Tech Tip: Not what I expected

I was eating my lunch at my desk today and thumbing through a new issue of a publication (yes, paper) that I subscribe to. One of the pages had a ‘tech tip’ listed, and predictably, this caught my attention. What I read in the ‘tech tip’ was not at all what I expected to read. The actual tip described in detail the steps to download, save, convert video formats and repost/upload the video content hosted on YouTube to additional websites. Yikes! My internal ‘alarm bells’ to follow the rules (terms of use etc.) and support copyright were going off, especially since the publication is education oriented.

The YouTube terms of use policy specifically states that “Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only and may not be downloaded, copied, modified, produced, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, translated, published, performed or otherwise exploited for any other purposes whatsoever without the prior written consent of the respective owners.

In my mind, this is a great example of:  just because you can, and technology makes it easy, does not mean the activity is permitted and/or legal. I see this as a missed opportunity to enlighten the readership, promote ethical use of content and demonstrate digital citizenship. After work, I was sharing my ‘find’ with @hniezen and @rebrouse. We were debating whether or not I would point this out to the editor of the publication. I think we landed on yes, so I will craft an email to explore the situation further.

Related Reading

UK Guardian: digital economy bill
Digital Rights Management in Canada
Internet abuse and ISP liability
Internet Piracy Copyright Law in Canada
Canadian Journal of Communication: Bill C-60 and Copyright in Canada commentary

Enjoy the reading and learning.
~ Mark

Links for 2009-11-28

Links: 2009 11 28 — Interesting finds of the week

1. Questia Library for iPhone, iPod Touch

2. Ideas for text organizers to support student writing

3. District Administration: mobile devices in the classroom

4. Route 21: 21st century skills

5. Metiri Group: What’s so different about the 21st century?

6. Presenter’s perspective: Spectacle at Web 2.0 Expo

7. PBS Video: How Google Saved a School

8. Educators’ Guide for integrating social media

Enjoy the reading and learning.

~ Mark

Elluminate with the Ontario PLP group

Monday afternoon, we held an online Elluminate session with our Ontario PLP group with Will Richardson. For many of the participants, this was their first experience in this type of environment, so the session began with a tour of the features and controls which included screen layout options, audio (mic) testing, communication indicators (thumbs up/down, applause, I have a question, stepping away/I am back etc.) and  chat window functions.

I was really impressed with the level of participation and the comfort level displayed by the meeting attendees throughout this first session. I wanted to share some further thoughts about a discussion point we have had within our Ning group and during this online session.

The discussion topic centred around the use of the term ‘lurker’. In the online community this term is generally accepted as way to refer to people who ‘look around’ and seemingly watch the activity. The points in question are, independent of the common use of the expression:

a) Is the use of this term appropriate?  and

b) how does its use make you feel?

From my own point of view, I feel the use of this term has a negative connotation to it. While I am absolutely clear about the use of the term in this context, I would rather see a term used that presents a positive image. I see online participation occurring in three different categories:

  • Role 1: People who participate by reading and observing, more of a quiet studier.
  • Role 2: People that fall into this role are the connectors. They share information by forwarding emails, reposting blog articles, retweeting Twitter posts etc.
  • Role 3: People in this 3rd role are the initiators or contributors. They author their own blog posts, share social bookmark lists, respond to other people’s blog posts and suggest resources for others to be aware of or review.

Depending on the learning experience, a person move progress through all of these roles with a particular tool as well as having an ‘overall role’ with their online experience.

I was particularly interested in the small group discussion that occurred within the structure of our session. Will gave us a list of 7 big shifts, divided us into groups of 6 and asked each to have a discussion based on which of the big shifts resonated with them. The discussion in my group revolved around 2 shifts –

a) synchronous to asynchronous (and back again) and

b) place/time dependent to  anytime/anywhere/anyone learning

From my point of view, these are the two elements that are shaping our current learning opportunities and community development within the Ontario PLP group. Everyone is actively involved in reading and responding to posts in the discussion forums, blogging, connecting on Twitter etc. Each day provides an opportunity to embrace a steady trickle of learning and collaboration through the use of web 2.0 tools. In depth discussions are occurring, questions and new ideas are being posted, and new points of view are being explored. Factoring in our face to face kickoff, and the elluminate session, all of this activity falls into the 2 shifts or categories I identified. This opportunity is truly a synchronous/asynchronous anytime, anywhere, anyone learning journey.

This is certainly a fantastic opportunity and I am delighted to be part of the Ontario PLP leaders and learners team.

~ Mark

Reading: F vs Z patterns

At the recent ECOO conference, I was really fascinated by Ian Jukes’ presentation that highlighted the differences in reading patterns of many children today, especially if they are web users. Ian explained that the brains of this generation of students are actually wired differently than brains of previous generations of students. Of course, there are many implications for student learning if we take these findings to heart. Key findings include:

  • the brain is constantly learning
  • eye movements occur in different patterns, typically more F shaped than the Z shape we (adults) use
  • as a result, students of ignore areas of a page or screen that we might assume contains important content
  • students learn better when multimedia content is included
  • students view graphics before text
  • students read colour before black on white
  • pace of lesson delivery plays a factor in student engagement (Note: varies from student to student, but in general is faster than adults process information
  • tests show that people visualize content at a 90% rate

Now, think about the ramifications of not learning more about the student ‘digitally wired’ brain. What are the implications of:

  • anchor chart design
  • poster design
  • print and textbook layout
  • software screen layout design
  • web page design

I had a chance to share some of this information at our table discussion regarding effective use of anchor charts. This lead into a really engaging discussion about how to increase awareness and change our behaviours in the area of text design.

Since the conference, I have located a number of internet based resources on this topic which I have shared below.

Related Reading

F shaped reading patterns
Eye tracking patterns
Graphic Design layout patterns related to scanning patterns
F shaped reading patterns for web content
The Black Art of web publishing
The Luon blog post
Reading patterns

Enjoy the learning and thinking.

~ Mark

Moving the K12 privacy agenda forward

Today I attended a Privacy & Information Management session in London which was a good learning experience.

The session began with an opportunity to to view some of the 8 training videos that have been prepared for use in Ontario school Boards. The video series was designed for 3 target audiences: teachers, administrators and IT staff. Key areas of best practice addressed in the videos included:

  • physical documents
    • security
    • office practices
    • classroom practices
    • destruction
  • digital data
    • server locations
    • implications of outsourcing storage
    • laptop and USB key use
    • destruction of digital data (hardware recycling)
  • visual privacy
    • use of cell phones, smart phones, digital cameras and video recorders
    • guidelines for posting content on Board sites as well as uploading to public internet sites

Following the preview of the videos, the balance of the day provided opportunities to review strategies for implementation of Privacy and Information Management strategies and further discussion of the 3 areas identified above.  I found the discussion rich and in depth. My note taking included the following points:

  • laptop setup should include a BIOS level password, OS password and an encrypted area to store confidential data
  • recycling of hardware must include data destruction on the hard drives
  • prevent the use of peer to peer sharing tools such as Kaza and Limewire
  • enforce password format and change policies
  • key corporate level data stored locally where you can control access (information knows no boundaries)
  • store email in a centrally hosted system

Key implementation strategies should:

  • create a culture of awareness
  • update and/or write policies to reflect needs and goals
  • sustain energy and interest in this area (it is not a one time item)
  • make best practice strategies relevant to key user groups (teachers, admin, support staff etc.)
  • be shared as a team, this is not just one person’s torch to carry.

Drifting off a little as I was sitting in the sessions, my mind was flitting to other connections. After all, creating a culture of P & I Management awareness is connected to Digital Citizenship.  In some ways, there are interconnected tensions between privacy culture, digital citizenship, suitable access to K12 content for curriculum delivery (content filtering/open internet) and copyright. Somewhere in the middle of all of this is a sweet spot – establishing the required culture is the challenge. I am looking forward to my involvement on our team.

Related Reading

PIM Taskforce
Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario

~ Mark

Facebook screen effect

Very curious!

Step 1: Log into Facebook

Step 2: press the following key sequence (one at a time):

up arrow, up arrow, down arrow down arrow, left arrow, right arrow, left arrow, right arrow, b, a, <Enter>

Step 3:

In Windows, right click on the screen to open the options window, then click away from the options window to close it

In OSX, control click on the screen to open the options window, then click away from the options window to close it

Step 4: Now when you press up or down arrow, or click the pointer a set of coloured circles will appear on the screen – weird.

Step 5: Simply log out of Facebook to cancel this effect.

Thanks to my daughter for sharing this strange find with me. You never know what you will learn.

~ Mark


IT Strategy Day

I recently had the opportunity to attend the semi-annual IT Strategy day hosted by ECNO, the Educational Computing Network of Ontario. The structure of the day provides an opportunity to tackle key questions in a group work setting with chance to report and comment on each groups report. It is very valuable to work in this multi-board format as there is a lot of ‘knowledge and thinking power’ around the table. The topic for this session was right on the money – Sustainability and Renewal.

What does sustainability mean from an IT perspective?

  • sufficient fiscal and human resources
  • multi year approach
  • development of staff skill sets
  • knowledge transfer among staff
  • succession planning
  • alignment with learning and student success
  • analysis and prioritization

Key Question: Given current budget constraints, and a potential for budget reductions:

  • what are the true priorities that must be addressed?
  • what is important over the next two year window?
  • what strategies are useful in engaging with senior officials for informed decision making?

The discussion identified the following actions, frameworks, comments and questions:

  • determine what  the direct impact on IT be in a budget reduction situation
  • determine the impact of resourcing (staff)
  • alignment of staff and skill sets to the needed roles and skill sets is a major challenge given the complex staffing and contractual arrangements that are in place
  • reduction of overtime budgets creates a major challenge
  • lieu time is more of a rob Peter to pay Paul game and not really an asset
  • impact of lease vs buy
  • long term negative impact of ‘money bombs’ from one time grants

As you can see from the list, the decisions would definitely complicated in the event of a major budget reduction, not easy to make, and potentially different strategies would be used Board to Board.

What key elements and factors would be part of a critical services matrix? My discussion summary notes included the following points:

  • restructuring is critical to meet needs, alignment of tasks and priorities
  • prepare for the future (wireless, NAC, mobile/guest devices)
  • put the right tool set in place
  • what are you not going to do? (you can’t sustain everything)

The final exercise of the day required each group to identify the top 5 barriers and identify a strategy or two to deal with the barrier. Rather than report on the specific discussion we had, I will leave this as a reflective question for you to ponder as it relates to your own situation. It is a worthwhile exercise. Feel free to leave a comment/suggestion.

Thanks to the ECNO organization for arranging a quality day for some heads up strategic thinking. Thank you to the participants for sharing their knowledge, expertise and insights.

~ Mark

iPhone: tech tip for FirstClass mobile client

I have been using the FirstClass client software on my iPod touch for a little while now. The software is very functional and easy to use for the most part. Setting up the calendar was clunky – not obvious, needed research and makes you ask why???

Activating the calendar requires a couple of steps.

1. Select the ‘i’ on the lower right corner of the main screen to access the settings options.

2. Tap the version number 3 times. The ‘alarm on’ message will appear indicating that calendars and contacts are now visible on the mobile client.

Last week I upgraded my old cell phone to an iPhone. The transition between devices worked well – kept my same family phone plan, added a data package, transferred the contact list from the phone and presto – ready for action with the iPhone.

I synced the iPhone to the same laptop as I sync my iPod Touch to. A separate profile was created and off I went. After a little use, I noticed that the number of available screens within FirstClass was not the same between the devices. Further checking showed that the number of icons available differed as well. Hmmm.

A closer comparison showed that the calendar feature was not active in the client setup synced over to my iPhone and the version number was not there to tap and activate the calendar feature. I deleted the installation, downloaded a fresh copy over the internet and went through the configuration settings again. Now the iPod Touch and iPhone versions are functioning the same and  everything is humming along as I expected.

~ Mark

Reflections on ECOO 2009

ECOO 2009 was an amazing conference – no question about that. Hats off to @brendasherry and the conference organization team.

One of the things I noticed this year was the amount of pre ECOO conversations (& hype). Twitter was buzzing with anticipation, discussion and people organizing to connect at the event. Twitter was the perfect vehicle to host the shared discussion and organization.

My learning opportunities included:

  • Understanding Digital Kids – Ian Jukes
  • Adobe ePortfolio software – S. Addler
  • Why Ban Them – Use Them – Paul Hatala
  • Understanding Social Media and Why it Matters – Alec Couros
  • Rethinking Teaching and Learning in a Networked World – Alec Couros
  • 2 sessions of duty at the OSAPAC booth

Learning Highlights:

  • the brains of students today are wired differently
  • we read based on a Z pattern, today’s students read in an F pattern
  • colour is read before black and white
  • pictures, colour, sound and video are all processed before text
  • Think about the impact of this on print, textbook, and web design
  • How do we use this information to improve learning?
  • Adobe ePortfolio is a powerful package that certainly lives up to expectations – lots of potential in K-12
  • iPods in the Classroom, effective use includes
    • internet research
    • collaboration (e.g. First Class)
    • Evernote and delicious for bookmarking
    • Google Docs and gflash as study aids
    • calendar and alarms for time management
    • to do lists
    • polling/voting
    • podcasting
  • many concerns fall into the student behaviour area – deal with the behaviours, not ban the devices
  • capitalize on equipment that many students already own
  • Understanding Social media
    • great sessions that challenged participants to think about key issues
    • What defines offensive content?
    • Who is it offensive too?
    • Cyber bullying
    • Real time data, valuable in search and context
    • What does friendship and community mean in today’s world?
    • There is definitely a shift in today’s world, including a blurring of private and public space
    • A new key element in this environment is reputation management
    • We need to understand what our kids are looking at and leverage new tools effectively in the educational environment
    • We need to build trust.

We had excellent attendance at the  OSAPAC booth with quality conversations about provincially licensed software, challenges teachers experience, needs, potential future directions.

The conference is well structured so there is plenty of opportunity to connect and learn outside of the main sessions too. Highlights for me were the in depth conversations with Alec Couros, Doug Peterson and Zoe Pipe concerning the ins and outs of copyright on the web, content filtering and social networking tools to improve student learning and staff development. All of these topics are relevant, complex and interesting. The conversations were rich and without time constraints. I really appreciated these opportunities and the valuable learning that happened as a result.

All of the meal times and hallway connections rounded out a great conference experience. I am already looking forward to ECOO 2010.

Related Reading about ECOO 2009

@msjweir   ECOO 2009!
@dougpete   The Power of Conferences
@redfearn   Inspire Connect Teach – ecoo 2009
@brendasherry   ECOO 2009 Reflections
@aliringbull   Mind Blown at ECOO in a Good Way
@marclijour    Impressed by ECOO 2009
ECOO feedback and planning wiki: ECOO Connections

~ Mark

Have you checked your digital footprint?

On mornings when I eat breakfast by myself, I usually do a little reading to get the day started. Gone are the newspapers and magazines. My reading is done on the computer. How much reading get done depends on my ‘blast off’ timeframe, but I always do some. On a typical day,  I would

  • check work email for any time sensitive items
  • log into Twitter, read new tweets and usually I will post something about my upcoming day as well
  • next stop, read the daily blog post at  Off the Record – a great start to the day.
  • then, time permitting,  check headlines and areas of interest on web based major newspapers
  • on weekend mornings, I also catch up on the wide selection of  blogs I read

Recently I was reading a Twitter post about Library Learning Commons. I decided to Google the person referred to in the tweet to obtain a little more information, which was easily obtained. Then, a fleeting thought zips through my mind … I haven’t Googled myself lately, I wonder what comes up.

So, I Google my name, then my name and location, and finally my name and role.  Well, I was amazed at what was listed among the Google listings. I new from trying this exercise earlier from a digital footprint perspective that there are many Mark Carbone’s that come up in searches. Looking at the listings specifically about me, I expected to see references to:

  • my blog
  • Twitter
  • ISTE and other educational forums on Ning that I participate in
  • and maybe Facebook

I was surprised to see a number of other references that referred to participation in other online forums. Surprised meaning you don’t think about the quantity and depth of checking and indexing that occurs in the online world. Some examples include:

  • Listings of comments that I posted on various blogs (via
  • Linked In
  • Comments on public Facebook pages (music groups in this case)
  • My Twitter activity was fed to a CIO dashboard listing of CIO’s on Twitter

Reflecting on this, I guess I should have anticipated some of these ‘extra references’. After all, there is a public component to many of these web 2.0 services. One doesn’t necessarily think that their actions (comments) will become searchable items accessible by today’s powerful search engines. Based on what I observed, my digital footprint has definitely expanded since I last reviewed it. With my level of participation, this is it be expected, and arguably a good thing.

New to social networking? When using social networking tools as part of your activities, you will want to be aware that your activities my not be as private or as limited as you may think. Social networking tools and today’s search engines are very powerful. Your online activity becomes part of a more permanent digital imprint that is part of society now. Enjoy, learn and benefit from what these tools can offer. At the same time, this points to the need for safe, ethical, responsible online activity and good digital citizenship.

~ Mark