I had never heard of Amanda Todd before this particular class. I also wasn’t familiar with the term sextortion before this class either.  I had heard of sexting but thought it was something that the 20 something crowd did, occasionally older teens but not kids.

I did a google search about why kids sext and I found this article on Psychology Today.  It was eye opening to say the least.  I was completely shocked to find out that kids as young as 11 were doing this, around the same age as Amanda.  I also found it interesting but not shocking the reasons the kids sexted.  The girls said that if you wanted to be a cool girl you had to send the sexts.  That is the problem with digital identities.

These young girls are trying to be the cool girls and they are doing things they are not comfortable with or know is wrong.  The cool digital identity that is looked up to doesn’t show the bad side.  These young kids, girls and boys, only see the positive.  They see all the good comments, the encouragement from the viewers to keep doing it and it equates to feeling accepted which is what most teens want.  What these people don’t see is the real people behind the cool online persona. The heart break, the feelings of shame, of hurt, and what ever other feelings are happening, are hidden, adding to the illusion that this must be ok.  They also don’t see the terror, and the despair when those pictures are used against someone like Amanda Todd.  They see what their peers and everyone wants you to see not the truth.

It has always been the case that women have always been held to high beauty standards and body image in print and on television but the digital world has taken it to a whole new level. We see more and more of the perfect woman(or man), that we are expected to live up to.  The young people see young celebs topless on the beach, posting pictures of themselves topless, and think it can’t be that bad. Oh but it is. With print and television, there was no public venue to make your views known about the model’s body.  When that happened it was in small private conversations among 2 or 3 friends.  Not that it makes it right but my point is the people in those ads were never aware of those comments of someone thousands of miles away.  The digital world has changed that and now we seem to think its ok to comment on someone’s body, or character, even though we don’t know them, simply because we now have a forum for it. Women seem to be the worst for this, tearing each other down, so viciously.  It needs to stop.

To stop it we need to educate ourselves, our youth about false identities online.  We need to educate them about what they see online is not the whole truth, it is a filtered reality that people wanted us to see, its not the messy we live in.  We also need to redefine and reiterate what a friend is, and we don’t need thousands to be popular.  We need make sure they understand there is a living, feeling person on the other side of that screen.

Contributions to learning.

I find this post a little difficult to write because I find it difficult to believe, I contributed to others learning, when I know so little about technology.  It would be much easier to for me to write a post on how much I have learned from my classmate.

I posted my blogs and I hope that my classmates gained something from them to add to their knowledge.  I know reading theirs gave me plenty to think about.  I started out with a goal to leave at least one comment on everyone’s blog this semester, unfortunately that didn’t happen.  I did try to leave comments that would maybe generate a conversation like on Laura’s post Monica and Amanda. I left  tips and tricks on learning project blogs.

I also tried to contribute to the Google+ community, in any way I could.  I tried to make sure that if I didn’t have an answer and the poster didn’t have any other comments, that I left a response to such.  I guess I was prompted to do that because I didn’t want anyone to feel they were ignored, I wanted the poster to know that their post was visible and hoped that it would generate some new attention.

I shared very little tech on twitter but did try to share relevant things to education.  I also tried to share some topics that we specific to Regina and Canada.  I hope that the few contributions I made on Saskedchat and the Digciz chat added something for someone.

I tried to offer words of encouragement, because I know they meant a lot to me when they were offered, when I felt over my head.  I know I got a lot more than I gave.  So I made a short Youtube video of some of my contributions. Thanks for a great class.


Silence, a form of activism?

They say “silence is golden” but is it always.  In certain situations silence is a good thing but when it comes to online social activism it may not be.  Katia Hildebrandt talks about this in her blog post In online spaces, silence speaks as loudly as words.  As always what Katia had to say has given me some food for thought.

I do not consider myself much of a social activist online or in the real world.  When I came across this chart that describes the different types of citizens I definitely fall into the personally responsible citizen.  I donate food, toys, sign petitions etc as I feel inclined to or money allows but rarely do more than that.  When it comes to online activism I will share the occasional post about something I believe in but I often weigh how offensive it is to someone who might see that.  Since I have decided to come back to University and attempt to enter the Faculty of Education, I found that I have been even more cautious about what I share, like and comment on in regards to social justice issues.  Most of the time erring to stay silent.

Like Katia points out in the Online spaces blog post, many of her students tell her that they are fearful of the possible consequences for future jobs if they post controversial things.  They opt to stay neutral as possible.  I am one of those people and I am fully aware that there is no neutral.  Still I really cut down my sharing of things that I thought could cause me potential placings, jobs in the future.  I chose to stay silent on the things I supported and didn’t support out of fear.

Even though fear was/is the biggest motivating factor in my silent activism, I also try not to engage because I often feel that it is difficult to get a point across in the written word.  I don’t feel that I can write well enough to argue a point effectively. Also with the written word the tone is often misinterpreted or meaning twisted and you end up arguing about how you said something or what you meant.  In that way I don’t think discussions are very effective and often the lead to personal attacks on character which I don’t agree with.  As I write this I came to the realization that I don’t stand up against those personal attacks either.  That very thing happened to me today.  I realize my silence on the matter means that A) I agree with everything in the post or B) I didn’t see the post.  I saw the post.

So as I sit here and try to finish this post, I feel sick about my inaction as the realization about what my silent activism says.  In this particular case, I agree with the poster about the event but I do not support the resulting comments about the character of the people involved in the event.  I know what I should do am I brave enough to do it.  Am I willing to risk some of my privilege.




A new world, a new citizenship or is it

In the last 20 years there has been a whole new world emerging, that of a digital nature.  The online world has grown so quickly and immensely.  In 1997 we were using Netscape to enter the web, and encyclopedias on cds to get our information.  There was no such thing as social media the biggest concern for digital citizenship was keeping yourself safe by using screen names.  Fast forward to 2005 Youtube launches and Facebook and Twitter follow soon after, now a mere 10 years later we are connected to each other in ways that we didn’t think were possible.  With this connection though we seem to need a new set of rules, a new code of etiquette so to speak or do we?

I would say maybe not new rules but a tweaking of the old real life rules.  I think the rules of courtesy still apply, but need to be tweaked to remind ourselves that the people with us in present time need to be respected by our attention and presence to them by putting our devices away and engaging in real time.  I also find that people seem to be more brave hiding behind a keyboard and screen than they are in real life.  They type much more vicious things, or are less likely to type positive things.  I think we forget there is a feeling person reading the things we type, if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face don’t type it.

Outside of courtesy there are other issues as well.  There seems to be little governance or laws to enforce behaviour, unlike in real life.  We are now in an era when what we put online is there for everyone to find FOREVER, that is a mind boggling concept.  Employers, banks, customs officials, etc are now using online presence to see if you are an acceptable candidate.  There is no rules saying what can be used against you.  So if you post something stupid as a teen, it can come back to haunt you when you apply for that dream job, or mortgage 10, or 20 years down the road.  Where we do we draw the line at that.  In real life if you do something not so great and get caught when you turn the age of majority some these records become a non- issue. Not so in the digital world.  So as teachers we need to make sure that kids understand this but really as teen do they get this and should they have to worry that their immature actions as a young teen are going to affect their future careers.  Just to be clear I am talking minor stuff not criminal activity.

Then there are the legalities of the digital world.  It is tough for law enforcement to find and prosecute criminals and predators due to encryptions,  hidden IP addressesl and false digital identities. Then there is the murky area of prosecution of when someone is caught whose laws apply, the country where the victim is or where the criminal is.  In addition to those problems is the seemingly harmless things like copying an essay.  Many kids see it online and don’t think anything of it, they won’t get caught, they don’t see it as stealing.  They aren’t harming anyone or so they think.  Then there is the whole sexting issue where young people are sharing inappropriate photos because everyone is doing it.  They don’t see that this is illegal as it often involves their same age peers, and many think of it as joke. However, some of those teens are now facing real life consequences.

So where does this all leave us as parents and teachers.  Well we have to first and foremost educate ourselves to know  this digital world deeper. We also have to model good online presence and respectful use of our devices.  That means when we are in class our phones are away, when we are supervising on the playground our phones are away.  We model that they have our undivided attention, and we expect the same. Our next priority is teaching the kids how to keep themselves and friends safe and real online.  Talking to them about digital identities and how they are often not the complete story.  I talk about that in this post.  Next we have to talk to them about the dangers, not be afraid to bring up things like sexting.  Not to scare them but to educate them that there actions have real consequences to themselves and others.  Finally we have to show that there are many good and advantageous things to being online if we are good citizens.

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.