Cooler online, digital identities

As the Brad Paisley song says some of us are much cooler online but is that a good thing.  We were asked to read an article about a young university student, its about her digital identity.  This article really resonated with me for a variety of reasons but first let me tell you about this young lady.

Her name was Madison Halloran, she was 19 years old and a first year university student.  She was also a star athlete.  How do I know this, from the article of course but if you just looked at the pictures in the article you would come up with a similar identity.  You would also think from the pictures she posted that she was like any other 19 year old living away from home, having fun, enjoying life, she had friends and was successful in sports. Her pictures, which were from her instagram account tell this story, it seems to be a happy story.  But it wasn’t.  What this digital identity didn’t tell those who thought they “knew” her was that she was struggling, thinking about switching university and felt so overwhelmed.  So it was a surprise when those who “knew” her through her posts and photos, found out she jumped off a parking garage and killed herself.  Now you are probably thinking that those closest to her, her parents, sisters etc didn’t know how bad it was either.  It would be true, but they did know she was prone to depression, her dad had been encouraging her to find a therapist, was willing to help her change schools, so her real life family knew she was struggling just not how severely.  The article says “everyone presents an edited version of life on social media”

What’s wrong with showing an edited version of life, showing our best side, nothing I suppose.  We all want people to see the best of us, but how or does it affect the people viewing the best of us, seeing us on all the time.  I would argue it does and even the article says that we consume people’s filter lives while living ours unedited.  It is so true.

Now let me share why this article resonated with me so much, I am not 19, I am not an athlete I have nothing in common with this young girl.  I do though relate very much to consuming people’s filtered lives and comparing my messy, unedited life to them.

I used to homeschool my children and it is a daunting task.  I read blogs from other homeschooling moms for tips and tricks on how to get everything done, cook meals, cover all the subjects, do cool school projects, keep my house clean, the whole deal.  I would read these blogs, do what they told me worked, and try and try and I was still a hot struggling mess.  I kept reading the blogs and kept trying, wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn’t get it together and keep it together, like the mom who was baking fresh bread, homeschooling 6,8 or 10 children and had an immaculate house.  It took me a long time in my late 20’s to realize that this wasn’t the whole truth. Those digital identities left me feeling inadequate and constantly focused on my shortcomings and I failed to see my successes.  Those digital identities, digital lives that are meant to be encouraging often have the opposite effect.  After reading this article, I wonder how many other young girls who were struggling and followed Madison, were made to feel worse because she looked like she had it altogether.

I think one of the most important things we can do to be good online role models for our students and young people is to let them see the messy side of our lives sometimes.  I don’t mean that we need to air our dirty laundry.  Balanced posting about stellar days when everything goes right and also sharing about the days where nothing seems to working according to plan will teach others that we all live messy lives and its ok.  Try to keep our digital identities real.

Frustrations and Realizations!

I am going to put this out there, I am not having fun with this learning project right now.  First off, I am perfectionist, so when I don’t understand or get things right the first time that ups the frustration level right there.  When the instructional material, is not very user friendly that sends me over the edge.  I am there with both things right now.

Now that is off my chest, I chose to go the blog route first for instructions.  I tend to learn best by reading about something and then doing it.  In the blog I got the pattern from there was no mention of having to cut out the white stripes and laces on the football as separate pieces.  I didn’t realize that until I had cut out my football and looked at it.  The laces and stripes are quite small and will be difficult to add a seam allowance and time consuming to sew. There were also no additional instructions on the site on how to prep the pieces.  So I did another search and found a couple of more blogs.

I chose this one because I did a quick scan of the blog and it appeared she was very well versed in applique by photos of her work.  I followed the instructions on making my template from freezer paper and that went well. However I should have read thoroughly all the way through.  She didn’t tell me how to measure the seam allowance, you just kind of had to eyeball it.  I don’t eyeball anything ever, for a very good reason, it never works.  I have no sense of measurement that is what rulers are for. Needless to say it was a disaster.

Here is a short video of my eyeballing and realizations.

Time to rethink and reboot.  Until next time.

Old culture meets the new culture.

In our May 25th ECMP 355 class we had a guest speaker, Alec Couros.  Alec spoke about our children and tech.  He brought up some great points that we as teachers need to think about, such as do we allow smartphones in class, how young is too young for tech, do we allow tech to be the teacher or should it just be another tool we use.  This techy new culture is sometimes very difficult for an old tech person like me to wrap my mind around.

I come from an era when film and filmstrip projectors, overheads and chalkboards were still the tools of choice in schools.  There was never any issue of whether phones would

Image result for filmstrip projector imageSource

Image result for filmstrip projector imagesource





be used in class, they were attached to the wall at home or in the school office.  Participation in school was raising your hand if you knew the answer or desperately trying to either hide behind a book or look like you knew enough so the teacher wouldn’t call on you if you didn’t.  Connected to your friends you either called them from your phone that everyone in the house used or you walked to their house and rang the door bell.  You hung out face to face.  In some ways I think that was better.  However tech is changing the world.  Tech has its good, bad and ugly sides especially for our teens .

The good part of tech is that it allows us to access so much more information on all levels.  We can share things to Youtube and maybe get our 15 minutes of fame if that is what we want or simply share our lives with family and friends.  In some cases people get their big break, as did the creators of the wacky wacky song or whatever its called.  We can be connected and participate in each others lives more than ever before but…

Are we losing our connection to the people in front of us because we are so caught up in checking to see what our hundreds or even thousands of friends think about what we said or posted online. I came across this article about Instagram likes and why they don’t matter, it is very interesting. We see many pictures of groups of people out together supposedly having a good time but they are all on their phone, interacting with someone else.  What does that say to the people you are with.  There seems to be an increase in mental health issues as this nurse shares, among young people, and it makes me wonder is it connected to the positive or negative feedback they get from their thousands of” friends”. Or is it through technology we have more awareness or is it a combination.  I personally think there is a connection.  Teens mostly but even adults want approval from their peers and if they don’t get it its hard. It makes it even harder when you think you have all these friends and you don’t get the approval level you think you should.  The school peer groups had power to make someone’s day or make their life miserable but it was usually left at school.  The good and bad now go on incessantly.  This form of peer pressure and bullying comes with bigger consequences.

As teacher’s how to we manage this culture of participation, when we want everyone to see and approve of what we are doing.  I think we need to create awareness of the consequences of what we post on line and create understanding of how once its online it maybe there forever.  We can also create positive and safe spaces to connect with and participate online.  Most of all we need to teach our students that online empathy and standing up for the bullied has the same effects as it does in real life.



The Journey is complete

Hi everyone here is my learning summary for ECMP 355 Spring 2017.  There is one point when I was speaking about Amanda Todd and I said years to come.  I meant to say in years past.  It was the only glaring error to me and after the videoscribe disaster and about 6 recordings of the screencastify video I decided it wasn’t a big enough issue to record again.  I hope you understand. Thanks for a great semester.

Coding, so fun.

(for June 15 class)

During class we were introduced to coding.  I always thought coding was boring, a whole bunch of written script that I didn’t understand, nor did I need or want to.  Coding was some other persons job to make sure everything worked just right so non-techies like me could just open the page and do what we needed or wanted to do.  Well I learned a whole other side to coding today.  There is a super fun way to do it.  I chose to play around on.  It has a section called an hour of code and that is where I focused my attention.

In this section it had a variety of settings you could make codes for.  This would be very appealing to young children as it had popular games and movie characters to choose from.  There was also a classic maze, which I choose, or an artist tab as well.  The idea is to code to make the characters move to a certain point or do accomplish a certain task.  The coding starts out really simple with 2 or 3 moves to code and gradually works up.  I got to 9 moves before I stopped and I wasn’t half way through.

I also discovered on this site that they have activities that are for as young as for up to adult.  There is more too it than the just code for an hour portion.  They have lab sections as well.  I know the code for an hour portion is free but I am not sure if there are fees for the other sections.  I do know that I had a lot of fun with this. I will be introducing it to my boys for some constructive screen time over summer holidays, when the weather isn’t cooperating for them being outside.

Here is my  screencast.  I am so sorry about the length of the video.  I didn’t realize screencastify let you go for a whole ten minutes.  I guess I should read the directions first.

Kaytlyn Placatka thanks for the directions on how to include the video without youtube.







Super cyber sleuth

My mission was to cyber spy on (with her permission of course)Lila Gaertner.  The best place to begin any web search is Google so that is where I started.  When I googled Lila’s name her Facebook profile was the first thing that popped up, followed by other social media accounts.  On the first page of the Google search it was all about Lila and her various social media accounts.    The images row on the Google search page had three pictures of Lila and then some pictures of her crochet projects.

I first checked out Lila’s Facebook page and discovered that she does not post very often there.  Her last post was on March 10 about Valentine’s day.  I also found from Facebook that she likes Boston pizza and that is where her and her partner Tyler went for supper on Valentine’s day. I also discovered she is from Tisdale and studied at CLBI in Biblical studies. She has a decent friend list on Facebook.

Her next links are for Twitter and Pinterest.  On Twitter I discovered Lila, is a new user, likely signed up just for this class, much like I did.  I also noticed she is a 4th year Middle Years student, almost done yay! She has a link to her blog as well.  Her birthday is in February.  On Pinterest I discovered some of her interests, crochet(probably has to do with her learning project), she is a fan of Dr. Who, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Lila also has boards for writing and math resources, crafts and quotes.  She has many other interests too.

As I continued down the google search I found that she was on Google +, a video she created for one of her ECS classes, Instagram and her blog were also on the first page and she is a Student Peer Chaplain at Luther College.  As I browsed around there was nothing I came across that would send red flags for future employment as a teacher. I think Lila a very positive online identity.


Apps not appies

I would much rather write a post about appies and where the best one’s are in the city(Birmingham’s) than about computer apps.  However, since this is a class about technology computers apps will have to do.

I recently posted a video into my learning project category and if you have checked it out there is no audio in the video.  I am not sure what happened after I tested everything to make sure audio and video were working but the audio doesn’t come through.  I saw the YouTube video editor tool in the list and decided to try it.  The main reason I decided to try it was to see if I could fix the audio from my learning project post, that has no audio in the video.  I had no luck with being able to find out the audio issue or fix it but I did discover some neat things.

Since I spent most of my time trying to fix the audio to my video I didn’t have time to make a new video to showcase what the video editor can do.  YouTube video editor is very simple to use which I like very much. You choose a video you want to edit and click on the icons to what you want to do.  Each icon brings up a menu and you simply drag and drop.  You can add transitions into your video, photos, music, you can even add prerecorded scenes that are in a menu.  You can adjust the audio and even had word banners.  I liked the word banner idea and want to play with it more the little bit of experimenting I did had the same words across the bottom for the entire video.  I want to see if you can add other words to each frame.

This tool is simple enough that it would be a tool that most kids could easily work with and make more interesting presentations without, too much hassle or photo/video editing background.  I think this tool could take oral presentations a step up.  As a person who struggles with new programs, this one was struggle free.



Tweet, chat, hashtags, oh dear!

I have to admit my foray into Twitter has my feathers in a bit of a flap. I signed up with great reluctance and hesitation but what’s one to do when they want a good grade in ECMP 355, they jump in.  So jump in I did.  At first I found it frustrating and time consuming the two things that drive me buggy when I have limited time to get stuff done.  As I played around with it a little bit, and started to discover how to use the site, it got a little better.  I also had an aha moment, when I realized that the frustration is something I experience with all new to me technology. I am not a patient person, and I tend to expect to know stuff the first time, none of this learning curve for me.  Reality is that I don’t know this stuff and it takes time to learn.  I also realized that I tend to feel this way more when it involves interacting with others, such as in social media.  I felt this way when I first entered the world of Facebook (FB)  as well. I got it over it then and I am starting to unruffle my feathers now with Twitter.

One of the struggles I have with Twitter is the free following of people and that people are free to follow you with out asking first.  I tend to like to share my boys antics and photos on Facebook and I realized very quickly with the different way of connecting on Twitter that I would not be sharing such things there.  I know there is no guarantee of total privacy on FB either but when I put it out there I do know where those posts are going originally and I can set my privacy settings for photos.  I may find that Twitter has some of those same controls, through getting more familiar with Twitter or my classmates who read this may choose to enlighten me.

Hashtags are still somewhat fuzzy to me.  When I search with them, I don’t always seem to find what I am looking for, that is definitely an user problem, not a Twitter problem.  Another thing that makes it fuzzy is that they are used on other sites such as FB, and I am not sure how that links to Twitter or if it does.

The #saskedchat was really good, I enjoy live chats.  Before social media, chats were a great way to connect to others in real time, and I always enjoyed the ones I was involved in.  I felt a bit overwhelmed and a bit pressured to jump in and comment as it was part of our class time.  When I join something new like that, I like to introduce myself and then sit back for a session or two and observe.  I like to get the feel of the people before I jump in because I didn’t really have that chance I felt like I was floundering a bit. I look forward to connecting to more of the #saskedchats in the future. I think it will be a wonderful resource as both a student-teacher and once I am a teacher.

Much to my dismay, I think I will really like Twitter.  The biggest downside I see to Twitter, is the same one I have with FB, they both can be giant time wasters, especially when you just don’t want to write that paper or read that text or vacuum.  I can also see the value in keeping Twitter my professional space and FB private.  Twitter is here to stay.

Feedly my new tech best friend

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I have to say that once I got a chance to play around and explore Feedly a little bit, I really enjoyed what I found.  I mentioned in my introduction post that I enjoy reading blogs, what I didn’t mention is that I have very few blogs I read.  I just don’t have the time to look for  blogs that have relevant content to what I want, so I just don’t bother.

Feedly to the rescue, I like that it is so simple to search for content based on my interests.  I was able to follow in a matter of minutes close to 200 blogs and categorize them into groups so that they are easier to find rather than scrolling through a large list in my bookmarks that are uncategorized.  I have bookmarked it and I see feedly being a go to resource for my student career, my future teaching career and just for finding fun stuff to read.

My approach to  following content on Feedly was pretty simple, it had to be in the top 20 or so, it had to have at least one post a week, more was better and I looked at the followers too.  I also read the titles of the articles that were with the description and that helped me decide as well. The only criteria that was an automatic follow was if it was Canadian content. The only category this didn’t work for was my quilting category and I was not surprised.  Quilters tend to be an older demographic and many aren’t much into technology and posting about their quilts.  I did find some and am hoping they will be a resource for my learning project, we will see. I am sure as I go through the many sites I followed I will unfollow a few but I find its easier to bookmark at will and weed out later.

Now in my not so scientific way of choosing who to follow I found two gems. Larry Ferlazzo blog was the first one that I explored.  What attracted me was the article title in the description on Feedly.  The most recent article on his site was about ESL/EAL learners.  That topic piqued my interest as it is something I am also studying this semester in ELNG 200.  I am hoping that it will be a good resource for that class.  I found myself stopping to read several blog posts on his site.  I had to tear myself away so I could get other stuff done.  I think this one will be a keeper.

My second gem is the Cool Cat Teacher Blog again the title in the description is what caught my eye and enticed me in.  The article was about dyslexia and other special needs.  As a future teacher and a volunteer in the schools, I see that is something that I will need to stay on top of.  I am also drawn to dyslexia information because my oldest daughter is dyslexic.  The big draw for me when I entered the site was that the author Vicky Davis does podcasts, while I prefer to read information, that’s how I learn best, I do like having the option to download and listen to podcasts while I am driving or doing mindless household chores.  The blog and podcasts are what she titled “The Ten Minute Teacher Show”, she speaks to variety of different teachers on topics like dyslexia and special needs, to classroom management and organization.  I think this will be very useful and practical for classroom ideas.

I also found many other education goodies that I just haven’t had a chance to explore yet.  Feedly is a great resource to have for professional and personal development. End Feedly advertisment.