A summer of co-hosts

When I wrote the first version of “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” oh so many years ago, I never realized that it would become such an obsession. When Friday’s version comes out this week, it will be post #526 with that title.

The original idea was to support some of the very best bloggers in the world and they all come from Ontario. By giving my thoughts on the content, the hope was that people would get interested and click through to see what the actual post was about. The format has changed over the years, but the intent is still there.

Sure, I could have visited the individual post and left a comment (which bloggers love) but eventually I lose control of the comment or the blog goes away or whatever. This way, I have all my thoughts gathered here.

When the fledgling voicEd Radio came online, Stephen Hurley reached out to me to do a radio show with the content that would normally appear in the blog post. Quite frankly, my first reaction was no, I didn’t want to do that but he dug in like a dog with a bone and we’ve done the show just about every week and less scripted. I’m definitely the weak link and you might hear Stephen redirect me during the show. I tend to move around and tinker; I’m like the worst student with attention problems in your classroom. We both wanted to do the show live as opposed to a podcast just to be different. Of course, you can get all the shows later on as a podcast from the voiced Radio website. We selected Wednesday mornings because I had pathetic internet speeds at the time and mornings had better throughput. That’s worked out quite nicely.

It’s also allowed us to be flexible in our approach and we’ve taken the show on the road to a number of conferences and into a classroom. When you make the rules, it’s OK to break them.

Here’s Stephen when we took the show to the ECOO Bring IT, Together Conference in Niagara Falls

A couple of years ago, we tried something else and that was to bring an Ontario Edublogger onto the show as a guest host. It was one of the best decisions that we’ve ever done and nobody has ever said a flat-out no. There have been a couple “not on that day but could we do it a week later”? We did it again this summer. It’s also extra special when the co-host has recently blogged and we make that one of the blogs that we chat about. People are so proud of their efforts.

While we try to share the love, there has been one person that has been a regular on the series over the years and that’s Vicky Loras. It’s kind of cool that someone in Switzerland takes the time out from their afternoon to join us in our morning.

This morning’s show will conclude our summer of co-hosts and we’re delighted that Matthew Morris has agreed to join us. Of all the dates for teachers, this has to be the most difficult to pull off since he could be in his classroom organizing things.

In our shared agenda, it looks like this:

God Spare

Others who were kind enough to join us this summer are:


Life Long Learning with Stephen Hurley

track and field

Take Ownership: It’s Leadership!

Experience Sustainability

PhD Language Research

Even copying and pasting these from the planning document gives me shivers thinking of the wisdom and diversity of topics from Ontario Edubloggers. This is why I did it and now why we do it.

Those who are astute will notice that there are a couple of missing weeks in there. Stephen took a couple of breaks to do family things and wasn’t available. My wife and I take shorter family breaks, typically on weekends.

So, to all these people who were vulnerable enough to talk live on the radio…

And, if you’re available at 8:45 this morning, join in and hear Matthew, Stephen, and me talk about some great blogging. The link to listen is in the top left corner – https://voiced.ca/

All of the shows are archived as podcasts here –


OTR Links 08/31/2022

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

Early connections come back

At university, I had the privilege of programming on some computers that were networked. It was kind of neat and seemed futuristic. There was something special about being able to save your work “somewhere” and then bring it back when you’re located at a terminal somewhere else. It did seem a bit like magic.

When I started teaching, it really was a step backward when the efforts of the students writing programs were actually run on a computer off-site. It took a couple of field trips to do some programming in the same location as the computer to take a bit of the mystique out of the picture.

I was reminded of this after reading this article this morning.

Bill Gates Explains ‘Wild’ Idea of Internet to Laughing Audience in Viral Video From 1995

This was actually quite later than the first online computer experience that my students and I had.

Personally, I got into the local Bulletin Board Services (BBS). From my work area, I could use this modem device to dial into services. I guess by today’s standards, we had our own little internet. It was just hosted by local hobbyists. I remember Windsor Footnote, Windsor Download, System EX-10 Canada, and a large number of BBS systems that students ran on their Commodore 64 computers. Visiting each of them actually required a separate phone call but they were just a click away in my address book.

Around that time, I upgraded a computer at home and decided to put up a system myself on the older machine. I had already purchased a second telephone line just for computer work to avoid the situation when my wife would pick up the phone to make a traditional call and it would interrupt what I was doing. I had the modem; I bought an external storage drive and I was good to go. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that secondary school teachers don’t purchase resources for their students to use.

Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

I wanted to be a bit different. Essentially, all the local BBS systems would let you create an account, log in to access message boards, and download a file or two. Some of the bigger ones actually relayed message boards to others around the world.

I wanted to build something I could use with my students. I did an impromptu survey and realized that so many of them had computers of their own at the time along with a modem. So, on my own BBS, I set up a number of different class areas and encouraged discussion, private messages with partners on a project, and even the ability to upload their completed projects. It saved them handing in a diskette with their work stored and me carrying it home to mark. The process actually went very well. We had set up our own little network and it worked well. I was so proud of them making it happen. And, of course, they all had great ideas about how to make it better.

If you go back to this era, you’ll know that there was a lot of understanding technology that went into just getting set up and configuring things. You even had to program your terminal program with the ATDP or ATDT to even dial and get connected before the hassles of login/password, navigation, using the right tools, zipping and unzipping files, etc. This networking was actually quite a bit of work and I was so amazed that my students were able to navigate and understand it all to get the job done. After all, they were at home going it alone. It had to be so precise; a common phrase we used was “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”.

Over the weekend, one of the little dudes that hangs out here periodically sat down with the remote to the television set and navigated himself to the YouTube app and then the content he wanted to watch. I watched him go successfully with a bit of pride, amazement, and jealousy as he navigated the alphabet presented on the screen as A-Z instead of my QWERTY layout. Now, he was just watching someone play a game online but he and his classmates are going to bring that skill into their Primary classrooms next week.

Things are so different today and Gates’ vision is no longer earth-shattering and worthy of laughter. It’s how we do business. I’m sitting here connected to a WordPress server somewhere writing this post, listening to online radio in the background, one eye sharing time with the window and my weather widget to see if it’s raining yet, and scanning for new notifications. It’s a far cry from those early days when we created our own little presence. Sometimes for me, it’s sitting down and writing a post like this to truly appreciate all that is happening.

Ironically, something will be the same. He’ll log in to an online workspace and save his work there or download assignments or engage in an online activity. What’s different is somehow the same. At least, he won’t have to use a modem to dial into each of these services separately! I give credit to my own students so many years ago who configured and totally understood the concept as we crossed the bridge while building it. It truly was an experiment and they made it work.

When was the internet invented? What to know about the creators of it and more.

OTR Links 08/30/2022

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

A new school!

Imagine that title shouted by Johnny Olson from the early Price is Right show!

It’s big news in our community. Secondary public school students will attend a brand new facility this year.


It’s been an interesting story to follow as it brings together two schools – Western Secondary School and General Amherst High School – into the new facility. There was a great deal given up by the town for the school district’s preferred location – the community swimming pool, four softball diamonds, a skateboard park and parking to take advantage of it at all.

Personally, I don’t understand why it wasn’t built on the huge plot of land that Western Secondary School was built on. That would put it just down the road from the local Catholic high school. But, they didn’t ask me. There were a number of controversies, as expected, even with the choice of school name.

I had a chance once to be involved in the construction of a new school. My superintendent was in charge of the Lakeshore Discovery School project and I loved his philosophy that you only get to build a school in a community about every 100 years so he wasn’t going to waste it! I was brought in to help with technology decisions but there was one thing that was incorporated that really impressed me. We’ve all heard about time capsules being dug up from buildings; in this case, visual time capsules were built into the design so that all students could enjoy things of the time rather than waiting for 100 years.

My first school was a relatively new school when I started and I recall so many things that went into the design – air conditioning!, a video network in each classroom so that the librarian could play videos from the library and all we had to do was plug a television into the drop in the classroom, carpeted flooring which really helped the feet (it was shag carpeting but remember this was a long time ago), and a room devoted to a computer (although the IBM 1130 never showed up).

It’s important to build the best into a new building. All that it takes is a walk-through of a 100-year-old building to really get a sense of how antiquated a facility can be. You can also see how attempts to stay modern were attempted but it’s still not the same. Of course, you can’t build new schools all the time so it’s interesting to see what is bragged about as being “state of the art” at the big press moments.

So, students will take to the new school this week and it will be interesting to see reactions on social media. That’s never been an option in years gone by. We’ll get reactions firsthand. I had been hoping that an open house for the community would have been available but either it isn’t or I wasn’t invited. It appears that construction will be working its way down to the last possible moment. At the last drive-by, the landscaping looks well on its way. New trees have been planted and the fields are largely ungrassed but that will come with time. The article above shows some nice pictures inside and the interview with Superintendent Awender was really interesting.

It’s hard for some to get excited about a new school but I hope that it comes. Western could have continued as it is but General Amherst really was wanting for updating. The only sad thing that will happen here as it did with Lakeshore Discovery is capacity. Ministry rules say that you build for the bodies that you actually can count and so North Star, according to the article, will open at capacity. I know from dog walking that there are all kinds of housing projects on the go in our community. If more kids move it, they’ll want to go to school somewhere. They have two choices now; North Star or St. Thomas of Villanova. A lot of bodies will translate into portable classrooms which really destroys the feeling of going to a brand new facility.

How about you? What are your thoughts about new schools?