This Week in Ontario Edublogs


And, it’s another Friday. It’s time to share some great blogging from around the province.


The College Drop-In

Terry Greene is back and active on his blog with an interesting announcement. He’s involved with another project through eCampusOntario. You’ll recall that he was very actively involved earlier in an Extend project for educators. He called that the Empowered Educator. You’ll recall that that introduced us to a number of educators through a voicEd Radio show and their blogs.

This time, the target are learners that are interested in returning to higher education but not necessarily to the full program, rather being involved with micro-credentialing. He calls these the Liberated Learners.

It’s an interesting concept and, of course, you can read more at the post on Terry’s blog. If his commitment to this project is the same as his last, we’ll look forward to many more blog posts keeping us up to date.

All this and he still manages to work skateboarding into the post …


BRAIN BREAKS ESSENTIAL WHEN TEACHING ONLINE

From the TESL Ontario blog, this post from Svjetlana Vrbanic, is a wonderful reminder for educators who are interested in their personal well being. She takes on the issue of brain breaks.

It’s a condition of the teacher beast that we’ll throw everything that we have at the profession. Just look at yourself; how many evenings have you spent developing lessons or overworking on the weekends?

As noted in the post, when you’re teaching face to face, there are moments to take a pause and refresh. It’s different when you’re online as there’s a sense for a need to be “on” all the time.

In the post, there are five suggestions for ways to take a brain break. They all seem like great suggestions but your call to action is to add your favourite way to take care of yourself.

Do you have suggestions to add?


10 years later – Takeaways from Learning in Online Spaces

Tina Zita was a little hesitant to share this post and I can guess why. The current reality for many folks isn’t pleasant and so it’s just natural to suspect how your audience might receive it.

I do appreciate her writing and sharing it though. With 10 years of experience, she should have and does have some great tips, suggestions, and observations about the process.

I found the one “The Environment is still the 3rd Teacher” to be really intriguing. In a perfect world, a teacher is generally in control of the learning environment. We arrange desks, decorate, place centres and technology, etc. Much of this has been removed from so many. All the techniques to sterilize the classroom, for example, has created a completely different environment. Emergency movement to teaching on line isn’t much different. After ten years, Tina would have developed ways to make the learning environment unique to her. Those thrust into the situation this past year had no input – they were just told that they had to do it. Many times, an educator wasn’t even involved in the selection of the environment; it was made by others for whatever reason and/or agenda.

The full slate of topics addressed by Tina are:

  • The Learner is still the centre
  • The Environment is still the 3rd Teacher
  • Start Slow – Less is More
  • Choice
  • Replicate the Experience not the Task
  • Sometimes Things Don’t Go as Planned

There’s a great deal of personal reflection here which makes this post an important one to read.

I truly was embarrassed and guilty as charged when she talked about Digital Clutter. Just sayin’


BLOSSOMING STUDENTS

Motivated by an edition of The Drive by Chey and Pav, Lise Farquhar focuses on the use of words “the” and “my”.

It was during the show that Chey made a personal adjustment in his use of “the students” versus “my students”.

It’s a little thing but, taken in its totality, it has a strong message and caught Lisa’s attention. In fact, she was moved to write a blog post about it.

Lisa takes this opportunity to share her thoughts. Read the post – what do you think?


To the grads of 2021 – spend this summer driving with music: and other lessons from Lisa Damour

From Laura Elliott, a post that really emphasizes the commitment to student well-being. This time, the message is to the graduates of 2021 in an address by Lisa Damour.

I like the way she addresses three big ideas:

  • Weightlifting & the Pandemic
  • Soft Fascination
  • University is NOT the best 4 years of one’s life

So much of this post resonated with me but I had an instant flashback when she mentions driving around with music in the car. For my friends and me, that was our great Friday and Saturday night routine. It built friendships and took us away from the concerns of the day. Our concerns pale in comparison to today but I had this tune immediately playing in my head.

“Oh how I wish we were back on the road again”


The 500 – #370 – Mott – Mott The Hoople

Marc Hodgkinson’s latest post in his music countdown instantly planted an earworm for me. (even though the song wasn’t on this album)

I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this song.

My big takeaway – I didn’t realize the David Bowie connection revealed by guest blogger Claudio Sossi.

You’ll have to head over and read the post. Marc continues to do a nice job of sharing his reflections on great music. You might just join me in reading all of his posts.


Summer Breeze

And, another guest blogger – this time on Richard Erdmann’s blog. A great title and another great song.

Michelle is the guest blogger here and I had to smile at her observation that we’ve gone, and typically go, from winter to summer in Ontario. What is this spring of which she speaks?

She describes a wonderful summer that the two of them have planned whether it be at home or if they happen to be able to travel. I wish them all the best and I really want to do the same things they’re planning.

May their glasses continue to be half-full.


Please click through and enjoy all these wonderful posts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Terry Greene – @greeneterry
  • Svjetlana Vrbanic – @lanavrb
  • Tina Zita – @tina_zita
  • Lise Farquhar – @L_Farquhar_IB
  • Laura Elliott – @lauraelliottPhD
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Richard Erdmann – @rerdmann

The show, recorded live on voicEd Radio can be found here.

In Advance of ECOO


Once a year, folks using technology in the classroom make the pilgrimage to the the ECOO conference.  It’s generally held in the outer areas of Toronto so that we’re not forced to drive downtown and look for parking.  That part is great.  The rest is even greater.

This year, we’re in a new location.  We’re out in Richmond Hill in the north of Toronto.  Nice location with what appears to be a facility that is designed for a conference of this size.  As a person that will be working at the OSAPAC booth, I had to check out the digs.  I’m liking this already.  The exhibit hall seems to be big and wide open.  You can walk through areas without bumping into things.  It’s looking good before we even get started.

What makes a conference is the people.

I arranged to meet with my co-presenter to go over our notes before we go live tomorrow.  We grabbed what we thought was an out of the way table thinking that we could have a nice quiet little chat.  We were — until people started walking forth and back.

A quick wave and it’s time to drop the planning and pick up the conversation.

And what conversations.

They’re not all nerdy, technical, nuts and bolts, wires and connectors talk like you would suspect.

It’s about teaching pedagogy; it’s about change; it’s about how technology is making a difference when used properly.  It’s the stuff that I thrive on.  It’s a discussion about the dream where research and networking truly makes a difference.

Wonderful renewal of acquaintances with GM, GD, NM, MW, JR, CR, SG, RM, JP, DW, TH, LC, RM, SM, and a slew of new people.  With the ones that I know, and the new ones, the conversatiions continue as if it was yesterday when we had last chatted.  In some cases, it was months or even a year ago.

I marvel at what we do.  Those of us who are computer using educators have had regular renaissances.  When we got into this years ago, it was exciting to think that with some simple instructions, we could make a big, expensive box do things like sort names or create pay cheques or generate tones to a certain pitch.  There was something out of the ordinary when you worked hard to see the login in making these things happen.

Crank the clock forward and we’re now using technology seemlessly to accomplish tasks with such efficiency in our daily lives.  GPS systems are directing us to this location, cell phones let us find our friends in the maze of hallways, character recognition is charging us for using the toll road, Twitter updates let us know that our PLN continues to work while we’re chatting with others, and I can continue to refine my presentation in my hotel room. 

Yet, the conversation here is also mindful that ubiquity hasn’t been achieved.  Cell phones don’t make it into classrooms, for example.  I had a nice discussion with a retired educator over that one.  We’ve come so far, but there’s that last mile that stops us from the dream.

So, I’m sitting here with my co-presenter and we’re debating whether one of the Ministry licensed titles has a colon in the middle of it.  No problem, I’ll just hop onto the Internet and search the OSAPAC website and find out for certain.

FAIL

In this brand new location, there is no wireless internet access. 

Technology, with all of its potential and all of its promise, has dropped the ball for me.

My needs are meager.  I want to live in a world where I don’t have to go to special places to access information.  I want it when I need it.  I need it when I need it, not when it’s convenient for someone else to make it available to me. 

If I end up with the short end, how about the student who has to check his cell phone or PDA at the door.  How about the teacher who has invested in her own personal growth and purchased her own laptop only to find that it can’t be attached to a school network.  If she can’t, you know her students sure can’t either.  Does that imply that the only good information is the information that we provide and not the result of active research?  Is the only good network a controlled network?  Is the only good computer a tightly controlled computer?

For all of the good that has happened and continues to happen in classrooms (and there has been so much good), that last step remains a challenge. 

We constantly here about how life is like in the “real world”.  As I look out my window, I see an RBC, Seneca College, and the Richmond Hill Town Centre.  I wonder, if tomorrow when the workers in these buildings do their thing, they do so with a partial set of tools.

How long before we can solve that last mile problem and really deliver on the promise?

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