Inspiring educators

It’s Friday morning on the last day of the Bring IT, Together Conference. For the first time in two years, I don’t have the credentials to post to the ECOO website.

But I’ll always have my own blog!

Last year, at the conference, we resurrected something that had gone unaddressed by previous boards. It was the concept of bestowing Life Membership on those builders who had made the organization what it is today. We set in place a procedure to catch up on those builders.

This year’s Board of Directors approved three more individuals to the list. That did make me very happy indeed. It was a very pleasant surprise to be asked to give the awards. Last year, I had asked the vice-president to do this happy task.

David Carruthers

The truly bizarre thing is that Bring IT, Together 2019 is only David’s second conference. He enjoyed it last year but previously had shown off his organizational skills as an organizer for a couple of years for EdCampLDN. He auditioned for the job there for us and we were excited when he said yes. I’ve learned so much about his educational philosophy just by being a regular reader of his blog.

Peter McAsh

Peter and I go way back for sure. Our favourite story was the two of us being excused (Peter calls it being kicked out) from a specialist course in Data Processing and given the chance to submit a major project instead. Peter has been a longtime presenter at ECOO events, on the conference committee, and has served on the Board of Directors most recently as president. If you want to bring memories to him, ask him about the HYPO interpreter than he once wrote.

Peter Skillen

Peter and I go way back, probably further than what either of us are happy to admit in public. Peter has been a philosopher, maker and a personal mentor as long as I’ve known him and has been a driving partner of the Minds on Media event that has always been featured at ECOO events and others throughout the province.

It truly was a humbling experience to recognize these three outstanding gentlemen. They exemplify the best in leadership. I tried my best but those in attendance know that I was unable to hold back my emotions. I just couldn’t imagine the organization without their input.


There was a happy, happy bonus to this experience.

Alison Baron

Officially, Alison was recognized last year but she was unable to attend the conference. Happily, she did this year and so we recognized her in front of the Annual General Meeting. Alison has long been a leader and a person I’ve worked with in her time at Thames Valley. As a resource for eLearning in Ontario, there was no better person to have on speed dial.

Last minutes decisions

Yesterday’s post just went out and I’m starting to think about packing and then heading east to Niagara Falls. There’s no rush (at least on my part) and I think that it bothers the farm girl that I married. You know “get up with the cows and get moving”. Heck, I haven’t even walked the dog yet. “I’ll walk him”.

My biggest computer decision is always how to carry it/them. I could go backpack or I could take my pull bag. Since I end up really with a mobile office since I need two computers for my show with Stephen Hurley tomorrow, I’ll probably end up with the pull bag. Both of them have certainly had mileage pulled on them. It’s always fun to see what’s left in them from the last outing. In this case, it would have been to Phoenix in July. I just found my portable battery pack. I wondered where that went.

The check list is always interesting. No matter what; the most important part of all of this is remembering to bring the charger for the computer, watch, and phone. Without them, I’m a digital fish out of the water. Ah, there’s my boarding pass and my paper receipts. I’m starting to realize that this thing is really a storage locker between conferences.

Just remembered – I haven’t imported my conference calendar into my personal calendar yet – OK, I’m back. I wonder if I’m going to change my mind once I get there.

Then there’s the clothes. The key is to wear comfortable clothes and shoes for the event. It’s going to be cool so I’ll need a coat. Hopefully, the conference centre is going to be a comfortable 20 or 21. I hope that I pack enough socks. A major catastrophe happened here last week when our washer bit the dust. The new one doesn’t arrive until Thursday so I’ve been frugal with socks. I pointed out that the cool kids don’t wear socks but I was told that I’m not cool.

And then there’s the shaving bag and the last minute inspection.

“Do you have your razor packed?” No, I haven’t even shaved yet today. “OK, well don’t forget to pack it and shaving cream”. We have the same routine every time and the same conversation about not going off the grid. I’m pretty sure there’s a drug store or two in Niagara Falls in case the worst happens. How did I get this far in life anyway? I have this process; as I do my regular morning routine, I pack. It makes sense to me.

Dog walk.

And I’m back. A cool morning, to be sure. After reading Diana Maliszewski’s blog post earlier this morning, we made extra sure that we were well off the road into the gravel.

And the suitcase is on the bed. Is she trying to get rid of me? <grin>

I should be ready to “head east” in a bit. I had purchased my poppy the other day only to be unable to find it yesterday so had to head out to buy another one. As I got out of the car, I found it on the floor. Seatbelts and poppies don’t get along. In the process, my low air pressure light came on so there was a bit of making that right.

It’s all starting to fall into place nicely. I still have some traditions to observe when in the region – buy some Picard’s peanuts, visit Brock’s monument, enjoy the Niagara Parkway, stop at a winery or two, and then some personal things. It’s going to be a great week.

I hope to see you there; I hope to make some new connections; I hope to learn lots.

Headed to Niagara Falls

By the time this post goes live, I’ll be up and getting things ready tomorrow morning for the trip to Niagara Falls and the Bring IT, Together Conference.

Things are a little different this year; knock wood but I don’t have the bad cold that I did last year. That was brutal. I didn’t want to get in the proximity of anyone. That makes for a lonely conference.

It seems like a long time since 2013 and 2014. Those were the years that Cyndie Jacobs and I co-chaired the conference. It also was the beginning of a relationship with the folks at OASBO-ICT. That sparks good memories like Cathy Their’s amazing organizing ability and Chris Demers leading the jam sessions for musicians.

I have so many good memories (albeit after the fact) of worrying that moving to the beautiful new convention centre might not be a good move financially. As it turned out, we made an amazing amount of profit in those years with jam packed attendance. So many, in fact, that our successors were considering moving away from the theatre since it was standing room only for us. I also remember impressing upon the centre for the need for really good wifi and the assurances that it was there and then the panic when they sat in the control room noting that everyone in the audience had at least one screen in front of them! Never underestimate teachers.

Cyndie and I and a terrific committee has a couple of great years marked by ensuring that there were administration, technical and French language strands for those in attendance. We also had a self-driven mission to ensure that there were significant social events so that the collegiality could extend well into the evening hours. It’s nice to see that this has continued.

I’ve given a hand to subsequent committees as a member and just for being asked since then. Of course, last year, I was president of ECOO and past-president this year.

I’ve gone to conferences hosted by ECOO for years and do typically offer to do a session. It’s also good memories to think of the locations over the years for the event. Who could forget the Regal Constellation and all the spacey rooms? Or the night the power went out in Toronto! I’ve led discussions, workshops, break-out sessions, worked and presented at Minds on Media, and have been a featured speaker as well. I’ve never had the pleasure of doing an Ignite or Keynote session.

I also have a fond memory of the team approach to addressing Web 2.0 in the classroom with my good friend Zoe Branigan-Pipe. She still claims that her team beat mine.

So, what’s in the books for this year? I went back to see what sessions I had selected when I registered. I remember it being a tough job and I can see why. I hope that I actually get to go to those sessions. I’m a sucker for getting hijacked by others and losing my sense of time in the Exhibit Hall. I’m looking forward to Derek Tangredi as keynote; he was phenomenal at #ECOOcamp Owen Sound. I haven’t heard Angela Stockman speak before so this will be a treat.

Beyond that, Stephen Hurley and I will be broadcasting our This Week in Ontario Edublogs show live from the conference floor. I normally announce the blog posts on Wednesday but will do it now in case these folks are in attendance and want to join us. Stephen says his new mobile setup has four microphones so there’s room. Here’s what is on tap.

  • Cyber Dissonance: The Struggle for Access, Privacy & Control in our Networked World – Tim King
  • A Journey with Sketchnotes – Tina Zita
  • Walking in a New Way – the Ottawa Indigenous WalkPaul McGuire
  • Autumn Math WalkDeanna McLennan
  • How To Self Engineer A Learning CommunityRola Tibshirani

On Thursday at noon, the ECOO Annual General Meeting will take place. I get to do a couple of things here.

  • Recognize three outstanding ECOO members with Life Membership
  • Introduce the new Board of Directors

And then I’m done. There will be a new past-president and I’m out. I feel a sigh of relief coming on right now.

Above and beyond all of this, the conference is about people and making connections. That’s far and away the most important takeaway. I get immense satisfaction with matching a real life “how are you” with a Twitter or other social media presence. I’ve never been disappointed in that respect. There are just so many Ontario Educators doing so many amazing and interesting things.

It all starts on Wednesday morning and I’m really looking forward to it. Will I see you there? They do take walk-ins if you haven’t registered yet!

An Interview with Andrew Dobbie

Andrew Dobbie is a teacher with the Peel District School Board.  To get his attention, all that you have to do is express an interest in sustainable activities or reusing computers for the benefit of students.  I had the opportunity to interview Andrew.

Doug:  Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Andrew.  My first question is always the same; do you recall the first time that we met in person?

Andrew: Thanks for inviting me to chat Doug! My memory is fading in old age🤣 but I believe we first met when BIT was held in Toronto before the shift to Niagara Falls.

Doug:  We’ve been following each other on Twitter for a long time.  Why would you want to follow me?

Andrew:  I thought it was pretty obvious why people follow you, Doug.  You help me sift through current media and provide me with useful, sometimes actionable resources each week🙌

Doug:  Your passion for sustainable things is very evident to anyone who follows you on social media.  Can you give us a sense of where your passion is with this?

Andrew: The root of my passion for sustainability is in providing learners with a quality education through equitable access to computers in their classrooms.  My students needed help, so I researched a way to help them. Then, my students and I agreed that we should help everyone else.

Granted, the supportive team working with us exists throughout North America, Europe (in its infancy) and Iceland. We all work together to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Doug:  My interest in following you comes from the conversations and interactions that we’ve had online dealing with Linux.  You use it to breathe new life into old technology, often discarded. My interest was personal. I just wanted an alternative to Windows 10 for my 2010 Sony Vaio laptop. 

Do you use Linux personally?

Andrew: Yes! I use Linux every day with my students. I am also well versed in Win10 and MacOS too🤣  I need to be comfortable with all operating systems because some of my students bring in their own devices and I need to be able to assist them with daily operational challenges/troubleshooting.  I also dabble a bit with Android OS too just for fun. More along the lines of experimenting with converting different computing devices into hybrids running other operating systems. I’ve built some ChrMacbooks, converted old Windows computers into Linux devices, and even built one of the largest Android boxes using a massive desktop computer (as a joke- and it continues to be in operation today🤣).

Doug:  Now, when a person dips their toe into the world of Linux, it can be a bit frightening.  Long time Linux users go back to working the command line. apt-get, sudo, etc. Did you start that far back?

Andrew: I remember when I first tried terminal coding. I had no idea what I was doing. I have no formal training at all. Just YouTube, blogs, and Google Hangout guidance from a Linux expert, Aaron Prisk👍  

Aaron continues to be a very patient and supportive teacher. He listens to my coding frustrations and helps me to find parallel understanding between our common language and that of terminal coding. I started to learn the verbs of the language and it helped me learn how to install, move, package, and assembly Aaron’s student-tailored Xubuntu OS.  I still haven’t met Aaron in person. All our work has been completed remotely via Hangouts, Facebook IM, and now mainly via text message. So, yes. I use raw code in the terminal when constructing Linux FOG Servers and student-tailored Linux workstations.

Doug:  Linux comes in many flavours.  My first distribution was Ubuntu 4.04 and then the Edubuntu fork.  What was your first?

Andrew: Oh wow! You’ve been at it a little longer than me. I started with Cub Linux and Lubuntu initially because they were packed so small and could fit on a 2GB USB for installations.  Then, as I started dabbling with install on many different systems, I worked all the way back through history to Ubuntu 10, BSD, Linux plop, and all flavours after Ubuntu 10. Over the past 3 years, I have used and installed dozens of flavours to learn more about their unique strengths and differences but followed Aaron’s lead in using Xubuntu 16.04 for the first version of the student-tailored workstations.

Doug:  Since that time, I’ve changed my allegiance and now run Linux Mint.  What’s your favourite distribution?

Andrew: My friend Ryan, who is a data analyst and Linux junky, loves Mint too but my favourite continues to be Xubuntu because it provides me with all the necessary packaging tools to create the Linux student workstations.

Doug:  You talk about using Xubuntu.  Why this distribution?

Andrew:  Aaron Prisk introduced me to Xubuntu (a developer version of Linux) because he was already using it to create his own districts’ student image for all of their computers in Pennsylvania.  Lucky for me he was working through the process when I showed interest in learning it, and he took me under his wing (so to speak).

Doug:  It’s golden when you find someone with that amount of interest and patience. If someone else was interested in getting started in this area, how do they get started?

Andrew:  If anyone wants to learn how to install any Linux operating system, then I would suggest beginning with the USB installation technique.  We created a gForm to walk new learners through the process:

It’s a little dated but it will help guide a new learner through the process.

Doug:  I like the way that you’ve used the Google Form as a tutorial for the end user. Well done.

You’ve forged a number of partnerships over the year, especially with Renewed Computer Technology of Ontario (RCTO).  How does that work?

Andrew: is an outstanding not-for-profit business who provide learning facilities with free desktop computers.  Initially, I needed computers in my classroom because our school didn’t have the budget for them and I couldn’t afford to buy them. RCT Ontario helped us.  We were lucky because they had tons of available computers back in 2016 when we first asked. They also had lots of LCD displays, which are a hot commodity and not easily available currently.

Essentially, if any learning facility needs free desktop computers, then they need to go to and request them. You will need to fill in a few online forms but be sure to request the free computers. They do offer some very affordable paid computer options as well (including a 1 year warranty), so they are a much better idea than buying new.  The first batch of 150 desktops we received for free in 2016 is STILL in service, supporting student learning needs in our classrooms!

RCT will also be happy to answer your questions by telephone too, so if you need help just call them.

In September, I was asked to assist their IT department in establishing a Linux line of free computers, so I created a Xubuntu 16.04 FOG Server clone, and a Xubuntu 18.04 FOG Server clone. Both of which can deploy the student-tailored Xubuntu operating system on any computer 10 years old or newer.

Doug:  One of the stumbling blocks that some might have with school districts is putting non-district computers on the network.  How have you handled that?

Andrew: All school boards have always been open to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, so we explored and found success with multiple school boards by signing Linux computers onto board networks as BYOD devices. I was invited to York Catholic and Toronto Catholic boards to show their IT department heads how this process can work, and at that time (in 2017-2018 I believe) I created FOG Server clones for them to more efficiently deploy the student-tailored Xubuntu operating system onto their computers. 

I think it’s important to note that all of this is free, and always will be.

Doug:  That’s always been the claim for Linux and there are so many talented people driving that ship. We could always remind them that the Chromebooks that people buy new are running ChromeOS which is based on the Linux kernel!

How do you address concerns from teachers that running Linux doesn’t given them all of the applications that they would have on a Macintosh or Windows computer?

Andrew: Most teachers and students are running cloud-based programs these days anyway.  My students never have a problem using Linux to run any gSuite, Office365, or any other web-based tools like Scratch, Robocompass,, you name it.  They all work!

Some teachers have asked for special photo editing tools, so I showed them how runs perfectly through Google Chrome, and is easy for students to use.

Essentially, if an educator is resourceful enough, then he/she will find a comparable and free software tool that will run on their Linux systems. Yes, Minecraft too👍

Doug:  Your plan also involves your students.  How much training do they require before they are experts?

Andrew:  Experts? Hmmm. I’m not an expert and they would say they aren’t either, I think.  However, after having about a month or 2 of troubleshooting exposure and experience within our Tech Stewardship program, our Stewards are able to repurpose old computers easily.  In fact, 3 of our newest Stewards just repurposed a teacher’s old laptop this past week and they just started in the program in September.

Granted, our Xubuntu FOG Server does make the repurposing process extremely easy to transform multiple computers into Linux machines with only a few key strokes.  

Doug:  What is the minimum requirement for a computer to be refurbished for your purposes?  Do you limit it to old Windows computers or have you put Linux on Macintosh computers?

Andrew:  Current minimum requirements for excellent performance running our Linux image would be 4GB RAM and about a 2.4GHz processor (not that much really). It will run fine with only 2GB of RAM as well but 4GB RAM and learners WANT to use Linux instead of brand new computers because they are faster.

Also, I recommend installing our Xubuntu student-tailored operating system on computers 10 years old or newer.  Older than 10 years and we usually run into compatibility issues with hardware drivers and hardware begins to fail at times.

At this point in time, we have FOG Servers that can deploy Linux onto Windows computers easily.  Regarding Macs, students love ChroMacbooks the most, and I used to hand code each one because the FOG server wasn’t designed for Macs😓. Each student-tailored ChroMacbook took about 2 hours to code about a year ago.  Now, I simply open up the Mac. Remove the hard drive. Put the Mac hard drive into a windows computer. Change the hard drive to Linux using the FOG Server, then put it back into the Mac👍 Only takes about 15 minutes depending on the build.

Doug:  You will be doing a session at the upcoming Bring IT, Together Conference.  Can you give us a sneak peek?

Andrew: A sneak peek😕 


On Wednesday morning, I will be bringing some of my special FOG Servers to make FOG Server clones for anyone that wants one.  You just need to bring an old laptop (that turns on🤣) with you, and stop by. I will even show you how easy it is to use it. You can use it on site to repurpose any other laptops you bring with you🙌

When I’m not teaching the process, I can repurpose up to 50 computers an hour by myself. So, if you just want some help repurposing your laptops for student use in your classrooms, then bring them by on Wednesday morning.

I will also be sharing some of our work highlights at IgniteBit2019 on Wednesday evening, so feel free to connect with me there too👍

If you can’t attend the Wednesday session, then my students will be joining me on Friday morning to help attendees repurpose their computers with Linux too. So, we can build you a FOG server or student-tailored Linux laptop at that time as well.

Finally, I believe I will be bringing lots of free mini desktop computer towers for attendees to take back to their classrooms for their students to use.  These mini desktop towers have been donated by and will include the tower, keyboard, mouse, and power cords (but unfortunately not LCD monitors due to short supply at the warehouse).

Doug:  Wow. Come to Bring IT, Together and leave with a free computer. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Andrew.  If people want to follow you on Social Media, where would they turn?

Some great ways to start connecting:

ECOO Board of Directors, 2019/2020

The Nominations Committee of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario has opened the Call for Nominations for positions on the ECOO Board of Directors for 2019/2020.

The nomination period will close on Sunday, September 29, 2019, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

ECOO works to support the effective use of technology in the classroom by:

  • hosting an annual conference, currently called Bring IT, Together 
  • hosting local ECOOcamps
  • hosting SIGs (Special Interest Groups) on TeachOntario
  • forming partnerships with other educational organizations and vendors and liaising with the Ministry of Education

ECOO members are invited to share their expertise by serving on the ECOO Board of Directors.

If you want to have a voice in the direction of ECOO or wish to encourage the involvement of a colleague, please complete this nomination form for positions on the ECOO Board of Directors.

Board of Director Positions:

  • President
  • Vice President
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Director at large – 2 year term
  • Director at large – 2 year term

Responsibilities of ECOO Board Members

Nominees will be announced to the membership following the close of the Call for Nominations. 

All nominations for ECOO Board of Directors 

  • All nominations for ECOO Board of Directors will be confirmed via email
  • For questions regarding the Call for Nominations contact:
  • Election details to follow

Not an ECOO member? No problem. Membership in ECOO is free. Visit this link to become a member.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Can you believe that it’s August already? I could swear that I saw my breath while walking the dog this morning. That’s not right either.

I’m also trying out a new resolution that I used to expouse all the time but don’t do it enough myself until I fell into the trap last week – save early, save often.

What is right are the great thoughts coming from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.

Read on…

Final Thoughts

I just found out about this blog from Shyama Sunder. It’s a wrap up summary and reflection of her time in EDU 498, a course taken a while ago at a Faculty of Education. Unless I missed it, the actual name of the Faculty didn’t appear anywhere but that’s OK.

The content is a summary of four modules taken. There is a nice summary of each of the modules and the enthusiasm she has comes through loudly and clearly.

Readers of this blog know that I’m not a fan of the SAMR model but it was included as content. If it had any value, I would see if as helpful for experienced teachers trying to embrace technology. I don’t see the wisdom of talking about it to teachers learning how to teach. Why not just teach how to do it properly to begin with? What value is there in demonstrating less than exemplary lessons?

In the post, Shyama makes reference to a book that everyone needs to read “Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job” by Yong Zhao, Goaming Zhang, Jing Lei, and Wei Qiu. That’s a book that should be in every school library and would make for an awesome and progressive book talk.

This blog is referenced on her Twitter profile and there’s no forwarding address. It would be interesting to see her pick up blogging in her professional life.


Jamey Byers wrote this post so that others wouldn’t have to!

I remember being at a conference once – I think it was in Denver – and Robert Martellacci came up to me and asked if I knew that one of the prominent speakers had liked a link from an adult film star showing a picture of herself. I hadn’t noticed; I’m not in the habit of checking out what people have saved as liked. Maybe I should?

Actually, maybe I should check what I’ve got in my likes! Phew. Other than some egotistic stuff, I think I’m good. (I’m also snooty – go back to the very first one!)

Jamey points out that there’s a new, more private feature available to us on Twitter.

With the addition of the bookmarks function in Twitter you now have the ability to not only like a tweet, but to save it to your private list of bookmarks that are strictly just for your eyes only.

I wonder how many people are using the feature. I’m certainly not. Maybe I should.

The Playful Approach to Math

Matthew Oldridge is now playing in the big leagues with this post on Edutopia. I remember when he was a guy I interviewed for this blog.

He brings his obvious love and passion for Mathematics to this new forum and I hope that people are inspired by his wisdom. Comments are not allowed so there’s no traditional way of knowing.

Truer words were never spoken than these…

The amount of play in “serious” academic topics like mathematics is inversely proportional, it seems, to the age of students, but this does not have to be the case. A playful pedagogy of mathematics can be codified and made real, rigorous, and authentic.

I’ve studied a lot of mathematics over the years and certainly those teachers/professors that I remember best love mathematics; it came across that way, and their playful approach made learning fun and worthwhile.

Can you think of a better testament to give an educator?

My device. My terms. 3 strategies for finding balance.

Jennifer Casa-Todd is one of those people that I’ve seldom met in real life and yet I feel like I know so much about her. She was another person I had the opportunity to interview. I also had the opportunity to help with her book Social LEADia. This should be on bookshelves everywhere.

I enjoy her writing and most of her posts come across as a personal message to me. Such in the power of her writing.

I struggle with the notion of “balance”. The current context is that it involves being connected and not doing other things – like reading a book. I’m always leary of people who make such claims. Isn’t it just exchanging one form of engagement for another? And, hasn’t social media engagement earned its way into our lives?

I like Jennifer’s reasoned approach…

Social media is here to stay and is a part of the fabric of business, politics, and education. Instead of a fast, I suggest the following strategies:

You’ll have to read her post to see if the strategies make sense to you!

When friendship lasts

without warning or explanation, they started talking and, just like that, resumed their friendship from three years ago when they were six. Hours later, after the park, the corner store, the house; after basketball and jungle gyms and ice cream; after talking and laughing and wrestling, they parted reluctantly, already asking when they could see each other again.

Here’s a quote from Amanda Potts’ recent post.

I’ll bet that you could drop that sentence into any conversation or writing that you might have and provide your own characters.

It might be:

  • meeting up at an annual conference
  • a class reunion from your old high school
  • reuniting with a staff after a summer vacation

and the list goes on. Friendship is such an tangible and yet intangible concept. This post describes a pair of friendships that easily fall into the above.

Those on Facebook will know that a friend to many will be returning to Canada after a couple of years overseas. I’ll bet we all will reunite in this fashion at the Bring IT, Together Conference.

The #UWinToolParade: Open Pedagogy as #OER

In the beginning, there were shiny things. People flocked to shiny things and made a place in the classroom whether they were good or not. I’m looking at you – Clickers.

As shiny things kept on invading classrooms, the good thinkers got us thinking that maybe we should be looking beyond these things into exactly how they are used, are they effective, are they worth the cost, etc.

We never looked back. Well, at ISTE there are still 30 tools in 30 minutes sessions. For the most part, we never looked back.

So, now comes Bonnie Stewart and

I have a new project I’m really excited about. Even if it kinda goes against just about EVERYTHING I’ve said about tech in education over the past, uh, decade.

I’ve read this post at least a dozen times and there are so many out of post links that will take you to rabbit holes that didn’t know they were hosting rabbits!

The proposed results?

The fact that it’s 2019 is loud and clear with the inclusion of “data surveillance”.

This looks incredibly interesting and will use social media for good for the description and dissemination of content. Read the post and get ready to follow. And, Bonnie is looking for some pilot locations if you’re interested.

Reflections from the Tech Guy

This TWIOE post seems to have been focused on people I’ve interviewed! This time, it’s David Carruthers.

As we’ve noticed recently, David is going to be doing some magic as he returns to the classroom after having been the “Tech Guy” at the board office for a while.

He sets the standard with his bottom line.

Bottom line, if being labelled a “tech guy” takes these reflections into consideration, I’m extremely proud of this label. I don’t see the technology in front of students as just a bunch of devices. This doesn’t excite me. Instead, I see tremendous potential.

Some words of advice here – you’ll always be known as the “Tech Guy” so wear it. There are worse things to be known for. You’ve built relationships throughout your district so don’t be surprised when you get some panic emails for help. I still get them. The most enjoyable are about report cards which have had many incarnations since I last formally supported them. The really cool thing happens when these relationships develop your learning because someone wants to share something new with you.

On a political note, things are likely to be difficult for a while as cutbacks affect districts throughout the province. I hope that school districts are wise enough to continue to put insightful “Tech Guys” in areas of support centrally. We know that anyone can click a mouse or use a keyboard these days. True progress comes when you have people like David that see the connection and the potential because they bring a strong background in teaching to such a support position.

As always, there’s a powerful collection of thoughts from these wonderful Ontario Edubloggers. Make sure you’re following them on Twitter.

  • @ssunderaswara
  • @mrJameyByers
  • @matthewoldridge
  • @jcasatodd
  • @Ahpotts
  • @bonstewart
  • @dcarruthersedu

This post originated on

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It was a fun show on Wednesday with This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio. In addition to my regular discussion with Stephen Hurley, we were joined by The BeastEDU – Andrea Kerr and Kelly Mackay. By the end of the hour, I think I was almost able to tell the difference between the two of them. Recognizing Stephen was easy…

Keys to a Rocket Ship

TheBeastEDU (Andrea and Kelly) penned this post in typical Beast fashion. A sketchnote, a provocation, and a conversation.

So, if someone gave you the keys to a rocket ship, would you take it for a ride? It was a premise for “going for it” in education as well as a tribute to a supportive superintendent. I found myself nodding in agreement. They were telling my story.

Over the course of my career away from the classroom, I was fortunate enough to witness the leadership of four superintendents I reported to. Unlike Cathy in this post, they all had different leadership styles. There were some leadership styles that I appreciated and some that I had challenges with (but in a good way, I think). Beyond that, all of them were very supportive in their own ways and I hold all of them to a very high standard.

This post tags some very real attributes in education and leadership – Team, respect empathy, listening, pressure, urgency, and purpose.

Above all, though, I like to read about other’s reflections about growth and being supported in this growth. The best leaders do more than just hand over the keys.

Dear Other Mom

This post from Andrea Haefele will break your heart if you have any sense of empathy. Please take the time to read it slowly and put yourself in her place.

Imagine taking your child to a playground and hearing this discussion.

I wanted to let you know I heard you whisper to your son at that very moment. I pretended to not notice you, but I heard every word you said to him,

“Don’t play with that girl, go somewhere else to play.”

And before I swallowed what just happened, you and your son were at the other side of the playground.

Andrea wrote the post, I’m sure, just to get it out of her system. The chances that the other mom would actually happen upon it and read it are slim to none.

When you go to a park, like in this story, the biggest challenges don’t come from the kids. They’re there to have fun. They get along and accept each other.

The elephants in the room are the adults. Why can’t they be more like kids?

Leaping with no net: autism for teens in Ontario

This is a story that I couldn’t begin to tell as I’ve had no experience raising a child with autism. I’ve followed the news; I’ve read the many reports but it’s not nearly the same as dealing with it first hand.

Alanna King has and shares a story about being a parent dealing with the realities of raising such a child. I know the child and he has had the opportunity to be an assistant at Minds on Media at the Bring IT, Together conference. For the past couple of years, he’s helped his father with a virtual reality station and does so admirably.

It’s sad to read Alanna’s description of coverage being like an umbrella that is shrinking. It comes as no surprise that there are the best supports in bigger communities. If you don’t live there, you just don’t get the same level of support. This support wanes as children become older.

Alanna is a strong woman and for her to use the term “intimidating” helps paint the picture she’s describing. Cutbacks in support can’t help but appear to be shortsighted and you wonder about the long term future for these children.

In best teacher-librarian fashion, Alanna leaves us with a reference to a book that she describes as one of the best resources she can recommend.

And, some wise words…

after all if you’ve met one person with autism….you’ve met one person with autism.


It’s not the first time either. After 10 years in education, it is now a given that I will go to sleep on the last day of school reflective, happy, and excited about the past, present, and future of this calling.

One of the powerful things about blogging is that it gives people a platform and a readership with potential reach that is unlike any other medium.

Will Gourley shares a message that I suspect that most teachers feel and might share with their family in the past. Now, with a few keystrokes, Will’s shared with the world.

And yet, things are different this year, as we know. September may well re-ignite the excitement for some, that some will be smaller in number and many of the rules and gains made through years of collective bargaining and improvements to the profession will be rolled back.

Will’s excitement takes a turn because of this reality and he slaps you with a wakeup call and offers some suggestions about what you can do for the profession over the summer.

I have shared my thoughts with my MPP and yet he sits in opposition. He is vocal, to be sure, but the Twitter message Will shares in the post is a sad reminder that it’s not business as usual.

So Long and Thanks For All of This

My apologies to Terry Greene. I read the title to this post way too quickly and thought that he was going to do some sort of Hitch Hiker’s Guide thing.

Instead, it was a summary of Terry’s time spend with eCampus Ontario. It was a busy time for him which he summarizes in paragraphs devoted to:

  • Visits
  • Speaking
  • Mobile Work
  • Podcasting
  • Ontario Extend
  • Teammates
  • Patchbooks

I know that the reason for his secondment was to help others in his learning community grow and improve their profession. I suspect that he’s the person who has learned the most.

Readers of this blog know that I’ve followed Terry’s work and I’m so thankful that he’s turned me on to many other post-secondary bloggers who have become open in their sharing of their thoughts. Due to his efforts, my reading list has become longer and richer.

Thanks so much, Terry and I wish you all the best as your return to Fleming.

Podcasts for Students

I love the resurgence of interests in podcasts and podcasting. Years ago, it was a big thing; imagine speaking into a computer and then having someone else download and listen to it.

Then, it kind of went off the rails when the notion of vlogging came along and everyone headed to places like Youtube where you could take the concept further and add video to your message. Then, somehow, video became all things, including silly things, and people started to realize that audio is often all that you need to get your message across. Plus, it fits nicely onto an MP3 player and is very portable.

In this post, Arianna Lambert lets us know that she’s headed back to the classroom and plans to make podcasting a significant resource for her students.

She’s done her research; as you wade your way through the post, you’ll see all kinds of podcasts that she plans to use. And, that’s great.

I would suggest that it shouldn’t stop there though. Being a consumer of podcasts is one thing and certainly a powerful thing. But, the next step is to become a podcaster yourself. Do the research, plan the script, record the message, share the message, and reflect on the message.

That’s the ultimate.

HP Maker Challenge

This sounds like a wonderful opportunity that Fair Chance Learning provided for some students.

Students were presented with an essential question on the theme of Sustainability, asked to define problems to solve and then design solutions as a response to the challenge. 

Over the years, we’ve had Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Family Studies, and more competitions. I always had a Computer Science team that would compete with other schools solving problems. It’s a way to scaffold regular learning and let students really shine.

In this post, the challenge now becomes Making.

If you enjoy reading student reflections on a theme, you’ll really enjoy this post. After a quick description of the event, student reflections are captured and shared.

I wonder what more Maker Challenges are in the future.

You’ll have to admit; this is a wonderful collection of blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. Please take the time to click through and enjoy the original posts.

Then, make sure that you’re following these folks on Twitter.

  • @TheBeastEDU
  • @andreahaefele
  • @banana29
  • @WillGourley
  • @greeneterry
  • @MsALambert
  • @FCLEdu

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