Blogging, Computers, Education, Read/Write Web, Teaching

It Takes Some Work To Look This Good

Nope.  Not fashion tips from me, that’s for sure.

It’s not about the new theme that I’m trying out for the blog – not sure I like it yet but will continue to give it a try.

It’s about yesterday’s post.  It took forever to write.  Actually, that’s not completely correct.  It took forever to make it look the way that it did.

I often think back to the first webpages that I created.  We used the Text Editor in Windows to code the whole thing in HTML (HyperText Markup Language).  I still remember the comment from a music teacher who dropped by to ask me what I was doing.  When I showed/explained it to her, I still remember her comment “Why work with all that gobbly-gook?”  I thought it so bizarre coming from her with her world of dotted eighth notes and treble clefs and …  But, I let it drop; I knew this was a glimpse into the future and surely better tools would be coming.  And, of course they did.

In my time at OSAPAC, we licensed Dreamweaver and things were a great deal better.  Today, we live in a world where we can edit things online or with a tool should we choose to.  I’ve used a bunch – Bloglio, LiveWriter, Qumana, … , even composing in the WordPress editor itself.  My current favourite tool is Scribefire which is an addon to the web browser.  All of these are great tools but the elevator doesn’t necessarily go to the top floor.

In yesterday’s post, I had this wonderful list.

It seemingly took forever to create.

Each bullet point actually had up to three things in it.  One was a link to the Twitter account, the second was a link to the most recent blog post, and the third, optional link, was to an interview if there was one.  You’ll note that the blog post was bolded as well.

There were, from my perspective, a number of ways to do this.

First, there’s the scribe method.  You know – type the text, highlight it, add the link, add the bolding, and then move on to the next item.  Just the prospect of eyeballing that and doing it seemed to be daunting so I opted for a second option.

Copy / Paste.  After all, if we weren’t meant to do that, we wouldn’t have a mouse with a right mouse button.  Here’s what it looked like.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Our Origins as Bloggers

eBooks – product or service?

Hugs … And The Words That Followed Them!

When Empathy Isn’t Easy

Oral Presentation Descriptive Feedback

I Hate the Pyramid


Kids Learn Computer Code in Class to Help With Problem Solving @thecurrentcbc

Showing Understanding of Where things are Located #fsl

and that’s just the blog title.  So much for standards!

One thing that all web authoring tools is a link back to the good ol’ days of HTML!

The results aren’t for the faint of heart.

Because all of these wonderful authors had used different blogging platforms, there were various bits and pieces of the code that were brought over.  You can see references to a header <h 1> or <h 3>, details about the class used, and Jamie’s post even included the actual link to her post.  We know that HTML tags are opened and closed so you also see the corresponding </h 1> or </h 3>

In reality, I wanted it all formatted the same way with the resulting content looking like this.

<li><a href=””>@royanlee</a&gt; – <strong><a href=”; rel=”bookmark”>Talkin’ ‘Bout Our Origins as Bloggers  </a></strong><a href=”; rel=”bookmark”>- my<strong>  </strong></a><a href=””>interview with Royan</a></li>

So, in effect, I still wanted/needed HTML tags – but on MY terms, not theirs!

Fortunately, I had the HTML knowledge to edit out the formatting from the pasted content and then go back to the editor and add my own for consistency.  I had other options as well.  I could have used a browser that offered a “paste as plain text” or to toggle in and out of the editor where it just pastes plain text.  The geeky side of me just took delight in doing the text editing so that’s what was done.

There were a few other places where a knowledge of HTML came into play.  At the top of the post, you’ll note that I had included the Twitter message from Donna Fry.  Twitter provides the raw code for it; you just have to place it into the editor via HTML.  I also like to have a horizontal rule between each blog I reference and oddly enough, Scribefire doesn’t have a click to insert one but flipping into text allows for a <h r>.  When I’m done with a post, I always preview it to make sure that it looks good.  In particular, I’m looking for images that are the right size and fit within the margins.  How often have you seen a blog post with images that just sprawls outside the lines like it had a mind of its own?  That’s easily adjusted if you take it into the image editor or you know what “width=”783″ height=”455″” will do to your <  img src >.

While the tools that we have at our fingertips are better than they ever have been, there are still times when you have to lift the hood and do a little tweaking.

What does this mean for students?  Is there room for learning a little HTML to perfect their masterpieces?  There’s nothing to be afraid of and there’s a real sense of satisfaction knowing that you have the ultimate control over things.

There may come a day when it’s not necessary, but we’re not there just yet.


OTR Links 03/28/2015

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Blogging, Education, learning, Ontario Edublogs, Teaching

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Earlier this week, I was participating in the #csforstudents tutorial (we were flipping a coin and keeping stats) and I got a notification that someone had send me a message.  It was from Donna Fry who had posted this to Twitter.

That generated a bit of discussion

I was going to jump in and share the link to my collection of Ontario Edubloggers but only had one eye on Donna’s conversations which she had tagged #eLearnONT.  (Sorry, Donna)  As I look through the collection that came through in the conversation, I don’t think you can go wrong following any of these blogs.  Here’s what they’ve each written recently along with a link to those I’ve interviewed on this blog.

What a wonderfully diverse and rich collection of posts!  No wonder they were identified.  If you haven’t read them, they’re all worth the click to inspire your thinking and learning.

And, Donna throws together a pretty mean blog herself….

I apologize if there were any additional Twitter messages that I missed.  I was otherwise engaged at the time and went through Donna’s timeline to see if I could capture them all.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Our Origins as Bloggers

Even before Donna’s post, I had tagged Royan Lee’s blog post as something that I wanted to highlight here.  In this post, he shares an interview with Joanne Babalis.

The conversation digs into their thoughts about their own blogs.  I love this stuff.  It’s like a blogging version of “Inside the Actor’s Studio”.

Save the Elementary TLs in TCDSB

I have always had trouble commenting on blogs written in Blogger.  After reading Diana Maliszewski’s post, I felt compelled to comment.  It turned out to be rather longish so I made sure that I made a copy of it in case it didn’t “take”.  It didn’t; I messaged Diana who checked that it wasn’t on her system even through I had tried posting with my Google account and my WordPress account.  It’s got to be one of the extensions that I use acting badly.  Anyway, I’m reproducing it here to tack on to Diana’s wonderfully passionate original post.

This is a well crafted post and letter, Diana.  Hopefully, it will be read in the spirit that you wrote it; not wanting to erode the educational experience for students and blaming it on funding.

I had to smile at your comment that I wasn’t a teacher-librarian.  You’re absolutely correct with that.  Going through elementary school, we didn’t have a teacher-librarian at all.  The library was just a book exchange room.  We didn’t know any difference.  It was just like the public library downtown that my mother took my brother and me to weekly to get our limit of two books.

At secondary school, I did have the benefit of a librarian.  She was wonderful at pointing us in the right direction.  

The tipping point for me was as a young teacher, having just a terrific teacher-librarian.  He did a terrific job.  We were always receiving memos of new resources and he would clip articles from the newspapers and put them in our mailboxes.  He constantly stirred the pot and was integral in bringing all forms of media to the classroom.  He was like the colleague teaching the same material which is important to a Computer Science teacher, the loneliest teacher in any school.  When I would have my students in the Resource Centre for research, he truly was a partner in the classroom.  He made my class so much relevant to students.

Later, as a teacher-consultant, I got to go from school to school and did a whack of workshops that always was attended by teacher-librarians.  They were always interested in what was new and would always be pushing for understanding the latest and greatest in the realm of technology.  What so impressed me was the global perspective of their school that they brought to the conversation.  They knew who was teaching what and how they could support their colleagues.  They were always the extra mind in classrooms and, usually, the first person to be consulted over curriculum issues.  I had a computer contact from every school and many of them were teacher-librarians.  I had the honour of presenting a couple of sessions at the OLA Superconference, always in partnership with one of these marvellous people.  The ones I worked with were just such natural partners.  They take content and push it past the academic into the relevance.

Decision makers need to visit libraries/resource centres/learning commons and really understand the dynamics of that most important area of the school.  I know that it’s tough for trustees to do so but they really need to do so to understand what will go missing if they make the cuts.

The elimination of us

I’ve got to file Rusul Alrubail’s post under the category “I had no idea”.  It was a tough post for me to read.

I always had the benefit of being a member of OSSTF.  Yes, there were dues but there was collegiality, professional learning, newsletters, insights, connections, and security.  I’m sure that there will be a great deal more as this unfolds.

Social Media Basics

Do you know someone who’s interested in finding out about Social Media and all the networks that are common conversations these days?  Or, perhaps they’ve noticed that television shows now show Twitter handles or Facebook pages or Instagram accounts for more detailed comment?

Send them over to this slideshow from Joan Vinall Cox.

She’s got you covered!

As I wrap up this post, I just marvel at the insights that are shared by Ontario Educators all the time.

Please take the time to read the excellent commentaries.  And, why not share the links with your connections so that others can enjoy as well?!


OTR Links 03/27/2015

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Just Rambling

The Last Asset

We do it all the time.

We make a major (or minor) purchase and we want it to last forever.  So, we fill out and send in the warranty card.  Or, perhaps our address and phone number are collected and put into a database at the Point of Sale.  We leave with the peace of mind that we’re covered – and the company has one new addition to its customer base.

We’ve all seen the words “We take your privacy seriously.”

Lest you feel overly comfortable with that, check out this story “RadioShack is selling tens of millions of email and home addresses“.  As with most stories like this, the comments are worth a good read as well as the original story from Bloomberg.  It’s not a slam towards Radio Shack; goodness knows that they were my primary source of computer material from my early Tandy days.  It’s the whole business concept that we need to point an eye to.

Of note in the post are the people who claim that this is a non-story – your information is bought and sold all the time.  It’s the stuff that makes for meal time unsolicited marketing phone calls. 

We live in a world where information is freely traded and used.  As an example, we owned one of the Cobalts that General Motors recalled because of the ignition switch problem.  We went back to the place of purchase which is no longer a Chevrolet dealership and were told that they couldn’t do the repairs; we had to go to an authorized General Motors dealer.  It made sense.  Now, since the repair (and addition to their contact database), we get regular contact from the sales department offering deals to get us to trade it in.  The contact information certainly has gone a long distance from us originally supporting a local dealer who has been great and supportive over the years.

In the article, there is an indication that it could get political with moves to block this.   It would be nice to get a definitive ruling, albeit in the United States.  But, we’re so close to each other in the form of business that it would catch the eye of our politicians as well.  While the original vendor may “take your privacy seriously”, your information may be the final asset that they have to address their bills.

As an individual, there’s not a great deal that can be done in the big scheme of things.  With all purchases, it’s OK to indicate “I’d rather not give you that information”.  Online, why not open an additional email account (in your name, of course, but separate from your main email account) for those services that require an email for access? 

It’s just another reason to keep your eyes open and consider the consequences should the worst happen.

As one of the commenters in the original post mentioned, “could you imagine if Google went bankrupt”?



OTR Links 03/26/2015

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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?