This Week in Ontario Edublogs

There were some simply amazing posts by those involved in Ontario Education this week.  My sincere thanks for taking the time to create the great content.  There’s a great deal to think about in the selection that I’ve chosen to look at in this post.  Please take the time to follow through to the original posts and comment.  Or comment below.

Why Technology Training for Faculty is a waste of time… (not really… but…)
I was drawn to Alana Callan’s recent post because of the title.  In reality, it was her thoughts about a post that she had read.

So, I gave a Whew! and read on.  I like the fact that she’s recognizing that the conversation is changing.  It used to be that professional learning taught the tool and you hoped that pedagogy followed.  Then, the pedagogs took over and everything was about the rationale for doings something and you hoped that the skills to actually use it came afterwards.

The reality, it seems to me, is that both are needed but far more time and opportunities have to be provided to learners.  I get a kick out of school systems that take students for 10 months to acquire skills but feel that two or three days devoted to formal “training” (whatever that means) gets the job done and you expect the world to change.  We expect learning to be continuous for students; why shouldn’t we expect the same thing from professionals?  Much time and efforts need to be devoted to professional learning for staff if you’re going to get substantial change.  In light of that, I think it explains why so many of us continue to learn by making the connections to others online daily.

We expect that students will try and fail in the learning process but we’re always there to help them get up and have another run at it.  Shouldn’t the same philosophy and patience be devoted to staff learning?

Parent Engagement:  Poorly Defined?
The 5 Most Overhyped Trends in Education
Let’s call this two for the price of one.  Andrew Campbell started the discussion with what he saw as overhyped trends and Sheila Stewart focussed in on the last one – Parent Engagement.

I guess I have a problem seeing this as a trend, much less one that’s overhyped.  My parents were certainly engaged in my education.  I couldn’t get away with anything and at least one of them were at the school at every opportunity.  Even at university, I would get the inquisition whenever we got together!  How was I doing on tests and projects and exams and …?  I think that, as long as there have been parents, there have been varying levels of interest and involvement in student school.  So, I don’t see it as a trend and I don’t care who defines it whether it’s poorly or not so poorly.

Is the situation not one of attitude?  As teachers, do we not want to recognize the role that a parent can play in making schools years a success?  Yes, there are some parents that are more vocal than others.  Yes, there are single parents.  Yes, there are parents that work permanent midnights.  Yes, there are so many permutations.  It seems to me that the doors to communication need to be open.  Telephone calls can be made.  In today’s world, there are no shortages of opportunities to communicate.  Parent Councils?  Absolutely – you see them bringing in speakers to help parents understand life as it exists in today’s world.  Nobody teaches you how to be a parent so every little bit helps.

My Day on CBC Radio: The Journey
What would you do if you threw a party and the guest of honour didn’t show up?  I was almost in that boat at the ECOO Conference.  We wanted to have a panel discussion among the keynote speakers moderated by CBC Radio’s Nora Young.  We had them all there but we were missing something important – the voice of now in schools.  After all, the conference theme was Education in the Now Century.  During the planning, when I raised the issue, Bill MacKenzie asked who I would recommend.  One name popped to the front of my mind – Donna Fry.  She was big in social media, was a classroom teacher, was an eLearning Teacher, was a vice-principal, and now was a principal.  If there ever was a person who had experienced it all….

Things would have been a great deal easier if Donna could get to the conference by driving up the 407.  That’s a little difficult when you live on the other end of Lake Superior!  Read Donna’s post to get the details of her trip east.  It wasn’t easy.  After I got her situated on the stage, the least I could do was get her a glass of water – her only request.  From there, she proceeded to steal the show!

Dude, where’s my camera?
This picture from Royan Lee’s post says it all.

I’m really at a loss to put any kind of spin on this one.  The post and the comments from Royan’s readers say it all.  If you’re not prepared to trust that teachers will use technology properly, I’d suggest that you just save your money and not buy the stuff.  Or, maybe Alana is right.  Just disable all functionality of the technology and then you won’t need to have professional learning or discourse.  The students will be safe (the only possible reason I could think of this) and you won’t have to worry at all about making new content via pictures or movies documenting a child’s world.


I would be remiss not to have a word about Andy Forgrave’s latest post…

Haiku, do you?
I don’t get Haiku.  I don’t think I ever studied it.  I don’t recall ever writing it.  I do read it every now and again from the keyboard of Andy Forgrave who tags it #twhaiku.  It’s obviously an art form I’m incapable of creating.  But Andy can and I think his stuff is good.  What do I know?  At least it’s interesting.

I wrote a post yesterday about Haiku Deck for the iPad.  Since I know two things about Haiku – it’s a Japanese poetic form and Andy creates it – I figure the least I could do is make reference to his abilities in my post.  I was also interested that Andy hadn’t shared it with me already.  One of the joys of our infrequent get togethers is to have him teach me about his latest passion.  After all, he was the one that introduced me to Prose with Bros.

I didn’t expect that my post would inspire him to write a post back on his own blog.  I also didn’t expect that he would analyze my thoughts in Haiku.  Now I must confess – I’m not sure whether his post was positive or negative – it was just Haiku!

Thanks, Andy.

Check out these posts at the links above or all the writers from the Ontario Edubloggers Livebinder.  If you’re a blogger or an Ontario Educator who wants to be added to the Twitter Ontario Educator list, there’s a form there.  Complete the form and I’ll get you added as soon as I can and I’ll create a personalize badge for your blog.

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The Role of the Teacher in the Now Century

For me, the highlight of the 2012 ECOO Conference occurred on the Thursday afternoon.  The last session of the day was a discussion among all of the conference keynote speakers.  Nora Young from CBC’s Spark led the discussion with John Seely Brown, Jaime Cassap, Donna Fry, and Michael Fullan.

The panelists all brought a unique angle to the discussion. It was important to have Michael to put an Ontario context to the discussion and Donna, not only brought Ontario to the table, but the reality of day to day education in her job as principal.

Nora showed her expertise as a host by keeping the conversation moving, on track and redirecting the panelists when necessary.  She had made her own recording of the discussion and parts made Spark last weekend as previously noted here.

Today, the entire panel discussion is available to the world through the ECOO website at this link.  If you were in attendance at the ECOO Conference, I think you’ll enjoy the replay.  If you missed the conference, please enjoy.

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Thinking About Privacy

I think that the quality of a keynote address, at least for me, is the ability for it to make me think.  Driving home from ECOO, I’m still mulling around Nora Young’s talk about Big Data.  You can watch it, or rewatch it here.

She gave lots of great suggestions about the types of data we share:

Now, I like to think that I’m as cautious as the next guy.  I have Ghostery, AdBlock Plus, and Do Not Track Plus installed on all of my computer.  I have geolocating turned off when I send Twitter messages.  I’m well hidden, right?

I wrote myself one of her quotes which I think is verbatem.  “We leave digital trails behind us”.

In part of her discussion she talked about the geolocation abilities of cellphones.  Both GPS enabled and nonGPS enabled.  Heck, anyone who has ever watched Law and Order knows that this is how serious criminals or missing persons are tracked – by their cell phone location.  As I type this, I have my perfectly hidden computer in front of me but my cell phone beside it.  I have another Nora quote – “Data sets coming together to generate more data than either one”.  So, if you wanted to find me, find out when I’m on my computer and then zero in via my cell phone.

It’s only relatively recently that I’ve had the extensions to my browser.  Before that, as I was learning, I was wide open.  And, if it’s not from that information, certainly I’m somewhat identifiable by my IP address.  Or, try finding me old school – in the phonebook!

So, just what is privacy and to what extent can you control your privacy?  Or, can you even control it at all?  Is the best that you can do some sort of damage control and just minimize what you’re sharing / broadcasting?  How about students?  Do they have a sense of this?  How paranoid about this things should the average citizen be?

If you’re concerned, I would highly recommend watching and listening to her keynote.  I really found it food for thought.


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.