Category Archives: Class Work

My view from a fishbowl…a final reflection.

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Photo Credit CC:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/koiquest10/9880428234/

This title came to me on Tuesday night as I watched the class get together via Blackboard Collaborate.  Although I greatly appreciate Alec and Katia’s attempt to include those of us from far away the experience was much like I imagine being in a fishbowl is.  You might think that is a negative but really it was not. As I sat there and reflected on the term  I began to see that the beginning of the course had made me feel much the same. My view of my ed tech ability was very much in the fishbowl.  At the beginning of the course I saw myself as a teacher using tech successfully in my classroom with my students. I saw myself as a teacher who could help her peers with tech in both their classroom and for other professional reasons. I did what I knew how to do, I was comfortable.  I though I was using it well but then as the class progressed I saw my own knowledge as being in a fishbowl with a great big tech world around me I was under utilizing. So I guess this course helped me expand my knowledge as well as my PLN (Professional Learning Network) through what Alec titled Networked Professional Learning.

My Networked Professional Learning for this course included using and sharing through social media, examples Blogging, Tweeting, and Google+ Community. Here are my views on my growth in these areas that helped me get out of my fishbowl by December.

Blogging

When I first started this blog I was not a fan of blogging. I didn’t really get the concept of writing on the internet and I sort of did not really get the point of it all.  The expectation was two posts a week, in the beginning I was luck to write one after our session with Sue Waters though my view began to change.  She shared so much about the benefits of writing and reading good educational blogs.  I was also really interested in her view and tips on classroom blogs. I began to feel more connected to my blog and began to fancy it up a bit.  I decided I needed to better organize my blog space. I added a simple about me page, organized my posts by category, and began to play around with the use of tags. I also added a Twitter widget to try and connect some of my online spaces. I also began to read others blogs more frequently both through our EC&I hub and some I found on my own.  This motivated me to make my writing more interesting and connected by adding video and links within my posts. I even began to understand the concept of a ping back and thought it was pretty cool when I linked to a blog then went to check on that blog and could see my blog in the list at the bottom of links! I also tried to be a good reader of my fellow classmates blogs commenting where I thought it was appropriate or where I had something valuable to say.

My biggest takeaway learning from blogging was the importance of readership. As I felt more comfortable blogging and putting myself out there I began to get comments and followers. This motivated to be better in my post creation as I knew someone was actually reading what I had to say.  It is important for a blogger to know someone is reading their blog.  In fact just a few days ago I got a message from one of my colleagues who recently moved to a new province.  She had found my blog though Twitter, as I always tweeted a link to my new posts, and had started reading it.  She then started her own blog and wanted to tell me I had motivated her to try blogging and she wanted me to give her some feedback about her new blog.  WOW, you would not have asked me for feedback back in September that is for sure, but I felt really happy that my little blog had brought someone else into this form of social interaction for educators.

Where am I going to go with blogging after this course?

I had originally thought I would delete my blog after the course but now have decided to keep it up for at least awhile to see if I can grow my readership and encourage others in my division to begin the process.  I do feel now is is a beneficial resource for educators to use both in their classrooms and out.

Twitter

I did have a Twitter account prior to this course that I used for mostly personal and some professional interaction.  The first thing I did with Twitter in this course was improve my personal profile.  I added photographs, a link to my blog, and a short about me description.  In this course I learned  how to use Twitter to expand my PLN.  I am happy to say I now have 78 followers and follow 121 others.  Definitely a step up from where I started.

In this course I learned to use a # (hashtag) appropriately to categorize tweets.  I learned how to do a proper re-tweet quote, giving credit to original tweeters. I also learned about Tweetdeck.  A great site for organizing your Twitter account and following #’s, a great thing to do if participating in a Twitter Chat. If you haven’t already check out my Twitter widget to follow me on Twitter.

Where am I going with Twitter after this course?

I am going to continue to use Twitter to strengthen my PLN. I will continue to use Twitter as a teaching resource and hopefully encourage others in my division to give Twitter a try.

Google+ Community

I had used Google+ a bit with my division prior to this course but had never fully participated in a community. I found it to be a good meeting place for myself and my classmates to ask questions, share our blog posts as well as share valuable teaching resources.  I personally posted questions on the “Questions and Answers” board as well as helped answer some fellow students questions.  I posted in the “Discussion” space links to my blog posts as well as on occasion resources/video I thought might be useful.  I responded to fellow classmates posts where I thought appropriate and on occasion responded to blog posts via Google+ when I couldn’t get comments to post on their sites.

Where am I going to go with Google+ after this course?

I’m hope my division begins to embrace it more as I see us embracing Google Apps for Education.  I see it as  great way to collaborate and share at a distance therefore saving time and money for professional development within our division. I have also personally joined two other communities (RemixEd and EdTech Saskatchewan) and want to try to engage more within those communities.

As this is my last official post as an EC&I 831 student I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt for a great course and very educational semester. You got me leaping out of my fishbowl! I also want to say thank you to my fellow classmates for sharing their time, thoughts,and expertise. Last but not least thank you to any additional readers I have picked up over the last few months I hope I have been able to share something useful.

Throughout the course I’ve learned there is always room for growth, always something to learn. See you back after the holiday break on the blog!

To pin or not to pin…a summary of EC&I 831!

Of course I am going to pin.  In fact Pinterest has become sort of an addiction for me over the last few years. Pinning everything I may or may not ever make or do. It seems everything I need to make or know I can find on Pinterest. Okay, maybe not everything but quite a bit of stuff.  I chose to do my final summary of learning for my EC&I course on a Pinterest page.  I feel it is a form of social media/social bookmarking that is professionally underutilized due to the fact it seems to be predominately used by women. Interesting fact CEO Pinterest is a man. Maybe a topic to discuss in our gender and edtech section…Anyway I  chose Pinterest because it allowed me to “pin” or connect to sites that showed what I have been focusing on this term. I was then also able to write a description (500 characters or less) under my pins of what my big takeaway learnings were from the presenters, sites, and tools I have been learning from this semester. I also chose a Pinterest page so that I would have a resource to share my learning from the course with others in my division.  It became sort of a shared resource or a list of top resources for me.  I feel it is something I can continue to add too as I progress on my edtech journey. I may even pick up a few blog followers from my pins about my blogs, well a girl can hope!

Before you check out my Pinterest page please check out my Introduction that I made using Powtoon. I’ve never used Powtoon before but quite enjoyed it once I tried it and feel it may be useful tool for my classroom in the future. I recommend having a look at it.

Okay, watched the video? Now check out my Pinterest page: EC&I 831 Summary of Learning.

Sadly, I had my head in the sand and maybe I still do.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about last weeks class presentation from Audrey Watters about gender and tech.  It really left me feeling unsettled.  I thought it was eye-opening, thought-provoking, and frankly a little sad.  I truly did not view the world of educational technology in this way.  Any experience I have with edtech has never had that sort of spin on it. It has always been relatively positive.   In fact most people I am involved with and have interactions with in the areas of edtech are women, but really, that is from a fairly small perspective within my school division and educational experience. I guess that is why I found it so unsettling, I had my head in the sand.  I’m not typically the controversial type or the type of person that likes conflict, probably why I find myself being the one to apologize as I read about in Christine Barber’s blog post “I’m sorry but I just had to say I’m sorry.” Give it a read I bet you will relate.  As far as the discussion on threats and repression as I stated above I was very bothered by it and feel this is topic I need to explore slowly, I’m still not feeling like I can truly wrap my head around all the stories she shared and will need to continue my opinions on that within a future post.  For this reason I decided to go in slow this week and do a little looking into gender equity on social media and found out some interesting info I would not have thought of some big players in the social networking game.

The first thing I found out when searching was that trend of transparency in many of the big tech companies.  I started with Facebook.  For example HR Grapevine posted about Facebook releasing its numbers that 69% of their workforce is men and within that 77% of their global leadership is men. I thought to myself, I wonder what percentage of Facebook users are men and what percentage are women? Why are women up against a wall here?

Next I moved on to Twitter.  A few months ago I can across a TedTalk by Del Harvey, Twitters head of Trust and Safety Team and because of viewing that video when I went searching I thought, okay Twitter must be doing better I saw a female representative at a Ted Talk event.  Sadly no;

” Of Twitter’s global workforce of around 3,000, 70 percent are male, and only a tenth of workers in the tech department are women. The non-tech workforce is split evenly between males and females, but women hold just a fifth of leadership positions.” (TechNewsWorld)

With Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn all sort of having the same results in their transparency I’m thinking how do we make it better? Maybe through the transparency this is sort of meaning companies are ready to address their diversity issues and are coming up with programs within their human resources structure to improve equality.  Unless they change attitudes not just hiring practice I wonder if it is enough?

REMIX!

Remix is what was on my mind this morning.  A few days ago in my ETAD class we were working through the topics of copyright including plagiarism and patent when the idea of remix came up.  Remix in the way that I understand it is simply the idea that all our ideas come from somewhere else.  Nothing is a lone creative thought.  I think the idea spreads through all forms of expression including literature, media, music, fashion, and education.  I really like this quote from Mark Twain I think it explains what I am trying to say about the definition of a remix.

“All ideas are second-hand, consciously or unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources” – Mark Twain​

The TedBlog has some other great quotes that help to put the idea of remix in a variety of expressions into perspective as well.

Kirby Ferguson is a New York based film maker who is embracing and spreading the word about remixing.  I highly recommend you check out his four-part video series titles “Everything is a Remix”, some real food for thought on the idea of remixing.  He also has a Ted Talk video titled “Embrace the Remix” and if you’ve noticed in my other posts I love Ted Talks!

Some other great resources on remix comes from Amy Burvall.  Her site Storifying History has some great links to find out more about the remix as well as her Google+ community, RemixEd.

What do you think about the idea of remix?  Do we really own anything?  Is your opinion different if you are the owner versus the user as Kirby talks about in his video?

Distance Education=Opportunity for All?

I’m currently enrolled in a Masters of Education from the University of Saskatchewan that is presented completely as distance education (DE).  The nearest university to me is a travelling distance of one and half hours one way.  Realistically a short drive compared to others in my same situation but still a distance I could not commit to multiple times a week. I knew I was at the point in  my career where I was ready to continue my education and began looking for masters programs to enroll in.  I was lucky enough to come across the Educational Technology and Design Program at the U of S.  It was right for me.   I chose DE learning because as an adult learner I needed to be able to continue to work full-time and needed time flexibility within my learning.

I’m currently taking an ETAD course about distance education that is presented as distance education.  The course has really got me thinking about access to education and how important the idea of “online” has become for education. Online university options, cyber schools, and moocs are quickly becoming recognized and preferred forms of education.  So is distance education the answer to educational opportunity for all?

I recently watched this Ted Talk from one of the founders of Coursera, an online collection of free courses, that helped me to put the global need for education into perceptive.

When I think of distance education I think first of the way universities are doing it through course management systems. You enroll and pay for the course as you would do in a face to face environment but then are provided course materials, asynchronous and synchronous interaction, discussion, and assignments all typically through a course management system such as Blackboard.  I have had success in my program through this way of learning and have very much enjoyed the experience  I never thought of distance education as moocs before and am currently very interested in the idea of a mooc being educational opportunity for all.  I am currently enrolled in a mooc which I will use my completed work and learning as partial credit for a university course.  What other ways have you used a mooc?

I recently read through a few other blogs about moocs as I realized I was taking one but knew very little about them other than they were online and open to anyone.  Tony Bates does an explanation of what a mooc is and an interesting comparison of strengths and weaknesses of moocs on his blog about distance education resources.  There are also some great links on the Ted Blog about moocs that are worth a read and view.

This is just the beginning of looking into distance education for me but what do you think about the move to distance education, is it opportunity for all or still as education has been in the past opportunity for some?

Digital citizenship, our responsibility.

Teachers teach citizenship in the school and classroom everyday.  Overlying themes of honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and courage are engrained in the way we model and set up our schools and classrooms. It used to be enough to teach students how to interact appropriately face to face but not anymore.  As society advances and we focus more on our digital world it is also necessary for us to teach and model the citizenship of our new digital world.  I do try to present a positive online identity, so much so that I sometimes think I look better online than in real life.  For instance no make-up, baggy sweatpants at the grocery store versus strategically chosen photos for my social network profiles haha! Really on a more serious note, I recently completed a project for my masters program around the idea of digital citizenship. It is an important topic for me as a middle years teacher I see so much misuse of technology and absolutely no regard for digital identity and footprint.  In the current course that I am taking we recently had an amazing guest speaker, Bonnie Stewart, who discussed with us the idea of networked identity. Throughout her presentation my mind kept coming back to the idea of digital citizenship and our responsibility to guide students through their digital world just as we do their face to face world.

Where do we start with digital citizenship in our school and classrooms?

I think first we need to understand the concept of digital citizenship.  What does it mean?  What does it look like?

“Digital Citizenship is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use.” This is a definition from Mike Ribble author of Digital Citizenship in Schools. His ideas are based around the nine elements of digital citizenship and their organization into three categories.  For sure some good information for organizing, understanding, and teaching of the concept of digital citizenship.

nine elements

“Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.” This second definition comes from the International Society for Technology in Education or ISTE. My division has been using ISTE as a sort of guide for teachers to help them with the teaching and use of technology in their classrooms.  It includes student and teacher standards.  I think the big goal is to try to get educators to move in the direction of teaching about technology use and citizenship not specific tools of technology.  Digital citizenship is about what we want students to learn not about what we want them to do.  The graphic below is a description of what I mean.

What do you want...

More resources to check out!

Here are a few I came across when researching for my project.

  • 5 Reasons You Should be Teaching Digital Citizenship Paul Barnell (2014)
  • The Ministry of Education in the province of Saskatchewan has recently begun the process of purchasing license agreements for Media Smarts. “MediaSmarts is a Canadian not-for-profit centre for digital and media literacy. Our vision is to ensure that young people have the critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens.” (Media Smarts 2014)
  • Sasktel’s “I am Stronger” campaign focuses on anti-bullying, community, and networking of young people in Saskatchewan.  The Ministry of Education in the province of Saskatchewan has set a deal with Sasktel’s “I am Stronger” campaign to set up space to house digital citizenship resources for educators, parents, and students.
  • The DCMOOC in Saskatchewan was a massive open online course about digital citizenship facilitated by Dr. Alec Couros and supported by the Government of Saskatchewan.  The entire focus is on digital citizenship.  Although the course is currently over there is still an abundance of resources for educators and parents on the site in the form of recorded Blackboard Collaborate sessions, as well as on google+ community and Twitter (#DCMOOC, #dcmchat).
  • Common Sense Media is a not-for-profit organization “dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology.” (Common Sense Media 2014)  Their digital citizenship section includes tool kits, printable posters, and units available at no cost for educators and parents.

I also recently watched this Ted Talk Video then saw it on my fellow classmate Kelly Christopherson’s blog and wanted to share it as a close to my post.

Your Life Online – Permanent as Tattoo – Juan Enriquez

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Do you have any great resources to add to my list for learning about and teaching digital citizenship?  I would love to check them out so please feel free to add them in the comments section.

Google Apps for Education, how I love you!

I found this weeks class session on Google Apps for Education completely fabulous.  I loved the hands on aspect of the evening. I felt like time flew by!  Michael Wacker genuinely engaged me in the learning process.  I’ve been using Google Apps for a year or so and love the collaborative, easy to share aspects of it.  It has been especially useful as I engage in distance education courses to fulfill my masters requirements.  I find as I use it more in my own learning I have been more apt to use it with my students and they also are loving the new ways of sharing and working together.

What I loved before the presentation:

I loved that students no longer had to save collaborative projects on one user profile. With Google Docs it doesn’t matter if one group member is absent all members can still access a project.  No more wasted class time for students with missing group members.

I loved the paperless aspect of it all.  No more buckets of assignments to haul home.  Just logging in and sharing feedback with the comments options.

What I loved after the presentation:

I loved learning about the research option.  How quick and easy for students and me.

I loved learning about the revisions option.  Great ways in addition to comments to assist students with their work.

I also liked the tidbit of information regarding the 50 person limit at one time for editing.  Nice to know when working with entire staffs.

I am currently using Google Docs with another course I am enrolled in this term and am looking forward to trying out a few of my new skills.