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.


  1. Jason, I can relate to your feelings about sharing online. I don't tend to post much online either, however this class has challenged me to do differently. This summer in another class I took my professor constantly reminded us that if we don't leave our comfort zone we won't make the most of our learning opportunities in life. Ever since then I have tried to follow that advice. The more I post in social media spots the more I learn about myself on both a personal and professional level. Like you, I also hope to be a decent citizen of the online world!

  2. Thanks Jessica. It's also good to know that one is not alone. I spent a lot of time this fall contemplating what others have shared and said and finally decided to take the big plunge. Being in a supportive environment such our class has really helped me feel more comfortable with sharing online.

  3. And both of you are really taking off - we need you in these online spaces! I know it's not always natural to share what's going in one's head, the classroom, etc., but the ideas shared can lead to so many new paths, collaborations, ideas, etc. My ability as a teacher and research has become so much greater since I have been connected, and I am hoping that the same happens for you. Actually, I am quite confident it will!

  4. Great post Jason. I too can relate - I have used Twitter for a while now but almost entirely for retweets. Before this class a quick Google search of my name revealed very few examples of on-line professional collaboration. I am happy to say that this has improved through my participation in this class, but I still have a long way to go. Looks like you are doing great and headed in the right direction.