A New Blog Editor


I’ve said for a long time now that the best blog editor on the market, bar none, is Microsoft’s Live Writer.

LiveWriter Home Menu

 

LiveWriter Insert Menu

It’s a real joy to create blog posts there but it’s got problems for my personal workflow.  It requires you to be running Windows.  I spend more time in Ubuntu or Mac OS so I’d have to specifically boot into Windows 7 to use it.  For me, it’s important to be able to write a post no matter what computer I’m using.  To that end, I either create the post in the WordPress editor itself or more likely, using the ScribeFire extension in a browser.  It’s there when I need it.

WordPress Editor

ScribeFire Editor

Both are great ways to compose, edit, and post blog entries.  The ability to save Drafts mean that I don’t have to create a post in a single sitting.  My proofreading team (hi Lisa and Sheila) would undoubtedly ask that I spend more time on that task but it is what it is.  At least I know that two people read my posts for content and meaning.

This morning, the field gets bigger.  I read this story.

Microsoft Announces New OneNote Partnership with WordPress

Right off the bat, I had to tip my hat to the commenters to the post.  You did make me smile.  But the ramifications of this are interesting.

OneNote already has a comprehensive set of composing and editing features.

OneNote Home Menu

OneNote Insert Menu

A great deal of energy has been spent convincing people to use OneNote instead of Evernote or Google Keep as your on-the-fly note taker.  Now, a plugin to WordPress ups the ante nicely.  Imagine using the same tool that you would use for notetaking anyway as a blogging editor.  Since Microsoft doesn’t have a public blogging tool that I’m aware of, the partnership with a biggy in the market seemed natural.  I’m assuming Blogger didn’t return their call?

Many school districts have adopted Office 365 as their productivity platform but have lamented the lack of a blogging tool which is so powerful in education.

Could this be their answer?

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OTR Links 05/28/2015


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

On Pushback


I remember taking a course in university.  It was called the “History of Education” or something like that.  I also remember the textbook that we had to buy.  It was a very thin paperback with chapters devoted to educational researchers – Thorndike, Piaget, Montessori, Bruner, Skinner, …  If I recall correctly, there were thirteen of these education thinkers and we studied the works of each one, every week.  I like to think I’ve been most influenced by Montessori but I can see elements of the others.

I also remember the professor on the first night and his statement “We’ve been trying to understand how education and learning works for years and we’re going to study all of these but none have got it completely right”.  I remember my classmate turning to me and saying “Why didn’t he get us to buy the book with the person who did get it right?”  Yeah, we were way too young.

Even in my short period of time in education, I’ve seen various theorists come and go and we’re still in search of the magic bullet.  Fortunately, as a system, we definitely are getting much better at understanding how learning happens.

Aside from learning in general, there’s another system under research and that’s the use of educational technology.  If you’re a blog reader, you’ll have read about the magic bullets touted for educational technology, the latest being the SAMR model.

Miguel Guhlin caught my eye with his post yesterday “Tearing Down False gods: SAMR Pushback Begins (Updated)” and this morning Mark Anderson with “SAMR is not a ladder, a word of warning“.  Both are terrific posts and well worth your time to click through and read.  Both posts make reference to a couple of others “Why I’m Done with SAMR” by Mark Samberg and “What’s Wrong with SAMR in Education” by LeiLani Cauthen.  Read both these as well and then reflect back on your own thoughts on the topic.

There have been a lot of inane things that you see by those who have taken this model as an absolute.  “We got rid of SMARTBoards because of SAMR” and “I teach above the line” and “##### ####### has created an infographic of every educational app in the App Store and rated them according to SAMR”.  How can someone not in my district, my school, my classroom makes these decisions?  We’ve all read and seen the somewhat sarcastic, somewhat truthful posts about the need to study pencils in education with as much energy as we do other technologies.

I find comments like this and the way that people are using these things as just sad and, quite frankly, a discredit to the profession.  After all, do an internet search for “It’s not about the technology” and see what falls out.  More importantly, take a look at the focus.  It’s all about the teaching when the real focus should be on the learning.  When focused solely on the teaching, technology use becomes absolutes.  When focused on learning, it enables differentiation opportunities and, most importantly, increased the chance that students take charge of their own learning.

I’ve always chosen a simpler route.  As far as I’m concerned, there are two ways that you can use technology:

  • to do things differently;
  • to do different things.

all within the context of the subject matter being learned.

Of course, this is not the only “technology model”.  Miguel has a nice collection on his wiki.

Even this presentation takes me back to that university course.  There isn’t just one listed.  All of the researchers that we studied opened the door to our understanding of student learning.  None of them stand on their own.  Our understanding is growing and evolving.  So, it’s good to see pushback to those who would label this as the defining standard by which all should be evaluated.

OTR Links 05/27/2015


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

Honest Attempts Go Bad


Sadly, the story of unrest in the public Ontario Education system continues.  You can’t read any credible online news service without a story or two devoted to the situation and the “updates”.

Even sadder, these services have allowed the general public to get involved by expressing their opinions and commenting on the stories.  Now, commenting isn’t bad, per se, but the conversations very quickly get off topic and actually quite nasty.

A couple of recent stories from the National Post demonstrate this.

Read the story to get the content and then read a few comments to see how the public is reacting.

You’d like to think that it’s an honest attempt by the publication to keep readers up to date on the latest happenings.  But, read the comments and you’ll see that the discussion quickly falls into one of name calling and the sharing of misinformation, along with a chance to throw stones at the Liberal Party, the Premier, and the Minister of Education.

Even sadder, and a commentary on literacy, is the spelling and lack of writing conventions in the replies.  I’d like to take the positive side and blame it on suggestive spelling on devices but I think we all know better.

No other work action garners the trolls and commenters than a teacher work action.  Does the public get this passionate when the local factory is involved in a work action?

Hardly.

It’s easy to bash teachers – we’ve all had teachers and principals that we didn’t like; we’ve all graduated from an educational system that needed to grow and change.  Things do get better over time.  I’d really enjoy being a student in today’s schools.  As blogged here before, I sure wouldn’t want us to return to the “good ol’ days“.

Over a month ago, I also blogged with the hopes that a quick solution would be found.  As we know now, that hasn’t happened.

The hatred and misinformation just continues.

In a way, the profession is its own worst enemy.  Teachers don’t just teach.  They do so much more to make the school the vibrant place that it is.  People would be well advised to read or re-read Andrew Campbell’s “Best of #MyPrep Time and #4MyStudents Tweets“.

But, you know that’s not about to happen.  Anyone with a grudge to share and internet connectivity can be selective about what she or he reads and where they elect to vent their thoughts.

 

OTR Links 05/26/2015


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

Transferring with Tone


I’ve been reading a lot about the new Tone extension for Google Chrome so I had to check it out.

The premise is that the extension, when installed, will send a URL from one computer using Google Chrome to another via sound.  

Now, the concept of transferring via sound isn’t new for us long timers.  If you’ve ever connected to another source via modem you’ve done it.  Who hasn’t picked up the phone line only to hear the sounds of two modems communicating?  NO CARRIER  Or, a fax machine?  

This extension gets rid of the wires!  It uses your computer’s microphone to head what another computer is sending.  The extension descriptor gives you all kinds of caveats about situations where it wouldn’t work – noisy rooms, distance, etc.  That only makes sense.  

So, I had to try it out here at the labs, er, reclining chair.  Proof of concept confirmed!

Now, there are the sort of issues that you need to be aware.  The extension doesn’t ask for permission to use your microphone; it just does it.  So, you should have a bit of concern of what else the extension is listening to!  In terms of public etiquette, a certain volume is required in order for the transfer to be successful.  Hopefully, that won’t destroy the ambience of a conversation at a coffee shop with people sharing URLs!

The bottom line here is that the innovation world is all right.  Good people thinking about new ways to push technology.