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.


BOOKMARKS ON TWITTER

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

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Looking for someone I used to know


I still can’t find him or her.

But I’m looking.

I’m not really looking for anyone specific.  Just anyone I used to know.

Anyone who has ever walked through a shopping mall knows that there are so many different faces.  I recall once that Vicky Loras told me she saw my Doppelgänger in Switzerland.  I could swear that I saw Lisa Noble’s double in the Devonshire Mall in Windsor one day.

So, here’s my logic – such that it is.

I was inspired on this crusade using the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.  Created by Phillip Wang, it generates lifelike human faces from an algorithm.  You can read all about it here and by following a few links followed by a few more links to get lots of details.  Plus some interesting code to read, if you’re so inclined.

Abstract: We propose an alternative generator architecture for generative adversarial networks, borrowing from style transfer literature. The new architecture leads to an automatically learned, unsupervised separation of high-level attributes (e.g., pose and identity when trained on human faces) and stochastic variation in the generated images (e.g., freckles, hair), and it enables intuitive, scale-specific control of the synthesis. The new generator improves the state-of-the-art in terms of traditional distribution quality metrics, leads to demonstrably better interpolation properties, and also better disentangles the latent factors of variation. To quantify interpolation quality and disentanglement, we propose two new, automated methods that are applicable to any generator architecture. Finally, we introduce a new, highly varied and high-quality dataset of human faces.

Selection_015

She doesn’t exist

So, all weekend, when I felt the urge, I kept whacking CTRL-R to get a new face.  I’m here to report that I haven’t found someone I used to know yet.

I can see some interesting uses for this in the classroom.   For those higher end computer science students, the reading is interesting just to see what is possible.

In terms of basic media literacy though, it presents a concrete example as to how things can be created from nothing more than a few electronic bits (and some pretty awesome programming).  It also poses an interesting inquiry to generate a face and then very closely analyse it.  Are there clues that would let you know that it’s not a real photo?

Quickly find a Wikipedia article


I was intrigued by this Google Chrome extension.  (It also installs in Opera).

As in the “About” function, it only does one thing…

My immediate thought about a use for it is to check essay content if you suspect that a bunch of text has simply been copied and pasted from the Wikipedia.  Of course, content can certainly be legitimately used within writing provided that it’s properly referenced.

Further than that though, Qikipedia is Open Source software and so clicking on the “View Source” like directs you to the source for the project.  It’s good reading for the programmer in you.

You can find the extension on the Chrome Webstore here – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/qikipedia

But Is It Art?


I know what Cubism is.

I don’t “get it” but that’s OK.  There’s a great deal of artistic expression that goes over my head.  I’m not hating here so Picasso fans relax.

Let’s step it up digitally by reading this.

Called Kubist, you can turn your traditional images/pictures into your own Cubism originals.

It’s all done through this web application.

Upload your own image and watch the magic happen.

So, what’s the fun of dog ownership if you can’t have a little fun.  Jaimie was up for the task.

Let’s Kube him!

At 50 points, he’s pretty abstract!

But at 1000 points, he’s stylin’.

For model #2, I turned to Jaimie’s cousin.  Instead of white, he’s a beautiful mixture of boxer brown and black.  Check out the difference between 1000 points and 100 points here.

As you can see from the adjustments on the right hand side, you have some control over how things will appear.  They’re a great deal of fun to adjust and see the results immediately.

Want to talk mathematics?  Flip between triangle style to cell style and back again.  Grab a vertex and resize elements.  Based on the number of points in the image, can you create a formula that will determine the number of distinct objects?  The original article is a pretty fascinating technical read in itself.  The source code for the project is available on github if students are so inclined.

After abusing the family pet, where else could you do this?  How about a cubism representation for your school logo?  Or a further appreciation for the original artists who created the original cubism art?

Set aside a bit of time to play with this.  If you have any ideas, please be sure to share them.

Should Have Done This Years Ago


Years ago, maybe five?, I had a Lenovo laptop with a whopping 2 MB of memory.  At the time, I wanted to try out Ubuntu in a dual boot situation.  I already had purchased the Dell Netbook that came with Ubuntu and I really liked it.  So, off I went to the Ubuntu website and downloaded Ubuntu and made the machine dual boot.  One side was Windows XP and the other side was Ubuntu.

Of course, I had to download the 32 bit version of Ubuntu with the limited memory that I had in place.  The computer was OK on the Windows side but just screamed on the Ubuntu side.  It was just so fast; it was hard to believe that it was the same computer.

When that laptop died, I indulged myself with this computer.  It has an i7 processor and 4GB of RAM.  Windows 7 was OK but like most Windows installations slowed over time no matter how many times I tweaked it.  I’m sure that it’s self-inflicted.  So, I decided to make the computer dual boot to Ubuntu.  Now, when you have the slow internet that I do, you really have to pick and choose your downloads wisely.  I could go somewhere and download on their high speed – but I still had the Ubuntu DVD from my previous installation.  I was just going to test for proof of concept anyway – so I installed it and started to use it.  Darned if it didn’t make this computer fly.

I kept using it, and when updates came along, I would just apply the updates.  I was totally happy.  The last update was 14.04LTS and I was very, very happy with it.

Until I tried to install the Opera Browser.

Oh yeah.  That other decision has come back to byte me.

Opera only comes in a 64 bit version so I couldn’t install it.  I went online seeking advice and there was no natural path from the 32 bit version to the 64 bit version.  It calls for brute force installation from scratch.  Just backup your Home Directory after revealing hidden files so that you can resume Ubuntu life.

I looked at my face mirrored in the monitor.  You dummy.

Right out of the box, Windows 7 was running 64 bit.  That was only half a hard disk away.

The timing was right.  Ubuntu, which updates itself every six months, has just released version 14.10.  Why not?

So, I started the download and went to take the dog for a long walk.  There’s no sense in sitting at the keyboard watching the download process inch along.

Sure enough, when we returned, there was a disk image sitting on my desktop.  I just need to burn it to DVD, reboot from the DVD and then install.  Wait!  Do I have any DVDs?  It’s been so long since I’d burned one.  Fortunately, having a son in the television editing business means that there’s never a shortage of video stuff.  I walked down the hall and got a blank.  Of course, I needed to dig into the ol’ brain cells to remember how to burn a DVD…done!

I rebooted and was so impressed with the installation screen.

I could:

  • Run Ubuntu from the DVD (nah, I’m here for the duration);
  • Erase the entire hard drive and install Ubuntu 14.10 (goodbye Windows);
  • Erase the petition and install Ubuntu 14.10 (yes, but that would remove everything and I’m not that radical);
  • Do something else; (I was totally intrigued by this but passed…)
  • or, the preferred solution – you have Windows 7 and Ubuntu 14.04LTS installed – upgrade Ubuntu to 14.10.  Yes!

Half an hour later, I’m done.  During the process, I noticed that Ubuntu had archived certain things and then restored them.  On first boot, I hit Firefox to see that my theme (Puny Weakling) and all of my extensions save.  It was just a matter of copying my Home Directory and I was back, good to go.

I had bookmarked a couple of upgrade advice resources:

Some I had planned on doing anyway, some were new and some were ignored.  After all, Ubuntu is all about open ideas and concepts – even in its installation.

I installed Ubuntu Tweak and messed about.  I think we all have an idea of what our computer should look and act like.

And, I’m back in business.  No stopping me from trying out Opera on Ubuntu now!

If this works out well, maybe I’ll buy more RAM.

I’m never completely computer happy.