Sunday, 22 March 2015

ADED 1P32 Session #9- Weekly Report & Reflection

This week had an underlying theme of Digital Responsibility while introducing us to Voice Thread and Poll Daddy at the same time. Polls are very common across the internet, so this wasn't anything too new, but I had not encountered Voice Thread before.

Poll Daddy is just like any other polls, but with one significant difference to most. It had a comment section under the poll results, so it was interesting to see people engaged in discussion about Digital Responsibility, rather than just she the straight numbers.

Voice Thread was like an interactive slide show. Questions and statements were posted, and then everyone had the opportunity to respond and post comments to the slides. A significant feature of the site was the option to leave audio messages instead of just a typed note. I could see this tool being very useful to facilitate online discussion in a course such as this, as it substitutes the seminar setting for an online discussion "chat" room of sorts.

So those were the tools we were introduced, but the content itself focused on the important topic of Digital Responsibility. This course has been opening my eyes to a lot of new stuff on this topic, but I think the most important aspect that I've recently become aware of is the amount of onus that is on you to understand what's right and what's wrong online. Ignorance is not innocence, and everyone is accountable for their actions, just like laws in the "physical" world. What jumped out at me on one of the resources was the fact that a 14 year was arrested for fraud for violating some online Digital Responsibility when it came to discussing stocks (Starr, 2003). This is a prime example of thinking that being online doesn't have the same rules as being offline, but now his life has been turned upside down.

Some news to talk about now. Russia continues to up the rhetoric when it comes to European stability, this time choosing to target Denmark. It infuriates me that Putin uses Russia as his personal property instead of looking out for the best interests of Russians, Europeans, and the rest of the world. There was so much hope of democracy and freedom for it's citizens coming out of the Cold War, and now just a few decades later they are mired in the same mud, with Putin serving the same role as his Communist predecessors. Either Russians are too afraid, brainwashed, or simply unwilling to challenge the regime, and it is just plain sad.

What has this to do with Denmark? Well, Russia has decided that if Denmark continues to go ahead with a plan to join with a Scandinavian missile defence project, that it will become a target of Russia's vast nuclear arsenal. The fact that any country in the 21st century would threaten nuclear destruction is insufferable. Putin has truly turned back the clock with this one. If Russia wants to isolate themselves from the rest of the world, their doing a fine job of it. Read more about it here:http://nyti.ms/1xShHjI .

VOICETHREAD

Voice Thread is another collaborative tool that teachers can take advantage of to encourage discussion and interaction online between students. I think it has particular use among online courses, as it creates a seminar like setting online where input and discussion on core topics can be discussed. On my PLE it would go on the Professional/Academic side, and I could see using this as a brainstorming tool for group projects. It operates similar to other tools we've used, but it's interaction is incredibly simple, and the actual audio component opens up a lot of extra options as well. Again, I see the most use in an online course like this, as it allows for more human interaction with people you otherwise would not see.

 

Technology Use Scenario - #17

"Ms. Deal does not like having several passwords for all her accounts. Because she has so many she gets into the habit of writing the passwords on a sticky note on her monitor so she won't forget. While she is out of her office, John, a student who had been in trouble in her class earlier in the day, comes by her office. He sees the passwords and down the one for Ms. Deal's email account. John goes to another computer, logs in as Ms. Deal and sends several insulting emails to other staff members. How could this have been avoided?" - (Ribble, 2011, p. 94).

Remembering all those passwords can be tricky. Ms. Deal is certainly not the only person to run into this "memory" problem. Even in this course, with all the new tools and sites we've been signing up, has added dozens of passwords to memorize.

However, writing sensitive information like passwords down and then leaving that note exposed for anyone to see is a terrible idea and a misuse of technology. Personal passwords are one thing, but professional passwords effect a lot more than just yourself. You can put your company at risk of a minor but embarrassing disturbance or a major security leak!

Instead, by using an online program or security software to store all your passwords, that sensitive information will be kept confidential. You still will have to remember one password (to the program or software) but that's a lot easier than 50! Most anti-virus packages come with this tool, or there are some free ones to download online. For a list and more thorough discussion, see here: http://nyti.ms/18lvAkG

Sunday, 15 March 2015

ADED 1P32 Session #8- Weekly Report & Reflection

This week was Wikis. I think everyone must be familiar with Wikipedia, so long as you've been on the internet for more than an hour in your life, so the concept was very clear. I personally find Wikipedia very useful as a starting point on all assignments. Obviously one must be careful to not take the information posted on there as gospel, but for general facts and a starting point, is there a better site? Probably not, as I don't recall not finding a post on a topic that I searched. And for many of the more "scholarly" pages, contributors have done it right and cited their work, giving access to great resources for you to use on your papers. Just the vast size of Wikipedia is difficult to comprehend, as it has "38 million articles in 285 languages" (K12Learning20.com, 2013). That's massive!

Wikis once again highlight collaborative learning. However, unlike Evernote or Google Docs, Wikis have an even wider application. The previous two work well with small groups, but everyone has to know everyone to access the work. A wiki is free for anyone to edit, with a much more streamlined permission process. It allows experts to come in from various fields, work on the wiki, and leave without anyone ever asking or expecting the help. This is a huge bonus! Literally millions of people can come together to create a massive vault of information, like Wikipedia, free for everyone to use as they need. But Wikipedia is just the start. During this lesson, I became aware of just how far people have taken Wikis, from in depth video game assessments and guides, to online tutorials for school subjects like math and chemistry. I think Wikis are actually one of the greatest signs of the online community coming together to create something very positive and useful.

The "anyone can edit" function has some drawbacks though. Trolls can use Wikis for malicious intent, either as a harmless joke or sometimes more serious. A few weeks back someone was accused of editing the Wikipedia page of a girl who had committed suicide after sexual assault, trying to write a different account of how the assault took place. It ended up being one of the accused father's who did it. But for the most part, Wikis are used for good, and incorrect or harmful information is swiftly corrected.

Another news day, and unfortunately another sad story. In recent months and even recent years, there has been a large spotlight on a horrible problem in India; that is, sexual violence towards women. Rape is rampant in many parts of the country, despite seemingly widespread condemnation from the international community, local government, and tribal leaders. It seems like a lot of talk over action. Just this past week, a nun in her 70's was raped. Perhaps it shouldn't matter who the victim is, but the fact that these animals so viciously attacked a helpless women who lives a life dedicated to peace and helping others really gets to me. I don't know what we can do about it, but perhaps the best we can do is not let this recurring story get swept under the rug. This is a huge crime that must stop. You can get the story here http://nyti.ms/1AoSaj9

Sunday, 8 March 2015

ADED 1P32 Session #7- Weekly Report & Reflection

Google Docs and a theme of collaborative learning was the topic of this week's lesson, and for one of the few times this semester I actually have experience with the tool we're using. I have used Google Docs and Spreadsheets for years as a way to share and update information in an online setting. Me and a group of cousins and uncles engage in a fantasy baseball league, so a few years back I began to put "working" documents online (schedules, statistics) that everyone had access to so that the league stats and notes were up-to-date and organized. It has worked very well for us, so I know that such tools can be effective. I guess I have been using collaborative learning for a while now!

But now I'm going to take some time to rant. I hate group work. Absolutely hate it. I've had some awful experiences with my fellow university students. From classmates giving me astonishingly bad work or even no work at all, I can't really say I have had a positive experience working with others on school projects at Brock. My program assigns a lot of these group assignments, so I've learned to keep my expectations very low. I just don't understand a few things. One - if these students hand in work like this all the time, how did they get to University and how do they stay here? Two - the students who literally do none of the work, how do you not feel guilty about that and how do you expect to survive in the real world? Rather than give me a sense of teamwork and collaboration, group projects have caused me to have no trust in my classmates and dread the experience. End of rant.

Anyways, the Institute for Writing & Rhetoric (2013) lists a number of reasons for collaborative learning, with most pointing to learning how to write to other's expectations in a clear manner. I can see the value in that, and I would definitely say that some partners I have had need this. But in my opinion, group projects as they are do not follow the goals of collaborative learning. One person simply ends up fixing the others' work, and instead of that person learning from the experience, they instead become dependent on others to fix up their work. They don't increase their own skill and cause a lot of bitterness and anger with other partners.

All that being said, Google Docs is a useful tool for group projects. It allows all the information to be stored in one place while being saved securely online, creates accountability, and enables immediate feedback. However, it only will work if all group members are committed to actually working hard and willing to correct themselves while learning.

From Feedly this week, ISIS continues to cause devastation in Middle East, but with a different tactic this time. They have begun to destroy the ancient remains of the Assyrian civilization, ruining artifacts of extreme historical and cultural value. They call it "idolatry" and do it the name of their god, yet other Muslims in the area have immediately disowned and lashed out against the group and this "crime against humanity". While there could be an interesting debate about how the outrage of artifacts being destroyed gets similar or greater sympathy as the human lives being wiped out, this is no doubt an awful attack that should have an effect on everyone in the region. This is the history of a people, and it bears striking similarity to what the Nazi's tried to do with Jewish history during the Holocaust. You can read about it here: http://nyti.ms/18XIo0M

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: http://nyti.ms/1wEbabW

BBC. (February 28, 2015). Boris Nemstov (online image). Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31669061







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? http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/at-issue-mp-eve-adams-s-switch-to-the-liberals-from-conservatives-1.2956022