Computers, Firefox, learning, Read/Write Web, software

The Mozilla Manifesto

The first thing I do when I install a new web browser is set up the web apps that I use over and over again.  That includes Hootsuite, Gmail, Google +, Facebook, and the Scribefire blog editor.

For some reason, on this computer I also left the Mozilla start page.  It’s not a page that I pay a great deal of attention to; it’s just so handy for the shortcuts to configure things.

Recently, I had the browser loaded and was distracted from what I was going to do and noticed a section under the search box.

Am I bad for not paying attention before?  I’m sure that it’s been there since the recent campaign on Web Neutrality.

It was the #7 principle from Mozilla.  Very interesting; I like so much of what Mozilla does in terms of software development, what they’ve done for education, and I really like the recently updated Web Literacy Map.

So, having completely forgotten what I was about to do, I decided to check out their complete list of principles.  After all, this is #7, there’s got to be at least 6 others.

It turns out that there are 10 of them and you can visit them here.  The entire manifesto is fleshed out there.

Isn’t this what you want your web to be?

application, Computers, Firefox, learning, Read/Write Web

Hello, there…

In the beginning, there was Skype.  It was great for face to face and audio conversations with others anywhere they could be connected.  Problems evolved over time; it wasn’t available on this platform or incompatible with that platform and every time I would use it, there was the inevitable update.

Then, there were the commercial products.  When I was on the OSAPAC Committee, we evaluated a few (having a whack of fun doing so) and eventually licensing Adobe Connect for the province.  This was really upping the ante since you had so many features that you’d find in formal meetings.  The problem with it was that it did require that you have access to someone who had a licensed version of the software if you wanted a conversation or meeting.  I kind of became the laughing stock of our committee when we moved to online meetings.  At the time, it required a great deal of bandwidth in order to work and send video.  With my incredibly slow internet here, the committee was robbed of my image…

For two years of planning the Bring IT, Together Conference with my co-chair Cyndie, we seemed to live on Google Hangouts.  There was so much planning and so many details that we seemed to be meeting at least once a day to go over details.  Hangouts were a great way of handling things.  There came a time with a browser update (I can’t remember which browser now) that the button needed to give permissions to use the camera and microphone were hidden under another menu bar in the browser.  It was bizarre and no matter where I clicked (or how hard I clicked – Doug has issues…), I couldn’t give the appropriate permission and so was effectively locked out of using Hangouts on that browser.  Fortunately, Google Chrome still worked and so I was good.  Recently, Google has broken Hangouts into its own separate application.  It feels a little kludgey at this point but still works nicely.

Then, with an update to Mozilla Firefox comes conversations right in the browser again!

It’s called Hello and it just works so smoothly as shown in this tutorial on the Mozilla website.

It’s a button that sits up there with your other extensions.  Click it to get started.

Then you need get a unique link to the person you’ll communicate with.  You can see that there are a couple of options for doing this in blue.

Send the invite and wait for them to join the conversation.

So, here in the labs, I’m talking to myself again.  I’m in the host window, lower right, and I’m talking to the wall behind me.

The whole process was very slick and easy.  No software to install and, according to Mozilla, it’s not restricted to Firefox – just any browser that supports WebRTC.

The list needs to be updated – it seems to work well with Vivaldi as well.

But not Internet Explorer…

IESo, why would you be interested in this over the other offerings?  The really nice part is that you don’t need to have a login on a particular service to access the conversation.  Just a working browser and an invitation to a conversation.

Join me for a video conversation using Firefox Hello:
You don’t have to download or install anything. Just copy and paste this URL into your browser:
https: //
If you want, you can also learn more about Firefox Hello at
Talk to you soon!

You’ll note that, in the screen capture above, Mozilla has it marked as Beta.  There are some features that others in this class that aren’t there.  Document sharing, back channelling, private conversations come to mind.

For what’s there now, it’s the easiest way to start a conversation without the hoops that other tools have.  This is one to watch.

And, I got some homework for myself.  I spent some time reading and trying to get my head around just what WebRTC is and its potential.  There’s lots on the horizon.

Blogging, Read/Write Web

Once a Blogger…

…always a Blogger?

I got started thinking about this after a query from Alfred Thompson.

Why do people list themselves as a blogger if the blog hasn’t been updated in several years?

It’s an interesting question.  For a few years now, we share with each other those “Top 10 Blogs You Should Follow” lists.  We get a kick from this because some of the regular recommendations haven’t been updated in a long time.  You know that the author was told to write that post and they did a very cursory bit of research – maybe even repurposing someone else’s list…

When people ask, I do refer them to Alfred’s Blog – it’s one of the better K-12 blogs with a bent towards Computer Science.  Of particular interest is his collection of “Interesting Links” that he posts on Monday mornings where he has curated some of the best Computer Science related stories from the past week.  While I always look forward to new posts on his blog, this one weekly post can keep me busy for a while!

So, back to people that list themselves as a blogger…

It seems like a good addition to a social media profile.  After all, everyone wants to follow a blogger.  They should be good for sharing thoughts and ideas.  It’s probably a truthful statement when they create the profile.  They do have a blog.  But, not all blogs survive the test of time.  This is an old story but “Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest” is a reminder that this is not a new phenomenon.  The statistics for success aren’t all that good – “Why Do 95% Of Bloggers Give Up?

It’s a good title to have on your resume, I guess.  “I gots a blog”. 

Perhaps the statement should be “I have a blog and it was last updated on XXXX/XX.XX.

Is there a shelf life to good ideas?  I know there was a time when I could call myself a writer since I had written for computer magazines or a programmer with the software that I used to flog.  (Does anyone remember Bay Street Bulls?)  To be honest, I wouldn’t feel right using those terms now.

The world is changing so quickly.  To tack on to Alfred’s logic should be the qualifier – “It’s not what you can do; it’s what you’ve done lately”.  That’s what differs Alfred as a regular blogger versus the others.

I struggled with the concept of maintaining the Ontario Edublogger list.  There’s some incredible writing there and blogs are updated all the time.  Unfortunately, there are a few that haven’t been updated.  What do you do?  It could be a result of a sickness or change in jobs or maybe they even have moved their blog to a different location and forgot to notify me.  <grin>  I’ve adopted the Google blogger logic.  There was good content there at one time and, hopefully, it will get revived.  You’d like to think that the original pride of ownership might inspire one to revive their thinking.  There are just so many good reasons for educators to be blogging.

And, if you want, I’ll even make you this shiny badge for your blog.

Having researched and rambled on this topic for a while, Alfred, I don’t have an answer for you.  I guess because digital content is persistent, it differs from traditional publishing.  Let’s just hope that the good stuff remains and inspires into the future.

Computers, Read/Write Web, software

Google Feud

I’ve been reading quite a bit about Google Feud so decided to check it out myself.

It’s a reminder that there are so many smarter and more innovative people than me.  Period.

I’ve been a fan of the television show Family Feud for years.  Not to date my television viewing habits but I go back to the Richard Dawson years.  I mean, who hasn’t sat watching the show on television shouting answers in an attempt to score better than your spouse who was also riveted to the show.  And, there’s this Google thing that I’ve heard about.

Putting the two of them together yields a pretty amazing result, but the website is clear that it has no association with either.

The game is one player with a presentation similar to the television show.

The top 10 answers are pulled from the results that Google generates using autocomplete.  Your job is simply? to guess it.

Of course, you multi-tab users will know how to game the system.  But, that would take the fun out of it.

I can see this becoming a staple in waiting rooms or anywhere a good timewaster is needed.  All that’s missing is the humour and genius of Steve Harvey.

And, you can’t help but be impressed with the innovation of melding these two concepts together.  Consider it bookmarked here.

Blogging, Computers, Education, learning, Ontario Edublogs, Read/Write Web, Teaching

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday the 13th and last Friday before the Spring Break.  It’s been another week of incredible reading from some of the Ontario Educators’ blogging that I enjoyed.  I hope that you’ll find these motivating.

Keep Focused

My morning inspiration is always a look at Paul Cornies’ blog.  I don’t know how he does it but he’s always able to find something relevant to kick-start the brain.  Have you considered starting your class thinking about some of the wisdom he shares?

Paul’s morning blog is like the perfect Christmas present.  You don’t know what to expect but you can’t wait until morning to upwrap it.

TVO on the Road: Thunder Bay

TVOntario took its The Agenda show on a road trip and ended up in Thunder Bay.  Colleen Rose drove in to town for the taping and shared her thoughts about her experience there and the projects that were the topic of the show.  (With, of course, a slant towards The Arts)  She had already had connections with the show and had previously blogged about it when her students had the opportunity to interview Roy MacGregor.

As a result of the show, she’s inspired to be involved with the projects.

Of course, she’ll be blogging about it so that we can follow along.

Good News ~ More and more eBooks are “arriving” into the Education Library

I’ve always been impressed with the social presence that the Education Library at Western.  I did have a wonderful opportunity to interview the brains behind the social, Denise Horoky a while back and follow the Twitter account and the blog from the library.  There’s always something new happening in that library as you’ll notice from this post.  It’s not just about books; a recent post is asking for input about the strategic process for libraries at the university.


If you’re a teacher-librarian and looking for a model for how you might continue to promote your library or learning commons, you can’t go wrong by following the posts here and using them as a model for your own.

And, if you believe in social media convergence, this was just posted to my Twitter timeline as I’m writing this post.

Reflections on a Successful EDTech Day for Teachers

Jennifer Todd-Casa is one of my frequent contacts on social media and she posted about an EdTech Day held last weekend for educators from the York Region Catholic District School Board.


As I read her post, I thought to myself – wow, they have everything.  Ignite sessions, breakout sessions, a Director of Education who showed up to support them on the weekend and even a CoffeeEDU modelled after the Learning Space from the Bring IT, Together Conference.  I know how many details go into that conference so couldn’t help but be impressed with the amount of work that went into this.  Shouldn’t all school districts be doing something like this?  There’s so much to learn and so little time.  Kudos to the professionals that showed up on the weekend for some professional learning.  Jennifer has volunteered her experience if you’re interested.

A Google Site was created to shared the resources from the day.

Oral Presentation Descriptive Feedback
Selection_132If there ever was a condemnation for assessment in the past, Jamie Weir has it nailed in this opening paragraph in her blog post.  It reminds me of the use of a couple of terms that I’ve heard recently – feedback and feedforward – the difference between commenting on what’s done versus commenting on the process to improve.

With this challenge, Jamie takes the rest of the post to share how she plans to address this and change the student mindset.

I think it’s a worthy challenge for teachers and students everywhere.

Classroom Makeover – Part 1

I don’t know about your place but, around here, when I lose control of the television remote, the channel quickly changes to one of those shows where homes, rooms, and/or people get madeover.  So, I’m somewhat acquainted with the process.

Maybe a new series could be created to show classroom makeovers!  If so, Heather Theijsmeijer’s classroom would be up for an episode.

Here’s the original picture of the room…

You’ll have to read the rest of Heather’s post to see what a little IKEA can do in classroom transformation.

Heather does a quick pro/con about the changes and, since this is a Part 1 post, there’s bound to be more to come.

p.s. I had those chairs, only mine were orange and black.

I Chose a Few Small Over One Large

There’s some really good advice in Eva Thompson’s post although if you follow here on Twitter, the recent pictures tell a different idea of small than what I would have!


I like the logic in what she says.  I know that some computer science classrooms assign huge massive programs/assignments to test the concepts in class.  I understand part of the logic because real life applications are seldom small.  On the other hand, not every computer science student is going to write the next workable spreadsheet application.  The bigger the assignment, the more involved it becomes, and the more opportunities for frustration with no exit point.  My preference was always a collection of problems to solve that are smaller in duration.  I always felt that many opportunities gave more chances for success and satisfaction.  And, if an assignment set had five or six programs, students could put one on the back burner and work on another.  I think we all know that the mind continues to work in the background and revisiting the frustrating problem a bit later all of a sudden can result in success.

An Interview With @MrsKonecny – My Grade 1 Students Have Become Coding Experts

Brian Aspinall posts the results of an interview with a teacher of Grade 1 students experiencing coding in the classroom.  It was great to see examples of LightBot.  The curriculum connection was in mathematics…


…and certainly LightBot shines (groan) in the application.

There was also an off-computer portion which was terrific to see.  One misconception about computer science is that it’s just a bunch of nerdy activities on computer.  Computer Science teachers know that it’s much more than that.  Off computer simulations, tracing, logic and design yield much better results than sitting at a computer wondering what to do first.

Please take the time to check out these posts and all the great efforts from Ontario Educators.  There’s always some good sharing happening.

Blogging, Computers, Education, learning, Ontario Edublogs, Read/Write Web

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s another Friday and an opportunity for me to celebrate some of the wonderful pieces shared by Ontario Educators recently.

3 Ways I’ve Used Google Apps to Help my School Run a Bit Smoother

As I mentioned in my post last week, the Google Apps community is great for sharing the good things that they’re doing with Google products.  In this example, Jason To talks about using the technology to streamline things at his school.


Jason calls the examples “modest” but I would think that anytime you put together something that makes even the most routine tasks easier is worth it.  I’m sure that his list will continue to grow.


Reading and Writing Google Style

Speaking of Google…I feel awkward using the Google voice search for things.  The only time I feel comfortable is when I’m alone.  When I’m with others, people pause to look and wonder what I’m doing talking into a box.  So much for privacy.  Read Aviva Dunsiger’s post to see how students in her class are making out with this and see some of their observations.

The world panicked when the talk was about about dropping cursive.  What’s next?  Keyboarding?

I realized that most of the iPads and our two ChromeBooks have a microphone option. I showed the students how to use this option. My one minute lesson was all it took!

Physical phenomena for quadratic relations

Brandon Grasley is looking for real, physical examples of quadratic functions…

One of his examples appears below…

I’m intrigued by one of the other examples that he’s given in this post and he’s looking for ideas.

Hey, how about some experimentation with Hot Wheels?  The only downside I can envision is hate notes from the Driver’s Education instructor.

Reporting from the heart!

I don’t think there are too many teachers that enjoy report card time.  It’s a very work intensive time and I know that so many just labour over them like they’re creating a work of art.  Afterwards though, it’s relaxation time and then the cynical question “Do they even read these?”  There are even suggestion in some camps to ban them completely and just do interviews with parents.  But this is education.  We love paper.

There’s this mentality that they’re just read and discarded – a moment in time, if you will.

Sue Bruyns’ post about report cards takes a different look at them.

I found it interesting as to how they remain permanent artifacts in her parents’ place.

It’s just too bad that they take so long to create.

iGeneration – 21st Century Education

Tom D’Amico is a Superintendent with OCSB who really gets it.  This is link is a wonderful example of another way to share your learning other than the traditional blog.  If you follow Tom on Twitter (@TDOttawa), you’ll find references to great resources, not to just one or two focussed things every now and again.  Tom appears to have an open mind and is collecting resources in three ScoopIt! areas.

This morning was a perfect example of why you need to get connected.  This time, it potentially saved money.

Tom had shared a link to News-O-Matic which I then reshared so that it would get bookmarked and perhaps be a resource for others.  I got a reply about a $20 price.  To that, the News-O-Matic Twitter account had a response.

It’s a great lead.  Thanks, Tom.

An interview with Doug Peterson

Last weekend, I had conducted one of my online interviews with Sylvia Duckworth.    She jumped in and did a nice response to my questions and showed the power of our Ontario network by giving credit to others.  As soon as she was done though, she asked to interview me.  What could I say?  Paybacks are a ….

So, I did my best to answer her questions.  It was actually fun to be on the receiving end for once.  I know that, when you’re asking the questions, you feel like a bit of a stalker at times trying to do your research and pose questions that you’ve always wanted to ask and to appeal to the readership.

In my interview, I was selfish and really wanted the scoop about how to do Sketchnotes.  Sylvia claims that it doesn’t exist so I guess Lisa Noble and I will have to wait until we corner Sylvia and get her to teach us!

In the meantime, enjoy this Sketchnote that Sylvia created from some of the other interviews that I had conducted.


My compliments to those who continue to share their learning so openly online.  Please visit the blog posts above and check out the entire Ontario Edublog collection here.