Archive for the 'General' Category

Catching up to Dick Tracy

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Wikipedia on Pebble TimeTonight as we got ready for bed my 5 year old had a question for me about the Northwest Passage. He’s a Stan Rogers fan and a rail fan and wanted to know the difference between the Ontario Northlander rail service and the Northwest Passage.

I tried to explain about the Franklin Expedition, but I realized as I explained it that Franklin is also a turtle in Canadian children’s story series. So I tried to also explain that Franklin was the captain’s last name, and the horrible thing that happend to him and his crew was over 150 years ago and all the ways we travel today are much safer. But, I didn’t think there was too much of a distinction made between the two Franklins and that time line was a guess.

A good question for Siri (we ask her a lot of things) but we’re in PJs (no pockets). It occurred to ask the Wikipedia app on my Pebble smart watch, and sure enough, my watch Bluetooth’ed its way to my phone, on to Wikipedia, and returned a summary of the Franklin Expedition.

That was pretty cool.

It’s the kind of thing Google Now and Siri can easily do (and the Apple Watch), but there was something even cooler with the the answer coming from something strapped to my wrist that’s there when I do the dishes or change the tires on my car. The largest general reference work ever strapped to my wrist, and nowhere near as precious of anything else I’d accessed it from before.

Definitely one of those “the future is now” moments.

An App Store for Web-Based Instruction

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

LTI Connections from LMS to other nodes
Do what you do best, and link to the rest. A lesson of the web learnt quickly by those who’s success depends on being creative online.

The latest released version of Sakai, version 2.9.3, improves on the existing features that allows for the connection of Sakai courses to external tools. The forthcoming version of Sakai, Sakai 10, takes this provision even further.

The biggest improvement is institutionalizing the configuration process to allow approved external tools to appear as peers to Sakai’s own tools when instructors choose what they would like to add to their course site, especially in Sakai 10.

The Sakai tool and the specification that supports the connection is the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) specification.

Presently, in the Brock University context, instructors need to know that the Brock University service, web-based tool or Publisher they are interested in integrating into their course: exists, supports LTI specification and that Isaak/Sakai can be connected through LTI. The instructor then must contact administrators to have the connection added to his/her course. The connection is only made once the proposed integration has met Brock University’s technical and privacy standards. This new model of pre-approved tools and their listing alongside other Sakai tools now only requires the instructors interest – prompted from any source, including students previous experience.

This ability to add tools alongside Sakai’s current listing of possible tools also provides an opportunity for university services to tightly integrate with courses in addition to making instructors aware that they exist.

The following posting discusses (in too much depth at times) the current status, the Sakai tool and LTI specification, examples of tools that could be integrated and a framework for the selection of tools to be added to this “App Store for Instructors”.

Notes on Clickers

Monday, January 13th, 2014


Some notes on physical and virtual classroom “clickers” that I’ve maintained in Evernote over the years and shared a few times. Seemed like a good thing to blog about.


  • Turning Technologies has physical clickers and smart-phone clickers

    If you are using a textbook from Nelson or Pearson there might be a chance that you could get the software and base for free from them — but the students would have to pay. ITS’ AV Services also have around 50 of these for sign-out.

  • Top Hat Monocle

    Uses phones, laptops, etc. and they are always keen to do a demo.

  • Poll Everywhere

    Is free for under 40 people but gets expensive as numbers are added.


  • Socrative
  • Flexible and free. Waiting for other shoe to drop. What Mr. Clare Sr. uses.

Web/Smart-phone based:

  • Mentimeter
    It is new and promises to be free, but I have not used it.
  • mqlicker
    is new and promises to be free, but I have not used it.
    A Brock University Economics prof really liked this option
  • Not free at all is:


Then the Chronicle of Higher Ed. has some quick idea for low-tech clickers:

Live classroom interaction, polling, chat…

  • Piazza

    Piazza allows for large groups to ask questions and vote up the important ones. It is a very interesting way to get feedback in a large class. It is free and has an LTI integration that the CPI can add to any Isaak/Sakai site.  It surprises me how often instructors interested in “simple” polling like the realtime feedback Piazza gives.

  • More survey & marketing style
    Signal – good buzz (possibly for the API) with a free trial

Rally of the Tall Pines 2013

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Rally of the Tall Pines 2013, a set on Flickr.

Some great weather at a great location.

Toronto Indy 2013

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Firestone TireAmerica, F@#% Yeah!
Saturday Paul Tracy negotiates for a Stadium Super Truck ride on SundayPaul TracyTrapped ducks trying to get back across lakeshoreTrapped ducks!
Setting up the Super Stadium Trucks jumps!Reading the Super Stadium Trucks jumps!Video 2013-07-13 14 18 42Video 2013-07-13 14 30 20Video 2013-07-14 14 12 49Shea meets Shea

Toronto Indy 2013, a set on Flickr.

Posted on flickr, my photos from the Toronto Indy 2013. The highlight for me was the Stadium Super Trucks taking on the Indy tracks with the addition of jumps!