Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Gone but Not Forgotten- A Walk Down Memory Lane

There is nothing quite like a class that truly leaves you with not only memories but knowledge. I notice that there are a lot of classes that students are required to take that may be filled with so much information that their head spins while cramming it all in, and yet, once the semester is over this information is all left behind to never, or very rarely, be used again. I am happy to say that Building Your Digital Portfolio with Professor Calderwood was a different story. Rather than giving ridiculous amounts of reading and writing to stress over, this class was highly interactive and the hands-on method is what made everything so ingrained into our minds. 
Some of my favorite moments was the many guest speakers we got to hear from over Google
Hangout. For example, speaking with Cameron Brenchley who is the Director of Digital Strategy for the White House. There was also Robyn Hrivnatz who worked for Microsoft's education department. Each guest was someone who has gone far in their careers and shared their tips and experiences with us so we could truly utilize the tools of technology to better ourselves professionally.
We also learned amount many tools in technology that did amazing things. From Google Glass to explore the world virtually, to Animoto that made presentations come to life, to ZooKazam; that make real creatures come to life via augmented reality; there was never a dull moment nor a class that didn't make your jaw drop.  
With all this being said, my PLN has grown remarkably throughout this semester. I went from a person who saw social media as an app to occupy boredom to a person who could have a Twitter that I'd feel proud enough of to show my future employers themselves. I learned to keep my act clean on the Internet (and the huge risks involved if I don't). Finally, I got to create a website for myself that I will continuously fix up and maintain for my future portfolio.

 Most importantly, I learned the amazing opportunity the utilization of the connections one can make on the World Wide Web truly are. In a world where not a day goes by without the internet, I am extremely thankful for all that this class has taught me in the most interesting and engaging ways possible. It will be missed. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Microwave Children

Professor Calderwood's class never ceases to take me completely off guard. If you've been following my blog, you know this is my Exploring Your Digital Portfolio professor, you also know we frequently get the opportunity to speak with amazing people around the world through video chat. We always get to find out about different people doing all types of jobs and the ways they have utilized what we have learned in class to further themselves in their careers. This week we  had the pleasure of speaking with Robyn Hrivnatz through Google Hangouts. Talk about digital-- Robyn works for Microsoft herself. She started out as a teacher and combining her teaching skills and the innovative new technology she was passionate about learning she was able to land a spot,  nothing short of a dream job, in Microsoft's US Education department. Here she is able to help teachers all around be as savvy as possible in their teaching,  and make sure that as the world grows; education is keeping up with all of this. Wanting to work for a large technical company myself I found this hangout extremely fascinating. We are so grateful that she was able to take the time to speak with us! Here is the hangout for anyone who is interested in all the interesting things we were able to find out. 

After speaking with Robyn Calderwood hit us with another mind-blower. In a simple explanation, we were put in groups with classmates and given an electric circuit board (called a Makey Makey), play-doh, tinfoil, bananas, a laptop, and told to control an online computer game with it. You might be thinking what I was, "excuse me?"--with a look of utter confusion. 
Turns out this was a team building exercise that turned out to be a lot of fun! We were able to circuit the Makey Makey to the objects such as the tinfoil and banana to control the different movements that we would usually do on a keyboard. So in other words, yes, we were playing Frogger with a regular household banana. Don't tell me that isn't awesome. Later we hooked it up to a CARDBOARD CUT OUT of a guitar to play Guitar hero. Technology is amazing and this was an awesome mimic of a future possible experience with coworkers. Thanks Cassandara, for the pictures! This was also all streamed live on our professor's Periscope.

In chapter 9 of the Connected Educator, we read about the incredulous and powerful tool the internet is even underestimated to be. The capabilities and the growth it continues to achieve are nothing short of mind blowing and it only continues to grow. Here we formulate communities globally, pull opportunities, share the innovations of the future, and are able to teach and share every which new thing INSTANTLY. Much like Robyn explained, technology has become as important if not more than the curriculum that has been developed over time, forcing people to up the ante, learn more and FASTER than ever. The internet can easily be considered its own world which unites everything in its power, and I cannot wait to see what becomes of the future because of it. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Making it All Yours

When building a digital portfolio what could be more  more important than building a your own website with all the tools and wonderful professional accounts that you have to offer? What things could you include? Well aside all of the things we have previously talked about there is also about.me for starters that can be a smaller and to the point version of your online resume. It allows a picture with a brief description and then allows you to customize it and attach buttons to all your social media accounts AND of course your real website. Jaqcueline Thomas explains how to perfect this in her definitive guide to about me pages for anyone who might be curious or struggling with what to include and perhaps even what to definitely leave out.
Paper.li is another great one to include, it creates a daily newspaper including article updates with all the subjects you choose to affiliate yourself with and updates automatically at the pace you please with a very nicely laid out aesthetic design. This will also link to your other accounts such as your twitter, and affiliate your accounts like twitter into your paper if you please.
IFTT or (if then than that) is a great tool that will integrate your selected accounts as well. It allows you to create "recipes" between different accounts that you select and will automatically post things for you when you use one account and update itself on another if you choose. This is good for if you
have a lot of different accounts and do not necessarily have the time to update each of them individually. For example, I made my own recipe where anytime I have a new paper from Paper.li, twitter will automatically report a tweet of it for my followers to see.
Now, when all is said and done, we're going to need a way to build this website that ties it all together. There are several great website-building tools that allow us to make this something amazing. This post  teaches you all about weebly's deal and probably even more helpfully a video that step by step teaches you how to maximize the use of the builder and some cooler things you can do with it that your average new user may not realize (although chances are we probably covered it in #gen2243!)
If Weebly might not fit the design aesthetic that you are looking for with your website, then you might want to check out Wix which focuses highly on the look of the site. It starts out by helping you choose your design by career of choice to present you with corresponding layouts which is super cool and helpful. With all that you can do it can be hard to choose the right customization without getting overwhelmed. You can read here for some do's and don'ts for how to keep your website looking extraordinary but sharp and most of all, not overwhelming itself!

Chapter 4 of Untangling the Web discusses social media that can be integrated into the classroom. One of these sites is called TodaysMeet that allows educators to maintain a digital classroom where students and teachers can have online discussion in a private or public setting.
Another similar one is Edmodo, which is probably a bit more well-known. This is similar except even parents can be added into the mix of discussion. It gives way for parents to check on their kids schoolwork and also for teachers to connect with other teachers in the global community. Lastly we can't forget the integration of Skype which takes it a step further as it becomes a video interaction. Which leaves me to leave you with this beautiful video that my professor showed us a few classes back, but I have to share it and all its emotions. If you want to see skype utilized to its fullest in a class room be sure to check this one out. Warning: you may need a tissue.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Social Media Etiquette

You may never realize just how much social media may effect your life. I can't tell you how many times I've gone on a peers page to see pictures with red solo cups, or inappropriate content, but they have brushed it off "How would anyone find me?" or "I know all of my friends". In this age the digital footprint is nothing to brush off. While it doesn't always happen to everyone, there are plenty examples of the negative repercussions that could happen if social media becomes involved in your career. One perfect example is Connor Riley, a graduate student who was getting their master's degree at the University of California, Berkley. I found this story particularly unsettling because its an easy position my classmates and I could be in, if not as aware. It all started when Riley decided to tweet about the summer internship she had just obtained:

Cisco is obviously a huge company, the number one IT company worldwide, but much like any large company a person would dream of obtaining a position in, they were not unaware of what social media activity associated itself with its company. This eventually led to a tweet back from another employee:
This resulted in the loss of Connor Riley's internship, along with tons of internet trolling and a completely destroyed reputation of an individual who had put in a ton of work to get to where they were career-wise. Bottom line, the satisfaction of a thought being shared will NEVER be worth a person's career. It's important to keep career and social media in two different spots besides if social media is promoting the job itself. You must go about anything you post as if it will be seen by an employer these days.

Another important thing to remember is social bookmarking and blogging, such as what we read about in The Connected Educator. Chapter 5 is very informative as far as this goes. There is so much to take in and even more helpful tools on the web that we want to be able to document, categorize, and go back to in the future so we can utilize them in our career-life.  Diigo and Delicious are great for this. Another amazing thing that we've been subconsciously thinking about the whole time: (fanfare) BLOGGING!  From irrelevant hidden posts, to posts that will build a portfolio for a future (or current) career, there are endless advantages and fun attributes to blogging. Podcasts are radio-like/verbal versions of these blogs. The worldwide web is an awesome spot to be able to share the topics you care to influence others to care about, it can be a great hobby. As long as we remain greatly aware of what we are posting and make a conscious effort to keep our personal views separate from the career-related ones, the results can be magical!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


My Exploring Your Digital Portfolio class is one that never fails to blow my mind. Each week we learn about amazing ease-of-access materials that keep us hip and up to date with the newest technology and ways to use it. This last class though, this was something else..
If you want to see a bunch of adults' faces light up like a ten year old's in a candy shop (oohs and awes included), you want to check out (AR) Augmented Reality.

If you're not familiar with Augmented Reality, you should be! If you're like me you might be familiar with virtual reality, that allows you to engage in a 3D world. Augmented reality brings the 3D world into your own! If you are confused by that, take a look at this picture for an example:

Believe it or not, those kids didn't actually bring a hippo or a whale into the classroom. What they did use was the app ZooKazam which you can find all about how to use here. Using this super cool app we got to bring a giraffe and a T-Rex into our class room! Not many can say that one!
Asides being crazy cool, the Augmented Reality apps also have a lot of educational value. They can teach us things up close and personal without actually having to be up close and personal.

 I was amazed by the Military.com article that explained the Augmented Reality training they are now using in the marines which allows trainees to be projected into a interactive battlefield through specially designed goggles without actually being there.
The idea was developed by a former marine who explains this had been an idea for a while, he was just waiting for commercial technology to catch up to be able to do it. It certainly has.

Discover Magazine explains how archaeologists are now using this new technology for their studies as well.  Archaeologist Stuart Eve has developed an app called 'Dead Man's Eyes' that takes smartphone users on a blast to the past using the AR to see scenes from the past in history. He even takes it a step further than just seeing, he adds sound that you can get closer to and further from, and has even developed a 'Dead Man's Nose' prototype equipment loaded with over 300 scents that allows users to actually SMELL the augmented world they have launched themselves in. You can see a little bit of how it works in the video below.

A huge Augmented Reality tool we got to see for ourselves in our class was Google Cardboard. Using a Google Cardboard viewer, I was very excited to find myself in the middle of a huge science museum, and minutes later next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This is the next best thing to time travel and it's just getting crazier. I found myself walking around with the goggles hoping I didn't bump into anything as you just get SO immersed in what you're seeing. While we don't take this for granted, we also might not realize just how amazing this can be. A woman named Bonnie who has suffered from Stargardt disease that has caused her to lose her vision certainly does. Using the stereostopic viewer that is Google Cardboard Bonnie was able to see her own children for the first time in eight years! You can see the heartwarming video here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How Technology Can Be Out of This World

'Astronaut Abby' with actual astronaut Mike Massimo
and Bill Nye the Science Guy
In #GEN2243 we never fail to touch up on a topic that will wow you. This week I was wowed when we got to talk to a girl who has the dream of being the first astronaut to Mars, Abby Harrison. She is best known throughout the world as Astronaut Abby. She was coined Astronaut Abby after 8th grade when she made this her online persona and reached out to other scientists and astrothat nauts over social media to bring about opportunity for her dream. This girl used her PLN to the very fullest and at only 18 years old with all the opportunity it has given her it has definitely paid off. Since then she has participated in a ton of amazing events such as her own TEDX talk,  invited as a guest for a Soyuz Launch, and even was featured on NASA's website. It is definitely inspiring to see a person that young bring herself so much closer to dreams that big through the power of social media. It just goes to show you all of the opportunity that is out there when you put yourself out there on the web. It is more prevalent now than ever.

 On the topic of more out of this world things, I think it is time we all finally stray away from Microsoft Powerpoint(although it has certainly grown over time) and start to utilize all the other awesome presentation tools available. Rick Broida covers this pretty well in his article "Anything But Powerpoint: five fresh presentation alternatives". He covers probably our second best known presentation tool Prezi, that allows us to zoom and animate all over our template but also several other lesser-known tools like Haiku Deck that has a very professional and aesthetically pleasing choice of templates that give a nice clean look, or Pixxa's Perspective that you pay for but allows users to animate slides individually into "scenes" that give each presentation more of a movie feel. Broida goes on to discuss the importance of keeping presentations exciting like we learned in class. They're not always the most attention grabbing thing but potentially they can be, and you want to make those minutes entertaining!

PowToon is another incredible presentation maker that is just pure fun. It isn't free but it does have a free 30 day trial which allows you to see mostly everything it has to offer. Powtoon has fun characters and slides that can give your presentation a cool comic book feel. In terms of quality this one is definitely one that's worth your money if you're in an environment where you're making presentations often.

Microsoft obviously wasn't going to let all these tools come about without firing back something new-wave of its own. In Juan Carlos Perez's article, you can learn about PowerPoint's new add-on called Office Mix that gives PowerPoint that upgrade to make it more interactive, mostly aimed at educators in the classroom. Something else huge with Office Mix is that it allows users to find other "mixes" through tags, categories, topics, and authors. This makes it into a little Mix community. Definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Think Big

Last week in #GEN2243 we had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Taylor(AKA 2footgiraffe), a science teacher in Tennessee. Adam was the creator of the infamous SciStuChat, that allows students and science lovers all around to interact back and forth with real scientists online through twitter. SciStuChat has expanded internationally through the last five years and ended up with the interactions of over 400 scientists around the world which was pretty awesome if you ask me. Adam also gave us great tips on establishing our own PLN's which we've discussed a few times before on my blog. He mentioned using twitter lists as a tool and doing regular google searches to find people to follow within our major. We also got to try out LinkedIn which gave a lot of great connections on its own. Be sure to connect with me!

Speaking of speaking(punny, right?), I also got to check out a pretty great TED Talk recently. Author and educator Ken Robinson had a very thought provoking talk titled "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" that focused in on what we were lacking in our modern school system. The talk immediately made me think of the famous Albert Einstein(supposedly) quote, "Everbody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid." Ken explained further how he believes that the regular education system'; focusing on english, science, math, etc., is terribly outdated. He believes there should be just as much importance to learn subjects such as dance and art because in the modern day there are millions of jobs that focus on these subjects with a terrible stigma that they are lesser than what we are taught to know. Being a total right-brainer who has only felt a passion for art but felt the need to be ushered into a standard major and job, I have to admit, the speech brought tears to my eyes. It is a pretty silencing thing to think about the people who are out there that could have achieved greatness in something that they never got to realized they had skill in. That being said, the video gave me a sense of peace to know that there are people who are bringing this to attention and that ways of education are slowly but surely changing. Here is the video if you'd like to check it out.