About Benjamin Wood


Book: Why School? by Will Richardson

World War I was an important point in the world’s history, and certainly one for Canada, both as a nation and as a nation of the world — so much so that The Great War was a major unit in the grade 10 Canadian history curriculum. Just like every other unit, there was a test at the end, to evaluate what we students had learned. To prepare I frantically poured over the class textbook and my notes, collecting important dates, places, people and events, and using them to draw out timelines.

I didn’t do well on that test; however, I ultimately cleared the class with an 83%. I credit part of this eventual success to an assignment, ironically tied to World War I. That assignment had us write a paper blog (I mean diary) of a soldier caught up in the war. Presented on tea-stained, oven-burnt paper, bound inside dirt-covered, paper-machéd cardboard covers, my diary was simply titled, “La Guerre Mondiale” (thankfully I caught a grammar mistake at the last second and added that last ‘e’ before submitting it). It detailed the desire to go home, the awful state of the trenches, loss of friends, and an impromptu sports game with both sides on Christmas Day.

In the days when Google was just getting started, well before things like Wikipedia and Call of Duty, I was researching and trying to envision what it would have been like to be in the front lines. I took the most complete picture I could piece together, peppered on WWI details and threw in my views on war and how I would feel losing my friends to gunfire. I wrote it all out. I did well.

This experience falls directly into Will Richardson’s premise in his short-length book Why School?: How Education Must Change When Information and Learning Are Everywhere (SEE: Book at ted.com). In his mind, the age of Memorize and Mumble is over. Knowledge and the ability to connect with others is no longer scarce. “If we have an Internet connection,” says Richardson, “we have fingertip, on-demand access to an amazing library that holds close to the sum of human knowledge and, equally important, to more than two billion people with whom we can potentially learn.” Why would we limit our youth’s studies to a handful of books and facts that likely leave very little long-term impression?

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Online and USHA – CFFN 2012 Annual General Meeting Update

Online Updates

New CFFN Site

New CFFN Site

CFFN.ca Website

Recently, CFFN has launched a new website. This site is designed to be much easier to  find new updates, articles and other content and be easier to search for older archived material. The Radio initiative has been fully integrated into this new site, making all new radio updates part of CFFN’s updates.

Visitors can also comment on and be part of discussions about articles and other topics.  If they so desire, it is possible to share our content with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+  directly from the article.

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I’m Traveling to Nepal

After being involved with the Nepalese Canadian Association of Ottawa (NCAO) and Canada Foundation for Nepal (CFFN) throughout the past decade, and getting to know many of the Nepalese families who have moved to Ottawa, I finally have the opportunity to see Nepal for itself. While I’m there, I will get to see some of the capital city, Kathmandu, as well as the countryside where the best way to get from one village to another is to trek.

It all started about a month ago when a friend of mine wanted me to go to Japan to visit a mutual friend. This trip was feasable – and how often will I get an invite to Japan? Just as I was about to make that happen, it was brought to my attention that the Non-Resident Nepali Assocation is holding their every-other-year conference around the same time as the Japan trip. At this confence, I would be able to present an update to a project that I’m leading on behalf of CFFN. Also, I could see CFFN’s Community ChildCare Centre first hand, and also work on the Open University venture. Since I’d already be halfway around the world… Why not go the extra mile (well couple thousand miles)?

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CFFN-Related Wallpapers for you!

As a nice extra to go with those pins in my previous entry, I have made available a few of wallpapers that you can use on your desktops! The first one is from last year, while the other three are brand new. It’s interesting for me to see just how many of the assets that I’ve created that I can use and alter again and again. For example, the third wallpaper is heavily based on the CFFN scroll I made a couple of years ago!

Having new assets is also important. The CFFN letter design (second wallpaper) is completely new… but it was first used to create the buttons. The last one is also brand new, but is based on the AGM flyer from this year.

All these little things help to create a visual vocabulary for us as an organization.


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Newer CFFN Radio Site

As we expanded the scope of the project to include several show types and wanted to add written content in Nepali, the template became more cumbersome than useful. Even uploading content had become a chore.

What I’ve done is moved everything over to the more powerful Blogger tool. The first benefit is that everything is customizable, so any extra content pages we need blend right in. Also, integrating Nepali is easy because it supports unicode. Uploading content should also be a bit easier, especially since people can do it with their own Google accounts. Perhaps the most important benefit of the new system is that visitors can get to the content they need in fewer clicks – this is especially true of older archived content.

CFFN is due for a full redesign, so I don’t know how long we’ll use this particular set-up… but for now, it’s an improvement!

It looks like a subtle change, but there’s a lot more here than meets the eye. Please check it out and leave any feedback you have! While you are there, listen to the programs! The most recent show is an interview with Michael and Tineke Casey, two bright and delightful people making a great contribution to Nepal.

And in the midst of all this change, I managed to design a logo for Epilogues/Yatra Nepal show. It was heavily influenced by a badge I saw for a wilderness park. The yak, though, was my idea.

Making Presentations Available Online

There are a number of presentations that CFFN members have given over the years and I would very much like to make them available for viewing online. So far, I have come up with a couple of solutions, both of which come with their strengths as well as their shortcomings.

The first solution comes from AuthorStream. They allow users to upload presentations with animation, timings, and narration. It then converts it into a viewable movie format. For a fee, you can turn it into a watermark-free video, upload to YouTube, etc. This seems to be a great way to share a presentation (Aside from the audio quality, that was recorded at a poor quality level on my part and has nothing to do with the site) – easy to share and embed, nice full-screen option, comments, etc.

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Blogging CFFN

The social media and information revolution is the ultimate grassroots movement. Youtube, Twitter, the blogosphere, Flickr, Picasa, Digg, Delicious, Reddit, Wiki, Facebook… they’re all part of a network where the people choose what’s important – and that’s what becomes the news of the day. It’s the great neutralizer of this era, where the young labourer and the seasoned lawyer have equal say in the world; it’s the quality of the content, not the person behind it that grabs people’s imagination. Suddenly, great ideas don’t need big budgets and big-name backing to gain traction to change the world.

So many of these qualities and ideas are the foundation to what CFFN stands for and what it sets out to accomplish. As CFFN grows under its new mandate, it will begin to utilise many of these tools to connect with people with similar ideas and interests, those who would like to see or be part of the change to change the world.This blog is a step in this direction. It allows CFFN contributors to introduce themselves and share their ideas, personalities, opinions, stories, and other developments in a direct way. We’ll also be able to share porject and organizational developments, behind the scenes information, and thoughts in a way that will hopefully show the people behind CFFN.

Thank you for reading and welcome to CFFN.