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?


My Get Out Of Jail Free Card

My exploration of MOOC’s continues; specifically with cMOOCs.   I have set aside the xMOOC I was taking at the start of the semester,  the timing just wasn’t right for me to be taking another oMOOCn-line course. In some ways, I feel like my major learning project in #eci831 has been my “Get out of jail free card” as we are encouraged to explore a subject that is important to us at this time.  For me, that exploration revolved around learning about MOOCs (at the time I did’t even know that there was more than one type of MOOC)!


This week, our #mosomelt community began exploring more ways to introduce ourselves via mobile technology.  We could into ourselves using either Instagram video or a Vine video.  I choose the latter of the two, simply because I feel okay using Instagram and had never used Vine before.

As you can see – I still need to play around a bit and get up the nerve to actually speak to my phone, it feels a bit weird to speak when no one is there;  maybe I just need to be in my car and pretend like I am in carpool karaoke 🙂

Our mosomelt community was also given some suggested readings for the week – I read the article What Killed the Mobile Learning Dream by John Traxler regarding BYOD – this is something that the school division in which I am employed is currently trying in a few of our classrooms (yay!) so the article held particular relevance to me.

I don’t think we’ve clearly thought through what exactly that might mean but, also, some of those concerns are proxies for a rather different question. When students bring their own devices, they also bring their own services and connectivity, and whereas we used to make the rules by which they could use the desktops or by which they could access the network – because it was ours – in future it will be their network and their devices.

The rules that have been set out by school divisions regarding what sites we want our students to be working on, and what sites we want to block were in our control, but as soon as students bring their own devices, the schools are no longer in control – in essence the students are and the rules will now be broken.  In control of their own learning – is this such a bad thing?  In my opinion NO – in fact it is what I strive for, but then again, I do teach high school students and I want them to be independent learners. Another thing that may scare educators and school divisions off of BYOD is that the teacher may now have to be an expert in all things tech, again NO.  If our students are striving to be independent learners, part of that learning process is how to use THEIR learning tool.

We also want our students to learn by discussion and interaction. They can do that in an open world as well. Why do we want to get our students to get locked into our VLE [virtual learning environment] to consume our closed content?

Exactly!  And just as the video below states – BYOD lets the learner learn with choice of device that works for the student (one they are comfortable with) while allowing those students who do not have their own digital devices to use the schools devices, ultimately decreasing the digital divide, as everyone would have a device to learn on.  And to me, this is similar to MOOCs – giving the learner the choice to learn the best way they can (xMOOC vs cMOOC) from those that are experts in their chosen fields of study.

Just like the Monopoly board at the beginning of this post has a variety of icons that the players get to choose to be (shoe, race car, etc.), I believe BYOD and MOOCs together allow learners the freedom to choose the best method to increase understanding of the content being presented.

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?

I Always Wanted to Drive a Tank :)

I have begun my second MOOC, this time a cMOOC called MOSOMELT (Mobile Social Media Learning Technology).

Week 1 was an introductory week titled “The Power of Social Media and Curation”, very similar to the introductory week we had for both #eci831 and #eci832, we were required to set up a WordPress blog, Twitter Account and ensure that we were connecting on our Google+ community.  I already feel very comfortable with these platforms as we have been using them a lot in this class – so it was nice to begin a class without feeling overwhelmed!  Aside from setting up all accounts and tweeting using the appropriate hashtags (#mosomelt), we have been asked to play around a bit with augmented reality app MSQRD – somewhat similar to taking a photo or video of yourself on SnapChat and choosing a filter or mask to put on your face – although this was fun, I do wonder if it will be used in some catfishing scams as it is very easy to hide your face and claim that you are someone you aren’t.  Also, when you take the photo-you simply upload it to instagram, Facebook, Twitter or save to your phone – you can’t choose to send it to your friends or in a story like SnapChat allows.

So far, there has been little communication with one another, with the exception of having communication with Thom Cochrane, one of the facilitators, but, there have been posts both on the Google+ community as well as on Twitter and our Blog Roll and I expect the communication to pick up as the weeks go on.  We have 60 people signed up for this cMOOC and I think that I am geographically the farthest from anyone as most seem to be situated in Australia and New Zealand – Good, I want to make global connections!

I am looking forward to Week 2 as we will begin to look at the “Power of an Online Profile” – again, I feel fairly comfortable with this, but am excited to learn how to do all of this on a mobile device and away from the safety of my laptop.


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?

More than one MOOC?

Amazing StoriesI have a confession – I have decided to continue with taking a MOOC alongside this course, but have made the decision to audit the MOOC instead, and I am happy that I have made this decision as I am still allowed to move through the MOOC and take part in all aspects of the MOOC, I just won’t receive the certificate.  Sometimes, we need to make these decisions in order to maintain a work/school/life balance.  I am realizing that there are a lot of people whom actually choose this route when participating within the MOOC community.

Since this is an “off week” for my Learning to Read in Science MOOC (we have three weeks to complete 5 videos and I want to research what a MOOC is as well as what a MOOC feels like to participate in), I decided to further explore types of MOOC’s this week. Did you know that there are many types of MOOCs?  If not, don’t worry, I didn’t either up until a few weeks ago.  In this blog, I will be focusing on xMOOCs and cMOOCs.


xMOOCs are designed and based upon academic courses and follow the behaviourist learning theory in which behaviours (or in this case knowledge) is learned. Most of the time these are courses in which the learner can earn a certificate or credits from an academic institution.  I am taking an xMOOC currently from Stanford University.  These types of MOOCs are guided and organized according to the academic institution offering them.  By offering xMOOCs, Universities can broaden the number of individuals taking a course at a time, thousands of people (even hundreds of thousands) can participate at the same time!  These types of MOOCs usually follow a video format, with the lecturer posting several short lecture style videos (as mine is), these make up a “session”.  Once the participant has completed the videos there are usually questions and assignments consisting of independent work and some connecting with others in the MOOC community.  You may have very little to no contact with your instructor in this type of a MOOC due to the shear volume of learners participating.

Examples of xMOOCs include edX, Udacity and Coursera

cMOOCs are based upon the connectives learning theory developed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes.  Together, George Siemens and Stephen Downes launched the first cMOOC, Connectivism and Connected Knowledge.  This theory is based upon the understanding that the starting place of learning is within the individual, then can be branched out to networks, which feed into organizations, these organizations in turn feed back to the networks and finally to the individual creating a cycle of learning.  Learners participate through social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging.  cMOOCs are not funded by a large corporation, rather they are organized by individuals with similar interests in a content area.  Participants in this type of MOOC communicate and use social media as a driver for each individuals learning experience.  cMOOCs focus less on the presenting content and more on connectivity.  One example of a cMOOC is Dave Cormier Rhizomatic Learning.


“We connect knowledge, we build, we grow, we advance”

“Learning is a network forming process, knowledge is a networked product”

The further I research xMOOCs and cMOOCs the more I am realizing that there are many more including:


After researching what I consider to be the two main MOOCs, I have to say that I am a little disappointed to discover that I had unknowingly registered in an xMOOC and now realize that what I was really looking for was a cMOOC.  I am still happy that I am participating in a MOOC, and really, knowing the type of MOOC I am in explains why there has been no collaboration amongst leaners.  I will continue my course, but will begin looking for cMOOCs as I want to have the experience of both.

Doing some quick searches on Twitter, I found that Dave Cormier will be beginning his #rhizo16 MOOC May 10!  Join me!

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 10.05.26 PM

I was also able to find an open online Google+ Community, which I will spend some more time exploring.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 10.11.05 PM



Science – the “Mother” Subject?

Pre, During, Post reading strategies.  I bet there isn’t one of us in #eci831 that does not know or has not employed these strategies in their classes…. Well, as a science teacher I had used them, but I am quickly learning that I had not been using these strategies properly.  In the second MOOC session of Reading to Learn in Science we are studying these strategies and breaking them down further in regards to employing them within the science classroom.

I am very biased when it comes to “mother subjects” as I would tend to think that we all are.  In my mind, science is the mother subject – the subject that takes other subjects and links them all together into one cohesive unit.  Let me explain further (and keep in mind, I teach high school sciences):

  • in science we use the math skills that students obtained from math class and apply those skills to science.  For example, we use SOA CAH TOA to solve vectors in physics 30 (without the math skills how would a pilot ever fly a plane, or a captain sail a ship, etc.), we use conversion factors for all classes of science, we use quadratic equations for physical science classes, we collect and analyze data quantitatively…. so thank you math teachers.
  • in science we use the physical activity skills learned in phys ed and demonstrate how those skills would not be possible without Health Science understandings… we also use those skills in completing some laboratory activities and demonstrations.
  • in science we rely on historical understandings to propel further research into current or new areas.  We learn from others and build upon their discoveries.  For example, the new Biology 30 curriculum is based around genetics and evolution….need I say more?
  • in science we READ, collecting data qualitatively….thank you ELA teachers 🙂

Now, some may be thinking, but I teach subjects that are not mentioned…well, science is related to those as well.  And many will argue (as you should) that your subject is the one in which all others are linked to…I happen to think that my subject does the best at amalgamating all other subjects into one. But there is one other subject which science may rely on the most in order to make this amalgamation happen; reading!

Major activities of science info graphic

This infographic represents the 5 major activities of science which we call literate modalities:  Doing (designing experiments, assembling apparatuses, collecting and analyzing data), Representing (creating figures, tables, diagrams,charts), Talking (presenting to others and the public), Writing (peer reviewing: theories, research design, findings, implications), and finally Reading (integral to all other major activities within science – without reading there would be NO science).  In order to teach science effectively, teachers must have a clear understanding of the objective that they are teaching.  The objective needs to be:

  1. performance orientated
  2. engaging students in 2 or more literate modalities
  3. must target specific content

In order to successfully achieve the objective:  pre, during, and post reading strategies are used to engage students in the text that they are reading.

Pre reading strategies are used to:

  1. Elicit prior knowledge
  2.  Connect new and old ideas together
  3. Identify misconceptions
  4. Make predictions

Examples of pre reading strategies include picture walks, anticipation guides, and the Frayer model. Anticipation Guide - blank This MOOC session really concentrated on the use of anticipation guides as a pre and post reading strategy.  It is important the the teacher does not copy down the claims word for word from the text as this will activate prior knowledge from the students (allowing the teacher to gather data on the amount of retention that the students have) as well as eliciting inferences about the text.  Another important piece to remember with anticipation guides, is that not all claims are to be true – placing false claims in is beneficial, especially during class discussions.  Once all claims have be completed by the students individually, ask the students to break up into small groups or as a class have a discussion about each claim and what the students initially thought of each.  DO NOT ALLOW THE STUDENTS TO CHANGE THEIR ANSWERS, I have posted an example of an anticipation guide from the session – however, I would change this guide a bit and add another column in to allow students to write down information gathered from class discussions.Anticipation Guide - class discussion column

During reading strategies are used:

  1. Used during the actual reading process
  2. Forces slow, close, reflective reading
  3. Helps students monitor comprehension metacognitivelyDART

The example strategy that was taught during this session was DART (Directed Activity Related to Text) in which students selectively highlighted text used to slow down the reader and to force the reader to think about what they are reading, and to promote reflection and rereading.  Highlighting is done using different colours to categorize content (see screenshot).


Post reading strategies include:

  1. Anticipation guide – ask students to re-read each claim and now answer the columns “What the Text Tells Me” and what “Evidence” is given to support or debunk this claim.
  2. Frayer Model18246392682 is a graphic organizer which helps the students gain a more thorough understanding of a concept and it’s applications.  The Frayer model is good at helping students organize and summarize information, correcting misconceptions that the students may have, and helps the student to incorporation prior knowledge into the objective.




The Pre, During and Post Strategies are helpful to identify student misconceptions, give students practice in citing evidence but they do require careful planning on the teachers behalf.

So, in the end, Science may rely on the students ability to read, but I still believe that it is the one subject amalgamates all other subject into.  After all, if you are going to read, why not read scientifically!