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.
”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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Change Your Passwords For These 15 Heartbleed-Vulnerable Sites ASAP
- The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now
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.