Reflections from OSAPAC

The Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee just finished its one week summer meeting. I am totally exhausted. It makes for one incredibly packed week. We worked all day long and into the evening evaluating and making recommendations in the area formerly posted as priorities for this year: Career and Guidance, Online Electronic Database, Senior Mathematics, Senior Science, and Media Literacy. There were so many good titles submitted and that only made the situation more of a challenge. But, we persevered and now our recommendations are in the hands of the government. Look for announcements on what will be licensed on the OSAPAC website.

One of the happier and sadder things is to take a walk through of all of the titles that have ever been licensed. While titles are typically licensed in perpetuity, the computer and operating systems that they were originally designed for are not! So, one of our activities is to go through the SQL database which holds all of the details and hide the titles that have served us well but just will not run in contemporary environments. It is sad to see the Clarisworks 3.0 go, but everything has a useful life. It is still licensed and still available but there are newer options.

The promotions department (one member from Guelph) is working on a photo contest depicting computers and students in Ontario. Look for details about this soon on the website.

The licensing of Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional is really an exciting title and offers all kinds of opportunities. Members are going to start the process of creating video tutorials using this tool. This would make create additions to the Learning Object Repository.

One of my personal projects came closer to fruition. A common request that I get is to know when OSAPAC will release another compilation CD-ROM. Well, that was appropriate when software came on diskettes but now each title comes on a CD-ROM. So, a compilation CD-ROM is out of the question. But, up the ante and you can create ISO images of the CD-ROM and store them on a DVD-ROM. Into the archives I have gone and have been able to put all of the CD-ROMs onto 7 DVD-ROMs. These are off to the Ministry for testing and I hope distribution shortly. Imagine, if you are technician, being able to have all these resources conveniently stored instead of carrying around binders full of CD-ROMs.

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe Blog

Are you new to blogging, and do you want step-by-step guidance on how to publish and grow your blog? Learn more about our new Blogging for Beginners course and get 50% off through December 10th. is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Clicker 5 Resource

Clicker 5 was originally licensed by the Ministry of Education as a software for special education. However, educators are doing all kinds of things with it including the construction of eBooks and using the program for a multi-media authoring environment. It truly is a wonderful product that makes it easy to differentiate instuction in the classroom using the same software package so that students can work at an appropriate project.

Deb Barrows is the north east representative for Crick Software and has created a Wiki that is an unofficial support site and clearing house for resources. If you’re using Clicker 5, it’s really worth checking out. If you’re creating your own materials, it’s a wonderful place to share them.

CSIT Reflections

The Computer Science and Information Technology Symposium was held the day after the NECC Conference ended.

I had no idea going into this what a Spelbot was but I do now. Reaching and motivating students to consider Computer Science was foremost in the minds of everyone at the Symposium. We all recognize that students won’t all become computer programmers for a career. However, when you take a look at society, where don’t you see the infusion of new technology that somewhere has a chip or two to function. You need more than ###### drawing skills to be successful. (guess what program is behind the #s)

I think we’ve all seen pathetic attempts to show computer prowess! Working with computers and information technology isn’t second nature and like most things worthwhile, it does require some effort. And collaboration.

In these days of easy interfaces, I think that a lot of people feel that somehow we’re more productive just because we can point and click and do something that used to take a command line in the past. Well, guess what, that will only get you so far. Behind those buttons and glitzy interfaces, there is some really powerful and interesting code.

How do you refine your productions? By digging into the code.

At the Symposium, participants got a chance to look at ArcView, Flash, Alice, Python, and even Google’s KML. All require the use of code and all crucial if you’re going to get the most from whatever it is you are trying to do. For Computer Science teachers, it really is a confirmation that what is taught is an incredibly useful life skill.

It was noted that, in one of the keynotes, that Microsoft alone has positions for about 5000 people that it just can’t fill. Where are they going to find these positions?

It may seem strange but it’s time that educational curriculum includes computer literacy in addition to language and mathematics.

NECC Reflections

The neat thing about blogging is that there really are no rules so if you want, you can delete all of your slightly coherent ramblings and start all over. This is what I’m going to do with my NECC thoughts!

I found that the Atlanta venue was terrific. The World Congress Centre was such a pleasure to physically navigate. Everything was in the one building and, with five floors, your biggest challenge is trying to get to the right floor for your next session. The organizers tried a number of new things for the organization of the agenda; I think I still prefer access to more sessions rather than cramming 18000 people into a conference hall.

There were a number of highlights of the show for me. The announcement of the release of Hyperstudio 5 is exciting. Is it too little, too late though? As an authoring tool, it is second to none in education to be sure. It provides a nice safe environment but the type of teacher that would use it has moved on to web authoring, podcasting, blogging, …

I always enjoy chatting with Deb Barrows and Val Laird from Cricksoft, the makers of Clicker 5. In fact, after a discussion with Deb, I went back to my hotel room and wrote a procedure for putting Clicker grids on the web using Flash. You can see it on Deb’s Clicker Wiki ( or the OSAPAC Learning Object Repository at:

Keynotes are interesting and our kids have let us know that there’s no way we’re moving in with them! The premise was that today’s youth will spend more time taking care of their parents than we did taking care of them as kids. Hmmm.

I really enjoyed the session dealing with 10 mistakes that people make when implementing wireless networks. Much I knew and the rest is just good information to know to help trouble shoot. Once and for all, I had someone make sense about channel deployment.

Philip East and Michelle Hutton had an interesting point/counter-point on the use of graphical programming languages. The perspectives of a university professor and middle school teacher are very different. With a secondary school computer science background, I could see both sides of their argument. There really wasn’t a winner except for students who need to realize that educators are thinking constructively about what needs to be done to encourage them to look into the virtues of being able to problem solve and think their way through problems. After all, that’s one of our touted goals as CS teachers, isn’t it?

Hall Davidson gave a great session – it’s somehow comforting to see someone else’s computer crash during a presentation and watch the presenter roll with the punches! A phenomenal speaker and the resources from the Discovery Educators are second to none. I wish I had half of Lesley Fisher’s enthusiasm. I also made some interesting contacts and revelations in the poster sessions. In a lot of ways, they’re some of the richest sessions around – totally natural and it’s just great to half some Q&A with kids and their teachers.

I heard this comment on a number of occasions and it makes so much sense – we need to stop developing plans to “integrate technology”. After 25 or more years in education, computer technology is a fixture in our classrooms. On the news today, they proclaimed the 25th anniversary of the smiley face. How’s that for a useless piece of trivia. (also something that I don’t use either)

The biggest disappointment – I didn’t meet Larry King. Or Nancy Grace, Or Ted Turner. CNN Centre is an incredible place to tour or to visit and yet most of the shows are produced in other studios