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This is for my EDU-106 class at SCSU. I'm pretty excited to learn about how to make this better than what it is now.

Laura Marie

Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture Response

4 min read

In the first chapter of this report, Jenkins and his team discuss the participatory culture that is happening throughout the world amongst teenagers who are not only surfing the web anymore, but participating, creating and building their own identities and products online.  I found the chapters I read fascinating and even eyeopening because before I started this class, I will admit I was partially close mided to the amazing accomplishments some teenagers were acheiving with the internet.  The examples talked about in the beginning of the paper of teenagers who started their own websites or programs that became nationally known or grew into companies or career was just amazing to me.  The discussion of "affinity spaces" where teenagers are learning in an informal environment about popular culture, and how this type of learning is beneficial and as help them learn more or at least differently than they do in a formal school setting made many good points.  The fact that these environments bridge the gaps between racial, social and economic differences and bring people with similar interests together despite any of these difference, peers teaching and learning from one another about similar interests and having the freedom to experiment with what tools work for them and what they do or don't want to participate in are just a few of the things that I agree make these spaces beneficial.  

As I have seen in many of the papers and articles we've read in class, they address the critics of social media and the internet, and the second chapter addresses three issues with this participatory culture that Jenkins says, and I agree, needs to be addressed if this type of culture could become a meaningful educational tool.  These three issues are the "participation gap," "the transparacy problem," and the "ethics challenge." The participation gap deals with the issue of rescources not evenly spread out through the country with people in lower income families and school systems not getting the same access or quality of technology that people in more affluent areas get.  Again this is something that has been discussed in other readings, and I believe is a huge problem in our country today.  The tranparacy problem which concerns a youth's ability to effectively assess the information they are getting from websites, and differentiate between the websites that are factual and reliable and those that are biased or product driven.  It is true that with all the information available at our fingertips, it can be difficult to find the truth and children especially may not take the time to make sure the information they are reading is factual and backed up by reputable sources.  I know that I still struggle with this as an adult and sometimes find myself taking the word of an author without taking the time to find out if they actualy know what they are talking about and are providing sources and expertise in their claims.

 The ethics challenge is the most concerning in my opinion because it talks about how adolescents don't always have the capacity or capability to understand what they should or shouldn't be sharing or doing on the internet, but how many of them have almost complete freedom to post or participate in whatever way they want to.  I feel like this issue is the most dangerous because as it says in the article, children don't always have the experience to understand what they shouldn't share, and as we have seen with problems like sexting, they can have lasting consequences.  Many adolescents lack the ability to understand the levity of their actions online and how they can have very negative effects.  Youth have the ability to access websites that they should not be able to just by falsifying their birthday when signing up, and end up in environments that could be harmful or dangerous, and that 20 years ago, no 13 or 14 year old would have been able to have access to.  While I am someone who believes that it's a parent's responsability to monitor and restrict thier child's internet use, I also know that these days that is getting harder and harder to do with the amount of technology and ways children are able to access the internet.

I agreed with most of what I read in this paper, and I do think that this participatory culture is a positive thing in many ways, but I also see the flaws, and I think we need to continue to find ways to keep children safe while still encouraging them to learn and grow using the internet.

Laura Marie

Working in/at Public Thoughts and Response

3 min read

Robin DeRosa's article was filled with so many interesting ideas and stories that I am struggling with getting everything straight in my mind to put my own thoughts together, but I will do my best.  She started off talking about the Digital Pedagogy Lab  which holds a five day institute discussing aspects of digital teaching and learning in educational arenas, such in hybrid courses.  What really caught my attention was when she spoke about University of Wisconsin at Madison Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab, who was critiscized and harrased for comments she made on Twitter.  What she said isn't important for my response, even though I did take the time to look up the incidernt because I found it very interesting.  It made me very angry to read how she was attacked for her opninions- granted she probably could have been more tactful with what she was saying, but the thing that upsets me is the way that people attack and harrass others for speaking their opinions in public and it to me is one of the downfalls of speaking about political or economical issues because people will always bring it to a personal level.

The other thing that greatly interested me in the article was DeRosa's work in Open Educational Resources (OER) and her idea to further their work past just lowering textbook costs to include an effort to: "refigure the OER movement to champion open public networks as a learner-developed educational space." Meaning she wants to make textbooks and othwer material free and open-liscensed.  She herself calls this radical and while as a student, I love the idea of not having to pay for textbooks, I agree that this is a radical notion that would be very difficult to make reality.  She mentions that they would need a public commons that could support this and a way to share the cost of the labor it takes to produce these materials, and she admits that there really isn't a platform available yet for this.  Still I like her ideals and hopes that there will be public spaces for teachers and students to lteach and learn without the financial control of these companies that are driven by profit and not by what is best for public education.

I had trouble understanding exactly what the Institute and DeRosa are trying to do, but I still agree with a lot of the article and enjoyed reading it.

Laura Marie

Screencasting to Engage Learning

3 min read

Although this article wasn't particularly interesting or gripping, I do agree with Ruffini that Screencasts are a useful tool for teachers and students.  I don't think I would have been able to appreciate this article as much if it wasn't for my experiences in this class because without Dr. McVerry's screencasts, I do not think I would have made it through half of the projects that we did.  I couldn't have said it better myself when Ruffini claimed that, "screencasting is a perfect medium to explain difficult technical concepts to anyone with a non-technical background."  I am a visual learner and I also have medical issues with my short term meory so when something is just explained in class and then I have to go home and try to work on something with just my memory of the instructions, I almst always have issues doing the work.  With screencasts though, I am able to watch it and go through step by step to complete my assignment which would have been much more difficult without that medium.

The same goes for being able to use a screencas at my own pace.  When I have to follow in class, I sometimes struggle at keeping up, especially when I have to take notes because of my issues with my memory, I try and keep up and end up fogetting half of the things the teacher said and am left with half written explanations and information so when I go home, I do not have everything I need to complete my assignment.  Like Ruffini said, " the ability to pause or review content gives students the option to move at their own pace, which is not always feasible in the classroom." That is exactly the type of tool that is useful for me, and i more teachers used it, I feel people like me who have he same issues or who are visual learners, would do much better with their assignments.

I really liked the "flipped classroom" method.  I agree that having students learn a lesson through a screen cast where they can work at their own pace and focus on certain parts where they may need more help could really benefit both students and teachers.  Being able to have prior knowledge of what you're learning on and then  go to class the next day and be able to ask questions or work in groups to help fill in the parts that may have been unclear would be very beneficial for students who are slower learners, and at the same time those students who get the materials down quicker, can help their fellow students and challenge themselves by having to explain their understanding to others.  

As someone who is hoping to be a teacher, I think that screencasts are an excellent teaching tool, and now that I have learned how to make my own screencasts in class, I believe I have a strong foothold on a teaching tool that will only become more popular as technology conitnues to expand in classroom environments.

Laura Marie

My Final is Finally Done- My Process

4 min read

I was pretty excited to put my final together.  Even though most of this was done in the last week, I feel like I got a crash course in everything we learned this semester and I am still proud of everything I accomplished so I wanted to show it off.  I chose the first option because it seemed to fit well with Template 2 and Template 1 wasn't working so I decided it must have been fate.  It was fairly simple to put the about me page and screencast in as I just needed to replace the links.  The blog pages were a litle more involved since they needed to be linked to a different page and then linked to my blog, but I still found it pretty easy to complete.  It's pretty cool that when this all started, I thought the coding and html was going to be impossible and so complicated, but it really wasn't.  Granted I may not be at the point where I could create it from scratch, but I am actually interested in learning after all this.  

I wanted to make my portfolio as much my own as I could so I changed the background.  Ironically I used the photo I was planning on using for my Pixlr remix- I figured it should come into use somehow even if it wasn't used for what I had meant it to be primarily.  I changed the colors on the css page, which again was really easy to do now that I have done it a few times.  I chose my favorite color combination: pink, blue and purple (yes girly, I know).  The one thing I was struggling with was trying to link my blog page back to the home page.  For some reason when I would click on the link it would go to an "about:blank" page.  I could not figure out why because the coding did seem to be correct.  The weirdest part is, when I published it and went to the finished project, it worked fine.  So I am not sure why it wasn't working when I was putting it together, but I guess the finished product is what matters.

The three blog posts that I chose were the three that were closest to my heart.  I chose the first real post I did; "The Ugliness of Addiction, the Beauty of Recovery." I chose that because it was a really big deal for me to talk about my struggles with addiction because it is something that I don't really talk about outside of my family and friends and my program.  What had pushed me to write about it was the hope that if there was anyone in the class that was struggling with something similar or knew someone who was, that it would help them see they are not alone and that there is help and more importantly, hope.  On the same topic, my second post was about social media and anonymity because I believe it was a way to relate something that was very important to me to the subject matter of class and again to spread awareness on a topic people don't normally talk about.  The final post I chose was the meaning behind my six word memoir because I felt it delved into another important part of my life, my family and I also thought it showed a side of me that wasn't shown in any other blog post.

All in all, I am proud of the final result of my portfolio.  I think it shows what I have learned in the class and that I have gained skills that I definitely did not have when the semester began.  Check out the link below to see for yourself!

My Portfolio

Laura Marie

My Frustrating and Unsuccessful Attempt at Remixing a Photo

4 min read

As I have found these last few days, most of the assigned projects we had to do- a six word memoir, about me page, hacking an author's credibility, etc... have actually been a lot easier than I could have ever imagined, and I was so proud of myself everytime I got the hang of it and completed each project.  Unfortunately there is one assignment that I struggled with during the Maker Monday Challenge, and is continuing to elude me today: remixing a photo.  When we did it in class, I was having fun with it.  I had this whole idea planned out that I was going to remix an image from "Family Guy" of Brian dressed as a banana and Peter sitting on the couch (great scene with the "PBJ time dance," one of my favorite episodes) and I was going to change their faces to be Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump...I was SO excited.  At first it was going well, using the Pixlr photo editor I understood the layers and how to cut certain things from each picture and layer them onto others to create my remixed photo.  At some point it all started going wrong and every time I tried to layer a new image, it either came in too small or was way too big and not aligned correctly, and I could not figure out how to adjust the size of it.  Dr. McVerry saw my frustartion and came to help, and he showed me how to adjust it.  Unfortunately I have a horrible short term memory and forgot how he did it and 3 minuteds later I was screwing uo again.  I remember getting really frustrated and wanted to ask for hel again, but he was assisting other students and class was about to be over so I got mad at myself for not being able to figure it out, deleted my image and said I would figure it out over the week before it was due.

Obviously like other things in this class, I did not finish it when I was supposed to and kept putting it off which takes us to the present.  I just finished my fourth back to back analysis if one of the assigned readings and needed a break and since besides the final project which I was going to do last, the only other project I had left was the photo.  So I hoped that after doing so well with the other assignments the last few days, I would finally be able to figure this out.  Again I had an idea all ready- I was going to post a picture of my dog Max and photoshop him into a beach scene with sunglasses and a blurb saying "Jealous?"  I think it was my subconsiouses way of pointing out how jealous I actually was that my boyfriend is currently on a cruise to Central America with his family and I'm in my bedroom doing all this makup work.  Anyways, I started off strong, got the picture of my dog and then found a good beach picture and put that in, but again when I did that the size was all off.  I tinkered with the image size, but it was focused on a certain part of the picture and only sized that and I could not figure out how to get it off.  So I started again and did the beach picture first and then cut away the place where I planned for Max to go using the "lasso" tool, but again when I went to layer in the image of Max it was all out of alignment and I could not get Max centered in the picture no matter what I tried.  I still have other things to finish and I get so easily frustrated that I gave up again.

I really hate giving up though and I want to learn how to do this remix so I will try again after I do a couple more posts, but if anyone is reading this (longshot I know) and has some suggestions that would be awesome because I would like to have a pictuere of Max on the beach with sunglasses on because who wouldn't?

Laura Marie

Shelly Terrell: Global Netweaver, Curator, PLN Builder

3 min read

The article about Shelly Terrell, though short was very interesting.  I think that personal learning networks (PLNs) or passionate learning networks as Terrell calls them are fantastic ways for teachers and others to bounce ideas and learn from each other.  I experienced one of these PLNs during our group project where we analyzed a learning community.  My group and I analyzed Kinderchat which was a twitter group of kindergarten and pre-k teachers who shared ideas and projects with each other as they also discussed topics concerning their field.  That was definitely a PLN because as Terrell puts it, a PLN is "the group of people you choose to learn from and with," which is a big part of the purose of Kinderchat.

I agree with Terrell that PLNs are very beneficial and should be available to students as well and incorporated into curriculums.  This reminds me of when I was in third grade in Orange, CT my class started a "Pen Pal" program with students at Barnard School in New Haven, we sent multiple letters back and forth and got to visit with our pen pals at our respective schools.  Even though we lived 15 minutes away from one another, our neighborhoods and upbringings were mostly very different and it showed in our schools, clothing and the way we interacted with each other.  For a nine year old living in a pretty affluent town, that was really the first time I had an experience in an inner-city school and met people who lived idfferently then I did.  But we had already been connected by our letters and learning about one another before we saw those differences so we connected with our similarites and built friendships on that. I believe PLNs could do that on a completely different level for students.  Instead of writing letters with someone living a few towns away, students could Skype with children living on another continent and really learn the differences in culture and everyday life that they may not be able to really grasp just from reading about it in class.

The world is huge, but we are in an era where we can connect to any part of the world with the click of a button and learn about how other people live, teach or learn.  As an aspiring teacher, I think PLNs are brilliant and I think that being in EDU 106 and learning about such groups and opportunities will help me in a couple years when I am clower to obtaining my degree, to connect with people for advice and ideas on how to be the best teacher I can. I am excited to see how PLNs will be used and expanded in the next few years when I am ready to participate in them first hand.

Laura Marie

Christine Greenhow and Beth Robelia Reading and Response

2 min read

This was an excellent reading and I could not agree more with both women that social networking sites as well as other new literacies should be integrated into school curriculums because they can help students academically.  Now I am not saying that students should be able to post on Facebook all day, but what we do in this class is social networking and it has helped me grow academically and technolocially in a time when I felt I was falling behind my fellow students because I was almost 10 years older than  most of them and did not use SNSs and other programs as much as they did.  This reading rmeinded me a lot of the first reading we did in class: Boyd's "Its Complicated," which also discussed SNS amongst high school students and a major theme in both readings was the misconceptions that adults had about the usefullness of social networling, and how it could assist students in learning and growing instead of destroying literacy like many parents and administrators accused.

I really liked that they based their study around children from low-income families because these children are usually the ones who don't get to have as much access to new forms of technology both at home and more troubling at school because their neighborhood schools are usually under-funded and unequipped with the same materials that more affluent school systems have.  These students desperately need access to technology to help them compete with other students at their level when it comes to acceptance into college and chances at employment.  If society continues this ignorant idea that social networking and other computer programs do not help children grow both academically and socially then we are not giving our children their best chances at development and growth.

The main purpose of their study, at least the pages we were assigned, seems to be trying to reach a goal of introducing more new literacies into school systems and curriculums inclusing SNSs and I agree completely.  If controlled like they are in our EDU 106 class, they can be very beneficial in students education.

Laura Marie

Donna Alverman

3 min read

Alverman discusses how culture has a large affect in childrens ability to read and comprehend andhow to help these struggling readers by looking at adoloscents and focusing on three approaches: the deprivation approach, the difference approach and the culture-as-disability approach.  She focuses on culture, identity and struggling-reader and how these three concepts need to be understood and handled correctly by teachers and other professionals because they are all intertwined and influence one another.  The deprivation approach which was about keeping a student at the level that standardized testing out them at without giving that student supplemental instruction to help them grow, keeps them down at that lower level of education and makes them unable to grow at a rate that if they were challenged or given tutoring they could surpass.The Difference approach talks about the way that students develop has literate beings depends on the culture they are surrounded with so what will work for student's in one culture may not work for those in another and she also states that by focusing on each groups strengths as a reader instead of their weaknesses can help them grow their skills. The last approach- culture-as-disability means that all cultures teach people how to succed and ultimately decides wo doesn't so everyone is grouped into this "culture" which does not individualize their approaches in helping students with different abilities and weaknesses so many students fall behind.

 I found her case study on Grady, a ninth grader who read at a fifth grade level very interesting.  He was involved in an after school media study that she was putting on and he did not respond well to it at first.  He did not want to participate in the group activities and just wanted to play Metal Gear, bu he wouldn't respond to reading when they tried to get him to.  Finally he got into the Pokemon video game and began to participate in emails with Alverman and her other collegues and read the Pokemon guides.  She noticed that she was using the same methods that she was trying to kepp others from doing- the deprovation and difference approaches- and then suggested ways to help other students like Grady grow in this cultural driven system.

I think it is true that culture has a big part in learning abilities and disabilities, especially in the "No Child Left Behind Era" of standardized testing where students in more impoverished areas without the same access to materials that other school systems may have.  Students who do not score well on these tests are then labeled as "struggling" or "learning disabled" and then either pushed into special education classes or coninue to fall behind instead of finding other ways to help these children learn in the cultures and communites that they are dealt.  

Laura Marie

Construction and/or Creation of Online Content

2 min read

I was unclear on somethings in this aritcle, but I do inderstand that O'Byrne was speaking of the need to expand Online Reading Comprehension (ORC) which is why he created the concept of Online Content Construction or (OCC).  He seemed to be saying that for students to thrive in their comrehension of online material they need to also incorporate creativity, composition design skills and communication.  To do this he believes there needs to be more of a focus on creating, but even more so- constructing online content.  I liked what he said about the difference between creating and construction. While many people may think they mean the same thing, construction takes mote detail and work to build or comprehend something "brick by brick" and therefore creates a better understand in the completed project.I really liked the line "construction is equal parts inspiration and perspiration" because I agree that creating and understand online content takes a lot of hard work, especially when you get into the construction aspect like we have in this class.  This class has taken me to such a more intensive level of the internet that I was always ignorant of and am amazed at how it has helped me in my comprension as well as my creativity and interest in learning online.

I believe that our class was fillled with aspects of OCC that O'Byrne talked about.  For example the aspect of learning in groups and how that includs elements of social and cognitive constructivism.  I believe that is what we have done on our blogs by sharing our projects and ideas with one another and replying to others ideas to try and build on them.  While I know I did not do a good job with commenting and participating in others work, I did take the time to read through their posts and it helped me learn from them as much as I learned from Dr. McVerry.  I do see the importance now of constructing online content that I may have never been able to see if it wasn't for this class.

Laura Marie

My Screencast and a Random Post on How I Made it

3 min read

I have to say, making the screencast was probably the easiest of the projects I have done for this class, which is surprising because I was afraid it would be the hardest.  I had no idea where to start since I have never done one before and even though I saw Dr. McVerry do a ton of them, I still was not sure how he did them.  Luckily there is this search engine called google so I searched "how to make a screencast," and found a wikihow page that said to find a free screencasting software so again I went to Google, typed in "Free screencast software" and found screencast-o-matic which is one of the programs that the Wikihow page suggested using so I downloaded it.  

Next I had to come up with a topic and I chose to show how to do the biography page because I felt the most confident about explaining how to make that.  The program was pretty easy to navigate so I just had to pull up my "About Me' page and hit record.  Now I am not the best public speaker- not that I get nervous because I'm not really shy, but I know that I sometimes have issues with forgetting what I'm gonna say or pausing or even stammering a little so doing a live "how to" video where I had to speak the whole time was a bit daunting.  During my first attempt I think I paused the screencast almost 12 times because I was unsure what I should say next.  Obviously I decided to scap that one and try again.  This time I told myself I was just gonna work through it even if I messed up on a word or paused for a few seconds because I assumed that Dr. McVerry did not expect us to be professional screen-casters, plus I know he's paused or forgotten something on screen-casts he has made for us so I figured he would understand hahaha.  

So I started by remixing my own page, and just went through step by step of what I did from what I had learned by reading the tutorial.  And yes, I did mess up a few times and pause or stutter, but I just kept pushing through.  I think I paused it one time because I drew a complete blak towards the end, but then I picked up where I left off and completed it.  I first tried to upload it to YouTube, but it would not work so I did it to screencast-o-matic instead and below you will find the finished product.

I actually had fun doing this project, but then again I am finding that most of the projects we have done were a lot more fun than I originally thought they would be.  Now it is 2am and I have to try and put my final project together...really kicking myself for all that procrastination now!


My Screencast