Category Archives: blogging

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?

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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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:


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…






Equitable Access for All

“Without net neutrality rules providers are free to discriminate.” – Johannes Steiling

I had heard of the term Net neutrality prior to this weeks class but really had no frame of understanding or idea of how it applied to my use of the internet. From what I have been able to discern this week, the reason so many are fighting for Net neutrality relates to what we see in business around the world, internet related or not. Those with money have control and want to use their money to have even more control. I appreciated Johannes Steiling’s explanation in his TedX talk, shared above. He creates a metaphor between the idea of large automotive companies eventually having the ability to determine who gets prioritized use of highways with that of the conversation around Net neutrality.

I understand that in business numbers drive decisions and this often leads to customers being the last concern. Leading with a strong business mind is why the large companies have the control and reach that they do. My question though is, why should they be able to tell me what I can and can’t see and how fast I can see it on the internet? Through my readings this week it was clear that it isn’t just big business that has the ability to impact who gets to see what on the internet but that we also need to consider the reach of the law.


Photo Credit: Public Knowledge: What is Net Neutrality Again?

After watching John Oliver’s episode about Encryption I couldn’t help but wonder, where does the laws reach end? I don’t know that I agree with law enforcement asking Apple too create a backdoor into their phones that would allow them to solve crimes. However at the same time, I think about if it was me who had been the victim of a crime. If there was a code or backdoor that could help provide the law with the information they need to solve whatever the crime may have been, I feel like I would want them to be able to have access to that. Sure this would help me at the time and undoubtedly my others who actually are living in such a situation but where does that end? What happens when the reach goes too far? Who will be impacted in the end and when does it stop? What happens if the wrong person has been accused and their personal information is accessed through this backdoor?

I feel as though I haven’t provided any answers or solutions in this post because I don’t think that I have them. What I do have is a voice and have started to use it to share how I feel about Net neutrality. In case I wasn’t clear… it’s important!  As Clive Thompson put it: Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter. I certainly hope that I am not falling into the “worst” category but as many in our class have written, having a voice is where we need to start. Perhaps my small voice might one day help to create a positive turn in the push for Net Neutrality.

Rule of Thirds

As much as I am a bit of a perfectionist and like things to be organized in order, I also like odd numbers and sets of three, five and seven when it comes to things like hanging pictures, decorating my house and the volume on my radio/tv. I think this is why I have always been interested in pictures that fall under the idea of the Rule of Thirds in photography. Prior to this project I had never taken time to sit down and learn about the rule but just pieced together parts I have read, seen or heard and tried to apply it to pictures I have taken.

I have continued to view different videos on the Mike Browne’s YouTube channel to help me build my photography knowledge. This week I watched his video around the Rule of Thirds.

Prior to watching this I had always thought about thirds in terms of horizontal thirds and never made the connection between the horizontal and vertical as was mentioned in the video.

Some other Rule of Thirds resources I have checked out:

I am still having some Orange Picture Problems with my camera but with some time off this week I am going to go sit down with my manual and see if I can get that sorted so that I can get back to taking some pictures. In the mean time I will continue feeding my Pinterest addiction and learning new ways to use my camera!

I also started my online course this week so will share about that experience later on in the week!


Orange Picture Problems

I was all set up to sit down with our wonderful school janitor this week, who also works as a photographer, to learn a little bit more about my camera. Since doing some playing around on my camera I have somehow managed to turn all my pictures into a not so beautiful shade of orange. I am really hoping that I haven’t done something to wreck my camera! I have looked through my manual to try and figure out how to get rid of the orange but had no luck. I will let you know how I make out. Cross your fingers for me that I haven’t done something to ruin my camera!

However, life had a different plan for me and I ended up at home sick for several days this week and am working on getting better. Sadly, I missed out on my meeting with him! Lucky for me he is wonderful and I know when I have a chance to chat with him, we will be able to reschedule.

In the mean time I will share a little bit about what I have been up to!

  • I have finished reading my cameras manual. Not too sure I totally understood what I have read but I feel like as I continue to work through my project I will have a bit more background knowledge to keep me going.
  • In the spirit of Open Education Week I have signed up for my first course on Coursera and I am really excited to get started.




Open Education – It’s a Game Changer!

There were three words that came to mind after our discussion this week around open education: connections, sharing and time.

Why these three words you might ask?

Disclaimer: I understand there are sometimes legal and professional implications that might factor in to some of the points I make in the post below.

In my mind, the first two go hand in hand so let’s start there!

Connections and Sharing:

When we open ourselves up to the possibilities that can come from connecting with others the outcomes are endless! What would happen if everyone decided to connect with one new person each day? Taking something positive from that connection, sharing that with someone tomorrow and continuing on from there. We would all learn something new everyday and so would the person we are sharing that with. It doesn’t matter how or when we connect but that we do it. Each piece of knowledge that we share comes from someone or something else.  There is always something to be learned  and it doesn’t matter where that learning comes from.

Photo Credit: Top Images via Compfight cc

I like to think that I have started to make connections in positive ways and am building myself a PLN that will allow me to continue to grow and think deeper about education. I remember about a couple years ago lurking through my twitter feed and seeing something about a MOOC and having not a clue what it was! I continued to lurk for the next few weeks and slowly pieced together what it was. I have yet to participate in a MOOC but absolutely have it on my list of things to do. How can I go wrong, connecting with others who are interested in something similar, making connections and growing together?

I felt frustrated after watching Laws The Choke Creativity – Larry Lessig  and then again after reading Boycott Locked Down Academic Journals- Danah Boyd. Insert disclaimer here! However, I am going to continue on with my thoughts! Why are we as a society, so scared of letting other people have access to what we are great at? Why are we so nervous to share openly the pieces and works that we have created? I certainly get that there are many factors at play but sharing makes us better! I think perhaps the larger problem lies in that we don’t build each other up enough.

I think perhaps it’s important to point out that I do believe there needs to be some guidelines around sharing. People work hard and create some pretty magnificent things. Should an artist, singer, actor, photographer, writer, etc. do the work that they do and then have anyone be able to share it claiming it as their own? No and I think that’s why Copyright and Creative Commons are important. I’ll be honest, there are times when I don’t completely understand the difference between the two but after this week and thanks to the What’s the Difference Between Copyright and Creative Commons? to be helpful as I tried to understand the difference between the two. In this piece the writer shares that:

“Creative Commons is actually a license that is applied to a work that is protected by copyright. It’s not separate from copyright, but instead is a way of easily sharing copyrighted work.”

Connecting and sharing build growth. This brings me to the third word that stuck with me.


Change takes time and it takes those that are willing to put in that time to teach others about the importance and benefits of whatever it might be they are trying to change. In our case that would be education. We are seeing such a need for growth in our education system through the kids that walk into our classrooms every day. It is going to take time and work to show the benefits of growing and learning being a cohesive process built on connections and sharing. However, that is time well worth spending! As the students and teachers in this video suggest, it’s time to break some rules and change the game!