Summary of Learning for EC&I 831 – Share More!!!!

I decided to look back at my very first blog post before sitting down to write about what I have learned during my time taking EC&I 831. I mentioned that I was quite comfortable with social media but always felt a step or two behind when it came to technology in general. I have always been very open to technology but have found it difficult to incorporate it into my teaching practices as a senior mathematics teacher. I still struggle to find interesting and practical ways to integrate technology into math but after taking this class I have an even deeper appreciation for the power of connected learning and open education. I have always known how powerful social media can be but my experiences in this class have only confirmed this belief and even expanded it through learning about new social media outlets and tools.

The first new experience in the class was the introduction to Blackboard Collaborate. I have to admit that I didn’t even know that such a tool existed. I was impressed with how easily video, audio, and text were integrated. It allowed people from all over the world to instantaneously interact. This was amazing to me.

The next experience was becoming a part of the EC&I 831 Google+ community. This was another very easy way to connect and interact with Alec Couros and all of the other participants in the class. We could share video’s, articles, pictures, and of course our blog posts with the google+ community. Commenting on other’s post as well as getting feedback on your own was an important part of the learning experience.

For some people in the class, Twitter was a very new and somewhat scary aspect of the class. This was not the case for me. I have been on Twitter for about 3 years now and know what a wonderful social media tool it can be, especially in the realm of education. Twitter is yet another way to connect with educators from all over the world. What an amazing resource for teachers to have to be able to share with and ask questions of educators from all disciplines and backgrounds. The world is literally at your fingertips.

After familiarizing myself with Blackboard Collaborate and the google+ community, and continuing to connect of twitter, the next phase was to create a blog. I had never blogged before in my life but was very open to the concept of blogging. Coming from a performing arts background, I have no problem sharing myself with my family, peers, and colleagues, and doing so in an entertaining way. So blogging was right up my alley and I fell in love with it almost instantly. I have always enjoyed creative writing and also sharing myself with the world. Blogging…where have you been all my life?!? But honestly, I have really enjoyed blogging each week and found myself really tuned into what was going on in education. It was like a new sense was turned on inside me and I was constantly on the look out for something to blog about and I never had trouble finding something to write about. And when Alec and Sue Waters (the Edublogger guru) instructed the class on how to spice up their blog posts and blog pages, I was even more hooked. Now I was adding widgets and adding links, pictures, and videos like nobody’s business. I now had a Twitter feed and an About.Me link. I thought I might even be giving my good friend George Couros (Alec’s brother) a run for his money in the blog world. (Just kidding George, you are still the king).

Since I started my blog on September 16th of this year I have had nearly 1500 people view my blog, from 28 different countries, representing every continent, (with the exception of Antarctica of course). I have had 103 comments on my 14 posts, many of those were from me responding to others that posted, but nonetheless, I have been quite surprised and pleased with the response that I have received from my blog. I had no idea the potential outreach blogging had. In my brief experience with blogging, it is a very inclusive and caring community. I have absolutely loved my blogging experience and plan to continue long after this class is finished.

I could go on and on about everything that I have learned in this class and detail all of the people, apps, tools, and sites that I encountered and learned from but I fear that I have gone on too long already. So why don’t you check out the song I wrote, and posted to Youtube, summarizing what I have learned in this class. I re-wrote the words to the song “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, and then edited the video in the style of Pop Up Video. As I said at the end of the video, I hope that you enjoy the song as much as I enjoyed this class. The name of my version of this song is “Share More”. Enjoy!

 

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My Learning Project Begins!

As part of my EC&I 831 course with Dr. Alec Couros, we are required to do a major digital project. The project is pretty wide open as far as what we can choose to do. One of the choices is to do a “learning project”.

I found a great description of a learning project on Howard Rheingold’s Blog which just happened to be about Alec Couros and The Connected Teacher. The basic idea behind a learning project is this:

1. Learn a skill, concept or idea you know very little or nothing about but that you’re interested in learning.

2. Document the learning. Write about it, video tape, audio record, whatever.

3. Consider all the sources you use to learn. Collect those resources.

4. Take an early baseline snapshot of your understand at the beginning and another one at the end. Compare and analyze.

My learning project is not exactly to learn a new skill but to challenge one of my existing skills. I have been playing guitar for almost 19 years and I would rate my skill as a guitar player as adequate. When I started teaching myself to play, my goal was to be able to play around a campfire. I accomplished that goal and I have gone beyond the campfire and regularly sing and play my guitar on stage with The Saskatoon Soaps Improv Comedy Troupe and with the Red Hot Riot show here in Regina, Sk. I also have written and performed several parody songs that I have posted to my YouTube channel and also the Saskatoon Soaps YouTube channel.

As I said earlier, my guitar playing is adequate. I have gotten better over the years but I have plateaued long ago. My skills as a guitar player are very utilitarian. I play just well enough to get by. I can pick up most songs by ear but I would categorize myself as a “strummer” and not a “picker”. In other words, if I were in a band, I would definitely be the rhythm guitar player and not lead guitar. I can play the chords to most songs but cannot play the screaming guitar solo’s.

One of the songs that I have always wanted to learn was “Blackbird” by the Beatles. I have always been a huge Beatles fan and this summer I was able to see Sir Paul McCartney in concert. It was the thrill of a lifetime to see one of The Beatles on stage and relive my childhood and teenage years listening to The Beatles. Even the title of my blog, Live and Let Learn, is a play on the Paul McCartney song Live and Let Die.

So even though I have been playing guitar for a long time, taking on a classic like “Blackbird” is a huge challenge for me, not to mention that the song is all picking and fast chord changes. Not what I am used to playing at all. To learn how to play I went to YouTube and found several tutorial-type video’s and ended up looking at these two video’s.
I spent a couple hours learning and practicing and here is my first attempt at playing the song. WARNING: This attempt is not pretty. I apologize to The Beatles and Paul McCartney and anyone else who has ever played this song properly.
So there you go! My plan is to get much better over the next couple of weeks and post one more intermediate video and a final video. I think that my learning project is a good analogy for this course. I am taking a skill that I already have and trying to do something new with it as well as improve on that skill, very much like this class. I am taking what I already know about technology and social media and trying to do something new with it as well as improve on my knowledge base. Hopefully it all goes well on both fronts!
Stay tuned…..