I am admittedly a little behind in watching the live sessions for my ECMP 355 course.  I am just coming off my mid-week that was full of papers, presentations, and exams and just haven't had a chance to sit and watch for an hour. Tonight I watched the session from last week which featured Alec Couros, professor of educational technology and media at the University of Regina.  He presented on the topic of Digital Citizenship and Identity. He talked about lots of things like the scare ads put out to encourage children to be safe about what they post on the internet, because you never know who might be looking at the content.  Here is one I found:
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Picture courtesy of http://www.softwarewithstyle.com/guides/13?page=5
This always reminds me of the cautionary tales the Faculty of Education pass down to us about school boards searching for new teacher hires on Facebook to see what they are up to.  This seems to cause some panic amongst my classmates which makes me wonder what they have posted on their profiles.  Personally, I am friends with my dad so I always think about whether or not it is something I would want him to see.  If the answer is no then chances are it isn't suitable for the internet.  Plus, I am partial to posting things like good recipes and prompts to encourage people to read this blog.  And every once in a while I do what I refer to as a "friend cleanse" where I go through and delete people that I don't actually consider a friend.  I have one criterion and that is if I would look the other way if I saw you in public, then we are not friends and I do not think you need to be updated on the happenings of my life.  Or the delicious things I made for supper.

Alec also talked about some of the positive things that have come from the accessibility of the web and one was a website called the It Gets Better Project, which is a site dedicated to giving hope to youth from the LGBT community who face a great deal of harassment.  It all started with one video by Dan Savage and is now something much larger with inspirational videos from US President Barack Obama, Anne Hathaway, and Lady Gaga. Here is a short video that Google Chrome put together about the initiative:
I had never seen this video before Alec asked us to watch it tonight, and it almost moved me to tears.  Then he mentioned the video that a young man by the name of Jamey Rodermeyer contributed about his experience. Unfortunately, Jamey ended up committing suicide a few months later due to the bullying he was experiencing because of his sexual orientation.  I watched his video and you could tell that he was trying to stay positive but that the hurt he was feeling was cutting quite deep.  It made me sad to think that his life had come to be so unbearable that it had become not worth living. But when I scrolled down to the comments on YouTube, it all seemed so blatantly obvious.

I have never read such hateful and ignorant comments about something so serious.  Some had been written hours ago, some days ago, but they all had the same message of intolerance and were all being posted by the same user. I was astonished that no one was doing anything more then engaging this person in banter, so I took matters into my own hands and reported him/her to YouTube.  However, this was not as easy as it should have been.  It took me nearly 10 minutes to figure out how to report the inappropriate comments. I had to search in a number of places before I found the form here.  I am trying to stay positive about the situation by thinking that maybe other people had as much trouble trying to report the comments but weren't as persistent as me.

This whole situation reminded me about how easy technology has made it for people to spew hateful words at or about another human being.  It is much easier to say those things when you aren't confronted with the pain and emotion on the face of the other person.  Would that person have said those things to Jamey's face?  Or to the face of his grieving parents?  I doubt it.  I think I did the right thing tonight.  What would you have done?

“Always stand up for what you believe in…even if it means standing alone.” ~ Kim Hanks
 
 
My ECMP 355 class is an online course so instead of meeting in a classroom, we have a class blog that our professor uses to house our assignments and other vital information as it comes up.  The other day Dean posted a how-to video for subscribing to blogs.  When I initially saw the post I *gasp* cruised past it because I thought I already knew how.  I mean on most blogs the button is right there inviting you to subscribe, and so I deduced that the video must have been made for peeps with less technical savvy than myself.  When I clicked on that oh-so-obvious subscribe button on our class blog, the screen changed to show the same blog posts as the home page but with less pizazz.  So I decided that maybe subscribing wasn't for me and instead devised a schedule for checking my classmates' blogs manually on a rotating basis.  My plan was flawed in that there are 30 students in the class, and I found that I was checking three or four blogs before I would find one that had a new post or a post I felt compelled to comment on.  This was no good.  I needed a new plan.

So I went back to drawing board/the home page of our class blog and revisited Dean's how-to video.  And this time I watched it.  As it turns out, this guy really knows what he is talking about!  He had us subscribe to the blogs using Google Reader.  I can't even describe the awesomeness that is Google Reader; you will simply have to experience it for yourself.  You need a Google account and I had just created a fresh one to post my YouTube video below*.  So now all my blogs are neatly arranged in alphabetical order by last name (you say anal-retentive, I say organized) in an ECMP 355 folder. I scrolled through and read all the new posts of my classmates and made comments on a few that caught my eye.

Lesson learned - you win this round Mr. Shareski.  I will never again dismiss your blog posts as invaluable and instead will treasure them as potential nuggets of pure gold.

*When did Google and YouTube become an item?