Stay on Top of #ECOO13 Updates

With a recent post, “It’s Official Now”, the countdown is on to the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario’s 2013 Conference.  The conference committee will do its best to keep information and news out in the open so that everyone can share in the excitement.  Of course, information should be available through traditional sources like the ECOO website but look also to….

The Conference Website


But, there are ways to be more interactive with others headed to Niagara Falls.

Facebook Group


Google Plus Event


On Twitter – @ecooWeb


Lanyrd for the program –


And, look for group sourcing ideas….


I really like Peter’s concept.  Instead of sitting back and passively taking the program as it gets presented, why not be vocal and see if there’s someone who’s sitting on a great idea and just needs a little push to put forth a proposal.

Me?  A couple of ideas come to mind.  Is anyone using Linux with students?  I’d love to hear your story and see what applications you’re using and how you’re doing it.  Or, are you one of the fortunate ones who has a 3D printer?  What are you doing with it?  The computer scientist in me is always interested in cool ideas with Scratch, Alice, Visual Basic, Python, Turing, …  Social Media to do new things in the classroom would be great.  Or, how about using infographics with students?

There’s lots of great ideas.

And, you won’t miss a beat by staying tuned to your favourite social network!

Don’t forget the hashtag #ecoo13.  The easiest way to stay on top is through Tagboard.

Tagboard –


The Call for Proposals is now open.  If you’ve got an idea, why now share it with fellow educators?

Catching Up with ECOO 2012

I made it home from the ECOO Conference in Richmond Hill this morning.  The normal 4.5 hour took two days.  4 hours got me through the bumper to bumper slow-moving traffic and I finally threw in the towel and spent the night in Woodstock.

Driving home, I did smile at the people who told me that the drive from London to Windsor is boring.  I rather enjoyed it.  Even this morning, there was huge traffic that finally cleared at London and it was smooth sailing to Windsor.  Along the way, I totally enjoyed looking at the fall corn and soy bean fields; looked at the rural farm buildings and just admired the hard-working efforts of the farmers.  It was a far cry from the white knuckling of the 401!

As a member of a Conference Committee, you actually get to enjoy much of the conference.  You’re forever fretting that everything will go well, checking to make sure that presenters are good to go, and giving directions.  In between that, you’re talking with friends – I met so many new people and the worst thing will be seeing them again next year and having to sneak a peek at the nametags to get their names right.  I also curated the ongoing information slideshow that never seemed to be done.  “Doug – I need you to add this right away…”  Plus, if you’re going to do a shoutout to some people during the morning routine, you better make sure that you know that they’re “in the house” so that you don’t look really stupid.

My pal @royanlee was in the house

There were just so many sessions that were offered.  Even if I was focused and attended something every timeslot, I wouldn’t have been able to attend them all.  Thankfully, there’s social media.

Looking for things, I realize that I can follow the conference hashtag #ECOO12 and there are links and references to individual sessions.  The Facebook group that was created is another resource.  But, the very best place is the Lanyrd website.  Thankfully, many of the presenters have posted their presentations, videos, and other resources there.  It’s not the same as being there in person but it’s a good second.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Deja Drop


One of the most read post on this blog occurred on August 27, 2011.  At that time, I talked about using Dropbox as a Hand-in Folder for the classroom.  It’s a great concept…a student uses the website to send a file from your computer to her/his teacher.  No more relying on USB keys or email or other schema.  The original post appears at the bottom of this post to jog your memory or to introduce it should you have missed it the first time.

It’s a great concept but had one problem.  It didn’t work on the iPad.

Until now!

With the upgrade to iOS6, you now have have a working upload button!

If you can take a picture or use an application that stores its output in the Photos folder, you’re good to go.  This doesn’t make the iPad as functional as a regular computer for uploading – Apple doesn’t let you browse outside the Photos folder but it does let you go there.


Dropbox is a terrific utility for storing files online.  It’s accessible with any computer that can connect to the internet.  (Don’t ignore the fact that your portable device is also a computer…)  If you’re interested in cloud storage, this is the real deal.  Just upload to your Dropbox account and access it from anywhere.  It should come as no surprise that you can share those files with others as well.

But, that’s not the story here.  Cloud is cloud.  But, I’m thinking now of real-world classroom applications.  Many systems will have centralized storage so that students can hand in their work.  The problem, though, is that they typically have to be using a school computer attached to the school network at school.  There’s a lot of school there!  If you’re moving to a more open approach to assignments, this sort of logic is old school.  Consider the following scenarios that just spring to mind.

1)     A student is using her own personal device and is attached to a guest network at school;
2)     A student is using her own personal device and is attached to the wireless at her favourite restaurant or her network at home.

Old school logic says to email it to the teacher (which means giving out your email address to students) or put it on a memory key, remember to put it in her backpack, plug the memory key into a computer at school and then submit it.

Now, if you’re using a wiki or learning management system, uploading of files is typically built into them so run with that.  But, what if you don’t want the hassle or don’t need the functionality of managing that?  Head back to Dropbox and see what else you can do with it.

This is one sweet working web application.  It integrates so nicely with your existing Dropbox and you can be up and running literally in minutes.

1)     Create a Dropbox account.  (If you haven’t done this already, do it now.  Even if you don’t go further, you’ll thank yourself)

2)     Create a account.

3)     Connect the two accounts.  When you create your account, you’ll be asked by Dropbox to authorize this new service so that it has permission to upload to your account.  Of course, you’ll want to do this – you don’t want just anyone uploading to your cloud storage.  At this time, you’ll also set an upload password.  This password, you’ll give to your students so that they can hand their work in from whatever computer or whatever network they happen to be connected to when they finally get their work done.

4)     Give the students the URL to your handin folder or just make it a link in your class wiki.  It should come as no surprise that mine is  Remind them one last time what the upload password is…  and then get ready to mark.  When the students enter the URL that you’ve provided, they’re challenged for the password and then asked to locate the file to upload.

They find the file and send it.  Work is submitted.  It’s honestly and truthfully as simple as that.

5)     On your end, a new folder called Dropittome is created in your Dropbox space and uploads are time and date stamped.  You’ll know exactly whether or not assignments or documents are submitted on time.  You just open the document like you would any other file on your computer to see the work.

Besides the techy approach here, consider some of the other aspects.

If you’re interested in going paperless, you’re potentially there.  I shudder when I see the assignments that take half a sheet of paper, or assignments that are one page and one line, or computer science printouts that are pages and pages long, or Photoshop documents that run through toner like water or the excess pages printed and recycled because the user wasn’t patient and whacked the print key many times.

It’s a great opportunity to talk about the cloud.  This is a wonderful and practical example for students to try to come to grips conceptually with just where their documents go when they’re sent “out there” and magically arrive to the teacher.

I see it also as a great opportunity to talk about security of documents.  What are the implications of sending files this way?  How can we ensure that the document is only viewable by the teacher?  Could you talk about file sizes and how to optimize or compress the file to speed up the process on the students’ end?  When ready, you could even talk about adding a password to a zip or tar file to achieve both security and size concerns.

But, is it always about the students?  Would you care to know how many times I drove back to school after supper to pick up marking that I forgot to take home?  Or, thinking that I’ve got it all done and arriving at school the next morning to find more to mark in my mailbox or slid under my classroom door?  In a culture where handins are all electronic and cloud based, all of this goes away.

I would encourage you to give this a shot.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly and effortlessly you and your students are firing files around.


Mobile for ECOO 2012


Yesterday was a great planning day.  Those of us on the ECOO 2012 Planning Committee got together to continue the process of making sure that everything is all set for this year’s conference on October 25, 26.  The preconference on the 24th adds even more value to the conference attendees.

As I blogged earlier, the conference promises to be the most social ever – we’ve even got a Facebook page where we’re sharing some of the exciting sessions, one day at a time, highlighting the awesome sessions that will be offered by Ontario educators.  The hashtag is in place – #ECOO12 and folks are already discussing in anticipation.

What would a good technology conference be without an app?  We’ve got you covered there as well.  We’re using the Lanyrd service to assemble and schedule all the component pieces.  With an audience using such diverse technologies, it only makes sense to push the web application for those who like to plan ahead and explore everything!

So, check it out on your mobile at or on your desktop at

Here you’ll be able to explore the event, plan your conference, see who’s attending, and read speaker biographies.

From top to bottom, there are great events with content designed to appeal to everyone.  Nora Young is but one of the keynote speakers and she’s going to host a panel discussion of the other keynote speakers:  Jaime Casap, John Seely Brown, and Michael Fullan.

The Committee is excited to see how all the pieces are starting to fall into place.  Please take the time to bookmark the web application so that you can join in on the excitement and I hope to see you there.