Summary of Learning

In the blink of an eye, these past two months have flown by, as did our ECMP355 class. While I thoroughly enjoyed this course (and learned lots from it) I find myself at a standstill. I feel like there is still so much to learn! It must be an Ed. Tech class thing! But in all seriousness, I must say ECMP355 was an amazing course that I would definitely recommend because not only did we go over tons of tech. tools to use both in and out of the classroom we also tackled challenging discussion that surrounds educational technology.

Like I mentioned earlier, I learned a lot this semester and how great is it that I get to show off some of what I learned? Needless to say, our final project was to create a digital summary of learning (that either has us or our voice in it). So off to the races I went. I kid you not I probably tried out about thirty different programs/apps before settling on one. I decided to go with the video editor tool

razgriz2520 Flickr via Compfight cc

Filmora (along with a few other tools for voice recording and whatnot).  While this program allows you to create/edit wonderful videos it does a flaw that comes up when you have finished editing your video and are exporting your video. With the free version of Filmora you can export your video to YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, you name it. However, when you export the video it leaves a watermark in the middle of your video. Which, as you can imagine, isn’t ideal. I chose to pay for a year’s subscription only because I had already created/edited my video, but if you had an iPad I would recommend considering using the app iMove. While there aren’t as many video editing options as Filmora, iMovie offers an effective program the produces very nice videos while remaining user-friendly and cost-free.


Over the duration of this course, we went over many topics. We talked about the importance of participatory culture and what it means to be a participatory citizen. The problematic issues of public shaming and sextortion were brought forth. It was from this that I learned that we must deal with online altercations with the utmost care, kindness, compassion, and empathy towards others. For myself personally, I took away many learning experiences in regards to digital citizenship. Not only does digital citizenship include topics like safety, security, having a balance when it comes to screen time, cyberbullying, sexting, copyright, plagiarism, access, and etiquette but also means speaking out against the injustices of the world. One of the bigger takeaways I have from this course is that individuals (especially teachers) should not remain silent out of fear of being ridiculed for not remaining neutral, we must speak up.

Overall, I am quite happy with how I’ve progressed through this course. Here is my ECMP355 Summary of Learning (I apologize for my singing voice in advance):

Contributions to Others Learning

Part of our ECMP355 class is based on how we help one another and aid one each other’s learning. This takes place on our Google plus community, twitter, blog comments, creating resources, etc. To show all of my interactions I took a variety of screenshots, provided links, and inserted tweets into this blog post. For the remainder of this post, I will break down the different sections of my contributions to others learning.

Google Plus Community:

Google Plus is an online community where members can share, ask questions, post etc. I contributed to others learning in a  number of ways from answering questions, as seen in the images below…

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To sharing resources…

To providing Screencasts:

Please click the link for the following screencasts to view-  How to change a hyperlink’s color on WordPress, How to upload a screencast to WordPress without uploading to YouTube, Where our Twitter list to subscribe to is, How to upload a legal picture, and How to use 1-click timer.


Every day since the start of class I shared at least one-five tweets. These tweets were educational resources to do with educational technology in general, specific tech tools or pertained to our discussions in class. To see some examples of these tweets please check out my twitter account here. Along with this I reply to various classmates tweets and engage in meaningful discussion.


As part of our post requirements, we are to be blogging weekly, multiple times per week.  In saying that, we also are supposed to make comments on each other’s blogs. Here are some examples of my comments I have made on some of my classmate’s blogs:

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All in all I think contributing to the learning of others has helped myself gain a better perspective into what this course was all about. As well, has helped put into perspective what teaching with tech integrated into the classroom would be like.

The Secret Code

CraigTaylor74 Flickr via Compfight cc

Coding. An interesting part of educational technology. For some, it is scary but for others, it’s exciting; it’s a new way of thinking. In class, we were introduced what is referred to as the ‘hour of code’. When implemented in the classroom students are given a device where they can practice the skills required to code or even practice coding!

For this blog post, I chose to do what is referred to as the “Hour of Code” for a few reasons. One because it is FUN, two because it makes you think, and three because it is something I would really like to do with the students in my classroom. So needless to say I started playing around with this website. It is terrific, both student and teacher friendly! Watch this video to see how anyone can learn to code.

To show my progress I took a screencast in student mode. While I did do a full hour of code these screencasts are only snippets of my overall learning. The screencast of the beginning of my hour of code (click on the link to view my screencast) is Puppy Adventure in student mode.  During this I learned as the student progresses, more options will be made available. Such as unlocking new puzzles or coding scenarios to try out based on the level they are at. Which is both neat and somewhat disappointing. If you are anything like me then you always like to finish what you have started, which could be an issue for some students. On the other hand, it is also good because you want your students to be improving their coding skills as they do their ‘hour of code’ instead of staying at the same level.

Underneath is a YouTube video the is an introduction to coding for the Frozen Hour of Code scenario:

Through this website, I also learned that students are able to create their own profile and save their learning! How great is that! Not only are students able to save their learning and track their progress but they are also able to personalize their account, save projects, and most importantly learn to code! Also, when you are first deciding which coding scenario you wish to go on there are categories that help you to find what you are looking for, for example, what grade you are in, what subjects you are interested in, the length of time you will be coding, what classroom technology is made available to you etc. Overall, this is an excellent resource to introduce to your class to get them started on coding. Happy coding everyone!

Sextortion and The New Culture of Public Shaming

fmgbain Flickr via Compfight cc

A few decades ago the idea of public shaming was basically limited to three things the newspaper, TV, or radio; as mentioned on Monica Lewinsky’s Ted Talk. Today, public shaming can be everywhere, especially if you are the one targeted. With social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Instant Messaging etc. it is no wonder that the battle to get away may seem endless. Then there is the topic of kids. The access to the internet and all it contains is easier to access than ever before. All you have to do is enter in what you want to look up into a search engine and almost instantaneously you get results.

Then incorporate the topic of kids. The access to the internet and all it contains is easier to access than ever before. All one has to do is enter in what one want to look up into a search engine and almost instantaneously you get results. One can see how easily this may become a problem especially with the sexualization of children, teens, adults, etc. that is apparent in the marketing, and media, these days. As mentioned on the documentary Sext Up Kids (there is sensitive content), this market is targeted directly at kids and their desire to look ‘older’ and ‘sexier’. Younge children go from wanting to be the ‘prettiest princess’ to the ‘hottest girl’ in a number of years. It is the effects of marketing, such as these, that pressures and influences are surrounding our students at ages as low as nine to things such as watch porn, sext, or a variety of other things. Ultimately, those acts when noticed online can lead to detrimental effects on children, teens, and adults through things like sextortion and public shaming. Which makes it so crucially important to address the situation if it ever occurs. Teachers and parents must teach their students and children what is appropriate/not appropriate, but most importantly how to be safe online.

As educators, it is our responsibility to be aware and to teach kids about the dangers of being online and what protective measures we need to take to ensure our students are being safe online. In order to do this, we must talk about subjects that are ‘taboo’ or uncomfortable to talk about. But if we don’t have these difficult conversations with our students we are basically telling them to deal with it on their own. It is our responsibility to teach our students to make smart decisions, that it is okay to make mistakes (article thanks to Kim Thue’s, twitter handle @thuekim), and how to be safe online.

Digital Citizenship: Learning about the World

Stefans02 Flickr via Compfight cc

People of all ages are online today. From young to old and everything in between the world as we know it has become forever increasingly an online space. There are Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts for just about everything. We are becoming an increasingly online world. It is in these times where educators use social media to increase classroom engagement amongst other things.

After reading this article I couldn’t agree more. Students need to live one life, not two. Meaning that, as educators, we should promote the use digital tools such as social media in our classrooms instead of banning them. Incorporating technology into the classroom means letting students have one life where digital citizenship is encouraged. Incorporating technology means bringing in learning from around the world into the classroom.

When thinking about digital citizenship it can be broken down into many sub-sections. Though digital citizenship may not be explicitly implied, it is part of the hidden curriculum. Meaning, even though digital citizenship is not listed it should be taught. Just like how in the early years of education we learn to tie shoes, share, and treat each other as you would want to be treated. Though things such as these aren’t listed in the curriculum they are still taught in schools. It is the same with digital citizenship.

Digital Citizenship includes:

  • Safety and Security
  • Balance
  • Cyberbullying
  • Sexting
  • Copyright and Plagiarism
  • Access
  • Etiquette

Safety and Security: Have students question what is right, what is wrong, what a good source is, what an unreliable source is, how to evaluate digital sources, and how to be safe online. It is classroom experiences such as these that help create digital awareness, a positive digital identity, and digital literacy in today’s world. As well as how to keep devices safe.

Balance: There needs to be a balance between time spent on and offline. Like everything time should be spent on a multitude of things (i.e. learning on an iPad, playing outside, etc.).

Cyberbullying: As unfortunate and cruel as it is cyber bullying does happen. When it does or before it happens it is important to take the right measures, to have an action plan. As I’m sure you all know bullying (online or offline) can detrimental effects on children, teens, and even adults. I wanted to point out this resource, a twitter/ online community, that is a bullying prevention campaign designed to influence social change. It is a great place to start for parents, teachers, or students. Their account @i_am_stronger posts numerous resources and influential posts. As well, there are also many ways to contact (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email, etc.) listed on their website for anyone who is wondering what to do to take the next step in addressing a bullying situation.

Sexting: A taboo topic with startling statistics. But an important one to address. It is our job as educators and parents to talk about this topic even at a young age. With the introduction of things such as Snapchat, instant messaging, and apps a picture sent is only a click away. It is of the utmost importance that we educate our students and ourselves in the best way we know how in order to reach our students before something, like a sext is sent out.

Copyright and Plagiarism: With tools such as copy and paste on the computer copying someone else’s work is very easy to do. For some students they may not know what they are doing is plagiarism, which is why defining what is and is not is so important. For example, googling an image and copying it and pasting it somewhere else is technically illegal, even if no one came hunting you down. However, when you select the creative commons option on search engines such as Google or my now personal favorite CompFight, as long as you cite the picture it is okay to use.

Access: Who is able to get online and when they are able to use it. It is essentially the digital divide. Not all students have computers, iPads, or phones use at home. What happens when those students go home? How do those students connect at home? For some students, the only place they may be able to use technology may be at school. Which is why it is important to consider all students accessibility to the online world before assigning homework that requires an internet connection. As educators, we need to find a way to make technology accessible after school.

Etiquette: When it is appropriate to do certain things online, what to do vs. you shouldn’t do, when to use social media, etc. For example, when in the middle of a physical conversation it probably isn’t appropriate to be texting someone else at the same time.

Digital citizenship is about so much, but it cannot be accomplished without tech integration. Which is why I plan on incorporating not only the use of technology in the classroom but also digital citizenship.

Sleuthing: Take One

Sleuthing. Not a word I would have known before today. But now I do! Sleuthing is, in a technological context, basically looking up someone online and digging around to find something, or as some of the younger generation would call it, “creeping”. Anywho, for today’s blog post I will be sleuthing a fellow ECMP355 classmate, Darren Brinklow. After doing some searching on Google and Duck Duck Go I drew the following conclusions about Darren’s online presence.

Professional (job-related):

  • Science and Math Teacher at Radville Regional High School in Radville, SK
  • Science Honours at Trent University (Dean’s List) in 2011
  • Bachelor of Education at Queen’s University in 2013
  • Athletic Director at Radville Regional High School

Biographical (age, birthday, location, family, appearance, etc.):

  • Born May 4th
  • Lives in Radville, SK
  • Grew up in Warsaw, a small farming community in Southern Ontario
  • Wife (Kayla)
  • Son (that is newer to the world)
  • Physically: blonde with blue eyes

Personal (hobbies, activities, likes/dislikes, etc.):

  • High School Athletics
  • Coaching Volleyball and Track and Field
  • Enjoys playing lacrosse, hockey, and baseball
  • Enjoying working on vehicles and drag racing
  • Enjoys spending time with wife (also an educator) and son
  • Outdoorsman

Where are they on the web (Social Networks etc.):

Overall Impression:

Very professional and positive online presence. I certainly have found more activity in the creation of your online presence in the last few months, as there was not too much before then. Great progress Darren and keep up the good work for the remainder of the course!

Quite an experience sleuthing is! I can see how some people may see it as an invasion of their privacy. Hence, why it is so important nowadays to have your privacy set as you desire. In today’s world where your digital identity is forever it is crucial that we have a positive online identity both for ourselves and to set a good example for our students. As educators, it is imperative that we take the preventative measures needed to portray the digital identities we want for ourselves.



Culture of Participation

On May 25th our ECMP 355 class had a guest lecture, Dr. Alec Couros. While our class was only an hour and a half long we discussed many things to do with technology such as online presence, digital identity, and the culture of participation. I would define the culture of participation, in a technological context, as the interactions/relationships one builds through online connection/communication. Thus, this culture of participation creates community. Michael Wesch’s YouTube Video:

Throughout this video, Wesch talks about his experience with his relationships and technology. He stresses that at the center of our mediascape (which are things like YouTube, blogs, email, Facebook, Myspace, etc.) that surrounds us is in fact us. He explains that media is not content but rather media is mediating human relationships. As a result, when media changes so do human relationships. Which is where the whole idea of cultured participation comes in. The world is changing. It already has. For example, look at the advances of these technological devices below:

Change is not always bad. It is simply different. Technology has changed the way in which we participate in the world, in our culture. During Alec’s lecture, he talked about how in previous years people lived in smaller communities, shopped at local stores, or when they wanted to talk to someone you either had to physically go and see them or call them up on the telephone. It is participating in examples such as these that had created a sense of community, culture. Today, you see more people living in larger centers, driving the extra hour to go to Walmart instead of local stores, and connecting online in multiple ways. This shift from then to now has impacted the ways in which we interact with one another. Thus, how we participate in the culture of the technological age.

Now, what does this mean for future classrooms you may ask? ALOT. The possibilities are neverending from using apps that help children learn to spell and write cursive to communicate with parents and so much more! Follow me on Twitter at @kplacatka to find more information on how you can integrate technology purposefully into your classroom!

Tick Tock Goes The Clock – Exploring 1-Click Timer

bintAdam Flickr via Compfight cc

For this blog post I decided to explore 1-Click Timer. This Chrome extension is essentially a timer, but rather than reaching for your phone, googling a link to find an online timer, or physically setting a timer (as in on that you have to turn) it is only a click away once installed.

After playing around with the extension I have to say that I LOVE the actual timer. I find the guitar chords quite relaxing/calming; which is different from the regular alarm/breaking out of prison timer. I think that timer the sound it is would be a nice way to bring back students attention slowly and calming rather than stopping students abruptly and in a hurry.

One of its weaknesses would be that it doesn’t go higher than 60 minutes 😦  I would have to say its most predominant strength is that it is convenient, quick, and easy to use! But most of all very user friendly! There is also a variety of sounds to choose from which is nice. Especially if someone didn’t care for this one, however I think it’s lovely!

As for potential 1-Click-Timer has in the classroom, I would say it’s limitless. I can’t think of a time when a teacher isn’t saying five more minutes, two minutes, one minute etc. 1-Click-Timer provides a clear visual that is easy for both teachers and students to use. It’s definitely something I will be including throughout my teaching practice. I would highly recommend this to other educators! Check it out!


Tweet Tweet I hear a Tweetie Bird

When I first signed up for twitter I did so because it was a mandatory tool used at an anti-bullying conference for the campaign I Am Stronger. I used it throughout the conference but never really touched it much after. I followed the people whom I came into contact with at the time and they followed me back. Besides the few tweets that followed the conference I think I tweeted a few times in regards to the achievements of the sports teams I was a part of. Once in university I used it for a class or to, but only to contribute a tweet or two to the class conversation using the class hashtag. Needless to say, I did not use twitter to its full potential.

Claude Bélanger Flickr via Compfight cc

Once the class, ECMP 355, started I really started to dive in; partially because were supposed to be actively taking part in twitter for the class and partially because once I found out who to follow I really started to do some learning. I followed educators, educational technology accounts, and a various others in regards to education. From there I was able to find link to articles that matched my teaching philosophy and start to build a professional learning network (PLN).

Last Thursday as a class we took part in #saskedchat which is a chat on twitter that allows educators from Saskatchewan (and some from out of province) to take part in a facilitated chat where everyone communicates whiles answering a series of questions. It is quite the event to take in. Take a look at Jordan Ingola’s tweet prior to the chat for example:

While the chat goes quickly and is intense, it is something I truly enjoy. Without leaving the comfort of your home #saskedchat (and Twitter) allows you to connect with educators from all over the world! By taking part of these chats and taking time to communicate by replying, retweeting, following, etc. you are engaging in the professional development experience AND building your own PLN. I love it!

Currently I use twitter as a way to connect/communicate with other educators, share resources, as well as on a personal level. While my account @kplacatka is a personal one, I use it professionally. I do not like/share/retweet anything that is vulgar or inappropriate. However, I think it is important for students to have a teacher that models what it is like to be an engaged citizen. With that being said, teachers are human and have personal interactions. As long as those interactions aren’t harmful or hurtful in any way and portrays a positive image for all teachers then I think it is okay to have a single account. Hence, my choice to continue my personal account instead of creating a separate account for students and parents to see.

An Intro to Feedly

Feedly is a website that collects feeds (articles, journals, that type of thing) and congregates it into one location based on the type of material you personally choose to follow. Basically its like a twitter in that it has a newsfeed where you can find the latest stories of the day. You follow people or organizations that are of a particular interest to you.

Here is a screenshot of what my Feedly account looks like:

I have currently subscribed to several blogs and other education related sources such as EdTech, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, and Teach Thought. I chose to follow these sources because through this course I want to develop my educational technology skills. One tool that I can use to learn about Educational Technology through is Feedly. By reading these types of articles it then  deepens my learning.

EdTech, for example, consists of different stories that relate to education and technology. In particular, today I read this article. Within the article the author examines different statistics that relates to low-income families and their thoughts/feelings towards technology in the classroom. Meanwhile, a different source a chose to follow, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, is a bit different. They offer articles directly related to educational web based resources. Along with bringing mobile apps to light for both teachers and students. Overall, they are both sources that I like and will continue to follow.