This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It was another terrific week of reading and deeper thinking from the blogs of Ontario Educators. Here’s some of what I kept around to comment on for this post.  

If We Only Knew

Paul Cornies always challenges with the Quotes that he pulls from his Quoteflections blog.  In his post titled, “If We Only Knew”, it’s packed with great quotes.  This one really made me pause to think.

Doesn’t that speak volumes about how we should live our lives?  

How’s that for a classroom banner?

Check out the post for some other terrific thoughts.

3D Printing Technology in the Classroom: Year 2

As I indicated in my post yesterday, Heather Durnin is presenting at the Bring IT, Together Conference in a couple of ways describing the successes that she and her students are having with 3D printing.

It’s all really simple, actually.

Thanks, Heather Durnin

Well, this image makes the whole thing clear as mud to this 3D newbie.  I can’t help but be impressed with the successes that she shares in this post.  I can’t wait to visit her at the Minds on Media session to see it live.  

I’m stuck in the world of 2D printing and paper jams.

The Debate about Digital Literacy: Moral Panics, Contradictions and Assumptions

This is a newcomer to the Ontario Edublogger collection.  To be honest, I don’t know who the author is – she’s pretty anonymous when it comes to an online presence but nicely vocal.  I just know her as StepfordTO.  She was added to the form where I collect this information as a Parent/School Advocate.

In the latest post, she talks about her thoughts about Digital Literacy as a panelist at a Media Literacy conference.  The post is not an easy read – I think I’ve been through it four or five times and still get something new from it each time I do.

 My own anxiety as a parent has to do with what the anxious rhetoric surrounding digital literacy can lead us to do. And by us, I mean parents and schools and governments. One thing that it has led us to do is to spend a lot of money on technology for schools, even though the research to date has failed to show a significant impact (good or bad) on learning. I’m not opposed to technology in schools, but when the provincial government announces that it will be spending 150 million dollars to put iPads in classrooms, while it’s making cuts elsewhere in education, it gives me pause. 

I respect her having her opinion and expressing it in the post.  I certainly don’t agree with all of her assertions, though.  We really live in challenging times.  In the good ol’ days, we knew what curriculum was and what needs to be taught.  Technology, and understanding how students think, has opened all kinds of opportunities for the classroom.  I don’t know that anyone can see with 100% assuredly that we’re absolutely on the right path, but I’m positive that if we don’t, we do a disservice to our students for their future.

Are We Neglecting Relationships While Promoting Technology?

Bill Forrester asked some questions that have arisen from an implementation of 1:1 technology, with a real life experience.  It’s a good post and another worth some thinking and action.  Both Aviva Dunsiger and I checked in with some comments.  He closes the post with this question…

I would suggest that, if teachers are neglecting it, they’re missing the mark.  If we want to live in a world where technology is the driving force for all that we do, let’s just get rid of schools and stick every student in front of a screen tied to a Learning Management System.

I know that online teachers specifically reach out with ways to have students cultivate building relationships in their classes and I would hate to see a world where it’s one student, one computer and that’s education.  Technology should just be another tool in your arsenal.  You use it where it’s most appropriate and you don’t use it when it isn’t.  As I said in my reply to Bill, it reminds me of the old adage “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then everything looks like nails”.

I can see the worst happening though.  Teachers who are perfectly fluent with technology move it in and out as appropriate.  Those that are just learning can spend time making it work to the exclusion of other teaching.  Let’s point the finger clearly where it belongs – on an implementation plan that only focuses on the technology and just assumes that it’s going to work well.

Educational skyscrapers

Brandon Grasley started his post making an observation about buildings from the 1950s in today’s landscape.

We currently have that old building in Ontario. Let’s stop replacing broken tiles and repainting the paneling, and let’s talk about how to rebuild.

I had the opportunity to work with a superintendent once who had new school building as part of his portfolio.  There was a need to replace an ancient school and so he worked to rebuild.  I was fortunate to be part of the team that he amassed to bounce his ideas and vision off.  His guiding philosophy was that “You only get to build a new school every 100 years so let’s do the best we can”.  That doesn’t bode well for Brandon’s schools from the 1950s.  One distinct thing he had about discovery dealt with time capsules.  Why is it only when you tear down a building do you dig up a time capsule?  Over 100 years, that could be three or four generations of students!  Instead, the school was outfitted with visual time capsules in its discovery environment.

One of the things that modern schools require is a networking infrastructure that certainly wasn’t available in the 1950s.  Visit older schools and you’ll see them retrofitted for today’s classroom.  Now, this isn’t to second guess the original structures because, as Brandon notes, they’re built with the best available at the time.  Shouldn’t that apply today?  Build in the best that you have; both physically and pedagogically.  A few years or 50 years from now, you’ll be second guessing decisions but at the least, you get to reap the benefits of your decision in the present.

Thanks to all the bloggers above for continuing to push the discussion.  If we’re not having it, we’re not moving forward.  I hope that people aren’t waiting in their decisions for the perfect moment.  That moment will never come – we work in such a changing environment.

Check out the blog posts at the links above and the complete list of Ontario Edubloggers here.

OTR Links 10/31/2014

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

Pre #BIT14 Interview with David Hann and Heather Durnin

Michelle Cordy (@cordym) continues her series of interviews of notables presenting at the Bring IT, Together Conference next week, November 5-7, 2014 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls.  This time, it was an interview with Heather Durnin and David Hann.

Now, I’ve known Heather Durnin (@hdurnin) for a number of years now.  She does amazing things with her students in Huron County.  David Hann was a person that I met for the first time last year at the Bring IT, Together Conference.  He was showing off his 3D printer and talking about how he was using it with his students.  I got the chance to take a peek at his presentation but quickly got called away.  He did make me a plastic replica of the ECOO logo as a takeaway.  I was completely impressed with the detail.

Both Heather and David are presenting separate sessions at this year’s conference.  (Heather is also on the conference planning committee).  I should have known this fact immediately but when I went into Lanyrd to get links to their presentations, I was really struck that there are 334 speakers in the database for the conference.  There just might be a few more…

David’s session at the conference is called “How to make use of a Makerbot 3D Printer in Your School – Year II“.  He is co-presenting with Ray Mercer and the description of their session is here.

Heather will be very active at the conference.  In addition to her responsibilities on the planning committee, she’ll have a station at the Minds on Media event “Three Dimensions in Student Learning” where the learning will be very hands-on.  The Minds on Media wiki went live yesterday and is available here.  Later in the conference, she will co-present with Marc Westra on the same topic.  If you miss her at Minds on Media, attend the session as described here.  If you miss her in both those places, lace up your running shoes and join her in the Friday morning “Run/Walk/Be Active with Alana! / Course/marche/ Soyez actif avec Alana!” event.

Heather and David were interviewed and shared their thoughts about #makered.

Watch the interview here.

There’s still time to register for the #BIT14 Conference.  You’ll get a chance to learn alongside great minds like theirs.

Michelle’s other interviews as we head to the conference appear below.

OTR Links 10/30/2014

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

Should Have Done This Years Ago

Years ago, maybe five?, I had a Lenovo laptop with a whopping 2 MB of memory.  At the time, I wanted to try out Ubuntu in a dual boot situation.  I already had purchased the Dell Netbook that came with Ubuntu and I really liked it.  So, off I went to the Ubuntu website and downloaded Ubuntu and made the machine dual boot.  One side was Windows XP and the other side was Ubuntu.

Of course, I had to download the 32 bit version of Ubuntu with the limited memory that I had in place.  The computer was OK on the Windows side but just screamed on the Ubuntu side.  It was just so fast; it was hard to believe that it was the same computer.

When that laptop died, I indulged myself with this computer.  It has an i7 processor and 4GB of RAM.  Windows 7 was OK but like most Windows installations slowed over time no matter how many times I tweaked it.  I’m sure that it’s self-inflicted.  So, I decided to make the computer dual boot to Ubuntu.  Now, when you have the slow internet that I do, you really have to pick and choose your downloads wisely.  I could go somewhere and download on their high speed – but I still had the Ubuntu DVD from my previous installation.  I was just going to test for proof of concept anyway – so I installed it and started to use it.  Darned if it didn’t make this computer fly.

I kept using it, and when updates came along, I would just apply the updates.  I was totally happy.  The last update was 14.04LTS and I was very, very happy with it.

Until I tried to install the Opera Browser.

Oh yeah.  That other decision has come back to byte me.

Opera only comes in a 64 bit version so I couldn’t install it.  I went online seeking advice and there was no natural path from the 32 bit version to the 64 bit version.  It calls for brute force installation from scratch.  Just backup your Home Directory after revealing hidden files so that you can resume Ubuntu life.

I looked at my face mirrored in the monitor.  You dummy.

Right out of the box, Windows 7 was running 64 bit.  That was only half a hard disk away.

The timing was right.  Ubuntu, which updates itself every six months, has just released version 14.10.  Why not?

So, I started the download and went to take the dog for a long walk.  There’s no sense in sitting at the keyboard watching the download process inch along.

Sure enough, when we returned, there was a disk image sitting on my desktop.  I just need to burn it to DVD, reboot from the DVD and then install.  Wait!  Do I have any DVDs?  It’s been so long since I’d burned one.  Fortunately, having a son in the television editing business means that there’s never a shortage of video stuff.  I walked down the hall and got a blank.  Of course, I needed to dig into the ol’ brain cells to remember how to burn a DVD…done!

I rebooted and was so impressed with the installation screen.

I could:

  • Run Ubuntu from the DVD (nah, I’m here for the duration);
  • Erase the entire hard drive and install Ubuntu 14.10 (goodbye Windows);
  • Erase the petition and install Ubuntu 14.10 (yes, but that would remove everything and I’m not that radical);
  • Do something else; (I was totally intrigued by this but passed…)
  • or, the preferred solution – you have Windows 7 and Ubuntu 14.04LTS installed – upgrade Ubuntu to 14.10.  Yes!

Half an hour later, I’m done.  During the process, I noticed that Ubuntu had archived certain things and then restored them.  On first boot, I hit Firefox to see that my theme (Puny Weakling) and all of my extensions save.  It was just a matter of copying my Home Directory and I was back, good to go.

I had bookmarked a couple of upgrade advice resources:

Some I had planned on doing anyway, some were new and some were ignored.  After all, Ubuntu is all about open ideas and concepts – even in its installation.

I installed Ubuntu Tweak and messed about.  I think we all have an idea of what our computer should look and act like.

And, I’m back in business.  No stopping me from trying out Opera on Ubuntu now!

If this works out well, maybe I’ll buy more RAM.

I’m never completely computer happy.