My Week Ending February 25, 2018


Readings (You can follow my daily readings as they happen here)

  1. When one of your Flipboard categories is “Education”, you just have to know what the topic of the week was.  However, one of the more interesting reads didn’t come from there but rather from TheLocal in Denmark where the Danish Prime Minister encouraged the American President to “Listen to America’s young people“.  I’d suggest this is good advice to all politicians and not just on this topic.  Today’s students are more aware of the world and the position that they will assume once they graduate.  They would offer a better vision of the school system than an accountant or a testing service that compares school to school.
  2. This could be me in the Canadian Tire store in town!  Even though it’s a newer building, or maybe because they try to carry anything you could ever want, I just can never find what I’m looking for.
  3. And, this could be me with my aging iPad2.  I guess, from its name, that it’s a second generation version of the tablet.  Unfortunately, it won’t die so I just can’t bring myself to throw it away.  But, I have thrown it across the room when it crashes yet again.  My Chromebook in tablet mode is far more reliable but there’s still a couple of applications that don’t work quite well enough to cut the cord completely.
  4. Stories like this one are click bait for those who think we should ban cell phones from schools.  Imagine paying a premium for the luxury of going to a school that bans them.  The fact that students would order their lunch delivered to the school via app should be a clue that this is an entirely different world.  I don’t see particularly insightful wisdom in the quote “But teachers are encouraged not to use laptops and tablets just “for the sake of saying that we want technology in the classroom,” Block said”.  Shouldn’t that logic apply to every school in the world?  I had to smile when I thought of all the technology alternatives these students probably have outside of school hours.
  5. ECOO is partnering with schools and districts in Bruce and Grey Counties to offer an  “#ECOOcamp” in April.  The call for proposals is out now and registration will follow.  Owen Sound?  Absolutely!  Instead of racing down the 400, 401, QEW, why not take a leisurely drive on Highway 6, 10, 21, or 26?
  6. For anyone interested in problem solving, algorithms, etc. but haven’t taken the leap yet into a formal programming language, here’s an activity from CS Unplugged guaranteed to please.  When I taught the Computer Studies course at the university, it was always interesting to see these people with Computer Science degrees work at developing an algorithm without the use of a computer!
  7. For the past two weeks, our evenings have been focused on CBC, TSN, and Sportsnet watching the Olympics.  It’s really a time for a country to shine.  I hate how drug use is always a topic though.  It appears that there’s a great deal of desire to bring a future games to Canada.  It’s always a geography lesson to actually find the location of the games; often it’s not in a city of a country that I would know about already.  If this winter games had been in Incheon or Seoul, I’d know absolutely.  Maybe this is a good thing.  They’d never come to Essex County; we’re so flat.  What we have that passes for skiing hills would be easily joked away.
  8. If it’s not already part of your jargon, you better practice making Progressive Web Applications something you talk about.  All the Google haters will hate how this is another move to control how things are run on the web.  But look to the number of people using Chrome or Chrome OS.  Resistance is futile.
  9. So, if you are resisting, you might turn to Firefox or Edge or Opera or CLIQZ or Vivaldi.  But, how about the Brave browser?  What’s interesting isn’t what it does – as a branch from Chromium, it displays webpages nicely.  What’s interesting is the functionality that we would normally associate with extensions comes hard coded into the browser.
  10. One of the things that we probably don’t think through carefully enough is what happens when you get rid of old technology.  If you resell it because you upgraded, are you selling it without any hooks to your old use?  Not so, as shared in this story.  Plus, I’ve seen enough television drama where the good guys can recover bad things from a seemingly erased hard drive.  I think that there’s room there for an ambitious programmer to absolutely and completely make a previous owner of technology anonymous.  Any takers?
  11. If you’re like me, you probably headed out to Google every day for the past two weeks – not to search for something but to see the Google Doodle for the Snow Games.  Now that the games are over, I was going to put together a collection of them all but Google beat me to it.  You can see all the Doodles here.  (Just in case you missed one or two or you’d like to spend a few moments replaying them all.)  I think #13 was my favourite.


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Technology Trouble Shooting

No more driving through fields – Sometimes, it’s the little things.  Ever since the construction of the new route to the proposed Gordie Howe bridge, there’s been a challenge in driving north on Howard Avenue/County Road 9.  Not that that’s a challenge but the straight on drive to a stop light is now a jog to the right to a two lane roundabout.  Before it was a roundabout, it was an agricultural field.  On my wife’s Garmin GPS, you end up driving through that field.  Well, February being a short month with little risk of going over my data cap, I took the time to download a new set of maps.  I was pleased to see that the roundabout is there.  Like I said, sometimes it’s the little things.

Weekly Challenge –  I think this stupid iPad hates me.  I’ve done the typical trouble shooting things with it – removed all the apps that I don’t use, reinstalled the operating system (many times) and have it to the point where it’s kind of reliable again.  I hate to assign human attributes to a piece of technology but it’s now, on its own, decided that it would like to reboot itself periodically.  Here’s the thing; it never does it when I’m around using it or watching.  I’ll just pick it up every now and again to see that there’s no wifi and a message on the opening screen that I need to enter my passcode in order to get networking back due to a reboot.  Grrrr.


Video of the Week – No Touching

Who knew we had a “no touching” zone between us and the United States?

My Favourite Photo This Week

It’s really been raining here.  Lots of flooding around here, to be sure.  We took a drive through a small community on Lake Erie last week and there was water everywhere.  In these days when we’re watching Spring Training from Lakeland, I call this one “Rained Out”.


As bad as this is, it’s nothing compared to the reports that we’re hearing from Thamesville, Moraviantown, and Chatham.  (Pictures)  Bonus marks if you recognize that the tie that binds these communities together is the Thames River.  More bonus marks if you know that it empties into Lake St. Clair at Lighthouse Cover.  What’s scary is that Lighthouse Cove is surrounded by high water at the best of times.  Mayor Tom Bain was on the news last night indicating that the town of Lakeshore is preparing for the water which is supposed to land there sometime today.


Thanks for reading.


Whatever happened to …

… Wikispaces?

Well, actually nothing just yet, but soon.

Back when the web was young in education, I led many a workshop on webpage/site creation.  It was such a simple process:

  • the keeper of the keys had to create a directory on the server for you
  • you got a login / password for each school which had their own directory
  • in the beginning, you had to teach how to set up an FTP client with local and remote directories, and the login and password – now you had a place to put your webpage
  • then, we used an editor to create the webpage.  I remember the editor that was part of Netscape as one of them
  • later, the Ministry of Education licensed Macromedia Dreamweaver and we could do much of this in the application
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver became Adobe Dreamweaver and so we upgraded
  • whew!

Granted, if you mastered all of the above, you could do wonderful things and many schools did.  Somewhere along the line came the concept of a “wiki” essentially meaning quick and popularized by The Wikipedia, the resource that teacher-librarians loved to hate.  Basically, you could create your own wiki website in a browser and cut out all the geekiness love described above.

I recall being at ISTE in a session where the presenter was comparing Wikispaces and PBWiki.  It wasn’t very objective; she slammed one and really promoted the other.  Which is which really doesn’t matter.  I used them both.  I put my public PD Wiki on PBWiki which became PBWorks and had a number of private wikis on Wikispaces.

I came home and set up some environments in both of these and liked them both.  What was she talking about?  This lent to even more workshops on wiki creation and productivity went wild.  The wiki environment was so simple to edit and time was spent developing content rather than worrying about the ins and outs of hardcore creation like we previously did.  Perhaps they didn’t have the potential for bells and whistles but you quickly got the job done.

So, it was with sadness that I read that Wikispaces, as we know it, will be closing.

Screenshot 2018-02-24 at 13.34.20

There’s plenty of notice before the formal closing so that you can get in and take out any content that you want to keep.

I checked in to see wikis that I had been part of …

Screenshot 2018-02-24 at 13.32.07

Yep.  We planned an entire conference in a wiki.  As I look down the list of other wikis I was a member of, I see many a Minds on Media event.

The good news is that a replacement environment will fill the big wikispaces shoes with TES Teach with Blendspace.

What are your thoughts for a Sunday?

  • Do you have a wiki?  On which platform or is it somewhere else?
  • Do you have a formal website which requires management with external tools?
  • Do you use WordPress or Blogger or Google Sites or … for your online home?
  • Do you worry about free services going away after a while?
  • What is your contingency plans in case that happens?
  • Do you backup your online presence in case it goes away?

I, and others visiting this blog, will be interested in your thoughts!

Please share them in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday series of posts.  Check them all out here.

OTR Links 02/25/2018

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