Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Citizens of The Online World

I've done a bunch of travelling. I'm compiling a list of my adventures here on my blog. It's been an interesting life wandering around... spending a lot of time with people and making new friends in all kinds of places. No matter where I've been, people have always been welcoming and warm. I didn't grow up with the internet. I was born in 1975. I grew up with a computer though so that made me a nerd right from the time I was six. I was always fascinated by programming and games. I liked learning how to use software and hardware and build my own machines. Everyone wanted advice from me on gadgets and computers ever since I can remember. I even had one of the first smartphones... it was great to finally fit a computer in my pocket!

I lived in Japan for a couple of years teaching English on the JET Programme in junior high schools on the island of Yakushima. This was from 2000 to 2002. I then spent time working in Malaysia and travelling the long way round to finally get home to Canada in 2003. I severed my ties with technology during my time in Japan. There was very little access to the internet on my island. Digital photography was very new and super expensive. I shot all my photos on slide film. I wrote a diary. It was all very old school! Even the schools that I taught in didn't have much access to technology. I spent most of my time hiking the beautiful island, learning to speak Japanese with my new friends that also loved hiking and also swimming in the amazing ocean. I disconnected with technology but really connected with people and nature. It was very fulfilling. I felt my travels made me a decent citizen of the earth.

This is a picture of me showing my students how to carve pumpkins for Halloween in 2001.

When I came back to Canada I taught in Nipawin for a couple years and then moved to Regina. During that time I was reintroduced to technology. Facebook and Youtube have replace much of the email and forwards we used to get. There has been an explosion of applications that are cheap and accessible and now so many people are so comfortable with using these devices and technologies every day. We started using Blackboard and Moodle. I built a website with a colleague for the Theatre Arts 20 curriculum here in Saskatchewan. I worked with students to create digital portfolios of their artwork as websites on CD. Now we use blogs to do the same thing.

I've never been good at sharing what I do online. I don't tweet a lot. I don't blog a lot. I don't post to Facebook much. I haven't contributed much to Youtube. I've been private on the web but I've always helped everyone around me learn these skills and springboard new ideas off each other and take it all further. I've always been wanting my students to develop and show what they can do and have never taken the time to highlight what I do. I'm just not comfortable with it... but I'm trying.

So blogging for me is new. I grew up keeping things private. Doing so much thinking on my own and collaborating with people face to face when I needed to. I'm feeling more and more that this online world has great potential. I want to roam this new world in different way now. Through Twitter and the blog I'm meeting people as I travel without moving. Great people. People who collaborate and help. It's getting more comfortable now. I want to thank all the people that have been so positive online. Everyone that has given ideas freely. I hope that I will also be one to share ideas now as well. I hope to be a decent citizen of the online world.

Thank you.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A New Direction

So it's time for a new direction. A different twist on the personal learning network I was trying to build using Google Apps for Education and Blogger with my art students. I'll speak to the challenges I had with that situation in a future post.

I've decided to use edublogs with my homeroom. I will be with these students for 4 years and I believe this will be a great experience for all of us.

My motivation for moving to Edublogs and working with my homeroom? I love the personalized support I get from Sue Waters of Edublogs! She is amazing. I had the chance to meet her while she was a guest speaker for my EC&I 831 class at the University of Regina with Social Media and Open Education Guru Alec Couros. Ever since it's like having her on speed dial. I tweet... she gets right to me.

I got personalized advice from Sue today over Twitter. I'm sitting down to breakfast and had the idea to tweet about my project being focused around my homeroom students using edublogs and voila... she was right there with me... and I was in Moose Jaw and she in Australia!

  • Step 1: I had all the kids download the Edublogs mobile app to their devices before leaving for the weekend on Friday. They were not to create accounts, just download the app.
  • Step 2: I'm setting up unique blogs for each one of my students in my home room using the my class feature in Edublogs. I am assigning codes to the blog addresses after being advised by Sue to do so. This makes it easier to sort kids later on if I decide to tie more blogs into this central hub.

Setting up blogs for my students is super simple using Edublogs! I'm able to add them and view their dashboards if I need to make changes. (I made a couple of errors and swiftly changed them on the fly)

Edublogs creates a list of student blog links associated with my class automatically as a menu in the blog. Cool. I'll be sharing the link to my Edublog class site once I have permission to do so from my students.

Tomorrow is the big day. Will my students be able to log in from their mobile devices? Will they blog something interesting to start with?

Sue suggested we take a look at the following video to get us started as well:

Any ideas or advice you would give me as we get started? Any fun projects that would get grade 9 students enthused about blogging? Thanks for your feedback!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Working on a Digital Identity

I had a moment of culture shock. I was feeling like technology was taking over me.
So I took a little break.

Today I decided to take control. I began with the questions "Who am I online?", "What do people see when they "Google" me?"

Here's what they would have found as of today:

  1. My Twitter Feed (I'm not the best tweeter but it's the first hit)
  2. My Facebook Page (I don't spend a lot of time on Facebook but it's in second place)
  3. Some Images of Me (nothing bad and those that I didn't like I tracked down and got rid of them)
  4. Rate My Teacher (uhhhggg, a major blow to my self-esteem, really wish this site didn't exist)
  5. Linked In (so I'm working at this one and getting my professional profile up to date)
  6. Youtube (only one video on my channel from a project I was a part of for a masters class last year)
  7. Google + (my profile is taking shape)
  8. EC&I Blog Hub (I'm working to read and comment on what you wonderful people have written)
  9. Flickr (I had to contact Yahoo to get account reset, I signed up a long time ago)
This was just the first page of hits. So what am I doing about my Digital Footprint? I'm taking action. It's about time I did a little house cleaning. While it seems there's nothing I can do about Rate My Teacher, I started working on my online identity by creating an About Me page. I then cleaned up some Facebook posts and pictures, removed a bunch of stuff from Instagram and am trying to get my Flickr account revived. Google + and Linked In are two things I'm working on when I can. I renamed my blog as well. I've never been one to promote myself and always felt pretty shy about doing so. I guess this is a major plunge into using Social Media to my advantage. My blog will become my online portfolio, linking people to other services and sites that convey a consistent message about who I am, my philosophy, my career to date and my future goals.