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!

 

A Trip Down Twitter-y Lane

Twitter launched in July of 2006 and I joined on Oct 4th, 2010. I have to admit that before I joined, I had my reservations about twitter. I didn’t really understand what it was all about and thought it was just about following celebrities and tweeting about the minutia of every day life. I had no idea what an amazing tool it was and how much it would shrink the world for me and connect me with so many different people. I am currently approaching 600 followers and 3000 tweets on my Twitter account, fairly modest numbers I would wager, but I thought I would take a trip down Twitter-y lane and check out my early Twitter feed! So I actually scrolled back to the beginning to see how I, and Twitter, have evolved in the 3 years I have been on.

Here is my first tweet! (Kind of funny I think.)

 
Ryan Josephson @jojo7415
 

For my first tweet I would like to say something profound so here goes…I don’t think Kevin Costner movies are that bad. There, I said it.

   
  05:34 AM – 05 Oct 10

As I read through my early tweets I noticed a few things. First of all, I used to tweet a lot more than I do now. I attribute this to the fact that at the time, Twitter and Facebook were my only social media sites, and I had way more time to tweet. Now my time is split between so many more social media sites and apps on my phone, (not to mention a 4 year old daughter and a girlfriend). I also noticed that my earlier tweets were much more whimsical and a lot less edited than they are now. I was tweeting to be funny and was not too concerned about the content. My tweets were not crude or anything, but I was a lot more free back then. At the time I was still learning how to post photo’s and video’s. I was talking about songs to listen to instead of posting the song or YouTube video. I was having a lot of fun contributing to different trending hashtags, which I rarely do anymore. I really dove in at the beginning and instantly loved Twitter. I loved connecting with people I didn’t know from all over the world.

The funny thing about reading through my tweets was that I remembered all of them, and some of them seemed like I just tweeted them yesterday. In many cases it didn’t seem like 3 years ago. It was also very cool to see the tweets of some of the milestones in my life over the past 3 years. In some ways it was like a little diary. I really enjoyed that aspect of looking back. A lot changes in 3 years and Twitter is a daily record of the things happening in our personal lives and in the world. Pretty amazing.

For all of you on Twitter, I encourage you to take a trip down Twitter-y lane. Do you remember what your very first tweet was? I would love to hear it. Feel free to share!

Daddy, Put Down Your Phone!

One of the things I am hearing more and more these days from my daughter is, “Daddy, put down your phone!”. This is also seems to be a common theme in many of the comments I have seen in the google+ community for my current Masters of Education class, EC & I 831. Many of my classmates, myself included, have noticed that time on our smart phones and other devices is taking time away from family. In my previous two blog posts I have been singing the praises of social media but thought I should explore another side of the story and try to answer a few questions. Do I spend too much time on my phone checking my various social media sites? Do I rely on social media as a distraction from other things going on in my life? Do my relationships suffer because I am spending too much time on my phone?

One of the catalysts for this blog post was a video clip I recently saw of comedian Louis C.K. on the Connan O’Brien show. In the video below Louis shares his feelings about cell phones.

Obviously this is an exaggerated commentary by a comedian on a talk show but it really got me thinking about my own personal cell phone use. I find myself on my phone more and more when I have a spare moment. Often I am texting or sending emails to people that I need to communicate with. Sometimes I am using social media in a more official manner, for example; running my schools twitter account, reading, posting and commenting for my aforementioned masters class, promoting an upcoming comedy show on Facebook or Twitter, or writing my latest blog post. However, the rest of the time I am on my phone I am is just surfing around my social media sites; Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, goggle+, Instagram, YouTube, and now my blog. I am listening to music, watching videos, listening to podcasts, reading and responding to Facebook and twitter posts, looking at peoples pictures on Instagram, and communicating with people via instant messaging and email. Sometimes I have to force myself to put my phone down, and sometimes my daughter reminds me that we are in the middle of a tea party and I need to put my phone away!

IMG_3972

I am very aware that when I am spending time with my daughter, my girlfriend, my family, or my friends, I should put my phone away and give them the attention they deserve. But what really got me thinking when I watched the Louis C.K. video was his point he made about people using cell phones to avoid feeling lonely. For those of us with smart phones, we have constant access to friends, family, celebrities, sports, music, videos, and pictures. If we so choose, we never have to be alone with our thoughts. Some may argue, “Isn’t looking at a smart phone the same as watching TV?”, and I would say that it is and it isn’t. Using cell phones acts as a distraction the same way watching TV does, but social media is much more interactive than watching TV. You are still alone with your thoughts when watching TV, and when you are on social media sites, you are communicating with people, just not face to face, so there is the allusion of human interaction. I agree with Louis C.K. when he says that people reach for their phones to avoid feeling lonely, to avoid the things they don’t want to think about, and I don’t think this is necessarily a good thing.

I love my phone and I love staying connected with people via social media, but I really do think that our real life human interactions are suffering. It is very cool to be exchanging twitter messages with a friend on the other side of the world, but how about chatting with the person beside you at the dentist office or the person beside you at your child’s swimming lesson. Or more importantly, how about spending a little more time with the people that mean the most to you like your friends and family. Check the link below for some helpful tips on how to limit your social media time and increase your human interaction.

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10977/10-tips-to-spend-less-time-on-social-media-more-time-with-humans.html

As much as I am an advocate for the proper use of social media, I am also a fan of good, old fashioned, human interaction. So the next time you are tempted to reach for your phone to check your Facebook, or text somebody, try striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you or maybe try just being alone with your thoughts for a little while. Disconnect from your phone for a moment, and try reconnecting with yourself. (Whoa, that was deep.)

I would love to hear what you think on this topic so please comment below! Cheers!

 

Social Media: Not just about sharing what you had for breakfast!

Contrary to popular belief, Facebook and twitter are not just about sharing what you had for breakfast or complaining about the Saskatchewan Roughriders. There are some really cool ways to connect with friends, family and complete strangers alike! In last weeks EC&I 831 class, Dr. Richard Schwier talked about community and asked us to think about the communities that we belong to and participate in. Many people in the class had reservations about joining social media communities, or wondered if they were indeed communities at all. I believe that social media does create community in different ways and in fact makes the world we live in a smaller place. I would like to share a few personal stories about connecting through social media that will hopefully demonstrate this point.

The first story I would like to share takes place about 5 years ago in Australia. I was on holiday in July of 2008 and staying in Sydney for about 6 days. Each day I would update my status on Facebook and share what I had done that day in Sydney. A friend of mine back home in Saskatchewan saw that I was in Sydney and messaged me to tell me that that a mutual friend of ours was currently living in Brisbane and I should look her up on Facebook. I did just that and sent her a friend request immediately with a message telling her that I was currently in Sydney. She accepted my friend request and replied back saying that she was going to be in Sydney the next day for business and would love to meet up. Below is a picture of two Canadian friends, who hadn’t talked or seen each other in years, sharing a drink on Darling Harbor in Sydney, Australia. To me, that is a very cool and powerful application of social media.

Australia Trip 288

My second story revolves around a song that a friend of mine and I wrote in protest of the abolition of the Film Tax Credit in Saskatchewan. The government’s decision to get rid of this tax incentive for the film industry affected me personally, and more importantly, it affected many of my friends that worked in the film industry in Saskatchewan. In response to the government’s announcement my friend and I wrote the following parody song in protest, filmed it, and posted it on YouTube.

It wasn’t long after we posted this video on YouTube and shared it on Facebook and twitter that we had a couple thousand views and we were generating a lot of conversation on our YouTube post. Shortly after, we were invited to sing our song at a rally in Saskatoon at which many of the main players in Sask Film would be at, including Saskatoon’s own Kim Coates. Many of the news organizations covering the story and the rally also used clips of our video in the story. I even had complete strangers coming up to me and recognizing me from that video. Without social media, our song and message would not have had nearly the same impact as it did. Social activism is another powerful application of social media.

The last story I have to share is a really powerful story which clearly demonstrates social media as community. About a year ago, a friend of mine and his wife found out that their 5 year old son had a cancerous brain tumor. They began to share their son’s story on Facebook and as a result, friends and strangers alike were drawn into to this brave little boys battle. People began to rally around Tyler and his family and offered their support, some with just a small message, others with much larger gestures. One friend of the family began a campaign called Sailing Around the World for Tyler, which raised money for the family, and inspired thousands of people to follow Tyler’s story. A complete stranger, who had no connection to the family at all, set up an online silent auction to raise money for the family. She asked people to donate items and administered the auction herself. As more and more people began to follow Tyler’s story, even the local media picked up the story. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you reading this have heard about Tyler’s battle. Unfortunately Tyler eventually lost his battle with cancer, but his parents are now using Facebook as a way of grieving and also as a way of bring awareness to this disease. One 5 year old boy’s story was able to bring thousands of people together. If this isn’t an example of community, I don’t know what is.

Yes, it is true, some people share what they had for breakfast on Facebook and twitter. Some people post way too many pictures of their babies. Some people share their every thought and opinion. But people are also sharing their hopes and dreams, their travels, their families, and also their tragedies. This is what a community does. It shares with each other. They learn together, they celebrate together, and they grieve together. So I say to those people out there that may be afraid to share themselves on social media, take a risk, you might be surprised what people might give you back in return.

I would love to hear about your cool social media stories, so please share in the comment area below!

Hi, my name is @jojo7415!

I wonder if this is how we will introduce ourselves in the near future, using our twitter handles or other various social media names. Many people already include these on business cards or websites. We see twitter names along side proper names on television and in magazines. It is becoming a part of our identity, of who we are. We are beginning to associate people with their social media identity. Twitter handles and names are beginning to become synonymous with each other. The question is; is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I have recently started listening to a podcast called Mohr Stories, starring comedian and actor Jay Mohr. In the podcast, Jay Mohr interviews and has conversations with other comedians, musicians, and actors. I find it very entertaining and funny, but what I found really interesting is that Jay repeatedly tells the listening audience the twitter handle of that days guest, and almost uses it interchangeably with the guests name. Jay, an avid “tweeter” himself, uses twitter to promote his podcast and his upcoming shows, and by continually using his guest’s twitter name helps them to gain more followers and do the same. This is what initially got me thinking about our social media identity and how important it is to our daily interactions.

Just this weekend I was involved with a comedy variety show here in Regina called Red Hot Riot, and the show featured a young up and coming musician named Danny Goertz. After hearing him play and realizing just how good he was, my very first question to him was, are you on twitter? Followed by, what’s your handle? I told him that I would love to help him get his name out there and help him to promote upcoming shows. Once again, I began to think about our social media identity and how it is linked to our daily lives and personal interactions. For entertainers like Jay Mohr and Danny Goertz, twitter and other social media such as Facebook and YouTube are natural ways to promote oneself, and they hopefully create a positive association between the social media identity and the actual person. But what about the negative associations?

The most recent example of negative association with twitter occurred last week with the crowning of the first Miss America of Asian descent. After she was crowned, the twitter-verse was bombarded with negative and outright racist comments about the new Asian Miss America. The article below gives a sampling of some of the horrible things that were said.

http://publicshaming.tumblr.com/post/61388585374/americans-call-first-indian-american-miss-America

This is a perfect example of how your twitter identity can have a negative association. People need to be careful of what they put out into the social media universe because once it is out there, you can not take it back. The thing that many people don’t realize is that you need to protect and uphold your social media identity just as much as you do your personal identity, because we are coming to an age where the two are interchangeable. In many ways, who you are in the social media world, is representative of who you are in real life, so you better be protective of that identity. If you want some tips on how to manage our social media identity, check out the link below.

http://alis.alberta.ca/ep/eps/tips/tips.html?EK=12449

So what do you think? Is our social media identity the same as our real world identity? Will we soon be introducing ourselves with a name and a twitter handle? These are question I will continue to ask and examine as we move forward. That’s all for now, @jojo7415, signing off.

No Day Like Today!

I thought I would title my first Blog ever with one of my favorite quotes, from one of my favorite musicals of all time, Rent. It is useful in so many situations, whether you are giving up a bad habit, making a positive change in your life, or just deciding to live your life to fullest, there is “no day like today”. In my case, there is “no day like today” to write and share my first Blog ever!

I will start with a little bit about myself, however, I always find it hard, when writing a bio, to find that right balance of interesting personal information and pertinent professional information. It is somewhere in the middle between an online dating bio and a professional resume, you don’t want to get too personal but you don’t want to come across boring either. Anyway, here goes. My name is Ryan Josephson, and I am a father of a beautiful 4 year old daughter. I have been in the education business for 15 years, teaching high school (mostly senior math), with a little coaching on the side (mostly basketball), and some drama directing thrown in for good measure (mostly musicals). In my spare time I love to golf and play other sports. I am also involved in the performing arts. My main love is improv, but I also like to sing and play the guitar and do a little acting when I can. There is something very addicting about the stage to me and I can’t get enough of it.

EC&I 831 is my 5th masters class and the first elective I have taken thus far. I am really looking forward to a different style of class than my previous 4 classes. As far as my comfort level with technology, I have always felt as though I have been a few steps behind but I do feel as though I am beginning to catch up a little bit. As far as social media goes, I think I am fairly tuned in, especially in my personal life. I use Facebook and twitter quite extensively to stay connected with friends, colleagues, and educators, and to promote the various shows and endeavors I am involved with. I hope to share some of my many social media experiences as we move forward in this class and in my Blog’s. Beyond social media, I feel like I have a lot to learn. I am excited to learn more about all the technology available to make my classes more interesting and engaging. I firmly believe that making connections to people is a an amazing way to learn, and this can be accomplished face to face or through social media.

My goal for this class is to continue to connect with and learn from other educators and to open myself up to all the possibilities that technology may hold for my teaching practices. My personal hang-up with technology is related to my subject area. I have always found it difficult to adapt many of the technological tools to mathematics, and I have always felt that it would be too time consuming to do so, and the pressure to cover curriculum in a timely fashion often over-rules my desire to incorporate technology. However, I know that there are senior math teachers out there that are doing it, and it is time for me to just give myself over to the process. So that is what I am going to try and do. No day like today!

I know that we are only a week in, but I am thoroughly enjoying this class so far! I look forward to getting to know all my classmates better and continue to connect and share. Live and let learn!