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.