My 2015 Android vs iOS roller coaster of a year 

Happy 2016 everyone!

I randomly started this post at around 5am a couple of days ago sitting in bed with my 3-month old sleeping on me, after reading Andrew T. Schwab’s recent posts about his move to Android. I have been chatting with a friend of mine Tim Robinson about this over the past month or so as well since he received his Nexus 6P, so I decided to share my interesting year with my smartphone.

It’s been quite some time that I’ve had the iOS vs Android dilemma.

Nexus_5When the Nexus 5 was released, I was so excited to get my hands on it and purchased myself one. As a Google power user, Android is a more natural fit for me for sure. It is a nice looking device and it had some zip to it, but there were a few caveats – battery life being one of them. All in all though I was extremely happy when a made the move to Android last year and never thought I’d look back.

In the spring of this year, I was downtown Toronto for work and all of a sudden my Nexus 5 decided to go into a reboot loop; I couldn’t even get into it in safe mode. I was in a day-long meeting without WIFI and now without a smartphone and it was the weirdest feeling.

Having a wife who was 5 months pregnant at the time amplified the situation even more. I wasn’t thrilled.

After contacting Google (who were quick to reply and helpful by the way) when I returned home, I did a few things that they recommended and it seemed as if I was good to go. I was happy once again.

About a month later while at the Connect conference in Niagara Falls, it happened again. This time, I was super annoyed, realizing that I may have been stuck with a lemon. This became more and more clear that this was simply back luck.

Hw_455834Spitefully and spontaneously, on my way home from the conference that week, I purchased an iPhone 6 in Barrie off of Kijiji. It’s been rock solid for me and continues to be, but now with the emergence of the Nexus 6P and other Android devices, I am anxiously contemplating making the move back for good.

There were and still are many reasons why I even purchased an iPhone in the first place, and continue with it now:

  1. My wife is an iOS user;
  2. I have an iMac at home;
  3. We have Apple TVs (and Chromecasts) and iPads at home;
  4. The baby monitor that I was thinking of getting at the time – Cloud Baby Monitor (and is awesome actually) is only available on iOS.

Then came our baby Jasper at the end of September. Here I was thinking that both of us having iOS devices, it would make for easy photo sharing.

Not so much.

Thankfully, Google Photos (which is also super awesome by the way) added easy photo sharing.

Shared memories made easy with Google Photos

I signed my wife up with a Google account when we got married, and she’s slowly been converting from her hotmail account. We had already been doing Google Drive file sharing, but now with Google Photos, we have a shared album that we can both contribute to from either of our devices, so we can both have access to all of the photos that we’re taking.

Andrew makes some good points in his posts about what he misses from iOS, what he thought he’d miss, which some of were are on my ‘what if I move’ list of questions. The only thing right now is that I cannot foresee my wife converting – yet anyways. But who knows – Google has made an impression on her with Google Photos!

Time will tell with her, but for me, it’s just a matter of pulling the trigger. And now after finding out about, more homework will be needed before that happens.

Sharing My Top #OTRK12 Takeaways

OTRK12 has come and gone, and what a two days it was. From the conversations had to looking back at the Twitter stream of #otrk12, it was evident that there was just a bit of learning, sharing and fun going on. In fact, I took away more than I had anticipated away from the conference; I’ll share my highlights below, focusing on two sessions that I attended.

On Thursday, I sat in a session led by Lisa Neale dubbed Professional Learning: Onground + Online = Super Visibility. Entering the session, it was a great time to think back on an opportunity that I was fortunate to have back in February of this year.

e-Learning Contacts visited schools across southern Ontario to observe and interact with students and staff in various schools – including Ancaster Sr. Public School – across southern Ontario. The goal was to expand our knowledge and seeing what others were up to all things EdTech, to learn varying teaching and learning strategies, all `in an effort to share back to our peers back home.

paragliding-445268_1280In Lisa’s session, my biggest takeaway was that if you are in a position of leadership, there is an opportunity for you to lead with no opt-out practices, to not only model but give direction to your audience on what’s possible. This may seem like you’re taking a huge risk, but the key here is to forget about feeling like you’re mandating something, but providing information in a current and appropriate manner. In doing so, your audience will have a choice to make, empowering them with the decision of learning what you have to share, or to simply not.

Being an e-Learning Contact for the past four years, I consider myself someone in a position of responsibility, especially in the area of leadership of 21st century skills related to technology. The position itself has evolved from focusing on specific tools, to a more concentrated vision of getting people up to speed on relevant pedagogy related to technology integration into the classroom, leaving the choice of the tools up to the teacher.

Participating  Augmenting the Teaching_OTRK12   Google Slides
Great use of ‘grey space’ in Google Slides! Make your presentation interactive!

The other session I want to share about was that of Julie Millan, titled Augment the Learning with Google Apps for Education.

In this session, attendees were given an overview of what’s possible using Google Apps for Education in teaching practice. (I was also fortunate to sit beside Lise Galuga (pretty much an #EdTech/#GAFE celebrity! 🙂 )

A few takeaways that I had throughout the session include a quote from Julie:

“If there were two things that I couldn’t live with in my profession, they would be Twitter and Google Apps for Education.”

(I couldn’t agree more with the above statement)

Here are a couple of notes that I shared out as well:

What’s awesome about when Julie and Lisa present – they leave you with homework essentially, making you go back and try something new. There is never a doubt in my mind when I see either of these two that I’m guaranteed to take at least one tip, trick or something very cool out of their sessions.

adult-education-379219_1280Lisa and Julie are just two of many amazing connected leaders in the EdTech world these days. If you don’t follow them on Twitter yet, you should.

If you’re looking for more people to follow on Twitter to find inspiration and ideas to try in our ever-so-changing world of education, don’t forget to check out the #otrk12 conversation from last week as well.

What were your takeaways from #otrk12 this year? Don’t forget to continue the conversation!

Reflecting on 1st Annual Google Student Summit NPSC

WELCOME   INTRODUCTION   Google SlidesWow – what a day.

It honestly took me a few days to come down from the excitement leading up to, during and following our first annual Nipissing-Parry Sound CDSB Google Apps for Education Student Summit.

The idea to host our own such student-focused event came from a colleague and fellow eLC Katie Maenpaa and her team from Superior North CDSB. They were the first school board to ever host a Google Student Summit in the fall, which is exciting in its own right. However, what sold me on the idea of hosting our own similar event came from the excitement shared from her and the SNCDSB team afterwards about the event, in particular how important it is for students to be offered these types of learning opportunities.

IMG_20150408_141049I threw the idea of hosting our own summit out to Joe Sisco and Tom Carroll, two fellow e-Learning Contacts with Windsor-Essex CDSB and Renfrew County CDSB respectively. I wasn’t expecting the immediate reactions that I got from them:

“I”m so in!”


“Can’t wait – super exciting!”

I then reached out to former SJSH students Justin Leroux and Meaghan Spikerman, who also quickly jumped at the opportunity. Planning then ensued from a distance as April 8th approached (using Hangouts and Drive of course! 🙂 ), and everything came together smoothly.

Google Apps for Education offers many benefits, and the plan for the summit was to not only show them the how-to’s of Google Apps, but to show them our all-encompassing goal for the day: that students have options when asked to make a presentation – igniting their inner-creativity.

The day started out with a fun introduction session, briefly explaining Google Apps and Chromebooks (which were used by all during the event) to the audience, as there were students and/or staff that had not ever seen GAFE or a Chromebook before. Attendees then participated in three sessions that they were able to pre-select, ending with a consolidation session, where one of the student helpers Darius provided a demonstration how to narrate a presentation (which he had learned how to do that day) via Screencast-o-matic (Screencastify is the Chrome/Chromebook alternative).

GAFESelfieWatch Darius’s end product here, which took minutes to be published!

And just like that – it was all over. The day came and went so quickly, but it was a resounding ‘awesome’ day and everyone found it extremely beneficial, worthwhile and most importantly – fun.

The biggest takeaway from the event for me was how energetic and excited everyone was – students, teachers, admin, and visitors – all while spending the day learning. As Joe put it on the ride up to the airport:

We could be onto something big here, because that was one of the most exciting days that I’ve ever presented at.

I hope he’s right.

I can’t thank everyone involved enough for their dedication and hard work, and I hope to report back next year after our second annual Google Student Summit!

Getting Started with ‘All Hands on Deck’

allhandsondeckI just started reading “All Hands on Deck” by Brad Currie yesterday, and couldn’t help but jot some of my early thoughts down before I even finish reading it. I don’t usuallly think to split up a review/reflection on a book or anything like this, but to be honest, I got to page 7 and had to stop and think. I couldn’t believe how I thought ‘this is me!‘ every sentence on the first page.

Brad makes mention of some key points early on that I could relate to very easily. At first, I didn’t think there was an order to reading these books in the Corwin Connected Educator Series. Moving into the third book however, I’m happy now that I read Connected Leadership before this one, as it sets a clear stage for taking what’s possible, finding the right tools and making connections with staff, students, parents and communities with the tools available.

I’ll throw this out there now – not everyone is going to believe the Twitter thing; at first anyways. There has always been a stigma associated with social media being more of a toy. At the same time however, over the past few years it’s been evolving to be a go-to for educators and leaders worldwide, being ‘the’ avenue which people share, learn and communicate with people all over the world.

courtesy of
courtesy of

I truly do believe there is an amazing opportunity that not everyone is aware of, possible to do even at our fingertips on the go. I read this article over the weekend that, although referring back to April 2014, notes that educators dominate the Twittersphere. This provided me the reassurance that I (sometimes) need as I continue to share how Twitter and making connections can be such a powerful practice, whether we use it individually or as aa school system.


It has been a fun and eventful at times becoming more of a connected educator/leader, but I honestly have to say it has been even more fun seeing how I went from being a non-believer to someone who can’t go without Twitter!

I am looking forward to this read, and will share my thoughts on it once complete.

A Review of and Reflecting on ‘Connected Leadership’

A thousand mile journey begins with one step – Guatama

CL-bookcover After reading The Relevant Educator just a short while ago, I thought I would have been completely finished all of the books by now. I’m also glad that I didn’t rush through all of the them. This series offers a wide variety of topics covering all things #EdTech in education today, and time is definitely needed between each read to reflect and take it all in.

Connected educators are no different than their predecessors. What has changed is the technology, which allows us to have access to infinite amounts of information at any time.

Dr. Spike Cook kept it simple and to the point in his book Connected Leadership, which is part of the Connected Educator Series that was released last year. The idea of connected leadership can be taken in many different ways, and oftentimes can be intimidating to even begin understanding what connected leadership really means. Dr. Cook combines his own knowledge and experiences, and has also included that from others whom he has connected with, making this a book that can help one learn about making those connections at various entry points, and with a variety of means.

Who doesn’t have 10 minutes to open a whole new world?


The term leadership alone is a word that can often be misunderstood in an educational setting (for me anyways at times). When I picked up this book, I knew that I was going to be reading the leadership experiences of principals most likely, as this is one of the leadership role in K-12 education in my mind. I am not a principal, but do consider myself to have been in a leadership role of sorts over the past four years as our board’s e-Learning Contact (eLC). Considering this role, it is nice to continue my self-education on better understanding the principals role, and how I can best help in any way that I can.

The more people become part of the connected movement, the more information becomes available.

Becoming more connected over the course of my time as eLC has helped me grow both personally and professionally. I feel more confident having a broader sense of knowledge and information that I wouldn’t normally have had if I weren’t connected as much as I am. I find it crazy to think that I am able to follow amazing, world-renown educational leaders from afar on any device that I have at my fingertips.

Leadership can be a lonely place, but it doesn’t have to be.


This is exactly what Connected Leadership gave me as a takeaway: becoming connected allows you to go deeper as you develop into a leader, as you’re not only building your connections for development, but building a support system along the way. With the right approach and choosing your leadership colour (p.46), teachers will start to believe and entrust in your thoughts and decisions more confidently as well.

Not long after a connected educator established a comfort level using social media, a transformation takes place.

The homework that I have given myself after reading this book is to go back and answer the questions that Dr. Cook has left the reader to think about at the end of each chapter (chapter reflections). I hope to make future posts that will include answers to some of what he’s asked.

The overarching goal for all connected educators is to improve the learning environment for everyone.