OTR Links 11/27/2017

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

Whatever happened to …

… those lifelong friends?

It was a friend request on Facebook that got me thinking about this.  The friend?  The two of us were great friends in high school and shared an apartment during my second year of university.  We were pretty much inseparable for the longest of times and I thought that it would always stay that way.

As you can imagine, it didn’t.  Jobs took us in different directions.  Throughout university, many more friends were made.  Similarly, they were only transient as well.  But they were everything at the time.

On my bookshelf, I have this …


The directory is impressive, listing everyone along with addresses.

As I always do with these things, I flipped to myself and saw the address listed.  Hmm.  Since then, I’ve lived at six different addresses.  Along the way, I’ve made great new friends and, now that I think about it, have lost contact with so many more.

If one of my old university friends tried to track me down using this paper directory, they’d never be able to do it.  For nostalgia sake, I fired up Google Maps and dropped to Streetview and looked for the places that I’ve lived.  A couple look just the same, a couple have been re-sided, and one has been torn down.

The notion of a paper university alumni directory certainly is certainly a dated one.  The University of Waterloo, not surprisingly, has gone online.  But the concept of alumni doesn’t really stop there.  I took an education program at Toronto and additional qualifications courses at Windsor and Western.  I don’t think that it’s unfair to say “moving target”.

Then, as an educator, you can become an alumni of schools that you taught at.  I’ve had former students reach out to let me know what they’re doing now – as a teacher, there’s no better feeling.  I was also invited to join an alumni group on Facebook.  Just clicking the list of members brings back memories of classes.  I feel good knowing that it’s sometimes difficult to think about the actual academic content but very easy to remember things about specific people.

How about you?

  • Do you belong to an Alumni association at your university or a school where you’ve taught?
  • Do you stay in touch with former students?
  • Have you ever had a person who was going to be a lifelong friend only to find that you drifted apart?
  • Do you use social media in an attempt to reach out to friends from the past?

It’s been an interesting activity writing and thinking about this.  I hope that it was for you too.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts?

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

OTR Links 11/26/2017

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

30 years and counting

OK, if this doesn’t make you feel old, then I don’t know what will.  In a world where there are applications that appear on your favourite app service daily and then quickly lose their functionality and favour with you comes this …

A certain millennial turned 30 this week: Welcome to middle age, Microsoft Excel

30 years!  Doesn’t that speak to longevity!  More importantly, I think it’s important to know that it speaks to functionality.  It’s not an app like we think of in the current context – tap here and something happens.  It’s an environment where the design and functionality is defined by the user.  YOU create the actions that you want Excel to do.  (and if you’re connected enough, download and use someone else’s creation)

But Excel wasn’t my first spreadsheet.

Back in my TRS-80 days, I bought VisiCalc.  Wow, I did pay a lot for it.  It was so functional and filled the need I had at the time – finding some way NOT to write a program on my own for a specific purpose.  The biggest purpose I had at the time was to have an electronic markbook for all my classes.  A spreadsheet was like a dream come true.  I even wrote an article for the magazine 80Micro about how to do it.  We needed to evangelize about the need to get away from that old red teacher book with the spiral rings and the amber pages for recording numbers.  Eventually, you had to do something with those numbers and that took place towards the end of a term.  With a spreadsheet, I had the ability to see how a student or class was doing immediately.  We used it to keep score during Computer Science competitions and teams knew exactly how they were doing!

In the classroom, we used it as another way to take control of that box and make it do our bidding.  We learned the commands, we wrote the scripts, we tested the big selling point for a spreadsheet “What if”.  It was a small step from implementing an algorithm in a spreadsheet to implementing algorithms in a programming language.  But the best part was the “What if”.  You could play with it for hours and there was something special about entering a number in a cell and see the entire screen change as formulae were applied.

As I think about it, I’ve used a lot of spreadsheet programs over the years.

  • VisiCalc
  • Lotus 1-2-3
  • EasyCalc
  • Excel
  • OpenOffice Calc / LibreOffice Calc / NeoOffice Calc / StarOffice Calc
  • Google Sheets
  • Sheets
  • AppleWorks Spreadsheet / ClarisWorks Spreadsheet
  • Microsoft Works Spreadsheet
  • Quattro Pro
  • O365 Sheets

And there might be more.

The one thing that is so impressive is that it wasn’t a huge learning curve to move from one to the other.  Talk about your generic and transferable skills.

I’ve always thought that spreadsheet skills is just one of those things that everyone should have.  They apply to so many things from marks in the classroom to budgeting to doing your books to doing income taxes to modeling various things.  And, they do allow you to create interesting graphics or infographics of your own.

For us, as the end user, each upgrade and iteration of the spreadsheet concept increases the functionality of it.  Excel, along with many other 30 year old programs, really illustrate the growth and functionality available to the home computer user and of course to business.  There’s nothing this geeky person enjoys more that surfing menus to see what else a program can do.

I wonder what spreadsheets will look like 30 years from now?  If nothing else, people will still have to calculate their taxes!

What’s your history with spreadsheets?  Where do you see the future?  Did I miss any spreadsheet programs in my walk through calculation lane?

OTR Links 11/25/2017

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Sit down, grab a chair and get ready, er, grab a chair, sit down and get ready for some great blog reading from Ontario Educators.

The Maker Movement: It’s about ‘making up’ your own mind

At the Bring IT, Together Conference, Peter Skillen and I had a chat about various things. One of the topics was about the wide variety of resources and opinions about good pedagogy.  Some are absolutely great and best of breed.  Some others are not as good and may miss the point.

In this post, Peter tries to address this by helping frame the concept of “making”

The maker movement is not only about making with electronics and coding. Building poems, art, music, mathematical solutions, etc. are all part of the maker movement. This interactive conversation will unpack how to create knowledge-building classrooms where students are empowered with “making up” their own minds.

and then providing a very nice collection of resources to support this concept.  If you know of Peter and his passion, you know that these will be the best of the best.

Spicy Snacks: On Daughters

It’s tough, as a parent, to turn on the news and take in the latest of the news stories.  If you’re a parent, part of the deal is how to grapple with this and explain it to your children.

Royan Lee has two daughters …

I have two daughters and they are the best in the world. They are courageous, kind, and don’t take crap from anyone (least of all me). I worry about them and all of our daughters.

The post features some great “spicy things” that support his concerns.

What’s nice is that Lisa Noble replied to Royan’s post and shares an equally as worthwhile link to read.

ECOO 2017: building your Edtech house on shifting ground

Earlier this week, I had shared my thoughts about this post from Tim King.

About software and branding

I stand by my thoughts in that post and I find it sad that we’re still having to have this conversation.  Wouldn’t you think that we would have come closer together in thoughts?

I’m sure that you have a thought about this; after all if you’re reading this, you’re a technology using educator.  Can you solve all the ills of the computer education world?  If so, read Tim’s post and drop off your solution via comment.

A Remembrance Day to Remember

This was a year for some very elaborate Remembrance Day observances.  Around here, there were horses and a huge collection of service people.  It was the biggest one that I can recall.

It was a first for Susan Bruyns in her new school.  In the post, she describes how the event played out at Sir Arthur Currie.

Despite the observances, it’s important to remember the message.  Susan captures it so well in the post.

We honour those who lost their lives in battles, who never had the chance to return to their children. We honour those who are currently fighting battles, who pray each day that they will be able to return to their children.  But more importantly we focus on Peace in the hopes that our children will never know the pain of loss of a parent as a result of war.

This reinforces the importance that we continue to remember in our communities and in our schools.

Web Content into OneNote

Taking notes on computer has always been a challenge for me.  I think I’ve tried them all – Evernote, Notes, Text Edit, and I’m currently revisiting OneNote.

I look forward to posts from Cal Armstrong about some tip for using OneNote that I might possibly use.  He takes the concept past the simple Post-It note sticker of years gone past, to be sure.

In this post, she takes about putting Web Content into OneNote using not one but three different approaches.

  • OfficeLens
  • OneNote Web Clipper
  • Microsoft Edge browser

I like the flexibility that his approaches shows and will be trying these out to see if they somehow are the silver bullet for note taking that meets my needs.

Don’t Tell Me What the Learners Are Doing

I felt a little bit like I was baited and switched in this post from Terry Greene.  He started out talking about the Open Faculty Patchbook.

It’s an open, online book where post-secondary instructors reflect on their practice.  I rather enjoyed reading the content.  The “Sheets Ain’t Cheats” story was a great description of me as a brand new teacher.  So many hours wasted memorizing lessons so that I could come across as educated and knowledgeable in front of the class without referring to notes.

I’ll bet that you find a story or two in there that describes your professional life.  I enjoyed it and was really impressed with the design and accessibility.  Then, I remembered that I had just been distracted by a click in the first paragraph and went back to the original post.  I was just so impressed by educators that were showing their openness in reflecting on their practice.

But, back to the post, Terry had changed the lay of the land.  He wanted more – he was more interested in learning how students thought they learned, not about teachers thinking about how they teach.


Are we clear with all stakeholders about why we are posting to social media?

Let’s be truthful.  The answer is clearly no.  Do we even know who “all the stakeholders” are?  Jennifer Casa-Todd uses this inquiry as an opportunity to respond and shares it in this post.

I was hoping you could help direct me.  I have small children in preschool and the school uses social media for their marketing purposes.  While a highly effective marketing strategy, I’m concerned with their lack of guidelines, considering small children are involved.  Do you have any resources you could direct me to which would help highlight do’s and don’ts in using social media as an advertising technique in schools?

Follow any school or teacher or district that uses social media for this purpose and look at it critically and you might want to answer that yourself based upon your observations.

Read the post to see how Jennifer responds.  Do you agree?

Speaking of Jennifer, she was the first “Featured Blogger” on the new ECOO website.   You can find more about her and what she considers her top five blog posts here.

I hope that you stuck with me as I looked at these very powerful blog posts.  There’s always something going on with Ontario Edubloggers.

Please take the time to click through and read the original posts in their entirety and drop a comment or two. These authors will appreciate it.

And, make sure that you follow these authors on Twitter.

If you can, join Stephen Hurley and me on voicEd Radio on Wednesday mornings or repeated through the week where we use some of these posts as a launching point for discussions.

OTR Links 11/24/2017

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