OTR Links 11/22/2017

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


Prompting with emojis

On Sunday, my morning reading included this post – Creative Writing with Emoji Prompts.  I thought it to be a cool concept.  Personally, I don’t tend to use emojis when I’m creating things but I recognize that many do.

And, for our students, it’s just a natural thing for them.  I thought I’d share it and tuck it away for myself if I ever need to revisit the concept.  As soon as the sun was up, Jaimie and I were out to put some steps behind us.  At a stop on the way, Jaimie gets to go off leash and release his inner inquiry.  Dog noses are amazing.  Not wishing to rush him, I pulled out my phone and re-read the blog post.  I still like the concept so I had time; I thought that I’d try out the link that was provided.  Sadly, it didn’t work!

A quick search and I found it.  I shared that new link just in case others had read the original message, tried it, got frustrated, and gave up.  In my mind, there are lots of reasons why you’d want to try this as a way of inspiring writers.

And, I tried it out…


It works as promised and deals up random emoji.  As I was worried that the original author had taken down the app, I wondered about alternative ways to generate a string of emoji.  And, perhaps even have a bit more control over what appears.

Here’s a great resource – iEmoji bills itself as an emoji keyboard for computers.  What would my American friends use, given this time of year?


Oh yes!  This works nicely too.

But you don’t even have to stray that far.  The options may be sitting there in your favourite word processor.  Just look to “insert” them.

Microsoft Word Online


Google Doc


The nice thing about having access and being connected is that there are often options to fit everyone’s different needs.

OTR Links 11/21/2017

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

About software and branding

Please stick with me. I’m having another Tim King moment.  This time in response to his post “ECOO 2017: building your Edtech house on shifting ground“.

There are two issues here that got me thinking (and blogging).

He shares a thought from a panel discussion featuring a number of people.  It sounds like the discussion dropped into one of us versus them.  At least from Tim’s perspective.

For my first issue, I’m pulling out this paragraph from his post…

In the course of this discussion it was suggested by curriculum support people and board IT professionals that teachers should be spending an inordinate amount of their time closely reviewing the legal documentation around software applications and vetting software.  I thought we had people for that.  Having a teacher do that is akin to pulling all your commandos off the front line in a war and having them do paperwork.

For context, even though I managed an IT Department for seven months, I consider that I have both feet planted on the curriculum side of the house.  As part of my job, it was important that I reviewed documentation on resources that we made available for the classroom.  At our monthly Computers in Education School Contact meetings, we would explore the latest and greatest of the “new”.  I did feel that it was my responsibility to look through these things that I was trying to get people to use.  The limitation, of course, is that I’m not a lawyer and working through the legal end was certainly not a science.  Fortunately, when we licensed things through OSAPAC, the Ministry of Education had their lawyers on hand.

But that’s only one set of the things that ended up in classrooms.  It gets worse today.  There are so many good options available on the web or downloadable as an “app” with its smorgasbord of applications.  Whose responsibility is it to study the terms and conditions of that?  Do we care that “free” comes with a barrage of internal advertising?

Should the perspective be that you only use officially board-vetted resources?  To use others, you’re on your own?  Should there be a process where a classroom teacher who attends a session and gets excited about a product submit it to someone for review?

Then, there’s the real kicker.  Suppose an application is approved and found to be good and somewhere along the line, the developer changes those terms or sells their product to someone else.  By that time, any content already created is subject to conditions that you haven’t necessarily agreed on.

And then, there’s the issue about just where the data is actually stored.  Have we become so in love with the cloud that we overlook this?

Times are considerably different.  Teachers, and the uses of technology in the classroom, are far more sophisticated than ever before.  The issues and dangers of technology use have become more sophisticated are well.  We need to move to a world beyond slapping a standard image of software on a computer and saying “we’re done”.

Second issue …  and this is a biggie that Tim has addressed on numerous occasions and yet nobody really answers it well.

When describing themselves and their school boards, the IT people in the room said, “we’re a Google board” and “we’re a Microsoft board” as a means of stating their, what, affiliation?

You can’t avoid this.  As I look around my work area, I see brand names everywhere.

Look around where you’re working right now.  How many different items with brand names do you see?

Branding is a way of life for all of us.  Technology branding is insidious… Next time you go to a computer conference or even walk into a technology rich area in your school, look at the back of the computers, on the front of any device, or on the screen of any student or teacher in the room.  You’re going to see a brand.

What does it mean when an IT person or teacher or student for that matter says “we’re a Google board” or “we’re a Microsoft board”.

What is it about technology that leads one to want to identify a product that you’re using?  When was the last time you heard someone say “we’re a ###### math textbook using board”?

Can we just step back from the brand names and just say “we teach the following skills”?  Leave the response to the listener.  Chances are they don’t even care about the brand.

Your thoughts?  Do you care that I’m writing this post on WordPress with the Opera browser on my MacBook Pro with external Logitech keyboard and Microsoft mouse and I’m connected to the internet via my Xplornet data connection?

OTR Links 11/20/2017

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

Whatever happened to …

… Angel’s sleeves?

If you are thinking fashion, no.  If you’re thinking record albums, you’re with me.

Inspired by Tim King’s chronology of media, I took a step back a little further than he did and started to think about my assortment of vinyl records.  I still have a good collection.

It started in high school.  I could never do homework without some sort of background music.  I know that the common logic at the time was that it was distracting.  For me, it was the exact opposite.  Having music in the background somehow allowed me to focus on what I was studying/doing.  My worst performances came during formal tests and examinations where quiet was strictly enforced.  In fact, as I write this post, I have a music channel turned on, on the television.

Moving to university, I had a roommate who had an incredible collection of records although he could have adopted any of the other forms of media available.  I learned so much from him about the care and feeding of records!  It carried over to my own habits for their use.

Being university-poor, it wasn’t uncommon for us to go to Market Square in Kitchener and just walk around wishing we could have this and that and that and …  One of our stopping places was a stereo store.  Where it exactly was and what name are long forgotten.  I just remember that you had to go below screen level to get to it.  We’d go in there and enjoy music on their high end equipment.  The sound was perfect!

Between my roommate and the sales people at the store, I learned a few habits to make for the perfect listening of records.  While they appear to be very durable, the music they contained could easily be distorted if you didn’t treat them properly.

  • they need to be stored upright instead of stacking them to preserve their pristine shape.  Milk crates were the perfect (and university-affordable) way to do that.  They’re also easy to move around although a full crate was actually pretty heavy
  • static electricity is your worst enemy for those annoying cracks and pops that can appear.  When I could finally afford my own stereo system, I bought an anti-static “gun”.  You’d point it at the record and it would shoot some sort of charge that countered the friction that came just from pulling it from the sleeve
  • the record isn’t ready for the turntable just yet.  You need to use a special brush in a walnut handle to collect any bits of dust that had been attracted.  The brush needed to have a bit of the D3 or D4 fluid from Diskwasher to do the best job
  • periodically, you needed to check the weight of the needle when it was placed in the groove on your record.  Since it’s such a tiny contact, there’s actually incredible weight placed on the record.  I had a little scale for that
  • finally, when you were done, before you put the record back into the milk crate, you put the record in an Angel’s sleeve which replaced the paper sleeve that typically came with the record.  The plastic sleeve allowed for smooth transfer of the record from the sleeve to minimize static.  I remember that A&M records actually shipped records in an Angel-like sleeve for this purpose

In doing the extensive research for this posting (i.e. a DuckDuckGo search), Angel’s sleeves are actually now a thing for a type of women’s clothing.  Sigh.

But there was a time …



Another tip.  Buy yourself an album every week.  Before long, you’ll have a great collection.  I wasn’t able to do this but did buy as frequently as I could afford.  It meant a trip to the record aisle in Kmart in downtown Waterloo or later Sam the Record Man in Toronto.  It was there that I got a prized item for lights off Saturday nights – recordings of The Shadow shows with Agnes Moorehead and Orson Welles.  Unlike television, the action was in your mind.

How about you for this Sunday morning?

  • did you have or more importantly, do you still have a stereo with a turntable for records?
  • did you use any protection for your records to preserve the perfect audio?
  • did you ever own a record that was coloured other than black?  I have one
  • complete the phrase “The weed of crime bears bitter fruit …”
  • what’s the difference between a record player and a turntable?
  • can you name any other famous collaboration between Moorehead and Welles?

Please take a moment to share your thoughts via comment.

Thanks, Tim, for your post.  I’ve milked it for a bit of blogging and thinking inspiration.

If you have an idea for a “Whatever happened to …” post, please leave it in the Padlet.  If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others.

All of the articles in this series can be found here.

OTR Links 11/19/2017

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