Best of both worlds

There are a number of us in Ontario who dabble in a couple of online worlds – blogging and podcasting.  Most people blog in their own space and voicEd radio is the premiere place in Ontario to host your podcasts.

So, it was with great interest that I read this article from Time Why Podcasts Are Taking Over The World & Changing How We Tell Stories.  And, of course, it got me thinking.

Years ago, I published a monthly technology news letter for my old school district and I created a podcast of the headline story for each month.  When that went away, I stuck just to blogging and my signature posts would be the Friday’s This Week in Ontario Edublogs.  Over a year ago, Stephen Hurley reached out to me and asked if I would do a podcast version of it.  I thought about it for quite a while because I really didn’t want to do it.  I put a lot of thought and time into the blog posts and it just seemed contrived to sit back and read my blog post into an audio file so that he could broadcast it.

Then, we came up with a different concept and that was to do a live radio show where I’d select a subset of the posts that would appear on Friday and do it live on Wednesdays. The show would be conversational in nature between the two of us.  It would also be recorded and made available for download later as a podcast from here.  This seemed interesting and unique so we gave it a shot and 70+ weeks later, there is a nice collection of shows.  Every now and again, I’ll listen to some of the early recordings and they weren’t very good on my part.  Stephen has a great voice for radio and he really carried me.  But, I like to think I got better.

I’m starting to enjoy working in both worlds; Stephen and I have actually recorded our show on the road and also in some odd vacation places.  But, back to the premise of the story – are podcasts taking over the world?  I don’t know.



  • Our recording is live so there’s only one take.  It requires a great deal of homework to prepare
  • It’s quick.  We do our timeslot on Wednesdays and that’s it – good, bad, or indifferent.  There’s no time to proofread
  • It’s conversational.  Sometimes we even stay on topic but that’s not a requirement


  • I always have and still do hate the sound of my voice.  I’m way too nasal
  • It’s live.  (See above)  If you listen to the show, there will be times when we stump each other with questions or comments and there are those awkward pauses
  • Mannerisms – I’m really bad for that but I like to, ummm,  think I’m getting better
  • Whether recording a radio show live and then republishing it is actually a podcast I suppose is still up for debate



  • It doesn’t have to be done in one session.  Since I schedule my posts for 5am on Friday mornings, I have in theory an entire week to find great blog posts to read, think about and then write the post.  Admittedly, that is very time consuming
  • It’s easy to do research as I write.  I just open another tab and get to work.  I’m never stumped (unless DuckDuckGo is)
  • The blogging media allows for links to external resources and images, screen grabs, etc. to help document a point.  You can’t do that effectively in a podcast
  • I never make mistakes.  <ahem>  Or at least mistakes that persist since I can always go back in and fix the odd typo.  The ability to proofread reinforces all those years I spent in English class


  • It’s generally just me so I do have to work hard to address both sides of an issue rather than playing good cop / bad cop with Stephen
  • It can be time consuming – particularly if I’m searching for that perfect post – I’ll have the editor open all day unlike the 1 hour and done approach of our podcasting
  • It’s not dog walking portable.  With a podcast, I can download the audio file and listen to it while counting mailboxes

In my mind, there is no clear answer.  I see all the above points and there are probably more.  One of the things about both worlds is that they open connections to new communities and I’m learning from each of the communities.  Who could ask for anything more?  It’s a hoot when someone approaches you at an event to introduce themselves as a consumer of my work.

At this point, I can’t see dropping one for the other.  I think they complement each other nicely.

If I could only do something about my voice.

About self-promotion

If you haven’t, you need to read David Carruthers’ post Why I Use Twitter. Hint…It’s Not Self-Promotion.  It’s the conversation that everyone who uses social media at any level needs to have with themselves.

I read it and wrote a “blog post” reply to David in the comments and maybe pushed a button with him but I think that’s OK.  At this point, even the fact that we’re having this discussion is a statement that there is no definitive answer on this.

So, this is now about me and my perspective.  David was the catalyst that got me started.

self-promotion Promotion, including advertising and publicity, of oneself effected by oneself.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. S.v. “self-promotion.” Retrieved October 31 2018 from

I would argue that, at an appropriate level, self-promotion is a necessary element in our digitally connected world.  There is so much information, and even noise, that it’s necessary to help get your word out.

There was a time BT (Before Twitter) where promotion was done by your actions, promoted by people who experienced you doing good things.  Now, it can be done DIY.

But there should be a limit.

In my reply to David, I did a social media take on the old adage of the forest and falling trees.

The blogging equivalent would be “if I write a post and don’t let people know about it, does it exist?”

As I indicated in the reply, there should be a significant amount of self control over self-promotion.  After a while at very high and frequent levels, and I hope we can all agree on this, it can become annoying and block-worthy.  Then, the wheels fall off.  David sets the context in Twitter and perhaps the worst of the worst actions is retweeting yourself over and over.

Beyond annoying, could it become dangerous when it becomes over-promotion?

Does there reach a point where the over-promotion turns the individual from just another social media user to a perceived expert in their chosen field with no qualifications other than a message that’s been repeated and repeated?  It seems to me that this scenario goes far beyond annoying and now into the world of dangerous.

It goes that extra step beyond analyzing yourself and into critically looking at the actions and the messages of others.  We live in a world where everyone has an increased sensitivity towards “fake news” and now need to fully appreciate that not all of this will come from traditional news sources or professional educational research and journals.  It may well come in the form of the next Twitter message that your read.

Understanding and analyzing this can only have good results.

Thanks, David, for starting me down this path of thought.

The Week in Ontario Edublogs

After a bit of Summer, it looks like Autumn has arrived again.  With the news coming from the north and the west, it’s almost a horror show to check the weather these days.   But, it’s always a good time to check out Ontario Edubloggers.

Their value doesn’t go unnoticed.  I got this in reply to Stephen Hurley and my voicEd Radio show where we featured a number of terrific blog posts.

If that doesn’t encourage you to pull out that keyboard …

Here’s a bit of what Leanne was talking about.

Podcasting on VoicEd Radio – What you need to be listening to this week

Paul McGuire and Stephen Hurley have started a new show on voicEd Radio where they feature and analyse some of the great podcasting shows that are broadcast.  Paul appears to be using his blog as a planner for what was going to appear on the show.

In this case, it’s an episode of Shukes and Giff, I wish I knew EDU, and the Social Leadia podcast.  I’m taken with how much goes into the planning and preparation for the show.  To make his point, Paul rips snippets from the original podcast and that forms part of the conversation.


You can listen to their podcast here.

As I noted in yesterday’s post, one of the tags that Paul uses is “New Professional Development”.

Going EPIC with Orcas

If you’ve ever been in a session with Rodd Lucier, you know that he’s a master of working with and mastering media effectively to make his point.

So, I guess it runs in the family with his niece producing “To The Orcas, With Love“.  The movie’s release will be in conjunction with the Bring IT, Together conference in November.


“Find inspiration in ‘To The Orcas, With Love’, a movie premiere exclusively for BIT18 educators.  Natalie Lucier’s film inspires us to restore a loving relationship between ourselves and this remarkable planet.  Through uplifting stories of connection, you’ll meet elders including environmentalist and CBC broadcaster, David Suzuki, whale researchers Alexandra Morton and Paul Spong, totem carver Wayne Alfred, and lifelong resident of the Broughton archipelago Billy Proctor.  This film is anchored by Rob Stewart’s invitation to rise up and create the world we dream for ourselves.”

You’ll see lots of curriculum connections in the description. Attendees will get free access to the movie, access to classroom resources, and a chance to book a virtual classroom visit from Natalie.

The details?

Event: To The Orcas, With Love
Location: Sociabank Convention Centre
Date: November 7, 2018
Time: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Towards a Culture of Learning

From Amy Szerminska, another post about learning in her classroom.  I’ve been intrigued in the past by her approach to a gradeless classroom at the secondary school level.

In this post, she digs a little deeper and talks about the “Culture of Education”.  So many of us can identify with the way assessment has always been and continues.  What if that culture could actually change and move from assessment to actually learning?

Amy identifies norms for this new culture in her classroom.

  • Learning is never over
  • Learning is not a competition
  • Purpose of feedback
  • Learning is hard work
  • Responsibility for documenting learning

Each are nicely fleshed out in the past and it just have to make you think about the type of culture that you’re inheriting for your classroom.

Could you make the changes she describes?

Building Blocks

Will Gourley, writing on the Heart and Art Blog shares his own take on the Summer Math Loss.  In fact, his closing words show his original intent but that’s now what it ended up being.

I started this post with the intention of arguing about why we need a more balanced school year because our students are not retaining what they have learned.

As always, Mathematics seems to be the target of concern.

Will puts a personal reflection on the topic as he lets us know the learning gap that he had from Grade 12 to Grade 13 in Mathematics.

He did his homework and cites a number of academic sources with suggestions about how to avoid the “gap”.  It comes as no surprise that it incorporates the home into the game (should they ever have left?)

He offers a conversation about culture – without using the words – but the message is there.

If it can be done at home, then it can definitely be done in the classroom over the 10 months of learning each year. Teachers can now work at threading or interleaving concepts throughout the entire school year.

Online Learning Communities

At the Bring IT, Together conference, Lisa Cranston is going to facilitate a discussion in the Learning Space about the topic of Building Community in Online Classrooms.

I find this interesting and suggest that the first two questions to be answered are:

  • Is this a good idea?
  • Why?

The term “Learning Communities” has been tossed around for so long and in so many different ways that I’m wondering if there might be a better name for it.  In our voicEd Radio discussion, Stephen suggested that cohort might be better.

In my mind, the word Community implies that there is a meeting of the minds and a desire to do something for the common good.  Is that always the case?  I’ve been part of many such communities with varying results.

Lisa is taking it from a personal perspective of doing a doctorate online as well as additional courses.  She indicates success; I wonder if the defining thing is that those participating have actually paid good money to be part of that community.  Is it different when you participate for free?

She freely describes some strategies from her personal experience.

  • Small group size
  • Online video classes
  • Group Work
  • Social Media

She’s got a good start, addressing all of these in detail – do you have something to add via comment?

Unconscious Bias as an Expression White Fragility

Debbie Donsky is always a good read if you want to squirm in your chair and feel like she’s in your face with her thoughts.  That’s exactly how I felt while reading this post.

There are so many things these days that can completely be written off as lip service and an attempt at being politically correct.  Heaven help you, as Debbie notes with respect to school districts, that you get called out on media for your practices.

We can’t talk about supporting all students without recognizing the historical context of these students and their families.

As she notes, Canada has not been without its faults in addressing our past and maintaining structures today can be specifically designed to avoid change and yet the lip service continues.

If you’re like me, you’ll have to read it two or three times to understand.  The Racism in Canada infographic is more than just a little uncomfortable to read and understand.

International Day of the Girl – Resources to Empower and Educate

October 11 is the International Day of the Girl and the Toronto District School Board highlights a number of resources that are available for their staff.

  • The water princess
  • Every day is Malala Day
  • Ten cents a pound
  • Breaking through!: Helping girls succeed in science, technology, engineering, and math
  • Creating the coding generation in primary schools: A practical guide for cross-curricular teaching
  • VentureGirls: Raising girls to be tomorrow’s leaders

Does your school own these resources?  Are they available centrally?

These are good questions to ask and their use is most assuredly not restricted to October 11.

I hope that this collection helps kickstart your Friday morning.

You can always follow these bloggers on Twitter:

Please click through and read the original posts.  If you’re inspired, leave a comment and/or share the link with your network.  Everyone should be inspired by these posts.

And, check out all of the Ontario Edubloggers here.  If you’re a blogger yourself and not in the collection, there’s a form there to add yourself.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Welcome to another summer Friday and a chance for me to share some of the reading that I’ve been doing from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.

Thoughts on Seven Fallen Feathers Part 1
Thoughts on Seven Fallen Feathers Part 2

Two posts for the price of one – from the blog of Lynn Thomas, a couple of her own reflections from the book.  Every time I read posts like this and, indeed, just stories of the First Nations realities past and present, I feel so cheated in my own education.  We never learned about this.  Regular readers know that I shared a couple posts of my own earlier this past week.

This book was also the focus of a voicEd book studio this summer.  Shows are archived here…

and a Facebook group has been organized to facilitate discussion.

I’m sure that Lynn would appreciate reading your thoughts via comment to her post if you’ve read and been impacted by the book.

What exactly is WIIFM?

I didn’t know.

So, I read this post from Melanie Lefebrve to find out.  It’s part of a project from the Ontario Extend group.

Project – “Brainstorm a list of WIIFM from a student perspective.”

Once you determine just what WIIFM means – it’s nothing bad – it all falls into place.  I like how Melanie used a graphic organizer to share her thoughts about the Past, Present, and Future.

I can’t help but think that this activity would be a great one for all teachers to engage in.  At the same time, have students create their own.

Is there a disconnect?

Write to Give (Kenya, Africa)….was so much more!

This is a wonderful post from Joe Archer about a project that gave back so much.


It started as a project with admirable goals.


Click though and enjoy and see just how those goals were met – and exceeded.


Normally, I read stories about Artificial Intelligence and my eyes kind of glaze over with the promises and threats for the future from AI.  I know the reality that my car’s navigation system has a great distance to go before I give in to it entirely.

I found this post from Jane Mitchinson oddly engaging.  What if you didn’t forget things or only partially remembered them?  What if everything was retained in precise detail in your mind courtesy of Artificial Intelligence?

From personal experience, I know that I have “selective memory” whatever that means.  I’ve long forgotten some things and have absolutely no desire to ever remember them.  I also have memories that I’ve enhanced so that they’re better in my mind than they were in real life.  I’m OK with that and, in fact, I cherish these memories.

Jane makes reference to a MyLifeBits project and all of this is just more than a bit scary.  I can’t be alone; my memory retains and perfects some memories and loses others.  I think that it makes things better.  I’m not sure that I want to remember everything in precise detail.

I know for sure that I don’t want people to remember all their bad experiences with me.  I’d prefer to live with the thought that they’ve forgotten about them.

I like what I remember.  Especially the time I bench pressed 600 pounds.

Sense of Number versus Number sense

No sooner did the announcement that this post from Jonathan So would be on the show did I get a private message from Aviva Dunsiger that we had already talked about it on her show.  Wow, not only does someone read this blog but she keeps score!

Here’s the show where Aviva engaged in the discussion.

Yes, we did talk about it and it was an interesting discussion.  But, I thought that it would be interesting to have the author have some of his own words about it.  With any luck, it would head in a new direction.

I thought that we had a great discussion and you can hear all about it in Jonathan’s words here.

Cultural Divide

I’m really enjoying reading the blog posts from Ann Marie Luce in her adventure as an administrator in another country.

This post is no exception.

I think we all have micro-cultural experiences all the time.  Whether it’s a new collection of students, a move from elementary school to secondary school or vice versa, from teaching at an inner city school to a very rural one or moving to teaching at a college or university.  Quite honestly, I think that education with all its varieties makes it such an interesting profession.

But, these “divides” pale in comparison to going to a completely different country with its own norms and expectations.  I think you’ll be very interested in her take on this.

Don’t Tweet the Keynote – A Reflection

Lisa Cranston tagged me in the announcement of her recent post.   I was ready to respond in a fury of anger except that I remembered that I couldn’t reply to her blog for some reason.  It must be the misspelling in the title.

I think we’ve probably all been to concerts where there are warnings not to record the performers.  It’s their property and they want to protect it, I guess.  And yet, bootlegs often end up on YouTube.

Does this translate to an education conference well when we’re talking about making connections, sharing our learning, etc.?  I would definitely say “No” and, as I replied to Lisa on Twitter, if I was hiring the speaker, I’d say “no thanks” and look for someone else.

I can’t believe that someone delivering an important message would overlook the power of Social Media to amplify that message.

In the post, Lisa shares some of the reasons why she does so.  You can’t argue with any of them and I’ll bet any educator can add to the list.  Why don’t you head over to Lisa’s post and do just that?

What a collection of great blogs posts.  I hope that you can take a few moments and click through and read them in their entirety.

You can follow these bloggers on Twitter here.

Lessons to be learned

In a way, Social Media can be so nasty.

But it’s not the first media that has encountered people that try to make their point from doing outrageous things.  If you’ve been around a while, you’re familiar with the term “Shock Jock”, referring to radio personalities who try/tried to make their way to fame and fortune with their message.  See here for a list of some.

The thing about these people is that they actually had to be hired to have a platform to share their messages.  And, if you know these names, you’ll know that some of them had to find alternative employment at times.

It’s somewhat easier these days to be a shocker with the use of social media.  From today’s news…

Brock University strips former professor’s emeritus status after ‘abhorrent’ posts

Anyone with a device, a social media account, and access to the internet could, and I repeat could, have posted a message like that or similar.  As you know, this isn’t the first of its kind and it won’t be the last.



Photo Credit: Free For Commercial Use (FFC) Flickr via Compfight cc

What’s similar about this sort of story is that the message strikes a nerve somewhere, a news source picks up on it, there’s outrage, there’s a consequence, the offending message is taken down, an apology is given, and then we move on.

Are we to consider this the new norm?  After all, anyone can have a voice on social media.  Do you need to be louder or more outrageous than the rest in order to stand out?

What lessons are our students learning by watching all this?