Category Archives: PLN

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe – and these tools are it!

Deciding which tools to use for interactive purposes in our blended prototype felt a bit like a game of eeny meeny miny moe. With so many tools to choose from how can one possibly decide which tools are the best for what you are trying to accomplish. Fortunately my team and I were able to decide which tools we want to use without much debate. We are going to be using Canvas as our LMS so we will be using some features of that site as well as twitter and blogs. I will go into more detail as to why we selected these methods but I want to start with the quote from Shaping the Metaphor of Community in Online Learning Environments: 

For a community to emerge, a learning environment must allow learners to engage each other intentionally and collectively in the transaction or transformation of knowledge.

This quote really stood out to me and validated the tools we have selected as our community building tools. Nancy, Andrew and I have had a lot of discussions around Twitter and how much we have grown to love it over the past few semesters. I have said this before and I’ll said it again for anyone who hasn’t heard me say it before – I used to think Twitter was pointless and really served little purpose. I didn’t fully understand the value in it. Looking back I now realize that I felt that way because I wasn’t using it to it’s full potential. I didn’t follow a lot of meaningful people, I didn’t understand how to use hashtags to my advantage and didn’t feel it was possible to share something meaningful in 140 characters. Twitter has become one of the most beneficial tool for me as a teacher. It has provided me with great resources, professional development and connections with other amazing teachers – all for free! I have really developed my PLN (personal learning network) and I can’t imagine my teaching career without twitter. I the teacher in this video has done an excellent job of discussing PLN’s and the role twitter plays in developing your PLN.

It is possible for students to build a PLN and we plan to encourage our students to build their PLN through using a course hashtag (which is yet to be decided) as well as hootsuite or tweetdeck. Students will be asked to interact on twitter by sharing articles, retweeting and quoting tweets from classmates within the class as well as people from outside of the class. By using hashtags students will be able to reach out and connect with others far beyond the four walls of our classrooms which will in turn help them improve the community within our classroom by sharing resources and information.

Another way we feel that an online learning community can be established is through blogs. George Couros shares 5 reasons why students should be blogging including developing a positive digital footprint, giving students a voice and allowing for student reflection. It is a great way for students to document their learning and share what they have been doing in class. Through comments on each others blogs the online community can further be established. Like Liz pointed out, it is important to consider digital citizenship and be sure that students are commenting respectfully and mindfully. Being that we are doing a digital citizenship course prototype we will be focusing on this early on in the semester. Students will be expected to follow classmates blogs through an RSS platform such as Feedly. Feedly is a user friendly way to follow blogs without having to go back to the individual blog and check to see if a new post has been written. We felt that this would be easier to use than creating a blog hub.

The last way that we thought we can try to establish a community is through the discussion feature on Canvas. An edutopia article lists many benefits to using a discussion board in an online course including critical thinking, improved reading & writing skills and reflection. The article also suggests having students come up with the guidelines for using the discussion board and just like Sarah I feel like this would be a really great idea. The chart discussing Bloom’s Taxonomy in relation to activities for discussion boards really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities for activities through a discussion board. Although I see the discussion board being used primary for students to connect with one another to ask questions or get help with information related to the course I can see it be useful to have an activity thrown in there every once in a while too.

I feel like there are so many other tools we could have selected but I feel like these are the tools that will help our students build a community online, much like I have experienced in all of my EC&I classes with Alec and Katia.

Are there any other great tools we have overlooked for our course prototype in terms of building community online?

Dialled in, plugged in, and loving life.

Look up“.

Great advice for some, but not all. I think in some cases, we need try to reflect on the value of looking down… and what looking down allows us to do – connect, answer, and learn. Yes, we can go to a concert and hear musicians tell us to unplug and live in the moment, and we need to, but what about getting a video of Chris Martin singing “Fix You” for your friend who couldn’t be there because they were sick?

Some moments don’t need a camera and there is value in appreciating things without a digital record… but, like every other debate we’ve had, we need balance, moderation, and an open mind. Is taking a video of a child’s first steps also not living in the moment? Or is it an opportunity to reflect and relive the moment years later? Humanity is evolving, constantly rewiring the hardware of our brains, and with this includes modern connectedness and socialization which occurs by looking down and utilizing our technology and devices. We are comfortable with looking down when it helps us learn with PLNs or to help facilitate learning and friendships, but are quick to antagonize it when people don’t appreciate moments the way we might want them to. There is a challenge to begin to recognize that who we are today involves a link between offline to online life. This is echoed by the concept of augmented reality, and as we learn about what our digital footprints are, and adjust our digital identity to improve this, we improve our IRL identity as a result… we project a better us to live up to. (But this can create pressure to please, so we need to continue to reflect and be fair to ourselves).
Optimism versus the facts against being plugged in.

“Plugging in” has been called a way to avoid dealing with loneliness,


Loneliness via Wikimedia Commons

but perhaps it is rather an opportunity for less boredom, two states of mind that are, at times, difficult to differentiate from one another. I would seek to argue that perhaps we are more engaged and stimulated than ever before, but is there a backlash to this? We are all capable of multi-tasking and some evidence points to the idea that I am, in fact, wrong. Having too much going on at once is imposed by tech and causes higher levels of stress… including how connected we are and the inherent expectations for shorter response times. I would argue that I feel efficient when I get a lot done in a day, and am capable of getting a lot of things done thanks to technology, and have a lot of positive means of coping with the potential stress that occurs as a result. I want to be involved and I feel fulfilled when I am… or am I just afraid of missing out?

Fear of missing out is a reality for some, and some may tell you that technology is making this worse, but there is also learning to be had when struggling with this this fear. Speaking from personal experience through toddler to teenager, I have been completely wrapped up in what others are doing, and over time learned to accept the things I may be missing out on for what is more important, isn’t that what growing up is and has been for some time? Some argue that technology can be an addiction, observing others make trips home to retrieve devices that, without, individuals would feel naked. I have a hard time agreeing that technology is an addiction, we have it to connect and it is something that we feel improves or is needed in our lives. How is this different than applying the argument to being addicted to our cars or other modes of transportation? It is a part of our lives that improves our lives, and the fact that I feel that I “need” it to get to work wouldn’t be considered addiction or “bordering on obsession”, so many things would therefore border on obsession. My love of hockey, teaching, cats, and my family, borders on obsession. However, the points listed above make my life better, no question about it. Does being plugged in actually make my life better?

Does being plugged in legitimately make your life better?

Does being plugged in make your students’ lives better?

If you think it doesn’t, then stay unplugged.

For me?

I am dialled in.

I am plugged in.

I am educate-in.

And I am loving life.


EC&I 830, have a great summer.

Logan Petlak



Major Project: Moving the Finish Line

Throughout my learning project there were many different emotions and feelings towards the process!


Excited and eager to learn! I found a YouTube channel by Mike Browne to follow, started a Pinterest board, read many articles and started taking some pictures.

Middle 1:

Nervous but learning and motivated by the growth. Felt a little like I didn’t know what I ws doing but there were articles I read to help me take it one step at a time and I continued to take pictures. Signed up for a Coursera class!

Middle 2:

Frustrated with not knowing what to do or if I am on the “right” track. Turns out, there is no right track! I realized that I really enjoy watching videos and then trying to emulate the lesson from the video. I learn by being hands on and talking with someone who knows about what I am learning about. Also learned that the Coursera course wasn’t for me! I think it had great potential but that one I signed up for just wasn’t want I needed or wanted as part of my learning process.

End: Back to being excited and feeling like I have more tools to move forward! I am no where near done but am excited about using what I have learned to continue learning.

A collection of the good, the bad and the ugly photos from my learning throughout the semester can be found in the video below! Some were taken with my iPhone with a few Instragam filters added and the rest were taken with my Canon Power Shot SX20 IS.




No More Manual Mode!

Going to rewind a little for you and head back to the week off I had over Easter. I was excited to have some time to sit down with my camera and try to sort out some of my issues. I thought I had so I set out on a little bit of a back road adventure in search of some old farm buildings. Here’s what I ended up with:

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Yes you are seeing that right, I went from orange picture problems to white pictures!

I had the chance last week to sit down with the janitor at my school who also works as a photographer and finally got my camera troubles sorted out! You can check out his work on his website: Larry Burkowsky Photography

Breaking news: It wasn’t a camera problem, it was a user problem!

When I started my project I really wanted to learn how to use my camera in the manual setting. This goal of mine is part of what created most of my frustration with my camera. Through my conversation with Larry I learned a few important things:

  1. My camera is best suited for outdoor photography, especially if I am planning to shoot manually. If I am wanting to shoot inside I need to set my camera to auto and let it do the work, as suggested by Larry.
  2. I need to switch from using Manual more to Av (Aperture Priority) and this is going to take some time. I am still not sure I have it fully sorted but The Difference Between Manual and Aperture Priority has me on the right track. Still lots to learn!

Larry showed me how to look at my shutter speed and focal length together and that there needs to be a balance between the two. That’s my next step, figure out how to do that in the right way. Thus, my project is done for now but not forever!

A few snaps that he took while showing me how to adjust shutter speed and focal length:

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Learning to Learn: The process of an online learning project


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

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

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

Where it all began…

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

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

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

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

post assessment

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

Learning Prenatal Yoga Online…

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

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

Social Media

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

Online Communities

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


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

Other Sources

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

Reflection and Process…

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

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

Continuing the Learning Process…

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

Top 5 Take Away Moments from #eci831 and a Little More

Is this semester really over already? I feel like we were just at week one and getting started. I have learned, questioned and engaged in so many different things this semester that I find it hard to say I am done. I feel that this is going to be a class that continues to help me learn, grow and question my online experiences.

Creating a summary of learning was something that I struggled with most this semester because I couldn’t figure out how to take everything that I learned and put into 5-7 minutes! I think that’s the sign of a great class and I want to thank all of you for providing a learning environment that allowed for conversations and growth.

I look forward to hopefully learning with you again, should that be the case!

Finding a tool to create and share my thoughts from the semester was one of my biggest challenges but I settled on the TouchCast app and I certainly learned a lot! There are some parts in the TouchCast that lag a little and I am not sure why so please forgive me with that. I will definitely be giving the app another try as I think the possibilities it provides are pretty awesome and I know I have more to learn about how to make the presentations a little smoother but I love the idea of it being interactive. It’s an interactive presentation so you can click on most things and it will take you to that space!

Summary of Learning

#eci831 – What Do I Know Now? 

Thank you to everyone for tuning in to my writing throughout the semester and sharing in the learning process!


I decided to take a different route with my blog post this week and try a ‘podcast’! Now I use that term a little loosely because the recording didn’t work so great and the app I chose also wanted me to pay for the recording once I was done. I should have done a little more research prior to downloading and paying my $3.99 for the app, rookie mistakes! So I turned the recording into an iMovie and will share it below. You’ll have to excuse the sound of my dog running around in the background!

My thoughts on the conversations and articles around Slacktivism:


Crochet and Connections to the Classroom

On the first day of class we were told that 30% of our mark would be made up by a learning project. We could pick anything we wanted to learn and we needed to document our progress. We could pick anything we wanted, anything! The possibilities are endless, except, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to learn. We are so very rarely asked this question in an educational context. Looking back at the last decade or so of my life, I don’t know if I’ve learned anything that wasn’t out of necessity for my job, school, being a homeowner, or becoming a parent. I know that when I’ve tried something similar in my classroom, students also have trouble choosing. I think that I would give them lots of advance notice for thinking time, provide examples, and do interest inventories to help them pick something.

When I picked learning to crochet I didn’t really make a plan for how I would do that or what I wanted to accomplish, or at least I didn’t write one down on paper. I wouldn’t let a student get away with that! I would make sure they had a plan and goals to be met so they could track their progress. I found it difficult to do this because I had no idea about anything crochet. How could I make a plan when I didn’t have the first clue. Well, that would be step 1 I guess – research. Once I had done some research I did come up plan and I had an end goal in mind. I was hesitant to write it down though. What if I changed the plan, or worse, what if I didn’t accomplish that end goal I had in mind. Would I feel like a failure, would others view me as a failure. This is a bit ridiculous as plans change and goals need to be re-evaluated as more information is gained. I can see students sharing these same feelings though. It would be important to make sure they understood that things may need to change and as long as they are learning, they are not failures. At the end of this class I wanted to make a scarf. Although I did not accomplish this goal, I do have the skills necessary to do it.

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Photo Credit

As I was learning new stitches (I never knew there were so many!) I found it helpful to use those stitches to make a product. This way I practiced the new stitch and had something to show for it in the end. I would encourage students to do this as well, if it was possible. I found it motivating and had those feelings of accomplishment which made me want to learn more. It also made my learning seem more worthwhile. This is important as there were many times I was super frustrated and wanted to quit. Seeing my previously completed projects helped me work through my frustration and keep going. I was also able to see my progress and that I was improving.

Reading directions about something doesn’t always translate to performing those directions perfectly. I found patterns especially difficult to read and follow even when I understood what everything in the pattern meant. When I thought I’d mastered a stitch I would still make mistakes. I definitely haven’t got to the point where I can mindlessly crochet something. Even with paying close attention and talking myself through every step, I continued to make mistakes.  Making mistakes is part of the learning process! This translates to my teaching in two ways. In teaching math problems I need to remember that just because a student has done a problem once doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve got it down pat. Sometimes I get frustrated when students say they don’t know what to do; I’m thinking, you just follow the same steps we just did. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s going to happen. When this happened to me I needed to go back to the part where I knew I’d done it right and start/try again. I often re-watched YouTubes and worked through it step by step.

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Photo Credit: WellDunn

Learning can be repetitive. Crocheting is a bit repetitive, as is math. It didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, but it was a lot of the same over and over again. You need to learn the basic skills and then build on them.

I found watching videos extremely helpful for learning, but reading written directions and looking at pictures was beneficial at times. It just goes to show we all learn a little bit differently and you may not be able to rely solely on one method. Watching more than one video on the same concept can be a good thing, but it can also be confusing. Different people explain or do things slightly differently. This can a positive. It can fill in gaps and you may find that person that explains it in just the right way for you. I found that sometimes when I would watch another video I would start second guessing myself about the skill or stitch I thought I had, other times it was effective. I different camera angle or set of instructions would solidify my thinking.

A personal learning network is a must for learning new skills especially when you don’t have that ‘expert’ teacher in the room with you. Other people hold a vast amount of knowledge that you can tap into. Even if you do have a teacher, they don’t know everything (I can say this because I am one)! There is much to be learnt from others and many ways of finding that knowledge. The community where we live and online community holds an abundance of knowledge and offers diverse perspectives.

Although learning to crochet had its ups and downs, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. It gave me the opportunity to learn something I had always wanted to do, but thought I never had the time or resources to do. I will definitely try to work an open curriculum, learn anything you want component into my classes.

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Photo Credit:

To feed or not to feed internet trolls – what’s the right plan?

I’ve had the hardest time putting this post into words. So many thoughts floating around from the readings and class and I am  just unsure if I want to share about this topic. I think my uncertainty comes from not being able to understand why an internet troll  would feel the need to degrade and/or berate someone else.  Don’t get me wrong, I also don’t understand how or why someone would do this off the internet as well but it happens. So what should we do about it? Or should we do anything?

I am all for everyone having an opinion and good conversation around differences in an opinion. However, I do feel that such a conversation needs to remain neutral and about the facts. Leave the personal out of it, walk away from the conversation with a mutual respect of each other’s opinions.  This certainly isn’t always easy but it’s a choice when someone decides to get personal and attack someone else. I am sure we’ve all been on both sides of this situation, myself included and have learned a lesson or two from the experience.

The internet provides us with online spaces to join communities and conversations around pretty much any topic we could dream up. We can connect with someone from across the world in a matter of seconds. We can also choose to disconnect from someone that quickly as well. Or can we?

Did you know there is a map online titled Geography of Hate ? This map tracks hateful tweets across the United States. You can decide if you want see where homophobic, racist or tweets about disabilities are made. I was just floored that this was actually a thing. Naive you might say? Yes probably, but why does this even need to exist?


I am torn between two sides of connecting online. On one hand we can gain knowledge, ask questions, build communities of support and create change.

Then there is the other side…

We can choose to join a community perhaps because we want to learn something, are needing support, have something to share or wanting to feel connected but sometimes the opinions one might have or choices made could give members of that community a reason (that they feel is warranted) to turn on you very quickly and you might never be able to stop or walk away. Lives have been changed and some ended because of online trolling. Take for example Amanda Todd . Before this week I knew the name but none of the details. If you haven’t heard her story you need to.

This week I lost track of how many stories around experiences with internet trolls I have read. So many of the stories were filled with language and content that I don’t know I feel comfortable sharing in this space but a quick google search and you’ll be sure to find more than you could imagine. Each time I read of someones experience I 25525022044_7431cb8e5f.jpgcouldn’t help but think about why the troll would want to do such a thing? I wondered about what was so terrible in their own lives that would make them want to hurt and harass others.? Are they running from something or are they simply a dark, mean person?

Photo Credit: marcin baran via Compfight cc

The wide variety or trolls, bullies, racists and misogynists online is endless. It would be easy to say “stop feeding the trolls” and move on but I don’t think that’s going to stop anything. It took me thinking about each side of the situation and trying to gain an understanding of the victim and the troll. In my search to gain a better understanding of online trolling I can across of an account with an online troll written by Lindy West – What happened when I confronted my cruelest troll. In this post she shares about her experience with a troll who decided to get back at her by creating a twitter account for her deceased father. How she handled this was interesting. There are parts to each side that I don’t understand but I don’t think adding to the conversation and fueling it makes anything better. Perhaps by having conversations, trying to understand and sharing with one another we might begin to change the nature of Online Harassment.

Confession:  I had originally titled this post Stop Feeding the Trolls…