This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This is the third post in a row written using Windows Live Writer.  That means that I’ve been using Windows for three days in a row.  That’s a modern day record!  I notice that it’s Live Writer 2011.  I wonder if there’s been an upgrade?  I recall reading recently that it might go open source.  That would be awesome.

Back on topic … here’s some great posting from Ontario Edubloggers from this past week.

A Letter to a New Teacher

On the Voice of Canadian Education blog, Stephen Hurley issued this challenge.

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If you could write a letter to a first year teacher, what advice would you pass along.

He gives some perspective – what an administrator might say, what a student might say, what a teacher might say, what an outsider might say, …

I think it’s a great idea and I’m going to accept the challenge and write a blog post over the weekend sharing my thoughts.

Thanks for the inspiration, Stephen.


My Thoughts on the Peel District School Board’s Social Media Guidelines for Staff and Teachers

Fred Galang shares some of his thoughts about the Peel DSB’s social media guidelines.

Recently, the Peel District School Board released their social media guideline for staff and teachers. As much as I applaud their initiative (they’ll be the first to outline such guidelines for social media use in detail), there were a few items that sparked a healthy convo with my Tweeps over the last two days. Without the risk of repeating myself, I’ll simply address the most contentious for me.

In the beginning, teacher use of social media was really experimental.  I can recall being involved with the OTF Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century series.  In some quarters, there was a wish that there would be rules or guidelines.  I remember having the discussion at the time and we agreed that you just couldn’t put it all into a one pager.  The best advice we got still applies to day “Don’t do stupid things.”

I absolutely agree with Fred’s concerns.  I never was a fan or rules.  They always define a line between someone’s concept of what’s right and what’s wrong.  If you’ve ever been in a classroom, you know that’s an immediate red flag for students to determine where that line actually is. 

My sense is that the document still has the mentality that social media is a “think” that can be clearly defined and all the negatives drawn from it.  The document does identify concerns, particularly about student privacy.  Instead of a social media document that defines that, wouldn’t it make more sense to expand any existing privacy resource to include cautions? 

I do wonder about the concept of having a person and a professional account.  We’ve all seen people try to manage that and post from the wrong account.  What would happen if students actually found out that you’re human and are a fan of the Detroit Tigers?  Certainly the world wouldn’t end.

I still like the original advice “Don’t do stupid things.”

Royan Lee also wrote about the same thing and garnered some comments from Ontario Educators well worth the reading.


How BYOD/T is Getting Easier, How it’s Getting Harder

Not to belittle Royan’s other post, I really like what he did when he tackled the topic of BYOD/T again.

It’s to his credit that he’s identified in one of the comments as a “pioneer”.  He’s certainly been very vocal and open about his experiences over the time that devices were welcomed in his class.  He addressed these in detail in an interview that I had with him.

Royan’s just generally a great guy.  I recall sitting next to him watching his kids swimming and we were just chatting.  I still remember thinking “this guy is going to change the world, one class at a time”.  He’s very vocal but not the sort of evangelist that exudes a “follow me or begone” approach.

In a world where some are debating the merits of BYOD, Royan speaks with the mature voice of experience. 

If you’re collecting a list of definitive resources about BYOT, you need to include this post. 

Dean Shareski did.


Yearning For The Printed Photograph

Facebook friends know that I had a major life event this past week.  I was there with my phone taking pictures and sharing them on Facebook with friends.  It’s fast and efficient and you get to see them all just as quickly as I can post them.  Not all of them were absolute perfection but they were from my eyes.

My wife, on the other hand, goes a more traditional route.  Even though she has a digital camera, it’s off to Shopper’s to get printed copies of them.  She likes the more permanent record of them and the fact that she can put them in an album and leave them on a shelf.

Aviva Dunsiger reflected on the value of the printed photograph.  I couldn’t help but think that this approach (and grudgingly my wife’s) will stand the test of time.

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I think it’s testament to family history and the eye of the photographer that someone later on can use the word “incredible” to describe their efforts.

It makes you wonder about the legacy of images that those of us share online.  I know that I do keep a copy on backup here but there still a trip into town away from being put in an album.  There’s merit in that – one of my own favourite throwback pictures is of two buzzcut kids with their grandmother. 

There probably is a preferable half-way meeting of the technologies to satisfy both worlds. 

Check out Aviva’s entire post as she takes a look at both sides of the discussion.  There’s some pretty wise insights and, as per Aviva’s normal, a bunch of questions to ask yourself.


Thanks everyone for continuing to write and inspire.  Please take the time to enjoy the entire posts and all of the postings from Ontario Edubloggers.  There’s always some great writing happening.

And, while writing this, I downloaded the latest Live Writer to see if I have the latest.  I might have to hang around Windows for another day or so…

OTR Links 08/15/2014


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

British Pathe


How things have changed!

When I was in secondary school, movies were a true event.  It was actually our version of the flipped classroom.

When there was a movie to be shown in history, we flipped with the geography class because it was on the other side of the school and didn’t catch the morning sun and, if I remember correctly, had better curtains to darken the room for the event.  We were the second history class in our grade so word got around when it was “movie time”.

We came prepared – actually prepared for anything but learning.  When the lights were turned off and the projector started, a whole lot took place totally unrelated to the video.  Mostly flying objects – paper airplanes, crumbled paper, …

Surprisingly, I do recall having some great discussions about the video content later so I guess the activity wasn’t completely a waste.

The thought that we might be able to watch the video at home and come to school prepared to talk about it was most certainly foreign!

Not so today. 

With devices being so ubiquitous, and sources like a school or public library, video is an important component of a teacher’s toolkit.

Many of us have fought the fight for years to get better bandwidth and to unblock video sharing sites for exactly this purpose.  Now open, the challenge becomes one of getting the best of the best.

Our times, and our students’ times, have been well documented.  One place to find a huge wonderful collection of important and relevant videos is British Pathé.

Pathé News was a producer of newsreels, cinemagazines, and documentaries from 1910 until 1976 in the United Kingdom. Its founder, Charles Pathé, was a pioneer of moving pictures in the silent era. The Pathé News archive is known today as "British Pathé". Its collection of news film and movies is fully digitised and available online.

Over 80,000 videos from a variety of areas of interest are available at their Youtube site.  It’s difficult to even point to a particular video.  There’s just so much there.  You have to visit and experience it for yourself.  You might consider subscribing to get announcements and access to playlists.

I know that many people search for video using their favourite search engine – having British Pathé as a starting point makes a great deal of sense.  Whether you’re looking for in-class use, videos to assign at home, or even just personal research and interest, you’re going to find this invaluable.

OTR Links 08/14/2014


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

Images from the South West


I was in the drive through at Tim Horton’s listening to the local news on “The Information Station” when a report came on about an inquest into the death of an inmate at the Windsor Jail.

The jail certainly isn’t one of the most modern facilities and is slated to be closed when the South West Detention Centre opens.  The current facility is famous (infamous?) for its awful state.  You read in the newspaper about people having their time to be spent there reduced because of the conditions.  Over the summer, I discussed this with a friend of mine who used to be a corrections officer and he confirmed that it was indeed in need of closing.  Like the Goderich Gaol, it will probably end up being a museum at some point.

The building is really old.  It’s on the route home from work but I guess I was just a little curious this morning as I listened to the news report. 

How old is it really?

As a good digital citizen, I didn’t pull out my phone while in line (that would be wrong and just the outside of the building is a deterrent…) but I did wait until I got home and did some research.  It was very hard to find – there are so many stories about the new facility opening and they dwarf anything else.  Then, it dawned on me that perhaps it wasn’t in Windsor when it open?  Maybe it was in the town of Sandwich.  That searching did appear to be more successful and it looks like it was built behind MacKenzie Hall in 1924. 

In the process, I stumbled upon just a wonderful collection of resources for anyone interested in the history of Southwest Ontario.

I think that my interest in history has really been renewed with all of the efforts in recognizing the events of the War of 1812.

The result?  I’m really getting a kick, and a lesson, from discovering stories and images from this area.

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One of the things that I discovered as I searched for the jail history was this resource hosted by the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor.  It’s an archive of images from Ontario’s south west.

Nicely indexed, searches can be done based on community, subject, title, type, date, or the creator.

Many, but not all, of the images are in the public domain so you need to be respectful in the use.  I just found that the images tell a fascinating story as I clicked around trying to orient the images to what I know today.  I just feel sorry that it took this long to find this resource. 

I guess the lesson here is that it’s cool and all that to look at worldly pictures like the Eiffel Tower.  Sometimes, the best and more relevant things may be just in your own back yard.

OTR Links 08/13/2014


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

It’s “About” Educational Technology


One of the earliest Twitter accounts that I followed was @elemenous.

During my time on Twitter, Lucy Gray has been a great source of information and she travels in interesting online circles.  She shares her work regularly via blog at High Techpectations.  I always check out her collections that she calls “Get Googley in Education” and “Apple of My Eye: Resources Catching My Attention”.  There’s always good stuff curated there.

Speaking of curation, another of my favourite internet resources is About.com.  It’s a nice front page to online resources, and organized by category.

I was pleasantly surprised to see these two excellent resources merge today, in a message from Lucy.

Welcome to About.com’s new educational technology page! My name is Lucy Gray and I’ll be your curator of practical digital tools, tips, and ideas to implement in your classroom. This resource will keep you updated with ed tech news, trends and innovations. And, I’ll be introducing you to exemplary educators from around the world who are doing great things with teachers and students involving ed tech.

This has huge potential.

I’ll be following the development of this resource.  You may wish to do the same!