Technology Refresher

I just took a look at a David Pogue TED talk.  David is a favourite speaker here in Southwestern Ontario.  He’s keynoted the Western RCAC Symposium twice and helped shovel my car out of a snow drift once.  (it’s all part of the deal of coming to London in December).


His tech talk is interesting.  It’s titled “10 top time-saving tech tips“.  Now, you’re a sophisticated computer user, right?  I’ll bet you know all these tips.  The bigger question is:  Do you use these regularly?  Is this the way you do business?

Now, think back.

Who taught you these tips?

How will students learn these productivity tips?  Do you teach them?  Do you at least model them?


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It was another great week of content sharing from Ontario Edubloggers. Here’s some of what caught my eye.

The Schools That We Want: Bring in the Shovels before you bring in the Cranes

Stephen Hurley always challenges his readers by constantly asking them to define this, or put that in perspective.  His recent post surrounds the election of the new Premier for the Province and the challenges that she faces going forward.


I really thought hard about this paragraph.  The government wants the best possible education for our students (as do we all) and the answer always seems to be adding another curriculum or expand this or refine that.  School districts respond by implementing the government initiatives as well as adding their own layers.  Stephen does ask a really good question.  Do all these layers insulate things so much that we’ve lost sight of the “fundamental purpose”?

Duct Tape Challenge

You’ve got to love the creativity of the teachers that teach the youngest of students.  In this case, Angie Harrison talks about the “Duct Tape Challenge” going on in her class.  Nothing says Canadian like Duct Tape.  I have long lusted for a duct tape wallet ever since I first saw one!

Is this just a fun little extra-curricular that’s added to fill the day?  Absolutely not.  In her post, Angie includes pictures and talks about exactly what the students will be doing.  Most importantly, and I guess ties nicely into Stephen’s ideas of layers, she identifies the expectations that will be addressed.


Where was this when I was in school?

Visualizing Connections

Rodd Lucier recently took a shot at trying to visualize connections among online learners.  He did it in two dimensions – those being intellectual engagement against emotional connectivity.  Those were two interesting criteria.


I thought that his placements were interesting.  Of course, it’s all subjective but he does paint an interesting story.  Dig into Rodd’s blog if you want to discover what UnPlug’d is all about.  I think that there’s another attribute that needs to be considered.  It’s time.  Time for involvement with each of the activities and also time in terms of the longevity of the activities.  For example, there have been connections that I’ve had that I would rate highly in terms of both of Rodd’s attributes but the connection has been nil recently.  How would you best display that?  A 3D representation?

The Year in Review – a barrenblogger’s excuse

Tracy Bachellier shares her thoughts about blogging and I would suggest that she speaks for so many.  Whether they’re intermittent bloggers or daily bloggers, I think that everyone asks these questions.  How will I ever find the time?  How will I ever get the ideas?


Personally, I wish I could have a gig like David Pogue.  People send me stuff, I evaluate it, and then write a blog post once a week about it and my employer gives me a lot of money.   (Guess who read Pogue’s Post about the new Blackberry today.)

Personally, I think everyone should blog.  It’s great for learning; it’s great for expression.  Writing – and quite frankly, I have no illusions that I’m a great writer – has always been the way that I learn stuff.  When I would study for history tests in high school, I would write a story from the perspective of the historical event that I was trying to understand.  As a programmer, I always wrote a description of my programs before I actually coded them.  Nothing succeeds like success and these were the mechanisms that got me through it.

When I decided to write this blog, I struggled.  I always felt like I had to write a post that would stand out and put me in the same category of the Pogue’s of the world.  That lastest about two posts and then reality kicked in.  Nobody is going to send me a Blackberry to evaluate.  So, I went back to my roots and I used writing as a way to express my thinking.  Rather than just file it away on my hard drive, I put it online.  It made me a better proofreader, to be sure.  I also decided to give myself license to write about anything that came to mind.  If you were to look at my local hard drive, you’d find all kinds of half-baked ideas and partially fleshed out blogs.  But I keep writing and writing and writing.

I would encourage Tracy to just start to write about stuff that she’s doing and experiencing.  It will grow on you and soon become part of your daily routine.

Livescribe on the Road

Finally, from Mark Carbone, a great learning tip.  If you’re in the car a lot, why not learn?

It makes so much sense.  For me, I typically get in the car and turn on E Street Radio and listen to the E Street Band.  I’ve got it wrong.

Mark’s advice –


Plug your Livescribe pen with your notes into your stereo, tap the start from your notes and listen to your recording as you’re driving.


Thanks to the writers above for sharing your thoughts.  This blog reader really appreciates it.  Enjoy the complete blog posts at the links above or find all of the Ontario Edubloggers at this link.  You’re an Ontario Edublogger but not in the Livebinder collection?  Head over to the link and add yourself.

Customize your own Google Chrome


Warning – slightly geeky post this morning.

But, if you’re a Google Chrome user, I’ll bet you try it at least once!

How many times have you looked for a Google Chrome theme that says “Hey, this is me…” and failed?  You’ll end up going back to the defaults or compromising on something close.

Well, no longer!  Head over to the Google Chrome Store and download “My Chrome Theme“.

It only takes a few seconds … once installed, go ahead and launch the application.

You’re there!

Follow the three steps and you’ve created your own theme.

Step 1 – If you’d like an image on the opening background, upload it from your computer or use your Webcam to take your perfect image.  Read the fine print at the bottom before doing so…your content will be uploaded.  The first time I ran this, I used an image that had already been posted on this blog – the image with Kerry, myself, and David Pogue digging my car out after the big snow storm at the RCAC Symposium a few years ago.  It’s one of my favourites but, for me, a background image really isn’t usable since I use the Incredible StartPage anyway which overwrites the image.

Step 2 – Choose some colours!  Active tab, background tab, background tab bar, background area.  Or, the infamous Google “I’m Feeling Lucky”.

If you know me, you’ll know that there aren’t enough shades of green to keep me happy.  I thought that pinky/orange was a nice contrast.

Step 3 – Install your theme.

If you’re so inclined, share the themes with others.  Just keep in mind the caveat about the images.

Wasn’t that easy?

You now have that perfect theme for yourself.  Or, if you’re using Google Chrome with your class, you could pop an image of the school and populate Chrome with your school colours. Or….