This Week in Ontario Edublogs

I can’t believe it’s Friday already.  The RCAC Symposium was just last week and it was another very inspirational day.  But the blogging from Ontario Edubloggers kept on coming.

I ran into one of those Internet/Blogging memes by being named.  I guess it’s a fun way to get folks who are blogging to interact with each other and gives them a chance to let folks know a bit about them.  A few people have already responded.


Joint Work in the Digital Staff Room

This one was from Brian Harrison who actually was the person who tagged me.  Read the original piece at the link above.  To whet your appetite, here are 11 Random Facts about Brian.



The second one that I found came from Royan Lee.  He called his post:

Dean Shareski’s Homework

And, 11 things you might want to know about Royan.




Brandon Grasley calls his Joyful Blogging in Response to @fryed



Donna Fry “Brings Back Joy



Just Laugh…

Aviva Dunsiger shared her thoughts about what happens when technology goes wrong in the classroom.  You see a lot of frustration from folks when technology doesn’t work.  It means that perhaps the lesson has to go to a “Plan B”.

It’s a cruel reality when working with technology and everyone who has ever tried to use technology has run into it.  In the staffroom afterwards, you’ll get the inevitable “That’s why I don’t use technology.”  It’s difficult to take on that discussion as you’re banging your head against the wall.

But, let’s not let it interfere with the process.  Our profession has always had points of failure that mess up good lessons.

  • assemblies that make the school run on shortened days;
  • students “sick” on the day of their presentation;
  • bulb blown on whatever projector you’re needing;
  • early dismissal for the sports team;
  • and everyone’s favourite – snow day!

The one thing that we keep hearing is how it’s not the technology; it’s the teaching; it’s the connections; it’s the collaboration…

Maybe we should step back from the technology more often and practice what we’re preaching?


Thanks, everyone for being so open and sharing with your thoughts.  Please enjoy these and all Ontario Edubloggers at this Livebinder.  If you’re an Ontario Educational Blogger and your work isn’t listed, add yourself via the form!


Ontario Edublogs Scooped

When I originally started the concept of putting all of the Ontario Edubloggers together in one spot, I thought that ScoopIt! would be the tool to provide a solution to this task.  The promise and descriptor sounded so good.  ScoopIt! would wander the web and report back to me links that it found.  So, I asked it to find me Ontario Edubloggers, bloggers, education, Ontario, Ontario bloggers, and a bunch of other things.  ScoopIt! returns links to me daily but they’re not what I’m looking for.  I guess Ontario Edubloggers aren’t tagging in the manner that I thought.  It does support a thought that I had that we need to be teaching students how to tag so that their content can be found by others.  Anyway, that’s not the point today.  ScoopIt! does return great stories for me but just not what I was looking for.  So, instead, I created the Ontario EduBlogger LiveBinder instead.  That works out nicely and with the incorporation of the Google Form, I have been adding to the collection as new blogs are created and shared.

I still wanted to do something with ScoopIt! though.  At the same time, I wanted to dig into QR (Quick Response) codes more.  I’ve heard speakers and certainly read from others about how QR Codes are going to revolutionize everything but have seen very few examples that really turn my crank.  I’m not sure this is a crank turner yet but I did create a QR version of the Ontario Edublogger list that is fully accessible by your Smartphone camera with the appropriate software.  I use something called Barcode Scanner and Google Goggles (thanks, @pbeens) on my Android and it works nicely.  If nothing else, you can do a demonstration of the website with your camera for others to show how the concept of QR works.  And, just for the record, the old fashioned mouse clicking on the link works too…

So, here’s the deal.  Go to the website or scan here.


Each of the blogs has its own unique QR Code.  Just scan the code for the blog that you want and away you go to read it.  As I was doing this, I was reminded of being with my friend Johanna as students checked out books from her library.  She would flip in her binder to the student’s name to scan their info as she checked their books out.

I must admit that it took a bit of time to put this together.  However, those that know me know that I can be a little obsessive and compulsive and so I did stick to it until I was complete.  Here are the steps in case you ever want to do something like this.

0) Install the QR-Code tag for Google Chrome and open the Original LiveBinder.  Create a new ScoopIt! page.

1) Click on a link to open it in the LiveBinder and then right click to open the original blog.

2) Click the QR-Code tag to generate the QR-Code in a new window.  Save the code to your hard drive.

3) Go back and copy the URL to the blog.

4) In ScoopIt!, create a new post.

5) Paste the URL into the appropriate field.  ScoopIt! is neat now as it visits the URL and harvests info about the blog including an image to identify the blog.

6) Override the image that ScoopIt! provided above and upload the QR-Code in its place.


7) Save the entry.

8) Repeat a ga-zillion times.  It was only after creating about 5 of these that the concept of ga-zillion kicked in but I really liked the look and so decided that it was worth continuing.

9) Test the images to make sure that you haven’t missed one and that they all go to the desired resource.  If there are people watching while you’re doing this, be prepared for all kinds of comments as you hold your Smartphone up to the screen.

Eventually, you hit ga-zillion and you’re done.

So, the ScoopIt! page is now created and I can use it (and you can too) should the time and place be necessary to demonstrate QR codes.

The process wasn’t actually painful.  Putting together the original LiveBinder took longer and it served nicely as source material for this page.  With this page, viewers can subscribe to an RSS feed and even suggest other content to be added.  These suggestions go to the curator (me) and I add them when notified.

So, if you have a Smartphone, give it a shot.  Any suggestions or corrections should be sent to the curator!

Follow Ontario Edu-Bloggers, Part II

Last #FollowFriday, I used Montage to put together a visual representation of Ontario Edu-Bloggers based upon their RSS feeds.  I like the effect and suggested that it might be an interesting starting page should you want to see what the folks throughout the province were blogging.  The content of the entry was based upon the results from Rodd Lucier who had originally posted the list on his blog.

For the past week, I was musing about other ways to display collections like that.  One resource that I’ve always wanted to create something of substance is LiveBinders.  So, in tribute to the Ontario educators who blog, here’s another way to bring these resources together.  Starting with Rodd’s list, I kept an eye on my Seesmic Desktop column of Ontario Educators and when I found a new Twitter message, checked the profile to see if there was a blog attached.  If there was, I added it to the LiveBinder that I’d created.  Now, I can copy and paste with the best of them but the folks at LiveBinders have created a little Bookmarklet that makes things so easy.  Just find a page and click – tell LiveBinders where to store it in the popup window and move on.  It was an incredibly quick way to pull them all together.

I maintained the original categorization that Rodd started, just taking a little liberties in order to get the titles to fit in the tabs and the result is an interesting way to categorize and display all of the blogs from a single page.  LiveBinders doesn’t spawn a new window with each link – it displays the results in a frame in the same window.  I found this very handy as I browsed around to make sure that I didn’t mess up when putting things together.

So, there you have it … a nice tribute to Ontario Bloggers for this #FollowFriday.  You can check it out live at this link.

Obviously, I created it for this blog entry.  But, I keep thinking of the best way to manage a class of bloggers and think that this might be another easy way to keep tabs on each of them with minimal navigation

Fascinating List of Blogs

I stumbled on this posting from Miguel Guhlin this morning.  He’s right; this is an amazing list of blogs.  As I replied on his blog, this list wouldn’t have been possible even three years ago.  A lot of things have happened – the sense of paranoia about public transparency seems to have subsided with many – and we’re all the beneficiaries of public sharing.  Folks are documenting thoughts, insights, and just the state of education as it applies to them.  It’s fascinating reading.  Imagine if everyone shared what was happening in their corner of the world.  Imagine how reflective the profession could become.

As per Miguel’s request, I am sharing this list with anyone who is interested.  There’s not a bad read among them.  Well, maybe there’s one.

The holiday break begins for many today and for others in a couple of day and then into the new year.  Why not make a resolution to add a blog or two to your regular reading habit?  The search for great reading stops below.  Pick a blog, any blog…  New readers are awards that are meaningful to all bloggers.

From Around the

What a fascinating list of blogs…will have to check to see how many aren’t on the Google Reader list…thanks to these folks for compiling the list, but forgive me if I don’t remove the “best” labels. If your blog isn’t on the list, I hope you’ll add it in the comments, then copy the list and share it with others.

Individual blogs

Group blogs

New blogs

Class blogs

Student blogs

Resource sharing blogs

Influential blog posts

Teacher blogs

Best librarian / library blog

Best school administrator blog

Best educational tech support blog

Best elearning / corporate education blog

Best educational use of audio

Best educational use of video / visual

Best educational wiki

Best educational podcast

Best educational webinar series

Best educational use of a social network

Best educational use of a virtual world

Best use of a PLN

Lifetime achievement

In Search of Blogging Efficiency

So many blogs to read; so little time to do it.

I’m always looking for ways to become more productive in my blog reading.  There is so much to read and so much to learn.  I’ve tried RSS readers, switched to the Flock Browser for its built-in features, lots of gadgets for my iGoogle homepage, and have noticed marked improvement in my ability to bring it in.  But, I can’t help but think that there’s something, somewhere, that will do it.

Right now, the biggest aid in productivity was a book about how to speed read that I bought to help me through Grade 10 English.  I studied that sucker from cover to cover and it pays off daily.

Today, I just happened to be zipping though the results from a Google search for “Essential Firefox Add-ins” and was amazed at the number of people who had devoted time and effort to developing content that fell into that niche.

I read so many, I forgot to remember which one lead me to this add-in.  It was number 10 and I was about to speed off to read another when I read the name of the add-in.  It was called BlogRovr.  I’ve always been a sucker for focussing on misspelled words…

It installed nicely in my Flock 2 browser and then we’re off to configure it.  You log into their web service to create an account.

Then, you choose your blogs.  This is where my productivity ground to a half.  Not only do they provide this resource, but they have lumped together blogs of the same content.  Of course, NOW I have to check out all of these new found blogs.  I started from wanting to increase the productivity of the few blogs that I read regularly and now all of a sudden, I have over 60 new ones to check out.

The neat thing is that now that BlogRovr is installed, it pops out a little tray based upon the RSS of the various blogs that I’ve added.  In the background, it’s polling the feeds of the blogs that I’ve added and keeping me apprised of the latest entries.

This is going to take some time.  If I don’t post tomorrow, you’ll know why!

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When Everyone Has A Voice

I’m watching the CW11 Morning News this morning and just saw two stories back to back.

In the first one, a mother pleaded for the return of her child.

In the second one, a man threatened to place poison in 5000 jars of baby food.

There were two things in common with these stories.  First, they were, as I noted above, on the morning news in back to back segments.

Secondly, these were not news stories professionally shot by video journalists.  They were shot by amateurs and posted on YouTube.  It’s a sign of the times that in these days of citizen journalism that anyone can create their own news.  Then, a television show can use it as news footage.  If you’re interesting or sensational enough, you too could be producing such content.

Of all of the things posted on blogs or video sharing or picture sharing sites, how do you know what to believe and what not to believe?  How do you assign a credibility factor to these things?  Does the fact that a “legitimate” news source like a television station broadcast it give it truth?  How do the producers of these shows know?

Reportedly, one of these stories is true and the other a hoax.  I’ve elected to not perpetuate hoaxes by including the video or links to them in this post.

But, if you have answers to any or all of the above, it would be good to know.  If you don’t, should you?

If we don’t have the answers, how can we expect our students to know?  Does filtering websites at schools solve the problem?  Does this not just push the onus on students and possibly parents to learn at home?  How do they know?

What impact does this have on a whole generation of people that are living this as you read this post?

What does it mean when everyone has a voice?

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