Athletic Intent

Coming to terms with the Fireblade…

The first couple of times I rode the Honda I found the riding position hanging over the gas tank somewhat extreme.  The bike was astonishingly light compared to others I’ve ridden (dirt bikes excepted), and changes directions like it’s telepathic, though the clip on handlebars mean you don’t get a lot of leverage when turning.

While the riding position is pretty extreme compared to the adventure and sports touring bikes I’ve ridden recently, it’s the bike’s geometry that really surprises.  The rake on the front wheel is nearly vertical, and feels like it’s right under your hands rather than stretched out in front of you.  This results in those telepathic direction changes.

I’ve actually jumped on the Fireblade and had my groin seize and had to stop to stretch.  I’ve taken to doing some limbering up, Zombieland style, before I get moving on the Honda.  It’s nothing that a bit of yoga doesn’t address in my 50 year old self, but the ‘Blade is an extreme thing that demands physical interaction; it reminds you that it’s a SPORTS bike.

So, why be uncomfortable?  It might be argued that the CBR900RR is an appearance bike; something you put on to get attention, but that isn’t why it’s the way it is.  The ‘Blade is built to explore the physical limits of what a motorcycle can do – it’s the opposite of a cruiser, it’s about the sport of motorcycling, not the appearance.  Every choice on the bike, including the riding position, is designed to maximize speed and agility.  The ‘Blade is more of a boxing boot than a high heel.

One of the most shocking things about riding the Fireblade is its acceleration.  I’ve yet to own a bike where I can’t turn the throttle to the stop opening it up… until the ‘Blade.  It’s so light it pulls strong through the first sixty-five hundred RPMs, but then it lunges to the redline in a startling manner.  Even in higher gears I haven’t turned the throttle to the stop yet.

The CBR900RR is described as a bike that is engineered to exceed your abilities but is accessible enough to show you how to improve them, and that’s just how it feels.  As someone who has gone out of his way to explore motorcycling, it checks a box for yet another aspect of the sport to discover.  I won’t be putting big miles on the CBR, but they’ll be highly intentional and informative ones.

from Blogger

Finding a State of Flow in Motorcycling

I just finished Guy Martin’s autobiography.  Towards the end of the book he talks about taking a non-rider around a road racing track in Ireland.  The show had a psychologist on hand who talked about the seeming insanity of motorcycle road racing.  Rather than just seeing it as adrenaline junkie speed thrills, the psychologist talks about the state of flow and how an athlete in it isn’t in a risk mind-set.  The state of flow is an expanded awareness that most people have insufficient training and skill to be familiar with.  The extreme athlete isn’t riding a wave of thrill, they wouldn’t be able to perform if they did.

Stressed but prepared athletes enter a state of flow where they are so engaged with what they are doing that they disappear into their actions.  This isn’t an act of imagination where they are thinking about what they look like from the outside, it’s self awareness through the act itself.  This is a truer mirror of the self than any imaginative act.  

Many people consider self awareness to be this moment of recognition where you’re constructing how you think you fit into the world around you, but this is ultimately fictional and prone to psychological abstraction.  A doubting person won’t see themselves as they are any more than an arrogant person would.  It might provide you with a vague sense of your place in the world, but it isn’t trustworthy.

Bull Durham is one of my favourite sports films.  The moment when Crash Davis catches himself thinking when he should only be a quick bat is a great example of an athlete being aware of a break in their state of flow.

Awareness in the state of flow has much more in common with the long tradition of Zen and other Eastern philosophies where the practitioner’s sense of self is lost in the act.  But being lost in that act allows you to live in the moment more completely.  Instead of thinking about what might happen next or self-criticizing while performing, someone in the state of flow isn’t conscious in the typical manner.  The wasted energy spent on consciously being self aware is instead spent in the activity itself; the activity becomes who you are.

When a talking head asks an athlete what they were thinking about when they were performing, the athlete always seems confused by the question.  When they ask if the audience was a factor in their performance they are baffled.  If you’re rolling ideas around in your head while you’re trying to perform you know you’re not at peak performance, you’re not the moment itself.

One of the reasons I enjoy riding motorcycles is because I’ve been doing it long enough that I can get into the process and become a part of the ride.  Zen monks use physical tasks like sweeping the floor to put themselves into the present.  I find riding a motorcycle does the same thing for me.  The complexity of using all of my limbs and my whole body to operate the machine allows me to let go of my conscious self and become something more.  

In a more extreme case like Guy Martin’s, he is able to get into a flow state while doing almost two hundred miles an hour on a motorbike on a public road.  This can seem like breath taking daredevilry, but it isn’t, it’s a master in the state of flow.  The mind is clear, you’re aware of more than you ever can be when you’re looking through the pinched viewpoint of your conscious mind.

That expansive state of awareness is what happens when you’re in flow, and it feels wonderful.  You can see out of the back of your head and your body seems capable of reflexes that would confound you if you tried them consciously.  If you’ve ever experienced that moment of bliss,  you know it’s worth finding again.

from Blogger

High School Motorcycle Club

I’m thinking about starting a motorcycle club at the high school I work at.  This should be an interesting as it will highlight the general fear around motorbiking.  Our school runs downhill ski racing, mountain biking, rugby, and ice hockey teams, but I suspect that motorcycling may be an uphill struggle to establish as a club.

A number of our teachers and students ride.  We even have a student who is a competitive motorcross rider.  I bumped into a graduate last year when I was writing my motorcycling learner’s test, she was taking the motorcycling technician course at Conestoga College in Guelph.  There is expertise, interest and activity around motorcycling in our school and our community, I only hope that the panicky liability-thinking that dictates a lot of decision making in schools calms down and takes a rational look at this.  Offering students access to the experience and opportunity a club provides would lead to a safer and more well rounded introduction to motorcycling.  From that point of view, every high school should have a club!

We could pull off field trips to motorcycle shows (along with the auto-tech department) and offer training opportunities both off road and on road.  We have several local motorcycle retailers nearby who we could work with doing seminars or information sessions on various bikes and gear.  The club would let the more experienced staff and students express their skill while offering the bike-curious a more thorough introduction to motorcycling.

I’m going to pitch this when I get back and see what the response is, I’m hoping reason trumps fear.

We’re All Just So Busy

If I hear this one more time I might pop.  We’re no busier than we ever were.  If we were all so busy we’d have solved world hunger, the impending energy crisis, unemployment, racism, our broken democracies and poverty.  If we’re all so terribly busy, what is it that we’re busy with, because it doesn’t appear to be anything important.

Most recently I heard it on CBC radio when someone was talking about an online dating site that allows you to quickly, with little more than a photo and a couple of bio points, select a date and meet them.  Not surprisingly, the CBC piece was on the disasters that have come from this.  When asked why people do it, the interviewee trotted out, “well, we’re all just so busy now-a-days.”  I would suggest that if you are too busy to develop a considered relationship with a possible life partner, then you’re getting what you deserve.

These people aren’t busy, they are distracted.

I see students who spend more than half their walking hours engaged in the (mostly) viewing and (seldom) producing of social media.  Much of this is so utterly banal that it defies belief, yet people get so wrapped up in it that they feel trapped.  For those who feel the urge to publish their every thought for the world to see, the results are often less than complimentary.

There are those who are leveraging social media in interesting ways, but for the vast majority it is a passive time sink that has conditioned them to do many things poorly and barely ever finish a thought.

This myopia feeds data bankers who make a lot of money from the freely given marketing information.  It also feeds the industry that creates a treadmill of devices to cater to the process.  Lastly, our digital myopia also feeds the egos of all the ‘very busy’ people who see themselves as a vital part of this wonderful new democracy.

At yoga the other week our instructor gave us this:  pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  There are things we need to do in life in order to survive and thrive:  look after our bodies, look after our minds, look after our dependants, seek and expand our limitations, find a good life.  This can be very challenging, but it is dictated by choice.  When we make good choices we tend to see a reward.  Eat well and feel better, expand your mind and learn something new, look after your family and enjoy a loving, safe environment.  Poor choices lead to poor circumstances.  In a world where we have more dependable machines and efficient communication, we should enjoy a sense of ease greater than previous generations who had to tune carburetors and ring through telephone exchanges.

Make some good choices.  How busy are you really?

October 15th? Try a Long Distance Rally!

Many bikes of all shapes and sizes.  If you ride, a long distance
rally is a great way to meet new riders and challenge yourself.

Can you make your way to Woodstock, Ontario on October 15th?  The second ever Lobo Loco long distance motorcycle rally runs on that day.  I had a blast at the first one and want another go.

The rally is on the verge of getting enough people to run.  If you’re in the North Eastern US, Quebec or Ontario or Michigan/Ohio, and can make it out to Woodstock, Ontario on October 15th, you won’t be disappointed.

Give it a go, it’s a blast!



You will find yourself in strange places you wouldn’t otherwise stop in!

Chain and no Agony

Follow up to Chain & Agony and How to Size and Replace a Motorcycle Chain

The whole process of breaking the chain and installing it took about half an hour this time around.  The o-ring chain I got was easy to break using the tool I picked up, and installing the new master link on the chain took only moments.  The three in one DRC Chain Tool I got (chain breaker, outer plate presser, rivet presser) was easy to use and looks good doing it.  It might be my favourite tool at the moment.

The chain-breaking tool comes with two sizes of /privet pushing bit.  The blue bit was for 500 sized chains (the Ninja’s is
a 520).  You back off the big bolt and install the push pin, then use the smaller outer bolt to push the pin into the rivet on the chain. The tool automatically centres the rivet, so you’re true all the way through.
The new chain was a 120 link chain, the Ninja takes 114 links, so that’s 6 links off the end.  The hole in the
top is where the chain pin falls out once you’ve pushed it through.
Close-up of the blue chain bit .  There is a pin inside it that the outer bolt pushes through, pushing the rivet
right out of the chain.  Once the pin falls out the chain falls apart.  You end up with a clean break and two
inner chain links ready to be re-attached on the bike with a master link.
Six links of the 120 link chain removed.  One pin is pushed right out, the other was pushed
out far enough to dismantle the chain.
I installed the master link on the sprocket – it keeps everything lined up and made installation easy.  After
pressing on the side plate (gently, checking that it’s in line with the other links and the chain has play in it),
the only tricky bit was installing the retaining clip, it took a few tries.  When you get it though you know for
sure because it makes a very satisfying click.
With the chain back on and lubricated, everything is tight.  The change to how the bike feels is subtle
but very satisfying.  The engine feels much more firmly connected to the back wheel now.  No sags and tight
spots like on the old chain.
I got this mighty DRC Pro chain
at Royal Distributing in

Now that I’ve got a handle on this and the right tools for the job, chains don’t worry me any more.  This process also emphasized how surgical bike mechanics are.  I started off doing heavy equipment repair as a millwright and then did a couple of years in automotive.  Compared to that kind of work, motorcycle mechanics feel more like surgery than butchery.  Patience and a careful hand are more important than brute force.

Now more than ever I’m looking for an old bike to dismantle and rebuild to get an inside feel for how motorbikes go together.

Bike Delivery System: escaping frozemagheddon!

It’s supposed to drop into the -40°Cs in the next couple of days.  We’re in the bowels of winter here and I’m getting cabin fever.  I’ve already day dreamed of the kit I’d need to go to track days, but that kit would serve another purpose, to get me clear of the never ending winter with my own bike.

Having a second vehicle that is utilitarian is never a bad idea, but I’m not much of a truck guy.  I am a Guy Martin fan though, and he happens to have a Transit Van!  You can pick up a well maintained, low miles Transit Van on for about twenty grand, or about the price of a new hatchback.  It’ll get over 32mpg,  and will happily carry a couple of bikes and kit (or other stuff) as needed.  With a carrying capcity of over 1600lbs, it would be more than up to the job of moving two bikes and riders out of the snow belt.

When it’s about to hit -40°C, the Transit could get loaded up for a long weekend and aimed south.  A power drive could get me to The Tail of the Dragon, where the two bikes in back could be unloaded, ridden hard, put away wet and driven back into the inhuman wintry darkness after a couple of days of two wheeled therapy.

Tail of the Dragon, eating its own tail!

The Tail of the Dragon is only 11 hours away, but while it’s minus forty here, it’s in the low teens in Tennessee.  A banzai ride in the van into ride-able territory would make the vehicle much more than just a track day tool.

Based out of Marysville, Tennesee, I’d do a 210 mile loop one way and then do it backwards the next day…  Friday: leave noon, arrive in Marysville about 11pm.  Saturday: all day clock wise.  Sunday: all day counter clockwise. Monday: leave after breakfast, be home by 8pm.

Stage one would be getting the van.  At that point I’m in for about $20k.  It’ll also come in handy for track days and picking up bikes.  I’d be able to throw my Ninja and a buddy’s bike in there for the drive down and get to it.

The Triumph Daytona took out bikes twice its
displacement in Performance Bike‘s Track test.

Stage two would be getting a bike that doesn’t have to compromise to get me there.  A sport focused machine that will arrive ready to take on the twisties would do the trick.  My first choice would be the Triumph Daytona 675R.  At only 189kgs (416lbs) ready to ride, it’s a light weight machine that punches well above its displacement.

You can pick up a new, last year’s Daytona for about twelve thousand bucks.  For the ten grand under the price of the cheapest Volvo SUV, I’d have a a bike delivery system of epic proportions, with an epic bike in the back of it.  When it isn’t taking me out of the snow belt it could be picking up used bikes or taking me to track days.

I’ve almost talked myself into this!

The College Experience

The Media/Design Schools at Conestoga College had a forum on Wednesday, April 6, 2011.
Some notes:
College isn’t what it used to be. Since grade 13 was removed from Ontario schools, colleges have stepped in to assist students in working out pathways, especially if they lacked direction and/or maturity in high school. Maturity came up continuously throughout the day. Many students do not do poorly in high school because of anything the high school process did or didn’t do, they do poorly because they are not yet mentally mature enough yet to recognize the importance of the (poor) choices they were making.
Tim note: You can try and base this on brain development, but history would prove you wrong; we are capable of maturing more quickly than we do, we choose not to. We teach and parent to discourage maturity (taking responsibility for our decisions) because:
1) it’s cheaper to create a factory school environment if you limit personal choice. Personal choice doesn’t fit well in a small room with 32 students crammed into it.
2) the school system does as much to fight unemployment as anything in society – keeping students in school until they’re 18 isn’t necessarily for their own good, but it’s a great way to keep a disenfranchised age group out of the work force and away from voting citizen’s jobs.
3) we spend a lot of money trying to prevent people from making mistakes they choose to make, it looks like we’re saving money if we’re keeping a high risk population in semi-lockup
Legal note: I reserve the right to play with ideas in writing that I may not entirely agree with just to see what they look like on paper.

Notes Continue:
A number of students were on hand for an open, panel discussion, many of them seemed to support this belief (needing maturity and time to get on track – the fundamentals programs offer them this space in a guidance/portfolio building course of study).
Bachelor of Arts students, in the vast majority of cases, never recoup the costs of their degree program in terms of costs and earnings lost. Colleges focus on job preparedness and marketable skills. To that end, they aim to serve a much wider range of students than universities do.
Conestoga was careful not to vilify universities, they merely serve a different sort of post secondary student.
Tim note: I didn’t go to university to gain marketable skills, I went to university to gain a deep understanding of my disciplines. I quit a lucrative job to go to university, a job that provided me with an apprenticeship, marketable skills and on-the-job training. Do businesses not do this any more? When did employee training get downloaded onto the employee through government sponsored college programs? Do businesses do *ANYTHING* other than serve their own profitability any more? Yet another example of how business keeps removing itself from anything remotely socially redeeming, but I digress…
Another theme that came up again and again was: Realistic Goals & Expectations.
In all Conestoga courses there is a zero tolerance for lateness and absence. Most degree/diploma programs have very low (under 10%) drop out rates. The fundamentals courses, courses they put students into who did not meet the requirements for specific diploma courses they had applied to, have higher dropout rates (about 1/3 don’t finish).
A diploma specific course (graphic design, advertising, etc) typically receives 2-300 applications for 35 positions. If students meet academic requirements (65/55 in Eng4C/4U for fundamentals courses, 70/60 in Eng4C/4U English for diploma courses) they are invited for a 10 minute interview in which they show 15 diverse pieces from their portfolio. Top students gain admission.
Tim note: Interesting student story (I paraphrase): “I didn’t pass the academic requirements, so I had to take an admissions test, I failed it by a couple of percent each time (I’m curious at what level the test is pitched). I could have done better in English, I just kept skipping and couldn’t be bothered.”

Hey sparky, the test scores suggest that you couldn’t have done better in English, I’m assuming you actually showed up and tried on the college entry tests. You failed a standardized admissions test… twice, know why? Because you don’t get better at English by suddenly deciding to try. It’s a set of skills built up over many years. Student who tell me in 3U/3C that – Oh, I’ll just turn it on next year – don’t have anything to turn on, they don’t know what they’re doing… which reminds me of this.
Something to keep in mind: if you give a student a 60% in Eng4C, you’ve just denied them direct access to even fundamentals programs at the college level. They would have to take make up courses to gain admission. I suspect most students have no idea what the expectations for access are.
Setting a real world standard of competency allows Conestoga to focus resources on committed students. What a wonderful world they live in. And students (even the dropouts) pay cash for this process.
Students all said that they wished: “high school teachers had taught them better time management… had pushed for strict time limits and deadlines…”
Tim note: this initially made me angry with the lala land that we deliver to high school students. We are not allowed/are heavily restricted in how we can grade according to time management competency. I often see teachers being required to mark projects months late, sometimes after the course has actually ended. They usually stink, which makes the whole process even worse. After some reflection, I realized that college can pitch like this because their mandate allows them to shake out the weak/uncommitted students.

From a high school point of view, we don’t get the luxury of getting to shake out the bottom third of students and then focus our resources on the top two thirds. Like college, we’d have a much higher technology to student ratio and a fantastic pass rate if we could do this, but we need to serve the entire population.

IT Management and technology access at the college was very impressive, what you wished you had in public school really. Teachers have detailed and specific control over internet access. They can block sites, time access (only full access for the first 20 minutes, then the system focuses on the software and web access you need to do class specific work. Mac labs were at least as common as PC labs in the media wing, no Window-centric/simplified public school IT going on here.

Tim note: by the time it was over I was trying to get a grasp on what education looks like in Ontario in 2011. That may not be entirely accurate, but based on what I’ve seen, it’s certainly the direction we appear to be going.

One of the comments made was, “we try to do these events so that teachers, many of whom have never been on a college campus, know what it is that the next steps are for the majority of students they work with.” A nice way to say that having a school system run almost entirely by people invested in the least popular form of post secondary education might not be the best idea. I really hope teacher’s colleges and the profession in general starts to look a ways to find good, flexible candidates from many life experiences that can provide more than just a primary focus on academics.

How to Pivot Ontario Education to Prepare for The Next Wave

I’ve been participating in Learning2Pivot with doctors Bryan Sanders and Verena Roberts and many others online during this pandemic emergency.   The people in these talks make a point of trying to see the forest for the trees, which is refreshing after another week in the trenches of a diabolically delivered remote learning program.  One of the main ideas in these meetings is to try and work out a pedagogically credible way forward during pandemic emergency remote teaching, so I’m encouraged to give it a go.

I’ve been struggling with our response to COVID19 since it started (which is why Dusty World has been busy – it’s my mechanism for reflecting my way out of the frustration and hopelessness that has accompanied it).  Leveraging our considerable resources to pivot effectively is at odds with much of what Ontario has done in this crisis, but but there is still time to build capacity and create a more resilient, digitally transliterate system that would not only work more efficiently face to face, but could also handle remote learning much more effectively.

OSAPAC’s broken and abandoned website
– a good metaphor for educational technology
integration in Ontario’s school system

When I started thinking about the logistics of actually pivoting to an effective remote learning strategy, I was looking for a way to harness the power of the digital technology at our disposal while also acknowledging the digital divide and the skills gap that has resulted from our refusal to acknowledge that digital fluency is now an integral part of literacy; this transliteracy includes emerging mediums of digital communication.  We have to apply the same rigour to learning the digital aspects of transliteracy as we do the traditional concepts we fixate on.  If we did, we could rapidly develop a much more effective and relevant education system.

Ontario had a mechanism for integrating digital technology called OSAPAC (Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee), but funding just got cut to that even while this same government was inventing positions at EQAO for its failed candidates.  Instead of strengthening the very thing that could have provided direction and resources and even help make elearning more of a possibility in Ontario schools, our educational mismanagement has cut that and doubled down on the Educational Quality & Accountability Office, whose only function in this crisis has been to cancel everything they were doing and provide no accountability at all.

What I’m suggesting below might even be attempted as a zero cost game by taking the money being poured into an accountability office that doesn’t account for anything and spending it to recreate and expand OSAPAC into the Education Relevancy & Resiliency Office.  Their job would be to put an end to the corporate branding of educational technology in our system (every board is now a Microsoft or Google board) and restore and expand Ontario’s centrally managed and vetted collection of educational technology tools, while also ensuring that the system develops the capacity to effectively use them.  ERRO’s first job would be to make this happen by developing platform agnostic access to a vetted ecosystem of digital technology:

If remote learning were a software systems upgrade in
a business, Ontario Education would be getting fired.

I worked in IT for a long time before I became a teacher and was reading about current best practices around upgrading software integrated into a business.  These kinds of short term contract were my bread and butter for a while in the late nineties and early zeroes, and the do-or-die, it must work-ness of these upgrades made them a pretty edgy area of IT to work in.  When you’re upgrading hundreds of machines in AstraZeneca‘s Mississauga facility, and millions of dollars in lost production are on the line if you mess it up, the process you follow isn’t political or decided by people who have no idea what they’re doing (ie: how education is being run in Ontario at the moment), it’s driven entirely by need and effectiveness.

Doing this wrong could cripple a business so it tends to be run with a ruthless effectiveness.  When we were doing a JDEdwards upgrade at Ontario Store Fixtures in the mid-nineties, they brought in a retired marine colonel to oversee the update – failure is not an option, and it’s about much more than just making sure the tech works.

That article highlighted five vital things you need to do if you’re not going screw up a critical business infrastructure upgrade and ensure it’s going to work.  We’ve systemically ignored all of them while rolling out remote learning in Ontario in the past six weeks.

Proper planning evidently didn’t happen before schools shut down because this government needed a three week freeze on everything before they were willing to respond at all.  What eventually emerged was a poorly supported off loading of all responsibility for this onto teachers in a system that has been drained of capacity over the past year.

There continues to be little or no communication between partners in the system.  Our board is continually surprised at whatever the minister decides to roll out at his increasingly oddly timed press conferences.  Leaders weren’t on board because they didn’t know there was anything to board – any planning appears to have been done privately and then dumped on boards to try and make happen with little or no support.

The digital transliteracy needed to remote teach in online spaces has never been developed in staff.  The digitally fluent ones have had to develop it on their own time and with their own resources.  They’ve had to fight to attend events like the ECOO Conference, which had its funding stripped this year much like OSAPAC’s was.  This government’s systemic deconstruction of public education has resulted in an atrophied response that wasn’t helped by years ignoring digital transliteracy by the previous liberal government as a vital part of what makes someone literate in the 21st Century.

Our education system has some tough, resilient educators who keep fighting to build system integrity and efficacy, but many have been beaten down by the past eight years of political games.  It’s hard to innovate when you’re just trying to find enough space to breathe.  All that aside, let’s fix this mess and pivot to a system that has the capacity to remote learn as something other than a political stunt.  Here’s how to do it:


pull the plug on remote learning:  As Nam Kiwanuka suggested on TVO, it’s time to stop playing cat and mouse with parents, students and educators and end this round of remote learning.  Use May to wind down remote learning, but let’s not waste that time.  It can also be used to collect actionable data on the digital divide in our staff and students.

I’ve been collecting data on our staff this week. 24% of
our teachers are trying to remote teach on Chromebooks.
That’s like trying to play hockey with a four by two.

A digital divide in staff you say?  Surely they all have digital technology at home to do this.  Well, actually they don’t.  Digital transliteracy in the general population is appalling, and most teachers follow that trend.  Many don’t have the tech needed to remote teach from home or the digital transliteracy to leverage it effectively.

Instead of trying to assess who has what during an emergency, why don’t we keep information on access to digital technology for all?  Knowing this would go a long way to explaining why students (and staff) who struggle in school tend towards poor use of digital tools.  How can you be expected to be fluent on a device when you don’t have access to it?  This is akin to being angry with a student for not learning to read and write when they don’t have access to any reading or writing material.  We really have to expand our sense of literacy to include emerging communications mediums.  The printing press fundamentally changed what literacy looked like in society.  Our digital revolution is doing the same thing, we simply need to recognize this expanded idea of literacy and act on it.

While we’re wrapping up remote learning 1.0, restart OSAPAC and gather all the boards together.  End the corporate branding of school boards and make a centralized agreement with all educational technology companies that gives access to vetted, secure online tools to EVERYONE.  Engage the various boards who have all specialized in different systems and bring them together to create a merged digital ecosystem of tools.  For the few who have developed best practices around video conferencing and other problematic applications, leverage that experience so we can establish a coherent, viable culture around its use in education.


Instead of cancelling PD make it mandatory for everyone in the education system.  June becomes digitally transliteracy training month.  Re-orientate on logistics for closing the digital divide in our staff and actually train them in accessing and effectively using a wider range of digital tools that aren’t brand specific.

This isn’t an optional training, it’s mandatory.  Everyone is on the clock and we have their attention, time to fix years of lazy assumptions and develop digitally empowered transliteracy in all education staff – that’s everyone from admin support to teaching assistants to building maintenance – everyone becomes minimally fluent in using digital tools to communicate.

For teachers this is a pedagogically driven process.  Best practices have been developed by digitally transliterate teachers for years now, and it’s mostly ignored.  When digital technology is pushed into a resisting teacher’s practice it’s usually as a substitute (use Google docs instead of photocopies – it’s cheaper!).  But digital tools don’t just offer substitution, they offer a different way of doing things.  Watching teachers all struggling to gain access to video conferencing simply so they can digitally recreate the out of date lecturing they habitually deliver in school was a fine example of the S in SAMR.

Static lessons and rote student work that is easily plagiarized goes away when educators realize that they are no longer the font of information; we are living in an information rich age.  Students don’t need to wait for you to pontificate on a subject, credible information on it is all around us.    By pivoting toward student centred learning where teachers are showing students how to access this freely available information rather than disseminating it means a fundamental shift in pedagogy from a rigid, 20th Century, information poor world to the world we live in now.  Over this month teachers would not only learn basic technical skills and familiarity with digital learning tools, but also consider a more viable 21st Century pedagogy.

There would be testing in this mandatory training that would be pass fail.  Educators who don’t participate or cannot demonstrate understanding of basic principles in digital transliteracy would be expected to retake the course in the summer – they’re not teaching in the fall without it – this is an emergency.


Spend the summer building capacity by working to minimize the digital divide while developing a vetted digital ecosystem for all school boards.  There are no more Microsoft boards and Google boards, everyone is both, and more.  OSAPAC is back and developing a centralized repository of digital tools.  This is an ongoing, responsive process where educators request access to emerging digital tools and OSAPAC does what it always used to do and get Ontario education access to reviewed and relevant technology at a wholesale price.

Over the summer staff would have access to an increasing pool of online learning tools as well as being delivered the technology they need to proceed with an effective remote learning program if it’s needed in the fall.

July and August also gives us time to develop an integrated, grade specific curriculum that focuses students on digital transliteracy.  The goal would be to develop a two week intensive curriculum that gives students the awareness they need to proceed with digital tools in a less habitual and more mindful and coherent manner.  We’d no longer leave digital transliteracy to chance.


Leverage our transliterate school system.  In September, if we’re face to face we still proceed with the opening digital transliteracy crash course, because we don’t know if there will be a second wave and remote learning returns.  If it doesn’t, we have a school system that has taken real steps towards being literate in a relevant way, which will improve our learning efficacy while face to face.  If we do end up remote learning again, we’ve actually laid the groundwork to do it with a degree of effectiveness we can only dream of at the moment.

STEP 4.1

Have a differentiation plan in place for students (and staff) who are unable to effectively leverage digital tools remotely.  These people are the ones that socially distanced in-school learning is prioritized for.  We don’t approach this by throwing an elearning blanket over everything.  We differentiate and use our school infrastructure for staff and students who need it, while preventing COVID19 spreading vectors.  Student need comes before ease of management.


Continue to develop transliteracy with PD for staff that allows them to explore and share online, beyond the walls of their classrooms and schools.  Make a point of connecting educators to PLNs (professional learning networks) that have existed online for digitally fluent educators for years now.  Expect digital transliteracy in our staff, and encourage its development.  OSAPAC becomes a central repository of digital best practices and a place where educators and students can find the tools they need knowing that they are safe.  This empowered OSAPAC relevancy and resiliency in digital transliteracy also empowers other groups like ECOO, ACSE and OASBO, all of whom have the history and technical capacity to make Ontario education a world leader in digital transliteracy.  Linking up to existing programs like TVO’s TeachOntario could provide online gateways to this material.


Continue to develop transliteracy in our students by inserting skills specific, focused transliteracy learning throughout the curriculum.  Make digital transliteracy an inherent part of literacy training in elementary schools.  Include basic technical comprehension and skills based digital media development for all students (and staff).  Create a mandatory digital literacy course in junior high school that all students must demonstrate proficiency in – better yet, integrate digital transliteracy into literacy, though expecting English teachers to shoulder that burden alone isn’t fair.  We use digital tools (badly) in every aspect of schooling now.  Imagine how much better that could be if staff and students had more than a habitual grasp of them. 


Expand ICT networking infrastructure out of our schools by exploring emerging technologies like Google’s Loon Project which can provide wide spread 3G internet connectivity for everyone.  In coordination with the federal government, make Canada’s vanishing digital divide the envy of the rest of the world, and then design education systems that teach and leverage it effectively.  Continue to explore and expand Ontario’s OSAPAC to include emerging technologies as they become available on a collaborative, province wide scale.

Did we hit that checklist?

Proper planning preventing poor performance 

Communication is key 

Get your leaders on board   ✔

Train the house down   

Build an innovative culture   

Yep.  This is a plan designed to build capacity and take on the challenges of remote learning, which range from technology access to digital illiteracy.  The biggest irony is that many more students (and staff) would be able to participate in elearning in order to diversify learning options for students.  Instead of demanding mandatory elearning out of nowhere, developing digital transliteracy in the system would cause it to happen anyway.

Of course, we’d have to approach this from a building-capacity-in-the-system angle to make this happen.  It looks like that’s not going to happen in Ontario until after June 2, 2022, which means we’ve got more than two more years of misdirection and mismanagement from a government that has no interest in building capacity… unless they can just change their minds

from Blogger

All Else Is Washed Away

A rough week at work discovering just how untrustworthy people can be had gotten me down.  On top of that (or perhaps because of it), I was fighting an imminent cold.  If you’re reading this then you probably already know it’s better in the wind, so I went looking for some.

I was originally thinking of pushing up to Beaver Valley, but it’s a long slog across tedious Southwestern Ontario to get to any good bits, I wanted to get to twisty roads sooner.  The most direct route to the Niagara escarpment, one of the few places not tediously flat around here, is through Orangeville.

I fired the Tiger up and aimed it north east.  The air was cool, in the high teens Celsius, and the traffic light.  I dispatched appliance coloured (and shaped) minivans as I came upon them and quickly made my way over to The Escarpment.

Bypassing Orangeville, I rode past what must have been a forty pound beaver lying in the middle of the road.  This thing was big enough to knock someone off a bike or damage the underside of a car, but the Orangeville police officer fifty yards up the road running a a radar trap was more interested in revenue streams than road safety.  Stay classy Orangeville popo.

The only way to make a sign like that better is to
make the number on it bigger!

Hockley Road seldom has you up on the crown of your tire.  I was alone going east but was passed by several groups of bikes coming the other way from the GTA.  After the never ending flatness it was nice to drop down into the valley and lean.  Leaning on a motorbike is as close as you’ll ever come to flying.  It feels more like flying than flying does.

When I’m riding all of the negative things my mind impulsively chews away on are washed away in the wind.  It’s partly to do with the complexity of piloting a motorcycle.  You’re deeply involved in the progress of the machine; hands, feet and whole body balance, so your mind is focused away from those nagging thoughts.  It’s also partly to do with the sensory flow you experience.  The wind, the smell, the temperature, the sound and sights are powerful as they accelerate around you.  You are busy, involved, and the world demands to be experienced when you ride a motorbike.

Home made turkey pot pie warmed me up.

After sixty plus kilometres of twisty roads I was ready for a break.  My hands were actually getting cold since I’d been spending my time weaving through shady, leafy green valleys.  Coming back down River Road, I stopped at the Terra Nova Public House for lunch.  It isn’t cheap, but the food is locally sourced and well prepared.  Sitting in the sun on the patio watching the bikes go by is a nice way to spend an hour on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

With some hot food inside me, I was ready to leave these lovely roads and begin the long ride back into the agricultural desert in which I live.  I took my time heading toward Horning’s Mills (where I once thought of buying a house), getting the corners right that I hadn’t on the way in.  There is one particularly twisty section that has a decreasing radius corner that catches you out if you come in too hot.  On the way in I’d overcooked it and had to brake, on the way out it was a smooth, throttle only proposition.

There are a couple of more big sweepers passing north over Shelbourne on 17 through the wind mill fields, but after that things get pretty straight.  By this point I was loose and feelin’ good.  On the straights I found curves in the form of mobile chicanes, and passed them.  It felt like I was in a time machine, I was home almost before I left.  Motorcycles can make even straight roads exciting if you approach them with gusto.

Once back the cold closed in and the nagging doubts returned.  If I could ride a bike forever, I’d always get to sit in that meditative saddle.  When I watch around the world trips on the TV I think the best part would be getting to be out in the wind every day, always seeing something different, having the world wash over you.  No wonder Ted Simon and others come back from their trips hearing the sound of one hand clapping.

Some spontaneous art from the ride…