Category Archives: General

Voice – Have You Found Yours?

Last week I had a fantastic opportunity to hear flamenco guitarist David Sinclair perform in a quaint house setting thanks to friends Bob and Jan.  As  you might anticipate, the performance was fabulous and so great to hear in that setting.  David provided some interesting insights into the music history and style to set the context for each piece.

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One  of the introductions really struck a chord with me.  As he talked about progressing as performer, David shared that one of his teachers challenged him to accomplish more:  be a great performer, but find your voice, write and perform your own music as well – leave your own legacy.

There is was: the importance of  “find your voice“.  Thanks David.

Given the number of conversations  in education about finding your voice and sharing learning openly, and a new school year just around the corner, perhaps this was a happy coincidence.  Or perhaps it was an “ignite moment”  to encourage us (educators) to take steps or continue a commitment to support open learning and sharing.

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September is coming.  Are in you in? 

~Mark
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Creative Commons Photo Credit (blog graphic) to Flickr user  ginaballerina

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OASBO Triple Tribute

It was great to attend the final OASBO ICT meeting of the 15/16 school year yesterday.  It was my first meeting in quite some time and it was great to feel the friendship, passion, and energy in the room – such a strong sense of team and professionalism.

To me though, this particular meeting seemed to be a marker in time as the close of this school year brings change.  Three members of the ICT family are retiring: Greg Elliott, Ron Plaizier and  Wayne Toms.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 11.46.45 PMGreg                                       Ron                                Wayne

These IT leaders are exemplary professionals who have provided leadership, guidance, mentoring, visioning, problem solving and openly learned while forging a strong and vibrant ICT family in the Ontario K-12 education space.

Congratulations to all of you.  I wish you a long and happy retirement. Please don’t stray too far from our IT/ICT family!!!

~Mark
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Have Your Say: What has changed?

Over the long weekend my wife and I were thumbing through a stack of magazines and I came across a fall 2014 professional journal that had an article about this top 10 classroom tools list.

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In contemplating how fast technology changes and the considering the emphasis on changing classroom practice,  what are your top 5 tools now?

HAVE YOUR SAY:  Take the top 5 survey

~Mark
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WREPNet Anniversary

Today Waterloo Region celebrates the 15th anniversary of WREPNet, a regional fibre optic network that was built to serve education and community partners within the region.

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WREPNet is governed through the establishment of a joint venture agreement.  The ongoing existence and development of the network is a real tribute to the technical team and steering committee members of each organization who have worked together in a cohesive and progressive manner to serve the needs of Waterloo Region.

It has been my pleasure to serve as WREPNet co-chair for a number of years,  and I extend sincere congratulations to all involved in this fantastic venture.

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Here are a few WREPNet fun facts:

  • WREPNet is currently one of the most state-of-the-art region wide information networks in Canada
  • Approximately 585 kilometers of fibre optic cable is installed to connect the 327 sites throughout Waterloo Region to WREPNet
  • The fibre optic cable is connected to 10,200 hydro poles
  • If you laid all of the individual strands contained within the fibre optic network being installed for WREPNet, they would stretch 5,042 kilometers – most of the distance across Canada! – Vancouver to New Brunswick
  • a typical day of network traffic  has doubled  16 times over this 15 year period.

A little WREPNet history:

Learn more about WREPNet [here].

~Mark

WRDSB Libraries on the Go

Our new library system at WRDSB comes mobile ready.  The free  ILS  app (iOS and Android) is easy to download and set up.  iOS users should note that the iPhone version of the app is also used on the iPad so the search settings in the app store may need adjusting to locate that app on an iPad.

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Once the app is downloaded, launch it, choose the Waterloo Region District School Board from the school board list. Next,   press the  ‘choose library’ icon to select your school library and set it as the default.

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As an example,  I choose the  Huron Heights SS  library and set it to my default library.

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This is a sample search result based on “world war 2”.

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Now you are ready for searching on the go. Happy inquiring!

~Mark

Back to the Future Tablet Style

During a recent trip to the Netherlands,  we had the opportunity to visit the  Netherlands Open Air Museum & Park.  It is an interesting stop.  Additional information is available in this  Wikipedia  article.

One of the points of interest at the site was the Village School (Lhee Dr.) originally built in 1750, relocated in 1953.  The interior as you see it in my photos is vintage 1800-1830.

I have added comments to each photo applying a current  educational lens.

A peek in the door: open space and welcoming. 

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Central heating, flexible space (no rows!),  support for  small group instruction and a respectful design reflecting that learning is social. 

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Evidence of the use of mobile tablets to support personal educational experiences

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Hands on, independent use of tablets. It looks like they are actually drawing on the screens so I am assuming that these are not touch-screens.  I wonder about the wifi access.

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On a more serious note, this early classroom was certainly forward looking in many respects.  Perhaps they were simply learning while waiting for the thinking around the C’s and the whole ‘internet thing’ to become a reality.

~Mark 

Free wifi, sort of

Travelling is always an interesting time.  For me, one of the perspectives I keep an eye on is technology use in other contexts.

Here in China, it seems that everyone has a cell phone, and some have smart phones.  It appears that at least basic connectivity is deemed an important need.  As a traveller of course you need to have an eagle eye  (or an internal beacon) for free wifi opportunities.  In conversation with tour guides,  I believe that the cellular network is massive and quite robust.  Three major telco’s dominant the market, and I will write more on this in a upcoming blog post.   Wifi, and make that free wifi, is not readily available like it is in North America.  Yes, hotel lobbies etc. but not necessarily in retail places.

I did come across a Starbucks in Beijing and HAD to check out the wifi. Of course, I have to admit to wanting a coffee too.  While the venue offered free wifi access, the actual process to get access is controlled.   In order to gain access, you must enter a mobile phone number and you are texted an access code.  This process is oriented to cellular devices, not so handy for wifi only devices.

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… you may prefer  the translated version:

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This verification approach seems to be used by a variety to vendors.  So, no free wifi for my iPad on this attempt.  Watch for my next connectivity update.

~Mark