So, Microsoft settles it?

I don’t know how many, if any, people have boycotted my blog because I put a double space at the end of a sentence. I took Typing in Grade 9 and Grade 10 and it was part of my teachable option at the Faculty of Education. I will confess that I struggled the first term in Grade 9 with Typing. Speed and accuracy are important. I had neither.

As luck would have it, at my Dad’s workplace late that fall, replaced all their manual typewriters with electric ones. Dad bought one that was being phased out and it became a Christmas gift. It was one of those old Underwood machines. It was very heavy and also became my first set of weights.

I practised and practised on that thing. I mean, it shouldn’t be that difficult to learn to type. Eventually, I made it! If memory serves me correctly, 30 words per minute was the goal in Grade 9 and a higher number in Grade 10. That, I can’t remember. What I do remember was practising by typing all my notes for a while. (except Mathematics and Science) I became very, very proficient.

The skill served me well when when I took programming courses although that opened a new set of skills. You see, in school we focused on letters and digits. Programming required all kinds of additional strokes like parentheses and brace brackets. I got pretty good at those as well.

Throughout all this, one thing remained from Mr. Renshaw’s Typing class – two spaces after a punctuation mark! I’ve seen the arguments and the discussion and how proportional fonts have changed everything. I see the logic but the people who are big and really fanatic are late learners. They didn’t take B&C in high school and are now learning. Good on them. It’s a skill that everyone should have however and whenever they get it.

I know that Grade 9 is now too late to learn to keyboard. (we don’t use the term “typing” anymore) I licensed a software package on behalf of my former school district and we put it in the hands of Grade 4 students. Like some great initiatives, it’s gone but I know that there are some good teachers who see the value of the skill and work it into things.

Anyway, this story hit my news reading and ruined my Sunday morning. Here are a couple….

I know that some people will take great delight in this news.

I’m not a user of Microsoft Word. Most of my writing is done in a browser and I use LibreOffice when I need a standalone app. But, we know that when someone introduces a “standard”, others will follow.

I’m not one that will change a lifelong learned and refined skill. It won’t be the first time that I ignore red squiggly lines in my work – typically caused by using an American dictionary which doesn’t like words like colour, etc. I also still believe that the world is round.

In my mind, there are far more important things in the world than worrying about things like this. I mean, holding your printed copy over top of a correct copy and up to the light to see if the letters line up isn’t much used any more!

My, how you’ve grown

Regular readers know that I get really excited about maps and visualization.

Peter McAsh shared the resource Human Terrain recently. He was excited to share it because it was all about geography. Me, I like the visualization concept.

You start out in the San Francisco area but take the tour (bottom left corner of your screen). You’ll get a sense of what is shown and how it’s displayed. Of course, there’s a great deal of learning to be done along the way.

Then, play locally.

I zoomed in so that I could see both Detroit and Toronto.

There is quite a difference between the population of the two cities as you can see here. If you zoom in, you can see that the information is displayed in blocks. The higher the block and more intense the colour, the higher the population.

It’s quite interesting to pick out communities – Chatham, Sarnia, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, and so on. Zooming in on a location reveals quite the story.

We know that Detroit was indeed a bigger city as one time and there is a time shift that will take you back 30 years to 1990 and show the difference in two panels, side by side.

Of course, I didn’t stop there. I was off exploring the world with this tool.


But don’t stop there. Back off to the home page for even more visualizations like this one showing US cities by their most Wikipedia’ed resident. Is that even a name?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I had a bit of a surprise yesterday afternoon when I opened WordPress to write this post. Generally, I don’t look at the dashboard but this caught me eye.

Wow! I knew that I had a few posts but 9 000? Now, truth be told, every other post for some time now are links from my previous day’s reading so they’re not all original work by me.

Anyway, it’s another week of great posts from Ontario Edubloggers. Please sit back and enjoy.

Living in the Times of Covid – 19: A Journal

Paul McGuire shares an interesting observation in this post

There is no balance in the time of COVID -19. There are highs and lows and all are good. 

We probably all go through this on a regular basis but being permanently at home only serves to amplify them. Paul isn’t the only person to make this observation that I’ve noticed this week. I would think that the real problem would come when a person is unable to distinguish between them.

So, Paul is aware of what’s happening in his world and shares some observations of life going on outside it. I found it interesting and like that Paul’s coping mechanism can be so powerful – just write.

Whether it’s a blog, an article, a journal, a note … it’s a way of getting the weight out and that’s always a good thing.

Don’t freak out at the image on the landing page of this post. Sometimes, the silly just takes over.

Keep Calm and Teach ONLine

It was refreshing to read this admission from Deb Weston.

I’ll be honest with you, reader, I’ve had some lasting moments of being completely overwhelmed with the circumstances we are going through as teachers. Isolated in our homes, we deal with steep learning curves while worrying about our students in their lives and in their learning.

I’ve read so many things about how well learning is going; the kids are really excelling and all that. You just know that that may well be a bit of an exaggeration.

I suspect this article was written before the announcement by the Ministry of Education about the purchase of iPads and Internet access for students as she does identify a lack of these as part of the frustration that’s happening. But, even dropping off technology with “no touch” isn’t an immediate solution to a problem. It’s an attempt to level the playing field and will get better over time, I hope. I’ve got a blog post of my own about this in brainstorming mode.

(update: I’m reading now that this purchase may not be for new technology and I’m researching)

It’s also not just access to technology that is at hand here. Deb correctly has sympathies for those students who would normally handle things in Special Education settings but now are unable.

Content and Copyright Considerations in Distance Learning

I thought that this post from Michelle Fenn tagged nicely after Deborah’s post. So, you do have access to the internet. We all know that you can find absolutely anything and everything out there.

However, finding and using it can be two different things…

In the post, Michelle addresses:

  • Posting YouTube Videos
  • Reading Books Online to Students
  • FairDealing and Copyright
  • Privacy Policies and Statement

She touches the surface on these. It’s difficult to address them all here so make sure that you check out her post. Michelle does give an excellent piece of advice because not all resources are created equally.

Be proactive and check with someone in the Instructional Technology department at your school board to ensure that you are following recommendations before asking students and parents to sign up for a digital tool.

Distance Learning: Week One

And yet another post from the ETFO Heart and Art Blog. This one comes from Kelly McLaughlin. Here, she lays out her plan for Week One that she has for students that address Mathematics, Literacy, Geography, and Science.

The activities were to be done asynchronously and she let the students know what times she was available for assistance.

There was an element of concern and empathy that I thought was important to note. Using the tools, she polled her students to see how they were doing in the various subject areas, on a personal basis, and as learners.

I could see this feedback as being very crucial for future planning. The response would inform her as teacher as to how the students are coping and would allow her to adjust future learning activities accordingly.

5 Things That Will Change After Coronavirus 

Hmmm, Matthew Morris, only five?

It’s hard to argue with any of the things in his list.

  • Social Distancing – we’re starting to see districts outside Ontario planning to open schools. The good thing is that many of the schools are not planning for school as usual. Schools are build for the masses; they line up to go in, they mob the hallways, they get squashed into classrooms
  • Online Learning – if we learn one thing about using technology and learning, it’s that you can’t just flip a switch and move from face to face to online. Look for a move for more blended learning approaches
  • Self-isolation – I liked his observation here, particularly is it applies to the use of social media. We’ve always know that there was bullying online but when online is your only answer, it only follows that so does the bullying
  • Quarantine – he takes an interesting look at this concept in a different way. It was the concept of racism and speared by the leader to the south of us. There is a history of naming viruses from their place of origin and, even though it hasn’t been conclusively proven, COVID-19 has been referred to by location. And, it’s not the use of the location, it’s in the way that it’s pronounced
  • Super Skepticism – we live in a day and age where you can turn and find resources to find any opinion that you want. A good global citizen will definitely stand and question everything

I really, really liked the items that Matthew has identified and he takes them on in his particular style.

Inspiration to Join the TESL Ontario Board

Here’s an opportunity for those involved in TESL.

How about joining the Board of Directors?

On the TESLOntario blog, Paula Ogg talks about her inspiration to join the board.

I am passionate about creative problem solving, design thinking, and design-based research, so I hope in the future I will be able to share and use these tools and techniques to give others a voice in TESL leadership.

While I’ve never been a TESL teacher, I find that whole group of educators very interesting and inspirational. The TESLOntario website does a wonderful job of collecting and sharing resources.

If that’s where your interests lie, you may wish to get further involved.

Dixit: A Game for Everyone (Language, Thinking and Abstract Learning Skills)

Zoe Branigan-Pipe shares a card game that is played in the Pipe household and in her class. I think a lot of people are playing games to while the time and keep things under control these days.

At home, I play this with my family (ages 16, 17, 20 and adults). I also have an ELL student living with us who loves using this game to learn vocabulary. He uses a translater to help him express his ideas.

Then, she gives us a big long list of educational things that she sees from playing the game and using it in her classroom.

Zoe, I’ll leave you with a quote I get from my kids

“Daaaad, you’re such a teacher”

I always take it as a compliment.

Please take a moment to check out these posts and read the complete insights from these great bloggers.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Deb Weston – @DrDWestonPhD
  • Michelle Fenn – @Toadmummy
  • Kelly McLaughlin
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Paula Ogg – @TESLOntario
  • Zoe Branigan-Pipe – @zbpipe

This post originated at:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to another Friday and a look around at some great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. At least I think/hope it’s Friday. All the days seem the same anymore. My biggest fear it to post this on a Thursday or do a #FollowFriday on a day that isn’t Friday.

Simple Remote Learning Fixes

This is kind of a public service for those new to using a computer for serious things other than game playing or a refresher for those of us who know everything (or at least did at one time) and have forgotten but still think you can leap tall buildings. See the link in Tim King’s post about the Dunning-Kruger Effect if you think that’s you.

Tim’s post has seven things to check out. I hope that you never get to having to do #7 since both Microsoft and Apple have had some buggy updates as of late. Chances are, you’ll never have to get past #1 on his list.

Of course, one of Tim’s suggestions assumes that you have two devices, one of which isn’t working properly, to solve some problems.

Barring that, there are those that you can reach out to via your network if all else fails. I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t empathize when a colleague has an issue and offer support. Personally, I’ve helped out a few people and don’t mind if I have what I think might be a solution to their problem.

If the device in question is on loan from a school district for home use, there may be some restraints on what you can do by yourself.

Here I Am Again

Thanks to Sheila Stewart, I now have this earworm.

Sheila uses this post to share her present feelings and to pose a couple of hypothetical questions that will ultimately be answered as we go forward.

She notes that she finds comfort in music. I suspect that she’s not alone. I tend to have music on all the time anyway and I can understand that.

I especially like finding new music which is what this post did for me. It’s not the sort of song that you’re going to put on while you’re doing a workout though. The best part though, is that it sparked a bit of a private communication between myself and Sheila. That was great

We used the song as the intro to the This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcast this past week.

Authors, Mathematicians, Researchers, And Scientists: Are We Calling Them By Name?

So this post, from Aviva Dunsiger, started with a little popularity poll that she posted to Twitter to find out what people were eating for Easter. Thank goodness for blogs; I didn’t see the post when it originally went out but did catch it later on Aviva’s blg. FWIW, we had ham steak, brocolli, and potatoes with peach crumble for dessert. Normally, our house is filled with people and there’s a much more diverse menu but this year there was just the two of us.

I’m glad that Aviva didn’t call this a statistics exercise because there certainly was a limited sample size and audience. She did get the attention of @jennzia who offered some suggestions for a much richer approach.

Aviva did mention the use of professional terms like “scientists”, “mathematicians”, “authors and illustrators” and “researchers”.

I couldn’t resist – “I’m not a scientist but I play one at school”.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Slice of (home teaching) Life

This was a short and to the point post from Lisa Corbett.

I found it rich in successes with things done on time (teachers love noting the time …) and kids remembering passwords after being away from school for three weeks. These are major successes.

Lisa also indicated that she had created a video to help families log in. From her description, there was a bit of a learning curve with the video taking 45 minutes and she’s confident that the next ones will go quicker.

There is another element that I can help but notice – Lisa’s class won’t be unique in having this experience. Now is absolutely the time for teachers to share resources. It lightens the load and the stress of doing everything yourself.

Apparently Lisa listened to the Wednesday voicEd Radio show because she did respond acknowledging how she appreciates it when people share and she’s made a connection with Melanie White for future ideas.

Folks, this is heart-warming – this is why we make connections to other educators. There is so much love and support at times.

Reflections: Week #1 Of Remote Learning

Rola Tibshirani shares how her Week #1 went.

In the classroom, we practice being passionate about each other and be forgiving to oneself when struggling. We support our feelings that no one is left alone to struggle nor to be overwhelmed.

This is an inspirational post where she outlines what the reality is in her regular face-to-face classes. It reads like a what’s what in terms of planning and implementation.

At least under normal conditions.

But, as we know, these are not normal conditions so it will be interesting to follow Rola and see how successful she can be moving forward.

I really like the fact that she closes the post with a message of mindfulness and self-caring. She includes a Twitter message from Kevin O’Shea about fatigue setting in.

It’s wise advice for all.

Coding? Now!? Who Cares?

Well, Peter Skillen does for one.

Me for another.

I’ve been using all this time at home trying to find things to stay engaged. I did clean up my workspace to the point where I can’t find anything anymore. In addition to my regular habit of blogging, I have done a bit of programming. It’s nothing serious; I just get a kick out of putting together some instructions and pressing run to have the computer do something. It remains a mental rush and piece of satisfaction after all these years.

So, Peter does restate his personal philosophy of learning and coding in particular as a way to introduce the learner to his current passion – working with Code to Learn with details about how to get involved with the coding, examples, and links to upcoming learning webinars. Past sessions are online so you’re never without.

Online Learning in a Hurry – a Course in a Hurry

Online learning has become a priority for everyone in education and the University of Windsor’s Dave Cormier wasn’t left out.

Now, however, we at UWindsor Office of Open Learning (OOL) find ourselves facing the idea of ‘teaching teachers to teach online,’ not for few final weeks of emergency remote teaching, but for a term. At least.

Dave has taken to his blog to explain the process of putting this all together, well, in a hurry. Isn’t everyone in that boat?

The result is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous times. The structure for the synchronous is

  1. Introduction to Online learning
  2. Thinking through course goals online
  3. Finding content (includes learner/web as content)
  4. Creating content (includes lecture/text etc…)
  5. Assignments and assessments
  6. The student experience (reflection on their experience in the course and what that tells them about how students will experience it.

This isn’t a quick process and you can tell from a read that there is a great deal of thought that has gone into this.

Beyond this, the University of Windsor is also offering advice for K-12 educators through three online webinars. Details here. Registration required.

I hope that you can set aside some time to click through and read these posts in their entirety. As always, there’s great advice there from educators here in the province.

Then, make sure that you follow them online via Twitter.

  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Sheila Stewart – @sheilaspeaking
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Rola Tibshirani – @rolat
  • Peter Skillen – @peterskillen
  • Dave Cormier – @davecormier

This post appears at:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

A collaborative whiteboard

Many Learning Management Systems recognize the power and utility of a whiteboard space for online classrooms. Some have the facility built in; some make reference to external ones. Some that are in place still require the functionality of an add-on like Adobe Flash. And, unfortunately, some don’t have the facility at all.

So, teachers are left looking for alternatives.

If that’s you, you might want to check out

This is an incredibly simple tool to use. No personal identifying information is required for a teacher to set up a session and no personal identifying information is needed for a student to join the session. All they have to do is provide the link to the Whiteboard. Of course, we all have learned about the challenges of posting links publically with stories of online meeting rooms being “bombed” so you’ll keep the link private to your classroom.

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for privacy concerns in this day and age. You’ll find this pretty straightforward.

The privacy for is very simple:

No registration is required to use the service. No username, e-mail or password is required.

No personal information is stored or collected. The participants are asked their names when they enter a room (in order for the teacher to identify them), but nicknames or aliases can be used.

All information is deleted when a room is closed (or after 2 hours of inactivity).

No information is shared with third parties.

No ads are displayed on the service.

Google Analytics is used for visitor analytics.

The servers are located within the European Union.

If you’re on the lookout for a collaborative whiteboard, you might want to check this one out and see if it fits your needs.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I know that it’s been a challenging week for so many as the model for education has changed so incredibly much. Teachers, parents, and students have all had a stressful week with everyone wanting to do their best.

Speaking of the best, it’s time for me to share and I hope that you enjoy some terrific thoughts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Observations & Lessons in Isolation – Week 4

First up, this week, a post from Laura Elliott that should give you pause for looking at doing the right thing right now. Turn on the news and you can see comparisons of casualties from COVID-19 to lives lost in world and regional wars or top 10 lists of pandemics.

You can get totally involved with the challenges of a district-licensed learning management system that is running incredibly slow or even crashing, or just the stress or trying to address all those curriculum expectations while learning how to use a new set of tools.

Nobody has been through this before and Laura reminds that we’re living this history. We’re writing our story at this time and there are so many other things to consider that are far more important than working with glitchy technology.

Check out her list and share some comments and your own thoughts on her blog.

10 years later – Takeaways from Learning in Online Spaces

For some, working and teaching in Online Spaces isn’t new and Tina Zita lets us know that she’s been doing it for quite some time.

In this post, she shared with us what she considers her “big takeaways” from the past 10 years.

Among her things, and it’s a good list of things, I’m going to cherry pick two that I think are important for all to realize.

  • The Learner is still the centre
  • Replicate the Experience not the Task

In everyone’s struggles to do the very best, I suspect that it’s pretty easy to overlook this and get boggled down with details. You really shouldn’t; good teachers have always recognized the need for flexibility.

These are but two of Tina’s takeaways. She expands on each and also gives many other insights. I’ll bet you’ll see yourself in her post.

Friday Two Cents: Parents … Make “Play” Your Life Lesson

Paul Gauchi takes a look at the parent side of all of this. Yes, they’ve definitely become a more active part of the learning team. I’m sure that they’ve all got the advice about the importance of play in learning.

As I read Paul’s post, I couldn’t help but think about the difference between “play” from a parent perspective and from a teacher point of view.

“Play” could be a way to keep the child busy and involved at home. Every parent knows that. “Give me a break and go play with something.”

In the hands of a professional teacher, “play” turns into something else. They carefully make choices about the type of “play” that will happen and how it addresses learning expectations. They don’t have a free-for-all toybox; they select only those things that will be needed for today’s class, designed for play and learning.

There are a couple of really good quotes about play in Paul’s post.

Will this experience help parents see the other side of “play”?

My Secret: Adjusting to New

I loved this post from Sue Dunlop!

When we go to work, we have all that we need. I think back to my workplace; I had a desk there with a blotter and a coffee mug full of pencils, pens, and markers. On the other side, I had my phone. Desk drawers had supplies at the ready. If I spun around, there was a well filled bookshelf full of computer references. Off to the left on table 1 of 3 or 4 tables was my work computer with another chair on wheels. I could roll up and down to various computers and work spaces depending upon what I was working on. Since I had the area all to myself, I could leave works in progress, well, in progress.

I’m sure that Sue has an equally as well equipped or probably better workspace – at work.

In this post, she talks about her new reality, her home office. It has to be a poor second with desk being a “collapsible table” and she apparently really misses her ball chair. It’s about a hundred bucks right now from Amazon.

But, she’s getting through with her new reality and shares her secrets for how she’s doing it. Maybe some of the little things that help you have eluded you? Read her post and maybe you’ll find a bit of a pick-me-up in ideas.

There is no room for ego

Lots of people have been sharing lots of things online to help the cause of eLearning. They’re all done with good intentions and I’m as guilty as the next person.

In this post, Jennifer Casa-Todd shares something that every teacher should have bookmarked at this time. It’s like the ultimate collection of digital resources, organized into a calendar format.

Jennifer shares her thoughts and then gets a bit emotional. We’ve got your back, my friend. In the post, she shares what started that emotion but there’s one that describes a tenant for me and explains why I do what I do and who I look for when I’m looking for people to enhance my learning network.

We have an obligation to share what we create

In addition to the five blog posts that inspire the conversation on my voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs, I like to add a couple more that I refer to as “bonus posts”. Normally, they’re a couple of recent posts.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I was tagged by Zoe Branigan-Pipe last weekend to think about blog content from ten years ago. That brought out my response and I was delighted to see some others jump as well with blog memories from theirs exactly ten years ago.

Here are some blasts from the past, some oldie goldies…

Turnitin Plagiarism Detection Service Coming Soon!

Peter Beens shares the news that the Ministry of Education has licensed the Turnitin product.


Aaron Puley shared his research and suggestions for blogging platforms in education.

Online assessment

Cal Armstrong talks about, well, online assessment.

Ning is the Thing: Using web 2.0 technology to encourage higher-level thinking in senior academic English classes

Danika Tipping is in the running for the longest blog post title and shares her research about using Web 2.0 technologies.

Energy Timeline

Jared Bennett describes how to use a collaborative timeline tool.

WE are smarter than ME

Rodd Lucier delivers the most salient post about social networking – equally as important today as it was back then.

“I love my network – seriously – what great people. Teaching has never been so exciting” – A.Couros

And, Zoe’s post to motivate and how to turn a quote into a blog post!

And a few that didn’t follow the ten year rule…

The Future is Already Here

Andrew Forgrave’s thoughts on the Ministry licensing of a web tool.

When did it start for you?

Colin Jagoe wonders when you started your PLN?

I’m @avivaloca from now on!

When they kicked Aviva Dunsiger out of Grade 1, she needed a new Twitter handle. So, people voted…

OK, folks, you have lots of reading ahead of you on this Friday! Enjoy.

Then, an extended list of people to add to your Twitter network this week.

  • @lauraelliottPhD
  • @tina_zita
  • @PCMalteseFalcon
  • @Dunlop_Sue
  • @JCasaTodd
  • @pbeens
  • @bloggucation
  • @sig225
  • @DanikaTipping
  • @mrjarbenne
  • @thecleversheep
  • @zbpipe
  • @aforgrave
  • @colinjagoe
  • @avivaloca

This post appears on:

If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

This grouping is ok

This type of social grouping is a good thing!

Life for me was so simple long ago on the web when the concept of tabs hadn’t been invented. One window, one website was the norm.

Then comes along the ability to have tabs in the browser and I jumped at the opportunity. And, if two tabs are good, then twenty must be better. Before long, it was like my elementary school principal used to call “a dog’s breakfast”. I never understood the concept then because we only fed our dog once a day, after supper.

I came to understand it as meaning a mess and it does truly describe the top of my screen at times.

My primary window right now…

On the other monitor, I have even more as I work on my Friday “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” post.

With tab development, we kind of got a break when we could pin tabs but even then, it gets difficult and it can be hard to tell tabs apart – especially when you have so many the browser shrinks the tab to fit them into the space on your monitor. Thank goodness for favicons. Things that I use all the time get pinned and the rest just sort of evolves until I can’t find anything and I’m forced to close some or use the OneTab extension to tuck them away.

With the release of Google Chrome 81 comes another formal option – creating tab groups. So, for example, I have a number of email accounts that I monitor – I could group them all together into one group called email.

The process is relatively simple. To get started, click on a tab and “Add to new group” or “Add to existing group”.

You can give it a colour and a name if you wish…

In addition to my email group, I’ll have a group especially for the reading sites that I use.

I could see, perhaps, grouping popular tabs by subject area. I guess you’re only limited by imagination.

I’m going to give it a shot for a while on Chrome and see what happens. Maybe it will make me more efficient or productive. Or maybe I’ll get confused as to where things are. Who knows?

Look for this feature to be replicated in other browsers if it catches on.