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The Blog Tool in D2L Brightspace – under utilized?

October 16, 2016

Perhaps you’ve seen the Blog tool under the Communications drop down menu in D2L or maybe you are already familiar with it and just want extend your course’s impact on candidates? Wherever you fall on the Blogging continuum, this Blog post will introduce ETFO AQ instructors and course candidates to setting up, writing sharing and subscribing to Blogs using D2L’s built-in blogging tool.

Why Blog as part of an AQ course?

At Innovate 2014, George Couros, our Keynote speaker, showed us his Blog and demonstrated how it was his “digital hub.” In a recent Blog post, George described to a Principal how critical Blogging was to daily reflection on work and learning. “Blogging is your Job!” he explained to the Prinicpal, echoing the words of John Dewey, who stated that “We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” As lead learners, it’s important to model reflection to others, whether that be our staff, our school colleagues, our students, candidates, even ourselves. Blogging is one form of regular reflection.

Some ETFO AQ Courses currently make use of the Blog tool. In the IICT Part 2 Course, candidates must set up a Blog and commence blogging by writing a reflection on another of George Couros’ blog posts, one in which he states “Reflection is part of your work.” IICT2 candidates then Blog throughout the course in a series of reflection pieces. How could this be a part of your course? First, you need to set up your own Blog in D2L.

How to get set up with the D2L Brightspace Blog Tool

How can we get set up with a Blog and get started? Below you’ll find the ncessary steps to get yourself, and your course candidates set up using the built in D2L Blog tool, and some suggestions for how to get your course candidates reflecting.

This Video from D2L Brightspace provides a good introduction to the Blog Tool. It shows how to set up, post, set the visibility of posts, add comments, and publish blog posts, as well as set up a Blog Watch of people whose Blogs you wish to read e.g. the candidates in your course.

As Instructors, in order to post to your own Blog, you will need to click “View as Candidate” under your name at the top right of any screen. When you start using your Blog, it’s a good idea to open the Blog Settings gear and click on the checkboxes that make your Blog visible to others. You can turn off commenting, but the point of a Blog is to be open and transparent about your own learning so checking “Allow comments by default” is a good choice in order to initiate feedback. “Make entries public by default” allows all readers within D2L to see your post, and checking “Allow blog to be read by anyone” makes your Blog visible beyond D2L to a wider audience, if you choose to share the URL Permalink or the feed of your Blog.

See the Settings graphic below.


Once you are set up, all you need to do is click on New Entry and start writing! Start with a descriptive title and go from there. The challenge comes to know what to write about, but gets easier if you think about your Blog as a reflection space where you record your thoughts about what you are learning from teaching your course, taking a course, or any other ideas that pop in your head worth recording! Use the editing tools to add imagery, videos, links and text formatting that will make your Blog more interesting, more readable. When you’re done, click Save! You’re done. You can edit later if you wish or add more after it’s published.

Let me know, in the comments below, via email or Twitter if you have any questions about setting up your Blogs, Blogging as part of a course, other Blog platforms or how to make use of Blogging as part of your own Professional Development.

Postcards from Somewhere in France -8- Discovering Will

January 1, 2016

If you follow this Blog you may recall the wonderful postcards from France that were found last fall when cleaning out my parents things before their move. I posted some of them during Remembrance Week in November. Buried in a Burkes Jewellers box, this stack of postcards had been sent to my Grandmother, Gladys (Harmer) Murray from her fiancee, Will, from the front during WWI (see Postcards from Somewhere in France).

57A- Will

Will Haskins in Uniform

We talked a lot about Will and what he may have been like, and about how his death, near the end of the Great War, changed the course of events for my Grandmother and for us. Who was Will? That was the question I asked my father, and he answered. His name was Billy Haskins!

Once we had a name, we were able to learn so much more about him. There are lots of resources to research WWI soldiers and their resting places.

A visit to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and some smart searching and we began to find out a lot more about Will Haskins.

W H A Haskins, as he is listed, was the son of Mr. W. Haskins, of 427, Courtland Avenue, Kitchener, Ontario. Grandma was from Stratford, not so far away. We still wonder how they met.

Will was a Corporal at the time of his death, although the photos we have, show him in Private and later Corporal, uniforms. He was in the Scottish Regiment of Canadian Infantry, 16th Battalion. He died on the 28th of July, 1918, just four months before the end of the war. He is buried in Wanquentin Communal Cemetery Extension.

His casualty details can be seen here, which can also be downloaded as a certificate: HASKINS_W_H_A.

There are some other documents pertaining to his service and death.

This document, in The Supplement to the London Gazette, August 8, 1918, indicates he was awarded a medal: WillHaskensMedal . It also lists him as a Private in the Machine Gun Corps. We think that medal is still in the personal effects of my Grandmother and we may still have it. We’re still searching!

This Headstone Schedule confirms that he was in the Canadian Scottish Regiment, although it lists his date of death as July 26th, 1918.


Rest in Peace, Will.

Curation: Creatively Filtering Content

December 6, 2015

We are living in an era of information overload.  So much content is shared online that curation is needed as a way to get value out of the information flood. Content curation is the process of shi…

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12 Silent Saboteurs Of Innovation In Education

November 24, 2015

“In K-12 formal learning environments there are countless factors that hinder innovation. Over the next few days we’re going to look at twelve factors that are hindering innovation in schools (we’ll release three per day, counting down backwards from 12). Some of them are conceptual, some practical, and all are obviously subjective.”

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A venture capitalist searches for the purpose of school. Here’s what he found.

November 18, 2015

In an attempt to be systematic, I decided to categorize what I observed in schools. One column for things that helped prepare kids for life. And one column for things that were irrelevant. I expected both columns to fill up quickly.


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Postcards from Somewhere in France -7- We Will Remember Them

November 11, 2015

Today we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Stop and remember those, who in the service of their country, did not return. Think too, of our current military staff who have suffered from their experience serving our country.

Will’s observations about life on the battlefield are reflected in these cards. He even honoured the enemy prisoners in his comments. It was tragic for all sides.



Somewhere in France. May 17, 1917.

This is what the ground looks like after the attackers have passed on well into Fritzs lines. At the bottom left hand corner you can see what is left of a dugout entrance.



Somewhere in France. May 17, 1917.

This card, of the tower in Ypres, shows the physical destruction of war. The horrible effects on the bodies and minds of people is unmeasurable.



Somewhere in France. May 15, 1917.

We never let Fritz prisoners come out without bringing out our wounded. The majority of the German doctors captured (as well as their Red Cross men) are very quick and clever in helping dress our wounded.

Postcards from Somewhere in France -6- Humour from the Front

November 11, 2015

Will’s postcards vary from serious to sublime. Here’s one that pokes fun at the enemy.



East Sanderling Camp. August 10, 1916.

“They have quite a number of these sort of cards about old Kaiser Bill, and they will be interesting to look and laugh over in years to come. Sadly, Will did not get a chance to muse over any of these.”


This one is as close to risqué as it gets.

30A 30B

East Sanderling. March 26th, 1916.

“I wonder if the guy in the picture is right? I suppose that is what I’ve got to put up with when I return. My heart swells with sympathy for myself!!!”


I’m sure there were some fun moments at the officers’ mess, but maybe they were few and far between.

46A 46B

Somewhere in France. May 17, 1917.

“This is how we always dine out here ?!*!?

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