Bringing Outsiders Into the Learning Process

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This past Friday, during a workshop I was giving in New York City, I was teaching participants how to podcast using Aviary. One of the district trainers noticed that the company is based in NY and not far from where we were that day. Everyone was so thrilled with the tool we were using that we thought it might be a great opportunity to bring someone in from Aviary to talk to us a bit about their product and the background of its development.

Using the support form on their site, we sent a quick email and asked if someone might be able to Skype with us the next day. Within hours, we were contacted by the CEO and Founder of Aviary, Avi Muchnick. He said he would be happy to join us.

Avi and his colleague Michael Galpert joined us the following morning and spent about 20 minutes with us talking about how their fantastic toolset was born. But then, when we were about done, they took the time to talk to the group of teachers in the room and ask them about their thoughts and what features were important to them as educators. They have real interest in the education community and in making their tool a good one for students. I really think that gave the participants a bit of a sense of ownership that they didn’t have prior to the call.

Now, the conversation was great, but during the process, I was able to emphasize an important point that I had been trying to get across during the 3-day workshop. We have the ability to talk to interesting people anywhere in the world. It’s easy, it’s inexpensive and it brings so much more interest into the teaching and learning process.

Click here for a related post about Aviary.


  1. We’ve used Skype very successfully in similar situations. For example, I teach a philosophy course to my Grade 9 students; part of of our study is an exploration of the nature of reality. A colleague at a school in another province put me on to a young physicist with a PhD in quantum mechanics who was now working on a teaching degree. He agreed to meeting my students online. Our conference lasted nearly two hours. Our heads were sore–a sure sign we’d been thinking hard, I told my students.

    We recorded the session so we have the data to review. Here’s a tiny clip.

  2. I was just telling my group the other day after our three day hands-on bonanza that we should send our students home tired out everyday just like they were during our time together.

    That means big, important work is getting done.


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