Here’s to another great semester!

Once again this semester was full of meaningful information and great discussions. I love that the information we discuss is so relevant and meaningful to our lives both in and outside of school. I had a lot of trouble trying to summarize my learning into the 5-7 minute suggested timeframe. Last semester I did a powerpoint with a voiceover and it was extremely boring…and LONG! I wanted to make sure that I tried to get my points across this year without dragging things out into a 10+ minute presentation. I managed to summarize some of the highlights of my learning into just over five minutes. I say some of my learning because I really feel it’s almost impossible to sum up everything that I took away from this class.

I used videoscribe to create my video and it was a lot of fun! I used a free trial that is good for seven days but I wish there was a free version you could use permanently. I broke my learning down into four major categories that I thought summarized some of the topics we discussed this semester. I’ll provide a very brief summary below so that you can get an idea of what my video entails.

  1. Open Education – What is it? Who does it help? How can we be advocates for it?
  2. Connecting Online – How do we connect online? Social media use and blogging.
  3. Online Identity, Reputation and Privacy – The negative side of technology. How to protect ourselves online.
  4. Online Activism – Some say it’s taking the easy way out and isn’t very effective but they could be wrong.

It was difficult to try and pick what I wanted to talk about and I tried my best to summarize some of the key points. I should probably mention that I really gained a lot from Twitter this semester. I was able to actually make meaningful connections. I grew my followers by almost 100 people and participated in a few chats which were really awesome. I plan to continue checking in with the chats, especially #saskedchat on Thursday nights. I was also able to make good use of Hootsuite which is something I never got into last semester a lot.  I also had a lot more action on my blog this semester which made both Twitter and blogging a lot more purposeful and of course that much better!

I hope you enjoy my summary of learning and hope it does my learning justice! Thanks for all the great discussions, posts, tweets and comments this semester. Looking forward to working with some of you in future classes!

Be A Slacktivist. It’s Better Than Nothing.

Slacktivsm. Up until this past week I had never heard the term before. I was aware of the online support through shares, likes and comments but didn’t know that those types of activities fall under the term slacktivism. Abby Rosmarin describes slacktivism as just that – “when people do something online in support of a certain cause or event, such as sign a petition or share a news article, that requires little time and/or thought.”

Slacktivism Charlie Brown | Flickr User Elijah van der Giessen | Flickr Creative Commons

Slacktivism Charlie Brown | Flickr User Elijah van der Giessen | Flickr Creative Commons

As with anything there are two views with slacktivism. There are those that believe slacktivism doesn’t work (like Scott Gilmore) and those who believe that any activism even online activism is better than no activism.  I tend to agree with the latter.

Gilmore argues that simply liking a status, sharing an article, wearing a pin or clothes to support a cause does nothing to actually help the cause. He states that if you want to make a difference you either need to pay money by donating or volunteer your time. I feel the same way as my fellow classmate, Adam, does with regards to this. I think that you can show your support in many ways different ways including donating, volunteering, sharing and liking things online as well as wearing pins or a certain colour shirt. I don’t think you HAVE to volunteer your time or donate to all causes. In fact, it’s almost impossible to donate or volunteer your time to every cause that’s out there right now (trust me…there’s a lot). It’s great that there are so many causes but we have to pick and choose how and where we spend our time and money.

Just yesterday I was shopping and at three different stores I was asked to make a donation to a cause/foundation. I donated to the first one and not the last two. Were they all causes I would support? Absolutely. Each one was in support of children. Children with disabilities, reading programs and illnesses. Should I have supported each one? I suppose I could have, but financially I am just not able to donate to everything I am asked to. In our house we pick a few charities and foundations each year to support based on what we feel is important to us. One year it might be to support mental illness, another year it might be to support the heart and stroke foundation. We simply cannot afford to make donations time and time again.

So what do we do? Well…we wear coloured shirts, we re-tweet to help raise money for causes when companies will pay for each retweet or hashtag used, we like statuses and share posts. Does this mean we aren’t doing our part? No it doesn’t. We go further than just Facebook likes by talking with family and friends about the issues that matter to us. Sometimes we buy products that donate money to a cause because every once in a while it’s nice to treat yourself and have something to show your support too.

Photo Credit: FiorellaG8 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: FiorellaG8 via Compfight cc

Going back to the other half of Gilmore’s argument in regards to volunteering, I can’t say I agree with that either. Not everyone has time on their hands that they can volunteer or go on a missions trip. Some of us have jobs, families and other responsibilities that make it extremely difficult to volunteer (especially for a cause like the Nigerian school girls). For some of us we can’t simply get up and leave to go fight for these girls or work as an aid. So we choose to use the hashtag for the cause #BringBackOurGirls so that we can do our part by simply raising awareness so that those who can help more might be reached. We use the hashtag to show that we support the cause.

I do think it is important to volunteer and donate when we can. It’s not enough to simply like, share and re-tweet things online. We have to go beyond our screens and talk about it in real life. We need to continue to support where we can and reach out to support those people we cannot help in person because we are too far away. We need to work with each other to create a voice that fights for justice, peace and equality.

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

 

Harassment. The New Norm?!

The topic this week was a little bit frustrating and really seemed to get to me. Why did I feel this way? Most likely because I am a woman. I have to admit that am not a big feminist. Maybe it’s because I have never felt that my gender has prevented me from doing anything and I have never felt like I have been treated differently because of my gender. I grew up playing hockey with the boys. Up until physical barriers like size, weight and muscular build became a problem I was able to compete with the boys. I was never told I wasn’t good enough or couldn’t play with the boys. I made the choice to stop playing with them when it was clear to me that my size would be a factor (which I think is understandable). I have always felt that I am equal to men/boys even though research shows that I am actually wrong as Amy discussed. Perhaps I have been blind to it or just avoid thinking about it but it has never been a big issue for me. And maybe it should be.

After completing the readings and videos for this week I felt extremely angry. Research finds that 76% of women my age have experienced online harassment. You may find it hard to believe, but I am in the few percent that hasn’t experienced online harassment in any way. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a large public presence online. I have only recently started blogging and using Twitter which have created a more public presence for me. Or maybe it’s because I don’t tend to write blogs that are controversial or Tweet things that may be considered controversial. Why don’t I post anything that might be controversial? Maybe it’s to avoid all the trolls and negative reactions I might get. Maybe it’s because when people do post about social justice or other issues that they can be at the receiving end of some extremely rude comments.  That’s not to say that it happens to everyone who posts something that others disagree with. It is highly likely that if you are a male posting something that may be considered controversial that you won’t receive the same remarks that a female would if she posted the same article (which was the exact case with Katia and her troll army).

My concern here is that women are being treated differently online on top of being treated differently offline. Women are being harassed in comments, on Twitter and through revenge porn. The majority of people experiencing revenge porn are women. Why is that? Maybe it’s because there are more photos being taken of women, but that doesn’t make this okay. I am sure there are plenty of women who have photos of men that they could share but choose not to. My guess is that if a woman shared pictures that it would somehow be turned around on her and she would become the victim of some sort of slut shaming.  John Oliver discusses revenge porn and other harassment that women have experienced online and it is scary to hear (although he gets his message across through comedy). What’s even more scary is that online spaces have become a new place for people to harass others. It is so much easier to harass someone online compared to in person. You can hide your identity with a made up name and say whatever you want basically. It shouldn’t be okay for people to harass someone online. But the worst part of all of this is that there isn’t a lot of action taken to stop harassment or have a harasser charged criminally. This is something cannot be ignored. Fortunately as many as 26 states have been working on changing laws regarding online harassment including revenge porn.  Just last week an NHL prospect for the Chicago Blackhawks was suspended by the organization over revenge porn. 

As stated earlier, we know that online spaces aren’t the only places where women fall victim. A real estate agent in the city posted a story to her Facebook page explaining how often she is the victim of harassment. Her picture and phone number are posted on advertisements throughout the city so her name and number are very visible. She has had sexual phone calls, text messages and photos sent to her but the worst of it was when she decided to answer a FaceTime call from an unknown number thinking it was a potential client. What she saw when she answered was a man masturbating. She couldn’t see his face, only his mid section. She reported it to the police and I believe they were investigating. She expressed that there have been times she has felt very unsafe. NO KIDDING! I wonder how many other realtors experience this. My guess would be that more females than males would experience this.

Have you ever been the victim of harassment? Like I said I fortunately haven’t yet and hope that I don’t ever become a victim. I don’t know what I would do if I were to become a victim. If it was just rude or negative comments I would just try to brush them off. If they were sexual in nature or threatening in anyway I think I would report it. I tried to look at Canadian Laws in regards to revenge porn and online harassment but wasn’t able to find a whole lot. If anyone has any information about the laws in Canada I would love to read more!

Employability Goes Online

Just as other classmates have done this week, I too Googled myself. Logan discussed a key point that I have always thought about when thinking about doing a Google self search or Egosurfing. When he searched for himself he was able to find some information relevant to him, but when he searched other classmates he was unable to find a lot of information directly related to them. Why is this? I think that it depends on the uniqueness of the name being searched. For example, if I search myself under my maiden name Ashley Dejaegher, I find a lot of information about my hockey life. There is some information from my undergrad work but most is related to hockey (a small portion of my life). If I search myself using my current name, Ashley Murray, I have a hard time finding a lot about myself. There are some links to work I had completed last semester in EC&I 832, but not a whole lot more. There is a however lot of information about other Ashley Murrays.

It’s pretty obvious that Ashley is a very common name but I wasn’t sure just how popular it was so I decided to see if I could find out. I found a site based on the population of the United States and there are 510,770 people in the US alone with the name Ashley and it’s the 114th most popular name. I also search the last name Murray and there are 213,130 people with that last name so chances are there are quite a few people who share my name. In the United States there are fewer than 120 people with the last name Dejaegher so it is quite uncommon. Chances are if you have a more common name you may not find as much information about yourself.

Luke brings up a good point about how we can make ourselves more visible online. If we have a common name, how can we make sure that people can find our twitter pages or our blogs? I found myself wondering the same thing and basically found that it all boils down to the popularity of your blog for example. The more people you have visiting your site or twitter page, the more popular it will come which will bounce it up in Google searches. I also came across how to use a search engine optimization (SEO) to increase the visibility of your blog on search engines by using different techniques while blogging.

Photo Credit: arbyreed via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: arbyreed via Compfight cc

I am among the percent of social media users who changes their privacy settings on my accounts. My Facebook and Instagram pages have high privacy settings. The reason I have my settings this way is because I use Facebook and Instagram to connect and share with people who I have personal relationships with. My friends list on both platforms is quite small in comparison to others. On Facebook I have 201 friends of which probably 50 are family. On Instagram I have 133 followers. This is because I have chosen to keep my friends lists limited. Every so often I go back and delete people who I no longer feel a close connection to. I don’t add people easily either. I have decided to keep it limited because I don’t want everyone and anyone knowing about my personal life. I think that teachers are held to a higher standard so I tried to keep things private just in case anything that might be thought of as inappropriate pops up. But sometimes it would be nice to just be an average person too. 

Just like Vanessa I believe that online identity is only a small portion of our actual identity. Our identities are made up of so many different things and each part is as important as any other part depending on what you are doing. That being said, I don’t believe our online identity should make or break us as a person. Something we need to realize is that what happens online stays online…literally. Luke argues that it should be considered a digital tattoo as opposed to a digital footprint and I would have to agree. In order to prevent our students from an array of negative/inappropriate digital tattoos we need to work with them to create positive online images. We need students to showcase their work and demonstrate their learning so that they can create a reputation for themselves that is positive.  It should come as no surprise that employers use social media to hire people but keeping that in mind I do think that resumes should reflect your online image and vice versa. We have seen instances in the last few days where candidates running for the Saskatchewan NDP have lost their jobs because of posts. I think that in order for the NDP to maintain a positive reputation they had no choice but to eliminate those candidates, but in the case of a person going to a job interview I do think that their online identity can be brought up and questioned before making a final decision. Perhaps it was something that happened years ago when the candidate was young and immature.

I think it’s important to keep an eye out on Google and search yourself every now and then to see what comes up. Maybe you’ll notice more posts showing up in Google as your blog becomes more popular. If you’re worried about how your online reputation can hurt your job hunt check out these tips.

Open the Web to Open Education

Just like Elizabeth I too had no idea who Aaron Swartz was and didn’t hear anything about him in the news when it was happening in 2013. After watching The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz I was actually almost speechless. I couldn’t pinpoint the emotions that I was feeling.

My heart was pounding for the last 15 minutes of the documentary and I didn’t know what was going through my head. It was extremely powerful, eye-opening, heartbreaking and inspiring. It really made me think about what the internet is all about. It made me think twice about who “runs the internet”, “control’s the internet” and “own’s information on the internet’. I think that the freedom Aaron was fighting for is the freedom we need in order to move forward. If information is being censored or kept private without public access, we don’t know who is missing out on that information. Jack Andraka is a perfect example of the reason why information should be free for the public to access. Why should information be used to make powerful people, companies or government more powerful? Who gets to decide who can access material? Is it fair that you should have to pay for information that could easily be accessed on the internet if set up that way?

Danah Boyd took a stand and decided to boycott journals that were locked-down and encouraged others to do the same. She suggest several ideas to increase the availability of scholarly journals and articles. As a current student I think this is fantastic and fully support her ideas. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to complete a research paper and have limited access to articles that would fit into your paper perfectly if you didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for them. Why can’t we share information more openly?

The Open Education Movement is gaining ground. Open education allows for students to learn what they want from resources that are updated by teachers, students, professors and other professionals that can be changed at anytime. Students no longer need to rely on a textbook and a teacher to learn “facts” and regurgitate information back to the teacher. With open education and open resources learning doesn’t boil down to fianancial issues either. Students can keep up to date with the most current information rather than read from an outdated textbook. With information and technology changing so quickly it is so easy for information to be outdated. With open education resources it is easy for information to be updated and kept current.

Like Carla I am also interested in finding some Open Education resources for the high school level. I have used Teachers Pay Teachers before but it isn’t free and it isn’t creative commons. I came across OER Commons which is an open education resource site that allows you to search by subject for resources. I didn’t explore it in depth but it looks like it will be a great resource to come back to. You can add your own content to share on the site and you can join groups that have other members in them. Best part is that it appears to be free! I have often thought about contributing to TPT because I have used some material from the site and thought why not give back. But I don’t really like the idea of people paying to use my information. Before this class I really didn’t like the idea of people using my lessons or information at all to be completely honest. How selfish of me right?! I don’t know why I have always held back when it comes to sharing. But I think what holds me back are people who won’t share back. I will share with you if you are willing to do the same for me. With creative commons we can all share and remix as well which creates bigger and better lessons. I think that I will start looking at ways to make my lessons free and open for people to use and make changes to suit their needs. Before I can do that I need to figure out where my school board stands with me sharing me lessons. In a staff meeting last year TPT was brought up and our admin told us that we are unable to put lesson plans up because our plans are considered to be property of our division. I never thought much about it until now, but that doesn’t make any sense. How is the division able to take credit for the work I have done? Maybe the person who passed on the message was misinformed. Does anyone know anything about sharing your own lesson plans on TPT or any other site and copyright issues with divisions or maybe even the STF? I may have heard the conversation wrong, but I remember thinking it sounded odd.

I have found that in a lot of my searches I am coming across university level resources or American standards based resources. It would be nice to find some Canadian resources as well. The Open Educational Resources: Resource Roundup includes a list of different open ed resources for different subject areas but most seem to be American based again. If you have any Canadian resources I would love to hear what you have found. I am mostly interested in high school math but would also check out any accounting, finance or computer based resources.

As for the open access/education movement do you think we are headed in the right direction? Where do we need to go from here? How will we get there?

My Detox from Technology

I have a lot of catching up to do for class. I wasn’t able to make it back to the hotel in time for class on Tuesday and I haven’t been reading blogs, checking Twitter or practicing my language and here’s why.

This past week I was on vacation with my family in Disney World. It was an extremely busy week filled with rides, characters, swimming, walking, and eating. If you have ever been to Disney World you know just how crazy it can be and if you have been with a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old you’ll know that travelling with kids is even more crazy. Our days went something like this:

6:00am wake up, leave the room by 7:00 to eat breakfast and be gone from the hotel by 8:00 to head to the parks.

9:00am walk through the park gates. Ride ride ride and walk walk walk stopping to eat and go to the bathroom when needed. Spend the whole day at the parks with kids napping in strollers and head back to the hotel upon park closing.

Somewhere between 8:30-10:30 arrive back at the hotel. Get kids ready for bed (if not already sleeping on the way home), lay out clothes for the morning, pack up the backpack (diapers, bottles, snacks, food) and get to bed to do it all over again the next day.

Repeat this process for 4 days! Yes it sounds crazy and I’m sure some of you probably think we are crazy for taking our kids who are that young to Disney World, but we love to travel to Disney. I could explain all the reasons why but that would require a whole other blog so I’ll save that for a rainy day.

Now to get back to the real purpose of this blog…my technology detox.

Because the week was so busy I had limited time to spend on my phone. I’m not so sure I can call it a detox because I did have my phone with me and I did go on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and take pictures while I was away. But I certainly did not use my phone to the extent that I do when I am at home. I would say that I probably decreased my usage by a good 95% while I was away. When I am at home, my phone is ALWAYS within reach. I sleep with my phone charging on my night stand and it’s the last thing I do before going to bed. I check my emails, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat before going to bed. When I close one app, I open another and keep checking back with them all until I am too tired to continue checking. If I don’t fall asleep within 5-10 minutes I am right back on my phone checking something. I have often felt that I may be addicted to my phone. And maybe I am??

I sometimes think it causes me to lose sleep because I am on it some nights well beyond the point where I am tired enough that I should be sleeping. When I wake up in the middle of the night I check what time it is on my phone but will check emails and social media sometimes for 15-20 minutes before I try get back to sleep. I think it’s a habit that I have gotten myself into. I saw a newscast before I left on vacation about FOMO – Fear of Missing Out– and I definitely agree that I suffer from that. I am constantly checking to see what people are doing and what I might be missing out on. It’s like I don’t want to be the last person to know who got engaged or announced their pregnancy. I wasn’t able to find the news clip I saw but while I was trying to find it I came across a quiz that you can take to see where your level of FOMO ranks. I took it and here are my results.

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Screenshot of Quiz Results from http://www.ratemyfomo.com

You can see that I am in the upper end of the curve. My ranking was high which wasn’t a big surprise to me. After the past week with limited cell phone use it made me realize that there really isn’t anything so important that I am missing out on. At the end of a long day I was tempted to sit and scroll through my newsfeed, but there was so much I had missed it was overwhelming and I decided to just head to bed. I had to tell myself that if there was big news I had missed I would hear about it soon enough. I didn’t have a nightstand on my side of the bed so my phone was plugged into the wall across the room. I didn’t fall asleep with it near me and didn’t spend time looking at it before bed. I didn’t spend time on it in the morning when I woke up either because we didn’t have time.

The limited use this past week was actually really refreshing. It was nice to recharge and nice to realize that I will survive without checking my phone every 15-20 minutes to see if I missed anything. I realized I don’t need to update pictures or posts on a daily basis to share what I have been up to because for the most part no one really cares that much about what I am doing anyways. I know that phones are amazing for connecting us and they make things very convenient as well, but they can also be a distraction. I am happy to say that I learned a lot about my technology use and will be making some changes moving forward. My first change is getting an alarm clock so I can charge my phone across the room from me where it won’t be a distraction when I wake up in the middle of the night. I want to continue to limit the amount of times my phone because a distraction and use it with for meaningful interactions or learning. For the most part keeping up and catching up with friends and family can wait. It’s the moments like these that won’t wait.

A family photo with Mickey Mouse

A family photo with Mickey Mouse

How do you feel about the amount of time you spend on your phone? Is it a distraction at times? What do you do to ensure you have a healthy balance between screen time and non-screen time? What were your results from the FOMO quiz?

Italian 101: Social Media and the World Wide Web

I don’t have much to discuss this week as I haven’t tried out any new methods for learning Italian. But I did want to write so I can reflect on the last week and how I did with meeting my goals. Here are my goals from last week.

  1. Practice using Babbel or Mango at least once a day completing a minimum of two lessons per day. This should help me gain some speaking confidence and learn some useful things as well. I want to try stay away from Duolingo for a lot of the reasons that Vanessa discusses.
  2. Look for a Facebook group to join.
  3. Check out the pen pal exchange group I came across on Twitter to see how it works.

I practiced daily with Babbel, but didn’t use Mango because I didn’t have the app on my phone. I finally downloaded it so will use it from time to time from now on. I didn’t do more than one lesson most days and that’s because the lessons took me longer to complete than I had originally thought. I wish I could devote an hour each day to practice, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day so I have to make do with what I can fit in throughout the day. I also managed to work with Duolingo on an almost daily basis even though I said I would avoid it (I just can’t seem to escape it haha!). I think what keeps brining me back to Duolingo is the simplicity and the repetition. When I work with Duolingo my confidence seems to be higher and I feel like I actually know some Italian even though I still just know words.

I did look for a Facebook group to join and joined it but nothing has been posted since February 13th, so it’s not a very active group. I will keep an eye out for posts and see how it goes, if it doesn’t pick up then I will try find another group to join. It seems that there aren’t many groups that would be worthwhile to join but I could be wrong. After searching on Facebook I decided to try and expand my PLN on Twitter and Instagram. Here’s a list of the people I am following on each platform:

Twitter: @MargieMiklas@travelitalian1@ItalyMagazine@italianvocvoc@italian_easy@ItalianLearn@Turismoromaweb@LucreziaOd

Instagram: lucreziaoddone, italianwordoftheday, italian_teacher

I didn’t look into the pen pal exchange group either. I guess it’s because I still don’t feel confident enough to be a pen pal and communicate without the help of my resources. I suppose that any conversation will be better than nothing even if it is with the help of resources. My goal is to have a conversation by March 7th, so that gives me next week to attempt to connect with someone.

I was catching up with the forum/chat I was part of on Dulingo and I found some great websites that can help me learn some Italian. I plan to spend some time on these sites this next week while using instagram and twitter as well. I will continue to use Duolingo, Babbel and Mango when I can. I will be travelling this next week so as long as the kids can stay entertained or sleep on the plane I will have a few hours to practice.

The sites I was introduced to are: The Italian Experiment and Italy Magazine. I also found online radio stations that I can listen to and News in Slow Italian. I’ll try to find some time to work with these as well.

After reading Amy’s blog I thought I would try to list some of the words I know in Italian. The blue is my original spelling and the red is the corrected version. I have a lot of learning to do with word endings…does it end in e, i, o, a?? It all depends on the context so it can be tricky. I have some work to do with the spelling, but hopefully if I do this more often I will get better at it.

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I should also mention that I tried to do a placement test for Duolingo and Mango and didn’t place any differently than I did at the start of the class which is a HUGE disappointment. But I know that I am learning. With some more practice on Mango I should be able to place further than Unit 1 Chapter 1 and as for Duolingo my fluency is up from 9% to 16% so I am making progress.

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