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Blog Prompt #1: Technology and 21st Century Learning

Do you feel school is preparing you adequately for your future? Why or why not?

I am personally one to believe that there is always room for improvement especially when it comes to the education system, but for the most part, I think that schools are doing a fairly decent job at preparing their students for the near future. With the wide range of courses available in high school, it’s fair to say that students are exposed to many options to help decide where they want to go with their lives and which path is most fitting for their aspirations. Additionally, students who take a course that they initially did not have high hopes for could potentially come to a realization as to how much they love that particular subject area, and thus open up themselves to a whole new world of opportunities and paths that they can look into after high school.

How do you personally use technology to learn?

In school, I have used my iPhone and computer as a way to research and access information in just a few seconds. This saves me a trip to the school library or the public library which is extremely helpful. At home, I use technology to create presentations or online study notes that generally appeal more to me than a plain piece of paper or some cue cards. The technological aspect has the ability to hold my attention for a much longer period of time than a paper and pen ever could.

Do classes that use more technology appeal to you? Is it easier for you to learn the content?

I have always had an interest in technology and working on computers, so I would say that classes that use more technology appeal to me much more than a “sit down and take notes” type of class. I have noticed that in my past technology-based courses, I excelled and received much higher marks as opposed to a class where I merely listened. For example, in Grade 9 Business and Grade 10 Communications Technology, computers were used most, if not all the time, and I did extremely well in both classes. This could have been also due to the fact that they were introductory courses which means that they were meant to be easy to get a high mark in, but nonetheless, I rarely ever stressed over either of these technology-based courses which lead to my success in both classes in the end.

Does it matter to you if a teacher uses technology in class? Why or why not?

Technology use in class seems almost essential for me, primarily because I am a visual learner. I look to examples and interactive aspects in order to better understand the material I am learning. Trying to imagine my past courses without technology looks a lot like what I picture hell to be. Seeing examples on the board or demonstrations through a video help me organize the concepts in my brain. Essentially, it just makes more sense that way. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t have understood half the concepts I learned in either math or science if it weren’t for the teacher using the computer to portray certain examples or ideas.

What technology would you like to see teachers use that is not currently being used? Why did you choose that technology?

Although expensive, I think that Virtual Reality would be an interesting device to use in class. This is mainly targeted towards classes that explore the past, such as history or world religions. Instead of talking about what Ancient Greece looked like, students could explore the Parthenon itself as if they are there in real time. For visual learners like myself, such an experience could never be forgotten. Course material could not only be taught better, but understood more thoroughly as well. Overall, I chose the VR system because it provides a new way of engaging with courses on an exciting, incomparable level for both teachers and students.

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Blog Prompt #8: Self Directed Project

Project Summary

For my self directed project, I chose to explore paper stop-motion and see what it was like to create a similar project of my own without having done it before. I chose this primarily because I always found the process of creating stop-motion projects to be so interesting and exciting to watch. I often wondered how long it took the professionals I’d see in YouTube videos to create the works of art that they would make through stop-motion, considering that the process is very demanding and high-maintenance.

To begin, I figured I would watch a few paper stop-motion YouTube videos to get a feel for what I could potentially include in my own. Every video I watched was at most a minute or less, which told me one unexpected thing — just one minute of paper stop-motion required a ridiculous amount of work and time. I began to worry that my initial idea of creating a lengthy “Draw My Life” video through stop-motion was a far reach for a beginner such as myself, and so I made a change to the content of my stop-motion project. Instead of a “Draw My Life” video, I chose to create a short animation inspired by one I had watched on YouTube. So, I began the actual creation of the project. First, I drew the images I needed for the video and took all the inspiration from a paper animation from YouTube. This step was undoubtedly the easiest. Then, I set up my phone at a birds-eye view angle, opened my “new to me” application called “Stop Motion Studio”, and took a picture. And then another. And another. The process repeated for another hour and a half, until I was left with 200+ photos, a fairly decent 30 second stop-motion animation, and an aching back. To be completely honest, the process of taking a photo and then slightly moving several tiny pieces of paper over and over again was physically and emotionally strenuous just because I felt like it was never going to end. However, I was extremely content with the results.

After finishing the actual stop-motion process, all that was left to do was to edit the video. Unfortunately I came across an unexpected issue with the app, which was that features such as adding sound effects and music was a paid feature. That put me in an odd predicament for a bit, until I realized that I could just save my video and add audio (for free) on iMovie. After editing, I re-watched the video about a million times to keep an eye out for any flaws, and also because I was truthfully very proud of my 30 second animation! I had so much fun with this project and now have a much greater appreciation for the directors, producers, editors and artists of the world, especially those who are involved with stop-motion animation. Although projects such as these consume an immense amount of time and energy, the end results prove to be worth every second.

Blog Prompt #7: TED Talk

Briefly summarize the content of this talk.

Sleep is essential, especially for students, as it is the prime time for the body to heal itself, and for the brain to strengthen in terms of learning abilities, information retention, and emotional processing. But when these teens are forced to rise in the morning and get ready for school practically before the crack of dawn, the little but vital time that their body needs to improve itself is stripped away from them. That is what this video is all about. In this TED Talk, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel elaborates on the issue that school commences far too early, when the teenage brain is hardly as active as it should be in a learning environment.

Why did you choose this talk?

I chose this talk primarily because I agree with just the title alone, and so it caught my eye right off the bat. I have always been one to believe that school starts a little too early, and that there is a good chance that results and overall averages in school would be a lot higher in the event that school started later. I feel that students would be a lot more attentive, motivated, and positive if they were only able to achieve a healthy amount of sleep at night.

What did you agree with in this talk? Why?

I definitely agree that in general, teenagers do not get enough sleep considering how much time they spend consistently learning and listening, and that this issue can have detrimental effects physically, mentally, and emotionally. As mentioned in the TED Talk, although most teenagers claim to be content with the eight hours of sleep that they get, they do not realize that eight is the bare minimum recommendation. In essence, a majority of these teenagers in school are functioning through dragging lessons and never-ending assignments without getting the right amount of sleep at night, therefore hindering their ability to learn effectively. As a result of sleep deprivation, students feel more irritable, lazy, unmotivated, and inattentive, which are the last characteristics any learning adolescent needs.

What did you disagree with in this talk? Why?

I disagree with the fact that sleep deprivation is not entirely a result of social media usage, mainly because if you spend all night watching Netflix shows and lose sleep because of it, it really is your fault. You will never feel tired at night if you constantly excite yourself and your brain with intense plot lines and addictive social media sites. So, at that point, the school’s policies have nothing to do with what time you go to bed and what time you wake up, as in the end, you have complete control over that.

What questions do you have after this talk?

With the research and relevant statistics involved, I feel that Wendy Troxel did a great job at explaining the science and facts behind sleep deprivation and how school start times have an immense influence on teenagers’ unhealthy sleeping patterns. With that being said, I am definitely curious about whether or not education directors or authoritative figures of the like took this TED Talk (or any other similar research involved) into account and actually went through with changing their school board’s start times, in order to make a positive impact on the health of their students.

Would you recommend this talk to a friend? Why or why not?

I would definitely recommend this to all of my friends who can relate to the issue, such as friends who take naps after school, friends who are often late to first period, and friends who feel exhausted less than an hour into the school day. They would appreciate the fact that someone from a generation far before ours actually understands a relatively simple but extremely important concept that we believe in. I think they would also find the concepts and science very interesting and enlightening considering that sleep deprivation is something they’ve probably experienced before.

Blog Prompt #6: Future of Technology

What technologies are depicted in the show?

In season 1, episode 3 of The Black Mirror, there was this tiny USB-looking device with a scroll button on it that was called a grain, which essentially stored all of the users memories. People with grains were able to keep visuals of their memories on them at all times, and were able to re-watch them through what they called “re-do’s” at any point, either through their eyes where only they could see, or projected on a screen for others to view too. They were also able to delete certain “footage” of memories so long as they chose to. If someone had a memory on their grain with no full audio but complete visuals, the grain could use its lip-reading technology to fill in the blanks. It would essentially be the most advanced Snapchat you could think of, given the fact that the grain contained memories that could be rewatched so long as they were saved. The only difference would be though, is that this device knows no limits. It was on at all times and aside from the complete removal of it, there was no way to change what it did and how it did it.

Briefly, how have the technologies changed people/business/society/government choices and behaviours?

The grain influenced every aspect of the main characters life, in that he constantly felt dependent on the piece of technology to take him through his everyday life. He used it all the time, whether it was just to look back at a good memory, or to re-analyze a situation all in all. Whenever he got into a fight with his wife, he would look to the grain to prove his point rather than just communicating through it like healthy couples do. His first and only resort was to lean on the grain, and doing so only brought him to a complete state of sadness and loneliness.

Overall, are the technologies portrayed in a positive, negative or neutral fashion? What evidence do you have to support this?

There is good enough reason to believe that the grain was portrayed in a very negative fashion. With the grain, trust was no longer important in any relationship. Every minute detail had to be proved, just based on the mere fact that they could. For example, in the episode, Liam did not believe that his wife was telling the truth about using protection after cheating on him, and so instead of “taking her word”, he asked her to show him the grain from that exact night. It ruined their relationship in unimaginable ways, as it broke the trust they once had for each other. Additionally, users became addicted to the tiniest of details. Since they had the ability to look back at every interaction they had ever had, they felt the need to re-watch an event that they were likely feeling nervous about, so that they could analyze body language, facial expressions, and word-for-word dialogue. Contemplation and obsession around the events remained consistent throughout the entirety of the episode, and resulted in very unhealthy dependencies.

Would you want to live in this future? Why or why not?

I personally would not want to live in this future, mainly due to the fact that it would be an invasion of not only my privacy, but everyone else’s around me as well. It scares me to think that every person I have ever made even the slightest bit of eye contact with could have the ability to carry my face in their memories and the ability to see me again, without me knowing. Also, as someone who is big on trust, I would not want a tiny piece of metal to have complete control over all of my relationships and memories. Technology should not “advance” to the point where we use its abilities to win an argument and become the referee in our personal lives and relationships. With that being said, if someone offered me a grain, I would decline it in a heartbeat.

Blog Prompt #5: ICT Issues

Based on the materials presented in class and your own background knowledge and experiences, do you think social media has overall had a more positive or negative impact on the world?

Social media continues to prevail as one of the most heavily debated topics to this day. Though it is used positively for the purpose of communicating and connecting with others, I strongly believe that the downsides to social media undoubtedly outweigh the pros. For example, as mentioned in one of the class presentations, and as observed since the beginning of the creation of social media platforms, cyber bullying is as infamous as ever before. During Rebecca’s presentation, she mentioned that cyber bullying affects over 39% of teenagers with social media accounts. Even more so, the cyberbullies involved in these situations feel empowered to do what they do, based on the fact that they bully behind a screen. As the saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people”. Essentially, this means that cyberbullies are generally known to be insecure, and so, they inflict the pain that they feel upon other vulnerable people. For the bully, it is an unfortunate and vicious cycle of unhealthy defense mechanisms. As for the victim, it is a lifetime of self-doubt and insecurities.

Similar to the idea of cyber bullying, Mythili and Maria spoke about LGBTQ+ issues throughout social media platforms. For example, on Twitter, searches containing “#Gay” or “#Bisexual” provided no results. After the issue went viral, primarily throughout the LGBTQ+ community, the Twitter team replied and insisted that it was an “algorithm error” meant to censor out “inappropriate content”. It outraged many LGBTQ+ individuals, revolving around the fact that people wondered what was so inappropriate about voicing your sexuality on a social media platform. With that being said, however Twitter managed to adjust and resolve the “algorithm” issue.

From my own experiences in the past, I can honestly say social media has overall affected me negatively, just because I almost feel dependent on it some of the time. For example, more significantly in grade 9, when I was studying, I would always reach out to my phone to distract me from the stresses of school. I was constantly tempted by it, however it was my fault that I keep my phone so close to me whenever I was studying. I just wanted to keep up to date with whatever was happening online, or what my friends were doing. Recently, however, I have gotten better at resisting the temptation, but no doubt, it is still there occasionally. Additionally, when I was younger, I experienced a bit of cyber bullying, unfortunately both as the cyberbully and the victim. It had a lot to do with the fact that I had a Twitter account at 13-years-old, and so I was very impressionable and childish. So, essentially, there is something called “subtweeting”, which is a Tweet that is clearly directed at an individual, however mentions no particular name. A girl and I would subtweet each other back and forth, about why we “disliked” each other, or why we were mad at each other. Eventually, however, our parents found out about it and made us talk throughout everything. Fortunately, though, her and I are friends to this day, and our friendship has only gotten stronger since our childish dilemma. In essence, the situation helped us in becoming better friends afterwards, however in the moment, at 13-years-old, the idea of subtweeting actually being a thing on Twitter forced me to succumb to the trend. Overall, with moderation and consideration, social media can be beneficial in forming connections with others. However, as more commonly seen in the real world, social media inflicts many negative affects upon the many users and their lives.

Blog Prompt #4: Placements

Did you enjoy the experience? Why or why not?

Personally, I did enjoy the experience. I found that the amount of responsibility we had was reasonable and at the same time, slightly challenging. It allowed me to gain more experience with website designing and overall initiative. The interactions with the placement teachers allowed for a guideline with the projects, but at the same time, I was able to put in some of my own ideas and creativity. I am very happy with the progress my partner and I have made so far.

What went well with your placement?

My partner and I efficiently put our class time to use, whether it was to speak to a placement teacher or design a new website. Considering that we were very organized regarding our roles in the placement, everything went smoothly from day to day, and our responsibilities were fulfilled as quickly as possible. Additionally, for the most part, we found it easy to speak with our placement teachers, and so we were comfortable with sharing our own ideas for the site which lead to great results.

What difficulties did you have with your placement?

The main difficulty we encountered was finding a good time to talk to our placement teachers. One of them held extra-help sessions at lunch for their classes so it was difficult to find some time alone with them to show them around their site. The other had a lot to worry about in terms of her own classes and could not find the time to talk to us regarding her site details. Another difficulty came to us more towards the very beginning of the placements, mainly because we were not entirely sure how to start with the site. We worried that our abilities would not be enough for what some of the teachers were asking from us, just because their goals for the site were more advanced than we thought it would initially be. Overall, however, we overcame these obstacles and ended up feeling satisfied with the work we had accomplished.

Do you consider your placement a success?

Despite the few difficulties we encountered, I believe that our placement was a complete success. We were organized, managed our time well, and collaborated efficiently. The most significant aspect when it comes to group projects is teamwork, and I think that my partner and I did a great job at communicating with each other and giving each other a helping hand when we needed it. Most of all, we learned a lot from going through this placement experience and these lessons will be beneficial for the near future.

Do you think the project is useful/has value for IDC students/teachers/students of placement teachers?

I do believe that this project has value for all IDC students, teachers, and students of placement teachers. For the IDC students, it allows them to explore new areas of responsibilities and teamwork. I had never been in charge of creating a teacher’s website prior to this placement, so going through this helped me build on some areas such as initiative, organization, and collaboration. For teachers, this placement can open their eyes to the new age of technology and how the young adults of our future see the world today. For students of placement teachers, this can be beneficial as it can allow them to think about their last year of high school and the responsibilities involved with it, in terms of school work, organization, and potentially, what to expect when taking IDCICT.

How could the project be improved for future IDC classes?

Based on my own experience with this placement, I don’t think that this project requires any major adjustments. I was extremely content with the whole process and I believe that every aspect was beneficial and enlightening. However, if there’s one slight thing I’d change, it’d be that students should write down their “daily difficulties” in the daily log in case they have any, so that they can target their struggles and fix it as soon as possible. That way, any placement stresses will not stay throughout the whole month-long process.

Blog Prompt #3: Learning Strategies Reaction

How successful were you at implementing the strategy or technique? What helped or impeded your success?

Personally, I think that I did a relatively decent job at using the Pomodoro technique. I downloaded the app to initiate the process and I began to use it as soon as I received assignments to complete or tests to study for. At first, the process undoubtedly felt very foreign. I was writing notes to the sound of ticking and my phone by my side, so I felt a little bit out of place. I was used to my usual technique, which was simply sitting down in silence without any distractions, and doing my work. So, the ticking noise of the Pomodoro app threw me off a bit to start. Eventually, it grew on me and the ticking noise actually helped me focus a lot more than usual. It cancelled out any small noises that would usually distract me any other day. Additionally, the fact that the sound of the ticking changed depending on if it was time to work or time for a short/long break helped me snap back to reality when I needed to, as well as know when a break was around the corner.

The one thing that impeded my success was the fact that despite that there was a timer, I still had the ability to pause the timer when I wanted, or exit the app and leave the timer running whenever I pleased. Obviously, that allowed me to mess with the time that I was working which hindered my success slightly. Additionally, whenever short breaks came around, I would always exceed my 5 minutes because it just never seemed like enough. However, I have recently been trying to stay extremely on task when using the Pomodoro technique and I feel that in time, I will abide by it naturally and appreciate the method a lot more as it will prove to be beneficial.

Did the strategy improve your learning or reduce your procrastination? What evidence do you have to support this claim?

This strategy definitely worked at both improving my learning and reducing my procrastination habits. It helped me stay on track for a majority of the Pomodoro sessions, and as a result my learning abilities improved as well. These results have a lot to do with the fact that I found the short breaks extremely necessary and helpful. After having to stare at white papers and never-ending textbooks for over 25 minutes, it was nice to take a break from my many academic demands. As a result of the breaks, I was able to focus harder during the work sessions which was extremely beneficial.

Will you continue with the strategy?  Why or why not?

I think that I will continue with this strategy because of the many benefits that come from it. The Pomodoro technique provides a unique way to manage your work and break times which is refreshing as a busy student. The main reason I will continue using this technique is because of the oddly calming ticking noise that has proved to improve my focus, as well as the fact that it actually allocates time for leisure or at least a breath of fresh air, which is revitalizing and essential.

Blog Prompt #2: Learning Strategies

pomodoro

The Pomodoro Technique

Summarize your chosen strategy and explain why you picked it.

The Pomodoro Technique uses a tomato-shaped timer to break down time dedicated to studying into 25 minute periods, each followed by 5 minute breaks. It is extremely effective as there is no pause button on the timer, which forces the user to continue on and finish their 25 minutes even if they don’t necessarily want to. After 4 “Pomodoros”, a longer break is allowed. As a result of this system, the short breaks appear more rewarding and relaxing, while also giving your brain some time to rest. This learning strategy is extremely beneficial as it can help improve attention span and overall concentration.

I chose this strategy mainly because I am someone who appreciates an organized schedule. Keeping the order in my everyday school life allows me to get more things done with ease. However, due to my persistent procrastination habits, I sometimes find myself getting off course by using my phone or watching Netflix. Therefore, I feel that with this method, I can get work done efficiently and still have that motivation I need to finish a Pomodoro as I know there is going to be a break just around the corner.

Explain how you will implement the strategy – be as specific as possible.

Thanks to the advances of technology, a physical Pomodoro timer is not required to explore this technique. So, to implement this strategy, I will download a free app that has the same features as a real Pomodoro timer. The timer app allows for work sessions that last 25 minutes, as well as 5 minute breaks separating each Pomodoro. The big break towards the end of one full session is also another feature available. A different ringtone goes off to notify you whether you have completed a Pomodoro, a 5 minute break, or a 25 minute break. Downloading the app is merely dipping my foot into the water, so to actually put this method to use, I will only allow myself to do homework or study so long as the timer is on. This will help me get used to the system and rely on the 25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break.

What is your end goal? How will you know the strategy works for you?

My end goal is essentially to always use the Pomodoro technique when studying or simply doing homework, as it will prove to be beneficial the more I use it. I have a really good feeling this strategy will work for me because as aforementioned, I have and I always will appreciate a consistent, stable, and organized schedule, and the Pomodoro technique is the epitome of all of those characteristics.

What are your critical moves?

Behaviour is a key factor in efficient study habits, so I will adjust my behaviour with regards to my studying in order to apply the Pomodoro technique to the best of my abilities. My critical moves will consist of planning my day ahead of time in order to allocate my hours to the most important tasks first. By prioritizing, my Pomodoro sessions will be that much more effective and influential when it comes to my studies.

How will you shrink the change?

I will shrink the change by avoiding procrastinating prior to my study sessions. I have to remind myself that procrastinating will only make things worse and at this point in my life I have to gain control of putting my education before the less important things, for example, Netflix and my never-ending Instagram feed.

How will you tweak the environment?

In order to change the situation or “tweak the environment”, I will figure out what holds me back from achieving the best study habits that I know I have the ability to achieve. The main distraction when it comes to studying would have to be my phone, but lately I’ve noticed that another common distraction is really the actual environment I put myself in whenever I study. Oftentimes I sit on my bed or on a comfy couch to study, thinking that the comfort will only ease the studying process. Realistically, though, it has the opposite effect. I get a little too comfortable and start to feel sleepy. With that being said, I will try to start sitting at a desk, far away from any other distractions, in order to study and do homework efficiently.