Sunday, 1 March 2015

ADED 1P32 Session #6- Weekly Report & Reflection

Evernote was the new tool this week, and while new, it was very similar to some other tools I have used before, so the learning curve was very manageable this go-round.

Basically Evernote is an online/cloud-based note taking document. You can quickly and easily write notes on the program and save them to be accessed on any device. I immediately found similarities to Microsoft's OneNote and Google Docs, both of which I've used before, and also to Diigo, a tool I discovered in this course.

I'll quickly note that I prefer the layout and system of OneNote. Perhaps it's the familiarity, but I just feel more at ease and organized using that program over Evernote. However, the online sharing that Evernote offers is a very useful function that OneNote (to my knowledge) does not have. Google Docs does have this function, but I'm undecided which program I prefer. Evernote seems to be the complete package of simplicity and share-ability, but for someone like myself I find that I already have tools that accomplish the same tasks, albeit separately. Pinola (2012) noted that her companion felt similarly, so I don't think I'm alone.

On my PLE, I can see Evernote being used on both my personal and professional side. Although I'm somewhat reluctant to cut out pen and paper completely (I write all lecture notes out by hand), I do see the potential for organization, accessibility, and simplicity that Evernote offers. From the personal side, writing down To-Do lists, reminders, and instructions to various things will save me a lot of time rummaging around looking for a piece of paper. On the professional side, I won't take the step of writing lecture notes via computer, but later on in a work setting I will probably be much more inclined to record notes, instructions, schedules, and tasks digitally, especially as organizations become more green and paperless.

My concept of Digital Citizenship continues to evolve. When the course started I had a vague notion of what it entailed, mainly thinking that it was how someone used and accessed the Internet. But every week has me learning how to use new tools, which allows me to understand the concept better. With Evernote, Digital Communication between students can allow for collaborative work on assignments, and that accessibility and accountability is so much better than the pre-digital age.

I decided to share the story of the assassination of Boris Nemstov, who was gunned down a few days ago in Moscow. He has not wavered in his staunch opposition to Putin, and it is likely for that reason he was targeted. Serving as a voice of reason in Russian politics is a dangerous occupation, and it unfortunately proved that way for Mr. Nemstov. He should be remembered for his bravery and refusal to be silenced, and we can only hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. I doubt we will ever unveil the full mystery behind the murder, but I hope Russians will see through the propaganda the current regime sows, remember people like Nemstov, and strive for change in their country. Read the story here:

BBC. (February 28, 2015). Boris Nemstov (online image). Retrieved from

Friday, 13 February 2015

ADED 1P32 Session #5- Weekly Report & Reflection

So I'm guessing this week was very easy for most of my fellow students. Twitter has been around for awhile now, and almost everyone my age seems to have it. So sending off a few tweets and following a couple people is probably just another day.

Not so for me. I pretty much vowed never to get Twitter, because I find the concept of "tweeting" to be quite foolish. I just see a lot of seemingly useless stuff get posted online, and it is just not something I'm interested in spending my time on.

Well, thanks to this class, that vow is now history. I have joined the Twitterverse, and sent out my first tweets ever. They weren't exactly exciting, but it's a start I suppose. The Times article looked promising, as the opening statement of " it makes a terrible first impression" (Johnson, 2009) couldn't be more accurate for me. It seemed to imply that would change, but unfortunately that article wanted me to pay to see that whole thing, which I declined to do.

However, Rispin (2012) indicated that Twitter opens up communication between generations. I can see the value in this, that perhaps Twitter can be a bridge between two seemingly very different worlds.

I will have to give Twitter some time to grow on me I think. I don't really see how it can really benefit my education that much. I followed a lot of news sites, but I already check these very regularly, and now Feedly is also updating me on these so it seems kind of redundant. If I could find some really smart and relevant people to follow who posted articles that I could use, then maybe it would be a boon to my education. But for now, I see it as more of a social thing.

The one thing I did find good about Twitter was its direct application to this class. I saw many of my classmates posting blogs and other sites they had found (using the #aded1p32). This was interesting to see, and I checked out some of the stuff that they were posting. I've also had TA's in the past post updates on Twitter, so I guess I'll be able to get at those now.

Overall though, as I've already stated, Twitter is still a work-in-progress for me. I see some use for it on a personal level, as I get sports updates from people like Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger. Add in some humour from Roberto Luongo and Jeff O'neil, and I guess it's alright.

So keeping with tradition I'm going to post a news article, this time from CBC. This week saw the defection of Conservative MP to the Liberals. While I actually think this is a terrible move by the Liberals, as the MP in question has a rather poor record (to put it lightly), I think the bigger story behind it is the flaw in the Canadian political system. During elections I vote based on party, not because of the individual MP. And I would guess that most Canadians are the same. I don't think an MP should be able to just change sides, as the citizens who elected her probably wouldn't have if she had been a Liberal at the time. This goes for all the parties, and although I mostly disagree with the NDP, I really respect their position on the matter. They force any joiners to sit as an independent until an election puts them in there rightful place. What do you think?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

ADED 1P32 Session #4- Weekly Report & Reflection

The main theme of Week 4 was the curation of the internet. Fiorelli (2011) describes content curation  as the "filtering and adding value to the content we receive." So basically discovering and sharing the good stuff of the internet while discarding and ignoring the useless parts. Quite the task if you ask me! A number of tools were suggested to aid this quest, including RSS Readers, which we talked about last week.

The new tool discovered this week was called Diigo. Diigo is kind of like a virtual notebook that allows you to mark up websites with highlights and notes and save them for use on any device. A number of other resources were provided (Internet Detective and Trash) to provide some background on how to decide what's good and what's not. So now armed with knowledge and Diigo, the internet can be tackled, picked apart, and stored for further use!

Diigo. (2015). Logo (Online image). Retrieved from
When working with the tagging and highlighting options with Diigo, I instantly realized some practical uses for researching sources for assignments. I would usually take notes on paper, and then save the web link as a separate document to get back to it later. But now with Diigo, the document is saved and accessible anywhere, the important and relevant info is highlighted for quick recap, and it's all in one space! I will definitely be utilizing Diigo for future papers!

I checked out Google Alerts to see how it worked. I found it similar to Feedly, except instead of finding specific sites that update regularly, you punch in more generic terms and Google provides a wider search. Although some interesting updates and articles came back, a lot of the resources were not ones that I wanted or could use, so I would be reluctant to spend a lot of time with this on assignments. I also didn't like that it connected to my email address, as it began to clog it up a bit. But with some more fine tuning it could prove to be useful.

So far I definitely feel like my digital literacy is increasing every week by leaps and bounds. Every week I learn about a new resource that I can apply to both my personal and educational life. But I would say the most important thing I'm learning is the experience of trial and error for tools on the internet. I would never have the patience or the desire to go check out new tools on my own, but this course has forced me to take the time to check out resources that I would otherwise miss. Not all of them end up being hits with me, but I have found really useful tools that will benefit me and many others. So I guess just my general knowledge of what's available out there on the web has never been greater!

So my Reader post this week is once again from the New York Times. This time it has to do with the Ukraine Crisis, and whether or not the US should send weapons and munitions to the Ukraine government. It was an opinion piece, with the author emphatically against such a tactic. I tend to agree with him. I believe the cons outweigh the pros in this case. While Ukraine could use the weapons, it would risk direct Russian intervention, which is something I believe Putin is fully capable of. It's a dangerous road with an unclear ending, so for now I would prefer caution. Read it and decide for yourself here.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

ADED 1P32 Session #3- Weekly Report & Reflection

So another week, another new tool for me to discover for the first time. This week was RSS Feed Readers. Basically an email account for your favourite websites, news sources, and blogs, which updates whenever new content is posted. Seems like a perfect tool with our mindset of "everything-in-one-place", maximizing convenience and time.

This seems like a very intriguing tool for me. I'm pretty insistent on keeping up with the news, as I mentioned in my previous posts. I've always just worked my way through the various sites, but having all those stories come to one place definitely seems like the more efficient method.

But at the same time, the amount of information that began pumping in was a little overwhelming. The folders on Feedly help with organization, but it still takes a little time to get used to. But overall I'm impressed with the concept.

Feedly made me think of perhaps a more efficient and effective method of communication between Professors and students. The current method of updating Sakai with announcements and resources is clunky, and sometimes doesn't alert the students properly. Having the connection through Feedly would be a much more direct approach and would allow for less error along the way. The Professor could post articles relevant to the course and make any changes in a much more reliable manner. But I guess Sakai will have to do for now.

This is right in line with what one of the articles said about RSS, as it "provides an efficient way for students to keep in touch with faculty, stay informed about coursework..., and follow developments in there fields of study" (Educause, 2007). Perhaps it's something more schools need to take a look at.

Staying with the news theme, my Feed this week will be a news article on Ebola. Basically, a test drug was sent over to see if it could successfully halt the virus, but the project is now being cancelled due to a lack of patients. Ebola's spread has been declining, and they had only a fraction (10 out of a possible 140) of people sign up. To me this is ironic, as it was such an epidemic only a few months ago. I guess I posted this to remind people that there is still a struggle with the disease in Africa, and although it's declining, it remains dangerous and active. Most news outlets have moved on, chasing fresher stories, but the struggle continues for many. Check it out here.

So what has RSS Feeds taught me about the digital world? Well it's definitely opened my eyes to a brand new way of accessing information. I, like most people I assume, have a number of my favourite sites bookmarked at the top of my browser. I thought that was the easiest and most convenient way to navigate the web quickly. But Feedly takes that process a step further. By positioning all that information within a single source, it takes so much of the hassle out of browsing the internet. While I mainly have an interest in it for personal reasons, I'm going to try to apply it more directly to my academic life as well.

RSS will be added to my PLE. After just a few days of using it, I'm already completely sold on the idea. And the amount of sites that have bought in to the concept is great to see as well. I'm constantly noticing the icon wherever I end up on the web.

Where does it fit in on my PLE? Well, I will add it as a kind of conduit I guess. All the websites, blogs, news sites, forums, etc., that I use will now be connected through Feedly. It simply adds another layer to the design. I think everyone who is serious about there PLE, whether for academic, professional, or personal reasons, should add a RSS Reader element to it.

I'll close this week off on a bit of a tangent. And way off topic, but this is my blog, right?

How could you call that play Seahawks? You had the game in the bag! You had two downs to get it in! When has anyone stopped Lynch for less than a yard twice in a row? Patriots, you did not win that game. The Seahawks lost it.

My Experience with RSS Feeds

I am fairly obsessed with keeping up with current events, so Feedly is definitely a tool I will use with much relish to have news updates sent to me directly. In this instance, I set up an RSS feed with the New York Times World News feed. Today it sent me an article on the liberation of Kobani in Syria from ISIS.

I have been following the situation in the Middle East intently, so over the past months this little town has became a familiar name to me. It definitely became one of the focal points, at least in the Western media, of the struggle of the Kurds against ISIS. So to finally hear of the completion and success of that battle brings feelings of relief. It's encouraging to see a victory in the midst of such an awful struggle in that region.

The article speaks a lot about the courage and endurance of the Kurds in their struggle at Kobani, and now the pride that resonates with them for successfully defending the town. So much of the news from that war has been negative, of massacres, beheadings, and so many more atrocities committed by ISIS. But the Kurds and the other moderates of the region finally have something to cheer for. The Kurds rightfully hold their heads high today.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

ADED 1P32 Session #2- Weekly Report & Reflection

Well, week number two again introduced me to a brand new concept; Personal Learning Environment (PLE). It was a little foggy to me at first what it actually meant (with a lot of similar yet different definitions), but eventually I found a definition from the resources which worked best for me. PLE can be described as “the tools, artifacts, processes, and physical connections that allow learners to control and manage their learning” (Lalonde, 2012). I would add, being that we live in such a technological world, that an emphasis should be made on the "digital" aspect of the tools at our disposal. The examples of PLE's that were given provided a diverse range of styles, with some detailed and intricate, while others favoured a more general approach. When I created my own, I went with a simple format, mainly because I find I don't use nearly as many online tools as my peers. I split my PLE into two halves, with one focusing on use for personal matters and the other focusing on my professional/academic life. I'm a pretty simple and linear person, so it makes sense that my PLE represents that.
van Bolhuis, M. (CC) 2015.
At the end of the lesson we were asked to think pretty seriously about how our PLE will effect us in the future. Thinking about the future can be tough, as so often I just want everything to slow down and live for a little bit in the now. But here's my best shot.

In 5 to 10 years I want to begin to settle into a steady position somewhere in the sport industry. In the preceding years I will have been getting my feet wet, working in the trenches, and just steadily building that experience base. But at this point I want that work to begin to payoff. I'm not too fussy about where this is taking place, but I think I'm leaning towards the non-profit or public sector, running a city's youth sport league or some similar sport program. From a personal stand point, I want to be involved in my community and be the part of something bigger than just me. The biggest difference between now and then is fairly obvious. It's simply a different life stage. There's a big journey in between now and then.

How do I get there then? Well, as I touched on before, it's about building up that experience. You have to start somewhere, and that probably means at the bottom, doing a lot of grunt work. Besides just the basic skills required of any position, I will work on honing organizational and networking skills. These will be key to attaining that future vision.

My current environment revolves around a lot of academic things. This will have to be tweaked eventually to better suit the change of setting after school. For networking, adding a LinkedIn account could definitely be a positive step, but just looking for other networking sites and tools will not only help in the search for a starting position but will also be invaluable down the line as well.

Habits is the final thing. I really want to work on getting out and volunteering more. This helps build that network, gives real experience, and should give me a better idea of what exactly I want to do. There just doesn't seem like a lot of time to do this right now, so working on creating that time is something I have to seriously consider.

I can see where my PLE is now, but just thinking about the future makes me realise how much it will have to evolve down the line. I think a lot of the change will be natural, but some will also require some determination and concentrated effort on my part.

Finally, the word cloud. I'm a straight forward thinker, with a linear approach to learning. You might go as far as saying that I lack creativity. So an activity like this usually has me scratching my head. But what I thought was kind of cool was the fact that despite only having the major words, you got a sense of the main point of the piece of writing. Only the main concepts are needed to get a basic comprehension of what the writer is trying to convey. So that was interesting.

van Bolhuis, M. (CC) 2015.

I guess I'll end on this point. I found this week to be more structured in how we had to construct the blog post. I'm hoping that there will be more flexibility in the weeks to come! But I guess we'll see next week. 

- Matt

Sunday, 18 January 2015

ADED 1P32 Session #1- Weekly Report & Reflection

So this week focused a lot on online etiquette (or "netiquette") and being aware of the trace and trail that you leave on online ("digital footprint"). I found a lot of the practices and approaches to maintaining a positive outlook, with regards to these two elements, fairly common sense and relatable to manners and procedures in the "real" world.

The idea of having a digital footprint that I can never erase is scary. The thought that some stupid post or picture from your teens could come back to haunt you is frightening. My strategy for a long time was simply avoidance. My footprint can't be bad if it doesn't exist. But as Ainslie (2009) states, it is better to focus on "making sure [to] build a positive one" rather than fruitlessly trying to avoid one altogether. A positive footprint could have just as big an impact as a negative one. But if there isn't one, that chance to impress is gone.
Digital Footprint

So how do I try to maintain a positive one? Well for starters, I still try to avoid any negative attention. If someone tags me on Facebook in something that could potentially be offensive I remove my name from it immediately. I also try to avoid getting sucked into "explosive" topics on social media. While I believe it is important for your opinion and voice to be heard, it is far too easy for your views and points to be misconstrued into something you never meant at all, when all they see is the words and not the explanation behind them.

For positive aspects, I firmly believe that if you employ proper netiquette skills wherever you go online, you will stick out as an intelligent and reasonable person. Which in today's world is pretty impressive. I simply try to treat everyone as if I'm face to face with them. Respect is huge, and while I don't really expect to receive it back, at least I'm fulfilling my side of the bargain.

When I took the Digital Driver's Licence Exam I scored a perfect 20/20. While I'd like to say that was really impressive, I think for the most part it was a fairly common sense test. At least for me. The key thing that kept appearing in every question was an aspect of respect and thinking of others. When analyzing the questions from that angle, the correct answer stood out very quickly. I'd be interested to know the average result on that quiz, because I think it would be very telling to see where the score was at. If it's not high, then I think we need to take a serious look at how we operate as a technological society, and where exactly we've gone wrong.

The key factors from the Digital Driver's Licence Exam that I will focus on in throughout the coming weeks will be Digital Access, Digital Law, and Digital Rights and Responsibilities. I believe these are very important in today's technological world, and the lines are not always so clear. And to add to the confusion is the distinction between ethical and legal behaviour. Somethings are allowed under the law, but does that mean we should engage in that behaviour? Is it "right"? I'm looking forward to seeing what the course says on these, and how to apply it to my own behaviour online.