 2013 which was being held at H. R. MacMillan Space Centre / Museum of Vancouver

on the ground at #nv13 will attempt to broadcast keynote if @ds106radio stream is free in (& wifi holds together)

(the above photo was added as a link in my post to the instagram page using this technique)

I wanted to publish some reflections and since I’ve been so busy making and sharing drawings, I will let them do most of the talking.  Normally I would be uploading these photos on flickr, and I may yet still do so, (for promo purposes?) but I’m still putting the WordPress new media library features through its paces and need to get some new pics in here. The following images were all added to my own image library. I tried to add as much relevant metadata as I could think of, and included the twitter handle of each drawings subject in an attempt to create an ad-hoc community or discussion around these photos. Lets see how it goes.

NV13 @dbarefoot session - Sketchnote

NV13 @dbarefoot session – Sketchnote

First up on day 2 was Darren Barefoot long time NV rock star and one of the original coordinators. His talk was alot of fun, and one of the most original and interesting topics presented this year.


NV13 @jpovarchook session on Museum of Vancouver

NV13 @jpovarchook session on Museum of Vancouver

Jillian Povarchook (our host) from the Museum of Vancouver presented some of the innovation MOV has been up to including an augmented reality app, open data, and funky timeline tools. I’ll be watching these and future projects, they seem super cool.


NV13 – @smith – Ingress – Sketchnote

NV13 – @smith – Ingress – Sketchnote

One of the highlights for me was the panel discussion from Richard Smith, MarkDee (@MarkDee)‏ and Allyson McGrane (@AllysonMcGrane) I’ve known Richard to be interested in augmented reality games for awhile now, and it was a pleasure to get up to speed on his latest a̶d̶d̶i̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶, errr interest.



First post of sorts – A sketchnote on Liberating Structures

I’m sort of starting from the ground up on this site. I have a new host ( yay hippies! ) and have an updated version of wordpress with no plugins. Taking a page from the @dlnorman playbook my intention is to be more self sufficient here, and rely less on third part services. My first challenge will be photos. For awhile now I’ve been using flickr as my defacto online image sharing service, (and I’m not giving it up just yet) but I want to begin building my own self hosted image collection here. This is an important collection to me that I want to not only share, but maintain and archive into the future, my collection of sketches, visualizations and art. Also, I bought a new scanner!

Liberating structures - Sketchnote

Liberating structures – Sketchnote

My first entry is a sketchnote I made last week at the ETUG spring workshop.  Nancy White was speaking on Liberating Structures, a “disruptive innovation” tool for organizations. I was struggling between participating in the activities (always encouraged at a Nancy White session) and working on this drawing, but most of my energy went here in the end.

I’ve added this image (which was scanned on the new scanner) using the default WordPress Media uploader, and was able to do several of them as a batch. I have noticed WP now has a “gallery” feature which I intend to check out, and also noticed you can do basic editing functions such as crop and rotate right in the dashboard now which I know will come in handy.

Nancy White on liberating structures - A SketchnoteHere is the same image, this time photographed with my camera and hosted on flickr. The colours are way more vibrant, although probably not more accurate, but also here I know the image has been viewed over 50 times and favorited twice.

A few questions I’m considering

  • Should I upload this to flickr as well?
  • Are statistics about how this image has been used important to me?
  • How do I create a gallery widget of image ‘categories’ from my own collection? 
  • What plugins are needed to manage a self hosted image library?

Slug bait

A quick animated gif of my research which the use of pennies as a slug deterrent actually works! The older the penny, the greater the copper content it seems which seems to be the secret to chasing away those little bastards.

I made rings of pennies as my counter measures last year, but of course over the season they mostly were disturbed and lost in the garden. I am thinking now about drilling holes and stringing them together with copper wire.


Taraxacum officinale animation

Taraxacum officinale from jason toal on Vimeo.

I’ve been having a great time tinkering with McLaren’s Workshop app this week, and am already considering ways it may be used as a teaching tool, as well as a simple maker of art (for some odd reason). I thought I would jump in on the Vancouver Draw Down Daily Draw Project for Day 7 on this one, even though I am several days late I have it on good authority it’s “better nate than lever”.

Like many Canadian kids I grew up watching short animated films  from the NFB, so much so that I thought it was was one of our national pastimes. I distinctly remember being amazed by the McLaren films particularly as they were so abstract, but able to convey so much emotion and story just using light and shape over time. I remember being particularly fascinated with “Boogie-Doodle” and have returned it it frequently over the years for inspiration and delight.

Boogie-Doodle by Norman McLaren, National Film Board of Canada

Seems like there is plenty to dig into in the NFB Education archives as well.

From cassette tape to pencil and paper, THESE are my best digital storytelling tools. Seriously.


I’ve had a lot of time to consider what I would talk about at the Net Tuesday meetup today on Digital storytelling, but even this morning as I put this post together, it could go off in several directions. We’ve been asked to “show and demo” some innovative new tools and/or techniques that will help this group of non-profits take their own messages to the next level. I have taken  this quite literally and plan to go over a range of websites, apps, and technologies I have used lately to tell stories from an educational perspective.

Medium – “An intervening substance through which something else is transmitted or carried on.” link

One thing seems clear, if you think of a digital story telling as a means of transmission, like the proverbial message in a bottle, we are talking mostly about the bottles here, myself included. Going over more notes now I kinda wish I had more tips about the message itself, but perhaps I can tease that out on the fly.

I’ve decided to feature educational examples since so much of my work at SFU involves telling stories and sharing them online. I think these projects will be well received, but what I’m not so certain about however is how my teaching props (a cassette tape and a pencil) will go over given that the average age of this group is far below the gen x demographic to which i belong.

Well if nothing else it’ll give me something to wave about during the ‘show’ portion of the talk and it may help to distract the crowd from the fact that I’ll largely be ‘winging it’ for the duration.

DS106 – http://ds106.us/

ds106ds106 album art from gforsythe

“Digital Storytelling” 106 – Originally a re-conceived comp sci course in telling stories at University of Mary Washington. Completely open and online, ds106 uses social media and a loosely joined blogging framework as a classroom. (twitter, google, flickr, soundcloud etc.)

Anybody can join and contribute! DS106 has become much more than a course however, its more like  “a way of living”. BL


raiders-clip3-grabroot 01

The innovations in the ds106 community are far too numerous to cover in any detail. Some highlights include:

One of my fav. audio mementos from @DrGarcia , her audio postcard is mezmerizing, informative and fun! Audio , shared wether publicly on soundcloud, or privately via an email are a powerful media to tell a story.

hist451_walkicon_blueLast but not least, lets try augmented reality. Adding a layer of information, to the existing ‘real world’ around us is more possible than ever. Augmented audio has seen a rise recently along with the proliferation of mobile technologies, in the form of audio tours, and games.

In History 451 at SFU, an instructor decided to use Layar as a platform for telling stories around the SFU campus.  You can download the app for free and use it to explore the class assignments by walking from location to location.

Art @ Memory from SFU on LAYAR , Layar , Toozla

Notes for your message

  • Keep it short and sweet. Listening takes time, REAL time so there is no sense doing a full podcast if all you need to say is a voicemail.

  • Keep them frequent. A consistent publishing stream will show your audience you are a reliable source and if listening is what you want your audience to do, consider when and how they will be doing it.

  • Record on location, leverage ambient audio. This goes against the ‘best practices’ for recording educational audio, but I dont think it matters.

.. and now to the pencil!

Drawing or “visualization” has become more popular than ever in business and education. I have been practicing Sketch noting and Graphic facilitation as part of my regular work, I’m very lucky to have this opportunity!

A project came to our office to produce one of thos “RSA style” white board animations. Below is a reflection on that process and some of the tools and techniques we have experimented with

White board animations

Project Outline: To assist in the creation of an ‘RSA style’ animation on the topic of a faculty paper, “Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media”. The objective of the Edmedia team is to support the faculty/student project of media creation.
Social media? Get serious! - Jan H. Kietzmann, Kristopher Hermkens, Ian P. McCarthy, Bruno S. Silvestre

Scope: to use videos to make the paper, “Social media? Get serious!”,  more understandable and impactful. To create opportunities for further discussion and feedback.

Players: Jan K. led the the development of the project and as one of the lead authors was responsible for the script, and story that would. We partnered with a student Sarah M., who was familiar with the content and was a very talented illustrator, and skilled with digital rendering techniques. My role was to co-produce, and coordinate TLC resources, research and documentation. The team would meet f2f or on skype weekly to report updates and discuss direction. Planning Nov. – Jan. Production – Feb. – May

The internet from jason toal on Vimeo.

The story: In what proved to be a tough question to ask, what story would we tell about the paper? We have tried to answer the question, “How do you begin to plan a social media strategy for your company or organization?” with an engaging narrative and to show desire.

Several eg. from K-12 show how effective and easy this media is to generate with your class.

Some tips using regular filming technique and sped up in post production. (Quara discussion)

  • Use a large, well lit surface to draw on, like paper or whiteboard and give yourself plenty of room to stand beside the area in which you’ll be drawing.
  • Set up a digital video camera, video camera-enabled phone or similar device on a tripod.  The tripod is important to keep the video footage steady.  If you don’t have a tripod, you may be able to use a desk or other piece of furniture to rest the camera on – make sure its secure though!
  • Use your camera’s zoom function to zoom in and focus on the surface where you’ll be drawing.  Hint: it’ll look neater if you can’t see the edges of the page or board that you’re drawing on.
  • Set the camera recording and begin to draw.  Hint: don’t make your drawings too small, as they’ll get lost behind your hand as you draw them!
  • Take your footage and import it into digital editing software like Camasia iMovie, Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier – if you have Adobe After Effects, even better!
  • Use the footage speed controls in your editing software to speed up your video footage.

Many apps available for ios and android if you can’y get your hands on a video camera and the software.

iOSBrushes 3educreations

AndroidClayframesLooksee Animator

We tried, Brushes 3 in early tests but it lacked export feature. educreatons has some nice simple drawing features and you can share the animations in pages with audio voiceover.

Notes for your message

  • You dont need to be “artsy” to create visual/animated media. Communicating with visuals is about telling stories, not drawing well.

  • There are a wide variety of techniques available, each with its own charm. Don’t try to turn a fork into a spoon, sue yhe medium available in its truest form.

  • Consider what does your protagonist desire? This is at the heart of all storytelling, without it you are left with a burnt out shell of a story.

The one about sunflower seeds, and the slugs & squirrels that ate them.

This is a story in many parts, but it begins with a post my friend Harry did for a school project. I’m going to let you watch the video I uploaded to hear that story, but suffice it to say, THIS is the blog post where you need to leave a comment to receive some seeds. (see below)  The next part is a project from another buddy Alan, who is collecting stories about open sharing on the internet. It is open to ANYONE, so if you have a cool tale to tell you should check it out! My contribution to the project is as follows.

Sunflowers seeds and sharing. from jason toal on Vimeo.


I will leave you with a few pics from the sunflowers in question as they grew last season. Slug defenses will be going up early this year!  Hope you are lucky enough to get some seeds, and if you are I encourage you to share the fruits, or err… SEEDS of your labour with anyone and in anyway that pleases you.

Amplify your teaching – DRAFT

Anyone ever publish a draft post before, CAUSE I JUST DID.

It was either that or not publish at all, and that is simply not an option this week. The following info was used as the outline for my mini lesson today in the Instructional Skills workshop. I did not use any visual aids, simply played the auditory fragments I have included below, and talked through them. Even though I have not completed this post, (poorly embedded media, incomplete notes, missing several pieces of the BOPPS!) its more my intention to get the links out there and move on. My over-arching mission here is to create some useful open learning resources out of the ISW experience and share them with #etmooc, but we will have to leave this one in DRAFT stage for now.  I have to publish it and start preparing for my next mini lesson tomorrow!

Start: To complete this lesson, please download the Soundcloud app from (from the app or play stores respectively), install it on your mobile device and make sure you have your account set up.


  • To listen to several different types of educational audio.
  • To record and share a short audio reflection from your mobile device.

Using recorded audio in the classroom is old as recorded audio itself. Educational uses of audio were  predicted to be amongst the primary uses of the phonograph intended by Edison in 1878.

Edisons top ten list

  1. Letter writing, and all kinds of dictation without the aid of a stenographer.
  2. Photographic books, which will speak to blind people without effort on their part.
  3. The teaching of elocution.
  4. Music-the phonograph will undoubtedly be liberally devoted to music.
  5. The family record; preserving the sayings, the voices, and the last words of the dying members of the family, as of great men.
  6. Music boxes, toys, etc. – A doll which may speak, sing, cry or laugh may be promised our children for the Christmas holidays ensuing.
  7. Clocks, that should announce in speech the hour of the day, call you to lunch, send your lover home at ten, etc.
  8. The preservation of language by reproduction of our Washingtons, our Lincolns, our Gladstones.
  9. Educational purposes; such as preserving the instructions of a teacher so that the pupil can refer to them at any moment; or learn spelling lessons.
  10. The perfection or advancement of the telephone’s art by the phonograph, making that instrument an auxiliary in the transmission of permanent records.

The audio test recaptured in this historical audio recording from 1927.
Thomas Edison Mary had lamb

Some reasons you might consider offering audio recordings to your students:

Recorded audio can be used in numerous academic contexts.

  • To provide students with a study aid they can review after lecture;
  • To enable students to review the lecture in preparation for discussion and debate;
  • To demonstrate a task, procedure, or complex concept that would benefit from multimedia presentation and/or the ability to watch repeatedly;
  • To use on an ongoing basis as a reference for students;
  • To free up class time for discussion. Making recorded lectures available before class meetings makes more time available for discussion and hands-on activities. In the classroom context, multimedia can be a powerful tool for helping students learn and retain complex ideas and phenomena.

These days, with the internet and an average computing device, recording and sharing audio has never been more accessible and possible, yet how often is it used in the classroom?

Typically, audio from lectures can be easily be recorded and distributed to students, as a means for those that missed the inclass lecture, or for the sakes of review. These audio clips can tend to be the full length of the lecture in some cases more than an hour in length. SFU has this service integrated into many of its lecture halls and is available to instructors by means of a checkbox.

Sample audio – “Lecture”

An eg from SFU podcasts.

SFU lecture

Modeling Social Phenomena – http://www.courtneybrown.com/classes/ModelingSocialPhenomena/mp3/CB_MSP.xml


Sample audio – “Pro” Lecture Media 112

In Storytelling: History 451 Audio was used to demonstrate a task or procedure.




DS106: Learning to Listen

DS106, the preeminent digital storytelling learning experience, is very comfortable with the medium of audio. One of many assignments and resources available from this community.

Activity: On a voluntary basis, please use the Soundcloud app you have installed on your deive, and record a short (30-60 second) reflection on audio in the class room. Tell a story about your experience LISTENING to learning, give me feedback on the lesson, the workshop, or just make something up. I will add it to the “Amplify your classroom” set on soundlcoud if you forward me your audio.