When your best isn’t good enough


It’s great to see the conversations and sharing continue after the edcamps over the weekend.  Motivated educators trying out new things and some new bloggers appearing.  You can’t help but feel happy.

Honestly, that’s easy to find – people that are happy with the experience and learning like to share and others like to reshare.  But, there’s another group.  There are some that are just quiet.  It’s always tough to read into this.  Are they quiet because reality has kicked in and noses are back to the grindstone?  Are they quiet because they don’t have an opinion?  Are they quiet because they’re unhappy and just don’t want to stand out with their opinions?

Last night, as I was doing some work, my friend @SheilaSpeaking was sending out links to blog posts and I was reading them.  There was one that stood out and I had to read it a few times.  It was from a person who wasn’t happy with parts of the edcamp, including my presentation.  It’s not that I think I have a thin skin but there were some legitimate concerns expressed in the post.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, there were a few Plan Bs that were in place to make the edcamp in Tilbury work.  I’m not sure how things were on the other end.  As I was setting up, I realized that I had left my computer remote control at home and I knew exactly where it was – I had been practicing for my talk and set it down on my desk.  It didn’t get packed.

I did want to practice before going live.  When @Cowpernicus and I had originally planned, the talk was going to be about something that I’ve very passionate about – taking control over your own professional learning, reading, sharing, connecting, building, …  It was a presentation that I’d be comfortable giving to my peers and what I gave at ECOO.  They expect the nerdy/technical from me.  This audience was a bit different and so I planned to tone it down a bit.

Then, there was the time thing.  I was supposed to go from 1:00 to 2:00.  On the Tilbury end, the organizers decided to delay the start until a group that had gone for lunch returned.  From reading this post, it was a 19 minute delay.  It didn’t seem to be a problem in Tilbury as everyone was busy chatting and sharing away.  So, once we got started, I had lost that time.  There are two things that you really should honour – remember to start on time and remember to end on time.  So, on the fly, I tried to save some time to make sure that I ended right at 2.  There were things that fell to the wayside.

It was a little bizarre speaking to a live audience and to another group further up the 401.  I couldn’t see the other end so had to rely on the visual feedback from the group right in front of me.

At the end, I did feel pretty good about things.  There were lots of new followers on Twitter and great conversations and feedback from the folks at the school.

The one thing that nobody noted but I’m incredibly self-conscious about are my arms.  I swear that, if I had feathers, I could take off.  It’s a part of me that I can’t come to grips with.  They’re always moving.  I’ve tried the usual tips – put one hand if a pocket, hold a pen in one hand, put my arms behind my back – nothing works to date.  If you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear it.

As I read the blog post, it’s obvious that there were concerns.  It would be easy to ignore and move on but it would be hypocritical to not learn from them.  Points noted.

OTR Links 04/16/2014


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

When the author is in the house…


I thought that this moment at edcampSWO was worthy of note and that it might be also worthy of tucking away in your memory if you’re wondering whether to attend in the future.

At the beginning of the day, I was sitting with my friend @margsang.  We were catching up at light speed and out of the blue, she asked – do you know Brian Aspinall?  Well, of course I do.  She asked “Which one is he?”  I looked around the cafeteria where we were sitting and noted that I couldn’t see him.

“Why?”

”I want to ask him something about Scrawlar.”

Fair enough.  We waited a few moments more and Brian did enter the room and I asked him to join us.

What happened next was some great conversation, back and forth.

  • “I have this problem when I use Scrawlar with Internet Explorer.” Response – Yes, it’s a known issue.  Use any other browser and there’s no problem.
  • “What’s the best way to transfer Scrawlar documents from one year to the next if a student has a different teacher?” – Response was a number of different solutions.
  • “ You know, I find Scrawlar especially appropriate for my students.  With other online word processors, there’s too much of a cluttered interface with ribbons and huge menus. They have difficulty with them.  With Scrawlar, we just do the writing that we need to do.”

Now, I suppose I should have felt badly that I invited Brian to the inquisition.  But, he seemed to genuinely enjoy doing off-the-cuff support.

At the end of the five minute discussion, everyone seemed happy and we moved on to other things.

On my drive home, I kept thinking about how you’d get support for any other product like that.  Here, we had access to the designer, coder, and chief promoter of the product.  Who could ask for more?  His product is obviously a personal passion and he’s not shy about promoting or supporting it.

image

The product is free; teachers set up classes and students use the product without the need for email.  In so many ways, it’s a solution that would fit nicely into classrooms.

Read my review of it here.

If you haven’t taken a look at Scrawlar, I would encourage you to take a look and see if it’s a fit for your multi-device classroom.

OTR Links 04/15/2014


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

My Reflections from edcampSWO


I had a wonderful Saturday.

A few months ago, my friend @Cowpernicus asked to take me out to lunch.  I knew there was something up his sleeve at the time but free food is free food.  Over the lunch, he asked if I would speak to a group of educators at #edcampSWO.  Even though I had suggested a location for the initial edcamp, I wasn’t able to attend last year. But, I made a point to be available this year and I’m glad that I did.

I’ve driven by Tilbury District High School many times in the past but had never gone in.  So, this was like killing two birds with one stone.

The enjoyment to the day actually started minutes upon arrival at the school.  It was like one great reunion of people that I had the pleasure of working with for years and years.  Lots of hugs and handshakes and reminiscing.  After lunch, which was delayed by the group that had slow service at the bowling alley, I had a chance to talk to the group.  I had been told that the talk was going to be simulcast to the group at #edcampldn which was kind of cool.  I have lots of friends from the London area as well.  There were lots of Plan Bs to make this happen – the folks in charge couldn’t get Ustream working for them but Google Hangouts were available and were used.  Next problem was with the camera which didn’t work.  But, in true Canadian fashion, we could make it work with duct tape.  None was found but masking tape stepped up to do the deed.

And it worked.  The highlight for me was to be able to formally recognize the group of CIESC and ELTIP people who I’d worked with for years.  They are an inspiring group, always thirsting for more and better understanding of technology in the classroom, and it was so cool to see some of them at the edcamp.

My talk, to the choirs in Tilbury and London, was about the changing nature of professional learning.  We’ve certainly come a long way from…

… to taking full control over our own learning.  There are so many good, contemporary ways to do that and my call to action to the group was to ask them how they were going to make this happen.

But what would an edcamp be without taking in some learning and discussions?

I had the chance to learn about:

  • Music apps for the iPad and how they’re used in the classroom;
  • Evernote as a student documentation and tracking tool;
  • Digging into Google;
  • Ideal leadership techniques in school to support teachers;
  • and a talk about the direction of technology in Lambton-Kent, including Novell, Windows XP, fibre to remotely located schools, a focus on teacher and students driving strategy, and more.

The LKDSB IT Department was on hand to handle the networking needs.  Extra access points were put into place and a completely open, friendly network for the attendees.  I can only imagine what was going through their minds as people whipped out device after device to get connected.  And, they were going to broadcast audio and visual on top of this?

Plans A and B and C and probably more just fell nicely in place in Tilbury.  Hopefully, they had the same success in London.  As you can imagine, Twitter use made the edcamp self-documenting.  I created a couple of Tagboards to keep track of things.

Sadly, the scum of the earth, spammers, managed to insert some garbage into the discussion.  Ignoring them is just part of what going online means.

Andy Forgrave had put together a post gathering information from his location in Eastern Ontario which served to enhance the learning.

If you don’t suffer from motion sickness, you can enjoy this Tagsexplorer.

It would come as no surprise that Brian Aspinall was the biggest Tweeter/Promoter for the event.

I did get a very nice framed thank you gift.  I’m still trying to figure out all the connections.

Many thanks for the gift.

I would like to extend my congratulations to the organizers of the two edcamps.  I know that I thoroughly enjoyed the day, learned lots and made some new connections.  From the voices attached to the unconference hashtags, I wasn’t alone.  Whenever you can walk away from a professional learning event feeling that way, it’s got to be a success.

The challenge now will be to make the edcamps in 2015 even better.

Postscript – The edcamp in Tilbury has started at least one new blogger.  Check out the guest post on Brian Aspinall’s blog by Myria Mallette.

OTR Links 04/14/2014


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

It’s the Little Things


My morning dog walk on Friday took us past the local elementary school.  The dog was taking in all the smells at ground level and I’m looking around for anything to amuse me during our morning ritual.

As we passed the school, two cars pulled into the parking lot almost in synch.

The doors open and two fathers stepped out and released their daughters from their car seats.

Then, something amazing happened.

The two girls, with their backpacks in place, came together.  They held hands and skipped up the sidewalk to the school.  The fathers followed them in.

I felt a little out-of-place.  I can’t remember the last time I skipped anywhere.  During this winter, I swear my dog, part Husky, skipped through the snow drifts on our walks but that’s about it.

So, I ask.  When was the last time you lived the true joy of youth and skipped somewhere?

It’s the little things.  Actually, maybe that’s everything.

OTR Links 04/13/2014


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

Bleeding


Staying aware of things is always the best advice for anyone who connects her/his computer to the internet.  We were really made aware of this over the past week with the announcement of the Heartbleed bug.  It’s scary stuff, especially when you think of how long it has been in existence and how we’ve come so accustomed to relying on the supposedly secure connection between your computer and the website that you’re visiting.

At the bottom of the wikipedia article linked to above, you’ll find a list of websites that have been affected.  The common sense approach would be to change your password on those sites – once they are patched.

Other articles offering advice include:

A really good resource for all things Heartbleed:

Today’s Naked Security Podcast offers an audio insight into what’s going on:

Users of LastPass have a built-in bit of confidence.  Just head to the Tools menu and run a Security Check.  All of the sites that you have saved in this utility are checked.  You’ll determine if the site has been patched or not, along with a recommendation to get over there and change your password if the site is ready to go.

Or, if you’re not using LastPass, they offer

And, for the truly concerned browser, the Chromebleed extension keeps an eye on the sites that you browse to and warns you before you visit.

This issue is going to take a while to resolve.  I read one report that indicated that 66% of the web could be at risk.  That’s a scary thing.  In the meantime, it’s a good idea to do some research and stay on top of what’s happening.

For the really technical minded, read some code.

And, if that’s too deep, take it in as only XKCD can describe it.

OTR Links 04/12/2014


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