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.

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.

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.

My Memories of Windows XP


Microsoft has stopped support for Windows XP.  It’s an event that we have seen coming for some time.  Folks connecting their computers to the internet really need to do something just to ensure that they remain safe while browsing.  No more security updates will be coming your way.

I still have a computer that runs Windows XP.  Well, actually it would run Windows XP if I put the hard drive back in it.  I pulled the hard drive when I got my Windows 7 laptop and transferred files via cable.

2014-04-08 13.02.50

Right now, the box is relegated to being a platform for the power supply for the laptop that replaced it and my DataShield power filtering device.  I suppose if I was inclined, I could open the DVD or the CD-ROM player and use it as a the proverbial coffee holder.  For now though, it does work nicely as an end table.

I know that many people will be so happy to see Windows XP gone.  It has been a bear to support lately and a prime target for malware writers.  I don’t think that I ever ended up with any installed but that machine has been history for at least four years after I purchased the Windows 7 box.  I needed the power to be able to do the rendering and other things that the old Pentium 2 machine would take over night to do.  But years ago, I thought I’d reached utopia just in the fact that I could do what I could do with it.

Windows has had an interesting adventure in development.  I looked at this diagram to refresh my memory as I began to write this post.  I’m amazed at the versions of Windows that I had used over the years either at home or at work.  I must own at least a part Microsoft.  1.0, 3.0, 3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, CE 2.0, ME, NT 3.51, 2000, Pocket PC 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, and lastly 7.  Lots of numbers there!  I would think, like most people, I used Windows XP for the longest period of time.

It was a nice crossover  point between the “old” versions of Windows whose claim to fame was the refinement of the Graphic User Interface and the newer versions of Windows which are so functional for high work, coupled with the power processors that we have at relatively affordable prices.

For me, the tinkerer, Windows XP was the first operating system that I really tinkered with.  First thing I did was change the default colours – my mother told me that you should never have blue and green together!  I switched to the silver toolbars and felt quite proud to be able to stand out in a crowd.  Of course, Windows XP allowed for the custom wallpapers and, if you took Microsoft’s advice, you could disable the fancy UI making your computer look like Windows 2000 and supposedly run much faster.  I never really noticed any difference.  We didn’t have tools like the Windows Experience then.

Then, there was the Blue Screen of Death.  People would complain and laugh about it.  I always figured I was lucky.  It seldom happened to me and, when it did, it generally was because of something stupid I had done with extra pieces of hardware improperly configured or inserted.

Programs were more fun to use with this new interface.  The basic install actually came with a number of applications that would get you through most needs.  It had a great game of Blackjack!  Wordpad could get you through many word processing tasks.  Connect an external modem via a serial cable and you could dial up and get internet connected.  It’s interesting to even think that I could even get satisfaction from some of the very early web applications and browsers.  Even though Windows XP is actually only 12, that’s 84 in dog years and probably a good analogy for how far we’ve come in OS sophistication.

It was the box above that I first dual booted Windows XP and Linux.  I learned a great deal from both operating systems.  There were lots of hacks available to get you to make your computer completely yours.  And, you’d always make sure that you had the original install CD to erase the damage that comes from being too bold.  The concept of an installation partition was years to come.

In the schools, the IT Department loved Windows XP.  They could take a good installation and cripple all the good stuff so that students were protected from themselves.  Imagine a computer with no command prompt.  Tools were at their disposal for fast deployment of system images once they got the “perfect locked down computer”.

Windows XP was a programmer and hacker’s dream operating system.  At the time, it seemed like there was nothing that couldn’t be done.

There will still be people that hang on to theirs.  Over 12 years, so many facets of our society have been built on Windows XP and the software that runs on it.  Even yesterday, I was in town doing some business and the person I was working with had stock blue/green Windows XP.  When I asked her if the company was going to upgrade, the response was why?  This does everything that I need.  I suspect that, despite all the warnings from Microsoft, that there will be lots of people that feel the same way.  For them, there’s plenty of advice.

It won’t happen here.  I’d have to find somewhere to put the things that adorn the top of my desktop computer, open it up, insert my hard drive hoping that I get the connectors right, then find a monitor and wait forever for it to boot and then hope like crazy that I remember the password to the limited or the admin account so that I could get in.

Because of that, I probably will never do so.  I’ll just use something else and fondly reflect back on Windows XP and how much I learned from that operating system.  12 years?  It seems like just yesterday.

Postscript – Apparently, there are options available if you’re not ready to drop XP - Canadian government paying Microsoft $306,625 for XP support

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Well, we had spring for a couple of days at least.  Most of the snow has gone except for the stuff that’s hiding in the ditches.  We call it “Super Snow”.  The point of this weather report?  I was able to start on this post outside on the patio.  Blogging doesn’t get much better than that.

The Way You Carry It

I love quotes and nobody blogs about “quotes in clumps” like Paul Cornies.

Yesterday’s entry was a selection of quotes about motivation.  This is my favourite.


What I Learned Today (at #OTRK12): Not having the answers feels good!

A lot of Ontario Educators attended the On The Rise Symposium this week.  When I had a few moments, I followed their hashtag #OTRK12.  It sounded like a great experience.  It sounds like Stephen Hurley really set the group afire with his opening keynote.

I liked this paragraph from Brandon Grasley’s post about the symposium.

With this one post, he gives us all the freedom to be a noob.

If you don’t go through a day of using technology without having to solve a problem, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.  Just imagine the students who are along for the ride!


WHAT AM I DOING HERE?

It was April first when Donna Fry posted this so I clicked gingerly on the link to her blog…  It turns out that she was talking about #OTRK12 as well.

It is unnerving and scary at times to do a presentation in a conference, that’s for sure.  Even the best presenter started by doing their first presentation.

I often find it very worthwhile to seek out a presenter doing something for the first time or someone who is relegated to the smallish room at the back of the conference centre.  More often than not, you find someone so nervous, didn’t sleep the night before, poured months into preparation for the presentation, and you end up attending the best session.  Often they have way more material than time permits but just exude enthusiasm and a desire to do the best.  You can’t ask for better than that.


I Really Have Been Working Towards Something

A particular type of blog post that I enjoy reading has the author reflecting on why they do what they do.  Such was the case with Eva Thompson who claims to have started blogging a year ago before that year’s OTRK conference.  Now, she’s presenting at this year’s.

I’m sure that there will be a followup blog post next week letting us know how it went.


I hope that you agree that this was an interesting selection of blog posts from Ontario folks this week.  Read them, comment, and then head over to the big collection.  There’s always some great reading.

More Spring Cleaning


This past week, I had three people that I know end up spewing garbage into their Twitter stream.  I know this because one of the spewings was directed at me.  It’s a reminder that a little bit of spring maintenance might be in order.

More on that in a second but it’s relatively easy to determine if someone has got access to your account and is sending out nasty messages.  If you’re just using the Twitter web interface, just head to your homepage http://www.twitter.com/<yourname&gt; and see what’s been sent.  You’ll know right away.  Or, if you’re using a third party application like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, start a special column for Twitter messages “Sent”.

If there’s bad stuff, you’ll see it right away and you can handle it. 

How did they get access to your account?  Chances are, you clicked one of those links that says “LOL, I can’t believe this is you” and you’re in trouble.  Change your password right away and you should be back in business.

But, let’s go one step further.  Is there anyone or anything else using your account that you don’t know about?  Log into Twitter and head over to your applications menu.  Here, you’ll find a list of everything that you’ve approved access to your account.

If you don’t recognize the application or you did approve it once but now have a change of mind or you just don’t know, you can revoke access to your account.  The next time the application wants to use your account, you’ll have to approve it.  This is significant and worthwhile checking out regularly.

Since you’re on a maintenance roll, how about your other social accounts?  What has access to your Facebook account?  Find out by logging into Facebook and clicking here.

Are there any applications that you’re not using that need to be deep sixed?  This is the place to do it!

How about Google?  It’s so easy to log in to other services with your Google account.  It’s very handy but do you still need to give authorization?

Check these out by logging into Google and clicking here.

Have you used your Microsoft Live account?  Better check that too.

It’s not that these are bad things.  The trend is to use services by authorizing with an account that you already own.  It lowers the number of accounts (and passwords) that you need to maintain.  It’s up to you to keep an eye on what you’re authorizing and to revoke the access if you no longer need to do it.  This is one of those things that you have to do yourself.

So, when was the last time you did a little online account cleaning?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


One of the advantages of being the co-chair of the ECOO / OASBO ICT Bring IT Together Conference is that I have to monitor the workshop submission proposals as they come in.  BTW, the closing date is approaching…

Anyway, the great topic submissions show what great thinking Ontario Educators are doing about their profession.  The same thing happens when you take a look at their blogging.  It’s always a pleasure to do the reading.  Here’s a few that caught my eye this past week.

Using Google+ to Encourage Feedback

One of the messages explaining the rationale for all the web work that we do is that we use it to meet the students half way.  Students, generally, are comfortable in their network communities and certainly everyone has a Google account which gives access to Communities.  It’s not something new to learn; it’s just an easy transition for students and I think that this explains the immediate success that GAFE boards have had.  Colleen Rose shares her thoughts about using the tools for communication at a number of different levels and to different groups.  I found it to be an exciting read and I think quite nicely summarizes a great deal of why people are doing what they do.  Read the post and see if you don’t agree.


30 Days of Positive

You know, if you’re going to steal an idea, you can’t go far wrong with stealing from Oprah Winfrey.

Kristi Kerry Bishop uses being tired as a launch pad to some reflection about gratitude for what’s happening in education.  I had to read the post 2 or 3 times to make sure that I understood the jump in her thinking and I like that she landed on searching the positive.  It’s not nearly as physically draining as dealing with the negative and certainly, the negative isn’t that hard to find.  This is a great read and it’s just faith in humanity that her friends jumped in with support in the comments.

When you’re done reading that post, check out the previous one about hiring Harry Connick Jr.  Much more to think about…


Gedding Some Passion

Cathy Beach sent me a Twitter message a few days ago that was so obscure.  It linked back to this post on her blog and reading it still didn’t really clear things up in my mind.  I thought maybe she had finally lost it!

What the post was, however, was a launchpad to a series of posts from her asking us to think about the future.  Not about what we’re going to have for supper, but 10 years down the road.  Interesting…


My Morning Musings: My Brain Hurts

Aviva Dunsiger’s brain hurts.  So, she does what any rational person would do and take a couple of aspirins.  Right?

Wrong.

In this digital age, she blogs about her problem …

Now, whether or not she gets the timely feedback she’s seeking, I think that the whole process is worth noting.

In the year 2014, do you blindly follow along with the prescriptive resource, or do you look to your network of peers for ideas?  A combination of both may well result in the best learning environment.


Painful Reminder

Who hasn’t been here as a parent?

I hope by now, the problem has been identified and solved and that everyone in the Grasley household is back resting comfortably at night again.


My Own Blog

My own blog,  doug — off the record, got a lot smarter this past week.  I had a couple of guest bloggers!

Doing this was a great deal more difficult that I thought it was going to be.  When approached by the ladies involved, I thought – Great!  I don’t have to do any thinking for a couple of days.  I’ll just copy and paste their work.  Ha!  They had taken the time to entrust me with their thinking and I wanted to make sure that it formatted properly and looked right.  For the first time, blogging was actually work!

But, I’m glad that I did it – there was some good reaction to their posts and I think both delivered a message that was timely and relevant.


Great stuff again, folks.  Thanks to the bloggers above for some great thinking and sharing.  I’m hoping to see them go the next step at the Bring IT Together Conference.

Check out their posts at the links above and, please, check out the entire list of Ontario Edubloggers here.  I am admitting that I’m finding some abandoned content in there.  Rather than deleting them, I’m hoping that they’re just taking a break and will be back.  If you’re a Ontario blogger yourself or you know of one that’s not here, please fill out the form on the page and I’ll get it added.

Stayin’ Alive – Then and Now


This is another post of things to make sure that they just don’t get away.

In Bruce Springsteen’s recent Australian tour, he gave tribute to the Bee Gees by playing Stayin’ Alive.

Here’s the original…

and his cover…

So, which one do you prefer?

Vote here:

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Computer Science Teachers Association Conference


As you may have already heard, Computer Science Teachers Association is in full swing for our 2014 annual conference. We are very proud of our lineup this year as
we have stellar presenters covering a wide-range of topics that will provide insight, discussion and resources amongst our attendees.

Some of our topics include:

  • Programming
  • APCS
  • Game Design, and more!

For a full lineup of our sessions and workshops, visit: http://www.cstaconference.org.

We hope to see you in St. Charles, July 14-15.


2014 CSTA Annual Conference
July 14-15, 2014 Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Illinois

The CSTA annual conference is a professional development opportunity for computer science and information technology teachers who need practical, classroom-focused information to help them prepare their students for the future.

Highlights:

  • Explore issues and trends relating directly to your classroom

  • Learn, network and interact

  • Choose from various workshops and breakout sessions

Some of this year’s session topics include:

  • Advanced Placement Computer Science

  • Computational Thinking

  • Increasing Enrollment in Computer Science

  • Programming

  • Robotics

Keynotes:

  • Yasmin Kafai, Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Michael Kölling, Professor at the School of Computing, University of Kent, in Canterbury, UK.

Pre-registration is required and will be accepted for the first 500 teachers. The registration deadline is June 26, 2014. Also, please note that you must complete the payment portion of the online form in order to be fully registered for the conference!

Thanks to the generous donations of our sponsors, the registration fee of $75 (+$60 per workshop) includes lunch, resource materials, and a closing session raffle. The 2014 CSTA Annual Conference is made possible by the generous support of Oracle and Universal Technical Institute.

Please note that all workshops are “bring your own laptop” and that workshop registration is limited to 30-40 participants; so be sure to register early to get your workshop choice.

Register at: www.cstaconference.org

For more information contact: t.nash@csta-hq.org

A First Time for Everything


On the event of its 8th birthday, Twitter has released a tool that will let you find your first Twitter message.  Ah, the good ol’ days.  My first message was…

I have no idea the context or even where I was.  I do know that, if I was in Essex County, it might have been one of our famous storms that come up at a moment’s notice.  For those of you who question my sleeping habits, you’ll undoubtedly notice that it was first thing in the morning, even back then.  ~59.5K messages later and here I am today.

I am comforted that my message wasn’t “I hope this works” or “Testing…Testing…Testing” or “I’m in a workshop learning how to Tweet”.

What was your first Twitter message?

Head over to the tool and find out.  It’s located here.

You’re not limited to just yourself.  Find and shame your friends!

I’ll bet that the hashtag #FirstTweet trends for the next week or so until we tire of this and move on….