Posted in ECMP 355

Learning Together

What I loved most about this class was the emphasis on connecting with others online whether it was helping them learn, learning from them, or giving individuals credit for their awesome Twitter finds or well-written blogs.

I contributed to the learning of others through three different social media pages:

Sharing resources, commenting to help others, and asking questions on Google+ was not one of my strongest areas in the course. I found it hard to engage with. I’m not totally sure why but it probably had to do with balancing all the other tech tools I was dabbling in. In the beginning of the course, I asked a couple questions because I was drowning in the technicalities of WordPress. This is another piece of the course that was great to have was immediate feedback and help. As for my contributions via Google +, I made a few comments on other people’s posts but that was the farthest it went.

WordPress is a great place to learn and help others learn once you get past all the technical jargon of creating a web page and fancy tabs (struggled with this for awhile before this class). There were SO many people in our class but I did my best to search through the class link and comment on a few people’s blogs each week.

Something I really struggled with at first was figuring out how to juggle all the tech tools and responsibilities we had in this class but I knew I had to figure it out fast. Below I shared my method with Tanya who was curious what I thought about all of the tasks we had at once:

Many of my comments on WordPress consisted of compliments and sharing resources. If I were to try this again I would have tried to have more dialogue with my fellow bloggers. Generating dialogue is sometimes something I struggle with. A way I tried to combat this is by reading through a blog, commenting, and ending the comment with a question.

My most successful form of contributing to the learning of others happened through Twitter. I shared articles daily, had my followers retweet my articles daily, commented on other’s tweets daily, and participated in three #SaskEdchats in the last few weeks. I enjoyed this form of networking the most because of how easy it was to connect with people not only from my class but from around the world through a single hashtag.

When I first used Twitter, I posted articles related to education here and there and added the occasional photo. After a pep talk on Twitter etiquette: how to get more followers and the richest experience possible… I tweeted often but also gave some love to my followers and those I followed. By doing this my retweets, likes, and followers increased dramatically.

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 7.56.54 PMScreen Shot 2017-06-29 at 9.08.33 PM

I did my best to share articles related to education frequently (at least once a day):

One of my favorite contributions to other’s learning online was through #saskedchat on Twitter, this is one I will absolutely continue utilizing past this class and into my career. It is beyond awesome to be able to connect with educators around the world on a level that feels so close. I write more about this connection in Learning in a Network World:

I cannot say it enough… being pushed to network with others online in diverse ways has opened up so many doors for me as an educator. I appreciate this experience in an exceptional way because I know I will for most of my life, teach in small communities that do not always have access to resources. Technology makes resources for me limitless, and for that I am thankful.

Posted in ECMP 355, Learning Project

Final Thoughts: My Journey with ASL

The last two months of this ECMP 355 (learning with tech) class have flown by! I’m not sure I have ever learned so much in such a short amount of time. On top of all the new tech tools and resources I have been exposed to, I was handed the challenge of learning any task I wanted in two months using mostly online and tech-related tools.

With my late obsession of the Netflix series “Switched at Birth”, I decided to choose American sign language (ASL).

Here is a growth timeline of my journey with ASL:

Week One: Exploring ASL

I was inspired to learn sign language for three main reasons:

  • Previous interactions with individuals who are deaf that reflected my own naive and closed minded perception of deafness
  • My trip to Costa Rica in 2015 where I worked in an all-deaf school. I struggled to communicate with others and I struggled with empathy and understanding as to why those who could speak refused to.
  • As previously mentioned, I have recently become obsessed with a TV series called, “Switched at Birth”, that has shed some new light on my perception of the deaf community and peaked my curiosity in deaf culture.

This is where I began to hunt for my online resources. My first attempt was searching Pinterest where I found my most used resource (Rochelle Barlow’s Learn ASL in 31 Days) throughout my overall journey:

Week Two: ASL Alphabet

I started my journey with what is considered as the basics of ASL language: the alphabet. By learning the alphabet first, I could practice finger spelling words. While sign language has single signs for many different words and phrases, it helps as a beginner to fingerspell certain things you are trying to say. For example, I may know quite a few words in sign language but if I get stumped I can finger spell what I am trying to say.

I found the alphabet easy to catch onto because I am a visual learner with a visual memory for everything.

The order I learned sign language in follows very closely to Rochelle’s program. Much of my journey began following her 31-day program on Youtube closely while combining other resources I found along the way. I also connected with my first ASL social group through Rochelle’s practice group on Facebook.

screen-shot-2017-05-18-at-5-36-23-pm

Week Three: Over the moon with ASL

Like previously mentioned, I relied heavily on Rochelle Barlow’s program and all her resources. Her program was just SO good that I wanted to satisfy my habitual self with sticking to one tool for learning. I kept it going for a little while… she had challenge groups, practice groups, an entire unit to keep track of signing, and youtube tutorials! What more could you ask for? Must I search any further for more help with ASL?! Katia’s voice in my head says: “Yes… Alexus your learning journey cannot just rely on ONE resource!”

So… I went digging.. but not too hard just yet. I found two resources that were useful but not as groundbreaking as the program I was already using.

  • Spread the Sign- An ASL translator in the palm of your hand that not only has translations for ASL but for other sign languages as well such as Spanish Sign Language (yes, there is a difference)
  • ASL Dictionary- a text resource that is available to purchase on Amazon. From what I heard, finding an accurate sign language dictionary can be hard to come by.

At this point in my journey, I was practicing signs for request and questions and learning short phrases.

Week Three Part 2: Connecting to the Community

This week I wanted to make more connections with those in the Deaf and learning ASL community so I reached out to Google+ and searched for a place I could join. I decided to join the ASL Buddies community hoping things would work out well for me. It turned out to be a flop.. Although it was a public learning group.. I was not approved into the community for whatever reason and was back to the drawing board.

Week Four: Digging Deeper

If at first you don’t succeed… try try again they say! After several days of not being approved into the first Google + community I found.. I decided to go hunting for some other communities. I had to utilize my skills in trying different word searches and also looking up someone I knew from University who was very involved with the deaf community. By doing this I unlocked a whole new gamma of pages and people to connect with for learning ASL.

Some groups I joined:

  • Rochelle Barlow’s challenge group: this was already on the list but in this week I took initiative and posted my first challenge video (Introducing myself). I fell in love with this group right away because I knew immediately by the comments and likes that I had become part of a supportive community. Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 9.07.04 PM.png
  • Google+ The Sign Language Community- I figured since the previous group didn’t work out.. I wouldn’t give up on Google+ but rather search for another group to join. I was finally approved for a new group! I was able to find many individuals to connect with by commenting on their posts, but it was not until recently someone commented on my post about practicing with me. I’m hoping even after this class is over I can connect with this person to practice ASL.

Week Five & Six : I can “speak!”

A few blogs later after much practice and using multiple resources to aid my learning, I could begin to put sentences together!

This was one of my favorite blogs. It wasn’t long by any means but I got to reflect on my growth at the midpoint of my learning journey. I was beginning to understand the important pieces to sign language (such as grammar) and speak to them with my audience.

This was also a pivotal point in my journey as I pushed harder to engage with my online learning community. Katia talked to us in class about how to get more followers on Twitter: follow people, like tweets, retweet, comment, and share resources. I took this idea and applied it to my challenge group. I felt like my first challenge video got minimal feedback so I had to do something. I commented on many people’s videos and got my name out. By my second challenge video, I was overwhelmed with the difference in comments.

Week Seven: The Final Stretch

As my documented journey was coming to a close.. I was feeling busy, unmotivated, and captivated by summer fever. I needed some more online tools that would make it easy for me to access from my phone and get in some practice every day (even if it was only 15 minutes).  I was able to explore and use three different apps:

Having these apps on hand pushed me to keep going even when I felt like quitting. They were quick solutions to keeping me on top of my signing and a bridge into using more diverse resources rather than just a few.

Week 8: Farewells and Signing

In our final week of class, we were to have our summary of learning ready for the class to view. Some people did videos with their own songs, raps, or dance moves. I was totally envious of how amazing these ideas were! However, I have to give myself credit for my own creativity as well. As part of my learning summary, I wanted to incorporate my sign language skills I have acquired so far.

I am not advanced enough that I could have done the whole video in sign language, but I wanted to attempt a few snippets. You could say I am a “two birds one stone”, kind of gal. I used a few of my apps to help me figure out what to sign and how to sign it for the video. Because English and ASL are so different in structure, I had to guess to the best of my ability which signs would make the most sense. Take a peek to see how I did:

Reflecting on Learning Online

When I first began this journey I couldn’t stop worrying about which task I wanted to learn. Not because I didn’t know which task I wanted to do most… but because I was more worried about how many resources I could find online relating to the task I chose. I was more caught up in successfully meeting assignment criteria rather than prioritizing a task I would LOVE to do.

What I have found is that no matter what learning task you choose.. there is always somewhere online that can help you out… if you dig deep enough and know how to search for what you need.

 

33271534381_3bb62bd343_o.jpg
Photo Credit: perzonseowebbyra Flickr via Compfight cc

 

When resources for learning a task online does not come easy… you need to try harder. In the beginning, it was hard for me to find tech tools and communities to join related to learning ASL. I would blame this mostly on my denial of how much potential the online world has and my lack of ability to search for the right words or phrases. It took me a few tries of failure to find the sweet spot of ASL tech tools.

I started with Pinterest, then Google. Through Pinterest and Google I gained access to apps and more online communities. Each stage flowed together and built off the previous one as I realized that there, in fact, was a strategy for finding what you wanted online. If one word doesn’t work..try another. If one web page doesn’t bring anything up… try a new one. If a community denies you access to their page…find a new community! It may sound so simple but it honestly did not feel that simple at the time. Whether I was over thinking it in the beginning or creating mental road blocks… I was able to move past it once I realized how much access I really have in the tech world.

Final thoughts

This has been one of my favorite classes in University yet. In particular because of this learning project. Why? Oh, so many reasons…

  • I am now capable of persevering through technology until I fully understand how to navigate it to my advantage.
  • I am motivated to learn something new outside of a task given by my teacher, using the support of tech.
  • I am motivated to continue learning ASL and consistently trying new resources as a way to progress and grow in new ways with the language and deaf community.
Posted in ECMP 355

When in silence.. you join the oppressor

The topic for today: Slacktivism vs. Activism.

; Slacktivism

14393883018_0c458b91fe_o
Photo Credit: Elijah Flickr via Compfight cc

; Activism

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Photo Credit: Sally T. Buck Flickr via Compfight cc

WOW, am I glad we are talking about this. A few days before last class I was contemplating my digital presence on Facebook. I have many family and friends who have very different views on the world than I do. And so it goes.. the continuous battle of what to post, what not to post, how much to post about certain subjects, etc.

I have been told many times that I am hypersensitive or hard to talk to because of my position on many social issues. This bothers me. I seriously considered withdrawing from posting articles related to “controversial” topics recently because of how bothered I am. I was and still kind of believe.. I am too “uptight” (If anyone has suggestions on how to combat this.. please fire them off in the comments).

After reading Katia’s blog:

In online spaces, silence speaks as loudly as words

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 7.37.06 PM.png

I crept carefully through her words and considered the comments of the users below. I read the post and the comments over and over trying to figure out where I stand. On one hand, I agreed with not telling others what they use the internet for but on the other, I found a resurgence of personal discovery. As I read on in agreeance about the amount of privilege I possess and the duty I have to the digital world as an educator, I could feel my confidence rise. I could feel that space again where advocacy felt right and silence closed in on me like a dark chamber. 

Here is my argument on why it is important to stand up in real life and online:

I don’t want to be hard to talk to but I honestly don’t think life only extends to cheering for your favorite sports team or traveling to see the seven wonders of the world. While these events are grand and make people happy.. it is important for those of us who have the privilege to recognize it and do something positive with it rather than acknowledge it and scoff at their gift.

As an individual, I value caring about and being passionate about things outside myself. Therefore, I’m not okay with racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. kind of jokes. The love in my heart extends to diverse people around the world and I will go to bat for them at any time to make the world a better place.

I have valued these things for awhile now… but in the beginning, I valued them in silence (for the most part). Until I was told by an admirable professor that “when you say nothing in the presence of something you believe is wrong.. you give power to the oppressor”. you take the side of the oppressor by default…and so began my years of making my voice heard in a room. I don’t often get taken seriously and I do often have my beliefs held against me. I still struggle with how to present who I am in a less “aggressive” and clean cut way. i.e. knowing what to say to someone when they say something you don’t agree with, without getting into an argument.

Que, Facebook, and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are two places where I have no fear or anxiety sharing my thoughts and the things I believe in. It is so easy for me to just click share and off it goes into the world. I feel good when I do this because it is less scary and it makes me feel like I’m exposing people to ideas they may not have been aware of. I believe people have certain feelings about diverse groups of people due to lack of exposure, knowledge, and empathy. By sharing posts online I hope that I can extend new information to my audience, even if they are on the -against side of my beliefs.

30908753062_a4ff1e097c_o
Photo Credit: European Parliament Flickr via Compfight cc

Does using social media as a platform for activism make me a “poser”, “fake”, or a “slacker”? I don’t think so. I use the internet as a platform for these things because I know exactly how powerful it can be. There are times where I can stand up for what I believe in, in an effective and assertive way but I’m still young, still learning, and still practicing the action of being an activist. I would also argue that social media has motivated me more now than ever to physically participate in activist events. Based on what I like and post, I get notifications for similar events going on near me. Now that is cool.

14577159111_61e6783b6a_o
Photo Credit: Elijah Flickr via Compfight cc

Social media gives me an out for discussing the things I care about until I can feel confident in my ability to do it in person. I believe that you cannot change anyone’s mind in a battle of yelling or criticism. I often say that “calling people IN”, rather than “calling them OUT” is more useful. No one has open hearts, minds, or ears when they are angry. For the moments I feel confident in my knowledge and ability to have a dialogue with someone I will do so. For the moments I am lacking, and the moments where I am just doing my digital justice duty, I will post about social issues and feel confident that someone has been reached or made aware of something new.

Posted in ECMP 355

The Coding Age

FIRST:

I must apologize that I could not screencast for this blog. The mic on my Mac is broken and for some reason screencast would not cooperate with my headphone mic. If anyone has details on how to combat this please comment below!

I learned about coding when I was thirteen years old, although I didn’t identify it as such. At the time, the social media hype in Alberta involved a web page called Nexopia. On this page, you could type in codes to create your profile appearance. As a thirteen-year-old, I wanted nothing more than to have fancy font and glitter pictures to flash on my homepage for everyone to see.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 7.40.24 PM.png

I was completely fascinated by the power of coding. Typing words and brackets to create images and fancy letters? That’s almost as perplexing as the idea of speaking into a phone in Canada and someone hearing you in Austrailia.

My days of code retired once Facebook was created. Unfortunately, that social media platform does not have a place where you can code and create a custom profile. But then… we were assigned to learn about coding in ECMP 355. Honestly, I’m amped up about re-learning to code. I remember in my teen years coding so fast. I can hardly fathom working that fast now. It has crossed my mind to take on coding as my second learning project after learning ASL.

I experimented with multiple modes of coding to get a feel for all the options out there:

  1. Code Academy

What I love about Code Academy: 

I found this web page was easy to navigate in general. When I learn something new, it is important for me to understand the WHY of it. Not only does this give you step by step practice in coding, it explains why you type each code or what the words and symbols mean in that particular code. I also like that you can do a quiz on your knowledge acquisition from the units as you go. Finally, the best part of it all is the “I can statements”. How cool is that? They aren’t even working the SK curriculum and they have the I can statements figured out!

What could be improved:

I would say Code Academy is geared towards an older audience. For this purpose, it is close to perfection. However, the language used can be too complex and advanced for a young learner possibly even high school aged. This would be a great tool if there was a modified version for younger years. Something as simple as the layout or word choice.

2. Scratch via code.org

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 7.21.37 PM.png

Direct link to my first Scratch project: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/166622409/

What I loved about Scratch:

This is a kid friendly and engaging way for students to experiment with coding. I had fun creating my little cartoon. There are endless options for themes, characters, and items to choose from. There is something for everyone to code about via Scratch which is basically a gold mine for me as an educator of diverse minds.

I see Scratch as an opportunity for students to demonstrate learning through coding whether it be directly related to coding or a cross-curricular project using code and information from another topic. i.e. playing an instrument using recordings, images, etc. and importing it into the code box.

3. Learn via code.org

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 7.30.00 PM.png

What I loved about Learn:

Learn is a branch off of code.org just like Scratch. Through Learn, students can practice code for one hour a day that is split up into 20 segments. This is a great way to get students interested in coding. They use cartoons and media geared towards students specifically which promote high engagement.

I could see this as a useful downtime activity for students to work on if they find they have finished their work early in class. In order for it to be purposeful for learning, I would have students document their progress every time they practice coding i.e. having a progress duo tang or folder where they screen shot progress and reflect on the learning.

What could be improved:

The only thing that I don’t quite get yet about Learn is how much it really teaches kids to code. Below you can see the different puzzle pieces that the student must attempt to put together in the proper sequence to achieve the task:

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 6.59.34 PM

I would say that this is a very basic introduction to coding. Although there is a section where you can view the actual coding used to create the movements and images, these codes seem less articulate than the codes I was learning about in Code Academy or Scratch.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 7.37.04 PM.png

 Coding is definitely something I see as useful in the classroom. For the older years, This would fit great in a business class or some kind of technology course. There are many jobs in the tech area and it’s only going to get bigger as tech advances in our society. 

For the younger years, the current curriculum would suit a literacy area or math. For example, the coding games on learn deal with turns, lines, and angles, etc. (Math). While the codes themself require some literacy skills.

I remember how much I enjoyed coding as a teenager. If I had known there was a career path you could take with coding I may have pursued it! 

Posted in ECMP 355

I’m so much cooler online

When you’re online, you can be anyone you want to be. Just ask Brad Paisley:

Seriously though… digital identity is something that I have been very mindful of since graduation. I began with using high-security settings on social media but still having my leisure time public to my friend group.

When I got into the education program I became hyper vigilant about what or how I post online. You might say that I was scared into cleaning up my digital presence. There are many horror stories about teachers losing or not getting jobs and the more administrators I meet, the more they say social media is a number one go to for first impressions.

Having said this, I refuse to take photos with anyone or anything I think someone may have second thoughts about. I play it safe. Some people have said.. online pages are not genuine. They paint an “ideal” picture of someone. If someone wants to know me.. they can accept me for who I am; faults and all. I would have to agree with this on a certain level, but to me first impressions are everything. I want future admin. and staff to look at me and say, she takes her job seriously. I would also argue that teachers have a difficult time as it is fighting the stereotype of “glorified babysitters”.I believe this is a professional career and I need to represent it as such. 

Most importantly, I am mindful of my digital presence because my students will find me. It is not a matter of if, but when. When my students do find me… I want to be a positive role model. I want them to see the things I advocate for and represent.

I use three social media platforms frequently: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Facebook and Instagram are used for mostly personal ventures, but I still post on topics related to education often. I keep my privacy settings high on these pages but am still mindful of the language and topics I post about because like I said, I want to be a positive role model and I want to represent education in a professional way. 

Twitter, on the other hand, is dominantly used for education purposes. I have a beef with Twitter drama. If I look on Twitter outside education it appears to be the modern day news channel so I try not to venture far from it being educational only.

As a future educator, I want to teach my students about digital identity and creating a positive and purposeful online presence. Of course, we are all human and we all want to have fun. However, the internet is the limelight of your identity and it can have an impact on your future. This is critical for students to understand. The internet is just the touch of a button. It is instant and forever (as of right now). This is some heavy fire for young children and teens to be playing with without a little help along the way.

This week I searched Twitter for some articles that might help me figure out how to teach digital identity or where to start. Here is a couple I really liked:

Teaching Kids How The Internet Work

This resource is a fantastic break in program for young learners. It goes through the very basics of personal identity and digital identity. It is thorough in describing certain terms like private information vs. information that is open to share with most people. The difference between these two I think is important for kids to know when they have access to public chat rooms etc.

“Be Internet Awesome”- Google’s New Curriculum

I NEED to experiment with this in the classroom! This is such an engaging way for students to learn about digital identity and safety online. They use games and motivational sentences to bring kids in. What better way to get kids into learning?!