OTR Links 08/22/2016

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

Whatever happened to …

… skeuomorphic design.

You know – drop shadows, gradients, embossing, 3D effects, and so on.

There was a time when multimedia and websites seemed undressed unless you had this fancy stuff included, especially for navigation.

A visit to the Windows93 website reminded me that today’s interface wasn’t always the norm.

I can remember an activity for every Photoshop, Hyperstudio, Web Design workshop I gave and the efforts to make an image look like it had a drop shadow.  You’d draw a button, graphic, menu and then draw another one on top of it and fill it with black and dark grey.  Then, with the hands of a surgeon you select the image and then move it ever so slightly with your mouse.  I actually preferred to use the arrow keys on the keyboard.  My standard was two taps to the right and then two taps down.  You’d then rearrange the order so that the original image was on top and you had your drop shadow.  Select both images, lock them together and you have your 3D.

From an academic point of view, there’s so much computer skill involved that really made it worthwhile for students to learn.

Of course, if you’re using Hyperstudio, you have your choice of buttons and an easy way to create them.  After all, it was designed to make multimedia creation easy for kids.

These days, things are so flat.  It’s so much easier to design.  It’s something that you notice right away and appears in your operating system and browser.  It’s specially important in your browser as it’s probably the most frequently updated piece of software on your computer.  All designers want to appear to be on the cutting edge.

Speaking of which, navigation in Edge looks like this.

it’s not just Edge.

Check out the navigation in Opera under Windows

As opposed to Opera under MacOS

It’s the same functionality but completely different in design.

Icon sets have become flat as well.  Recently, I came across a Super Flat Remix icon set for Ubuntu.  Check out these icons if you’re a Macintosh user.  And, of course, if you’re a Windows 10 user, you’ve got many of them already as part of the operating system.  However, a quick internet search provides even more if you are so inclined.

Design isn’t just limited to flatness.  You’ve got to get the colour combinations correct too.

Just realize that the world hasn’t always been this graphical.  Those of us who used terminals a long time ago were limited to the characters that you could tap on the keyboard.  That didn’t stop people from heading into graphics with combinations of characters.  Check out this if you long for the days where creating ASCII are was a technique of its own.

Do you have any “flat” thoughts?

  • Have you ever designed 3D effects?  
  • Do you have a preference between flat and the alternatives?
  • Does “flat” seem to have a better visual appeal for you?
  • If “flat” just a current fad and will we see our world turn to something else?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts?

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

OTR Links 08/21/2016

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

Where in the world …

… is lightning striking?

It’s been a really strange summer here in Essex County.  In a normal summer, the day starts warm, proceeds to hot and humid during the afternoon, unbearable after supper watching the kids play baseball, and then a thunderstorm cuts loose to either cool things off or make it even more humid.

I know, it’s an over generalization but I thought that it might be a nice lead into this story.  

According to my weather app, we should be getting a storm tonight.

But, I want to know where it’s storming now.  Of course, we could turn to any of the mapping programs on the web and turn on satellite imagery and get an idea.  What if you want to know just where lightning is hitting – RIGHT NOW.

Then head to Blitzortung.

Right now, it’s 6:45am on Friday morning and worldwide, here’s what’s happening.

and, closer to home, let’s select North America and zero in around home.

Looking good, Ontario.  But look what is sitting over Minnesota/Wisconsin and could be headed our way.

Of course, you don’t know for sure and just take the website’s word for it that it’s accurate.  Details here.

However, it’s still going to be nice to verify the accuracy come the next storm.  In the meantime, it’s just one of those fascinating things.

Oh, did I mention that you should turn up your speakers to hear the hits?

OTR Links 08/20/2016

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s time, again, to take a look at the roundup of blogs and content that I enjoyed this past week contributed by Ontario Edubloggers.  Please follow along and see the thoughts/insights from these folks.

Remembering Seymour Papert in Ontario Education

I like to toss in Peter Skillen’s direction some of the superficial references to Seymour Papert’s work that are so often referenced and increasingly used to indicate why students need to code.  I guess it’s our society of 140 characters and sound bits that generate it but it really does a disservice to the amazing work of one of the owner of shoulders that we should all be standing on.

In this post, Peter reflects on some of the time that he spend with Dr. Papert and how Peter sees his influence on Ontario education.  I think that it’s a worthy inclusion to your reading.

Peter and I have been bantering back and forth about the opportunity to recognize Dr. Papert’s influence at the Bring IT, Together conference in November.  I hope that we can put together something appropriate to celebrate one of the great minds in education.

It’s not about the Tech…..

With apologies to Jonathan So, I really hate it when this is used as a title or in most references.  

The inspiration for his post came from a podcast and, in particular,

There was a line that I heard in the post that I just hit a big aha moment. Peter mentioned that the OTF Summer conference was titled “Pedagogy before Technology” and that he wasn’t fond of the title but that it was something that was current in education.

I think that, even the discussion, demeans the efforts of educators who are doing the best they can.  I keep thinking of a quote from Wayne Hulley “Nobody wakes up wondering how they’re going to screw up today”.

I think the last quote from Jonathan sums it up nicely…

I know that as teachers we also need time to learn new tools and how they work but first and foremost we need to understand what their purpose is and why we would be using them in the classroom. Love to hear your thoughts on this and if you haven’t heard it already listen to Rolland’s podcast some fantastic educators on there.

It’s a chicken and egg thing but has any other tool in technology been so scrutinized and criticized?  If you search history, there was a huge concern that ball point pens were just the “beginning of the end”.  Some teachers are new to effectively using technology and they need to be supported in their endeavours.  Those that have used it should be those who are supportive with examples and ideas.

Curriculum consultants and district leaders should constantly be providing learning opportunities for staff to learn no matter where they are in their learning.  If they’re not, well … you get what you get.

Education has toyed with the concept of Programmed Instruction, abandoned it, and moved on.  I just wish that the conversation would as well.

TELL 2016

Mark Renaud attended the Technology-Enabled Learning & Leading Institute 2016 this summer along with about 1000 of his closest colleagues.

In this post, he shares his highlights from conference.

It’s interesting to read his observations and hopefully further blog posts will give us an idea as to how they’ve made an impact in his school and to his leadership style.

There are lots of links to slidedecks from some of the presenters at the TVO website.  There’s much Google stuff there, most of the sessions are tagged “Beginner” and kudos to the presenters from my former board.

Collaborating with Colleagues using OneNote Staff Notebook

What about boards that have used Microsoft Office 365 instead of going the Google route though?

Andre Quaglia recently added his blog to the Ontario Edubloggers collection and I went back to a post of his from February.

I recently discovered the advantages of using OneNote Staff Notebooks as a collaborative tool to keep the momentum of conversations flowing after department meetings with teaching colleagues.

In the post, he shares three examples of using OneNote Staff Notebooks.

  • Creating an inventory of instructional technology
  • Verifying class textbook and planning
  • Discussion about how to allocate new classroom workspace


One of the great things about blogging is that you can be or create anything you want.

In this post, Joan Vinall Cox shares a short poem about “Time”.

It’s a reminder to all of us that we’re getting older.


My classroom was probably the least desirable room in the school.  I don’t know whether it was the block design or the fact that we were air conditioned but there were a few rooms that had no outside windows.  I had one of them.

So, I can’t really empathise with Ashley Soltesz’ first day of school.

It’s actually distractions rather than squirrels that form the basis of the post.  We all have them.

She does end with a question that we all have – how do you handle distractions?

The question is not, “how best to teach mathematics?” The question, educator, is “how best for YOU to teach mathematics?”

After the title, the rest of Matthew Oldridge’s post is pretty much redundant!  When you’ve taken as many courses in mathematics as I have, you’d like to think that you’ve seen it all.

I’ve been drilled, investigated, explored, charted, drawn, programming, puzzled, heard mathematics jokes, …

Unfortunately, for most teachers, their last formal kick at mathematics would have been at a Faculty of Education which has to include that in amongst everything else for some teachers or focus on the teaching of difficult mathematics for those who would aspire to be secondary school specialists.

So, it comes as no surprise that some folks think that they have to chalk and talk in order to get their dollar and a quarter for the day.  Fortunately, we’re having the discussion about teaching and I really enjoyed the approach in Matthew’s post.  In true mathematics tradition, he illustrates with a chart…

I think that it’s a good read and anyone who will be teaching mathematics, at whatever level, would be well advised to read and consider their approach.  And, question when you’re advised to embrace “high impact strategies”.  To be sure, they can be good research, but don’t necessarily address your skill set or the learning needs of your students.

It’s absolutely another great week of reading.   Thanks to all the bloggers who contributed to my learning.  Please take a moment and drop by their posts (I’ve given you the links so it’s easy) and extend their conversations.  If you’re a blogger yourself, do what Andre did, and add yourself to the list.  I’d really like to have you included.

OTR Links 08/19/2016

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