Friday, 3 April 2015

Final Blog Post - Week 12

Throughout this course, the main theme has always centered upon positive Digital Citizenship. Throughout various assignments and resource exploration, that idea has constantly been raised. So what have I learned?

Well, for one, building a positive Digital Footprint begins the moment you go online. When I googled myself, I found assignments that were done online from high school that I had completely forgotten about! Fortunately I've always been cautious about what I post online, perhaps more out of shyness or reservedness rather than thinking about a positive footprint, so nothing bad came up. But it just goes to show that once it's online, it's there to stay! But if you have posted stuff you regret, it's never too late to start making a positive difference to the online community! And if you do it enough, the good will outweigh the bad!

The internet can be an awful place. We've all seen it. Cyber bullying looks like the new pandemic of this generation. So what can we do to change that? Well, for starters, we have to realise that it's up to all of us to take a stand to make the online world a better place. It's not enough to just not create a negative presence. You have to actively stand up for people, and reinforce that a positive footprint relies upon how much you help your fellow online community members.

Whatever sites your a part of, don't get drawn into "flame" wars, or insulting conversations. Hold yourself accountable, and keep to a high standard of behaviour. But even more, add to the information and resources that are out there. Make people aware of the great information you've uncovered. Present it in a proper and well thought out manner so that people will think your credible. We can transform the internet into what it was made to be; that is, an incredible information sharing center where everyone adds and learns from each other!

I've found many good tools throughout this course, and I'm going to share these with others so that they can benefit too. The information I come across will not be kept to myself, but I plan on actively promoting the good while cutting out the bad. Positive Digital Citizenship starts with me, so here's to developing that footprint into having a better and deeper impact each time I go online!

ADED 1P32 Session #11- Weekly Report & Reflection

As we enter into the last few weeks of the course, it only made sense to learn another new tool that I had not used before. This time it was podcasts. I have listened to the odd podcast before, so the concept of what others use it for was familiar to me. But as far as actually creating one, well, this was brand new territory for me.

Just as a quick side note here. On the theme of podcasts, if you are at all interested in crime and mystery, or even just fantastic storytelling, I highly recommend a podcast series called Serial! In 1999, a young teenage girl was murdered, her boyfriend arrested, tried, and convicted, and he is currently serving a life sentence in jail. The kicker is this; so much of the evidence, the witnesses' stories, and just the entire setting around the case is so convoluted, sketchy, and just downright confusing. Was the wrong man sent to prison? Who was the real murderer? What really happened that afternoon? That's what Serial tries to find out, as Sarah Koenig interviews and investigates the many, many different stories and tales from just about everyone who was involved. Check it out here: . Trust me, you will get so hooked and will be drive yourself crazy trying to figure out the case!

Anyways, back to educational stuff. I checked out the various sites that were offered, and I settled on Soundcloud. And I must say that it was the best constructed site I have come across in this class. Everything was so simple and accessible. It took just seconds to sign up, and without any tutorial or instruction, I was able to record my podcast and embed it to my blog. Hassle free in every sense. Whoever designed that site deserves a pat on the back. I was really impressed!

I'm going to add Soundcloud to my PLE on the Academic side. I can't say I really see myself ever recording podcasts for public consumption, so it won't make it on to my personal side of the PLE. But I definitely see some great potential for studying. Having Soundcloud open and recording while I study will allow me to play my notes back to me in a fresh way, perhaps revealing some information that I just wasn't picking off the paper. One of my teachers always talked about learning via visual, audio, reading, and practical ways, so this definitely covers the audio part. Even when I'm just getting ready or something, to be able to play the notes in the background will put it somewhere in my head, and hopefully my recall will improve. Exams are only a week away, so it will get put to the test soon!

On to Feedly. Last week I mentioned that the Iran nuclear deal was running into a wall, and I posed the question about whether or not Obama would be able to get it back on track. Well, he did it! A deal was reached, and while Israel isn't pleased, most of the world seems to be in agreement that this is a moment of progress. While I do hope that Iran now turns a corner and enters into the modern age of peaceful diplomacy and basic human rights, I have my doubts that this deal will be a catalyst for major change within the country. But I've been wrong before, and I certainly hope for the sake of the Iranian people, and indeed citizens throughout the Middle East, that this is a signal for change and progress in the region. Read it here:



So this was definitely the first time I have ever recorded myself for a podcast. It was a little weird, even for the brief amount of time that the assignment took, and I think I confirmed that I will never be cut out for a radio or podcast career!

I used Soundcloud, and I was extremely impressed with how streamlined and easy it was to both setup an account, and to record my podcast. Since I have a Google account through Gmail, I was able to sign up through that source, and literally within seconds I was in and ready to record. Recording and then saving the podcast was incredibly simple too. Very user-friendly, and even as someone who has never recorded anything before, I was able to a test recording and then the actual podcast without any tutorial or further instructions from the site. After a few minutes of uploading, I easily found the embedding code, and voila, first podcast complete!

So how does a podcast add to Digital Citizenship? Well, it literally gives you a voice online. As much as blogging and tweeting allows you to get your opinion out there, it's refreshing to hear a real human voice instead of reading off the screen. A podcast allows you to present emotion and personality easily, and does so in a way that is almost impossible for typed words to match (unless you're an incredible author - but for the rest of us, a podcast helps!).

I'm going to add Soundcloud to my PLE, as I can see myself using it to study. Reading my notes aloud into Soundcloud, and then have the recording played back to me as I continue to study may help uncover some things that I would miss if I was simply reading in my head!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

ADED 1P32 Session #10- Weekly Report & Reflection

This week introduced us to Animoto, a kind of movie/slideshow presentation tool. As you would see in my other posting this week, I gave a less than glowing review of this resource. I can say one thing for sure; Animoto is not making its way on to my PLE. I won't go into huge detail here again, but I found it very cumbersome and far behind other presentation tools that we have available to use.

I have worked with Prezi in the past, and there seems to be a trend happening where it slowly overtakes PowerPoint as the primary presentation tool. It just has this professional looking element to it, with a more modern and "flowing" theme to it. I highly recommend working with Prezi a little bit to get a feel for it. More and more it will be the norm in both the business and academic world.

The main theme of this week was Copyright. Copyright has always seemed like a bit of a tricky thing in my mind. As a student, I have always assumed that so long as I cite where I retrieved the information from, and use it only for academic and non-commercial reasons, any and all information or images on the internet is available. Media Dates (n.d.) somewhat confirmed this, and listed the six legitimate uses of copyrighted material: research, private study, criticism/review, new reporting, parody/satire, and education. However, is it ok to use images posted on the internet without asking permission from the owner, when they explicitly request that you ask first?

While I think that, so long as it is for one of those six reasons, legally you are safe to use the content without permission, part of being a responsible Digital Citizen is respect. If someone requests that you seek permission first, we should honour that, and respect their decision if the answer is no. Although I love the phrase "it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission", it's not the motto we should live by as an online community. Respect the wishes of other Digital Citizens. Besides, I imagine most of the time they would have no problem with you using their content, so long as you acknowledge where it came from.

From Feedly this week, one of Obama's big goals for this term appears to be slipping away. The Obama administration has veered sharply from his predecessor when it comes to dealing with Iran. Where the US has traditionally tried to keep a tight lid on Iran's nuclear ambitions, Obama has gone for negotiation and reconciliation. Although opposed by the Republicans and Israel, Obama has led the charge of the 5+1 nations attempting to strike a nuclear deal that will end Iran as a nuclear threat in exchange for sanctions lifting. However, as the deadline gets closer, the odds of that deal happening appear to be slipping away. Iranian officials announced that they would not agree to a key aspect of the deal, namely that they would not sell their stocks of atomic fuel out of the country. The purpose of this was to guarantee that it could not be militarized, and Iran had supposedly been going along with this until now. Will Obama be able to get the deal back on track? Or will the Republicans be the ones with the last laugh? Check out the article here:

My Slideshow

In this class we've discovered a lot of new tools, and almost all of them have been useful and well crafted. Unfortunately this weeks tool, Animoto, falls well short of the mark. I found Animoto very clunky, unyielding, and just straight up annoying to use. While I'm sure much of this comes from using the "free" version (a number of ads recommended paying to upgrade to Pro), it doesn't hide the fact that this version has a number of severe limitations.

Right off the bat I noticed that placing text on a screen was limited to less than 50 characters! While this might be helpful for those tempted to write essays on their slides, it was highly restrictive for what I could put on the slides. So as you can see, the above slides are very simple. This doesn't leave any room for a Reference Slide, so my references are pasted below.

Also, the watermark that they place on every slide is really distracting. Again, this could be solved by paying for the full version, but this trial run left me so frustrated that there is not a chance I pay for the full product! Microsoft Powerpoint or Google Docs is a much cleaner and powerful tool, so I'll stick with them when it comes to slideshows.

As far as learning about copyright, this assignment did teach me some valuable tips about acceptable uses of copyrighted material. Being free to use resources is important, and while giving credit is also important, these six "free" uses of content allow us as a society to remain informed, educated, and resourceful, without fear of legal troubles and company harassment.

Slide 4: theunquietlibrarian. (2015, March 29). 21st Century Research Tools (Online Image). Retrieved from

Slide 6: Helen Beetham. (2015, March 29). Digital Students (Online Image). Retrieved from

Slide 8: Spongy444. (2015, March 29). Spongebob Movie Review (Online Image). Retrieved from

Slide 10: Canadian Light Source Inc. (2015, March 29). Peter Mansbridge (Online Image). Retrieved from

Slide 12: Bago Games. (2015, March 29). Stephen Colbert (Online Image). Retrieved from

Slide 14: Hans. (2015, March 29). Lecture (Online Image). Retrieved from

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: .


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:

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" (, 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

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:

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.

ADED 1P32 First Blog Post- Week 1 Intro

Hey everyone!

My name is Matt van Bolhuis, and you guys are reading my very first blog post. Blogging will be a brand new experience for me, and I guess I enter it with a certain amount of apprehension but also a lot of curiosity. This class will be a really unique experience for me, as I've already had to try out a number of new things. First was Pintrest, and second was this blog. I imagine that the new experiences will keep on coming! As far as my activity on the various social media sites goes, you could say I'm a bit of a late bloomer. I have Facebook, but no Twitter and no Instagram. And I've survived so far! So I'll be a rookie when more social media tasks come in for this course, but I'm sure I'll adapt quickly. As for what I'm hoping this course teaches me, well, I guess I'm just in it to learn as much as I can about the online world. Knowing proper procedure, practices, and just having a general knowledge of the tools and "rules" will be invaluable in the future working world. Technology already has taken over in almost every business and organizational setting, and that process will just continue to evolve when the next generation of tools arrives. Keeping up to speed with those changes will be very important, and I think this course is a great place to start!

I guess I'll just share a little about myself. This is my third year here at Brock, and I cannot believe how fast University goes. My field of study is Sport Management, and with that comes the opportunity to complete an internship in 4th year, so after this year I only have one more actual semester of study here at Brock. It's both exciting and terrifying to think that in a little over a year I will be out hunting for a job. Growing up is fun and rewarding, but part of me wants it to slow down. Oh well. Such is life I guess. 

Obviously being in Sport Management, sports are definitely a major passion of mine. Hockey is my favourite, but I've also played volleyball and basketball at various levels growing up, with some golf on the side. I can get excited and competitive with just about any sport, so as long as there's a ball and enough people, you can usually count on me taking part in the action. 

As I'm sure you all could deduce by the picture, that's me on the right with my family. Family has a huge impact on my life, and I have been blessed with a fantastic one, both immediate and extended. Whether it's playing sports, games, cards, or just watching T.V. together, we always have a great time. I'm the youngest and only son in my family, so this has led to accusations of favourtism and spoiledness from my sisters, but I just to like to say that my Mom and Dad perfected parenting by the time I came around!

Anyways, I guess that's good enough for an introduction. Here's signing off on my first blog post.