This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s anything but business as usual, my friends. Please stay safe.

Here are some of the latest great reading I’ve done from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers. Please help me keep the Livebinder up to date. If your blog doesn’t appear there, please consider adding it. If you have a blog there and have abandoned it, let me know so that I can take it down.

Podcasting with students

From Jennifer Casa-Todd, an interesting post about Podcasting with students. Podcasting isn’t new; as long as there was Audacity and a microphone on a computer, people have been recording themselves talking about things.

There appears to be a renewed interest lately and I’d like to think that we’re celebrating everyone’s voice more than ever. In this case, and it comes as no surprise since it’s from Jennifer, the focus here is about amplifying student voice.

Jennifer shares her experiences here and has collected resources in a Wakelet document for all to enjoy.

You can’t possibly disagree with her reasons for why you’d want to podcast with students. It’s never been as easy to do as it is today.

Teachers, Copyright, and Fair Dealing: Know your rights and know your limits!

I feel kind of bad about this but I missed Fair Dealing Week.

Thanks to Peter Beens though for raising the importance of Fair Dealing when considering classroom resources. He reminds us of the Fair Dealing Decision Tool.

Through navigation, you’re only a click or two away from advice about whether or not you can use a particular resource in your classroom.

More details about Fair Dealing can be found here.

100 Episodes: Looking Back and Learning Forward

One of the truly nice people that I’ve had the pleasure to meet on social media is Ramona Meharg. Our paths have crossed a number of times, in a number of different ways.

Obviously, I’m a fan of her blog but I’m also a fan of her Podcast series “I Wish I Knew Edu“.

Through her podcast, she introduces us to a number of educators who discuss things that they wish they’d known when they got into education. I was honoured to be #3 in her list which now has hit

Hundred Points on Google Android 10.0

Congratulations, Ramona. The first 100 are the hardest!

Check out her post for a little history of how she got there.

Getting On Board With Your Children’s Interests

Given that may people will be enjoying their family for three weeks this March, this post from the Umbrella Project couldn’t come at a better time!

There’s a suggestion there that would have been great for last summer. But, hopefully, you can remember some of the activities that children raved about from back then!

We can best support our child’s sense of purpose by noticing their sparks of interest and presenting them with a range of possibilities that align with those intrinsic interests. It’s tempting to think we know what is best for our children, but imposing these ideas on them rarely builds the purpose we were hoping for. Here are some direct tips to help you out:

Unfortunately, the infographic that is alluded to in the post was not accessible by me. But, there is a link to a Facebook page where you’ll find all kinds of great ideas.

And, for students, information about a $500 Scholarship!

Tweets of Engagement?

In Sheila Stewart’s latest post, she takes on recent changes to the way that Twitter has changed what you see when you log in after having been away for a while.

At the risk of disagreeing with Sheila, I kind of like the approach – at least when I find value in the content that Twitter shares for me.

Part of what appeals to me about social media has always been the ability to break out of whatever bubble I have surrounded myself with. It challenges my assumptions and takes me off in different directions.

On the other hand, there’s the flip side of this. There will be people that I don’t know that end up reading my stuff out of the blue for them. I wonder what they think about it – and by extension, me.

Sheila explores the concept that Twitter’s actions move your content from semi-private to more public. Therein is a reminder that we’ve known for a long time “don’t do stupid things”.

If nothing else, it’s a wakeup call to think about how you use social media and for what. Did you agree to be this open when you signed up or would you consider making all your messages private or locked only for followers like Sheila is thinking?

I know that I addressed the efforts of these two ladies on Monday’s post but I’d like to bring it forward again this Friday in case you missed it. I think it’s a great call to action for all educators during these challenging times. Rather than just sharing the efforts of some company who is providing some activities for home use, consider publishing your own list of activities and resources that are Canadian content and based on expectations from the Ontario Curriculum.

Please note that all activities don’t involved learning how to use Zoom, Skype, Meet or some other online service from scratch. There are amazing things that can be done otherwise.

Deb Weston – Stay Home Activities for Kids

Upon hearing that my students could be at home for up to 3 weeks due to an “extended March Break”, I started putting a list together of “kid” things to do. Once my students discovered I was writing this list, they gave me many more activities to keep kids busy at home.

Aviva Dunsiger – Kindergarten From Home: Here Are My Suggestions. What Are Yours?

Never would I have thought that I would need to write a post like this one, and yet, sometimes the unexpected happens. Every Friday, I start my day by reading Doug Peterson‘s This Week In Ontario Edublogs post. Just like with all of Doug’s blog posts, I know that he writes and schedules this Friday post the day before (often earlier in the day, I think). When he chose to include John Allan’s post, he wouldn’t have known that by Thursday evening we would all find out that Ontario schools would be closed for an additional two weeks following the March Break.

Please click through and enjoy all of these terrific posts.

Then, follow the authors on Twitter.

  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @JCasaTodd
  • Peter Beens – @pbeens
  • Ramona Meharg – @RamonaMeharg
  • The Umbrella Project – @umbrellapjct
  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking
  • Deb Weston – @DrDWestonPhD
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca

This post appeared on:

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

A world without edtech

It’s been an interesting week of reading reflections that have fallen from the ISTE Conference.

There seemed to be two big areas of concern:

  • the Smart Badge tracking
  • the Exhibit Hall

I’ve already shared thoughts about the tracking but I found interesting to see the comments about the Exhibit Hall.  Nobody was neutral about it…

  • some were over the top to see all the new things
  • some were expressing concerns about the presence of commercial entities – typically with the bend towards corporate influence in schools

It’s the second expression that has me thinking.

  • for many classroom teachers, this may be their first and only time to be able to interact and actually see what is “available” in education beyond what they’re given to work with by their districts
  • for many district coordinators, it’s a chance to see what’s new and to talk to an actual human being about challenges they’re having with what they currently have or to pick up additional resources
  • for administrators with budgets, it’s an opportunity to work alongside with the teachers and coordinators experiencing new products
  • for the critics, it’s easy to take pot shots at the process – often these people are vendors themselves who elected to not participate or they’re self-proclaimed academics that know what works in every corner of ever school

I’ll admit that the technology fan people do go overboard at time gathering every give away and participating in “in-booth” presentations.  But, going back, it’s often the only chance that they have to participate in this.

So, and especially for the critics, what would a technology conference look like without edtech?

  • immediately, the cost of registration just shot through the roof.  Exhibitors pay a hefty price to have a position on the floor and an even heftier price for the preferred locations
  • forget about electronic presentations – those laptops have logos on them and presenters use identifiable software packages for their work
  • we can’t have playgrounds because the products played with were obviously made by some company
  • the concept of joining or meeting your PLN goes away because the tools that brought you together in the first place wouldn’t be there
  • we could save a lot of money by not providing wifi
  • actually, forget about the conference – technology or otherwise – pieces of technology have become so ingrained into everything we do, would anyone even come?

Obviously, I’m chomping down on my tongue as I write these.  Heck, you should see the things that I edited out.

I think the thing that is most disconcerting is the assumption that those in attendance will all of a sudden throw away every bit of good teaching pedagogy because there is something bright and shiny on display.  That’s an insult to our profession.

The onus needs to be put onto the organizers and designers to provide a learner experience for educators that focuses on good pedagogy and practice.  Then, let technology nicely slide into place, where appropriate, as the catalyst that puts it over the top.

Tracking PD

or should that be PD Tracking?

For years, the ISTE Conference or, before that, the NECC Conference was the place to see and to be seen in education.  I’ve been to many and have presented at many as well.

There was a new wrinkle this year – being tracked.

Now, in the beginning of Social Media, we were all worried and concerned that by tweeting from a conference, we were advertising to the whole world that we weren’t at home – help yourself.  I don’t actually recall any incidents.

I find it very interesting that there would have been sessions about student privacy and safety in an event that unveiled a new and controversial concept this year – the Smart Badge.  Details, from the ISTE perspective can be found here.  You’ll notice that there is a rationale for the Badge – to provide a better conference experience and to provide you with a “Journey” summary after the event.

I think it’s interesting that we blissfully go around with our Smartphones relying in the fact that our location data is gathered anonymously and we see purposeful use for it when looking at traffic maps to see where congestion and slow downs are located.

In this particular case, a Smart Badge is part of your registration which means that a specific identifier would be attached to your name.  When I first got a sense of this from folks attending talking about it on Twitter, red flags went up immediately.

Now, of course, the FAQs above indicate that you can have the opportunity to “opt out” and get a non-tracking badge.  It sounded good although Gary Stager indicated that he wasn’t given that option.

And yet, David Thornburg indicated that he was successful.  Interesting anecdote included about European attendees.

Both gentlemen obviously had their antenna up about things.  There was a good rationale – by monitoring traffic patterns, the organizers could help with traffic blocks.  Do you remember the old days when there were people with coloured shirts and walkie-talkies?

This certainly didn’t pass quietly.  Just take a look at this Twitter conversation.

Is it time to blissfully accept that this is the future?  Here are a couple of hacking articles that will get you thinking.

Beyond the promise of a better traffic experience at the conference and the ISTE 2018 Journey, other possibilities for this data come to mind.

  • track how many people walk out of a session
  • find out which exhibitors had the most visitors
  • track which restaurants were frequented the most
  • see who met up with whom
  • count the numbers of people who left the conference centre
  • a report summary of activity to be sent to your employer

This technology is young.  We read about hacks on data centres on a regular basis.  What do we know about the data procedures of the company that was sourced to provide the service?

I suppose that this sort of thing was inevitable in our “always on” world.  I think the same thing could be accomplished with a conference application although the Smart Badge has the advantage that you can ensure that everyone has one.  Well, except for David Thornburg and those attending from Europe.

What are your thoughts about the concept of a Smart Badge and being tracked while at a PD Conference?

Tracking Twitter messages

This is an interesting tool.

It’s called OneMillionTweetMap and it pretty much does what you would expect it to — it plots Twitter messages on a world map according to your rules.  Just a blank snap world-wide looks like this.


If there is any doubt that people are using Twitter, this should dispel that notion.  Since it’s a digital map, you can zero in on any particular location and check things out around that neighbourhood.

It gets very interesting when you start to play around with the tools and look for results with a purpose.

toolsAs people in education know, the big ISTE conference is on this week.  It’s an opportunity for educators to gather and learn.  For some, it’s a chance to dust off that Twitter account and share pictures of meals others or to send the message “I’m at ISTE and you’re not”.  Regardless, there’s evidence when you do a search for the hashtag #iste18


I let it run and gather 5000 Twitter messages for the purpose of this post and these were the results.  That it’s got global interest shouldn’t come as a surprise.  It’s also early morning as I write this; I may run it again later in the day to see what’s happening.  In addition to the one hashtag, there’s also a #notatiste18 tag.

Its results?


The little red dots appear to be the application checking by location.

You’ll also notice, I hope, that the tool allows you to have a hashtag battle.  You can plot both of these on the same map.

Beyond ISTE?

Do you want to prove to yourself that soccer is a world wide event, try plotting #WorldCup18!

Any time there’s an event with a hashtag, you could use this tool to share the results.  I’m thinking, for example, of something that you’re district is promoting.  It would be nice way to summarize the results for parents, trustees, administration, …

Play with it.  I’m sure that many ideas will come to mind.

Upping your game

In yesterday’s post, I left you with a question…

Screenshot 2017-09-19 at 16.50.06

A good question would be – how can I up my game?

Well, here’s one online learning way.

Courtesy of Google, check out the Digital Citizenship and Safety Course.

Screenshot 2017-09-19 at 16.48.08

Divided into the six sections you see above, it’s a real start or refresher for any educator using the internet with their students.  The format of this MOOC gives you a concise over view of each of the lessons, why you would want to teach the concepts, and then the lesson itself.

Each lesson includes a YouTube video explaining the concepts and a transcript of the video, in a Google document, so that you can save it to your Google Drive account for later use.

To test your understanding, each of the units concludes with a quiz so that you can self test yourself on the concepts of the unit.  Some of the answers can be a bit tricky but worth working through.  Each of the units come with an estimated time for learning.

Not surprisingly, the teacher course dovetails nicely on Google’s Be Internet Awesome student resource.  You’ll recall that I blogged about it here back in June.

Then comes the good teacher stuff.  If you’re successful in your quest to work through the six units and pass the quizzes, you’re entitled to a badge (everyone likes badges, right?) and a series of lesson plans ready for use in the classroom.  If you use the ISTE standards, the lessons are correlated to them.