Digital Citizenship Major Project: An In-Depth App Analysis

For my major project I have decided will entail my personal journey into digital media both personally, and educationally.  In my current position it is an expectation that we are up and current on trending educational technology that is implemented into the classroom, as well as having an idea of the technology that our students are using on a daily basis.  I have decided that because this project fits well within the context of my position as an instructional technology consultant that it would be a great asset to share with my school division, and aid in the implementation of these apps for teachers in our division.  As an EdTech Leader we often look at the purpose of the apps, in addition to one of our main concerns with the implementation of new technology, privacy.  Some of the questions we have to look at include:

  • Where is the student information stored?
  • What happens if the company sells?
  • Do companies sell student data?
  • Are students being marketed towards?

The apps that I am going to look at include

  • TikTok (An app that is fairly new to me that could potentially has engaging potential for education),
  • Seesaw (A very popular app that is being used by many educators in ourschool division, I have some experience with Seesaw)
  • Wakelet (A fairly new app to me, but again have some experience but have seen limited use in the classroom)
  • and as Matteo is doing (time permitting a surprise app)

I am still trying to fabricate how I am going to present, and the information that I am going to gather.  There currently is a lot of educational websites that tackle investigations into these apps, such as Common Sense Media.  I want to make something different, while still providing the full review of the app. Currently I am hoping on housing these full reviews on a web creation site such as Adobe Spark Page in which I have played around briefly with, or with Adobe Dreamweaver, in which I have no experience with, but would tie in nicely with some of the coding experience I have taken in my last course.

My current ideas for providing my in-depth app analysis includes:

  • description
  • in-depth review
  • tutorials
  • privacy policy,
  • educational value
  • lessons
  • testimonies
  • podcasts
  • Alignment to the ISTE Standards (What our school division follows)

Where applicable I will encourage teachers I am working with to look at the use of apps in an educational setting or to use the apps within a personal setting, and get their feedback on using the applications.  I will possibly with school division permission, pilot the educational apps and provide testimonies of the classroom experiences.  These experiences will be documented not only on the website that will be created but as well as through Twitter.

Time permitting I will like to take a deep dive into how teachers are implementing these apps within the classroom, and hopefully step outside my comfort zone and produce some podcasts related to teachers who are implementing these programs in the classroom.  For podcasting I plan to use Anchor, this is a very user friendly app that I have used with students and will suit my needs perfectly for podcasting this semester.

I am excited to venture into this project as it will allow me to research and reflect on my learning as a educator, and as a EdTech leader for my school division.

 

A Bit about Me, Curtis Bourassa

A bit about me.  Currently I am an Instructional Technology Consultant with South East Cornerstone Public School Division.  I like to think that my job is one of the best jobs in the field of education as it allows me to observe what other teachers are doing in their classroom, opened many learning experiences and opportunities, allows for co-teaching, and shares my passion for using technology appropriately in the classroom.

Outside of the classroom, I currently am in the midst of wedding planning and this has taken up a large amount of my time.  I also enjoy travelling in my summers, spending time catching up with friends, and watching and playing sports.

ECI832: Digital Citizenship is of interest to me because I believe it is critical that we teach students, and become aware as educators how to become digital citizens.  We need to teach students and educators to be critical consumers of the the digital content we are exposed to.  This class pairs hand-in-hand with my position as an Instructional Technology Consultant, and thus I am excited learn and share my learning with others.

 

Wrapping Up the Learning Project

Over the past 4 months, I have decided to learn how to code Python.  I set my goals very high, although I did not reach all of them due to the level of difficulty I did learn a lot.  In this post, I am going to highlight the successes and the struggles of my journey in learning how to code Python.

Successes

  • I spent time learning the syntax (the rules of Python) and this itself will prove to be beneficial as I will be able to Python scripts, and I will also be able to learn a little bit about other coding languages as well.
  • I have learned how to successfully log in to a website by running a Python script.  Although I could not ger my Python script to successfully complete the action of liking some #eci831 tweets I was happy to use Python to automate this process.
  • I created a text-based video game that the user had to defeat the “Monster” this was a very involved process that I was glad to see worked out in the end.
  • On my RaspberryPi, I bought a camera.  I was successfully able to take a picture with this camera and upload it block by block into Minecraft.  Although not applicable to many things I did have fun testing out my creation.
  • One of the highlights was for me to understand how to create a Graphic User Interface.  These are the actual windows that pop up on computers. I was able to create a working calculator, and I am continuing to try to create some sort of game using Python.
  • I utilized two apps to learn how to code Python, Sololearn and Py.  These apps helped me learn the syntax for coding Python

Struggles

  • I really struggled with the ability to not see success right away.  Coding is a complex skill that requires problems to be broken down into small problems.  I struggled to get many components to work and got frustrated in the process.  (Reflecting on this, this process was important for me to experience as many of our learners also face these problems.
  • In my current job, it already requires a lot of screen time.  I struggled with the fact that some days after spending a large portion of the day working on the computer that I would have to come home and work on some coding.  (On reflecting, it might have been beneficial to learn how to do something more relaxing, for example, how to use my Cricut to decorate for my wedding)

Thanks for tagging along on my coding journey!

For all my Python posts check out my ECI831 Category: Learning Project 2.0.

 

ECI831 Summary of Learning

Well everyone, this is ONE graduate class down.  In my Summary of Learning, I decided to tackle many different tools.  These tools did provide me with quite the challenge of editing them within the video editor, I always forget the amount of effort that goes into editing a video! (Well over 10+ hours of editing, and creating)  Please enjoy my Summary of Learning!

If the above video was too long or not to your liking, please refer to The Summary of “the Summary of Learning” below.

In the video, I used the following tools

Some of my Learning within the Course:

  • The development of a culture of sharing
  • The importance of blogging as a form of reflection for our education practice.
  • The ability to connect and develop a Personal Learning Network (PLN).
  • Participation in Twitter Chats, (#Saskedchat, #ditchbook, etc.)
  • Learning about Social Media from the past and how it impacts us as educators today, and how we teach students citizenship skills in a digital media world.
  • Open Education Resources and the broader Open Educational Practices explained in the summary of learning.
  • The experience of learning something through online means, and the process of which learners go through.  (The frustration, the failing, and the learning!)
  • Understanding the impact of Social Activism, and the modeling for students to become personally responsible citizens, participatory citizens, and social justice orientated citizens.

Thank you Alec Couros for facilitating our class discussions, and thank you to a great group of colleagues that have made my first graduate class a great experience!

Social Activism: What do you Have to Risk?

What is Social Activism?

Activism.  According to Anjali Appadurai’s Ted Talk: What is Activism? They define activism as:

“The practice of addressing an issue, by challenging those in power. It is an act done by civil society directed towards a system of governance.”

In addition, according to Shahla Ghobadi, an assistant professor from the University of Manchester.  She describes social activism as a broad range of activities that are beneficial to society or particular interest groups.  Social activists operate in groups to voice and educate for change targeting global crises using social media.  Social activism could include examples of:

Let’s face it, social media has engulfed most of our lives in some way.  Many of our students use social media every day.  Often it is the first thing we do in the morning and the last thing we look at before bed.  The majority of information that our students receive will be through social media.  A campus newspaper I found from New University: the University of California discussed that we are in a Hashtag generation, which could inform and inspire us to take action, start a movement, and allow our voices to be heard. As educators, it is important for us to embrace social media, and promote students to become digital citizens to learn how to participate in social media to its greatest extent.

The Benefits of Social Activism: 

Social Media provides an avenue for people to be heard.  Often we only hear from people who had large amounts of influence, money, and power. It was their opinions that mattered (still largely is the same way today).  In today’s digital age it provides a voice for others.  We are able to hear from people who are from marginalized communities, including but not limited to, people of colour, the LGBTQ community, indigenous, refugees, etc. Many of these people have not had a platform where their voices could be heard to the level of the traditional media.

Another benefit of social media also provides a raw view of the world around us.  The media is not necessarily involved.  By people joining in on social media for a cause, brings awareness to issues that may otherwise be dismissed. All the post needs is a spark. This is what happened with the #FlintWaterCrisis.

Furthermore, by participating in social activism you are making a statement.  As Katia Hildebrant from the University of Regina states, 

If we are online, as educators, and we remain silent about issues of social justice, if we tweet only about educational resources and not about the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in Canada, or about the burning of Black churches in the southern United States, we are sending a clear message: These issues are not important.

As Katia explains, we have a responsibility to use our privilege to speak out, to participate in meaningful ways to promote equity in networked spaces.

We have a responsibility to risk our privilege to give voice to social inequities and injustices. We have a responsibility to risk our privilege to give voice to those who have no privilege to risk.

– Katia Hildebrandt

The Threats of Social Activism:

Many believe that the act of social activism may only create the impression of activism.  This has been found in many of the articles that I have read. By changing a profile picture, liking a tweet, or 1 like = 1 prayer posts on Facebook that the older generation seem to enjoy, raises the question, is my contribution only surface deep? Online activism: it’s easy to click, but just as easy to disengage questions,

“Is your contribution deeper than a click?”

In addition, we have also seen the impact of how social activism campaigns have impacted many governments across the world.  Many countries have internet filtering and have blocked access to several websites, or conduct internet surveillance.

A couple key countries to ban social media that stand out include China and Bangladesh. China’s Internet Censorship Agency has its own internet censorship song (which is interesting, to say the least).  The reason why it was banned is that citizens used it to organize protests that turned into riots.  Currently, Facebook and Twitter are only accessible in a small region of Shanghai, or in Hong Kong.


Bangladesh’s social media ban was put in place due to a Supreme Court decision to uphold the death sentence of two men for war crimes. It never has been reinstated.

Furthermore, another threat of social media is the idea of “doxxing”.  Doxxing is publicly spreading information about individuals with the intention of harming their social or work lives.  This is truly a terrifying situation where it ensures that people are kept accountable for their online actions.

What do I Have to Risk?

Writing this blog post has made me think deeply about the impact that I have had regarding social media activism. Am I making a difference? Am I being complacent in taking the cause further? By posting on Social Media how can you participate in productive conversations online?

We must ask ourselves:

  • Is my involvement only surface level?
  • How can I take this further, what can I do to be more involved in the cause or in the conversation?
  • What is our role in educating youth the potential of social media

We have a lot of privilege to live in Canada with access to technology that we do. Just as we teach students to become personally responsible citizens, it is equally important to teach them to become participatory citizens and justice orientated citizens.

As Katia points out, access to technology comes down to privilege. As the Pew Research Center has discovered, “Black and Hispanic social media users are more likely to say these sites are personally important for getting involved with issues, expressing their political views”.

We are often held back by posting on social media as we are fearful that our posts, comments, photos, etc. could have negative consequences leading to the loss of our jobs, or making us unhireable. We have seen this happen, most recently with the firing of Don Cherry from Sportsnet (although not produced through social media, but nonetheless a platform used to reach a vast amount of Canadians), and we have seen this in the recent federal election with politicians stepping down due to inappropriate comments made on social media.

Brooke highlights in her blog post Social Media Activism… Are We There Yet?:

Even if people choose not to participate in these discussions on social change, the hashtags, news articles, videos, that they find on their social media platforms make it difficult to ignore.

I agree with Brooke, that the power that social media has in inspiring people to become participatory citizens or social justice citizens in addition to socially responsible citizens is due to the fact that social media campaigns make these issues hard to ignore. It provides a venue where previously we were not a part of these discussions but now we are able to participate.

If we have the privilege to be a part of these conversations and discussions we need to step up and have our voices be heard, standing in solidarity with those who do not have such privilege. If we do not have discussions on social media due to living in fear of the consequences of our social media activities it is a result of our privilege. I echo as Katia and many of my other colleagues such as Brooke, and Catherine, as we all believe social justice needs to be taught. By not participating and staying silent tells the world that the issues are not important. However we as educators have the opportunity to teach students about social media by teaching them to become participatory, and social justice citizens. And it just so happens that social media provides the avenue to make these issues relevant to our students.

Week 7: Creating a Simple Calculator

This week I attempted to code a game with my GUI and Tkinter using the code that I have created in a different week with the text-based game that I created.  I discovered that this was actually A LOT more advanced than I had anticipated. However, the learning gained through this process was valuable.

One of my struggles last week was to figure out how to make buttons disappear when they are clicked.  That was a success.  This was due to the online forum Stack Exchange which allows people to ask questions about their code.

I am currently finding it difficult to take my code and apply the attack and heal buttons to execute the math equations that I want it to do.  This has turned out to be the current delay of the game.

I seem to be stuck in a cycle of trying to figure out why something is NOT working, as well as trying to figure out what something IS working.   In coding, there is something called Rubber Duck debugging. This involves talking through code to your rubber duck in the hopes that talking through your problem we can understand what the issue is.  As strange and silly as this may sound, this could be used in a lot of other applications.  Imagine a situation where we can encourage students to decipher and problem solve by taking the problem, decomposing the problem into smaller pieces.  Recognize patterns, filter information, and organize steps in order to solve problems. By talking through problems to my rubber duck (yes, I have one on my bookshelf next to my computer) it allows me to troubleshoot by myself, then I can take my issues to the next level asking for help. Imagine if we trained students to use this level of thinking and independence? This way of thinking also is the foundation of Computational Thinking.

However, in my frustration, I decided to take on another challenge.  Building a simple calculator.  Using the GeeksforGeeks website, I was able to discover a tool that walking me step by step into creating a working calculator.  Now, this calculator that I have created could be improved.  And I feel as I may switch gears in the future to see how I could implement something such as brackets, exponents to add on to my calculator.  My hope is that I can take these skills from this activity and apply them to complete my game in the future.

Below is my video that talks about the calculator that I have created this week using Tkinter and Python:

Week 6: Creating a GUI (Graphic User Interface on Python)

About GUIs:

This week I focused on learning about Graphic User Interfaces (GUIs), what they are and how to use them.  According to Computer Hope,  GUI us a system of interactive components such as icons, and other graphical objects that help a user interact with computer software.  A GUI is often pronounced as G-U-I or as “gooey”.

Everyone who has operated a computer has seen a GUI.  A GUI can look like the following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following video Crash Course video explains all about GUIs.

Learning Project using Python on my Raspberry Pi to Create a GUI:

This week was all about learning how to create a GUI within Python.  I used many different tools such as the website LikeGeeks. This website broke down all the components of GUI’s and how I was able to add widgets such as text, buttons, radio buttons, checkboxes, images, menus.

Below are some of my creations for the week.

This photo highlights the code required to create a Combo box, a menu that provides a dropdown with a list.

The following shows a label, “Hello”, and a button “Click Me”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The upcoming week I hope to take my new GUI knowledge and apply it to the game that I have created prior.  Instead of using the command line, the user will hopefully be able to interact with the screen to play the game.

On first attempt, this was proven to be difficult as I found that it is difficult to make the button provide new information and then disappear, something that sounds so simple I tried to complete for well over an hour and a half.  Hopefully by using resources such as stack overflow, an online forum, will help me troubleshoot some of my issues.

11 Reasons to Use OER Commons in Your Classroom

Definition of OER:

According to OER commons, an OER is “Teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.”

What is OER Commons:

OER Commons is a free digital library of resources for teachers.  OER is a part of the worldwide movement that states, “Human right to access high-quality education.” Teachers can search for resources or use the Open Author tool to create lessons or documents.

Open resources are always free, but free resources do not always mean open.  For example, OER commons explains that free resources may introduce fees to access these resources.  Furthermore, free resources that may not be modified, adapted or redistributed are not considered to be OER.

Instructional Videos on How to Use OER Commons Effectively

ISKME has curated a list of How-To videos on navigating OER Commons.  This list provides teachers with the necessary videos to navigate the 30,000 resource database.

OER Commons Connecting with Each Other To Provide Cross-Curricular Learning Experiences

Why Should You Use OER Commons?

1.  Saved or shared through Google Classroom.

OER Commons allows you to create your lessons within their platform and then transfer the lessons, modules or resources to your Google Classroom.

2.  Can search by education standards (Currently only common core)

While searching for resources within OER Commons it allows the user to filter resources through searching by specific standards. Currently, you can only search by the standards used in the United States, but educators in Canada may find it useful to filter to certain standards that match to their outcomes.

3.  Can search and filter by subject area, education level, material type, language, and provider.

Due to the volume of resources that are found on OER Commons, it is important that you filter your resources the best that you can.  As it takes time to go through all the resources available.

4.  1000s of resources make it crucial to filter out resources in order to find quality resources.

OER Commons features over 30,000 resources that educators can use to meet their classroom needs.  As said previously, be sure to filter, and use the user rating to find resources that are quality resources rated by other educators.

5.  Promotes Collaboration between educators

One of the 21st century learning skills is collaboration.  OER Commons allows educators to collaborate with one another through the creation of groups.  If educators are promoting collaboration with their students, OER provides opportunities for educators to collaborate together.

6.  Educators are able to adapt for their own as the resources are through the public domain.

OER Commons should be the first stop shop for teachers looking for resources.  OER Commons allows educators to adapt their content to the needs of their students.  The ability to use their built-in lesson editor provides an easy way to alter lesson plans and resources.

7.  Access to textbooks, multimedia, and research-based practices for free.

Not only are their lesson plans available for use, but there is access to textbooks, multimedia resources, research-based practices for free.  These resources provide educators with additional resources to supplement the learning already in the classroom.

8.  Keep information current, by adapting information people can keep their information current and up to date.

Due to the ability to adapt the information in OER Commons many resources are fairly current and up to date. It is important that we are providing students with relevant information.

9.  You can take training and PD through ISKME, the group that created OER commons. View webinars and other resources.

OER Commons provides PD training and offers webinars about their services in addition to learning more about Open Educational resources in general.  They pride their PD as educators teaching educators about OER.

10.  Build your own modules, resources and lesson builder

The ability to create and share modules, resources, and lessons is built into the program itself. This provides an easy way for educators to share what they have created with other teachers.

11.  View collections of resources such as STEAM, Ancient Civilizations, and various educational textbooks.

OER Commons has curated resources around popular subjects such as STEAM, Ancient Civilizations, and countless others.  This provides educators with easy searching by providing fully indexed collections of resources.  To find exactly what educators want and need.

 

Week 5: Minecraft Selfies

This week in my learning project I decided to use a Raspberry Pi.  A  Raspberry Pi is a small computer that promotes teaching basic computer science in schools.

This has been my first project with the Raspberry Pi.   There are numerous tutorials online that will work through how to code using a variety of different lessons.  This week I decided to look into one called Minecraft Selfies, as I was inspired by Meeno Rami’s guest appearance last week.  I decided to buy a Raspberry Pi camera module and experiment with Minecraft Pi.  Minecraft has its own free version on the Raspberry Pi.  This plays as normal Minecraft, but I can add some code to the game.

Check out what I did this week!