Sunday, 28 February 2016

Week 7- Google Docs is a student’s best friend

Once again, I was very excited to see the focus of this week’s lesson was on the Google Docs collaboration tool! We are currently in the process of creating an online presentation with a few of our classmates and although my group members and I all go to the same school, we must use Google docs to create the presentation completely online instead of meeting in person.

I personally have become a huge fan of Google Docs over my university career… mostly within the past couple of years when I really started having to complete group papers and presentations, so I strongly believe that the educational benefits from this tool are huge. Just off the top of my head, some of its greatest benefits are the team’s ability to share ONE link and work in ONE document instead of constantly sharing revised Word files, the ability to make ‘suggestions’ to the document’s content instead of making outright changes (this is similar to the ‘track changes’ function in Word), the ability to download the final online copy into a Word document or a PDF and the ability to see all revisions and re-add something that was deleted instead of creating, typing, or searching for it again!

Just a quick story about my last point; last semester I had a massive group paper due for a class and I had spent hours editing our paper on Google docs. After I was done, I closed the document and went back to it a little bit later and all of my changes were missing (imagine my reaction as Google Docs is supposed to save changes automatically  which it normally does). I quickly discovered that all document changes are tracked and I could easily re-add all of my changes to the document through just a few clicks… crisis averted!

Due to my obvious love for Google Docs, this tool was part of my ‘create’ section of my PLE from week 2, since it’s a tool that I have previously found to be quite helpful prior to this class. I will admit that the full versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint do have some extra features that Google’s online versions do not, however I find one way to solve for this is to get the document as close to done as possible online and then download it into Word or whichever program, make your few minor changes and there you go!

A great video that our professor shared with us this week to watch is an introduction to Google Docs by Stacey Huffine, which can be found here. For someone who has spent quite a bit of time playing around with Google Docs, even I learned a thing or two from the video!

My many uses of Google Docs!
Merdzan, C. (CC) 2016. 
My many uses of Google Docs!
Merdzan, C. (CC) 2016. 

This week’s interesting Feedly find…
This week I read an article on my Twitter feed about how the game show Jeopardy (which I admittedly watch fairly often) will no longer be allowing Canadian contestants on the show – which I found ironic given that the show’s host, Alex Trebek, is Canadian! When searching through Feedly, I found an article about how a Goodman School of Business professor (and Jeopardy champion) is also disappointed in this new restriction. Check out Professor Dolansky’s comments here.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Week 6- Evernotes are forever

This week in ADED 1P32, our tool to explore was Evernote and ‘the cloud.’ I had previously heard of Evernote but had never given it a try, and now I’m seriously wondering why! As a person who really values organization and having easy access to notes and research and lists and essentially having everything all in one place, Evernote is pretty perfect for me. I’m actually disappointed someone hadn’t told me about this tool when I was first starting university but hey, better late than never! A great Introduction to Evernote is presented in slideshow format here.

When exploring Evernote, I noticed how user-friendly and easy the tool was to get acquainted with. I’m not one who likes to spend hours trying to understand something that’s supposed to make my life easier, so Evernote was off to a good start in my books. As I started playing around with it and creating a notebook for the collaborative group project I have coming up in this class, I noticed that when I would copy pages of information from the internet into a new note in my notebook, the URLs actually stayed embedded within the information! Super convenient and super easy.

I see this tool being really useful in my educational activities for lots of reasons. One being the seamless integration between devices – I can user Evernote on my laptop, then pick up where I left off on my iPad and even work on the go by accessing Evernote on my phone. The second reason is that I constantly e-mail myself updated versions of notes or outlines, anything that I’m working on really, because last year, I had the great misfortune of my laptop crashing. Luckily, good old Apple was able to bring it back to life without losing anything but it made me really paranoid. With Evernote, I don’t have to worry about losing things I’m working on because it’s all there in the cloud – hence my ‘Evernotes are forever’ title of this post!

I will definitely be adding Evernote to my PLE. Although it can be classified as both a research and an organizational tool, I personally think it works best under organize because it is not like a search engine type tool where it actually performs the research – it simply organizes and stores what you find.

Merdzan, C. (CC) 2016.

This week’s interesting Feedly find…
An interesting and current topic is the one of self-driving cars. The article that came up in my Feedly feed this week is one that states how a self-driving vehicle needs some sort of ‘decision-making’ framework, for lack of better wording. Most consumer products don’t need this to the same level as a car – an out of control phone is an out of control phone; an out of control car is basically a weapon. As someone who’s on the fence about how they feel about the thought of being in a self-driving car, or being on the road with them, it’s definitely an interesting read found in the Globe this week – check it out! 

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Week 5- Tweeting on Twitter

I was super excited for this week because Twitter is one of my favourite forms of social media – I already use it on a daily basis, and find it really useful! I decided for my own educational benefit, I would create a brand new Twitter account simply because my more personal account I have had since grade 11, and although it definitely has been beneficial to my PLN, I wanted to give myself the opportunity for a fresh start with a more educational purpose in mind.

As I explored Twitter, I learned things about it that, as a fairly avid user, I  was surprised I did not already know. I learned about the discussions that take place on Twitter on a regular basis that anyone can participate in and read just by the use of a chat-designated hashtag. This is really cool not only from an educational standpoint, but from a personal standpoint too since I can take part in conversations about interests I may have. Since I’m in a Business degree and will soon be joining the business work-world, various discussions on topics like marketing, consumer behaviour or world economies on Twitter will be very beneficial for me to take part in.

With that being said, I definitely think Twitter is useful for educational activities. It is easy to search topics and hashtags and have lots of relevant information be at your fingertips in seconds. Twitter is also more or less my daily newspaper. I follow various news accounts that help me stay up to date on both a local and global level with just a few quick scrolls of my twitter feed during my breakfast every morning!

Since Twitter has already been such a valuable tool to me, it is already part of my PLE. In my week two reflection post, I included Twitter under the ‘collaborate/connect’ section of my PLE, however, I have come to realize that it could also be included under my ‘research’ section as well – it really is a multifunctional tool!

This week’s lesson on PLN’s and the use of Twitter has allowed me to further understand digital literacy and digital citizenship in the sense that you get out of it what you put in to it. By this I mean the more you contribute digitally and understand the use of different tools, the more you will reap the benefits. Since Twitter is an example of a tool I regularly put effort into, I see the rewards in the greater wealth of general knowledge I possess just from scrolling through Twitter.

If you’re not already a Twitter user, I strongly suggest you check out this Anatomy of Twitter Lingo article and sign up for an account!
Merdzan, C. (CC) 2016.

This week’s interesting Feedly find…
This week when I opened up my Feedly reader, I was immediately drawn to an article called How High Are the Standards. It discussed a little bit about how students are held to such ‘high standards’ and teachers have such high expectations, but the term high standards is actually pretty meaningless – what exactly are ‘high standards’? The article suggests that students all strive to achieve more and head in the direction towards a single point, but how do we really know when we’ve gotten there? 

Peter Greene suggests within his article that yes we should obviously demonstrate to students that they should always try to be the best they can be (I have heard this countless times during my career as a student and I definitely agree that we should all strive to reach this) but setting ‘high standards’ that have no true meaning doesn’t help anyone get anywhere. Great read!!