Author Archives: ssalloums

Solidarity Throughout Pregnancy

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Between the 7th and 9th week of my pregnancy a blood test confirmed that I was pregnant and at this point the embryo is changing in size from a blueberry, to a raspberry (raspbaby), and again to a medium green olive – something actually tangible.

Symptoms include: breast tenderness, fatigue, headaches, dry heaving, nausea, constipation, gas, and bloating.

Development: heartbeat, lips, nose, eyelids, legs, and the head and muscles develop more. (Source: What to Expect When You Are Expecting, 5th Edn.)

Learning about it’s size and development was an important step in making the experience real. It is such a strange thing, transitioning from drinking a glass of wine and coffee on a semi-regular basis and playing competitive sports to instantly changing eating, drinking, and fitness habits.

I noticed right away how much anxiety I was having over the pregnancy because I started to drive well-below the speed limit and sleeping/resting probably more than I needed to. This realization that my life will no longer be the same came as such a surprise. As I watched my husband drink a cold beer, enjoy his morning coffee, go and play basketball with his friends, I started to feel jealous and lonely that I could no longer participate in the lifestyle we shared not too long ago. His life didn’t have to change instantly and he was able to just be excited about the idea of having a baby.                                    Photo Credit: DarnKid

These frustrations coupled with the intense feelings of isolation are scary and can be divisive. It is obvious that it is not his fault in any way for living his life, however, I needed some tools to help me understand how I was feeling about the changes in my lifestyle. I wanted to make sure that when I bring up the topic I don’t sound super hormonal, but it seems like that might be inevitable.

I searched some online blogs and came across a helpful article that identifies 15 Great Ways to Support her During Pregnancy, and the second point suggested,

“She may have given up smoking, stopped drinking alcohol, switched to a healthier diet and started doing more regular exercise. Help her out by making these changes too.”

I think it goes a long way to show your partner support by changing your lifestyle to match how her lifestyle has changed. In my relationship, we both wanted to have a baby and so this showing of solidarity throughout the experience seems like an important piece.

10 Weeks Pregnant

At 10 weeks pregnant the embryo is 1.5 inches – the size of a prune. At this stage it graduates from and embryo to a fetus.  Bones and cartilage are forming (indents for knees and elbows), teeth are forming under the gums, or the stomach begins producing digestive juices, kidneys produce more urine, and the male testes produce progesterone. (Source: What to Expect When You Are Expecting, 5th Edn.) What a busy week of development!

TIP: Here is a tip for anyone who just found out they are pregnant and are beginning to experience symptoms. My friend told me once that when she was pregnant and her husband asked her how she was feeling, she would describe it, as if it were a hangover. So, on a scale of 1-10 where 10 is can’t get out of bed for days hung over, you can relate how you are feeling in a way that might make some sense (food averse, gas, bloating, indigestion, nausea, etc.).

Thanks for reading!

Digital Identities in the 21st Century

Taken from Wikimedia Commons

Until recently I hadn’t considered my digital identity too much. I remember when I was an undergraduate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina I had learned through Education Professional Studies courses how to be a professional educator. This meant I had to both ensure there weren’t any inappropriate photos taken of me at parties and make sure that they did not end up on social media.

via Giphy

In order to ensure appearances, I removed any photos that friends took of me from Facebook so that I could have more control over my digital identity. Since it has been a few years since I have been in a classroom, I haven’t reviewed my digital identity or considered it much at all.

I have not been a very active participant in social media for several years, rather, I have taken more of a passive approach to and have become a bit more of a voyeur. I recognize more and more that digital spaces can offer community and that I am technically part of several online communities. Since I do not participate, perhaps I am an ineffective community member and should reconsider my membership and be more intentional with my engagement.

Photo credit: Pixabay

In order to better understand the complexities of my digital identity I reviewed my profiles on a variety of social media platforms which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. In order to evaluate my membership with these platforms I Google searched ‘digital identity’ to help give me some perspective of how to reflect on what I am sharing with the world. I found a blog post called, Digital Identity: The Key to Privacy and Security in the Digital World, by Irving Wladawsky-Berger helpful in shaping my understanding of a digital identity. Wladawsky-Berger asks and responds to the question,

“What is identity?  

Whether physical or digital in nature, identity is a collection of individual information or attributes that describe an entity and is used to determine the transactions in which the entity can rightfully participate.”

By looking at the information I share about my life and the attributes that are conveyed through my online presence I am better able to understand how I am using these platforms. It appears that my digital identity on is more professional because I use it more frequently for work or school and it is the location with which my professional learning network exists. I am connected to academics, writers, activists, theorists, educators, and non-profit organizations through Twitter, and less so with other social media platforms.

and are platforms where my digital identity is least developed. This is because these platforms are newer to me, but also because the volume of information I receive from them makes it easy to be only a voyeur and not an active participant.

is my longest running social media platform and has been used predominantly for social purposes. I have engaged in this community since 2007 and have chronologically shared moments in my life through photos and posts. This is both disturbing and interesting to reflect on as I don’t necessarily want to be remembered as the 22 year old who posted about what seem to be self-important or hyper-critical, as I did when I was younger. The story I tell about myself through Facebook is one that I will be more conscious of and will re-evaluate it to ensure it better reflects the person I am and hope to be.

Though I have not personally used social media as a tool for seeking employment, I have used it to find out more about an applicant when considering a new hire. Admittedly, I found it quite useful to be able to get to know the candidates before meeting them in person. Saying that, I was fairly surprised with the information presented by Lindy Olafson in her blog. She discusses the idea that in the future all students will have professional identities before leaving school. This concerns me because if this is true it seems like the digital divide may get larger, and if digital identities become the norm in hiring practices it will give younger generations an advantage in the job market. This has the potential to disadvantage a significant number of people who do not have connectivity or education in technology or social media.

I enjoyed reading Ashley Jamison’s blog where she discusses ways to develop your professional identity. I have some work to do in professionalizing and focusing my social media usage while developing my PLN as well, and I will work on this throughout this course.

Thanks for reading!


Nothing Could Have Prepared Me For How I Feel in the First Trimester

Nothing could have prepared me for the first trimester of my first pregnancy. My husband and I were ready to have a baby, but didn’t know whether I was pregnant or just had the flu until my 5th week. I took a pregnancy test to confirm my suspicion and then immediately searched for information about what to expect in my first trimester.

After searching for a description that accurately reflects most of what I am experiencing I found a blog post written by Celeste Erlach on the blog site Pregnant Chicken. Her article, Symptoms of Pregnancy No One Wants to Talk About – 1st Trimester Edition resonates with me and entertainingly describes her experience of morning sickness, fatigue, constipation, bloating, and self-doubt. Check it out!

Friends and family had told me that all pregnancies are different and women will experience the symptoms differently. I learned very quickly that I would be one of those pregnant women experiencing all of the symptoms. It actually feels like the embryo is sucking the life out of you and as I near the end of the first trimester I am less hopeful the symptoms will subside. Sure, I am a bit grumpy about it. I didn’t realize how hard it would be on my body or my emotions, and my husband can hardly believe the mood swings and exhaustion. So far, pregnancy has been a frustrating experience because I am:

  • hungry, but have no interest in food;
  • unable to get as much done in a day;
  • disinterested in most things except for watching Netflix;
  • unfocused and forgetful;
  • utterly exhausted after doing what seems like nothing compared to pre-pregnancy;
  • uncomfortably able to fit into my clothes;
  • upset by unsolicited advice, mostly when it is from strangers;
  • uncertain and not feeling like myself;
  • temperamental; and feel like a baby in need of frequent naps, bathroom breaks, and consoling.

Every time I feel a bit frustrated by my current state I read in my What to Expect When You Are Expecting book, by Heidi E. Murkoff, about what parts of the embryo are developing and re-connect with the miracle of creating another human. At week 5 the heart and circulatory system begin to take shape and in just two weeks the embryo has developed a heartbeat, kidneys, liver, and lungs, lips, nose, eyelids, jaws, cheeks, chin, ear canals, mouth and tongue, arm and leg buds.

Photo: credit via Ed Uthman

Amazing! This humbling experience teaches me to be patient with myself and hope that my husband, family, and friends will be too.

Concerns for Education in the Digital Age

Image via Ron Mader Flickr

During our EC&I 831 class last week I learned that there has been an entire Open Educational Resources (OER) movement that has existed for more than 15 years! My mind was kind of blown. I can’t say for sure, but I feel like if I had known that there are free opportunities to educate myself online I would have at least looked at some of the options available to me much earlier in my academic or professional career. If you know of other open education resources please share them in the comment box.

Creating opportunities for education by increasing accessibility through OER and unique collaboration in online spaces is a hopeful way to look at the future of education in the twenty-first century. However, I have concerns with teaching and learning in the digital age because learning online does not address the unequal access to education or the internet, allowing people to connect digitally. Specifically, in the article Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0 written by John Brown and Richard Adler  describe the world as becoming more equal, despite the fact that certain places have more access to the digital world and therefore have the ability to be globally competitive. This allows some people in certain places to learn about online spaces and develop the skills needed, before others do and if they do at all. My concern is that a significant number of people in the world suffer from inequalities which both restrict them and are restricted by their lack of access to open education and social learning. The CyberOne Classroom in Second Life is an example of social learning addressing my concern that open education still creates inequality of education when it is accessible to some and not all. The software actively engages students in discussion and is “designed to improve education for students in schools in rural areas and urban slums in India.” It is clear that there is plenty to be excited about when education is provided to people in rural areas who may not have had either access to education or access to technology before, however, I hesitate to jump on the band wagon without learning more about the effectiveness of programs like the CyberOne Classroom.

My concern for the future of education in general, but also open education involves further privatization of the sector and intensification of the work of teachers. If in the future all education was done online is it still a public good? What happens to teachers jobs? Do we make decisions on our education system by individual provinces or is it not controlled by the public in any way? If not, would it be controlled by software companies who can charge you for the software and programs? This could make education more profitable and competitive by offering certain courses or certain levels of difficulty at various prices. Who would control education if it was all sourced online?

My concern for teachers is mostly around how they are valued, but also how they are supported in such a pedagogical shift from learning about subject matter where knowledge is transferred to social learning where students participate in “productive inquiry”. Teachers are challenged to think differently about the purpose of teaching and how we learn while learning and keeping up with changing social media platforms and open education tools to be able to teach effectively. The ability of current teachers to adapt to new ways of incorporating social media tools into their classrooms on a regular basis requires significant amounts of work and support.

Another concern of mine for society generally is described as cultural inversion by Michael Wesch in An anthropological introduction to YouTube

He describes the phenomenon of YouTube and other social media tools as allowing people to become more expressive as individuals and independent with increasing commercialization which results in a longing for community, relationships, and authenticity. Wesch identifies a YouTube video that went viral of a guy who exemplified the longing for connection and it was documented in this video.

For me, this clip highlights the community-building capacity of YouTube and social media in creating connection. Without ever having made a YouTube video, I can understand and respect the medium as a method of reflection for individuals, as well as, social commentary which can help to understand ourselves and culture better.

Despite these concerns I agree that there is a moral imperative to educate children to succeed in a changing world. With my concern about education in general, and more specifically open education being accessible, there are larger areas of concern around global poverty and neoliberalism that are factors in addressing technological and communications accessibility in remote and impoverished communities. I am not sure at this point how this concern could be balanced since a basic education isn’t provided to many communities and young people around the world.

I am curious how many educators in the EC&I course who teach in the formal sector, a regular classroom, feel like their efforts in learning social media tools for classroom engagement is supported and valued by their colleagues, administration, or school divisions.

Motivations and Skills for Sharing Student Work Publicly

Engaging with social media tools

When the goal of using social media tools is to share student work publicly I become curious of the individual teacher’s motivations for engaging students in this way and the skills needed to engage.

If the motivation is for students to collaborate on projects, share ideas, or learn about the world in interesting ways I think it can be an exciting and highly engaging method. It seems that there would be more concerns about sharing student work publicly if students are younger, such as in the K-12 system, or if students are not supported by opportunities to constructively reflect on their online learning experiences. Older students in secondary or post-secondary may have developed the skills to be reflexive learners and may not require as much guidance and support.

I believe that teachers must be well versed in the social media tools they are using in order to navigate the learning experience and to protect, as much as possible, against cyber bullying, hate, and spam which often exist in online spaces. In the case of using social media tools in K-12 classrooms I agree with my classmate, Coralee Czinkota’s assessment of social media enhancing digital literacy or digital citizenship which is described in her blog post, Sharing and Learning Using Social Media in Formal Education. Digital literacy is essential in navigating our online world and digital citizenship is an important concept which in practice has much capacity to equalize power imbalances promoted through access to digital spaces.

Photo credit: Dakman5

As an educator with no formal education, until now, on digital literacy I have literally no experience with using Twitter, blogs, or other social media tools in a classroom. As an educator who is not practicing in a formal education setting my experiences with the benefits and challenges of social media and open education in a classroom are not based on first-hand experience. However, from my professional and other social experience I can appreciate the positive and negative implications of using online tools to share student work.

Through my work at the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC) I have had several encounters with unexpected and inappropriate ads that appear in YouTube videos when showing a clip for a professional audience. Further, I regularly receive pornographic spam in my work email and unless we change servers, I am told there isn’t much to do about it. Until now, my limited exposure to social networking and to open/online learning has been predominantly through Facebook where I often post or share content that contains contested and often moral dilemmas on being vegetarian, fighting Monsanto, eating organic, or combating settler-colonialism, etc. Over the years I have argued against trolls and engaged with people who impose hate-speech, however now it seems that only people who agree with my point of view see my posts or care to engage with them. These experiences helped me to understand that no one is immune to the negative aspects of technology whether it be spam, trolls, porn, hate speech, etc.

When I learned that we would be documenting our learning in such a public way I immediately had anxiety. No longer can I hide behind an assumed commitment to the traditional schooling experience whereby learning is done in private. Coming to terms with the fact that my processing and learning of these online tools as well as my own passion project of inquiry would be publicly available to anyone who wished to agree or disagree with my perspective. Recognizing this fear demands attention. It takes courage to take up digital space. Taking space that isn’t accessible to all can feel colonial. Possible consequences for learning and processing in public include one’s ideas being called out in a post, which may include loss of confidence or voice, harassment or bullying, hate speech, etc. As such there is a certain degree of risk one must take if they are to engage in social media and the implications or impact on the individual may be significant.

Learning “in the open” has the potential to liberate, encourage and collaborate, create voice and solidarity. Learning online may have positive results for educating transient students since they can still access their digital learning space if they have access to technology away from the school. Or, it can further isolate them if their work is all online and they don’t have consistent access to technology.

In my work, I discuss terms like global citizenship education which, I am learning, has much to do with digital citizenship. According to UNESCO, “Global Citizenship Education (GCED) aims to empower learners to assume active roles to face and resolve global challenges and to become proactive contributors to a more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and secure world.” These empowered learners can better solve global challenges if they are connected with people globally and can process or add to discussions around peace and justice for all. This definition aligns itself well with the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship described by Mike Ribble, education technologist and the ethics of digital citizenship discussed in the video by CyberWise1, see below.

Overall I believe it is beneficial for everyone, but students especially, to learn how to engage in online spaces ethically. I think it is a good practice in higher level education for students to evaluate their processes of learning through social media tools because it provides another lens with which they can understand themselves as citizens of the world.

What can pregnancy teach me about myself, my community, my world?

In the first EC&I 831 class I learned about all of the ways I would be challenged to become tech and social media literate. One of these challenges involves a semester-long commitment to a digital learning project.

Over the course of the last two weeks I have thoughtfully considered and weighed the importance and outcomes of studying various topics of interest. Some of these topics include: yoga, vegetarian cooking, the ukulele, or photography. Though studying any one of these topics would be interesting and enjoyable, I have recently learned that I am pregnant and am finding it difficult to think of much else. I have so many questions about what I am experiencing, and from the little research I have done I am learning that there are so many perspectives on pregnancy and how to raise a good person.

It’s going to get quite personal, and I am prepared for that. Are you?

Some questions that I have been asking so far include:

  • What is happening in my body that makes me feel so bone-tired?
  • Am I really showing early or is that just bloating? How do you know? I guess you know when you know?
  • I haven’t had my first ultrasound yet, but on days where I feel like myself, is it possible that I have lost the baby?
  • What if I don’t do this whole pregnancy thing right? I know there isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ way to do it, but what if I screw it up somehow?

I have decided to track and explore my pregnancy and all of the questions that arise as I prepare for childbirth and becoming a mother. Each week I will explore aspects of my relationship with an issue, topic, theory, or practice involved in pregnancy.

Some of the online learning resources that I am aware of and will explore include:

I am grateful for the opportunity to integrate important elements of my life that are not profession driven, into my learning throughout this master’s course.

If you are someone who has insight into learning about pregnancy and parenthood I welcome your suggestions for online learning resources that I can explore throughout the semester.