Celebration of Learning

Wow!  Has this semester ever flown by!  I really can’t believe that we are at the end of this chapter in our learning.  I wanted to try something new for my celebration of learning, so I decided to try an emaze presentation. Not only do I want to keep on learning new things, I want to try and “up the ante” so to speak with our school newsletter, therefore taking amaze for a test drive only seemed natural!

Disrobing via Slacktivism

So far this has been a very hard blog to write, not 100 percent too sure why, but it may be because knowing that I have unknowingly contributed to the “slacktivism” movement makes a person look inward and take stock of themselves.  So, where did the spark to write this post come from?  Simple – it came from a tweet!

Thank you Lance and Ashley!

According to the Urban Dictionary – A slacktivist is a “person who does simple things like change their avatar colour or post a status update about a cause instead of actively supporting the cause.”   ALS ice bucket challenge, Pink and Red equals signs for equal rights in marriage.  Avatar activism is not a bad thing, it does raise awareness on issues and does bring issues to light, reaching many people on social media in a very short time.  But does it end there, with a re-tweet, changing the colour of your Facebook profile picture, wearing a bracelet in support of a cause that means a lot to the individual?  The video below takes a look at the positives of having slacktivists in our society.

Katherine Hudson points out that 5000 likes is worth more than one conversations.  ONE CONVERSATION!  Again, this brings to mind the idea from Michael Wesch’s TED Talk knowledgable vs. knowledge-able.  The evolution of using knowledge (knowing a bunch of stuff) towards a concept of being knowledge-able  (find, sort, analyze, what can be said, who can say it, who hears what is said) which are used to start conversations.  At 12:30 into his TED Talk, Michael speaks about a software used to send alerts to based on where you are to your cell phone – essentially creating 45,000 citizen reporters.  These “reporters” were not physically doing anything, they were sending alerts, so are these “reporters” slacktivists?

One last thing, and brining it back to Katherine Hudson; are slacktivitst disrobing us of our own opinions or are they educating and moving the tassel on the mortarboard from the right side to the left?

He Said, She Said…OR Did She???

As I sat down to write this blog I was plagued with feelings of disappointment and being left deflated.  Have you ever heard of the saying below saying by Mark Twain?  I whole heartedly agree with this saying as I have experienced this before in my personal life (and I am sure most of us have), but have had the experience orally as opposed to digitally via social media.Mark Twain

I often wonder though, if more women (cis and trans) feel this way than men?  This is NOT to say that men are “stupid people” at all – please do not take my statement that way.  It’s just that I wonder if women feel that they can never “win” or is it that they realize early on in a disagreement (orally or social media) that they do not need to infuse their energy into the argument because their point will clearly not be taken as intended? Or that their gender identity already defines how they will be regarded online?

These thoughts began to percolate as I read Matt Rosa’s article on Gamer Gate and the silencing of Felicia Day in regards to her love of gaming and finding an inclusive arena (social media) to voice her opinions and experiences.  Inclusion – isn’t that what social media, the internet are all about?  In schools, we often employ social media and the internet as a means of inclusion of all individuals within our classroom.  How many of us have used social media to reach out to other educators when needing help with an assignment or activity that is inclusive?  I would hazard to guess that most of us have.

Sask HS Techers Group


But since learning of Felicia Day and Amanda Hess’ experiences with online bigotry and their feelings of unwelcomeness of women on line, I began to feel deflated in the way women are viewed.  I thought we were making “waves” in the world, women have the right to vote in North America, women are respected in higher level positions – U of R has a female president and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Vianne Timmons, the USA has a female running for president!  Then why is it that women whom have a voice on social media are undergoing unacceptable attacks by trolls? And why is it that online harassment of women is becoming the ‘established norm‘?

The findings (Australian study) Suggested that women believed that online abuse was a growing problem and felt powerless to act over it.

Seventy per cent of women said online harassment was a serious problem in 2016 and 60% said that it was getting worse. More than half the women surveyed felt the police needed to start taking victims seriously.

A Pew study on online harassment,completed in 2014 with the following findings:

60% of internet users said they had witnessed someone being called offensive names
53% had seen efforts to purposefully embarrass someone
25% had seen someone being physically threatened
24% witnessed someone being harassed for a sustained period of time
19% said they witnessed someone being sexually harassed
18% said they had seen someone be stalked

Those who have personally experienced online harassment said they were the target of at least one of the following online:

27% of internet users have been called offensive names
22% have had someone try to purposefully embarrass them
8% have been physically threatened
8% have been stalked
7% have been harassed for a sustained period
6% have been sexually harassed

And in particular: 
Young women experience particularly severe forms of online harassment

Reading the article written by the Huffington Post, “Harassment of Women Comes from Evolution – And Men’s Insecurities” raises points from a study done by the University of New South Wales and Miami University:

The study’s results supported an “evolutionary argument for why low-status, low-performing males are hostile towards female competitors.”

“Dominance is tightly linked to fitness through offspring number and resource availability,” the authors wrote. “As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.”

They went on to say that high status women pose a “secondary threat” to lower status men, adding that, “as women are attracted to dominance, a high-status female is less likely to find lower-status males attractive.”

Being hostile toward a woman is meant to reduce her self-worth and confidence, the authors said, while at the same time lifting their attackers’ perceptions of their own dominance.

“Higher-skilled (i.e. more dominant) males do not behave in this manner as there is no need for them to reinforce their dominance to maintain their attractiveness,” they wrote.

I wanted to do a bit of research myself and sent out a Twitter poll, here are my results:

And received some insight:

— Carla Cooper (@carlacoop) March 27, 2016


This leads me back to the saying by Mark Twain, how many people read his quote in a different light now?   So is it, I wonder,  that women are just easier prey online or that outspoken, powerful women (Katia 🙂 ) are so threatening to some men, in a sense emasculating, that these men feel the right to put said women in her place?

Sharenting, I thought I was being a good parent!

At Milestone School – we are all set to have a very busy few weeks…. Our school Heritage Fair is tomorrow, and we are hosting Prairie Valley Regional Science Fair on April 5th.  With all of the major activities taking place within the next week of school, I wonder how many parents will be “sharenting”? Over half of mothers and one-third of fathers post about their children on-line – and it is there FOREVER.  Are we opening our children up to cyberbullying?

Natalie Krawczyk wrote an article early this year about parents who just share too much and need to stop, not only creating a digital footprint for themselves (and sometimes including embarrassing images of themselves) as well as those of their children. I agree with Amy,  parents are creating digital identities for their children, some as young as fetuses – just because our children belong to us, does that give us the right to create digital footprints before these children have a say?  Remember, at the rate that digital identities are moving, our children most likely will not need to create a resume when applying for jobs in the future, their IP address will be all that their future employers require.  Would you want a picture of yourself as a young child learning to potty train on your resume?  I think not!


Remembering that there are two sides to every coin, not all people feel that “sharenting” is a bad idea.  Some parents use the photos and posts to reach out to others in search of building a community re: looking for advice or moving thought a similar stage of your child’s life alongside others whom are experiencing the same things.  C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health found the following information:

Who uses it most:
84% of moms, 70% of dads
56% of moms, 34% of dads discuss child health and parenting

Common topics:
Sleep, nutrition, discipline, daycare/preschool and behaviour

72% say it makes them feel less alone
67% say they get advice from other parents
62% say it helps them worry less

68% worry about child’s privacy
67% worry someone will re-share child’s photos
52% worry child will be embarrassed when older

Honestly, I really did not think too much about “sharenting” until reading this weeks articles.  Sure, I share pictures of my son’s on my Facebook – but somehow I feel a bit immune to the whole “sharenting” ideal as my sons are much older (19 & 17 – yes, I feel old), and they are at the age where they can untag themselves from a picture that I post.  But, as a parent of teenage boys, I have been very cognizant of what I post as I do not want to post any embarrassing photos (although I have really, really wanted to at times, haha, I guess those pictures will just have to wait until their weddings :)).  Or, should we just show photos like the one below of my son’s, Rhys and Dayne?  I feel that I am the same as most parents,  I just want to share moments with my family and close friends of my son’s lives, showing their milestones, but is there a fine line that needs to be drawn in the sand?

Rhys Dayne Lacrosse 2015

I wonder, how many of you sharent?  If you have, do you regret sharing as much of your child’s life as you have or have you used it as a way to reach out to other parents going through the similar situations you are experiencing as a parent of young children?


What is Your Brand?

Bear with me for this post – as it may seem a little bazaar at first in regards to the topics of social identity, reputation and social capital, but I promise you, it will all make sense very soon!  This week Alec and Katia tasked #eci831 with reading articles on the above topics, and while the topics are extremely valid and thought provoking, even providing “Oh, that’s how it is done” moments, I feel that the entire weeks readings are best understood by the following video:

I know you may be surprised with my choice to explain the constructs of social identity by using Morgan Spurlock.  But he does bring about some very good, relatable points in regards to this topic:

First – his talk, and film, is about branding.  I ask you this, aren’t we in some way branding ourselves when we create a digital identity?  Aren’t we creating a persona that we want the world to see?  Alec Brownstein did this when he took out bought Google AdWords for some of the people who had influenced himself the most.  This branding ended up landing him his dream job at Y & R, all for the low, low cost of $6.00!  Alec wasn’t afraid of “putting himself out there in an interesting way”.  Just like Spurlock is pitching to all of the companies he visited.

Second – we see Spurlock speaking to the team at Ban, when he asked the people on the team to describe Ban’s brand they wanted to put a positive spin on their produce.  Ban was described as “fresh” vs. the negative connotations that go along with underarm deodorant such as: wet and odour. If you visit the company website, their tagline is “Instant, All Day Freshness”.  Bonnie Steward’s blog “What Your New Year’s Facebook Posts Really Mean” reflects on her 2015 year in review put together by Facebook.  All in all, the year in review looked “nice” – most likely due to the coding that Facebook has run to post only the most “likes” personal posts throughout the year. Steward stated that we as humans are adaptable, and as cultures we are vulnerable.  Were you able to pick up on both Spurlock and the companies which were sponsoring his film capability to be adaptable for one another and the concept of the film?  Spurlock, himself was very vulnerable while pitching his idea to all companies.  But as a society, we are vulnerable – look at example Spurlock gave about San Paulo’s “Clean City Law“- no advertising on buildings?

San Paulo - no advertising

Sure, the city may be void of branding/advertising on buildings, but is it really?  I bet there is digital advertising and branding taking place at the very moment you are reading this post.

Third – Spurlock speaks about being transparent.  Anthony Perrotta is teaching his class to brand themselves using “professional looking Twitter, YouTube accounts and blogs”  The digital footprints that his students are creating are transparent to all who actively search, or stumble upon them online.  Resume’s are tools that have been used for at least 50 years, and while they do have a place in the toolbox, they are becoming outdated – soon to be replaced (outdated) with one’s own digital identity.  Social media gives our students a voice with which to be heard.  And while our students are still learning and growing, they need to remember that what they are putting online is transparent for all to see.  As teachers, we need to do as Perrotta is, and teach students how to create a positive transparency as their personal digital footprints are huge.  I really liked Kelly Holborn’s reflection on her digital transparency – watch below.

Spurlock noted in his TED talk that transparency scary, unpredictable, and risky all at the same time.  Kelly questions if our technological world has caused her to act a certain way online.  Has she managed her reputation a certain way because she was posting on social media?  The article, Reputation Management and Social Media echo’s Kelly’s concerns about her online profile.  The youth (ages 18-29) are more careful of their digital portfolio; they are more likely to take steps to limit amount of personal information available about them online, they change their privacy settings, they delete unwanted comments and remove their names from photos in which they have been tagged in.  Just as Suprlock stated, transparency is risky, which is why the monitoring of ones own digital footprint has become common.   Pernille Tranberg speaks about how she chooses to control her digital identity and why it is so important for her to do so.

As Spurlock stated at the end of his talk, and as I teach to my students, we need to encourage people to take risks and be transparent, but in a way that allows our students to maintain a positive digital identity.  I learned from Spurlock that my brand identity is that of a down attribute (contemplative, empathetic, wise, reliable), with a few up attributes (adventurous, inspiring) thrown in for good measure, what type of attribute do your brand personality represent and is your identity, reputation and social capital reflective of the person who you are off line?

Trespassing Without Risk

Dean Shareski, Dean and I are both from the same school division.  My adult life has kind of happened backwards to the “norm” for those who are my age.  Very soon out of high school I got married, had kids and worked in the Moose Jaw School Division (now Prairie South School Division).  Then my life took a turn, as many lives do, and I made a decision when I turned 30 to do something that would make ME happy.  So, I soon left my beloved job as a teaching assistant at Albert E.Peacock and entered the U of R as a full time single parent student in the faculty of Education as a Biology major and Chemistry minor (this may explain my previous blogs being somewhat science based).  See, I have actually been embedded into education far beyond by professional duties as a teacher and administration, and I have questioned why some professionals were so guarded.  I felt very drawn to Dean’s video Sharing, the Moral Imperative.

See, I believe that education is not limited to the walls that make up our classrooms and our schools.  As Dean stated “Educators have a duty to share as an ethical responsibility”.  But, as many educators that I admire believe, not only should we share our information as connected leaners, but so should our students.  Our students should own their thought and work, not only for the sake of their own learning, but to become connected students and share with like-minded (and maybe some not like-minded) individuals globally.

I am the type of educator that is willing to share everything that I have, I find this is my duty.  I have had the amazing opportunity to work with Dean Elliott and Fatma Zohra-Henni at the Ministry of Education developing and writing new curriculum.  If I wasn’t a “sharer”, there is no way that I would have applied for this – you see, now I have shared my thoughts and ideas with at least all high school Health Science 20 teachers in the province, as well as those that read the curriculum beyond the provincial boundaries.  I also have the amazing opportunities to work as a curriculum implementer for HS20 and an advisor for HS21.  I have co-presented the curriculum alongside my co-writers to many, many people and have enjoyed the feedback – the networking if you will, from educators with ideas all their own.

If that wasn’t lucky enough, I have now had the opportunity to present Vernier probeware systems for Merlan Scientific alongside Patrick Kossmann, an amazing friend and co-worker to numerous teachers who also want their student to learn science by doing.

Successful sharing, although individual, could not be achieved if it wasn’t for the amazing school division that I am employed – for they have given me the ability, trust and freedom to spread my wings and experience networking outside of my classroom. Open education is changing lives as it allows for updating lessons and curriculum with the most up to date information available. Sites such as creative commons makes open sharing easy as it allows for “sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools”. I have never considered publishing my work under creative commons before, mostly because I had only ever used cc for images.  So I checked out Athabasca University, BC Campus, and Ontario Online Learning Portal – I was a bit disappointed as I was looking for high school materials, and found mainly university level, maybe this isn’t formed yet?  Or maybe I wasn’t looking in the right spaces – this is something I will continue to work at.  I mean, a source other than Teachers Pay Teachers, an open source free sharing site with attributions.  Please do not misinterpret what I am meaning, I do think that authors of resources on TPT do need reimbursement for the work/lessons/resources that they are creating, but it isn’t exactly what I am looking for presently.  I am looking for a collaborative site that will allow for remixing and extensions beyond what the author has already created, working alongside the author.  I did find sources such as OpenSci and Sci-mate – yet these still were not what I was quite looking for as they were way above what I would teach at the high school level.

I chose to watch the Internet’s Own Boy – the story of Aaron Swartz. Aaron Swartz

                                                                                    Photo Credit: ( Pittografo ) x vocazione via Compfight cc

If you did not watch this, I highly urge you to!  I have beliefs similar to Aaron did, on a familiar yet less grand platform about open education resources.  I want to be able to give the best possible education to my students, even if I am not whom is the best for the particular subject matter.  For instance, if I struggle with a concept in modern physics, I want to find the best teacher there is for my students, and likewise, if there were a teacher struggling with health science concepts – I would like that teacher to feel free to access my resources openly and collaboratively for the benefit of their students.

Since watching the documentary based on Aaron Schwartz, understanding the change from  read-write culture to read only culture through the eyes of Lawrence Lessig– to the contrary mr. suss, our vocal cords are not silenced, rather they are yelling louder than ever though the sharing of resources and thoughts, welcoming all trespassers and citizens alike!  Remix all you like, just please share back so I can learn from you too as my students are the ultimate beneficiaries in the evolution that is education.

Thank you Aaron Swartz and Larry Lessig for making it possible for people like Jack Andraka to have the freedom and access to publication to make a difference in the world.

The Science Behind the Meme

Although I knew that we were coming up to this point in the course, the point when we move beyond discussing how social media can be used for so much good in society – communication, literacy, networking, and simplifying every day tasks.  But social media can also rear it’s ugly head and be used for degrading individuals, often at their own hand.

Memes, according to Susan Blackmore, are simply pieces of information that are copied with variation and passed on from person to person.  A meme can be something as simple as earrings – those of us who wear earrings didn’t invent earrings, we copied or propigating the idea of having earrings and use the for our personal decoration.  Memes (memetic) are based upon genes relying upon replication and transcription, it is essential a biological process which allows us our language to evolve and adapt to what we desire.  Susan Blackmore’s video below really allows us to think about a different view on memes and times (memes driven out of technology), watch until 13:30.

Now, if the above video was too scientifically buried in Darwinism for you, try a lighter explanation:  Sheldon and Amy talking about engaging in the social sciences discuss Richard Dawkins meme theory – suggesting that memes are like living things that seek to reproduce using human beings as their host – like a virus.  Sheldon and Amy hypothesize about memetic epidemiology regarding human experimentation, they set out to study the effect that memes have on their social story.  Enjoy!

From the above videos, we learn that memes are not limited to pictures with wording added to it like the one below.

chemistry cat

Now, memes really can be used for good.  Alec Couros tweeted out an “awesome use of memes” with this Delta airline video:

Memes also are a powerful visual literacy tool as they allow the learner to:

Process and make meaning of information presented in an image.

Communicate our own ideas through principles of design.

Create our own messages that capture our visual thinking in a way that conceptualizes problems to given solutions.

As read in her post, What does it all Meme?, Kay Olden re-iterated to above points noting that memes are tools which can be used  for engagement (like a hook), information literacy, and allow learners to gain a sense or a critical awareness of their understandings of world events.

Just as there is a flip side to a coin, there is a flip side to the use of memes.  We know that memes have the potential to be viral, and just like a virus that infects a human being, a meme can have a devastating effect as it begins to spread throughout social media circles, replicating and transforming. Ashley VanPevenage’s make-up artist posted a photo on social media of Ashely before and after make-up, this photo ended up going viral, a large amount of memes were created using her picture, almost all of which were negative causing Ashley’s self-confidence to decrease.  Below is another example of a meme that ruined Taiwanese model Heidi Yeh’s career and had serious impacts on her personal life.

plastic surgery meme

Photo credit: Plastic Surgery Ruined Models Life

In the above two examples, both girls fought back, but it leaves me wondering, how many people who have had their personal pictures turned into memes fought back?  It really isn’t that shocking if a picture on social media can have as devastating effects as the above two examples are, that other forms of social media can have equally devastating effect or worse.  Remember the Sextortion of Amanda Todd?

Amanda Todd

Photo credit:  The Fifth Estate

And to bring this blog to an end, I must come full circle from where I began and end as I began, deeply rooted in science.  Please watch below and reflect on Richard Dawkins talk in 2013 at Cannes talking about memes are mutations in the mind.