Author Archives: roxanneleungsblog

Do I really need my library card anymore?

This week, we focused on the concept of open education as well as open education resources (OER’s). Open education resources are beneficial because they present both teachers and students with the ability to access informational materials online. Teachers can utilize a variety of digital content to assist in their teaching practices. Moreover, digital content is easily accessible and many OER’s are free to use.

This week’s concept was particularly interesting to me, simply because I have spent many years of my life attending university, taking numerous courses to further my education meanwhile spending hundreds of dollars on course textbooks. Although purchasing textbooks and other reading material come hand-in-hand while taking educational courses, it would be nice to somehow save on costs. Therefore, I decided to explore Open Textbook Library to see what it is all about. Before last Tuesday, I had never heard of Open Textbook Library. I discovered that Open Textbook Library is an online resource that is free to use and offers a wide range of textbooks that differ according to specific subject areas. Some of the subjects included are: Education, Economics, Engineering, Accounting & Finance, and Mathematics. However, there are many more subjects available.

Open Textbook Library is very user-friendly! It’s simple lay out makes navigating through its digital content easy and hassle free! With Open Textbook Library, any book you find can be downloaded for free. However, if you wish to print a book it states, “books can be printed at a low cost”. Open Textbook Library can be accessed from a variety of devices. Although it requires an internet connection to download the textbooks, you will have access to these books in the form of a PDF or EPUB once you are offline. Once you find a textbook you are interested in reading, Open Textbook Library offers a very detailed description about the books content as well as information about its author(s) and contributor(s).

Open Textbook Library also gives you the option to submit an open textbook to their website, just as long as it meets the specific requirements. The criteria for this can be found in the “Our Textbooks” tab, under “Submit a Book”. This is a really neat feature! Although Open Textbook Library is a free online resource and offers openly-licensed textbooks, I strongly encourage you to read the Conditions of Use as it explains in detail about the Creative Commons Copyright License.

Through exploring Open Textbook Library, I have found this resource to be valuable for adult leaners. The online reading material focuses primarily on content of a higher academic level, not suited for the elementary level or middle years level. Perhaps some of the online textbooks could be utilized by high school teachers and adapted? Would it be beneficial for Universities to start utilizing this resource aside from traditional textbooks? As an adult learner, would you use Open Textbook Library? Either way, Online Textbook Library offers free informational content and is an effective yet inexpensive open education resource. I highly recommend you check it out!

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Slowly but surely, I am making progress!

As most of you already know, my cross stitching journey has been going well. However, at this point in time I do have some concerns regarding my project’s completion date. Although enjoyable, cross stitching has proven to be a very lengthy process and I can only accomplish so much in a day. With having a seven-month-old baby and a husband that works out of town, I am somewhat stressed about whether or not I will be able to have this cross stitching piece completed by the end of the semester.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I am not making any excuses for myself. However, I do have some regrets about selecting a larger piece for my first cross stitching experience. Perhaps, I should have chosen a smaller piece to start with. I suppose my excitement for learning this new skill took over and I wasn’t thinking realistically. Either way, I will continue to work at it and hope I am successful in getting it finished before the end of the course. That way, I am able to show off my new talent to all of you! Here is a photo of what I have completed so far!

Although I am still in the process of stitching the coloured thread throughout my pattern, I decided to jump ahead and investigate how to perform a backstitch. I will need to backstitch/outline my pattern in black thread to complete my project. So, I researched “How to do a backstitch” using Google and Youtube. Through my search, I came across these two very helpful resources!

As stated before, I will not be able to start the process of backstitching until I have completed stitching my coloured thread, but by watching the backstitch tutorial video and reading the article “Cross Stitch Tips- Basic Stitches”, I feel confident about attempting a backstitch. My plans for this weekend and next week are:

  • Continue stitching the coloured thread throughout my pattern
  • Reach out to the Facebook community in hopes of discovering new cross stitching “friends”
  • Attempt one area of backstitching on my pattern

By the way, Marley and Jaque…how is the back of my cross stitching piece looking? I’ve been working hard at keeping the back of my fabric neat and tidy by using shorter threads to avoid knots!

Until next week’s update, wish me luck! Hopefully, I am able to make more progress than I have been able to this past week!

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Sharing ideas that aren’t mine…Ok or not ok?

Last week, we focused on the concept of open education as well as sharing in the open. With education now being “open”, it has evolved greatly. Not only does open education provide us with the opportunity to share, build on knowledge and collaborate, it has also changed the way in which we teach. Now a days, we so rarely see the traditional education practices being performed. By this, I mean a teacher-centered delivery where the teacher delivers information while the students sit quietly in their desks and are expected to receive the information. Open education now offers teachers a variety of ways for content delivery. Furthermore, it changes the ways students can receive information, specifically in a more interactive fashion.

In the video “Why Open Education Matters”, it describes how traditional education does not accommodate to all learners and their specific needs. It also explains how open education “aims to bring quality education to teachers and students everywhere” by providing access to up-to-date materials and resources. With open education, teachers have the ability to adapt information so they may accommodate to their learners. As a teacher, I understand that open education is absolutely essential for both teachers and students. It saves costs for teachers, provides flexibility and offers students diverse learning experiences.

Kirby Ferguson’s videos “Everything is a Remix” demonstrates how we learn through the process of copying existing content. He states, “creativity isn’t magic, it happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials”. By taking an idea, creating variations of that idea and combining them, you have produced a remix/remake of something which already exists, but has been adapted. These videos made me think about my profession and how teachers are reliant on sharing and remaking materials often. So much of this “copying” occurs, yet we refer to it as borrowing or collaboration, rather than copying. Personally, I have spent many hours creating my own learning material and I have always shared my resources with my colleagues. I do not relate sharing to copying, but maybe I should? I am starting to wonder if there is a difference between the two now? Should I take pride in creating my own materials if somewhere down the road I got these ideas from existing content?

Ferguson explains, “Nobody starts out original”. This is very true. Ashley states “I am not responsible for creating the material that I am responsible to provide to students, this has been studied and developed by scholars, medical professionals, and scientists”. Like Ashley, I am not responsible for creating the material I provide to my students. Although I have the option to adapt content in ways to which better suit our students learning needs, I am not the original creator of that content. I am provided with the resources I need in order to teach the skills and concepts directed by the Saskatchewan curriculum.

Ze Frank’s Ted Talk focuses on the concept of sharing online. Within this video, he speaks about the different ways people have shared online and explains how their shared experiences have resonated/impacted the online world. Sharing online allows people to connect and creates a platform to discover others with similar interests. I felt happy after viewing this video because many of the content he speaks of result in positive practices of sharing online. Furthermore, he demonstrates how sharing online has the potential to inspire others. I agree with Marley when she explains, “so much of what is online is negative or at least that is what is shown in the media”. Therefore, it was refreshing to listen to a variety of shared experiences that ended on a positive note.

Therefore, as teachers, I believe we have the responsibility to sit down with our students and review what it means to “copy”. We can also have a discussion with our students about how many ideas are existing and that we can still take an idea, create variations, combine and adapt it. Perhaps showing our students different examples of specific ideas (as Ferguson did in his videos) and demonstrate how these ideas have been adapted differently would be a fun and interactive mini-lesson! How would you explain the concept of sharing ideas with your students?  What would you focus on specifically?

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Cross stitching update!

So far, my major project is going quite well. Cross stitching is definitely a lengthy process but I am enjoying it. Learning to cross stitch is a skill I do not regret doing. I am surprised with how much I have learned and what I have been able to do, simply by watching tutorial videos on YouTube and using Google to read online articles about cross stitching. Based on my twitter account and conversations with my co-workers, it appears I do not have many cross stitching enthusiast within my PLN. Although I was very excited to learn that Jaque and Marley enjoy cross stitching and have offered their guidance and support, if I need it. So, thank you Jaque and Marley! I appreciate the positive comments I have received thus far from my EC&I 831 colleagues! Your kind words motivate me to keep on going, even when my eyes are sore and tired from cross stitching for hours at a time!

Some of the challenges I still encounter often are knots! Man oh man, I feel very frustrated when I notice a knot in my thread while stitching. If I’m lucky, I am able to untie the knot and continue stitching. Other times, I am not so lucky and usually have to cut my thread and remove some of the stitches before threading a new needle and continuing where I left off. However, I received some helpful tips from Dana Batho, the author of “Beginners cross stitch: the ultimate tutorial” . She recommended I keep my thread shorter to avoid knots. Another challenge I experience often is miscounting. The squares on the Aida fabric are so tiny that sometimes my eyes play tricks on me. Even with my glasses on and lots of light, I still make mistakes. I suppose making mistakes are fine and will only improve my cross stitching talent in the end.

Here is a photo I posted onto my Instagram account to display my progress. After I have finished stitching the coloured thread, I will need to learn how to stitch the black outline in order to complete the pattern. So, wish me luck and stay tuned for my next update! Thanks everyone!

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Cross stitching is awesome!

Hello, everyone!

It’s official…I have finally started my major digital project! Last week, I spent some time watching tutorial videos about cross stitching on YouTube to figure out the materials I would need in order to start the cross stitching process. Sapna had sent me the article “Beginners cross stitch: the ultimate tutorial” which was also very helpful and a great resource! So, after a trip to Michaels, I purchased the materials I needed and got myself organized. Luckily for me, I discovered we have a couple professional cross stitchers in our class! So, if at any point in time I am stuck and in need of some assistance, I can contact Jaque or Marley!

The next step was to decide on a cross stitching pattern so that I could purchase some coloured thread. After browsing for patterns using Google and Pinterest, I couldn’t really decide on a pattern because the selection was so huge! Instead, I decided to reached out to the Twitter world to see if anyone could recommend some great websites for cross stitching patterns! Unfortunately, I received no responses. So, after browsing through about 100 different patterns online, I decided I wanted to cross stitch a Christmas pattern! I thought to myself; wouldn’t it be great to learn how to cross stitch for my major project while also making an authentic Christmas present? I had returned to Michaels to browse through their cross stitching booklets and found a Christmas/Holiday pattern booklet! I figure, if I enjoy cross stitching after this project, I can always stitch Christmas tree ornaments!

Design by Ursula Michael

After watching Cross stitch for beginners- a quick preview on YouTube, I learned how to tie a small knot using the loop method, how to properly read a pattern, a technique for locating the middle of my fabric, and how to properly stitch in the form of an X (top and bottom stitches should always be going in the same direction). Here are some photos of what I have accomplished so far!

Turns out, I am quite the natural at cross stitching! After my first few stitches, I developed a decent rhythm and ended up stitching for 3 hours in one evening! Of course, this was after my son was asleep! I must admit, cross stitching is somewhat addictive and very difficult to put down once you have started.

Although I enjoy cross stitching so far, I have come across a couple challenges. First challenge is knots! I have learned that when my thread is too long, somehow while stitching the thread will get tangled and create a knot. Let me tell ya…these tiny knots aren’t so easy to undo! The second challenge I’ve encountered so far is miscounting. I’ve made a few mistakes where I have miscounted the tiny squares on the fabric. As a result, I had to remove my thread and start over. Although these challenges are minor, cross stitching is very time consuming. So, I can only imagine how frustrated I’d be if I were to make a mistake and not realize it until later on.

Until next time…thanks for stopping by!

 


Social media activism….is it worthwhile?

This week, we discussed the topic of social media activism and were asked to explain whether we think it can be meaningful and worthwhile. Personally, I have mixed feelings about it. In today’s digital world, social media has changed the way in which people communicate, obtain information, and are informed about current events taking place in our world. Moreover, social media has the power to spread information quickly and connect people with similar interests/world views.

So, when I think about whether social media activism is effective, I would like to say yes and no. Yes, because “we’re connected more by the internet than by a personal relationship or geography”. Activist rely on social media in order to connect, organize, and raise awareness in hopes to create a movement or affect change within our world. Social media sources such as Facebook and Twitter create platforms for activists to successfully spread their messages. Without the use of social media, it would be very difficult for activists to reach out to society. For instance, I once participated in the “Ice Bucket Challenge”. I was nominated by a Facebook friend to dump a bucket of ice cold water over my head and donate money in support to ALS. I was also encouraged to challenge more of my Facebook friends in hopes to raise even more money. I accepted this challenge and donated to the organization. However, how can we be sure the nominees participating in these challenges are responsible citizens and have actually contributed funds for research? Or, are they simply sharing to social media without the intent to financially support these organizations?

Then, I started to think about the idea of slacktivism and how it effects social media activism negatively. Tayler mentions in her blog how “It’s become very common to simply comment or share a post of a genuine cause and believe we are helping when in reality it is achieving nothing but a trending hashtag”. Well said, Tayler! I couldn’t agree with you more! Hashtags represent specific things on twitter, but they are not a movement. Typing a hashtag and then putting down your cell phone is not being productive. In Katia Hildebrant’s blog, she argues “I have a responsibility to use my privilege to speak out and use my network for more than just my own benefit or self-promotion; not doing so is a selfish act”. After reading this, I began to think about myself and the way I use social media. Clearly, there is much more I could be doing for society, rather than just scrolling my Facebook wall and Twitter feed. Perhaps I need to be more proactive about the many social inequities and justice issues that are currently taking place within our society and offer my support, as a participatory citizen.

As an educator, I am responsible for modelling the actions of a responsible citizen to my students. It is essential to provide my students with the opportunity to investigate examples of social inequities and justice issues, so they may learn how to be responsible participatory citizens. Moreover, by exploring examples of social media activism and social justice, students can examine the many ways in which they can reach out and contribute to society. On that note, what are some of the ways you could explore social media activism and social justice issues with your students? What sources would you use within your classroom?

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Blast off!

Since I made the decision to change my project idea, I have been very eager to start the process of cross-stitching! So, after watching a cross-stitch tutorial for beginner’s video on YouTube, I was able to figure out the basic materials I need in order to get organized before actually learning how to cross-stitch. I recently went to Michaels and was able to find the materials I needed, and much more! I must say, I was blown away by the variety of fabrics, needles, threads, pattern books and embroidery hoops! I could have looked around for hours!

Here are the basic materials I picked up:

  • Aida fabric (14 count)
  • Tapestry needle (size 22)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Scissors

After purchasing these materials, I realized that I was unable to purchase thread because I have not yet decided on a pattern!! I learned that there are a ton of thread colours available for cross-stitching and these threads are all colour coded! For instance, black thread is coded 310 and green thread is coded 701. At first, I was confused and didn’t understand why the thread colours were colour coded until I realized the threads are colour coded because they coincide with a specific pattern, similar to a map & legend. Therefore, I came back home with the 4 basic materials I purchased and began searching Google and Pinterest for some pattern ideas. Turns out, there are tons of patterns out there! Many patterns are available for purchase and many are free!! I briefly became overwhelmed as many of the patterns are clearly based upon experience level. Well, as a beginner I am looking for “beginner’s” pattern! So, the process of finding a pattern I feel capable of doing may take some time! After I have selected a pattern, I can purchase the appropriate thread colours I will be needing.

Although I am feeling somewhat nervous about getting started, I am still looking forward to this journey! Cross-stitching is a skill that may take a while for me to learn but I am ready to give it my best shot! So, wish me luck and stay tuned for some more progress!

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Project re-route!

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been debating the topic idea I had originally chosen for my major digital project. Initially, I had planned to design and implement an open classroom blog. As explained in my very first blog post in EC&I 831, I love to blog and for numerous reasons! Although I do not consider myself to be a professional blogger, I enjoy it and learn a lot from it. Blogging has always been an experience I’d love to share with my students. However, seeing as I am currently on maternity leave, many of the ideas I had planned for my open classroom blog will not follow through without the participation from administration, students and their parents.

Therefore, I have decided to change my major digital project idea and focus on a particular skill I’ve always wanted to learn, and that is Cross-Stitching. Cross-stitching is a form of sewing. Cross-stitching is a unique skill to learn because it involves concentration, numeracy, consistency and most importantly, patience! Why cross-stitch? Well, as a child I would watch my older sister sit on her couch and cross-stitch, sometimes for hours! I’d ask her why she liked cross-stitching because it looked super boring. She’d reply “I love to cross-stitch” and offer to teach me, if I wanted to learn. However, at that time I had no interest in sitting on my couch and staring at a piece of fabric while holding a sharp needle and some string! My sister is truly amazing at cross-stitching! Although she does not have much time for it anymore, she has made many beautiful pieces. Now, I regret not learning this skill and spending what could have been some great quality time together. But like they say, “it’s never too late” or “you’re never too old to learn a new skill”!

So, here it goes! I will start my major digital project by figuring out the materials I need to get started. Aside from my sister’s guidance, I will also rely on a variety of social media sources to help me throughout my journey and document my progress. I am looking forward to getting started on my project but I am also nervous as I have never considered myself to be very artsy. This is the first crafting skill I will have learned, let alone taught by myself through the use of social media! For my major digital project, I will create one (medium sized) cross-stitching pattern. Therefore, wish me luck as I set out to track down the materials I need in order to get started on my very first cross-stitching piece!

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Extra! Extra! Read All About it!

Back in the good old days, news information was mainly delivered in the form of paper, magazines, radio and television. Now, as to whether the information was false or accurate, it seemed easier to detect fake information when its delivery was simpler. For instance, tabloid magazines will often feature stories using a silly headline in a large font. They specifically do this in hopes to capture your attention and read the content found in the magazine. In my experience with browsing tabloid magazines, the “National Enquirer” and the “Star” often distribute exciting yet suspicious information/stories. Celebrities and breaking news are usually easy targets for conflict. Inaccurate information, conspiracies, lies or changes to a narrative are spread often but now a days it can be more challenging to detect fake news due to the growth of the internet and social media.

In today’s digital world, news information can be found everywhere. Sites such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook contains a ton of stories and informational content, which we can choose to accept as true. It can be very easy to get caught up in an interesting headline or two. However, we must be aware that online websites will intentionally try to pass themselves off as authentic when they’re not.

I must admit, I have been fooled more than once with believing fake news to be true and after realizing it is not, I feel pretty ridiculous. As we learned from last week’s class, fact checking is important, especially before sharing creditable/non-creditable information using social media sources. Although it can be difficult to spot fake news, here are five different practices to detect a non-creditable resource:

  • Look for Unusual URL’s
  • Dissect the Layout
  • Dig Deeper
  • Cross-check
  • Try a reverse image search

As an educator, it is important first and foremost that I understand how to detect non-creditable information before I can teach my students about how to detect it. But, if I am not confident in this process, how can I expect my students to be? Doing this requires both research and critical thinking. When identifying fake news, it is essential to discuss examples of creditable and non-creditable resources with our students. In Ryan’s blog, he states “Fake news doesn’t mean we need to panic, and distrust everything’. ‘It does however mean that we need to slow down and read’. ‘Not just read the title of the article, but read the article, and compare it to information that we already know’”. I completely agree with Ryan. By presenting students with the tools they need it will assist them in identifying trustworthy resources, but also teach them how to critically analyze digital literacy. As teachers, we need to model this process and offer our students practice so they may develop self-assurance in their abilities to identify fake news and information.

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Learning in the open…should we be concerned?

In today’s digital world, people have become dependent on technology. Both our personal and professional lives are dependent on technology because it has transformed the way we do things; the way we live, the way we obtain information, the way we communicate, the way we travel, the way we entertain, and the way we learn. In fact, technological advancements occur due to people’s demands and life-style changes. The specific needs, wants and knowledge of society are what drives technology to evolve. Moreover, the advancements of technology are driven by adaptive learning, even if knowledge is commoditized.  

It is apparent that the advancements of technology present both positive and negative effects. Positive, because technology has simplified the way we operate. Technology is convenient, saves time, increases productivity, simplifies communication, and improves education and health care. Negative, because technology can be distraction, eliminates the need for face-to-face interaction, and can contribute to the development of unhealthy habits; such as obesity, addiction, and tendonitis. Despite the positive and negative effects of technology, our world could not function without it.

For this week’s post, we were asked to share our biggest concerns for teaching in the digital (social media) age. Let me start off by saying that I am all for social media. Social media is used often within both my personal and professional life. Social media allows me to communicate with my family and friends, access news and information, and expand my professional development as an educator. As an experienced digital citizen, I am aware of the potential dangers that comes hand-in-hand with using social media. However, my biggest concern is that educators will shy away from using digital literacy within their teaching practices simply because they fear the potential risks involved while using social media, and that alone. As explained in my blog from last week, social media can be a productive and valuable teaching tool, if it is used appropriately and in a controlled environment. Thanh Hoang Nam Le, a fellow classmate of mine, expressed his thoughts in regards to open education and sharing students work online. He states, “Before engaging students to learn in the open, professors need to introduce students to an established media guidelines and policies that clarify the appropriate use of social media tools”. I could not agree more. In order for social media to be viewed as an effective teaching tool, it is the responsibility of the teacher to educate their students about digital citizenship, digital footprint, social media etiquette, and the specific purpose of the selected tool they intend to use. This educational process is concerning to me as potential online dangers can be avoided, only if the necessary preparation/precautions are taken before we encourage our students to learn in the open.

With technology being so convenient, it also makes me wonder about my profession. Should educators be concerned about their careers? Nowadays, anything you want to know about can be Googled or watched on YouTube. Are we expected to incorporate social media within our teaching practices? If so, how much time is expected? If we avoid it, are we doing a disservice to our students. Therefore, the big question is: what is the role of the teacher? Well, the truth is teachers do not need to feel intimidated by learning in the open because teachers offer a learning experience more essential than technology offers. Teachers offer personal connections and one-on-one learning experiences that “virtual learning simply cannot do”. Teachers teach students critical thinking skills and inspire students to be lifelong learners. Teachers also establish trust and special bonds that lead to special memories in the lives of students. So, with confidence, I can say “relax teacher friends”! Technology cannot replace us but rather assist us in our teaching practices! So, get out there and show our students how learning in the open can be fun and beneficial. But under the supervision of the teacher, of course!

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