Author Archives: coltonlund

Week 13: Learning Project Wrap-Up

Learning to use a CNC Router has been an adventure, and a process, to say the least. This being said, I’ve loved each and every minute of it. In an earlier update, I started by telling you that I tend to obsess, and this could be more truthful. Over the last 12 weeks or so, I’ve been reading reviews, watching demonstrations, learning software, travelling to hardware stores, comparing prices and value (to a painstaking degree,) having discussions with administrators, and meeting with community members, all in an effort to learn more about my latest obsession, which just happen to also be my Learning Project for EC&I 831. Although I ran into quite a few barriers that prohibited me from progressing as much as I wanted during this time frame, I am comforted in knowing that the interest I have in this project is stronger than ever, and therefor my learning will continue long after this course ended. Strap in as this is a bit of an update and a wrap-up all in one post!  

The Journey

  • February 2021– initially become interested in CNC Routers. Approach my school’s administration about the possibility of purchasing one to use with my Drafting and PAA classes. I was met with encouragement, and told to look into quotes
  • May 2021– Approach administration again. Discuss price and lead times. Told we will likely look at ordering one in the fall
  • September 2021– Enroll in EC&I 831 as my first master’s class. When deciding on a Learning Project, I realize doing something practical to my practice, as well as something I could incorporate with my students has me very encouraged
  • September 2021– Begin deeper research on different CNC Router models, manufacturers, software, wood types, bit types, and much more. Due to the wide variety of resources, and manufacturers, and software options, this continues to this day and will continue long into the future. See many of my thoughts during this time by reading my blog post from September 21, 2021
  • September-October 2021– Deeper discussions with administration about ordering a CNC. Due to tight budget constraints, I was told to wait until late November or early December before I might get the go ahead to order.
  • October 2021– I reached out to two community members, one that works in custom cabinetry, and one that has a hobby-sized CNC Router (similar to the one our school may be getting,) in order to learn more about operating the machines, as well as seeing them in person. Take a look at my second update, on this blog post, where I discussed many of the different choices that I’ve researched, the criteria I look for, and the software I was considering.
  • Late October/Early November 2021– During my next blog post update, I discussed some alternative ways I was going to learn about CNCs as my school was still unable to purchase one. It was also during this time that I found a (comparatively,) cheap, and much smaller CNC available on Amazon. After finding some online forums that were present with thousands of users of the same CNC, I felt comfortable purchasing it in an effort to further my learning before a full sized unit could be purchased by the school. (I didn’t mention this in the blog post due to the possibility of it shipping too late. However, I was happy to report that this was not the case.
  • November 2021– Once the CNC arrived, 5-10 hours were spend building it, three different materials have been experimented with, two new pieces of software were learned (Easel and Universal G-Code Sender,) a large amount of reading on different bits and how they affect different types of carves, and additional bits were put on order.
  • Late November 2021– Through a TON of experimenting, tinkering, online tutorials and reading of online forums, I started to have some success with the CNC. It was frustrating at times, as I had to keep reminding myself that this was not the same machine as the ones I was researching, and I had to adjust my expectations as such. That being said, scroll down to see some of the results since my last update.

Progress Since the Last Update

As mentioned above, I purchased a 3018 Pro CNC Router from an Amazon Reseller. A 3018 is a cheaply made CNC router, sold under a number of different brands, all of which use a very similar design. Essentially, this was a vastly scaled down version of what I hoped to purchase with the school, both in terms of cutting area, and quality.

After spending many hours building the 3018 (it came completely disassembled,) I began experimenting with Easel, a free software for CNC routers. See some images below that document some of my progress during this time. I began cutting out of MDF (the darker material,) simply because it is cheaper and slightly more forgiving. Initially, everything was assembled as intended. Everything had power, and the test cuts were successful.

The Good!

The Bad

Some cuts resulted in valuable learned lessons. When I was unable to find out why a cut failed, I consulted numerous forums and videos online. Some of my biggest pieces of learning were:

  • Different materials require different speeds
  • Incorrect speeds greatly affect quality, cut time, and open the opportunity to break bits
  • Different types of cuts require different bits
  • Screws and bolts loosen over time
  • Dry grease is needed on all rods to lubricate while preventing dust build up. Using a dry grease with PFTE is the most recommended.

After investing in some different bits and dry grease, and researching speeds for the MDF and plywood I was using, I had a bit more success! (See the paragraph below.) I also found this image extremely helpful to assist in understanding the minute differences between bits.

Color-Coded Bit Chart: Choosing the Right Bit – Inventables (zendesk.com)

Here’s to Improving!

After quite a bit of tinkering, troubleshooting, and researching, I’ve gotten a handful of carves that I’m not completely unhappy with. I have to keep reminding myself that there are limitations with a inexpensive machine, as results will rarely be perfect. Below are a few images of these type of carves. Each have small imperfections, but they are much better than the examples above.

When looking for ECI 831 related shapes to cut out from Easel’s library, I found it very interesting to find a shape, similar to the one Alec created that went viral! (Top-Left)

To Wrap Up

Many of my goals that I referenced in my initial blog post, unfortunately were not able to be realized. This was primarily due to the school’s timeline for purchasing one being pushed back, which prevented my goals that involved working with students with the router. However, my learning shifted in another direction, and primarily focused on my learning around the most efficient use of the machine. This learning will be extremely valuable going forward, and something I’ve truly enjoyed.

During my second update, I mentioned some two of my largest initial goals were choosing a model and software to use. Currently, I am using Easel (software) and a 3018 router. Through my research, I know now that when the school is able to purchase one, I am comfortable recommending an Axiom Iconic, Onefinity, or a Longmill by Scienci Labs. The given budget will make the decision between these three. In terms of software, I will reccomend using Easel or Carbide Create until we have budget to purchase VCarve Pro.

I am thrilled with the amount I’ve learned through this project. This being said, my journey is far from over. I’m really intrigued by all facets of CNC routers, and when the school is able to purchase one, I know I will be that much further ahead in my learning and be able to bring it into the classroom that much quicker. My end goals continue to revolve around sharing my interests with students, and teaching them to use this tool in a safe, effective, and engaging manner.

Where the Journey Continues:

Although this class may be over, my learning is far from done on the CNC router. Having my own small CNC will allow me to continue to learn about the craft while waiting to experiment on a larger machine. Also, having friends willing to support this my learning by allowing me to experiment on their machines is invaluable to my learning.

Some of the goals for future products:

  • A set of coasters (more intricate than those I have attempted prior)
  • Signs of all sorts
  • Cribbage boards
  • Serving trays and cutting boards
  • Bit organizers
  • Topographical maps
  • Complete my basic ECI 831 sign that I’ve created in Fusion that I mentioned in my last update
  • Basic Stools for my classroom
  • Guitar Body

I also want to continue to make my beginner document in Canva that I mentioned in many previous blog posts. Although I feel that I have not experimented and learned enough on larger scale machines to create a beginner’s document at this point in time, it is something that I look forward to sharing in the future. If there is a way that I can take my learning process and summarize it in away that makes it easier for the an individual going through the same process, my work would be well worth the journey.  I plan to continue to use twitter to share progress of my CNC journey, and feel free to follow me there.

I want to thank Alec and the entirety all of my classmates in EC&I 831. This class, and in particular this project, has allowed me to reflect on my own learning in a way that can only assist me in becoming a better teacher. Everyone’s helpful recommendations and comments go a long way in expanding my view and building a personal learning network that will benefit my students and I for years to come. I appreciate the support from each and every one of you, and wish you the best during the upcoming holiday season!

Summary of Learning: Wrapping up EC&I 831

It doesn’t feel like we should be here yet. Wrapping up my first master’s class, I can be certain when I tell you that I’ve learned a lot and had a great time dipping my feet into postgraduate work.

Coming into this class, I was certainly comfortable with the concept of Social-Media, but had only posted a handful of times in the last decade. This course has encouraged me to push outside my comfort zone, and in doing so, I’ve really enjoyed being able to expand my personal learning network through Twitter, and Blogging. Open Education Resources were fairly new to me, and I’ve come to realize how beneficial the OER movement will be to current and future teachers.

For my summary of learning, I was lucky enough to work with James Jones. Although James and I were familiar with one another prior to the class, I really enjoyed getting to know him as we worked on this assignment together. In terms of format, we created a podcast-esque discussion, in which we screen recorded a Microsoft Teams call, and discussed our major take-aways from the course. Although there was plenty to take away, for sake of time we narrowed our topics down to:

  1. EdTech Tools and PLNs
  2. Social Media Activism and Social Justice
  3. Digital Identities and Digital Citizenship
  4. Open Education Resources.

We took the rough video of our Teams call, and imported it into WeVideo. This program was incredibly user friendly, and we also benefited from the premium features due to our school division providing a license for all teachers.

Unfortunately WordPress won’t allow me to directly embed the video without upgrading my plan, so the thumbnail below is just a screenshot. you should be able to view our video using the link below. (If you can’t please leave a comment and let me know!)

https://secpsd-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/g/personal/colton_lund_secpsd_ca/EX2AaosBlZxDtMFOi_ZypbsBJpKp2ua-9I5zUX5QkVoVKw?e=yMLbhc

or

https://secpsd-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/g/personal/colton_lund_secpsd_ca/EX2AaosBlZxDtMFOi_ZypbsBJpKp2ua-9I5zUX5QkVoVKw?e=yMLbhc

Just a screenshot

To wrap up, I’d like to thank James, Alec, and the entire EC&I 831 class. I truly enjoyed my first master’s class, and I’d love to keep in touch, both in person and online! Have a great holiday season!

Week 11: Becoming a WikiEducator?

When preparing for this blogpost, I investigated a number of the different OER repositories that Alec provided to us. This in itself was extremely beneficial to me as an educator, as there were numerous that were brand new to me. Initially, I was drawn to TEDEd, as it was one I had the most familiarity with. However, after seeing some great evaluations already completed by my classmates Curtis and Jocelyn, I decided it would likely be more beneficial to me professionally to dive into something that was new to me, and settled on WikiEducator

Immediately on opening the website, I was greeted with the recognizable (albeit basic, and arguably dated,) design style of Wikipedia. Although I had not heard of WikiEducator before this post, I (along with a large portion of the internet-connected world,) have spent a great deal of time on various Wikipedia pages. I was amazed at how familiar WikiEducator felt, in my mind largely due to the similar user interface. I assumed, based on the design, that WikiEducator, was a division of the parent company of Wikipedia. I quickly found out that I was completely wrong, as I found under their ‘Technical FAQs,’ section:

“WikiEducator is not a project of the Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia and Wikibooks are examples of Wikimedia Foundation projects. WikiEducator uses the MediaWiki software, the same software used to run Wikimedia Foundation projects.”

https://wikieducator.org/FAQs#Is_WikiEducator_a_Wikimedia_Foundation_project.3F

Slide the bar to compare the homepages of Wikipedia, and WikiEducator.

Not being affiliated with Wikipedia changed my view on this site greatly. I had to lower my expectations knowing it would be likely impossible for this site to be as vast and as comprehensive as Wikipedia.

Where to Begin?

As I do with many new websites or resources, I thought it would be a good idea to begin with reading through the ‘About’ page. The page discusses multiple focuses, strategies and milestones. However, I found that the image below, taken from the front page of their website, draws a concise summary of the goals of WikiEducator.

WikiEducator describes themselves as “a dedicated global community of scholars, teachers and trainers who are committed to the collaborative authoring / development of open educational resources (OERs). Educators from across the globe are working together to build free OERs that can be used in a variety of teaching situations. These OERs can be re-contextualized and repackaged (outside the WikiEducator development environment) for use in their own teaching and learning situations.” (Source) It is evident when travelling the site that there is a consistent push throughout to plan, develop, and share OERs, while also creating a network of connected professionals. As I continue to learn about OERs, this mentality is something I find extremely encouraging, and also note how closely these values align with the themes of this course. I

The Good (Kind-of)

I love the idea of WikiEducator. I’m of the opinion that OER’s are a near perfect idea of what access to education should look like. In order for OER’s to fulfill their full potential, and increase their use worldwide, I believe we need a centralized hub to house these resources. WikiEducator, and others (see the OER Commons) are attempting to do this with mixed successes.

Last week, I compared using OER’s to paid websites like Teachers Pay Teachers. I believe that teachers gravitate towards a site like TPT, simply due to its high efficiency. Housed in one website, teachers from all over the world can search for resources in nearly any curriculum and get decent quality results almost instantly. Another benefit are the numerous activities tied to Canadian and Saskatchewan outcomes. I explain this, because I believe the OER movement needs a more centralized, better populated, well-designed place to store, share, and find resources similar to the way TPT acts for Teacher created resources. I believe this is what WikiEducator sought out to become, but has unfortunately become hampered by some of the issues in the next paragraph.

As I was exploring the website, I was able to find some pages that were of pretty good quality. The International Finance, and Home Economics sections was broken up into units, modules, and was well planned and organized. However, the majority of these lessons, and others on the site, rely on fairly basic pedagogy- most of which are reading and answering questions. Additionally, these two positive examples were in the minority, as the majority of the topics I explored ran into the issues stated below.

The Not So Good

The majority of the available Content on Wiki Educator is found on the Content page, which unfortunately is not the easiest to find. After looking through multiple different resources, it seemed there were some that that looked well put together, but many were not. I found that the major drawbacks are centered around a lack content in multiple sections, as well as information or lessons that are quite dated for an online environment (10-12 years at times.) Additionally, many of the units or lessons are incomplete, or have missing links. Examples of these issues are extremely evident on pages such as the Primary Education Math Glossary, and Higher Secondary Mathematics (there are certainly more pages that have several issues, but I explored these two in deeper detail.)

The Math Glossary starts well with a great alphabetized list of related math terms. However the issues arise when you start to take a look at any of the specific definitions. A large portion seem to have no data, and all you receive is the following text: “There is currently no text in this page. You can search for this page title in other pages, or search the related logs, but you do not have permission to create this page.” (Source.) The main page of the glossary mentions that they are ‘constantly adding math terms,” but the page has not been updated in nearly 10 years. The ‘Higher Secondary Mathematics,’ section has a unit on Indices and Logarithms that has 10 Lessons. While this is a good start, there are no other units present, and Lessons 4 through 9 have broken links or incomplete information. These pages also ranged from 5-12 years from their last edit. Although I could not find any proof, it appears that the active user base has dropped dramatically in the last 5-10 years.

The Final Say

To me, WikiEducator is a great idea that has fallen short. I truly believe OERs are the future of education, and the need for a large central repository to house these resources is still present. Websites such as the OER Commons are attempting to do this, as WikiEducator has, but I find there is still room to improve. Building the quantity and quality of resources on these websites will increase efficiency for educators, drawing more individuals to access these resources. At this time, I would not be able to recommend WikiEducators to a colleague looking for resources. Other repositories such as the OER Commons or TedEd have a more intuitive design, and a more complete catalog, and are therefore better places to start. However, I may recommend it to someone dedicated to the development of OERs or looking at collaborating on OER related projects. The idea of this site is solid, but I believe in needs to be taken further in order to be effective. Unfortunately, time is always of the essence. A resource that is incomplete, hard to navigate, or contains broken links is essentially a waste of time for educators, and of no use to their students.

Week 10: Why isn’t all Education ‘Open?’

“Why reinvent the wheel?”

It’s one of the most common clichés in the education field. Regardless of if you are a preservice teacher or an experienced veteran you’ve likely heard this more times than you can count. Teachers have an uncanny ability to recognize how difficult the first few years, or new courses can be, and their willingness to share resources never ceases to amaze me.

When I was initially curious about signing up for EC&I 831 Social Media and Open Education, I knew I certainly had less experience in the second half of the title. I was familiar with the concept as I related it closely to Open-Source software in the technology world. However, it wasn’t until last week’s class that I began to think about the topic in more depth and began to realize how important I think it is to the future of our field.

I began some of my exploring some of the resources provided by Alec, and one of the pieces that hit me the strongest was a talk from Dean Shareski, called Sharing: The Moral Imperative. The video explains the importance in sharing within education, and there were numerous points that provide a summarized view of my thoughts on Open Education, two of which I’ve noted below.

“We all seek recognition for our contributions, but the moment we focus on protecting our work we are in some ways the antithesis of a teacher.” (2:21)

Personally, I love to help. Whether that is helping a new teacher, or an experienced teacher taking on a new course, I’m quick to offer any resources I have. That being said, I always catch myself offering a line of caution, stating my resources “might not be that good,” or “they may need some tuning up,” etc. I doubt that I’m the only one that is slightly worried about judgement coming from those I share with. I should likely know better, as in most cases the teacher receiving these resources are happy to be any bit further ahead than where they were before. I believe when teachers become protective of their work, whether that be in fear of judgement, or a simple unwillingness to share, it hurts the profession as well as being a possible detriment to the students in other classes.

“If learning shouldn’t be confined to the four walls of the classroom, should teaching? Why would we horde good teaching and learning. There is something unethical about that. I believe that good ideas and great work should be shared with as many people as possible.” (23:50)

To me, one of the greatest parts about sharing with other educators, is that your knowledge can expand to not only other students but other professionals. If there is a chance that your knowledge or resources could help others, I am starting to believe that you have a responsibility to share it. All educators seek the betterment of their students, so why would that sentiment change if the students are in someone else’s classroom.

(By the way, Dean’s a great follow on Twitter, @Shareski.)

OER versus TPT

Switching gears, I’d like to take a look at the difference in models between the Open Education Resources Commons, and Teacher’s Pay Teachers.

Prior to this course, I had heard of OERs, but had never investigated the OER Commons. Teacher’s Pay Teachers was something that I am very familiar with, first hearing of it during my undergrad, and purchasing several resources from it over the years. Initially, I held the view that TPT was a great place to get resources, particularly if it was something I was open to paying for to begin with. One of my biggest reasons for using TPT in the past was that the money I was spending was going directly back to other teachers. The more I thought about this as I wrote this post, I was curious how much TPT took from each commission. I found the following infographic in their FAQ section. It was fairly eye-opening to realize that sellers only make 55% of their sales if they do not purchase a yearly membership fee.

Taken from: https://help.teacherspayteachers.com/hc/en-us/articles/360044408171-What-types-of-Seller-accounts-are-offered-on-TpT-

I decided to take a closer look at some of the OER resources available, to see if some of the resources I bought in the past could have been addressed with an OER. To make a long search short, here’s what I’ve found:

  • TPT works extremely well for finding content that is ready to take into the classroom immediately
  • TPT has a large amount of Canadian Content, and the ability to filtering by province and curriculum is a huge benefit
  • Only a portion of your payment goes to teachers
  • OER’s can contain incredible amounts of information but are not as ‘centralized’ as TPT. OERS can exist all over the internet, which has benefits and drawbacks.
  • The OER Commons (the most centralized store of OER’s that I’ve found,) does not contain Canadian Curriculums as a filter

These findings are not positives or negatives, rather just observations. I’ve come to believe that OER’s should be the future of Education, as I believe education should be one of the most accessible parts of our society. Barriers, like cost, slow the spread of quality resources, and have the potential to dilute the quality of education that can be provided. It will take discussion, collaboration, and pushing the visibility of these tools to improve their quality and viability for future teachers and students.

Week 9- Learning Project Update!

It’s been a busy few weeks since my last update! With school and extra-curriculars in going in full gear, it’s been hectic to say the least.

Budgets Get the Best of Us

For those of you that read through my last update, you’ll know that we’ve been discussing ordering a CNC router for quite a few months. Unfortunately, through discussions with my admin, I’ve been told that we need to press pause on ordering a CNC due primarily to budget concerns. I’ve been told we will have a better idea of how the budget will look by the end of November, and we can reapproach purchasing one at that time.

While this is also unfortunate for my Learning Project, it certainly doesn’t mean the end of it. As I mentioned in my last update, I tend to obsess over new interests, and CNC routers certainly have me cemented in obsession. The number of forums, videos, reviews, and company websites that I’ve explored over the last few weeks is almost embarrassing to admit. When we get to a point in being able to order one, I know this research will do us well in getting full value for each dollar we spend.

Helping Hands

Although I likely will not be able to learn much about CNC routers within our school as I originally envisioned for this project, I’ve come up with a couple alternatives that will help me in getting to the same end goal. I’ve approached two members of our community, both of which currently own a CNC Router, and asked for assistance in learning, and cutting out a few pieces. I’ve been lucky enough that both individuals (a family friend, and a local cabinet maker,) are very willing to have me in and show me some of what they know.

Decisions are Made

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that making a decision is a victory in itself for me. Weighing the pros and cons of a purchase, often with painstaking detail, has become part of my life. That being said, I’m happy to note that I have decided on machines in each price bracket you see below:

$1000-$2500: LongMill by Sienci Labs

$2500-$6000: OneFinity Woodworker/Journeyman

$6000-$10 000: Axiom Iconic Series

$10 000-$15000: Axiom Pro Series or Laguna IQ Series

I’ve also selected using Fusion 360’s CAM feature in combination with Easel as my software to start out. When budget allows, I will purchase VCarve as an upgrade. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, I am going to stick with Canva to create a “Beginner’s Edition” for CNC routers.

Building Progress

Until I am able to meet with one of my community partners and see the CNC in person, I am ‘stuck,’ with designing. Although I am fairly inexperienced, I love using Fusion 360, and learning about the endless features that are built in within it. Below are a couple views of a basic sign I designed. I plan to test out a cut with this design, and increase the complexity if I achieve success with this. As a bonus, I also learned some rudimentary Adobe Illustrator skills, that assisted me in this project, and will be of great benefit in future projects.

Big thanks to Curtis Norman for letting me borrow his hashtag! I loved it the first time I saw it, and thought it would be a great unofficial slogan for this course. I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions for this sign or other carves. If the first one goes well, and I can line up more time, I’d love to try other things.

Week 8: Activism Online: Can it be effective?

Last week in EC&I 831, Alec discussed the topic of Social Media Activism. Throughout the week as I prepared for my blog post, I found myself constantly rethinking and challenging opinions that I have held for quite some time. I find this to be one of the most important topics I’ve wrote on, and it took me much longer (and several more rewrites,) than anticipated to finalize my thoughts into something I was happy with.

 As I’ve mentioned before, prior to starting my graduate work, my online presence was very limited. My undergraduate experience was filled with voices that cautioned pre-service teachers when it came to their presence online. We were often warned about how ‘the internet is forever,’ and to be cautious of what we post online, as a single post could prevent us from being hired, or worse, end a career. This resulted in me removing myself from most public online communities, and therefore my personal online activism has been quite reserved over much of my teaching career.

As I’ve began graduate studies, I’ve been enjoying being challenged, as my courses have been encouraging me to step outside my comfort zone. This class in particular has helped me recognize the platform I can have as an educator, particularly in online circles. I’ve come to realize that increasing my presence online will assist me not only in growing professionally, but in giving me a platform to support, and be a voice for social justice.

Can online social media activism be meaningful and worthwhile?

I believe that social media activism can absolutely be meaningful and worthwhile. Social media has the ability to unite unfathomably large groups of people in exceptionally short amounts of time. These groups have an overwhelming amount of power to sway public opinion. Campaigns such as Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, saw their reach expand exponentially through the use of social media. Real change was able to begin through these campaigns. Time was saved, money was raised, and discussions were able to begin on some of the ongoing atrocities in our society.

Although social media can be used in numerous effective ways in supporting activism, its strength worries me in at the same time. A 280-character tweet is certainly enough to start a conversation, but often is not enough to give true context. The speed at which an idea or statement can to virial is astonishing; slowing it’s spread or providing additional facts that modify the narrative can be next to impossible. When numerous users on Reddit were working on finding the suspects behind the Boston Marathon Bombing, they ended up accusing an innocent man of being one of the suspects.

While it is certainly my impression that most social activism stories go deservedly viral, the heartache that can be caused by a viral partial truth concerns me. This brings me back to thinking how important it is to teach critical thinking and information evaluation skills to our students. With how wide and accessible the web has become, these skills will assist our students in ensuring that they can contribute positively to every social media activism campaign they come across.

Is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online?

I believe it is possible to have productive discussions about social justice online. Online discussions allow for a broad reach and variety of individuals to contribute knowledge and opinions to a discussion, social justice included. It’s my belief that the problem comes when those discussions are unable to make the transition into the real world. Being able to create discussion online is crucial to pulling attention to an issue, but the conversation cannot stop there. Continuing the conversation in person and taking it to our legislators is one way to ensure that these conversations work their way into creating real change in our society.

What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?

Growing up in the early years of the internet, one could argue that a large portion of the population was able to keep their online and public lives fairly separated. In today’s age of hyperconnectivity we must realize that this gap, if there still is one, is narrowing by the day. Our online world is an extension of the real world, and our attitudes, lifestyle, and messages, should remain consistent between them. No longer is it acceptable to remain quiet, or live ‘separate lives,’ in these two worlds. It is evident that today’s society requires individuals that will speak out for the greater good, in person and online.

These themes should follow us as educators. I’ve began to realize that the privilege I have, and the responsibilities that go along with it. Being in a respected career field, with the ability to help shape thoughts and encourage critical thinking, allows me a platform that I have the responsibility to use. Taking a neutral stance on social justice issues is no longer good enough. Educators that take a neutral stance (whether they intend to or not,) are hindering progress towards meaningful change. Neutrality does nothing to deconstruct current systems of oppression, allowing them to remain commonplace in our society. It is my opinion that educators, myself included, need to move beyond being a Personally Responsible Citizen, and do their best to take steps towards becoming more Justice Oriented.

I’m going to wrap this blog post up with two quotes that I’ve found while doing some reading this week. I find both to summarize my shift in thinking when when it comes to being ‘neutral’ online.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (Misattributed to Edmund Burke, but an impactful quote nonetheless.)

“It is okay to be where you are, it is not okay to stay there.” – Brian Aspinall (Read it for the first time on my good friend Curtis’ blog, and have loved it ever since.)

Week 5: Let’s Update the Major Project

I tend to obsess. When I find a new interest or activity, I become enthralled in researching, watching, learning, and reading reviews on each and every part of the activity. Over the last month, this trend has reemerged as I envelop myself in the world of CNC routers, and the possibilities that come with them.

Over the last few weeks, I have gotten close, but have not been able to finalize my school’s purchase of a CNC router. Numerous emails, quotes, and discussions with CNC owners have been had over the last 6 or so months, but the largest block to overcome is always the most difficult, and in my case it’s our budget. Both my Principal and I remain optimistic about the purchase (and have meetings planned to discuss,) and in the meantime, I am doing everything I can to collect information in order to be prepared for any question that may come up. Additionally, I am educating myself as much as possible about the various machines and software. I want nothing more than to make an informed decision while also being prepared for when the machine arrives.

In the meantime, I have split my learning into three sections: Learning about the differences in CNC models, learning about the required software, and learning about Canva, as I hope to use it to create a resource for other beginners to use. Below are some of the updates in these three areas.

CNC Routers: Choice Aplenty

I have found CNC routers to be similar to 3D printers in a lot of ways (as I discussed in my initial post,) and a variety of choice is certainly one of these ways. Starkly different from the current smartphone market, the CNC Router space is made up of dozens if not hundreds of top brands. Prices fluctuate from under $1000- to well over $50 000. Selecting a brand was the largest hurdle that I’ve had (and continue to have.) A quick google search will give you a multitude of results, but some of the brands that I have looked into, or seriously considered are listed below.

One of the large portions of my ‘Beginner CNC Document,’ will be a table comparing some of the important features, one that I put together in order to try and make the most informed decision possible. Some of the features I included are:

  • Price
  • Bed size
  • Shipping cost
  • Cutting speed
  • Travel distance (X/Y/Z)
  • Construction material (Steel frames and lead screws can achieve more accurate cuts than wood frame/belt driven machines.)
  • Software requirements
  • Power requirement
  • Warranty
  • Accessories
  • If it has an included controller (Some CNC’s require a computer to be connected at all times.)
  • Fully built, partially built, or build it yourself

I’m an indecisive person on the best of days, so putting this large amount of information in an easy to compare table made me more confident in my decision, and my ability to justify my choice to my administration.

Software: The other half of the CNC

Learning new software is something I enjoy doing. Similar to the above, picking through a variety of options is not as enjoyable. Right now, I’m torn between a few. Easel, and Carbide Create appear like easy to pick up, straight forward options. Fusion 360, a robust software that I already have experience in using the design portion, may be helpful as well. The other, and possibly most ideal choice, is VCarve Pro, by Vectric.

My main choice comes down to price. Easel, Carbide Create and Fusion 360 are all free to use. VCarve, widely renowned as one of the top choices of CNC software, is a one-time payment of $1000 CAD. This obviously doesn’t make my budget concerns any easier. I’m currently in the process of exploring the demo version of VCarve and comparing it with the free downloads.

A screenshot of the trial version of VCarve.

It is very possible that we will not be able to swing the purchase of VCarve this year, so I want to prepare myself in learning other software and hope to budget for VCarve next year. Regardless which software we end up using, I am confident that acquiring various resources will give me a good understanding of how this type of software should work, as well as allowing me to pick out what I like and don’t like about my various options. One of the most straight forward resources I’ve come across, comes from Evan and Katelyn on YouTube. Their delivery and organization of the content is something I find very easy to pick up as a beginner, and something I hope to emulate when I create my ‘Beginner’s Guide’ document at the end of this course.

Canva: Let’s make my learning look good!

The last portion of my update, and admittedly the one that still needs the most amount of work, is my experience with Canva. So far, I’ve made an account, explored some templates, and experimented with the user interface. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’d love to be able to summarize my learning during this project with a concise, easy to follow, document that can give other schools, teachers, or hobbyists, a place to start when thinking about purchasing a CNC for the first time. Although my experience with Canva is extremely brief, I’ve had good conversation with Kelly on her blog Tech and the City and I feel confident that it will be an effective resource for what I want to accomplish.

A screenshot of a very preliminary look the resource I hope to create.

I look forward to continuing this journey, and hopefully I’m able to upload pictures of a CNC in our school in the very near future. As always, if anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear about them!

Week 4: What IS Pinterest?

When it comes to social-media, I would consider myself fairly well rounded. I jumped into Facebook and Twitter during their early years, picked up Reddit and Instagram during their rise in popularity, and have consumed multiple hours of content on YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok. One of the most popular sites that I have very limited experience in (while also being something I hear of repeatedly within the education sphere,) is Pinterest.

After creating an account years ago, and using it for all of five minutes, I decided to dive into it deeper this week to take a look at its features, positives and negatives, and possible educational opportunities. After taking a minute to reset my long-forgotten password, I got logged in and was immediately hit by the organized chaos of the home page. I assumed I must have made this account during my undergrad, as most of the initial results were a mixture of teaching resources and ads.

A snip of my home page. I am only slightly disturbed that Christmas suggestions have already began to appear.

Platform Explanation

For those of you like me, who may not know much about how Pinterest’s platform operates, it can be summarized in a few points.

  • Pinterest is a social network  for sharing ideas, inspiration, and photos
  • Your home screen is a never-ending stream of images that are based on your interests, tastes and lifestyle
  • Users “pin” each other’s content to their own (or other’s) board. (Almost like a virtual bulletin board.)
  • Several users that I have spoken to report using these pins as a way to save ideas for later or collect several ideas on a single topic
  • Pinterest describes themselves as the “world’s catalog of ideas. Our mission is to help people discover the things they love, and inspire them to go do those things in their daily lives.”

See the video below from TechBoomers, that gave me a great start on my understanding of the app!

Features/Functions

Pinterest, like many social-media platforms, has expanded beyond its original purpose, to incorporate a wide variety of tools that enhance the user experience. These features go beyond the main searching and pinning that I’ve mentioned above. Although I was able to experiment with some of these features in small amounts, I found this article from Business Insider was an easy read that explained many of the ‘extra’ features, some of which I have listed below. Although this article was a bit dated (2017,) I also consulted this article from Entrepreneur.  

  1. ‘Pinterest Lens’ is a feature available on the mobile app. It allows you to take a picture with your camera or from your gallery and find suggestions based on your image.
  2. Visual Search– By selecting the magnifying glass in the corner of your pin, you can look up specific items within the image. Pinterest then may be able to show you similar items that are available to purchase.
  3. Pinterest Browser Extension- allows you to save links from other websites to your Pinterest. It is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
  4. Search Filters are available to navigate to more specific results. (For example, the amount of time it takes to prepare a recipe.)
  5. Secret and Collaborative Boards: You have the option to keep your board secret from the public, or also invite others to collaborate and pin to a certain board.
  6. Follow other users and get notified when they pin a certain resource, or when others pin the same resource that you have
  7. Personal Notes- A feature that allows you to add notes to specific pins  (Example: Sunday dinner idea)

Positives/Negatives

PositivesNegatives
Find inspiration for art, recipes, design, travel

Multiple Boards can be created to organize ideas/pins around a certain theme

Content is tailored to your interests You can pin websites and resources from other websites besides Pinterest

You can choose to keep your boards secret, or available to the public

Privacy options are available

100% free to use

Intuitive user interface

Comments are optional
As with other social-media spheres, scammers, spam, catfishing, and fake giveaways are present

Infinitely browsable (never-ending source of new content)

Can be an overwhelming amount of information and pins. It is easy to drown your own boards with hundreds of ideas

Terms of Service, Didn’t Read (an online source that seeks to simplify and grade the terms of service in various apps) gives Pinterest a grade of E (very poor.)
Much of this grade is based on how the app uses your data. (This grade is common
among large apps/companies, but click the link for more information.
(Thanks to Leigh for the suggestion on this site!)

Educational Opportunities

While researching the educational opportunities, I found two easy to read, very informative resources. I came across was a blog post by Leah Anne Levy from the University of Southern California, as well as a article from TeachThought. Some of the key opportunities mentioned are below:

  1. Creative Team Brainstorming- Students can easily search for ideas and pin images to a collaborative board. This allows students to easily gather information to a central hub, and foster future success in group projects
  2. Digital Student Portfolios/Photo Journals- Another avenue of easy image and resource collection, that can be centred on any number of topics/assignments
  3. Lessons on Copyright and Digital Citizenship- As noted above, issues may arise with the pinning of other’s content. Lessons can be created, using Pinterest as an example, around fair use, crediting the original source, etc.
  4. Current Events/Global Connections- Students can connect with current events, as well as resources from all over the world through the use of boards curated towards these specific topics.
  5. Differentiated Learning- Differentiated boards, curated with differentiated content is an easy and digital way to support learners of all levels. Collecting different levels or different styles of resources for a research project could lead to success to a wider variety of students within your classroom.
  6. Sparking Student Inspiration- Having students scroll through one of your pre-created boards can help alleviate the common ‘I don’t know what to write/draw/research/etc. about.’ Your ideas can be a starting block in a variety of projects.

For Parents:

Pinterest is a wonderful resource for gathering inspiration and ideas, but there are some things of notes that parents should consider.

  • Pinterest does have a setting called ‘Search Privacy.’ Choosing yes on this setting allows to hide your child’s profile from being indexed for Google searches.
  • ‘Turn off Personalization’ is a way to turn off data collection to prevent a child’s data from being collected and sold for advertising.
  • Other social-media networks can be linked to Pinterest. This can cause wanted and unwanted ramifications
  • Secret Boards still allow multiple contributors, but that board is not available to the public
  • Due to the wide variety of content on the internet, have discussions with your child about what is appropriate to post. Pictures, or self-identifying information on public boards may be things to be avoided
  • Fake accounts are present on the app. Have conversations with your child about spam, catfishing, etc. and what to watch out for.
  • The required age to sign up for an account is 13. Parents should be aware as, along with many other apps, some students lie about their age in order to gain access.
  • Net-aware.org rates Pinterest as having an overall safety rating of ‘Good,’ which is 4 out of 5 on their rating scale. Click the link for more tips on staying safe on Pinterest from Net-Aware.org

In Closing:

In closing, through my research and discussion I have found Pinterest to be a highly engaging, inspiration building application, that has several upsides. I see a real possibility to use this in the classroom, not only with students, but also through organizing my own ideas for classroom decoration and lesson planning. I’ve started to create my own boards for each, and am contemplating how to use it with my class in the near future. If you have suggestions on how to incorporate Pinterest in your classroom, or just want to share your thoughts on the app as a whole, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section!

Week 3: EC&I 831 Major Digital Project

While looking over the options for our Major Digital Project, I was swarmed with the thoughts of many possibilities. While going through my options, I quickly noticed that all my options had a few themes in common. It became apparent, that I want to create something practical and usable within my classroom, something that includes one of my personal interests, and also something that will cause high levels of excitement and engagement with the students in my classroom. These themes lead me to choosing Option B and begin learning a new skill while sharing and documenting my progress. I’ve chosen to learn how to use a CNC router and incorporate it into multiple curriculums throughout multiple grade levels at our school.

As some of you may know, I’ve taken over the Drafting and Computer Aided-Design 10, 20, and 30 courses at my school. Initially, I knew very little about these courses, but being interested in computers and technology, I jumped at the chance to sign a contract that included teaching them. At that time, our school only had access to an 8-year-old 3D Printer. Similar with other emerging technology, 8 years in the 3D printing world is an eternity, and a few years after I took over the courses, we were fortunate enough to be able to purchase a new printer that was over twice the size, and much more efficient.

Shoutout to Wave of the Future 3D in Saskatoon, SK. They truly helped me in every facet of my learning journey with our printer, and they are great guys to deal with. They are also the guys who 3D printed an entire camper trailer, that you may have seen online or on the news a couple years back.

Before I get too far on a tangent, let me explain that 3D Printers, CNC Routers, and similar machines are important in bringing ideas, and the plans you create in a Drafting and related classes, to life. They are one of the final steps in the design process, and I find it extremely important and rewarding when a student is able to see their ideas, and designs be actualized. A CNC router is going to be the next step in our improvement of our Drafting, and PAA programs, and will be another avenue, and material to allow students to gain experience with. Over the last couple of years, I have put hundreds of hours into learning and becoming proficient with our 3D printer, and I hope to take a similar path with a CNC router.

Some of the goals I hope to achieve during this experience:

  • Become moderately proficient with running and maintaining a CNC Router
  • Incorporate CNC router projects into PAA9, Drafting 10, and Drafting 20/30 (Next semester)
  • Understand the difference in router bits, both in cutting shape and quality
  • Experiment with different types and thicknesses of wood and aluminum (difficult for some CNC routers)
  • Document my progress through blogs, photos, and possibly short video
  • Engage students
  • Encourage teachers of other curriculums, to learn alongside me, and incoporate it into their classes where it may be beneficial
  • Create a beginner’s resource for other teachers/schools/individuals who may be in the market to purchase one. The goal would be to release this online as a free, open-source document. I have plans to include using the software Canva to create this resource. I have very little experience with Canva, so if anyone has some suggestions on how to use it, or other software to check out, I would love to hear about it!

Based on the research I have done so far, there is a very wide variety of manufacturers, software, hardware in the CNC router world. Personally, this led to an overwhelming amount of information to sift through while I was trying to find the CNC router that I believe would be of most benefit to our school. This also means that much of the learning material online is machine specific and is intimidating to work through for beginning users. If I can make this journey easier, more efficient, or more cost effective for other teachers, schools, or hobbyists in similar positions, it will be well worth it.

P.S. If you have any suggestions of resources, or experts that wouldn’t mind me picking their brain, I would love to hear from you!


Week 2- The Evolution of Social Media Within My Life

Social Media. An everchanging, ever evolving, much debated, topic that has been a mainstay in our lives for well over a decade. Personally, I’ve gone through a bit of an evolution when it comes to my own Social-Media use, and the more I think about it, the more I’m interested in how this came to be.

Let me start by saying I’m someone who loves technology. Growing up in an era of extremely rapid technological progress, I became enthralled in learning all about the “next big thing.” I’ve loved being able to watch VHS tapes evolve into streaming services, smartphones take over the roles of dozens of other devices, and the dimensions of a television undergo extreme change. I’ve been fascinated watching cell phones and headphones go from quite large in size, to quite small- only to start getting larger again. Technology trends and improvements spark my curiosity and have for as long as I can remember. This being said, my interest in social media has been more turbulent. During high school I purchased my first smartphone, a Blackberry Tour. My friends were quick to point out that I ‘had to’ download Facebook and Twitter immediately. Initially unsure of what I should post, I eventually got comfortable posting occasional status updates, various pictures, and the traditional writing of “Happy Birthday!” on my friends’ walls.

As I graduated, and moved on to university, my posting on Social-Media started to decline. I started to become hypervigilant of the content I was posting online.  My checklist of a quality post became longer and longer. As a result, fewer and fewer ideas became ‘good enough’ to post. Not only did I want to ensure I was receiving positive engagement numbers, I was also striving to ensure the content I posted online was a positive reflection of how I wanted to be viewed. I quickly realized it became easier and more comfortable, to simply not post at all, rather than be disappointed or regret a post later on. This furthered as I entered the College of Education. While I loved my time at the University of Saskatchewan, one of the reoccurring themes throughout my classes was to be careful of what you post, or have posted, online. Wanting to prepare myself for a future in the world of teaching, I realized not only was it easier not to post at all, but limiting my posts could also prevent potential harm to a future career.

As the university raised my personal bar for what was acceptable to post, the frequency of my posts decreased to nearly zero. I was still spending several hours a week on various social media platforms, but only participating with low level, inoffensive actions. I found this was a way to remain informed in the going-ons of my friends but was also something I wouldn’t regret later in life. As a result, my type of online presence is often described as a lurker. For those not familiar, a lurker is less ominous than it sounds, but is simply someone who observes or uses social media frequently but chooses not to participate/post.

This is the position I’ve been ‘stuck,’ in for the last few years. Taking this type approach towards social media has essentially allowed me to limit any possible effect social media could have on my life. The tough part to realize however is that in doing my best to prevent any negative effects, I truly believe that I have deprived myself of many of the positive affects. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly recognize the multitude of positive effects social media can have on a person. Never in the history of our planet has the information, teaching, opinions, and expertise of people across the world been available to us, nearly instantaneously. Additionally, the ability to maintain friendships over extremely long distances or breaks in face-to-face contact, is something I continuously take for granted. While taking this class, I seek to change some of my attitudes towards social media in an effort to seek out more of these positive effects.

  • I want to push my comfort zone.
  • I want to become more engaged online.
  • I want to grow a professional growth network and learn from the amazing individuals that are present online.
  • I want to build an online presence.
  • I want to improve my teaching, both in terms of methodology and knowledge.
  • I want to teach my students more about the positives of being online, while also teaching them aspects of Digital Citizenship.

 I believe this class can help me shift my thinking, and lead me to experience some of the positive effects that I’ve been forgoing for the better part of the last decade.