Private relay


Man, this is a utility that I could have used a long time ago and still wish I could use it today.

Today, it would be nice for all teachers to have access as well.

How many times have you signed up for a newsletter, download a piece of software, or wanted access to a web service and you’re asked to provide your email address? All the time, right? Then, in a lot of cases, you do your evaluation of things and decide that you’re no longer interested. But, the email keeps on coming. Sometimes, it’s even begging you to return. Or the worst, your original request to be removed was honoured but your email address has been sold to another entity who are bombarding your mailbox with something else.

Now, I have no hesitation whatsoever with someone that offers me a service, I like it, and I want to support it. It’s the abuse of my email address being used for something else that really bothers me.

Like most people, I have a few different email addresses for different purposes, including software testing.

In this day and age though, there are a lot of teachers looking for new and exciting ways to engage students and they’re trying out alternatives, only to find themselves on a never-ending mailing list. There are well-intentioned people that are providing links to this and links to that but, more often than not, an email address is required to access things.

Mozilla has announced a new service called Private Relay that may very well help you out in your quest to find the next great thing. The concept seems simple enough; whenever you visit a website that wants an email address, this extension will generate a “burner” email address on the fly.

This helps you meet the requirement that you provide an email address to access things and keeps you in touch with the server and your real email address safe.

While we could use this service right now, sadly it’s still in testing and you have to be invited to the party to be able to use it.

But, the concept really excites me. It’s definitely something that I would put to good use so I’m going to keep my eyes on the formal release to the general public.

And, the best thing, is that this project is open source which means that anyone can look at the code. Check it out here.

In the meantime, be wary of websites that offers lists of “great resources”. It’s easy to say, here’s a link, here’s a link, … The real value comes when the list maker gives you an indication of grade level and curriculum expectations that can be addressed by using the resource. Perhaps they should also give an indication if an email address is required in order to access that resource. That would help you protect your online identity and that’s always a good thing.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about providing an email address to online services. Do you have a safety strategy? Would this service from Mozilla be of use to you? Why or why not?

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


First off …

Today marks a day of rotating strike action by ETFO members in the following districts:

  • Peel District School Board
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

Details here.


Good Friday morning and the end to January. Will you be groundhogging in class today or Monday or just take a pass this year? I do have a Flipboard collection of resources here.

Check out some of the great posts from Ontario Edubloggers that I’ve enjoyed recently.


Listening to Reflections

Earlier this week, my friend Colleen Rose tagged me in a Twitter message looking for assistance…

So, sure, I shared it. The responses were amazing. It showed how powerful a learning network can be. You may wish to follow that discussion chain if you’re interested in collecting or affirming ideas.

Wouldn’t you expect the same results when working with students online?

Melanie White tried this past semester and shared some of her results from watching students reflecting on their experiences with a social justice focus. It wasn’t positive in all cases and Melanie shares at least some of the details.

Her conclusion?

It is the outcome of my work that matters. I must listen and learn and do better and repeat.

It’s sad that she had to endure this but let’s hope that she refines her approach and doesn’t give up completely. There can be so much value when it does work.


Slice of Life: Old Habits

I had to smile a bit as I read Lisa Corbett’s post about writing a paper for a course that she’s taking. I’m guessing that it’s in education and I remember some of the requirements and resources for papers that I’ve researched and had to write in the past. At times, there aren’t enough Os in boring. Such begins her story.

To assist, she turned to a tool that so many people use with students. I’ve done many a workshop on graphic organisers so it’s like second nature to me. I use an organiser here all the time for blog posts, my TWIOE show, and shopping lists among other things. I have such an exciting life. For the most part, like Lisa did, I tend to use either a Google document or a Microsoft OneNote document to do the deed. They work so well.

You’ve got to love the openness that she has for the writing/organising process and her thoughts about the hamburger approach to writing. We all learned how to write using this approach. How we’ve moved on in a digital world. Hamburger takes on a new and different meaning!

Thanks, Lisa – I needed some excuse for a graphic for this post!


Qu’est-ce qui fait d’un leader un leader ?

So, what’s your superpower?

Think for a second. We all have one or more.

Recently, Joel McLean listened to a podcast “What makes a superhero a superhero?” He then drew a parallel to leadership. “What makes a leader a leader?”

I thought it to be an interesting and appropriate comparison for Joel’s work. So often in education, leaders are appointed based upon some superhuman leadership ability. The question becomes “when was the last time that they actually used it?”

Is it a matter of increased workload that shoves this backwards or is it complacently that they’ve risen to their desired level?

But, let’s not overlook the fact that there are people who assume leadership positions and maintain or enhance their superpowers. It’s easy to identify those that don’t, but let’s also celebrate those that do well and continue to grow. Especially those who recognize those that know they can’t do it alone.


YouTube versus Text Instructions

Bottom line – I hope that Joan Vinall-Cox got her invitations for the party out in time. I didn’t get mine but wasn’t really expecting one ….

I’ve been working with getting the some of my contacts into a label so I can connect Evite to it for a future party. This led to a couple of important learning experiences.

In order to get the job done, Joan had to learn how to perform a new task with the contacts in her address book. She had a couple of options:

  • read a set of instructions
  • watch a YouTube video about how to do it

Personally, I find myself in this situation all the time. I almost always opt for a text instruction.

Why? (don’t hate me) I don’t read the entire document. I skim until I get to the salient part and then move on. I don’t opt for the video option because they can be so time consuming – advertising, attempts at jokes, fast forwarding is a challenge since you don’t know how far ahead to fast forward!

In Joan’s case, she was frustrated with text and found a perfect video that showed her exactly what she needed. I’m now wondering, based on her experience, if I need to open my mind to a new approach.

A caveat to both approaches though – some of the available stuff is outdated. The internet isn’t really good about keeping things up to date at times.


What’s in my Reading Pile?

Teacher-librarians are an amazing group of people.

Diana Maliszewski is off to the OLA Superconference this week but still managed to find time for her weekly blog post. In this case, a list of things that she’s reading.

Look for a title, ISBN number, and her rationale for why she is planning to read each book. It’s a nice collection. You might find her openness helpful in your own professional life.

I couldn’t help but note the difference in our reading styles. I like to read, yes, but I like to go cover to cover and only then on to the next book. Diana has a number on the go simultaneously.

I can’t imagine doing that myself; she obviously has a far better reading mind than I do.


Checklists and Independent Fridays

This post is an interesting approach to try and turn the tables, on the dreaded Friday, from unproductive to productive by giving Grade 8 students control over their own timeline.

Kelly McLaughlin, on the ETFO Heart and Art blog, shares an approach that makes Monday through Thursday more or less traditional in her plans and then makes Friday a day of “I.W.” or Independent Work. The concept revolves around students creating their own schedule for the day and the use of sticky notes to keep track.

I shuddered when I saw sticky notes because that’s how messages are passed around this house. But, in Kelly’s case, it’s a technique for managing productivity and effort – I couldn’t help but think it was just another form of graphic organiser.

It’s an interesting read. Would this approach work in your classroom?


Fence me in!

From Cal Armstrong’s new blogging site comes Cal’s latest revelation and it’s actually not OneNote related! It deals with a feature of the Firefox browser.

Cal has discovered and now exploited a feature that currently sets Firefox apart from the rest of the browser field in the Facebook protection game. It’s called Fences and Firefox basically promises that whatever happens on Facebook when you’re using Firefox stays in that tab. Your identity isn’t shared across any of the other tabs that you might have open. And who only has one tab open these days?

Further, Cal has discovered that Firefox comes packaged but you can create your own fenced in areas for anywhere you want.

The post is a nice read showing how he discovered this and then how he applied his new found knowledge to take the concept even further, thus taking control of things. Who doesn’t want to do that?


And, yet another terrific week of great reading.

Please take the time to enjoy all of these posts by clicking through and visitng them directly.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Joan Vinall-Cox – @joanvinallcox
  • Joel Mclean – @jprofnb
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Kelly McLaughlin
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225

This post came from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

New .new stuff


I mentioned last week about attending the session delivered by Nicole Batte and Leslie Boerkamp dealing with extensions for Google Chrome. In particular, one extension was of interest to me – Google Docs Quick Create.

It seems like a very powerful extension and I did explore it a bit. The reviews are mixed though. But, the internet can be kind of troll-ish and besides, things are constantly changing and issues will undoubtedly be addressed. The author offers you to fork his code on GitHub so that could help the cause as well.

I didn’t keep the extension though. I’m cognisant of the performance hits that can be taken on your computer and browser with too many extensions or, even worse, too many tabs open.

Besides, I already had that functionality.

I can’t believe that it was over a year ago when I first started playing around with Google’s .new site and functionality. I remember specifically because I was doing a presentation about Hyperdocs. At one point, I had demonstrated to the group how to repurpose a Webquest into a Hyperdoc and I had used the docs.new command to create and open a new Google document for that purpose. The crowd gasped.

At least in my mind.

There was actually a pause in the presentation while I had to explain what I had done. Of course, a Google Document wasn’t the only thing that could be created. Sheets and Slides were there as well.

Each could easily be invoked by typing the URL in the address bar. It’s not limited to Google Chrome; it works in any browser since it’s just an address. So, it’s equally as functional in Firefox. Ever in search of something more productive, these things work nicely as a bookmark! So, I had created the three of them and then put them together into a folder on my bookmark bar in all my browsers.

As often happens, I forgot about it until the presentation. Those in attendance were impressed with how easy students could create new documents. It definitely would work for that.

After the presentation, I forgot again until this past weekend when I read this blog post on the Google site.

10 shortcuts made possible by .new

It’s just not the three shortcuts that I’d previously been using. In fact, there are a few more. I took a look through the list. If there’s something that I do repeatedly, it only makes sense to add them to my bookmarks. And I did. My list now looks like…

If you read the article, Google is letting people apply for new .new domains. The good news is that there may be more productivity shortcuts on the way. This is a good thing.

How about a .new to create a WordPress post?

Whole lotta extensions going on


Not related to this topic but I love this song anyway…

The session “There’s an Extension for That” was given by these ladies at the Bring IT, Together Conference.

I’m a sucker for sessions like these.

I firmly believe that owning a browser is just a starting point. You make it “yours” by customising the look and functionality. It makes no difference whether you’re using Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi, or any of the other alternatives. They all browse the web well.

I’m a long time Firefox user and have always thought that you could turn a good experience into a great experience by adding addons that extend the functionality of the browser. I have my favourite collections – devoted to privacy and what I need for functionality.

But, I’m not confident enough that I have the best of the best or that I have them all. I enjoy sessions where people identify what extensions they use and how it makes them productive. I’m not above stealing borrowing a good idea.

That led me to this session, run on Leslie’s laptop, to see what these two presenters felt were important to them. I remember thinking that surely, surely, all of these extensions were loaded on Leslie’s computer just for the sake of the presentation and not that they’re always there!

I like the presentation dynamic that they had. Leslie was seated and operating the computer while Nicole gave us the description of the extension and what they felt was the value for them. The presentation moved along very quickly and if you were taking notes, you might have missed something. Thankfully, they shared their presentation.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1eRxe6lfDs6mKnKtxcHM3bYJTTJ_Jft98JuNG7QcqpYI/edit#slide=id.g35f391192_04

The presentation was done in Chrome but most of the extensions/addons are available for all browsers.

I would encourage you to walk your way through the presentations and see what they’ve identified as their “Best of the best” choices. We can always learn from others. http://bit.ly/BIT19Extensions

Getting serious about privacy


I think we’ve all heard of the stories – I mention that I was looking to buy this or I did a search for that product and then, lo and behold, advertisements for that product appears on your desktop. Coincidence or not, it’s pretty freaky when it happens.

A long time ago, I took action around here to block advertising and third party cookies. When I want to purchase something, I would like to do my own research and come to my own conclusions about products. Plus, I didn’t like all the bandwidth that these advertisements were using. It definitely slowed things down here and my internet access is slow enough to begin with.

If only this setting, which is available on all modern browsers, did the trick.

Basically, websites are on their honour to recognize this and do something about it. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a banner that told you that they respecting you. Actually, search engines like DuckDuckGo that do respect you make that claim up and front. Thank you for that.

For the others, I guess we’re on our own. Allow it to happen or do something to prevent it like installing an advertising browser blocker.

Fortunately, for us, latest releases of browsers are helping the cause.

Opera has advertising blocking built right in and also offers a free VPN.

Brave also has advertising blocking as a key component. It also has an interesting feature – most modern browsers allow you to open a “Private Window” which has a limited privacy protection. But, Brave also allows you to open a tab using the Tor network. That’s very handy instead of using the Tor Browser.

Chrome is promising a feature that will block what they’re calling “heavy” advertising. Where the advertisement blocking extension fits into this remains to be seen.

This weekend, I’ve been playing around with the latest in Privacy protection from Firefox. It’s labelled as “Enhance Privacy Protection”. Rather than just taking their word that they’re blocking things, a graph, by day, shows what they’re blocking. As I write this, Firefox claims that it has blocked 47 trackers. For the record, it’s 11:15 on Sunday morning. I’ve been on Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, my blog, and a couple of newspaper websites. I haven’t even checked my email yet; it’s the weekend…

So, what’s it blocking?

There’s a warning that some sites won’t work with this level of paranoia. That’s always been the concern when you’re using blockers. For those special times when I absolutely need to go to a website, I’ll open it in a Private Window so that it can set all the cookies it wants and they’ll be gone when I close the window.

If you do one bit of learning today, read the corresponding documentation from Mozilla.

Trackers and scripts Firefox blocks in Enhanced Tracking Protection