Quotations of the Week

Careful. We don't want to learn from this
Calvin and Hobbes

Seeing ourselves as others see us would probably confirm our worst suspicions about them.
Franklin P. Adams

Nver discourage anyone... who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.

We don't know a millionth of one percent about anything.
thomas A. Edison

Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.
Calvin and Hobbes

Some days even my luck rocketship underpants won't help
Calvin and Hobbes

Scanning vs. Seeking - how we view content - a visual example

Dictionary.com Word of the Day

Thursday, January 31, 2008


While wandering online (too tired to surf) I came across this and it made me chuckle.
The User Is Not Broken: A meme masquerading as a manifesto. Some of you have probably read it. I haven't.

I don't know about some of you but I am starting to feel like blogs are like a long standing soap opera/television series that if you haven't been watching for awhile or started with it from the beginning, you are hopelessly lost. Reminds me of the Twin Peaks day... never did understand that show and all I did was not see the first episode.

One of my favourite commercials in regards to visual literacy

I love this video in how it shows how scale can be manipulated and images can be combined to create new ones.

House Hippo Commercial

What doesn't Google have?

It is exam week this week so I have had a bit more time to explore some things. One of the things I have been doing is looking at things that I might be able to use with my classes. I have been thinking that maybe I could explore wikis with my marketing class but before that I have to get permission from parents or something like that so in the meanwhile I have been exploring Google.
Two offerings are the notebook feature and the document creator. Nice thing about them is that students can have access to files regardless of where they are.
The notebook allows them to attach web adress, pictures and so on. they can also tag information for future reference. I think i might even use this as an option for students in my planning class for journaling. I have a goal for the classes this semester to use less paper... this might be a great way for students to do so and still have easy access to notes... problem will be typing speed for many... ugh, even thinking about it.

The documents maker that Google seems neat as well. Students can import and export files including spreadsheets. I teach spreadsheets in one of my courses next semester and it seems lik a good way to allow students an easy way to take things to and from school without emailing and using thumbdrives. Might even have students do a couple of assignments using the program rather than Excel.

I plan to at least show these to students and give them the option of using it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I see, I do: Understand a thousand words

We are such and image based society. In reading the articles regarding visual literacy I had my head nodding over and over again. I teach a marketing class and we look at how advertisers use images to sell products. What are they saying with the choices they make to show product, scale, colour, use of lines and on it goes. It is so important that students have the tools to understand what is being said in an image and why it is being said. I think we often take what is being shown in a photo for granted and don't look at all the messages being shared. We take it for granted that advertisements are every where. It has become a part of our culture.

For our first blog post we were to look at a photo sharing site and in my exploration I came across this photo that i plan use next semester with one of my classes. I love how much this image says in a way that an article or my talking could never give justice to.

After posting way to long of a post

I realized I forgot to add that I could see using Photobucket (or one of the other photo sharing sites) as a place to collect images that students could use for projects. For example, my Planning class does a risk assessment activity where they view images and look for possible work dangers and then determine ways to make the work environment safer. If I posted the images online then students could work on the assignement regardless of where they are. Mind you, students can still do this if they copy the images to a personal thumbdrive or email me a request for copies.

I'm already in trouble

Before I jump into anything I like to read the fine print and before providing information online I really like to read the fine print. I am having a hard enough time writing my blog online because the information is public and is out there for whomever to read. Posting my own photos or further, posting my students photo/work through an online system poses even more problems for me. At least when I write something I am conscious (mostly) of what I am saying with the words I chose to put on the screen. I am aware of the font and choice of colour I chose to give my message. (having even doing this puts more emphasis on a sentence than was originally intended)

Images provide so much more that may be unintended. I let people know purposely or not what type of clothing I prefer, where I spend time, possibly what my home looks like and other information that is in the background that I haven't even thought of. Our eye works way more selectivey than the lense of a camera. When we take a photo our eye focuses on the subject we chose and selectively ignores everything else. The lense of a camera doesn't It still takes clear pictures of other things. In the olden days when I would take photos with film and get it back I was always surprised by what else was in the photo I took. It wasn't what I intended to share. I remember this one photo of my university graduation it was a group shot of my friends. In taking the photo I didn't realize in the background there was somebody mooning the camera. When I got it back I was shocked and then I wondered, "who's is that?" Now I could just PhotoShop it out and have a great photo. I haven't though. Somehow the naked bum has become part of the memory.

For this assignment I decided to look at photobucket. When I set up Facebook this was one of the applications that many of my friends (well, the few that I have added to the service) were using. Unlike the majority (as doug Achterman suggests in Surviving Wikipedia) I do read the terms of agreement and the disclaimer before using something) and first I am sure I wouldn't want to make my photos public (many of the photos I take are of my children and I don't that out there). If photos are made Public then you are giving license for all to use/enjoy in hopefully an unaltered form but you are also providing Photobucket with certain rights to the images.

Photobucket has an age requirement for using its site (14 yrs of age) or at least posting photos to the site. This limits children from using the site to share their work/projects.

I found it quite interesting perusing the site and random searches for information (including my hometown) produced some quality photos admist a bunch that we'll just say weren't. I even found some visuals to use in my marketing class next semester. I also found similar images using general searches using google and yahoo. I liked the fact that one doesn't have to be a member to browse images and copy images.

It appears very similar in use to other online photo image sharing sites and I can see why some choose to use it. I am using the all important information literacy tool of filtering and am choosing that the site isn't for me and I don't want to use the site. I am fine with emailing specific people photos that I chose to share. I can attach notes to these files to tell the story of the photo and I like the fact that it is a personal email to someone rather than a public statement.

I admit, I have used online photo imaging programs through future shop to make cards, wal-mart and shoppers drug mart to print copies of photos for frames, albums and family. Once I have printed the copies I want I generally delete the files online.

I think that for me being a browser of online photo image sharing sites is much more comfortable than being a provider. this might change in the future. I think I would also encourage students to read the terms of agreement before using a site and I would have them answer the question. Why do you want to use this program. What are the benefits of using it? What are the cons of using it. What are you giving to the provider in return for using the site. (the biggest thing here is information and of course an audience to their advertisers).

I also wonder about the rights of others that might be featured in the photos one posts to such sites (especially publically). I have a friend who is a coach for his son's hockey team. He is having problems with a parent of one of his son's hockey teammates. This parent is using online video sharing and photo sharing services to promote his son's hockey playing abilities. The problem for my friend, and some of the other parents, is that their children are also in these photos and they have given consent for their children to be there. These children are under ten years old and one of them is not supposed to have any photos publically shared for security reasons.

As a teacher, I don't think I could require students to share work on such sites. I would let them know of the options available to them and to look at the questions I posed above before using the site. legally, I don't know about sharing student work for all to see, at least I would know I wouldn't want student names and personal information shared. A big question for me is how do I use this technology without compromising my students privacy rights and parents trust that I am looking out for their best interest in the learning opportunities I provide.

Is it more important that I use these programs to celebrate students work and to provide them ways to showcase or to help students understand the uses of these programs and to help them make informed decisions on whether or not to use the sites. For me the later is more important. I have never taught a student on how to use their cell phone but they are all very able to use the multi-functions provided. I have though discussed with students etiquette surrounding use of phones, privacy issues that need to be considered, cost options of using phones, companies, services.

For some reason the fact that these programs exist online and are free to the general user makes many think its nothing to use the post, post personal information and share. the idea of selectively chosing to use a program or not is rarely considered. It seems more like people are chosing which one. With all of this being said, I am chosing not to personally add/use one of these sites at this time. Who knows, like the cell phone I am may be a convert one day but having read through the information, I am making an informed decision ( and albeit mark costing) decision not to.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Okay, all of my reading on how to create a blogroll was useless. I managed to finally do it by randomly pointing and clicking and saying to myself.... "what's the worst that could happen?" Proof yet again to self that technology is sometimes best learnt by taking risks and not being taught... mind you that depends on the type of learner one is... Now I just have to go back and change my colour scheme again because I don't want to try and change the colour of my blogrolls now that I successfully added them.

Frustrated by my own attempts

I know what my students feel like at school constantly reaching the blue screen with the gigantic stop sign indicating that for whatever reasons the site they are trying to reach is not appropriate for school time.
I got it today trying to access my blog so I could write my thoughts about the usefullness in the school setting. I have students journal everyday in two of my course and immediately thought it would be a great place to have students write and to do reflections on course content.

Downside at our school is that blogs are not seen as appropriate use of computers. More so with legality issues than educational issues. For everything we want to do online with our students needs a written consent from the legal guardian of the child. I use an online grading system with my classes and before I can use it I have to get written (preferred) or verbal approval from all of the students parents. This can be a nightmare but I see the benefits of students being able to access their grades and assignment descriptions at any time worth the hassle.

Question for me is... "are blogs worth the hassle?" Real answer is that I don't know. I see the benefits of providing a way for students who are uncomfortable to participate in the classroom setting to have a voice. It also implies that if a student doesn't say anything they were not particpating in the conversation. At the same time I see added pressure on students who feel the need to write the perfect response/answer in a posting... as this is more permanent and people are able to go back much easier than what was said in class.

In the end, the question has to be does it support the learning or are we just trying to fit it into the learning so we can boast of using technology in the classroom.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

An Introduction

My name is Elisa and I am a new blogger. I am also, admittedly, a reluctant blogger. Having said that i think it is good to go outside comfort zones and try new things.

the name for my blog a-min-e-blog comes from my family nick name "Mini-E" (I am by far the shortest one). I thought that since this was going to be my small contribution to the world of blogging I would create a mini blog... hence min-e blog (which without the - indicates its mine:) )

I chose to use blogspot because when I did a google search for blogging this one came up first:) Not a great reason but there has to be a starting point for everything. Its taken me awhile to post anything because I got caught up with trying to figure out an easy way to get rid of the star on the template that I chose and replace it with an e... still working on it but realized that time was past and I hadn't provided this yet... oops... will ty not to let it happen again.