Crochet and Connections to the Classroom

On the first day of class we were told that 30% of our mark would be made up by a learning project. We could pick anything we wanted to learn and we needed to document our progress. We could pick anything we wanted, anything! The possibilities are endless, except, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to learn. We are so very rarely asked this question in an educational context. Looking back at the last decade or so of my life, I don’t know if I’ve learned anything that wasn’t out of necessity for my job, school, being a homeowner, or becoming a parent. I know that when I’ve tried something similar in my classroom, students also have trouble choosing. I think that I would give them lots of advance notice for thinking time, provide examples, and do interest inventories to help them pick something.

When I picked learning to crochet I didn’t really make a plan for how I would do that or what I wanted to accomplish, or at least I didn’t write one down on paper. I wouldn’t let a student get away with that! I would make sure they had a plan and goals to be met so they could track their progress. I found it difficult to do this because I had no idea about anything crochet. How could I make a plan when I didn’t have the first clue. Well, that would be step 1 I guess – research. Once I had done some research I did come up plan and I had an end goal in mind. I was hesitant to write it down though. What if I changed the plan, or worse, what if I didn’t accomplish that end goal I had in mind. Would I feel like a failure, would others view me as a failure. This is a bit ridiculous as plans change and goals need to be re-evaluated as more information is gained. I can see students sharing these same feelings though. It would be important to make sure they understood that things may need to change and as long as they are learning, they are not failures. At the end of this class I wanted to make a scarf. Although I did not accomplish this goal, I do have the skills necessary to do it.

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Photo Credit

As I was learning new stitches (I never knew there were so many!) I found it helpful to use those stitches to make a product. This way I practiced the new stitch and had something to show for it in the end. I would encourage students to do this as well, if it was possible. I found it motivating and had those feelings of accomplishment which made me want to learn more. It also made my learning seem more worthwhile. This is important as there were many times I was super frustrated and wanted to quit. Seeing my previously completed projects helped me work through my frustration and keep going. I was also able to see my progress and that I was improving.

Reading directions about something doesn’t always translate to performing those directions perfectly. I found patterns especially difficult to read and follow even when I understood what everything in the pattern meant. When I thought I’d mastered a stitch I would still make mistakes. I definitely haven’t got to the point where I can mindlessly crochet something. Even with paying close attention and talking myself through every step, I continued to make mistakes.  Making mistakes is part of the learning process! This translates to my teaching in two ways. In teaching math problems I need to remember that just because a student has done a problem once doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve got it down pat. Sometimes I get frustrated when students say they don’t know what to do; I’m thinking, you just follow the same steps we just did. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s going to happen. When this happened to me I needed to go back to the part where I knew I’d done it right and start/try again. I often re-watched YouTubes and worked through it step by step.

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Photo Credit: WellDunn

Learning can be repetitive. Crocheting is a bit repetitive, as is math. It didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, but it was a lot of the same over and over again. You need to learn the basic skills and then build on them.

I found watching videos extremely helpful for learning, but reading written directions and looking at pictures was beneficial at times. It just goes to show we all learn a little bit differently and you may not be able to rely solely on one method. Watching more than one video on the same concept can be a good thing, but it can also be confusing. Different people explain or do things slightly differently. This can a positive. It can fill in gaps and you may find that person that explains it in just the right way for you. I found that sometimes when I would watch another video I would start second guessing myself about the skill or stitch I thought I had, other times it was effective. I different camera angle or set of instructions would solidify my thinking.

A personal learning network is a must for learning new skills especially when you don’t have that ‘expert’ teacher in the room with you. Other people hold a vast amount of knowledge that you can tap into. Even if you do have a teacher, they don’t know everything (I can say this because I am one)! There is much to be learnt from others and many ways of finding that knowledge. The community where we live and online community holds an abundance of knowledge and offers diverse perspectives.

Although learning to crochet had its ups and downs, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. It gave me the opportunity to learn something I had always wanted to do, but thought I never had the time or resources to do. I will definitely try to work an open curriculum, learn anything you want component into my classes.

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Photo Credit: thelavenderchair.com
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Final Summary of Learning

This post was written in conjunction with Heather Dales as our Final Summary of Learning for our EC&I 831 Social Media and Open Education grad class. It is also posted on Heather’s blog.

Week 1: Introduction  

An online class, we’ve never taken one before. How will it all work and how will we communicate.

Zoom – every week we will all log into Zoom and have a video conferencing class. The classes are recorded if we need to go back and watch.

Twitter – we post things of interest to the class via Twitter with the class hashtag #eci831

Google+ – our class has its own Google+ space where we can post questions and share important articles and information.

Blog Hub - all our assignments are written through our blogs. Everyone's 
blogposts will be found in the blog hub so we can go to one place to view 
classmate’s work. 

Week 2: Preparing for Networked Learning

Photo Credit: Snapshots from pinterest.com

Twitter
Twitter is an excellent resource for building your personal learning network. It is a great way to connect with other teaching professionals and see what they are doing in their classrooms. Twitter provides an endless amount of interesting and relevant articles. Hashtags allow you to search more specific topics to fit your current needs.

Photo Credit: Snapshots from pinterest.com

Twitter chats provide a substantial amount of learning, sharing of ideas, and rich conversations in a small amount of time. To begin with they are quite overwhelming and fast paced, but it does become easier to keep up.

Week 3: Learning/Knowledge in a Connected Age (Part 1)

Traditionally in schools knowledge is held by the teacher at the front of the room and that knowledge is bestowed upon students for them to become knowledgeable. This is known as the Cartesian view of learning.cartesian Michael Wesch believes students today need to be knowledge-able. Being knowledge-able is more than memorization, it is a practice. Students need to be presented with real world problems. They need to collaborate, not only with classmates, but also beyond the walls of the classroom, using the technological tools of the present to interact with others, possibly all over the world. Students need to have                               Photo credit                               critical thinking skills, but they also need to go beyond critical thinking. They need to realize that they can find meaning, but they can make meaning as well. They can move from a consumer to a participator. Our understanding of content is socially constructed by conversations and interactions we have with that content. In snap 2the social view of learning the mantra is “We participate, therefore we are.  In order to master a field of knowledge, one must go beyond learning about the subject, they must learn to be a full participant in the field. Teachers need to try and prepare students not for the test at the end of the semester, but for the test of the world.

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Week 4: Learning/Knowledge in a Connected Age (Part 2)

Connectivism
Connectivism is a theory of learning that explains how the internet and its associated technologies have created new opportunities for people to learn and share across the World Wide Web and among themselves. By using technology and the ability to make connections as learning activities, we move learning into the digital age. It isn’t possible to experience everything on our own and acquire the learning that goes with those experiences.

“Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people (undated).” (Karen Stephenson)

We can gain so much knowledge through the networks we build. Networks are built through email, wikis, online discussion forums, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), YouTube, Google doc sharing, etc. Expertise can be distributed across your network and we can use our devices like phones and tablets to aid in this. Connectivism also legitimizes knowledge, not just Western/elite knowledge. It is less about the knowledge itself and more about how we find it. The connections between people transforms knowledge into learning.

Attention Literacy

How we focus and pay attention has changed. We need to be aware of what we are paying attention to and have our students be conscious of what they are giving their attention to. It is important to be critical consumers, not only of the information we come across, but of the people we add to our personal learning networks. It is critical that we can distinguish what is good information on the internet and why is crap. We need to be able to know what we are looking for, search for it properly, sort through and curate that information. With so much information on the web, we need to decide what is worth consuming.
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Complicated vs. Complex

Dave Cormier says we need to learn to confront complex problems that don’t have clear solutions.

Complicated Problems Complex Problems
  1. More difficult to measure
  2. Sometimes more than one possible solution
  3. Require subject matter expertise
  4. Abundance makes this dangerous, but still easier

     ie: video games, building a      plane, lab procedure

  • there is a verifiable step-by-step procedure
  1. Not directly measurable
  2. Does not have a solution
  3. Can only work on part of the problem
  4. Abundance collapses this if we’re not careful

     ie: raising children, climate change

  • There is no step-by-step instructions, headway is often made by trial and error

Education needs to use the rhizome model instead of the tree model. Knowledge cannot just be held within the teacher and they share only a controlled amount onto their students. Just because they’ve been given the content, does not mean they have learned. We want our students to be more like the rhizome – capable of growing and spreading out on their own and able to take their own path. We need to break our current curriculum and assessment models for more open models in order for this to happen.

Week 5: Blogs, RSS, Microblogging, & Social Curation

It is possible to use blogging as an effective writing tool in the classroom.

Benefits of Blogging:

  • Students found they were more motivated to write. Students  feeling a sense of ownership/pride in their Learning and their production of Knowledge. This would help in the development for students to  desire to be a lifelong learner.
  • Students were writing for an audience, not just their teacher, and this improved their writing. Studies have found that communicating to an audience forces people to pay more attention and learn more.
  • Blogging in the classroom is an excellent way for students to see the progress they have made. Parents can also see the progress their child is making
  • Students can learn from each other
  • Students can learn through a variety of sources and from people all over the world.
  • Students’ learning is two-fold: Learning about topic but also learning digital literacy and technological skills
  • Students learn how to collaborate and are starting to build their own personal learning networks
  • Student’s get to participate in a global community. This allows connections to happen and more and deeper learning to take place.

As a society “we compose some 3.6 trillion words every day on email and social media — the equivalent of 36 million books.” All of this writing and sharing of ideas, good and bad, has changed the way we think. We live and think in public and this is increasing the rate at which new ideas are created and how global knowledge is advancing.

Digital Content Curation: there are many apps available to help organize the vast amount of information available on the internet. These online tools aid in filing and organizing resources for later use. Content curation is not only important for teachers but it is a valuable skill that students also need to learn. Being able to quickly and critically evaluate a range of information sources and effectively organize them is a critical skill for research.

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Students should be taught information literacy. The internet can be very fast paced and overwhelming. In this flurry of information, teachers and students need to spend time evaluating information found on the web for relevance, accuracy, or authority (Dihydrogen Monoxide, Cell Phone Radiation Pops Popcorn). To help slow down the web somewhat and block out some of the “noise” of the internet is the slow web. Applications of the slow web – Pocket, Feedly, Tweetdeck, and Hootsuite.

As teachers we need to embrace new literacies such as blogging, and social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Teachers should also be open to others types of sharing by embracing students’ passion for new media such as remixes and mashups, new forms of storytelling (ie: storify), sweet spotand using multimedia to document their learning. We, as teachers, also have the opportunity to connect to classrooms all around the world using things like Mystery Skype, Global Read Aloud, and Book Creator. In the 21st century it is easier than ever to thin the walls of the classroom and use the tools of the web to connect globally. This social age marks the birth of connections and networks, however,                  Photo credit: asingh2
with all this social networking it is important to bring in the human aspect and find the “sweet spot” between pedagogy, technology and humanity. 

Week 6: Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr

Kids are Leaving Social Networks
Many kids are leaving Facebook and other social networks for more intimate spaces; they are sharing with only their closest of friends. They are now into messaging apps, especially ones that delete sent messages like Snapchat. The demographic of people using Facebook has changed. As older people start using, the young don’t want to anymore. Teenagers and college students don’t want their parents or grandparents knowing their every move. Young people are increasingly aware of their digital footprint and how it may affect them in the future. By sharing only to close friends in messaging apps, the possibility of something coming back to haunt you is diminished.facebook meme

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The downside to our youth leaving social media is they aren’t exposed to important social justice or political ideas. When you only share with your closest friends, the possibility of new ideas entering your network is greatly reduced. It may also lead youth to consume narrow, one-sided news, further reducing any introduction to ideas that challenge their current beliefs.

Using Social Media in the Classroom
It is okay to use social media in the classroom. We need to teach students digital citizenship, because whether we incorporate social media into our lessons or not, students are using it. There are also platforms like Fakebook that reduce any potential risks associated with sharing on the web. Vicky Davis believes that in order to be a 21st century teacher, you need to be using social media in your classroom. It is another tool that can be used to make your classroom more engaging, fun, and culturally diverse. However, teachers run the risk of making social media uncool and then the lesson you thought was super engaging, is no longer.

Week 7: The Best (?) of the Rest

Anonymous Social Media

Some social media sites/apps like Reddit, 4chan, and Yik Yak are anonymous and a few don’t even require a login name. While anonymity can be a good thing; it can function as a safe place where people can discuss interests and curiosities that they normally wouldn’t if they had to attach their name, it often can lead to a volatile environment. Participants can say and do virtually anything they want with little thought of accountability.

Photo Credit: Image 1 and Image 2

Posts even disappear on some sites. These sites are often viewed in a negative light. 4chan is responsible for celebgate and gamergate. Yik Yak has been linked to threats, pranks, and cyberbullying. Reddit finds teens posting pictures of themselves to be ripped apart by other users. Sometimes the awful things that are posted about a teen are done by the teen themselves. Although these sites seem all bad, they have a positive side too. 4chan is a “hotbed of creativity and dialogue” and it often produces many memes and funny cat pics. Yik Yak is also used by students for sharing questions about homework and can let teachers see the general morale of the of the students and if there is any suicide talk so interventions can be put in place. Self-trolling teens on Reddit may get noticed and the support they weren’t able to ask for. Sites and apps like these make it imperative that digital citizenship is taught in schools.

Memes

Memes are a contemporary form of communication that spread quickly and can mutate in the process. They are discrete packages of culture. They are an example of participatory culture because public can contribute to and produce them. Memes have become a major part of contemporary digital culture. Three reasons for using memes in your classroom: engagement, information literacy, and critical understanding of current world events. They can also be used to combat racism (successful black man meme). Memes are fun and students like them, but more than that, creating a meme is challenging and requires higher order thinking.Some memes are just jokes, but others are more complex and tell a deeper story, even if they are disguised as jokes. Students can learn to be aware of this complexity and the possible lessons that could be learned through it.

The Internet and Sex Ed

Ontario’s sex ed curriculum was updated for the first time since 1998. The change came about because the age of puberty is dropping and there are new issues that need to be discussed with students. Gender identity, same sex marriage, correct names for body parts, consent, and pleasure are some of the changes to the curriculum. Many of the changes have to do with students being a part of the digital age like the dangers of sexting and viewing pornographic websites or ads. There is also inclusion of the LGBT2 which will educate the dominant heteronormative community and help to prevent isolating, othering, and ostracizing of the LGBT2 community.

Week 8: The Open Education Movement

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Open education is a global movement that has the goal of bringing quality and up-to-date education to all teachers and students all over the world. Through the use of the internet top notch learning material is put on the web for all to access, share, and customize to fit their needs. Unlike textbooks, material can be easily updated, so there is no need to pay for the latest edition. The potential of open education is hindered by restrictive copyright laws and incompatible technologies. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that is working to eliminate these barriers. There mission is to develop, support and steward legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. They have a vision that sees the full potential of the internet realized. This includes universal access to research and education. With everyone having the freedom to access resources, people are allowed to fully participate in their culture by doing mashups and remixes or by accessing academic journals to learn from the elite in their fields. Instead of putting a price on intellectual property, we should be sharing and letting others build on, adapt, and improve upon ideas. This will change us from a read only back into a read-write culture, where a new era of development, growth, productivity is possible.

Week 9: Identity, Reputation, & Social Capital

Our digital footprint tells a story about us. From our Facebook status updates and pics to tweets to pins saved on Pinterest. They all give a window into who we are, what we are interested in, and what our thoughts and beliefs are.

When you google yourself, do you like what you see? Are you aware that the things you post on social media could be affecting other people’s opinion of you or whether or not a potential employer gives you an interview? Social media can be a great tool to market yourself and potentially gain employment  if the employer likes what they see. Should we, from a very young age, be encouraging students to use social media, but to be mindful of what they are posting and what it says about them, as Anthony Perotta does, explained in the article Forget the resumé: Online profiles the tool of young job seekers?” He encourages students to “brand” themselves with professional looking social media accounts and to show that they are active and engaged citizens. What happens when a contact, potential mate or employer comes across something they don’t like. Are they critically examining the post/update/picture/etc. to see what the context and intent of the artefact was, was it a one time thing or a pattern, when was the artefact posted, and if they made a similar mistake, would they want it to be forgiven or overlooked? Perhaps an individual was a victim of cybervigilantism or their website’s domain has been redirected. It is important to be aware of digital identity, but if we are so worried about how our online presence could affect us, our social media activity will be nothing more than the mainstream and will keep people from discussing non-dominant ideas that could promote social change.  

online reputation

Photo Credit: relatably.com

Facebook, and other social media sites affect who we are, not just as an individuals, but as a society. We are especially vulnerable to the narratives that we circulate, and with social media, those narratives circulate a whole lot faster and reach a wider range of people. We (society) start enacting these narratives, particularly the ones surrounding our fears, aspirations, and repressions. Social media “is the stage upon which the battle over dominant cultural narratives is played out” says Bonnie Stewart in her post “What Your New Year’s Facebook Posts Really Mean.” Those narratives are most likely of the dominant normative. This is why hashtag activism is important even though speaking out on social media can be potentially risky, in more ways than one.

Managing one’s online reputation is at the forefront of many people’s minds. People are asking themselves: how should I set my privacy settings, who do I want to see these updates, should I delete this comment, should I be sharing this information? People, especially young people aged 18-29, are being much more vigilant than in the past. This creates an online presence of promotion for oneself. However, this is the way young people need to be thinking, because as previously discussed, online reputation matters.  

Stewart says that social media shows our day-to-day archive of who we are trying to become. However, if we are continually influenced by the circulating narratives and the increased notion that we must be constantly monitoring our online presence, does our digital footprint really tell the full story of who we are?

Week 10: Privacy, Corporatization, & Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality & Digital Divides

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. Facebook’s Internet.org project violates net neutrality as it is offering free access to only part of the Internet. They hope that when users get a taste of the Internet they will want more and buy a data plan. Many will be unable to afford a data plan so they will be stuck on the second tier Internet service creating a digital divide between those will full access and those with partial access.

The Federal Communications Commission’s new policies could see an end to net neutrality and will most certainly have a detrimental effect on education. At present, there are rules preventing Internet service providers from showing any preferential treatment. That means that all sites on the web are accessible to anyone, no matter what you’re searching for. The new rules will allow service providers to charge content providers for better access for their users essentially creating a tiered internet. Most schools cannot afford to pay for better access. Schools, teachers, and students rely heavily on the internet and this will create a digital divide.  “A faster web for some isn’t an equal web for all, and the rules that favor Internet service providers jeopardize the web’s ability to serve as a platform for free speech and innovation.”

Privacy

A terrorist’s iPhone could be used to collect important information but it is locked, should Apple unlock it? Creating a master key to unlock phones could open a large can of worms. Programmers at Apple are only one step ahead of hackers, if they got ahold of the ‘master key’ it could put all our banking, credit card, and personal information at risk.

Low income families have fewer digital privacy rights. The often cannot afford phones and desktops that have more security features and using public wi-fi also puts security at risk. They must give up more information in order to receive government benefits and are unable to stand up for their privacy for fear of police violence. Users of Facebook’s Internet.org project also risk their security and privacy as it doesn’t use the Internet’s standard security protocol.

privacy meme

Photo Credit: I’veBeenMugged

Many children and teens believe that their privacy is compromised by parents posting photos and videos of them on the Internet. The Internet is forever and those photos and videos could come back to haunt them. A recent study showed that many 10 to 17 year-olds are quite concerned about how their parents are sharing their life online. Parents often share in order to find solutions for picky eater or potty training woes, and children benefit from that sharing. Children, however, want to be in control of their digital identities as one’s digital footprint is becoming increasingly important. A possible solution, ask your child’s permission before posting to social media.

Week 11: Trolls, Bullies, Racists, & Misogynists

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Social media makes it very easy to share information with a wide audience. This is great, in most cases. However, there are those who have a problem when an opinion is posted that they don’t agree with, especially if the one posting is of a non-dominant race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, etc. In fact, “harassment of women online is at risk of becoming ‘an established norm in our digital society,’” with almost half of women reporting they have experienced some form of abuse or harassment online. Men, not surprisingly, face much less harassment. It seems that the online (modern) world is simply replicating what has existed in our society for hundreds of years. The only difference now, with the internet, is the reach of the trolls, cyberbullies, racists, and misogynists has extended. When someone is able to post comments from an anonymous or fake account there is no need to be accountable. Online harassment includes but may not be limited to: unwanted contact, trolling, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, doxing, revenge porn, and threats of physical violence, rape, and death.  

Week 12: Online Activism

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Slacktivism is when people support good causes or events by doing something, usually online, that requires little time or effort. Slacktivism activities include signing an online petition, sharing a news article, or wearing a T-shirt to raise awareness. Although there are those that disagree, slacktivists do play an important role in activism. Campaigns like #blacklivesmatter and #FightFor15 were organized through social media. Not only was awareness gained but the people that social media can connect made the campaigns more successful. Not everyone who ‘shared’ or ‘liked’ these campaigns took to the streets to protest,  but they were instrumental in spreading the word. Social media is a powerful thing and one of its strengths is reaching a wide audience in a very short time frame. Live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope are able to make someone sitting on their couch feel like they are part of the action. This technology has the ability to move viewers from just watching to doing. A study found that people who are involved in online movements are more likely to participate in real life, on the ground activism. There are those that feel that slacktivism doesn’t accomplish anything. While donating time and money are necessary for activism, not everyone has the time and resources to share, especially when there are so many worthy causes out there.

As you can see, we’ve learned a lot. Check out our Final Summary of Learning Creative Video

 

 

The results are in…

The results are in from my poll on what I should crochet next…a toque for my baby was the winner! I was excited to make this because it will be something I will actually use. I won’t be using it for long as the weather is warming up, but that’s ok. I found a video from one of my favourite YouTubers – Expression Fiber Arts. A triple or treble crochet stitch was used to make the toque. I had never used this stitch before. It was easy to pick up as it is very similar to the double crochet stitch.

I had bought some new yarn for this project. It was of weight 3 which I had never used before. The label suggested a size G hook, luckily I had one of those. I did the first round or row of the hat, but found the yarn very difficult to use. I tried some different yarn (weight 4) which used an H hook and had much better luck. I decided I would go with the thicker yarn this time. Because you are crocheting all stitches into the slipknot, you want to leave the loop quite big. After finishing the first round you’re supposed to pull the tail end of the yarn to tighten up the hole in the middle of the hat that you put all your stitches into. I, apparently, made my slip stitch wrong because it wouldn’t tighten to close the hole. Now, normally it wouldn’t matter if the working end or the tail end tightened up your slip knot, but in this case it does.

 

Photo Credit: crochetguru.com

After looking at other ways to make a slip knot, I finally got one that worked the way I needed it to. So, after crocheting the first round three times, I could finally move onto the second! For the second round you need to work two triple crochets into every stitch from the previous round. I was a little apprehensive about this because it was new to me, but it wasn’t difficult at all.  

I had seen this on other patterns I had read and it sounded difficult and I wasn’t sure how it worked. Turns out, it isn’t difficult at all. Those patterns will no longer intimidate me! The rest of the hat went pretty quickly.

My finished product isn’t near as good as Chandi’s, but it is a start. I mean, my little girl does look adorable! I probably could have crocheted one my round. She’s just getting so big. Part way through I started trying to make my triple crochets quite tight in hopes that the spaces in between would be less, but it only made them bigger. Anyone have advice on how to make the toque a little more tight knit and therefore better at blocking out the wind? The next time I make a toque I think I’ll try a different stitch, maybe that will help.

Now, what will I make next…

Does Slativism Have a Place in Modern Society?

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Slacktivism is when people support good causes or events by doing something, usually online, that requires very little time or thought. Slacktivism activities include signing an online petition, sharing a news article, or wearing a T-shirt to raise awareness. So does slacktivism actually do anything? Some think so and others disagree.

The ASL Ice Bucket Challenge was a huge success. It generated $100 million in donations, informed a very large number of people, and brought awareness about this frightening disease.  Black Lives Matter and the #FightFor15 campaign are evidence that slacktivism works. These protests were organized and awareness was gained through social media. Did everyone who ‘shared’ or ‘liked’ these campaigns take to the streets to protest? No, but they were instrumental in spreading the word. Social media is a powerful thing and one of its strengths is reaching a wide audience in a very short time frame.

A recent study revealed that online participation in worthy causes is vital in making a protest into a social movement and in extending the duration that the cause is in the limelight. Even a slacktivist that retweeted or shared just Slacktivism 2once, made a difference. “The network effect created by this engagement made the actions of just a few active protesters visible to millions of people, all over the world.” Live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope are able to make someone sitting on their couch feel like they are part of the action. It allows those                Photo Credit: someecards.com
that are in the protest to feel supported  
and keep fighting when they receive comments and positive emojis from onlookers. This technology has the ability to move viewers from just watching to doing. Another study found that people who are involved in online movements are more likely to participate in real life, on the ground activism.

There are those that feel that slacktivism has little or no positive effects. A slacktivist may feel satisfied that they have contributed, but has that ‘drop in the bucket’ contribution done anything other that boost their ego? A study out of UBC found that people who “liked” a cause on Facebook were not as likely to give money to that cause. Scott Gilmore argues that social media enables slacktivists. When people ‘share’, ‘like’ or retweet they receive the same feel good endorphins one gets when they do an altruistic deed. “Unfortunately, modern times confuse the brain and it mistakes actually feeding the starving with re-tweeting #FeedTheStarving.”

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What do you think? Does slacktivism have a place in our society today? Does it really accomplish anything or does it just give people the good feeling of supporting a cause without actually doing anything? Or instead of debating whether slacktivism is good or bad, Kayla asks, is the question we should be focusing on, what do we need to solve the problem?

 

Building My Crochet Personal Learning Network

When learning a new skill or just having a genuine interest in something work or pleasure related, having a personal learning network can be helpful. It allows you access to global learning communities and expertise, a place to discuss with others and ask questions, and many sources of information and knowledge.

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Photo credit: StockMonkeys.com

YouTube
In starting to build my crochet personal learning network I subscribed to a few YouTube Channels of the crocheters I watched most often. From here, I found there Facebook pages and blogs which I joined and followed. My favourite YouTubers so far are Crochet Guru, Expression Fiber Arts, and Made With Love By Glama. Glama even responded to a question I asked after one of her videos.

Twitter
To find crocheters on Twitter to follow, I initially used Feedly. This, however, was probably not the best way. Most of the crocheters I followed from here were just posting pictures of items they were selling on Etsy. I had to unfollow some of them because my entire feed was filled with the same pictures over and over again. After this fail, I used the Twitter hashtag #crochet to find other crocheters. This has worked out much better.

Facebook
I have joined a couple of Facebook crochet groups. I like these because people share things they have crocheted so you can pick up ideas. My favourite thing is that you can ask questions and many people could answer you. None of my questions got answered, but I will keep trying!

social network

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Blogs
Blogs/blogging is a great way to expand your PLN. Clearly, I am blogging about learning to crochet and I have asked questions and posted resources to connect with other crocheters. I also subscribe to other blogs. I can ask questions, see tutorials, get free patterns, etc. by reading other people’s blogs.

Feedly
Feedly is a great place to get all my crochet content in one place. Here I can add my favourite blogs and sites to see what’s new in the world of crochet.

Apps
I only have a couple crochet apps (check out this post to see which ones). Of those, the AllFreeCrochet.com app links you to a ton of different crochet articles. These are usually from people’s blogs, so it is another way to connect with fellow crocheters. Crochet For Beginners also allows you to connect through Facebook and to other people’s blogs.

network 1

Photo credit: mashable.com

Pinterest
I love Pinterest and it has been my go to place to find crochet. I already have 63 pins on my crocheting board! You can also follow other people with your similar interests to see what they are pinning.

Face-to-Face
Just because you’re learning a skill online, doesn’t mean you can’t meet up with someone and have a face-to-face conversation. I happened to mention to my neighbour that I was learning to crochet and he told me his mom is a really good crocheter. Now when I get stuck on something, I can meet up with her for help.

The Internet: A Haven for Harassment

Women make up half of the world’s population. Women are intelligent, successful, contributing members of society, and yet there are many who don’t see their worth or value their thoughts. If you are of this opinion, social media and the internet in general makes it very easy to share this. Part of the reason I don’t have much of an online presence is for fear of trolls and cyberbullies. My classmate, Sarah, felt the same way about starting a blog.  Apparently, our fears are justified as “harassment of women online is at risk of becoming ‘an established norm in our digital society’”. Research in Australia found that almost half of women have experienced some form of abuse or harassment online. Men, not surprisingly, face much less harassment.

troll

Jolande RM/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

The recent Gamergate controversy has seen victims like Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian receiving multiple death and rape threats. Other recent female victims of online harassment include: Amanda Hess, a pundit who writes on a wide array of topics, Caroline Criado-Perez, a feminist activist and writer, and culture critic Sady Doyle. Doyle actually says she is lucky because she’s only received one death threat and not that many rape threats. How is that lucky?

It is never appropriate to use slurs, metaphors, graphic negative imagery, or any other kind of language that plays on someone’s gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion.

cyberbully

kid-josh/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Online harassment includes but may not be limited to: unwanted contact, trolling, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, doxing, revenge porn, and threats of physical violence, rape, and death. Jamie Oliver’s piece on online harassment spoke a lot about revenge porn. Revenge porn is when naked photos of someone are posted online without their consent. One can see how this could quite quickly ruin someone’s life, and shockingly enough there is no law against it in 27 states and it is very difficult to get the photos taken down. When a case comes to light in the media, it is portrayed to be the woman’s fault, who let herself have naked pictures taken of her. Why is blame being placed on the woman? It’s as if the one posting the photos is exonerated of any blame.

It seems as though women aren’t allowed to vocalize any of their thoughts online without the potential of being harassed. Our own instructor, Katia Hildebrandt, was trolled for tweeting a study on white privilege. Gendered trollsbigotry against women is widely considered to be “in bounds” by Internet commenters.” Many comments come from anonymous or fake accounts. Although anonymity can be beneficial when it’s used to comfort and protect individuals who wish to express opinions in a psychologically “safe” environment,” it also protects the people who make unethical comments. Would these same people be making these comments if there name was attached to it so they could be held accountable? Probably not.

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Digital Divides of the 21st Century

This week’s articles for class center around privacy and net neutrality. Net neutrality, never heard of it. Was is it and why is it so important? Naysayers to Facebook’s Internet.org project say the project “violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy, and innovation.” I thought the project sounded great. Giving those who wouldn’t normally have access to the internet a chance to use it for free. Albeit, limited access, but access all the same. I was on board with it, or am I? After reading “Backlash Against Facebook’s Free Internet Service Grows”, I’m not so sure anymore. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. According to this definition, the Internet.org project definitely violates net neutrality. Facebook argues that this project can “coexist” with net neutrality. They want more people to have access to the internet and isn’t some better than none at all. Protesters say that the goal of the project is to get people using the internet and then encourage them to pay for a data plan to access the full internet. However, many will not be able to afford a data plan so they’ll be stuck on the second tier, and this could create a digital divide. Is there not already a digital divide when some have internet and others don’t? On this topic I think I agree that some is better than none. I don’t agree with the second tier’s security and privacy being compromised as it is using Internet.org. I believe that Josh Levy’s solution to provide free access to the full Internet while implementing low data caps is an excellent solution to maintain net neutrality.

iphone
Photo Credit: Apple

If Internet.org continues as is, it will be another case of the poor or not so well off having fewer digital privacy rights. This is the argument of Cortney-Harding in the article “The New Digital Divide.” The less well off probably can’t afford an Apple phone or desktop, which offer high security. Less expensive phones and desktops use less secure connections when accessing the Internet. Security can be further compromised using the wi-fi at public places. Many poor people also are subjected to invasive questions and are required to share much more information than middle class folk in order to collect their benefits from the government. The poor may lack resources to stand up to authority figures if their privacy has been compromised and fear police violence if they don’t reveal private information. The Internet held promise of a new digital world where everyone would be able to access the same information. However, this world is still laden with the problems of the old world, where the color of your skin and how much money you make decides what accessing that information will cost you. So, yet again, the poor are living in a very different digital world than the middle class.

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Photo Credit: myonlineestateagent via Compfight cc

A digital divide of a different kind could have devastating effects for education. The Federal Communications Commission’s new policies could see an end to net neutrality. It could have detrimental effects for any agency or person that’s already working with a limited budget, namely education. At present, there are rules preventing Internet service providers from showing any preferential treatment. That means that all sites on the web are accessible to anyone, no matter what you’re searching for. The new rules will allow service providers to charge content providers for better access for their users essentially creating a tiered internet. Most schools cannot afford to pay for better access. Schools, teachers, and students rely heavily on the internet to supplement instruction and make sure students are well versed in the technology of this information age. A loss of net neutrality would impact free and open source web tools, open source textbook adoption, wikis and collaboration sites, and school and university libraries’ access to hard-to-find information. These rules could create a digital divide among students. A faster web for some isn’t an equal web for all, and the rules that favor Internet service providers jeopardize the web’s ability to serve as a platform for free speech and innovation.” These new policies will most definitely negatively affect teachers, students and education as a whole.