NANA nana NANA nana…..CREEPER!!!!!

Yes, I like batman. Yes, that title might have been weird! However, sometimes you just go with the first thing that comes to mind haha. Now, into the real business…

Have you ever been asked about a person, and decided to search them up on Facebook? Googled a potential employee or partner to see their true character? Experienced someone creeping or impersonating you?

Even better, have you tried creeping on yourself? This is the process of sleuthing, and it can have fascinating results! Personally, I have always been aware of what I put online, and have tried to keep everything suitable for my grandma and more distant cohorts. While I am not perfect in that goal, I was born right as computers, the internet, and the digital age was going full throttle for growth. Continue reading “NANA nana NANA nana…..CREEPER!!!!!”

The Age of Self-Computation, and Scattered Publishing

It has almost been a full year since the CTRC declared internet to be a basic service for Canadians. Until that point, telephones and telecommunication was the only medium considered to be a basic required service. Back in budget season we some MLA’s also dub internet the future of media and information, and also suggest that access to internet is an essential service. We are moving at a fairly quick pace towards universal access to the internet, which is pretty crazy to think about. Wasn’t it just yesterday that 5Mbps download speeds were considered the Cadillac of personal internet services, and outside of Regina and Saskatoon you were almost guaranteed a dial-up modem.

Credit: jeferrb via Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)

Continue reading “The Age of Self-Computation, and Scattered Publishing”

Choose Your Song!

Welcome back to my journey towards guitar competency! This week I decided to take a small break from Andy’s channel. As you might know, last week I attempted to play the song 500 Miles, and it absolutely crashed and burned! So this week I thought it would be good to explore a way to do independent study with your class on guitar. Continue reading “Choose Your Song!”

Screens, Screens Everywhere!

Have you ever tried vlogging, or making routine videos of yourself for some sort of project? I used to, but haven’t done it in a while. For my learning project, I have actually been using a hangouts on air live stream for most of my videos, just because it is simple and it works!

Screenshot by Webster – Captured with the Windows Snipping Tool

This week however, I did my learning project with a different recorder. This post is not going to be about my learning progress, and instead it will be a review for this fabulous app: Screencastify! This tool is a screen recorder, as well as a video recorder, all build into this powerful tiny Chrome extension.

To begin, click the link above to download and install the chrome extension. Once you are finished this, you will see a black film reel icon in the top right-hand corner of chrome, this is your extension! Click on that icon to begin. Continue reading “Screens, Screens Everywhere!”

Chatting it up on Twitter: Education Edition!

Through class last week, I was introduced to the world of Twitter Chats, and EdChats in particular. I didn’t realize what these were, or how they worked. I had always known hashtags on twitter to be a source of linked/similar content, as well as a conversation about that content, however I never thought about using a hashtag to moderate and give structure to that conversation!

The idea is that one person is moderating an EdChat, or TwitterChat conversation at a particular time and date every week. For example, the one I participated in was #SaskEdChat, moderated by Kelly Christopherson (@kwhobbes), every Thursday at 8pm Saskatchewan Time.

The structure portion of this chat is how the hour of chat functions. Kelly prepared a set of questions, and posted them earlier in the afternoon for those who wanted to brainstorm. At 8PM, Kelly tweeted the first question as “Q1: …. #SaskEdChat”. From there, anyone who wanted to participate will use an identical tweet structure, just with A1 for their answer. Despite that, Kelly and the longtime members constantly encouraged conversation and sharing of any type, and it was evident by the mixture of answer tweets and discussion tweets.

The topics were mostly around principals and administration this week, so I didn’t have a good answer (in my opinion) for all of the questions, but it was still really exciting and captivating to be able to discuss the professional answers to some of these questions, and bounce ideas off of other people. My favorite part about the hour of chat, was the distance of some of these participants. Out of the 3 people I was conversing with the most, one was from Northern Saskatchewan (Hudson Bay), one was from nearby Regina (Moose Mountain Provincial Park), and the last person was from south of the border (Ohio!). To be instantly accepted and welcomed by these strangers, and then to participate in this meaningful conversation with people from all around the province, and continent, is an amazing experience. And for that experience to come from something as simple as Twitter makes it that much neater.

This was an awesome experience, and I am looking forward to participating in the next chat this week!

Making The Switch Efficiently

As some of you might know, I am learning guitar for a learning project. Last week I explored some of the basics of guitar, such as string names and how to read TABS/Chord Symbols. I also learned my first chord, E Major. If you haven’t been following my journey, and want to catch up, click here to see my previous posts.

As I mentioned last week, I’m using a YouTube channel called AndyGuitar for my first couple of posts. I made a slight alteration to my plan from last week however. Andy makes a level 1 beginners course, 57 videos long, and it is an excellent resource for a semester-long study. I am planning on trying other resources eventually, so I opted for Andy’s “Learn Guitar in 10 Days” course, which is like an accelerated and simplified version of beginners guitar.


The A major chord fingering. Photo Credit: imventurer Flickr via Compfight cc

This week I learned 2 more chords (A Major and D Major), and a couple of tunes that resemble real songs. In terms of content, it wasn’t huge, but the big lesson this week was mastery of chord switching. It is one thing to play an individual chord, but to switch your fingers in rhythm, and with almost no time between the switch, is an entirely different ballgame.

The first big part of this was how to actually place your fingers on the guitar. To play a chord with the best sound and success, you should put your fingers to the lower part of the fret. For example, in the picture above with an A major chord diagrammed, your fingers should be close to that metal bar, without touching it (The yellow dots are almost exactly where your fingers go). This ensures that the string is held tight, and makes it more audible.

Secondly, you will naturally try to flatten your fingers a bit (They are reaching over the guitar neck in this position by default). This results in you holding the strings for chords near the front face of your finger (the fingerprint). This is a habit that has to be broken. Instead, your fingers should push down, fingertip first, into the string. This should look a lot like proper typing posture for your fingers, with a fairly decent bend in your knuckles. By doing this, you will again improve your sound, require less pressure, and avoid the “dead string” sound when your string isn’t tight enough.

The last big part is of course the main one, chord changes. Andy has taught us 3 chords, E, A, and D. The fingering we learned all involved the pointer finger on the B string. This helps with chord changing because you have a home placement for the one finger, and your other finger placements kind of build off of that. Andy also provided a step-by-step learning process for the exact movement when changing chords.

The results? I was able to play something resembling Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”. I also attempted 500 miles in the video, but my fingers were too sore to hold the chords. I will post a successful video of 500 miles in the future, just to prove I can do it with these chords! Next week I am going to do another large portion of Andy’s course, and I might explore other resources (UltimateTabs is one I will use with 500 miles). Until next week, happy blogging!

What note is that string suppose to be?

I have decided to begin my guitar adventure using a set of courses though YouTube. They are offered by a channel called Andy Guitar. I discovered him a couple of years ago through my own personal exploration of piano-based channels. Andy offers a sister channel Andy Piano, which offers similar services (lessons, basics, and some classic songs).

Now, I began with what Andy describes as his level zero course. That’s right, he doesn’t even consider these basics part of his level 1 beginner course. While working through this playlist, I realized that I have forgotten most of my Guitar 9 knowledge, and that maybe I should have been listening a bit better all of those years ago. None-the-less, I watched lessons regarding how to use a pick, tune the guitar, and what notes the strings should represent (in a standard tune).

On the left, you see the “pencil”/”hotel card” way of holding a pick. On the right, you see the “Mic/Ice Cream” way of holding a pick. Notice the slight offset of the pick’s rotation in the right picture.

So first, how to use a pick. A pick is this small, odd looking, almost triangular piece of nylon, plastic, or other hard but flexible materials. It is used for strumming the strings of the guitar. Some people prefer to use their fingers (I actually used them for the few times I played in the video). Other people use their finger nails, and Andy pointed out that artists like Ed Sheeran have made this trend explode. However, whether you are learning Ed’s style, or just starting, a pick will make this sharp professional sound without sacrificing your flesh to the pain of blisters and cuts.

To hold a pick, most people initially just pick it up, and almost hold it like a pencil or hotel key card. You could do it this way (it is how I played in grade 9), but Andy gives an alternative, and more proper way to use a pick. Your hand should be in the thumbs up shape, with a loser fist, and the thumb will simply drop overtop of the pick. Another way to think is this, is to pretend you are holding a microphone or ice cream cone. Then you drop the thumb and start gripping the pick, it should be pointed sideways, rather than straight out. This allows it to strum the strings with lesser resistance, and it requires less effort and energy to hold. You can reference the photo comparison from above for the comparison of styles of holding your pick.

Now, each string represents a different musical note. From the biggest string to smallest, these notes are E, A, D, G, B, and then E again (an octave higher). Andy introduced a mnemonic for remembering these stings: Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears. Another one I have heard is Every Adult Dog Growls, Barks, & Eats. I am currently working with these phrases, and my pure memory, to hopefully have these strings memorized by next week (Update: I learned it in time for the video!). It is good to memorize these string names for the use of note referencing, and even simply knowing what to tune the strings to.

Next we moved onto tuning, which was a bit easier for me with my musical background. With a tuner or piano it is easy to tune the note to match the pitch, or the tuner. A cool trick Andy showed was to tune the low E string, and then to tune the A string using the pitch from the E string’s 5th fret (which is apparently an A). This works for most of the strings as a way to almost self tune independent of technology and equipment (though your “tune” might not match other people if you play in a group or duet). In terms of the mechanism, turning the nut’s at the head of the guitar (called tuning pegs) would change the frequency/pitch of the string. Counterclockwise increased the frequency, making the note sharper. Clockwise lowered the frequency, making the note flatter. You increase/decrease the frequency of each string until you are happy with the pitch. In practice, this is fairly easy for both music and non music students to do, with the help of a tuner. The music students only get an advantage in that they might be able to audibly fine tune the pitches by listening closely with more experienced ears.

This shows a side by side comparison of traditional sheet music, and its related tabs positioning. – Credit: By Hyacinth at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Lastly, Andy taught us how to read chord symbols, and the guitar specific sheet music system called TABS. In terms of chord symbols, they visible show the neck of the guitar and use dots and bars to describe what strings and frets to hold down for that chord. Tabs on the other hand looks like your average sheet music, except it has 6 lines instead of the traditional 5. Each line represents one of the 6 guitar strings, with the top line as the thinnest, high E string, and the low line being the thickest, low E string. Instead of music notes, TABS will show a number on each string line. This number stands for the fret to hold down.

As someone with traditional music background, this is definitely an entirely different beast, despite looking similar to classic sheet music. It will take time to get used to it, but at least I understand it now. The last thing Andy taught was how to play our first chord, the E major chord, using Tabs and Chord Symbols. This will be the first chord of many I learn as I continue through this journey of learning.

Plunging into Technology

So, as I detailed in my introduction post, I have always been a bit of a geek when it comes to technology. The two main things we were suppose to join this week were Twitter and Feedly.

Now Twitter is something I have used with fluctuating activity in the past, and for personal use, and use within the gaming and technology/programming communities. In the recent years I have just had automated tweets occurring, mainly Youtube. I also had an IFTTT integration (If This Then That) which would automatically share my photos from Instagram.

Feedly is a different story. I remember always hearing good things about Feedly, but I instead got into using other services like Flipboard and Pocket. However, as I discovered this past week, I already have tried Feedly as I had a user when I logged in using Google. So the next step was creating a second category. The initial category was simply technology, and this is not filtered tech. It is all of the top geeky tech blogs out there, making it not that useful for this class. However I decided to continue with the technology trend, so I created a category called “EdTech”. Now this is not actually dedicated to the EDTC300 class I am doing this for, it was literally to bring up articles related to Educational Technologies. I find we as the education community sometimes lack in our curiosity with tech, and some excellent resources are missed simply because we don’t adapt new technology and services.

My Feedly was already initialized, and looked just like this when I first logged in, simply without the new EdTech category.

To find sources, I simply just searched a handful of topics connecting the two categories. They included “EdTech”, “Educational Technology”, “Technology in the Classroom”, and “Technology for Teachers”.

One of the sources that has shown up in this feed is called Free Technology for Teachers, and it is a blog ran by Richard Bryne (Click here to see the blog). Interestingly enough, both articles that caught my eye came from this blog.

The first one was related to common Google Form mistakes, something that is fairly relevant for teachers trying new ways to collect information (This has been used for both EDTC300 and ECS210 this semester). This particular example was using Google Forms in conjunction with Google Classrooms, and designing a quiz for the students in it. My initial reaction was actually more of a surprise that I never thought of using this for quizes before, and how it would work well when it is connected with your school’s domain (e.g. Regina Public uses iGo/ The common mistake was related to actually collecting the emails of respondents, and remembering to ask for a name as a backup for if the automated collection fails.

The second article was about using Google Chromebook resources in Math classrooms. The second article was obviously a bit more personally relevant for me as I am specializing in mathematics. It went over useful apps designed for the Chrome Web Store that can be useful in math courses. These range from virtual tools like a calculator, to math “vocab” cards, and it is really cool to think about implementing this type of stuff into a subject area that tends to be stuck in more traditional methods.

My plunge into technology this week might have not been as fresh as other people, but I look forward to using this as a way to renew my prior curiosity towards new technologies and services, especially ones useful for math and education in general.