Richer Reading – Response to Brandon Grasley

If you haven’t, you should read Brandon Grasley’s Post “Finding “unusual” content using Zite“.  In the post, he talks about how he uses Zite to break outside of the Echo Chamber that it’s so easy to fall in to. 

The nice thing about being connected is that you can connect with whoever or whatever you want.  As he notes, as an educator, you can surround you with other educators that feed you the same messages.  Or, you can turn it into something else.  We have such great tools that can enable your learning in any way that suits.  There’s no excuse for hearing the same messages over and over.

Brandon talks about using Zite – which also remains my first reading app of the day.  In his post, Brandon asks for topics that you follow – there was considerable overlap between what he follows and what I do.  Additional things that are fed into my reader include “Vaio, Gnome, Ubuntu, Mozilla, Microsoft Office 365, Malware, Windsor, Professional Development, Linux, Microsoft Sharepoint, Ontario, Canada, Android, Gadgets, Infographics”. 

For the most part, I’ll open Zite in the morning and flip my way through “Your Top Stories’ where the best of these categories and the others I follow similar to Brandon “Education, Google, Blogging, …” appear.  As a reader, I get a smattering of stories from all of these areas.  Then, I’ll look into specific subject areas that I feel I need more attention.  Inevitably, it will be Ubuntu, Ontario, Windsor, …  I’ve mentioned many times but will do it again – the power of the reading and learning is to share with others. If a story strikes a chord with me, I’ll share it to Twitter so that anyone else who is interested can take advantage of the fact that I’ve read it.  (Note that “strikes a chord” doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m 100% in agreement with the post – it’s just that it’s well argued.)  From there, Packratius takes the link and saves it to my Diigo account so that I have a permanent addition to my reading collection.  Overnight, Diigo makes a post to my blog that I call OTR Links so that I can review my previous day’s reading. 

Zite does a wonderful job of learning how I learn.  By giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down, I can refine the kind of stories it scrapes for me.  I’ll also confess to an outburst of ego – if my own blog posts appear, I’ll give it a thumbs up.  There’s nothing like being a published author – at least in my own feed.

Zite isn’t my only reading tool.  A screenshot of my News folder shows the other programs that suit a similar purpose for me.

I use the same technique but with different subjects in all the readers.  I’ll admit though, Zite does get the majority of my reading time.  We’ve heard for quite some time about the acquisition of Zite by Flipboard but it’s still alive and doing the good things that it does.

Every now and again, I’ll step back and just be in amazement how powerful the tools are that we have at our fingertips.  Ten years ago, you’d have to be in a well-curated library to have access to the same content.  But, I couldn’t do it sitting in my recliner chair having a coffee and breakfast.  I’ve always spent the first half-hour of my day devoted to reading and being selfish about my own learning.

These tools enable an amazing world of learning.  It’s just a matter of making it happen.

Thanks, Brandon, for the inspiration to think about all this.

OTR Links 11/26/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Hour of Code 2014

The Hour of Code for 2014 is coming.  Teachers and students from all over will be using classroom tools to get a flavour for what coding/programming is all about.

There’s no one language that we’ve come to agreement on that would be perfect.  So, we’re all over the map with this one!  Choose one and do it well.

To help the cause, great people all over the web have been building activities and tutorials that will take one hour-ish to complete.  Hopefully, it doesn’t stop there and the coding activities and skills inspire great things to happen from this experience.  Computer Science is a wonderful discipline that opens so many doors.  It’s tough to believe that any student wouldn’t want to have an awareness of it with the chance of going into it big time.

On social media, I had been resting on my laurels because I had assembled some resources for last year’s event.  It occurred to me that the digitally responsible person would check the links for things that have gone away and be on the lookout for new resources.  That was the task yesterday.

I’m happy to announce and share the latest, greatest, up to datest, all links verified as of November 24, 2014, version.

Thanks to my digital friend Sue, in addition to the Learnist and Pearltree collections that I had last year, I create a Flipboard magazine with my new found abilities.  Thanks, Sue.  Links to them all appear below.  (They all point to the same resources; I just wanted to use a few tools)

I hope that you find these resources useful and that one or two of them might make it into your classroom for the Hour of Code, December 8-14, 2014.

p.s. if you have a favourite resource that isn’t included, shoot me the link and I’ll get it added.

p.p.s.  After I posted this, I realized that I might be visiting Brian Aspinall’s classroom today.  So, I whipped up another resource – this time using his excellent NKWiry resource.

OTR Links 11/25/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Fine Print

There’s a lot to be said for reading the fine print.  But, like most people I suspect, I seldom do.

But there’s a fine print that you probably should look at every now and again.  It’s at the bottom of your Gmail box.


I’m talking about the little “Details” link.  Clicking on it will pop up a little window showing you activity on your Gmail account.


It’s great reading if the topic is digital forensic science or just healthy paranoia!

Details are provided about access to your account, how, where, and when.  If you’re accessing email from a variety of locations, you might be surprised with the details.  There might be your home computer, your computer at school, your cell phone, your tablet, ….

What you don’t want to see is access from a location, identified by IP address, where you’re not!

It’s a quick little reminder but so important.  If someone reports that they got an email from you and you just know you didn’t send it, this should be one of the first places you look to see if something has gone wrong.

There’s lots to be reminded of with an exercise like this.  Are you using two-step authentication?  Do you log out when you’re done reading email?  Do you have a secure password?  Do you change your password regularly?  Have you shared your login details with anyone else?

OTR Links 11/24/2014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Mapping Crime

The Global Security Map attempts to map the world, showing us where the bad stuff is located.  For its purposes, it tries to identify “malware, phishing, spam and other malicious activities”.

Upon your first landing, you’ll be presented with the world with countries coded from green to red or low to uh oh.

I’m a big fan of infographics to immediate share an image and message and maps have always lent themselves to visualize things.  In this case, it’s the malware that the concerned, connected computer user needs to keep in mind.

You’ll definitely want to read how the site determines the colours and the severity of the threats.  The descriptions of the threats is particularly helpful. A tool such of this opens the door for discussion about safety online.  Why would some countries be orange and red?  Why would some be green?  Is Antarctica really the safest place on the planet?

Mouse over the countries and click to get the summary for that country.

Can you find #1?  How about #219?

Don’t forget to click the grey triangles to open each category to reveal the details for each category.

It’s a fascinating look at our online world and a great conversation starter and launchpad for further research into online safety.