Whatever happened to …


(Educational Network of Ontario/Réseau éducatif de l’Ontario)

I had two forays into the internet originally.  I had a Compuserve account which came with an email address.  The problem with this was that it was some numbered account.  I can’t even remember it now.  But imagine giving out your email address like this:

Hi, I’m Doug.  You can contact me at 12345678@compuserve.com.

Well, actually if it was that simple, perhaps.

Around the same time, Ontario educators had the opportunity to become a member of ENOREO.  It was free and gave unfettered access to the internet.  The only fetter was that you had to be able to dial into the service to get connected.  If memory serves me correctly, our access locally was through the Windsor Board of Education’s IT Department which was allocated eight dial-in lines to get connected.

It was exciting to dial in and get “on-line”.  I had run a BBS for a number of years for fun, enjoyment, and the opportunity for students to upload assignments and converse with me and other students after hours so the concept wasn’t entirely new.  The connections through ENOREO were different through.

Through a text-based interface, you could connect with other Ontario Educators and discuss the educational issues of the day, 24 hours a day.  It really seemed like magic.  It also enabled classrooms to get connected with other classrooms world-wide for projects.  One that comes to mind was the Flat Stanley Project.  We all admire project ideas that have longevity; it’s awesome that Flat Stanley exits today.  You can get involved at the link above.

I do think that the whole concept of getting connected with other educators greatly influenced my subsequent use of Social Media for education.

ENOREO died for a couple of reasons, it seems to me.  First, eight phone lines for dialing in was a real challenge and “give up-able” after a while.  Getting your email seemed so important so I did keep trying…and trying…and trying…and trying.  The other thing was that access to the internet became increasingly more important and, with the advent of modern web browsers, so much more exciting than text.  So much for getting online just for the content!

ENOREO did make an impact on how teachers in Ontario connected.  It’s interesting to see how many resources still link to the original domain!  Who doesn’t enjoy a broken link?

Memories of this came back this week as I reflected earlier about my username for most social media things.  “dougpete” was assigned to me via ENOREO who created your account and let you know username and password. There was no room for creativity.  The original domain enoreo.on.ca has long gone but is not forgotten here.

For a Sunday, how about your thoughts?

  • were you ever a member of ENOREO?
  • if you were, what did you use it for?
  • if you were not, what was your first connection to the internet?
  • can you remember your original username?
  • have you ever belonged to a service that uses a traditional modem and a phone line to connect to a service?  If so, what was the highest baud rate you remember?
  • how did you pronounce it?  I can recall two different ways.
    • eh NOR EEE OH

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts?

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

Social media identity

It happened again recently.

On social media, someone wanted to make reference to me by name.  But, they didn’t get it right.  Instead, they used my social media identity instead.

Now, this doesn’t happen to people who use their full name as their identity online.  When I got into all this stuff, my username was actually given to me.  Can you remember ENOREO?  Educational Network of Ontario.

To get an ENOREO account, you had to register and they provided a username and login.  Typically, the username that they gave you was created by taking the first four letters of your first name and contatenate these with the first four letters of your last name.  Hence, I became dougpete.  It was my login and my email name and my identity.

Since then, it’s mostly stuck.  It’s kind of handy since there is only one dougpete when you do an internet search so I can always easily find myself.

But, it’s sometimes difficult for others to get it right.  I’ve been known as:

  • Mr. Pete
  • Doug Pete
  • dpete
  • Dough (that one really hurt)
  • Mr. Dougpete

It’s kind of interesting to see it happen when it does.  Even more interesting is that I can sometimes find it since it doesn’t easily turn up in a search.

My only regret was not realizing that I might want to have a Gmail account with that naming convention.  Someone else has it.



Hindsight is always 100%.

But social media identity can’t be ignored.  I still remember being in a room at an ECOO Conference where Rodd Lucier introduced me to the keynote speaker “courosa”.  I remember noting that I was introduced to the social media presence and not the actual person.

The only silver lining is that email seems to be dying (at least in my little world).  Social media has messaging features that make a separate email account less important.  Now, I mostly use it for digital subscriptions and collecting spam.

But it’s an interesting thing to ponder.  I think we do know which social media resources will have legs and be with us in the long run.  Should the advice be to get in and reserve your preferred name early and that way you have it when you really need/want it?

I’d be interested in your thoughts and experiences.


As a kid, I always liked the fact that my birthday was during the summer.  That way, I didn’t have to be the centre of a party in class and all that goes with it.  I’m not the type of person that enjoys that sort of thing.

Now, it’s kind of cool that social media knows my birthday and takes the opportunity to say “Happy Birthday”, and I appreciate that.

My quote of the year comes from my friend Tammy who had a T-Shirt with this on it.


If you don’t get it, have a gamer explain it to you.

Anyway, the concepts of birthdays gets really interesting when you turn to birthdays and mathematics.  There’s a very famous problem; the “Birthday Problem“.  It’s pretty heady stuff involving probability and so generally doesn’t appear in mathematics until a good background has been established.

But, it’s one of those things that let you discuss mathematics without necessarily writing a proof for the problem.  It boils down to the probability or chance that two or more people in a group will have the same birthday.

It’s also the stuff that Computer Science teachers love to give out as a problem.  You can work up to it.  For example, give a program your birthday and have it determine what day of the week you were born on (don’t forget leap years).  If you’re not up to writing the code, check this out.  Even if students aren’t ready to write the code, it’s the sort of activity that inspires thinking about how a computer might be programmed to solve the problem.

Back to the Birthday Problem.  It’s something that’s quite surprising in real life.  In our department of about 30, there were three of us who had the same date for a birthday (that I knew about).  It’s still surprising when you consider that there are 365 days in a year.  Surely, there’s enough elbow room there that there would be no duplicates!   It’s a reality for teachers.  In any class, there always seems to be students who share the same birthday.  Even more interesting, because of sample size, they share the same birth year!  Stepping back, you see it again if you’re trying to ride herd on a homeroom during morning announcements which always seem to include a long list of Happy Birthday wishes.  In a school with 1,200 students, it only seems reasonable that there might be three.  That never seemed to work out!

The mathematics behind the Birthday Problem is interesting.  You can read the details here.  Or even here.  I can recall having one of those off-the-cuff discussions with a student about it and he thought that he’d write a program to simulate it.  Neil, if you’re reading this, did you ever finish it?

If not, here are a couple of online efforts …

Whatever happened to …

… laserdisc players?

This suggestion comes from the “Whatever happened to …” Padlet.


And, I think I know who the anonymous donor of the idea is.  While I do know some of the curriculum leaders from North York, the use of “North York”, “Laserdisc”,  “Hypercard”, and “Lol” can only lead me to one conclusion.

This may be a technology you young ‘uns may be unfamiliar with so I grabbed this image to demonstrate.


Photo Credit: oskay Flickr via Compfight cc

No, it’s not a CD or DVD.  It’s much larger than that.  In fact, the media in this case is about the size of an LP record.

At the time, it was touted as the latest and greatest in multimedia.  I saw a demonstration at a MACUL Conference and was intrigued.  You had to have a laserdisc player (about the size of another memory long forgotten – the VCR player) to play it.  It was a technology that you needed to be careful with in the classroom because the tray, when ejected, was pretty big and clunky and you lived in the fear that it might break off.  All that you had to do is put the laserdisc into the player much like a CD close the disk and press play.  The output would be sent to an attached TV for viewing.  There were a number of manufacturers in the business; I recall Pioneer as one maker.

Why does this bring back memories?

Because, like Mr. Anonymous, I purchased some for my district as well.  We didn’t have the big budget of a North York so I was only able to land five of the devices.  They came as a package with five laserdiscs as part of a promotion that had gorgeous imagery and was a wonderful resource for science.  Now, at the time, televisions in the classroom was considered the ultimate luxury so we repurposed the Commodore 64 monitors that were declared surplus.

The truly nice thing about the technology was that it was indeed digital.  That meant crystal clear images.  The device came with a remote control about the size of a small power bar so that you could press and play or go directly to a spot on the laserdisc by typing in the digital address of the desired content.  And, quick frankly, that’s probably the biggest use that we had for them.  We bundled it all together as a kit that teachers could book for use in the classroom.  There was an initial uptake but then interest waned because there were only five laserdiscs to go with the kit!

As Mr. Constructivist Anonymous noted, there was another more exciting use for the device.  You could connect it to a computer and control it with a third party piece of software.  Students could do their own research on a topic (as long as it related to the content on the laserdisc) and attach a button to their computer document and the laserdisc player would jump to a location and play with the output going to the monitor attached.  It was a great deal of work and effort and the need to get the connections correct but there was so much learning involved wrapped up in content, media, and construction of the computer environment.

There was some interest in doing so but, again, we were limited by content.  This faded when products like Hyperstudio came along and playback and media played right in the computer.  There was no need for an external device.  Once again, time and technology had moved on.  And yet, for those of us who stayed the course, there was so much valuable learning about the melding of various media, research, and students creating something generated only by an idea in their mind with a curiosity and desire to make something unique happened.

How about you?

  • Did you ever have access to a laserdisc player?
  • If so, what sorts of activities did you and your students engage in?
  • What technologies do you use in the classroom today to playback multimedia or make available for student creation?

I’d be interested in reading your thoughts.  Please comment below.

If you have an idea for a future post designed to stir up memories for me, please add it to the Padlet.

All of the posts in this “Whatever happened to …” series can be accessed here.

Every summer at this time …

… I, and probably you, get a number of new followers.

So many of these come from people taking courses over the summer and listening to the message that you “need to be on Twitter” and become a connected educator.  It’s great advice and I’d second that thought from anyone.

And yet, I can’t help but think that the complete message hasn’t been given at times.

Why?  Because some many of these new followers have the dreaded Twitter Egg as their profile picture.  How many posts have been devoted to “Break out of your shell?”

Again, good advice.

Now, when I get a new follower, I always check them out.  I really do.

Here’s what I look for.

  • Things you’re tweeting.  I’m always on the lookout for what I call “Interesting People”.  After all, in my mind, that’s why we’re all doing this.  So, please, please, please, don’t protect your Twitter messages.

And, for your daily trivia, check out:

What is the meaning of the color of Twitter’s egg avatars?

Did he have them?

I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that you need to bookmark Peter Been’s Google A-Z collection if you’re serious about using Google.  Especially, the “deep” Google.  Everyone knows about search and maps.  But there’s way more.

Screenshot 2017-08-07 at 06.56.03

He’s always looking to update this document and keep it complete.  I know those of us who follow this document really appreciate it.  There’s so much there, along with Peter’s commentary here and there.

So, I read this article this morning:

6 Google products and services you never even knew existed

I decided to put his document to the test.

From my perspective, it’s a win-win situation.  If he already had them, it’s a testament to the completeness of his efforts.  If he didn’t have them and reads this post, he’ll add them to the already huge document and it will become more complete.

Here goes:

  • Google Arts and Culture
  • Google Express
  • Google Sky
  • GBoard
  • Google Ngram Viewer
  • Google One Today

So let me see:

  • Check
  • Check
  • Check
  • Check
  • Check
  • Check

Was there any doubt?

Bookmark Peter’s document today if you already haven’t.  You’ll be that person that knows that Google has an answer for darn near everything.

Follow Peter on Twitter – @pbeens – he announces any changes to the document there.

Hug your school

It doesn’t take very long if you go for a trip around here to see a school that’s closed down and sometimes available for sale.

The reason?  Declining enrolment, prohibitive to repair, …

Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to stand back and realize just how good we have things.  Even if there are a few bricks missing or stains on ceiling tiles.  I can still remember myself asking “how can students and teachers do this” on a day when the air conditioning failed at our school and it was so warm inside.  “It’s inhumane”.

Think things are tough?

Then, take a read of these two articles.

18 photos reveal the extreme ways kids get to school around the world18 photos reveal the extreme ways kids get to school around the world

Some kids in the Philippines step through knee-deep rocky waters to get to class, while students in Japan pass Geiger counters tracking local radiation levels.

Here’s what early-morning commutes to school look like around the world.

‘It’s not nice to be a teacher at a school like this’

She said that when it rains, teachers and learners have to mop the flooded classrooms before teaching can resume. “We have to cover gaps in the walls with blankets to prevent rain and wind from entering. The children have gotten used to it now. They even pin up their own jerseys,” she said pointing to a row of small jerseys hanging on a washing line nearby.