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

15 thoughts on “The Nessie Awards – 2010 Edition

  1. Jim

    A fine round up, and I am glad to say I follow all these blogs and I think Network Effects is a fine unsung blog, my son and I are still trying to get to do those light saber videos Grant blogged.

    And for the Lifetime Achievement and Cogdog—well, I don’t say this often, but “Nobody blogs like Alan Levine. NOBODY!!!!!” That dog deserves his day, but what is most annoying is that he will find some way to deflect it and refocus on why he is pissed off at some airline or company for taking him for a ride ;)

    Long live the cogdogblog!!!

  2. Scott

    Ha! Yeah, I was thinking of calling Alan’s house posing as a telemarketer selling insurance against hyperlink rot to tell him he won, just for the fun of it.

  3. Alan Levine

    I HATE ALL BLOG AWARDS.. except the Nessies, and not just cause I got one! I was happil;y adding new subscriptions to me reader when I got to the bottom, and now I just may cry and come up with a theory and a TLA.

    Thanks man, where do I get my statue?

  4. Clint Lalonde

    Inspired choices. From a past recipient, welcome to the inner sanctum.

    I also nominate Grant in the “person most able to elevate a sloppy edujam to groovalific heights using nothing but a toothpick and sewing thread strung over a tin can” category.

    I see you have a budget this year and have purchased a jello mold for the distinguished statues. Classy.

  5. Jim


    I lied, I didn’t follow that’s new, and I had only seen paul Stacy’s blog since you tweeted his post earlier. So I got over zealous in my response which happens. But since out of jealousy I have stopped following the cogdogblog, I think everything evens out. Right?

  6. dkernohan

    Thanks Scott – coming from you, that means an awful lot. I wouldn’t be blogging if it weren’t for Brian Lamb, so hat-tips and free beer to him.

    Anyway, I have a load of new blogs to read, but still two issues I wish to raise.

    #1 – Joss Winn’s blogs…. hell, Joss Winn’s project planning documentation… are consistently astonishing and I’m almost cringing at being mentioned in the same para as him.

    #2 – there are edu-jams???? I want in.

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  8. Scott

    Oh David, are there ever edujams, degenerate funkified revelries that herald the coming of the mythical eduglu, slouching towards Bethlehem. But be warned, ye must be willing to give up The Fear (and travel to Vancouver) to join. Are you ready? Willing and able? New converts always welcome ;-)

  9. Grant

    Thanks so much for your kind words everyone – I am stoked about my Nessie and have it sitting proudly on the mantle at NetworkEffects.

    Really looking forward to the EduJams to come in 2011.

  10. dkernohan


    I’m in. I play keys, guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo … all at your disposal for the greater edu good.

    Now I just need a plausible-sounding reason to get to Vancouver….

  11. Scott

    David, we welcome all comers, just don’t set your sights too high – aside from Grant (and I guess Cogdog squeezes in there too) the rest of us are pretty much hacks; I’m using the word “jam” in the loosest, most discordant, dada-ist sense of the word. We take the meaning of “free form” to a new level!

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