Author Archives: theblogmcilmoyl

Three Kids One Stomach Bug and Some Reflections on Kony 2012

What a week.  Three of my four children were sick with some kind of enteric stomach bug that would bring  a woolly mammoth to it’s knees.  The afternoon and evening had been cacophony of tears, dry heaves and vomit. My wife and I fought valiantly against the scourge than has consumed our children. The only weapons at our disposal were children’s Gravol, ginger ale and towels.

For awhile the outcome looked bleak. Eventually we managed to stem the torrent of barf by putting the the quarantined children into a Gravol induced coma.   As I cleaned the hallway with the last Lysol wipe, I could hear the kids grunting and moaning in their beds. This is what  a civil war hospital must have sounded like. I thought to myself (upon refection civil war hospitals were probably better organized with less vomit and requests for Paw Patrol).  I finished cleaning the floor and basked in our victory. Then it dawned on me. It was Tuesday. Class started in ten minutes. Thank goodness for online learning.

The discussion on online activism was thought provoking for me. As I sat there in the glow of the laptop screen with my one year old son on my knee, I realized how long it had been since I thought about Joseph Kony . I remember the first time I saw the Kony 2012 campaign flash across my Facebook feed. To be honest, I was impressed at the thought of being involved in a grass roots movement, using social media to contribute to bringing awareness and change to a major international issue. My Facebook feed was adorned with comments like ” It is good to see people getting behind something like this.” I watched the likes and shares pile up. How could you not behind a movement such as this? In retrospect this movement was not free from some well founded criticisms.

As the saying goes hindsight is always twenty twenty. This video from 2013 sums up a number of issues of the Kony 2012 movement.  However, at the time it felt like an unbridled wave of positive energy and influence. As a young man, I got caught in the altruistic hype that surrounded the campaign.

Then as quickly as it came the Kony 2012 movement faded. The rampant idealism of the campaign was replaced by the (as the above video so eloquently puts it)  next internet craze featuring a man dancing like a horse . This rapid exit from public consciousness caused some to view the Kony 2012 campaign as a punchline and a shining example of quick and easy activism .

I did not realize how cynical I was of internet activism until last week’s class. I would be bothered by statues strung together with hashtags drawing attention to various causes and profile pictures sporting different filters. Why is this? Am I getting crusty as I approach middle age? Am I an old man yelling at the kids to get off my digital  lawn?

Source: Giphy

I don’t think so. I think that Kony 2012 taught me to think more critically about online social action. I need to be careful that I don’t ignore the benefits of digital activism. In the final analysis, Kony 2012 did in fact demonstrate how social media can be used to bring awareness to a cause . It also showed the importance of skepticism when considering digital social movements . In the end, Kony 2012 serves as an example of the power of social media and digital activism and the need to use social media responsibly as platform for social action.

I was not expecting to have such a marked reaction to the subject of digital activism. I would be interested to hear other viewpoints and opinions. How does digital change as social media advances? How is involvement in a cause defined? With so many options for communication, how does one ensure a consistent message ? I know I have just touched the surface of a complex and intriguing subject. These are just a few of the questions rolling around in my brain at 12:30 on a Friday night. Thank for taking the time to read this and please share your thoughts in the comments if you are so inclined. See you in class!


Digital Identity: Googling Myself and Some Thoughts About Raising Kids in the Digital Age

In my learning project post I touched on the idea of digital identity. In my case I’m thirty four years old and just now making my first foray into the world of social media. Just how much information about me is out there. So I took a deep breath and Googled myself…Capture.JPGAs it turns out there are about 6,430 results for a basic search for my name. Of course there are the usual suspects, a blurb from my employer (Saskatchewan Polytechnic), my twitter account ( which has been active for 3 weeks now), this blog and of course my Facebook profile. There were a few surprises. including a LinkedIn account I forgot about, a couch surfing site I haven’t accessed since a trip to Iceland in 2008 and (if you direct your attention to the middle of the screen shot a profile on Ancestry. that proclaims I am the father of zero children ( I assure you barring some sort of DNA test this is no longer the case). The image search turned up some pictures of family members and not much else. Nothing earth shattering really. I mean, I wasn’t expecting Gangnam Style or Numa Numa level results, but I did find it a bit surprising.

Here I am yapping on the internet about how  I don’t have much of a digital identity (I assure you the irony of that statement doesn’t escape me)  while all the while I have been leaving digital footprints. I just never stopped to think how big my feet were. So why is this important? Perhaps it would be more accurate for me to say I haven’t been an active participant in decontaminating my digital information. That is to say I haven’t been actively seeking a digital identity, however, over time a semblance of one has formed without my active participation. I have blogged recently about considerations regarding social media for new nursing students


What’s that saying? A GIF is worth 1000 words. Source: GIPHY

I will reiterate that developing a digital identity is a skill that this class is teaching me. It has been enlightening to read the work of my classmates whose viewpoints strike a cord with me. Joe wrote about the power that social media has to mobilize people to take social action ( his post can be found here. As a self confessed social media noob and introvert, I sometimes overwhelmed with the process of becoming functionally literate in the language of social media. At times it is easy for me to forget the awesome potential that social media has as a platform for positive social action and that it isn’t all Tinder profiles and cat videos. I also enjoyed Jaque’s post that in part gives a first hand account of the evolution of her digital foot print ( her post can be found here .) I found it to be an excellent reflection on the evolution of online influence and the impacts it has on our communication with others.

This whole experience has caused me to reflect on what the concept of a digital identity will mean for my kids. I’ve thought about this a lot since our last class. My eldest daughters are 5 years old. They already know what a selfie is. They know how to chat and they are comfortable using an iPhone. How will social media evolve to shape their digital identities? I suppose the biggest difference between myself and my kids regarding digital identity is this, whereas I am surprised to have passively developed a digital footprint, for my children this will be just another part of growing up.  I thought back to our last lecture and remembered the idea that our online lives are merging with our social lives. How much does our online persona impact our views of ourselves and vice versa? What implications does this have for parents of young children?

I will say that I am not fearful of having my kids grow up in a digital age. However, I do wonder how this will impact their lives as they age. The risks associated with internet use by children are well documented . In my opinion, the best thing I can do with my kids is to show them that the internet isn’t something to be feared. However, it is something requires thought and attention on their part.

I suppose this is no different then helping your kids learn to ride a bike. In order to do it safely and effectively you have to develop the skill. Adapting to a digital medium would be similar. This is a difficult subject for me to think about as a parent. I mean I’m 34 years old and I forgot about an entire LinkedIn account! Never mind that, couch surfing in Iceland what was I thinking?!? All kidding aside, maybe documenting my own trials as a stumble through the world of social media and digital identity will help me as I prepare to help my kids navigate the digital landscape  doubt we may face a few of the same challenges. I would very much like to hear any thoughts from other parents out there! Thank you for taking the time to read this. See you in class!


Check In #2 You too Can Search YouTube for “How to Use YouTube.” Another Thesis Title Bites the Dust.

Well here I am again. Included in this post is the very first video I have ever uploaded. I wanted to include some different types of media into my blog, so here it is in all its glory. In the interest of full transparency this process has been a bit terrifying, but not for the reasons I originally suspected. Prior to this class I really hadn’t had much to do with social media. I’ve have used Facebook for a number of years but mostly as a third party observer ( as I type this I am suddenly acutely aware of how creepy that sounds). What I mean to say is apart from a status update every few months and the odd hilarious cat video, I haven’t been an active participant within the realm of social media ( there that feels better!).

So to move from being a social media neophyte to recording videos of myself making a record of my fitness goals has been a very new process for me. I’m learning some interesting things about myself. The following is a list of observations I have made since my last check in:

  1. I think I can finally confirm that I am in fact an introvert. Yes, it is true. Every week I sit down to write on this blog and feel a strangely invigorated and terrified at the same time. I guess this is kind of like keeping a journal. On the internet. Where everyone can see it. If you listen carefully you can hear the muffled screams of my inner introvert. At the same time this is a powerful means of connecting with my classmates and colleagues. I would be very interested to hear what other people’s experience has been.
  2.  I’m learning a lot. In truth, it hasn’t been what I expected. Allow me to explain. Have you ever tried to start a YouTube account, then realized you had no idea what you were doing and then found yourself searching YouTube for ” how to use YouTube?” Yes, it turns out I am that guy. At any rate I found out all that I needed to know. I suppose this is what happens when an observer of social media takes the first steps toward becoming an active participant. I look forward to learning more about this process.
  3. The things I’m learning have less to do with diet and fitness and more to do with how to incorporate these things into my life. I’m learning that the internet is a great provider of ” what to do” to be healthier. It is up to me to determine ” how” best to do it. I hope this makes sense. In a way this is not unlike what I have written in this blog about principles of use of social media for nursing students. I a very real way I am having to sift through online information and determine ( in my case about health and fitness) determine what meets my needs and how to incorporate  into my own life. Whoa. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see that one coming.
  4. Lastly, I will jot something down about progress. As mentioned in the video I am down 10 lbs. For my next entry, I’m going to attempt to record a snippet of one of the workouts I’m doing and talk a bit more about some of the tools and resources I have found helpful. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope your projects are going well and I look forward to reading about them!

Teaching to Principles, Nursing Education and Social Media…

Many years ago when I was an idealistic young nursing student, I remember an instructor telling me that the goal of nursing education was to teach students principles. She went on to say that in our careers no two clinical situations will be the same. Therefore it is more important that a nurse can apply principles that can be used in any situation. An example of this is surgical asepsis ( basically how to keep sterile materials sterile while performing procedures the the germ infested realm of the average hospital. For those who are inclined the principles of medical asepsis can be found here.)

My instructor went on to give give an example of performing a dressing change. Not every dressing will be a neat and tidy surgical incision. Some will be deep, nasty and tunneling. Often times in the more shall we say inhospitable regions of the human body. I believe her point was this, applying the principles of medical asepsis to different situations is a valuable and important skill.

Flash forward to three days ago. I’m sitting in my basement watching From Knowledgeable to Knowledge- Able by Dr. Michael Wesch. It was this example from the winter of 2002 that came flooding back to my mind. It had nothing to do with social media or the transformation of adult post-secondary education. It had nothing to do with the content of Dr. Wesch’s Ted Talk, but that example popped into my head and stayed there. In the winter of 2002 as I sat in that class room I had no smartphone or laptop connecting me to the internet ( I had a Nokia cellphone but nobody called me on it and it was only good for playing space invaders between classes) I had lose leaf paper, a clipboard and a bic pen. It struck me when Dr.Wesch that students today have access to “nearly the entire body of human knowledge” through access to the internet.

My colleagues often joke that a person could essentially attend nursing school on Youtube.  In 2002 if I wanted to learn about medical asepsis I had a couple options, 1) Muddle through it using a texbook or 2) Take a course on microbiology and nursing practice. Now I can search for “principles of surgical asepsis” on Youtube and I get 890 results! Of course these results will vary in perspective and quality but they will none the less give a student an idea of the subject matter.

My wife ( who is also a nurse ) often discuss how much easier our school experience would have if we had access to online resources like Youtube and Google scholar . I remember using Google scholar for the first time and thinking to myself, I type it in and full text articles just pop up! To a twenty year old I would have looked like a movie goer watching the Wizard of Oz seeing color on film for the first time.

What I’m trying to get at is, just because connecting to information for students is simple, it does not necessarily make sifting through available information easy. Dr. Wesche   addresses this in this Ted Talk when he talks about how technology makes it easy for students to connect, but sustained meaningful collaboration and communication takes sustained effort and practice.

A Vision of Students Today makes some very compelling observations  about the experience post-secondary students. Although it does not address these realities from the perspective of nursing education, it was interesting for me to consider what this could mean for nursing education.

This video addresses the authoritative nature of post-secondary education. This perspective is very much in line with my experience as a student in nursing  school. However, as mentioned before, access to digital information and technology has impacted the dissemination of this information. By in large, if you can operate a search engine you can access information that will give you at least a basic footing in the knowledge base. Getting back to the concept of teaching to principles I mentioned earlier, I think it is important for instructors to help students to apply principles that allow them to identify good sources of information. We do this with students when we teach academic writing. How do you identify reputable sources for scholarly work? Perhaps the same work could be done to help students wade through the droves of online information they have access to. I think this is something akin to what Dr. Wesche addresses when he talks about developing the skill of being “Knowledge-Able.”

Most of the literature I have encountered regarding social media and nursing education has to do with managing best practices for students while on social media.

This is an important aspect of professional development for new nurses. However, watching Dr. Wesche’s Ted Talk got me thinking. How might we move beyond treating social media as something that students need to manage to examining how we might use social media as a tool to enhance learning for nursing students? I don’t know what that would look like. I can say that learning to use social media as a means of adult education has been a bit daunting. Learning the difference between what I thought social media was and what it’s actual capabilities are has been a overwhelming. I imagine other instructors may feel the same way. This may contribute to the reluctance of some faculty to adopt social media into their teaching practice. I will mention as well that perhaps I made a set of assumptions about how well versed students are in terms of the use of social media ( a thank you to Kelsie for pointing the out!). At any rate, I think our responsibility as nursing faculty is first to examine our own thoughts and assumptions about the use of social media within the context of nursing education. Then we can begin to examine different forms of social media as a tool for enhancing our teaching practice.

This may be easier said then done. On some level it would involve embracing a change in the more traditional modalities associated with nursing education. Ideally, I think going through this process would help us develop our ability to adapt to and use social media and eventually help us to identify principles for effective use of social media along with our students.

This skill development of using social media and online resources has ethical implications once students graduate. The same online sources and platforms we must become comfortable with are the same sources clients may access to answer their own healthcare questions. Man oh man that is another blog post for another day. In conclusion I think nursing instructors have a responsibility to explore the use of social media in nursing education. I don’t believe it is going anywhere and to not utilize it would be to ignore a very potent tool for learning.  Although it may be a steep learning curve, this process could result in developing principles for effective use of social media and online resources in their nursing practice.



A Brief Check In….

Well it has been about 10 days. I have been focusing mainly on adjusting to changing my diet. Last week involved the first trip to the grocery store and meal planning. I also purchased a gym membership ( thank-you to Ashley!) and joined a a Facebook group for people new to the slow carb diet ( thanks for the suggestion Coralee!) This group has been helpful for me  to familiarize myself with success strategies, frequently and frequently asked questions. There is also discussion on recipes and meal planning.

The diet itself has been pretty manageable. I found the meals filling and didn’t feel hungry of deprived. The meal planning was pretty simple.

I ate a lot of chicken…

You can eat any combination of this list of whole foods . The guidelines for eating are pretty simple and I didn’t mind repeating the same meals ( which made food preparation easier).

I look forward to connecting with others through the Facebook group in particular as there are a number of good topics discussed there. In terms of my own accountability, I think this blog is going to be central. This is simply because I need to write about my progress at regular intervals.

My goal this week is to add physical activity into the equation. I want to use social media to find a workout that I can do ( preferably from home or in my office). If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to share. I’ll be looking into this starting tomorrow. At the very least it should be hilarious.

I will mention briefly that I have been tracking my weight and body fat percentage (using a super technical Health-O-Meter scale I purchased in 2010) As of Monday morning I was 218lbs ( down from 224lbs) and my body fat percentage was 34% ( down from 36).  Although using these scales does present challenges in terms of accuracy , as long as I am consistently weighing in at the same time of day and under the same conditions it should give me a good idea as to which way I am trending.

A Social Media Noob Weighs in Social Media and Nursing Education

Please allow me to preface this by saying the following: 1) I am a social media neophyte. I tweeted for the first time today and I’m still wondering if I did it right. 2) I’m relatively new to the arena of nursing education having taught for 2 years. I enjoyed reading Ashley’s blog regarding her views about using social media as a tool in nursing education. I appropriated her viewpoints regarding some of the challenges of using social media in nursing education (particularly her mention of the Health Information Protection Act and how that could impact discussing student learning about clients in hospital on social media). I then had the opportunity to read Shelby’s blog entitled From Contraband to Connections . At the risk of dating myself, I remember a time when cell phones were an anomaly within the context of education. When they did become commonplace, they were often banned from the classroom.

Now it seems everyone has a smartphone, tablet or ipad. Students can look up information quickly and communicate in real time.  I’m teaching students who are more technologically literate then I am. I fully admit that. By and large our students are far more well versed and comfortable with using social media to communicate. Recent discplinary action against a registered nurse in Saskatchewan has thrust use of social media by nurses into the spotlight.  What does this mean for nursing education? What are nursing faculty’s responsibilities in preparing students to use social media in a professionally responsible manner. It is true that inappropriate use of social media can lead to negative outcomes for nursing students . What if we could teach our students how belonging to a profession alters their online presence. We teach our students about professionalism and do our best to assist them to grow into the role of a healthcare professional. Is it possible that we could extend this teaching to social media perhaps even using social media? In psychiatric nursing we introduce concepts like mindfulness and reflection. These are some of the foundational aspects of psychiatric nursing practice. Could we not use social media to extent these skills beyond the classroom, lab or clinical area?  We teach students to think before they speak with a client why can’t we use the same principles to help our students to think before they tweet, type, or post? As a self proclaimed social media noob, I can see some challenges with this approach. Firstly, I’m not an expert on social media. Most of my students are. That involves giving up a little control. If students understand the ” how” of social media, faculty can focus on communicating why mindful social media interactions are important. This could result in some valuable reciprocal learning. In other words, students can learn why online professionalism is important for their career and I can learn how to tweet pictures of what I had for lunch.

I thought this video summed up some of the points I’m trying to make quite nicely. The reality is social media isn’t going anywhere. It is a powerful communication and education tool. I tend to believe as nursing educators we have a responsibility to understand social media and work with students to ensure we are using it in a professional and effective way that promotes our student’s education.  I think “open learning” can be accomplished in nursing school using social media. It will take take a consideration as to how to do it in a safe and effective manner. My first step is to learn more. Oh boy, do I have a lot of learning to do!

And So it Begins…

After much deliberation I have decided to make physical fitness the focus of my personal learning project for EC&I 831. I’m a 34 year old father of 4. I have never been an athlete. I don’t know much about physical fitness or nutrition. Sounds like the perfect opportunity to start a fitness blog, right? Yes, the prospect of documenting a foray into the realm of physical fitness digitally in front of my classmates is terrifying. However, it is a good opportunity to hold myself accountable and use this blog as a vehicle to improve my fitness and overall health. If I’m better shape physically that will help me to be a better dad, husband, instructor and student.

This may come as a shock, but the internet has a number of varied opinions about how one should pursue physical fitness. After spending the last five days in the wilderness that is the online fitness community I think I have at the very least found a nutritional plan that will help me to lose some body fat. A friend of mine recently sent me an electronic copy of Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Body. I had been familiar with his podcast and blog. However this was my first exposure to his work on physical performance. The book itself is massive, but I did find this summary sheet  that lists the principles of what Ferris calls the Slow Carb Diet. To be fair, this nutrition plan has had it’s share of criticisms. However, it appears to be a whole foods diet that allows for a cheat day each week. This seems to be an eating plan that I could find sustainable. Even if it doesn’t deliver exactly as advertised it could help get me moving in the direction I want to go.  I have a feeling this plan will mutate a few times before the semester is done. As it stands now theses are the major objectives for my learning project:

  1. To track my nutritional intake using the app My Fitness Pal
  2. To use the slow carb diet to reduce my body fat percentage and gain lean muscle mass.
  3. Begin a resistance training program that focuses on compound movements for all major muscles groups.
  4. Use this blog as a means of public accountability for documenting my progress. I plan to blog about my progress using pictures, short video clips  and reflections about my experience. I will begin each week with one or two weekly goals. I also plan to post weekly updates including measurements ( e.g. weight body fat percentage) to help document the process. )

Through this process I hope to learn how to use nutrition and resistance training as tools to alter my body composition ( lowering my body fat percentage and building lean body mass). This is all very new to me and I would very much appreciate any feedback anyone has to help refine this process. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am looking forward to beginning this journey.