10 Reasons Why Not to eMail Students

(or anyone else for that matter)

Teachers email students and students email teachers. This is not the prefered method of communication with students (or anyone). And here is why. It is best to have conversations with students (read: people) so that meaningful dialogue can occur. This can be done in your LMS using threaded discussions (Discussion Forum with Discussion topics) or in Google Apps within a group or a document using Comments (see Sample). Note: discussion topics can be set to allow for private conversation between teacher and student using the groups tool.

  1. New students can see the whole conversation and get caught up quickly. They don’t have to be sent previous email(s).

  2. Demitted students are automatically removed from the conversation since they are not cc’d in further conversation.

  3. Replies are seen in chronological order and therefore the conversation is easily read by anyone even if you join the conversation late (see 1 above).

  4. Members of a conversation can be instantly notified of new posts to the conversation (RSS,  email or SMS).

  5. If a student has a question they can ask the whole class–not just the teacher. This way other students can reply–which is way better for learning. For students who don’t want to ask a stupid question you can make the discussion anonymous. Don’t worry, the teacher can still see who posted. Note: students don’t have to be anonymous; this is optional.

  6. Your conversations are organized! It is very easy to go back to a conversation with individuals or groups of students. Finding an email thread and trying to follow it can be onerous.

  7. It is easy to jump into a conversation and post at any point along the timeline. People now read the post in context.

  8. Many students ask the same question. You can make FYI discussion areas for general questions, assignment questions, field trip questions etc. Oh! and you can pin these posts and copy them into the next copy of your course.

  9. Your email inbox is less cluttered. (e.g., 30 students x 30 email x 6 courses = 5,400 email)

  10. eMail is so last century. 😉

10 Sites you can embed in your online course (#eLearning and #BlendedLearning)

Embedding multimedia into your online course is great. Don’t give students link to videos unless you absolutely must. Hey, students just love to go to YouTube and stay there… all day. So embedding content is the best thing to do. But before you embed remember to uncheck “Show suggested videos when the video finishes”.

So here are ten sites you can embed content from:

  1. YouTube
  2. TeacherTube
  3. Google Drive (individual spreadsheets!, calendars, documents, etc.)
  4. Prezi
  5. Picasa Web Albums
  6. SchoolTube
  7. OREB (need to logged into D2L through your board) 🙁
  8. Slideshare
  9. (Does not work in D2L News or Discussions. Only works in Content, Widgets, and  Quizzes)
  10. TVO

I’m sure there are hundreds more. Send me the links and I’ll add them here.

Don’t know how to embed? Contact me.



Call for a Ban on Technology in Schools

First, let’s start with a definition: Technology is NOT anything invented after you were born (Alan Kay‎). It is anything created by humans including pencils, pens, paper, and chairs.

Over the last few years I’ve seen that technology does not increase student learning. You can’t just throw paper and pencils nor interactive whiteboards into classrooms and expect see increased student achievement. If I could, I’d ban all technologies from all classrooms. Then I’d ask teachers and students what they’d like to achieve and how it might achieve it. If at that point they explained a need for specific technologies that would increase their ability to achieve their goals then, and only then, would I give them the technologies.

Here is an updated version of my favourite cartoon on the subject:
Only pedagogy matters.

In the cartoon strip above you can see the great leaps in technology but no change in pedagogy. What should be asked in each and every cell of the strip? How about,

“Read what I’ve written. Summarize and interpret it. What do you think is working well? Give constructive criticism.”


Notice that the changes in the wording doesn’t require the student to use any technology. I’ve seen too much money wasted on technology in our schools. Let’s ban technology until good pedagogy is in place.

Listen to the podcast about Inequality and Digital Engagement below.

The Unconscious Integration of Digital Learning into the Classroom

Digital Learning should not be an add on. It should be unconsciously integrated into the curriculum and it should be more effective, easier and sustainable for both the teacher and the student. If it isn’t… don’t use it.

Before we discuss Digital Learning and the Classroom let’s look at our knowledge. Most of us know nothing about elementary particles. That is, you don’t know what you don’t know. This is referred to as Unconsciously Incompetent (UI).  Many people are UI when it comes to Web 2.0 tools. Now if I were to say to you: “two elementary particles are quarks and gluons”  you now know what you don’t know. In this case you are Consciously Incompetent (CI). That is, you are aware of what you don’t know. Many of us are CI when it comes to Web 2.0 tools. We know that the read-write web consists of the following: blogs, podcasting, RSS feeds, wikis, social networking, twitter, social bookmarking and photo sharing. So, you are aware of what you don’t know.
After you do a Google search or watch:
you now know what you know. That is, you are now aware of your knowledge and hence you are Consciously Competent (CC). Most people are CC with word processing, emailing, web browsing and other tools.
What you need to do is get to the next level: Unconsciously Competent (UC)That is, you become unaware of what we are doing. It is like breathing… we do it, we control it, but we’re not aware that we are doing until we stop and think about it. It is also like walking, riding a bike or driving a car. Many of us are at this stage when corresponding with others using email. We don’t ask: “Mmmm… how should I send a quick note out to all my staff?” We simply send an email and don’t think of things like… “What do I press to start a new email? What does CC mean? What is ‘subject’?”
When we think about planning a lesson or activity and ask: “I’ve got to build some Digital Learning into this lesson. These students are in grade 9… mmm. What digital tools should they be able to do?” This is CC and this is good but what is best is that you don’t plan the lesson or activity around digital tools. The digital tools should be integrated into the lesson because this is the best practice. Don’t ask: “What is the best way to plan a trip to Algonquin Park?” Instead ask: “What do we need for a trip Algonquin park?” The planning of the trip can be done in many ways. If you are CC you might send out emails, make some phone calls and perhaps even set up a website so that everyone involved can give suggestions and comments. But if you are UC then you would simply set up a Wiki invite participants and go for it.
If you are operating at the UC level your questions are fundamentally different. You ask questions like “What colour of wallpaper do I want?” not “What do I need to wallpaper?”
Typically with Digital Learning you are trying to communicate with technology. So the UC question is “What information do I want to communicate?” not “What technology do I use?” nor “How do I communicate the information?”
How do we get from UI to CI to CC and then to UC? Going from UI to CI requires us to read or hear about new and provocative concepts. To get from CI to CC requires us to learn. Going from CC to UC requires that we practise what we learn and practise what we teach.
It should be noted that certain individuals resist the change from UI to CI because they refuse to acknowledge or accept the relevance and benefit of a particular skill or ability. This cognitive bias robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize the benefits of change. As Darwin said, “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”.

Change in Menus

I’ve moved the Technical tutorials under the D2L Support menu.

D2L Technical Tutorials Update

I’ve just updated the Technical Tutorials for D2L. Take a look!

New Website, New Look

I’ve just recently started this website. Please excuse the spartan content. I’ll add more as the days go by. In the meantime, please check out: and

Lastly, here is a blog I made for demonstration purposes:


Looks like you came to the wrong party? Try