Category Archives: Summary of Learning

Journey to Home Organization: Learning Summary

In EC&I 831, Social Media and Open Education, we were asked to embark on a major learning project that would entail acquiring new skills. We were encouraged to find online resources, as well as personal and in print, to help us along the way. I had thought of many different skills I could learn including sewing, yoga, and meditation. However, there was another important skill that I needed to develop and hone. I needed to organize my home with the view to living a more purposeful and mindful life in a very materialistic culture. My reading on the subject of disorganization and overabundance of stuff confirmed my suspicion that it can affect decision making, increase stress, and negatively impact the environment.

As I explain in my first post, I set out to create sustainable organizational systems and processes to create an efficient and healthy household while involving my toddler and preschooler and doing so with the least environmental impact.

In my second post, I share how overwhelmed I was with the plethora of resources online, and in print, to help a person become more organized. After some study, I was able to take away what I found to be most helpful in my journey. Including the questions to help decide what to keep, toss, donate, or sell.

Here are my top five takeaways I have learned throughout my journey:

Takeaway #1: Get connected!

My success this semester in getting more organized was connecting with like-minded Youtubers to keep me motivated and accountable. I loved Cassandra from Clutterbug and Kathryn from Do it on a Dime. What was especially helpful was Clutterbug’s Facebook page specifically for her followers to swap advice by posting photos of their own hot messes or reorganized spaces. This group was closed, which means posts are not shared on a member’s main social media feed. I appreciated this separation.

Takeaway #2: Declutter

I quickly learned that before you can become organized, you must let go of the things in your home that no longer serve a purpose. Items that no longer serve you will only take up valuable real estate. I followed Clutterbug’s 30-day declutter challenge on her Facebook page in October as described in my third post. It was only 15 minutes per day in various areas of my home. The best part of following along was posting photos of my progress. Also, I was able to get some great tips on how I could upcycle or repurpose some of my items. When decluttering a space, I found categorizing the items into bins labeled keep, donate, toss, sell and relocate. It is amazing how many items you will find in your bedroom closet that belong in the kitchen. Especially if you have kids who like to wander off with things.

At this point, I also started working on my do it yourself (DIY) skills by installing a garbage can under my kitchen sink. Youtube was helpful in navigating the features of my cordless drill. The old school illustrated instructions that came with the garbage can were very helpful in this DIY project. Although the instructions said it would only take 15 minutes, I believe it took me over an hour!

Takeaway #3: Recruit household members in organizing efforts

When I was organizing my clothes closet I didn’t expect my husband to tackle his clothes as well, but he was bitten by the decluttering bug. He was even motivated to reorganize his office space!

My little ones were excited when I moved their dishes to a cupboard they can reach and therefore help to set the table or put away when clean. In my fourth post, I learned the value of involving my little ones in helping unload the dishwasher. My son was able to work on his problem-solving and fine motor skills while trying to get the utensils out of the top rack. Recognizing the need to encourage my children to become more self-sufficient I also implemented a system in our front entryway they could use to store their outerwear.

In my fifth post, I take you on a tour of how I organized this space, including hanging a shelf for the first time. The tutorial I viewed on Youtube was helpful – to a point. I learned that context matters. This is also where I discovered that math is an integral part of placing a shelf on a wall correctly.

Takeaway #4: Designate a space for everything

This has been my biggest challenge in getting organized. With four people living in my household there seems to be many things that do not have a designated space – otherwise known as homeless! These items left in the open, or placed haphazardly, can suddenly sprout legs, or with the help of your little ones, even your furbabies, be transported to obscure places.

I realized early in my learning journey that items needed a designated space to not only prevent them from walking off but to make sure that they could be found easily. It was in my sixth post I share how disorganized my master bedroom closet had become. It was time to tackle it! In this space, I installed an ironing board hanger, created designated bins, and paired down my wardrobe. I found it overwhelming at first, but I had an opportunity to reflect on our culture of thinness and the impact on a mother’s body image. I also realized it takes courage to be vulnerable and share our imperfect lives on social media, but at the end of the day, this vulnerability leads to a connection with others.

I video documented my learning adventure demonstrating my ability to install the install the ironing board hanger. It wasn’t as easy as I first thought! I also give a video tour of my reorganized closet here.

Tip #5: Labels, Labels, Labels

Since my new mantra is “a place for everything and everything in its place,” I have found the suggestion of Clutterbug to label bins or baskets a key element in getting and staying organized. Before labels, a bin could house anything I wanted….. and anything anyone else wanted as well. This created chaos and the bins just contained random stuff. With a label, it is can only house one thing….. whatever the bin says is in it!

In my eighth post, I share how I reorganized my daughter’s closet. I allocated labeled bins for her clothes, toys, and accessories and placed them on the Rubbermaid FastTrack system I installed. I am becoming more and more comfortable sharing my projects on social media as I demonstrate in the closet video tour here:

With the development of my DIY skills, I am also starting to become more comfortable with the math involved to install shelves. However, I am still not the best at finding studs, which I thought would be the easiest part. Balancing the tools, the vertical standards, and a level is very tricky when doing a DIY project like this alone. Interestingly, putting the brackets in the verticals was also tricky!

These are the top five takeaways that have assisted me in becoming more organized. Decluttering really set me on my path to efficiently organize what was left. The major areas that I tackled this semester were the kitchen, entryway, my and my daughter’s closets. These areas are so easy to keep organized now!

Thoughts Regarding Online Learning Resources

I have come to appreciate the value of learning online even more as a result of this learning project. So many tutorials on Youtube and mommy bloggers were instrumental in my learning journey. However, the topics we spoke about in class helped me to take a critical view of the sources I used. In my seventh post,  I contemplated whether the home organization tips and tricks offered by the mommy bloggers I followed was less valuable if their messages were sponsored by corporations. I concluded that being aware of this possibility was enough to allow me to be a critical consumer of the advice given.

In my fifth post, I also talked about the dark side of sharing on social media. During Clutterbug’s declutter challenge she encouraged us to post on her Facebook page before and after photos of what we accomplished. Unfortunately, not all of her followers were encouraging. In fact, I witnessed the negative effects of trolls.  One post, in particular, was met by a very negative comment. My dismay of this shadow cast on our community was quickly lifted when 300+ positive comments were posted to counteract the negative one.

Although my official major learning project has come to end, my learning journey has not. With my newfound DIY and organizational skills, I am ready to tackle the other closets in my house and start labeling more bins!

Thank you all for your encouraging comments and support! Have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy your break.


Summary of My Arduino Learnings so Far

This semester we were to pick something for our digital learning project. I chose to focus on learning the microcontroller computer language Arduino. The point of this post is to highlight the things I learned, the tools that I used to learn them, and what I plan to do with this going forward.

Beginning:

In the beginning I already knew a little about Arduino because I had already used other microcontrollers. This meant that I already knew what a PIN was and that there were digital and analog pins, also that they can act as inputs or outputs. I also knew about the fundamentals that are common to all languages like conditional statements and different kinds of loops, like do while loops.

What I did not know was the syntax of this language, the specifics of how different components behaved when connected to the board, etc.

The Learning Goal:

The reason that I had chosen this project in the first place, other than the fact that I would get to play with electronics, was that I wanted to help a student learn how to program a robot for a competition in March. In order to do that I needed to know how to use this kind of hardware and software myself. I knew that learning it would be time intensive so by having it count towards my masters class I knew that I would be able to justify the time it would take. So I decided that I would declare my learning a success if I could by the end of the semester control the motors for the robot with some sort of sensor input. I knew that this would likely be challenging as even with the other microcontroller that I was familiar with I had not been able to do this. Also I knew that one of my previous students had found that to be extremely challenging and he was much better at programming than I was.

The Learning Plan:

I started by mapping out for myself the steps that I would need to be able to do if I was going to be able to make this work. In order to have the motor move I needed to be able to do the following:

  1. Send a simple signal to a PIN
  2. Control the signal sent to a PIN with a button.
  3. Control multiple signals with multiple inputs.
  4. Send a signal to the motor.
  5. Send a signal to the motor controller to control the motor.

The Resources I used:

With this in mind I started to experiment. The major resources that I ended up using online were:

  1. The Arduino reference page.
  2. The Arduino forums page.
  3. Youtube
  4. The Tech Valley Project tutorials.
  5. The Sparkfun SIK arduino tutorials.
  6. The Fingertech website. 
  7. Lots of googling of terms.

I will not recount each individual component that I learned to program here, or each unique function that I learned. Those are detailed clearly in my project posts. Instead what I will talk about here that I did not always talk about in my post is the pedagogy of learning on your own, online.

A Thought About Online Pedagogy:

In a traditional classroom you have someone who is an expert or at least knowledgeable helping to guide you. If they are any good at their job they are presenting you with challenges and content that is just above your current capability to make you stretch and grow towards it. If they give you something too difficult you become  discouraged, too easy and you become passive and disengaged. A good teacher will keep you in that sweet spot and will keep increasing the challenges with your ability, until you are doing things that you never thought possible. Online learning does not have that. You need to challenge yourself enough to maintain your own interest, but you need to also pick something that is not impossible or else you will hit a wall and stop. I found this to be the greatest challenge to online learning, the idea of flying without a net. If I hit a wall there was not going to be anyone to help me, or so I thought.

It turns out that there are plenty of people online who are willing and capable of helping. The forums for the Arduino led me to many discussions that answered questions that I had. When I was hitting a wall with the tinyESC controller reaching out by email to the manufacturer turned out to be a good way to also get help. So the key to online learning is to not rely on only yourself. Find a like minded community and join the forums. Ask the questions and also answer questions for other people. In other words contribute to the community. As you do this at times you will get to play the role of teacher and this will help cement your own understanding. At other times you will be the one who receives instruction. Also post about your progress using appropriate hashtags to Twitter, you never know who will answer your questions.

Going Forward:

Well, the project has been a lot of fun. I expect that over the Christmas break that I am likely going to outright build a working prototype to show to my students. I plan on posting that here. I do not expect this category on my blog to die out anytime soon. The Arduino bug has bit me hard and I plan on doing a lot more with this.

Thanks for journeying with me and be sure to stop by in the future.

One last thing:

While typing this up I found an ultrasonic sensor. This is a sensor that allows for you to measure distance using sound. (Kind of like a bat). I quickly hooked it up to the arduino, googled online for a tutorial and within 5 minutes had it up and running. Definitely not something that I would have been able to do at the beginning of the semester. I plan on incorporating this to the robot later. Come back in the next few weeks for a post on how it works. For now here is where I found the tutorial.

Okay, now I am done.


Behind the Scenes of: The Learnings of Chris

So my final project is a playful remix of The Legend of Zelda for NES. It is an unusual approach so I thought that I should unpack why I did it this way and what I was hoping to achieve with each scene. To begin with the idea for the project came to me as a result of wrestling with the realization that I would not have time to explore my learning this semester and still have time to talk about my personal learning project of learning to program the Arduino. I knew that we would have a final post to explain our personal learning project, but I wanted something of it to be in my presentation as well. I played around with ideas of somehow working the Arduino into the project, but try as I might I could not figure out a good way that would not distract from the summary of my learning. So I decided that I would instead use programming in a different way, and that I would use it to animate the story. I also wanted something that was original and uniquely me. That was when I decided that it would be neat to have my learning represented as a quest. I knew that creating an animation with all of the sprites (characters in a game are called sprites) would take way too long so I decided to use an existing game that had already been heavily remixed before and go with it. I also decided that even though I focused on learning Arduino this semester that I would program in Scratch, since it is a platform that I am very familiar with, and that I knew would be capable of this kind of project. So that is where the idea for the Zelda adaptation came from.

Concept Map

The first thing I did even before settling on the approach was to go through notes from each class and to look for themes and commonalities. After I found my major themes I went back and started to look at connections and did a concept map. A website that I discovered this semester for creating concept maps with my science students is sketchboard.io I was able to create the following concept map to help me organize my thoughts.

The green circles are my key ideas that most things connected to and branched out of. I decided then that if I did do my learning as a quest that I would need to find a way to visually represent my learning in each of these 8 main areas. I thought about what I had learned in each of these areas and I wrote my transcript of what I wanted to say. I recorded these using my cell phone and made sure that it came to less than 7 minutes. Then I started to think about how to animate each scene.

Part 1 and 2: The title card and the crawl.

The game of Zelda is a genre game, it follows a defined format and that includes providing the player with a backstory. In modern video games this would be done with a cut scene before the player could take over, but there was not enough memory available to the writers of an NES game to include an animation like that. Instead they did what Star Wars did and many other movies before that, they provided the player with a scrolling text that could fill them in. I decided to do the same. So in this part my goal was to explain a little about what the viewer could expect of the learning summary, and then with the crawl to provide a starting point for the beginning of my learning.

Part 3 and 4: The opening scene and the cave. 

In part 3 you first get to see the game and the little character that represents me. During this part I explain about how my personal learning network (PLN) was analog and not digital and I symbolized this by having it as a life meter up in the corner of the screen. It is full health, but it is not digital and you will see this change to developing and growing a digital PLN as the game goes on. Also you will see that I have a SAMR level indicator at the top that shows that much of my technology in the classroom at this point is substitutionary. As for social media I have Twitter but hardly used it and that was represented with the spiderweb on the logo. Finally my two inventory boxes are shown as empty to begin the course with.

Opening part of the my quest.
My little character being introduced to various social media from Alec Couros.

Then I enter into the cave. Here Dr. Couros tells me that I am going to need to learn about these different social media platforms and that I will need to be doing this a lot. My little character receives a phone to do social media on. I feel that I should point out that I did not receive a free phone in this class. Pizza yes, phone no. Also I was pretty pleased with my little 8-bit version of Alec Couros. So anyway, the point of this scene was to highlight the platforms that we used in the course. The other reason I did it was because the original game starts with Link (not Zelda) receiving his sword from a man in a cave to go on his quest with.

Part 5: The Twitter storm. 

In this part I talk about how Twitter was originally intimidating to me and how Dr. Couros taught us about how to use hashtags and tools like tweetdeck to help make sense of everything. I show this by having my little character fire hashtags out of his phone at the twitter birds that are swarming me. As I do this they quit attacking me. You will also notice in this part that the spiderweb leaves the twitter logo and I also get followers below the twitter logo. This is to show the success that I found as I started to use twitter properly. You will also notice that with the addition of Twitter followers that my digital PLN life meter increases.

My character using hashtags to make sense of Twitter.

Part 6: Digital Citizenship and Social Activism.

In this next part I wanted to show the things that we learned from our guest lecturer Katia Hildebrandt about digital citizenship and social activism. I tried to show a digital world with another version of my character in a blue part of the screen surrounded by scenery made of binary. This I hoped would be the clue that it was the digital version of me. When I first enter the scene it is moving up and down independent of my character. As Katia speaks she tells us to take control of our digital identities, so I do and it starts to mirror my offline movement. I can only do this so much though as the digital me hits the wall and stays behind as I leave the screen. If I had had more time I would have had this character continue to follow me throughout the rest of the game, but I could not figure out a good way of doing that so I settled for it only being on this screen. Some of you might have noticed that the sprite I used for Katia is a modified version of Princess Zelda. The other thing that happens in this scene is that as I take control of my digital identity my social media platforms jump to include Google+, WordPress, and Chrome, I also give my digital PLN a half a heart to show growth.

My character controlling its digital identity.

As I leave this screen to the next I encounter a monster who is shouting at me. In the next three screens my purpose is to show the moral wrestling I have done with the idea of social media activism. I can see the logic behind the idea that your digital self should be representing those things that you believe in and that you should be speaking up about issues. My concern that I am still wrestling with is that so often what wins an argument is not the facts, but the relationship and the facts. You can tell someone they are wrong, but if they do not care about the relationship with you they will just ignore you, and in fact thanks to the backfire effect may even become more polarized to your position. Instead by talking with someone as if you are in a partnership in which you are both desiring to seek truth you are more likely to see a change in belief and behaviour. I am convinced that this happens better in private conversations than public ones. So for myself I think that my kind of social activism is to discuss the issue with the other party in a direct message. This has worked sometimes and not others. I show it working as a I change the mind of the troll.

My character initiating a private conversation with someone I disagree with.

Part 7 and 8 Open Education Resources.

In this scene I wanted to present the concept of open educational resources, OERs. These are not locked away behind some kind of paywall so I show them being open by having my character unlock the room that they are in. Also I want people to remember that it is important to contribute and not just to take. I do this by having my character build a lesson and leave it in the OER  room. Then I leave the screen with a book in my inventory and I head to the next screen. In the cave on that screen is a man who wants to buy the OER off of me. I use this to explain the attribution rules that exist on many OERs.  I end up giving the OER resource to the man in the cave after he agrees to the rules of attribution for the document.

My character is creating a lesson plan to put in the OER repository.
My character explaining that you need to follow the attribution rules.

Part 9 SAMR.

The SAMR principle of how to use technology in the classroom is something that I have fallen in love with. The idea that many people at first only use technology as a substitute for the analog way that they used to use it, until they become more familiar with the technology and then they begin to adapt their approach. But to truly use technology well we need to use technology to modify/change, with the best use of the technology being when it completely redefines how learning takes place in our classes. The analogy that we talked about in class was someone exploring the ocean. Substitution and adaptation are shallow water explorations. Modification and redefinition are deep ocean exploration. I tried to show this by having my character put on scuba gear and head out into the water. When he goes below the water the whole screen goes dark blue and he finds and amazing resource at the bottom of the ocean. I am not completely happy with this scene because I do not know if anyone else will get that visually from it. I hope they do but I could not animate it better in the time that I had. In the end I had to say good enough and include the scene as is. Oh yeah, the SAMR level moves over each level as I go deeper and deeper into the ocean in this scene.

My character is underwater with scuba gear getting a redefined lesson plan.

Part 10 and 11 Fake news, 4 Moves, and Filter bubbles. 

I really like the visual for this metaphor. My character comes onto the screen and sees two ponds with apples floating into each pond. He cannot tell which is good or bad so he uses the four moves and a habit and heads upstream to check out the source. He finds the one stream has an apple tree growing and dropping good fruit into the stream. The other stream has a monster who is reform balls of dung to look good before putting them in the stream. I think the metaphor for how fake news is produced and repackaged works well.

My character discovers that some of the news it sees is literally crap.

Then I head upstream even more and find that there is other good fruit that I am not being exposed to. This represents news that is true that I might not agree with, or that falls outside my areas of interest, etc. My character investigates and sees that there is a dam acting as a barrier, this is a metaphor for the filter bubble that we all live in.

This shows my character discovering that the news it receives is being filtered.

Part 12 LaFOIP and THINK.

The final part that I present before the closing credits is about LAFOIP and the acronym T.H.I.N.K. I show this by having a monster be the legal department demanding that I take care of students properly online. I reassure the troll that I am teaching my students how to evaluate if something is true,helpful or honest, inspiring or illegal, necessary or  kind before posting. I also explain the four key points of LAFOIP. My favourite part of this scene is when my character unlocks a record that he is done with and destroys it by burning it. Deleting things on the computer is not nearly as fun as burning it, oh well.

My character is destroying records it no longer needs.

Credits

In the credits I thank everyone and I need to apologize for something here. I mispelled Katia’s name. I called her Katie. I am really sorry. I went based on memory and should have looked your name up. I plan on fixing it in the next week, so if you ever want to link to it in the future you will see your name spelled correctly, I just do not have time before the class it over to re-edit the two places in the video where the mistake are.

In the credits I thank everyone in the class and I also talk a little about the idea of remixing. I really, really, really enjoyed the Everything is a Remix website. I was engaged by it and inspired by it. I hope that my remix of the Legend of Zelda into the Learnings of Chris, was enjoyable for you.

 

Thanks for stopping by.


SUMMARY OF LEARNING-ECI831

Hello Everyone,
Below is the summary of my journey in ECI831. I gained  lot of knowledge in this course and understood the part that social media can play in education. Thank you Dr.Alec Couros and  my fellow classmates, you made this journey memorable. Hope you enjoy my video.

Thanks for stopping by!


EC&I 831 – Summary of Learning

This video is the final assignment for the course on Social Media and Open Education. Enjoy it!

Since I will be taking one more course with Dr. Couros, stay tuned for the upcoming blog posts in January 2018.

In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter. :)

Happy Holidays!


Filed under: EC&I 831, Learning Project, Weekly Reflections

My Summary of Learning

Here is my finished Summary of Learning Project!  It was a lot more work than anticipated, but I only ran into a couple of hiccups in the process! I used Adobe Spark, and I really liked the simplistic layout and the ease to record. My laptop mic wasn’t working the greatest, which causes a lot of re-records so it was nice to be able to do it over and over again until I was satisfied with the slide! The only thing I didn’t like was that I couldn’t place a lot of imagery on the slides unless I created the images myself. The download speed took awhile but that could have easily been my connection.  Anyways, here it is!
Enjoy my video and I’ll see you all on Tuesday! 🙂


#EC&I 831 Summary of Learning

My Summary of Learning is complete! I used GoAnimate this year and I liked it but I think in terms of sharing it afterward, I prefer Powtoon, which I used for my Summary of Learning for EC&I834 (although that video is a blend of Powtoon and other video editing programs).

Thanks for the great course everyone! I enjoyed learning with and from each of you!