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Archive for October, 2009

H1N1 Flu Injection

I appreciate that this blog site is primarily being used to make reference to class material in ECI831 but it is also intended as a networking tool. My question is how many people are getting the H1N1 flu shot?

My wife is 5 months pregnant with our second child and our other boy is 19 months old. I am interested to hear what others are doing in this regard. I know that it is a matter of preference but I am interested in hearing what others have to say. Are there any other link (blogs) out there addressing my situation? All assistance is appreciated.

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Gaming Edutainment

It is interesting hearing different people’s take on the pros and cons of video games. Syvia Martinez presented her take on gaming in the classroom as an educational tool to our ECI831 class.

Sylvia Martinez has programmed and designed educational games and she feels that these edutainment games can play a role in the classroom and to some extent I agree. Attaching my thoughts to those mention by Seymour Papert in “Does Easy Do it? Children, Games, and Learning”, I feel that video games have many attributes tied to learning. I myself used to play video games which were introduced to me by my father. I would spend hours locked in and engaged in a RPG (role playing game) or some EA sports game battling it out without tiring. The games gave me control of my character’s destiny, I learned to take control and make authoritative decisions myself and the ways to complete the game is never the same way twice. I remember playing Mario for hours, in fact, my brother and we would have all of our friends over and would compete head to head, level by level, in a social gathering setting and we would get extra points for finding hidden parts of the game.

What skills did I learn from playing video games? In my opinion, I learned some great hand-eye coordination, I learned perseverance (to never give up) and I learned that there were consequences to making bad decisions mirrored through my character’s actions. These skills are skills that carry over into my daily routines of life today.

There are pros to playing video games. I wish I had more time to immerse myself in a game of Halo 3 but unfortunately, life is too busy these days to spend dodging responsibilities, which leads me to my next point, some cons to gaming. The content in some of the popular games are definitely not age appropriate for younger kids and to this I refer to say perhaps the shoot-em-up blow-em-up games where kids get desensitized to the violence and according to an article can become easily aggressive in real life.

The time that kids put into finishing video games has the tendency to eat a good part of a day. I have heard of some kids pretending to sleep only to wake up at night to finish their online expeditions. Kids need a balance and they need guidance; they need to know their boundaries and that life goes on regardless of how long they spend, inside, playing games. I have had students in the past that have skipped school for weeks on end to stay home and play a new game. I am not sure how that goes unnoticed but I feel that kids need alternative activities/sports that initiates cooperation that draws them away from over abusing their time limits spent on gaming.

As far as edutainment games are concerned, I am all over bringing games like chess or crib into the classroom as I grew up dealing with the mental struggles between dad and son chess games and see its potential for learning new thinking strategies. For actual curriculum based games such as Math blaster, if it is tied to curriculum and it covers the objectives as well as tied to assessment then perhaps it can supplement a lesson or two as an activity to reinforce key points provided during instruction time. The problem that arises is that if it is too easy or too hard then it loses its validity in becoming an educational tool. Unfortunately, I haven’t see any Chemistry games that addresses the units in my grade 11 or 12 curriculum; although, I have thought that Mario Galaxy for Wii would be a good game to provide visuals for the Atomic Theory unit in grade 11. I have considered creating my own video game in Chemistry but I only have the background knowledge not the skill in the designing of the game so I don’t know if it is possible to make this a reality. If a Chemistry video game was created, I fight with how much background knowledge and guidance that I would have to give in class in order for the game to be effective for my students. If it is possible to create, I do feel that there could be a market for such a game as a few other countries around the world are using Saskatchewan’s Evergreen Curriculum as their curriculum of choice.

From our discussions last week I was led to believe that a downfall for edugames in the classroom was that the majority of gamers out there are male and that female students wouldn’t embrace the games easily. Are there many female students out there that would actually be inclined to play video games let alone a Chemistry video game in the classroom? According to the following youtube video [warming: mature sexual reference]

there is an increase in females in the gaming world where a reported 74% of gamers today are now female. The Chemistry behind the game is a given as everyone loves to learn Chemistry :). Does anyone know of any Chemistry video games out there that are class worthy?

I loved Papert’s approach to video gaming in his “Does Easy Do It…” article. The “grandfather of technology” belongs to an elite group with very few members. His paradigm for learning is definitely not a conventional view shared by other Masters of learning. He brings up a great point stating that all of our curriculum designs and learning theories “are relics from an earlier period of knowledge technology”. In other words, our way of viewing learning is based on practices that were generated in a time when our world was vastly different than what it is today. In the past, we didn’t have all of this information at our finger tips and relied heavily on others to present information in a way that we could apply it to our individual world views.

Today, kids with their sponge-soaking brains, are learning more, learning faster and learning alternative ways of dealing with issues of problem solving. I feel that the way we learn has many vast avenues from Constructivism, Behavioursim, Connectivism, etc…but the end goal of learning should remain the same and that is to apply our learning to problem solving daily issues.

How we learn is definitely not the same for everyone. So, does video gaming have a role in the classroom? Sure it does as long as it can address the objectives of the lesson, can be matched to assessment and it provides the student another way of learning to problem solve. The more ways we teach children to problem solve the more creative ways we as humans can change the paradigms that exist in learning today.

Obviously, violent, antisocial games based on manipulation of others is not a good way to teach children to be open minded or empathetic to the needs of others but conversely, does teach kids some strong leadership skills but does not teach the right social skills required to effectively incorporate leadership into their daily lives. Does this matter though?

Today we have “Second Life” , a virtual game where an individual can live in paradise while performing tasks that they might never get to do in real life. Last night we watched the “The Fifth Estate – Strangers in Paradise” and it showed how two people created an online character, met and got married online which eventually carried over into the real world where they met face to face and got married and are together today. This came at a huge cost as the women gave up her two kids to get what she had so desperately sought. Another lady, immersed herself into this virtual world for 8 hours or more a day to find a virtual life that she loved. This type of video game goes against the benefits of video games as individuals have a potentially, addictive tendency to lose all sight of reality in the real world.

Keeping these thoughts in mind, I wonder if stricter laws shouldn’t be placed on programmers to help us rear our children. I believe that community living is much easier and more effective to teach our children right from wrong. Does engaging students in edutainment games at school, entice kids to engage in other video gaming outside of the education walls?


I do believe that we as educators must realize how fast our world is changing and

perhaps the learning that goes on in Saskatchewan schools should focus on creating classes that compliment the use the Internet and the use video games in today’s world.

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More to Add to My Arsenal

I learned more about tech tools at today’s inservice at one of the high schools in the city. Many websites were being tossed around but most are summarized on the intechgration website. Perhaps the most useful part that students taking Eci831 can benefit from is the numerous safety and copyright issues that were addressed. In addition, a neat flickr site was included to view images so take a look at your leisure. Thanks to everyone who made it an eventful day. If anyone is interested, I believe the presenters will be back in Regina on May 14th to do a different presentations on topics listed at the bottom of the integration website.

On another note, I was wondering if anyone wanted to get together some night soon to chat about project ideas and other course content? I have children myself so I understand how important our time is but perhaps we could limit it to an hour or so over coffee or a different beverage of choice.

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Digital Storytelling

After our class on, “Digital Storytelling”, I fought with how I was going to create a meaningful blog entry based on watching stories online because I didn’t see their full potential yet. Finally – breakthrough!   It has come to me…THANK YOU is what I want to say. I have spent a bit of time each day checking out a story or two from the links given to us in class and then finally, I spent 3 hours on Saturday night (after the Leafs lost…again) watching and becoming inspired by the videos online.

I now realize how powerful, “Digital Storytelling” can be. For me –Digital Storytelling offered these messages:  to appreciate what you have with the tools you are given. In other words, live simply with less stress and to be more confident in who you are.  For others, Digital Storytelling can be a means to clarify content/curriculum, communicate new ideas, and much much more.

The last 4 years of my life has been the busiest years of my life beating out working two jobs while completing my Science degree at the University of Regina. In the last 4 years I met my wife, got married, bought a house, had a child, have another on the way, renovating our house.  All of this while working 10 hour days teaching and coaching.

My point to all of this is that life has a tendency to get extremely hectic… to a point that we forget what we are here for and to me we are here to find self satisfaction with who we are as individuals.  Watching the Digital Stories reminded me that obtaining inner peace is the ultimate goal of existence. “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” is a book that my wife and I keep on our night stand for continual readings giving us an avenue to keep life simple. We try to maintain thoughts of encouragement and optimism as we both realize how crazy the days can be.

My first child was born almost 2 years ago. I can remember several nights cradling him in my arms trying to remedy his crying and his stresses. I remember getting to my wits end, thinking that I couldn’t take it any longer and then…it came on! The song by Trace Adkins (You’re Gonna Miss This). For some reason it all began to make sense to me, I had to enjoy every moment with my children before it gets away from me and I wouldn’t have the opportunity again to relive the precious years. It is so powerful what music can do for us.

Like a powerful song, the inspirational Digital Storytelling links that I eagerly went through on Saturday night brought happiness and peace to my existence. Does it have the same effect on others? I don’t know but judging by the countless websites out there that focus on motivational or inspirational quotes, videos and self help websites, I would have to say that this way of telling stories are extremely powerful to a countless number of people around the world.

I thought I would share how deeply moved I was watching the list of video’s presented to in class. The links have rejuvenated my search for contentment and how I can achieve internal happiness. I find that this is what most of my students lack – an identity of contentment which seems to be achievable through age and experiences. As long as there are “Digital Storytelling” videos of motivation out there I am content knowing that perhaps they can inspire others to find their calling in life and provide them the confidence they need to find their dreams as Paul Potts did by singing opera.


What other profession allows you to influence the lives of so many through daily interactions as teaching does? Teaching kids to reach for the stars and to believe in themselves, knowing that they have it in them to achieve their dreams is a powerful influence that I welcome. By presenting students the chance to view these videos is high on my list to show them that others face some of the same challenges that they do but in order to overcome these challenges it takes considerable strength, resiliency and perseverance.


Again, THANK YOU for all of the links and THANK YOU for listening, it is not easy releasing who we are to strangers but it has been very therapeutic as I hope it can be for you too.

As I went through each of the links below I tried to come away with one message, thought or feeling or synapses that I got from watching the videos. This is what I came up with:


Mr.Winkle Wakes

– it is how we are taught that gets us intrigued to learn not what we are taught.

The Human Network

– we are more powerful together than we ever could be apart.

99 Balloons

– stayed away from this one as this almost became a reality to me and my wife

Cultures At The Far Edge of the World (Wade Davis) –

– probably the best “reality” videos depicting the different, “primitive” cultures that exist on the planet. I use the term “primitive” loosely.

– this is an awesome video based on humans losing native languages as easily and plentiful as losing biodiversity.

– it teaches us the other ways of being and the other way of living our life with the same end in sight; individual contentment.

Encouragement

– don’t waste your leadership

– this video brings the best out in a football player to believing in himself to “do his best”

In My Language

– autistic girl telling her story and how the definition of thought defines the definition of personhood.

– A very good video to exercise empathy.

The World’s Strongest Dad

– give hope and sincere empathy. This to me is what a father should be!

One Million Monkeys

– is kind of like choosing your own adventure, it makes the reader feel that they are in control of the choices that they make and allows the reader to be interconnected with the writer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8ZuKF3dxCY

  • “I love living life. I am happy.”
  • Never giving up and celebrating life over limitations, it is all a matter of mind over matter

http://www.thetimemovie.com/

– 86400 which relates to the TIME we have each day in seconds to live life to the fullest.

– sieze the day…great video emphasizing to live simply.

Realize the Value of What You Have

– time waits for no one, enjoy every second you have

http://www.thedreammovie.com/

– inspirational video, “have a dream”

– you have within you the power to make dreams come true

The Dash

– “The gift of inspiration”

– the dash between birth to death (1973 – 2060), what matters is how we live out that dash

Teacher Movie

– “When I become a teacher…”

– a quick look at how some “out of date” teachers teach.

http://www.makeadifferencemovie.com/

– a teacher’s testimony to getting students to believe in themselves.

– perfect teacher video

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Does anyone else worry about all of the electropollution that we subject ourselves to willing or unknowingly? I have been researching the benefits of using cellphones and technology tools and I have found countless examples where using computers in the classroom can enhance learning. There is no doubt in my mind that using the Internet for social networking and for gathering visuals to teach Chemistry is an extremely powerful approach to bringing out the visual perspective to an otherwise invisible world. My question that I pose in this blog is, “How safe are we to all of the electropollution that exists?”

There appears to be a lot of research done on the effects of students using cellphones on a regular basis. In fact, France is trying to ban cellphone use by students, 14 years of age and lower because of the degenerative effects that has been shown to occur in this age group.


The issue is the amount of radiation that kids are subjected to. On a biological perspective, there is proof that the WiFi and cellphone radiowaves blanketing the earth are affecting our children. Over the past decade, several studies have been conducted on the ideas of electropollution.

WIFI at schools, a form of electropollution, and other wireless technologies are causing an exponential growth explosion of exposure to “information carrying radiowaves (ICR)”. These waves are essentially low energy waves but when overexposed have been suggested to be linked to several intercellular disorders. If intercellular communication is disrupted, the pathology that persues is the basis of learning disorders, ADHD, problems focussing, and is placing students and teachers at risk everyday. For the double digit percentage of people that are affected by this debilitating affect from ICR’s that if they are in a room where cell phones or WiFi are being used, they can get blood in stool, they can’t work, they get sick and they must be removed from this atmosphere.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLdxSqdt5RU&feature=related

A study was conducted in 1997, about the effects of radiation penetrating human brains by Dr. George Carlo. He found that we are putting our children at risk by allowing them to use cellphones and wireless technology in our schools. The radiowaves can penetrate about 75% of a child’s brain under the age of 14 due to the “softness” of their brains. That percent decreases as the individual gets older.

According to another study in the states, the average teenager spends 2600 min/month attached to a cell phone. With this comes a variation in normal behaviour patterns as some kids are leaving cell phones on under pillows to receive texts as they sleep. This radiation affects them at the cellular level and alters information being transmitted in their brains which  perhaps can alter learning styles?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLdxSqdt5RU&feature=related

Radiation is commonly blamed for insomnia, headaches, fatigue and cancer. Libraries and other public spaces in several cities have switched off wi-fi internet after reports that the radio waves were harmful. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6366590.ece

I appreciate that we get assaulted by these radiowaves through use of microwaves, television and any other wireless devices but are we subjecting our children needlessly and unknowingly to increase use through cellphone and wifi wireless technology in our schools? Should there be limitations to use of these tools in schools?  As teachers, we are subjecting ourselves everyday in these environments. Should teachers be protected from a health and safety perspective?

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Thought #1

With all of the buzz around social networking these days, do many schools actually allow “all access” for its students or are there restrictions? In particular, I am interested if other school boards have disallowed the use of networking tools such as facebook or youtube. My school board does not allow access to facebook or google videos in their schools. Facebook isn’t blocked but its use is prohibited; whereas, google video is supposedly blocked and youtube isn’t.

I had a great chat with a colleague the other day about students using social networking tools at lunch time and why we as a school don’t allow students to “socially connect” if it is outside of class time. His thought was our school board is avoiding privacy issues in addition to protecting our students from those that prey on the innocent during school hours.

Thought #2

Lately, I have been hearing a lot of people speak out about privacy concerns surrounding their social networking. Honestly, I didn’t really think too much of it until I started reading some of the posts and literature surrounding the issue. It has made me think and perhaps revamp my outlook on putting stuff on the Internet that has a tag to my personal information.

My next question deals with clicking on a website. When surf the web, who has access to our information? Can people get the IP address off of our computers? Are there hidden clients that get tagged when we hit a certain site? How are we at risk with surfing the web? Don’t want to get to paranoid but it is a question that has crossed my mind.

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Great lecture tonight, thanks to everyone and especially to Sue Waters for giving her take on blogging. I am loving the idea of blogs and how easily information can be accessed, it has definitely opened my eyes to several technological tools that can benefit my teaching practices. I don’t find myself to be an efficient blogger just yet as I have just started blogging last month and so there are numerous questions surrounding me but not sure what to ask simply because I don’t know the full potential of my surroundings. I am finding that my blogs are more of a “research paper” style with too many thoughts for readers to actually want to continue reading on but the good news is, I am aware of this.

I have about 5 word processing documents open on my computer with different reflections for this class that I haven’t posted yet as I am trying to cut down on my “deep thought” approach. My (soon to be released) post about last week’s lecture with George Sieman, does however, dive into a more scientific slash biological approach to increased computer usage than it does about discussing the vast number of benefits that surround it and as a result, brings forth a few underlying discussions, that in my mind, need to be brought to the forefront and addressed. To this I do apologize ahead of time but what can I say, I am a science nerd (where can I get a science nerd smiley face?). Perhaps in the near future, I will learn to spend less time talking about my thoughts and spend more time reading and commenting to others.

I appreciate how social networks can be created as educators to share ideas and experiences, which is fantastic but how I incorporate these ideas into my realm of teaching boggles my mind (notice: boggling and blogging are fairly close in spelling). I am sure you have heard these frustration many times before so I won’t ask you to respond to my question but as an alternative, I will try to review some of the links/literature thrown around tonight.

My questions for you:

1. How do we handle the vast amounts of information being sent our way. I have heard, “dip your cup into the river when you are thirsty”, I have heard, “take a bite and chew on it, spit out what you don’t want and swallow the rest” but I find my course that I am in and the time spent learning to blog and other Web2.0 tools difficult to manage. Perhaps you could give me your points of view on how to trap pertinent information and cut down on time spent “floating” down the information highway keeping in mind that I am more comfortable and use Google Reader, RSS feeds and Delicious.

2. You said that it took you a good year to learn how to blog effectively, what are your top 5 “need to knows” about blogging.

3. You said that you have the best job in the world being a “Web learner consultant” as I will put it. How did you go about making that a reality?

Not sure if I “pinged” this correctly Sue.

Thanks again for all of you information tonight Sue, I will keep your sites close.

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