Anxious, yet Eager.

It is really hard to believe that this is my fifth course with Dr. Alec Couros. It all started over 13 years ago in ECMP 355 (Intro to Computers in Class), in the Fall of 2006. Around 20 of us huddled in the computer lab working on desktops building websites using code and exploring this fairly new site called YouTube. Fast forward three years to the Winter of 2009 and I was back again with Dr. Couros in ECMP 455 (Classroom Computers Advanced). A LOT had changed in those three years. Twitter was a new and emerging tool and people were beginning to grow their Personal Learning Network (PLN). The concept of 21st century learning and bringing learning outside the 4 walls of the classroom was also beginning to get some traction. ECMP 455 was truly a game changer for me and has helped me become the educator that I am today. To be honest, Dr. Couros is the reason I decided to pursue a masters in education. His commitment to innovative approaches that promote student-centered teaching and learning is something I aspire to.

I began my Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in the Winter of 2015. This is class 7 out of 10! I have taken EC&I 832 (Emerging Media Literacies) and EC&I 831 (Social Media and Open Education) with Alec, but this is my first class on a maternity leave and I am really hoping I can keep things straight! I have two beautiful girls. Isla is 2.5 years old and Scarlett is 7 months old. Needless to say, they keep me busy and there is never a dull moment.

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I am really excited to be taking this course, but I am also feeling rather anxious. As a mother of two (both who aren’t the best sleepers), I am struggling with keeping things straight in my head. It is my hope that I don’t miss anything!

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

I appreciate you all helping to keep my focused and on task through Twitter and our online course community. When I am not full-time ‘momming’, I am a Teacher-Librarian with Regina Catholic Schools. I love this position as it allows me to combine a few of my passions in teaching: literacy, technology, and innovative teaching and learning.

In Regina Catholic Schools, the school library and the teacher-librarian are integral in strengthening student learning.

​Our school libraries are home to dynamic instructional programs that connect with the educational programs of the schools.  Through collaborative partnerships, teacher-librarians and classroom teachers design and implement inquiry-based learning opportunities that support curriculum learning outcomes.

Literacy development is the cornerstone of our school libraries.  They promote the enjoyment of reading, viewing, and listening. ​Our libraries prepare students for the future by developing the abilities and skills necessary to become information literate.​

Taken from RCSD Information and Library Services

My number one goal for this course is to get through it without missing a deadline and being able to produce the quality of work I am used to producing! Three other goals I have are:

  1. To develop an understanding of the pedagogical issues (e.g., learning strategies, developing content, delivery/facilitation formats/options, developing presence, cultivating community, etc.) of blended and online learning. As an elementary school teacher, I see very few instances of blended and online learning (although we do have some excellent examples of it happening right within our school division by extraordinary teachers, such as Matthew Bresciani) and I would like to explore how we can help close that gap.
  2. To examine and evaluate blended and online course content, pedagogical practices, and tools for implementation.  To be completely honest, I don’t know what is really out there (other than YouTube and MOOCs) for designing online and blended learning. I would like to explore, evaluate, and examine the various tools used to deliver the course and the pedagogical practices that need to be in place in order for them the be successful.
  3. To create something that is useful and can be used again. This is one of my favourite aspects of Alec’s courses — everything that we do is purposeful and has true meaning and the ability to impact teaching and learning.

… but in all honesty my number one goal is to not miss anything!

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Summary of Learning…Channel 831 News!

Upon entering this course, I knew I would learn about Social Media and Open Education, as that was the name of the course. Through our modules, we  learned about how Web 2.0 tools and free & open source software have changed the way we teach and learn, the changing views of knowledge, emerging literacies, and the development of personal learning networks.

BUT, we didn’t stop there!

We didn’t just look at how social media and open education can enhance and transform education, we also explored much deeper societal, ethical, political, cultural and administrative issues that are associated with technology and media in education and society. Take a look at the EC&I 831 News (co-created with Genna Rodriguez) to see a summary of what we learned this term!

Learning to Learn: The process of an online learning project

Context…

It is a bittersweet feeling coming to the end of this learning project. If you have been following my progress on my blog, you have learned about the struggles and successes I experienced over the past 13 weeks of my learning project.

Participating in the learning project rather than focusing my major project on something I could integrate into my teaching and I knew I would be successful at was a risk. But as the saying goes, high risk, high reward. This term I was able to experience authentic life-long learning, something that is often preached about in education, but also something that is often neglected in undergraduate and graduate studies. Engaging in the learning process was a bit uncomfortable at times, but it reminded me that the process of learning is far greater than the product.

If we think of the SAMR Swimming Pool, I was able to use technology to transform my learning experience through this project. It is very easy to get caught in using technology to enhance learning. I hope to use the skills I have learned as a learner to impact how I teach.  It is my hope I can use a similar process to transform the traditional learning process for my students through the effective use of social media and open educational resources for learning and the ability to use technology to support and document learning.

Where it all began…

The first thing I had to do was choose something to learn about. I appreciate the freedom and openness of not being told what to learn, but rather to choose something that I was passionate about, interested in, and was of substance. My learning outcome was to study and practice prenatal yoga to increase my flexibility and prepare myself both physically and mentally for the birth of my baby.

Prenatal yoga fit all the criteria of the learning project as it was: complex to learn, worth learning, and of great interest to me.

Before I could jump into my learning project, I had to do a pre-assessment to see where I was at. This allowed me to look at how pregnancy was impacting my sleep quality, hip and lower back pain, mindfulness, and anxiety of childbirth.

Over the past 13 weeks I have not only learned a great deal about prenatal yoga, I have also acquired knowledge about labour, delivery, and postpartum. As you can tell in my post assessment, I have also grown physically and mentally in that I am able to use my new found skills to treat the aches and pains of pregnancy and I am more mindful.

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In addition to meeting my outcome of learning yoga, I have also learned a great deal about the process of learning online.

Learning Prenatal Yoga Online…

I was able to find a plethora of learning resources online related to prenatal yoga, but finding a learning community that went further than following, liking, watching videos, and reading was challenging. I tried to find some MOOCs on prenatal yoga, but was unable to find any on the topic that were free. So I worked with what I had and I found the PLN I was able to create was quite instrumental in my success of this learning project.

In my PLN I was able to use social media, online communities, videos, websites, and face-to-face resources to transform and enhance my learning. Here are a few of the highlights:

Social Media

  • Instagram: Instagram was by far the best place for me to develop my PLN. I felt like my Instagram account kept me accountable to my learning project and allowed me to follow others who are going through the same experiences and gain support. Even though the extent of my connections were through a like or small comment, I really felt supported and felt like I had developed a community. I have 47 followers and am following 90 quality accounts. The key to this was using appropriate hashtags. Once I started using powerful hashtags, I was able to connect with many more people. I feel quite happy with where I ended up on Instagram as I started a new account and all these people are new followers who are following me just to see my prenatal yoga process.
  • Other places I tried: I tried Twitter, Facebook pages, and Google+ community to connect with others and build a community. Although I was able to gain some resources through these networks, I didn’t find them instrumental to my success. They were just another place for me to extend my learning.

Online Communities

  • Pinterest: Although some might argue that Pinterest is not an online community, I found this as a key resource in developing, following, and managing my learning resources. Pinterest allowed me to keep my resources organized, follow other boards who were interested in prenatal yoga, it also allowed me to contribute to the community by pinning resources I found useful.
  • Other places I tried: As I said earlier, I also connected on Twitter and Instagram. I also joined an online community through Prenatal Yoga Center, but unfortunately it wasn’t what I expected. Basically, it was a blog hub for all the blogs they produced. It was a good source for information, but I found the community aspect missing.

 Videos

  • YouTube: The best place for prenatal videos and sources was YouTube. I subscribed to a few channels and I found myself visiting YouTube often during my practice. It was nice to be able to practice and learn something without having to leave the house!

Other Sources

  • Face-to-Face: I really enjoyed connecting with others through my Face-to-Face resources as well. I participated in yoga at Everyday Sacred and my gym Anytime Fitness. Although I was able to find many sources online and was able to do the majority of learning online, it was nice to connect with people on a more personal level through my Face-to-Face resources.
  • Other places I tried: As I went through the learning process, I visited many blogs and websites which I then pinned on my Pinterest board. My top two places for yoga resources were PopSugar and Prenatal Yoga Center.

Reflection and Process…

During this project, it was hard for me to focus on the process of learning and not an end product as I was going through this learning process, but in the end I am quite satisfied with how it all turned out. I suppose I didn’t realize it at the time, but throughout my whole process of learning and the documentation of my learning project through my blog, I was creating an end product. In making my learning visible, sharing my struggles and successes, and reflecting on the process of learning I was creating a portfolio that demonstrates what I learned.

This reflection on the process of learning and the learning itself was instrumental in my success of this learning project. It helped to keep me accountable, gave me a direction on where I should go next, shows where I have been, and allowed me to connect to a community of learners.

Continuing the Learning Process…

Although this learning project is coming to a close as my pregnancy is almost over, I plan to continue my learning in an online setting. It has been life changing to have this opportunity to engage in the learning process as it has reminded me that life-long learning can be related to things other than professional goals. So where am I going to go next? On top of continuing my yoga practice… I would really like to train my dog how to greet people at the door politely. I sure hope there is a strong online community for this topic as I think in training him, I need to train myself first!

When was the last time your learned something just because?

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Follow me: prenatal.yoga.yqr

This term I was afforded the opportunity to learn something new. Not something that was dictated to me by my professors, but something that I was passionate about, interested in, and was of substance. I was also to use open education resources to guide my project. I took a risk in doing the learning project as I had some quality ideas for the other option of the major project, that I knew I would be successful at, but I wanted to experience something I haven’t in a while… learning for the sake of learning. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I haven’t learned anything in the past few years, but between graduate classes, teaching, new positions, and the general busyness of life, I haven’t allocated time in my schedule to explore and learn just because I am interested in it. This project has reminded me of the joy of lifelong learning and how important it is to fit time in to learn something of interest. We are so lucky to have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips and we should take advantage of it.

My learning outcome was to study and practice prenatal yoga to increase my flexibility and prepare myself both physically and mentally for the birth of my baby. As I went through this process of learning, I focused on assessing my sleep quality, hip and lower back pain, mindfulness, and the feelings of anxiety of childbirth. Even though I had an outcome of where I wanted to go in my learning project, I found myself learning much more than just what I had planned. On top of learning and experiencing how prenatal yoga helps me through pregnancy, I also found myself learning about labour, and postpartum.

I hope to use the experience of this learning project in my future classrooms to encourage students to access open education resources and learn something that is meaningful to them. This could be done through the use of genius hour, the maker movement, project based learning, or passion projects. I think in experiencing the freedom, riskiness, and openness of going through the learning process using online tools to not only enhance my learning, but essentially transform it, has allowed me to experience something I haven’t before and has taught me the importance of trying something like this in the classroom. When thinking of this online learning project in the context of the classroom, I can’t help but think about the SAMR swimming pool. In this learning project, I was able to transform the traditional learning process through the effective use of social media and open educational resources for learning and my ability to use technology to support and document learning.

 

Interactive SAMR Swimming Pool

 

How do you plan to use what you’ve learned in your learning project in your classroom?

Please stay tuned as I post a summary of my experience with this project in the next few days!

 

 

Can we really call online activism slacktivism?

I think there is a big difference between online activism and slacktivism, although people often use the terms synonymously. Just like I think there is a difference between cyberbullying and online harassment.

We all have the friends on social media who are slacktivists. We may have been tempted to or already have stopped following them as they share, like, and flood your network with controversial issues, but never seem to really do anything about it. Yet they feel like they are doing their part to bring about real social change and feel good about it.

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Slacktivism in this essence frustrates me as it gives people who are actually fighting to provoke change a harder time to make a difference. I also wonder if the people who share these stories actually take the time to read them and make critical decisions on them or just share them because the title, photo and caption are captivating.

Slacktivists are criticized for people who just want the image of a change-maker, but aren’t actually doing anything to help. For example, they will post, share, and comment about issues, but it stops there. They won’t make a donation, volunteer, or organize a rally because they feel they have already done their part.

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Photo Credit: danielito311 via Compfight cc

Just talking about social justice issues on social media isn’t going to drive social change and change the world, but it may be the reason something catches fire, cause others to do more and begin a social movement, it might move people from being passive viewers to active witnesses who see something and do something, or even get the conversation going. In using our voices on social media we can make the actions of a few active protesters visible to millions of people, all over the world. Although we might not have the capability or resources to be on the ground with the protesters fighting for change, we are able to use our voice to shed light on social justice issues.

Online activism is more than just sharing social justice issues through 140 characters, comments, and a clever hashtag.  Social media is just another outlet to use our voice and speak up about these causes. It helps to generate empathy around the issue and hopefully breaks the stigma of talking about it. However the activism shouldn’t stop there. You should strive to be a change maker, conversation starter, and active participant in offline spaces as well.

But maybe in the end the very essence of this post makes me a slacktivist? Or maybe, although it may be small, I am using my voice to start critical conversations and bring awareness?

A Guide to Learning Online

This week I decided to make an e-book that provides the basics of completing an online learning project. It includes: how to get started, documenting the learning process, your learning communities, and how to stay on track.

Next week I will use this e-book to help me summarize my learning process for my EC&I 831 learning project.

Unfortunately, one of the limitations of the free version of FlipSnack is I am not able to embed it into my blog. (I  even tried FlipSnackEdu). Please click the link below to view my FlipSnack!

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A Guide to Learning Online

Is it more than good-bad, clean-dirty, acceptable-taboo?

After the course readings and videos this week, I was left disappointed and upset with our social culture. I began this post writing about why trolls were the whole problem, why white-middle-aged men were causing this, and how we should just ignore people who revel in creating emotional distress by turning of comments or not responding. However, I think this issue is beyond complicated, it is not only about trolls and white-middle-aged men, and how if we ignore these issues, they will go away. These issues of trolling, online harassment, and scammers are complex issues that deal with more than just a problem our society is facing on the internet, it is impacting our social culture and society as whole.


Why is harassment, especially targeted at women, in the online space so common? Why is sexist, racist, and hateful language seen as a norm? Why are we encouraged to not feed the trolls and simply ignore them, allowing this issue to continue? How do we make change?

Trolling, online harassment, and scammers are complex issues that need to be compared to real life crime. In some cases it is more than harassment and online abuse, the terms online harassment and online abuse are too easy to disregard and not see as complex issues, often telling people to ignore it or get off the internet if you don’t like it. Is this how we would treat people with offline issues of the same complexity? No. As John Oliver compares online issues to real life, it would be like saying, if you don’t want to get burgled, then don’t live in a house.

There’s no quick technological fix to end hate speech online, for it’s a deeply rooted societal ill which needs greater tackling offline – not a one-day Twitter boycott or a report abuse button” —Marta Cooper via The Telegraph

What can we do as a society to end hate speech, stop sexism, end racism, work towards social justice, and tackle complex issues online? To begin we should start the conversation and continue to speak out about controversial issues. Technology is not the problem here, it is a bigger societal issue.

 

I am a creature of habit.

I am a creature of habit and I am extremely predictable, which is sometimes problematic. Some people may call my predictability organized, structured, or that it suits my Type A personality, but others may call it boring and not creative. As I have looked back through my major project blog posts, I have noticed a common thread… they are all very structured and follow the same format. I find it hard to break away from this format because I like and crave structure, but this week I am going to try to be a different.

I decided I would try something I have never tried before, but have always wanted to try, so I made an inforgraphic using Piktochart. I was actually inspired last term by Amy to make an infographic, but never got around to making one last term. Although the content is still very structured (this is something I am working on), the presentation is something new.

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Week 8 Piktochart

Is digital access a right?

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The New Digital Divide via Free Press Pics

The new digital divide is not some far away issue that is totally removed from Saskatchewan, nor is it specific to a certain region. It is a global issue that impacts the marginalized. It is also something that I am witnessing within my community school within Regina, SK. The loss of net neutrality scares me. I agree with Jannae and think it will negatively affect teachers, students and education as a whole. Additionally, it will affect the poor and the marginalized. The internet could be a place to bridge that gap and give the voiceless a voice. Access to all places on the internet, not just places owned by corporate entities, is crucial to giving a voice to the marginalized, allowing for free speech, and encouraging innovation. If we allow tiered internet to exist we are furthering the gap of equal access. We are already living in a world where the media dictates what we see and the perspective we see it from and the education system is influenced by corporate interests. Take for example, the idea of BusRadio to fund raise or fundraising events put on by large corporations. By allowing content providers to provide better access to their users, we are putting free and open source tools at risk.

“A faster web for some isn’t an equal web for all, and the rules that favor Internet service providers jeopardize the web’s ability to serve as a platform for free speech and innovation.” – Jessy Irwin, April 29, 2014

One of Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship is digital access, working towards full electronic participation in society. Everyone doesn’t have the same opportunities when it comes to technology and as (digital) citizens, we should work towards equal rights and supporting electronic access. If we exclude the marginalized, it is difficult to grow as a society.

So Facebook has decided to help provide access to those who don’t have it with internet.org, the only problem is that people with access to internet.org have limited access, limited security, and limited privacy. So is limited access better than no access at all? I don’t think so. We should be working towards providing equal digital access to all, but how do we get there? I am not quite sure, but something I think that is important to remember is that the key word is access, not tools.

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Open Access (storefront) via Gideon Burton

I will leave you with some questions to consider when thinking of digital access in your own community which come from the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools document:

  1. What are school community members’ beliefs regarding the necessity of Internet access for staff and students?
  2. What is the school’s policy and current processes regarding blocking access to Internet content and social networking services, and how can the school ensure that students’ rights to digital access are maintained?
  3. What is the school’s policy on BYOD programs, and how will the school ensure access for all students?
  4. What opportunities is the school providing for teachers in order to support their use of technology in the classroom? What steps is the school taking to ensure that students have access to up-to-date equipment, including specialized or adaptive equipment for students with special needs?

 

 

Feedback vs. Evaluation

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Photo Credit: ClassicsOnTheStreet via Compfight cc

My Week in Review

I really liked how my colleague, Erin Benjamin, reviewed her goals on her major project by colour coding them, so I thought I would do the same. Here is my key:

GREEN = I achieved my goal this week! Yay Me!!

BLUE = I need to revisit this goal this week. I wouldn’t necessarily say I failed at this goal, but it requires a bit more attention in order to be considered accomplished.

RED = I didn’t get a chance to complete this goal and it got pushed on the back-burner. I will look at trying to accomplish it this week!

My goals for this week were to:

  1. Continue to attend and participate in prenatal yoga classes both through online resources and in my face-to-face communities.
  2. Pin more prenatal yoga resources.
  3. Get at least 20 posts on my Instagram account.
  4. Decide on how I will summarize my learning project.

I was very thankful to get feedback this week from Katia Hildebrandt. I appreciated the detailed review on how I was doing in the class and in particular with this learning project. Not only was the feedback detailed, it was personalized and I could tell there was a genuine interest in my progress in the class and provided me with ways in which I could improve. As the tweet states below, feedback that is received at the end is not feedback, it is evaluation. I am finding EC&I 831 is not only teaching us about effective pedagogical approaches, but is also modeling it.

 

One recommendation in my feedback was a join an online prenatal yoga community. I found an online community with Prenatal Yoga Centre. In this community I am able to read blog posts, comment, and connect with others. I have enjoyed following the blog posts in this community and have learned a lot from them, but don’t find this is the most functional space for my learning. I will continue to be involved in this community to see if maybe with some time it becomes more natural.

I have enjoyed growing my community on Instagram. This is where I am finding most of my learning and connecting is happening. I find that Instagram for the purpose of my learning project is very similar to Twitter for my professional learning network relating to teaching. It is a very natural space, I am able to quickly get a “snapshot” of yoga resources and motivation and if I wish to investigate further, I am able to dig deeper into the post and the account.

I am looking forward to a slower week with report cards being finished so that I can take some more time this week to work on my learning project!

My goals for next week are to:

  1. Continue to attend and participate in prenatal yoga classes both through online resources and in my face-to-face communities.
  2. Pin a few more prenatal yoga resources.
  3. Share my learning and connect with others through my Instagram account.
  4. Decide on how I will summarize my learning project.

Thanks for following!!