Finland is Inland

Well if you haven’t been keeping up to date with me over the last month or so, I’ve been learning world geography – more specifically all the countries in the world as well as their capitals. I’ve pretty much got all the countries down – which comes in handy a lot more than I would have thought.

I love the fact that when I watch the news, read an article, or hear someone talk I know what/where they are talking about. Even though it’s a small thing to know where on this Earth someone is talking about, I feel more educated and globally aware anyway. In turn, it makes me want to know more. It makes me want to get more involved, to become more educated, to know what the issues in different places are, to know how to get involved.

Recently, outside of my ECMP class and university in general, I’ve taken a real interest in the Middle East/Northern Africa region. I’m finding myself passionate about the people there, the culture, and the land. I’ve been reading a book lately – The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Tough Questions, Direct Answers by Dale Hanson Bourke. Because of my learning project, I feel like I can visualize what areas are talked about in the book, and understand a little more what/where things are happening.

That feeling of being more educated and feeling more connected to the world just by knowing the names and locations of the countries may not make any sense to you. But it has really changed some things for me and I’m excited to continue. And I’m excited because I don’t think this is a skill that just goes away. It’s something I will continue to use over and over again.

Here’s some practical things I am doing to learn my world geography – I make up little things in my head – like the title. For some reason I could not remember the order or Sweden, Norway, and Finland. So of course now that I will never ever forget that Finland is inland, and is not on the large western coast of Europe. I try to make as many personal connections to different countries as I can – I have friends in Austria, Germany, El Salvador, India, New Zealand, etc. so I like to know those places because I know people from there! I also learned my heritage – German, Dutch, and a little Russian. I know where all those places are and am learning more about them.

It’s also exciting. I’m looking forward to all the places I’m going to visit. Places others are visiting/living. I can’t wait for the list of all the places I’ve been and lived and visited. I hope that it’s a very long list! If you had to pick one country to visit, where would you go?!

Is There Such a Thing as an Honest Digital Identity?

Over the last month or so since I have began posting on my blog again, I have been thinking about my digital identity. What is a digital identity? There is an awesome blog post called Digital Identities and Digital Security that describes digital identity simply – it is who we are online. This begs the questions:

Can we be the same person online and in the “real” world?

The online world allows us to control how we want to be perceived by others and by the public. This basically allows us to portray certain aspects of ourselves, while maybe “hiding” other things we don’t want others to know. This makes me ask another question of myself:

What and how do we choose what we want others to see about ourselves?

I was asked to read an article this week on how the resume is slowly fading out, and how creating digital portfolios and digital footprints are beginning to become more prevalent. There was a quote in there that relates to my last question – “social media gives [us] a chance to show “what you want the world to know about you.””

So again I ask, what do I want the world to know about me? What is important to me? Some of the things I have decided that are the most important about me follows:

– I am a Christian – this is my identity, in every area of my life

– I love travel – there is nothing better to me than exploring new places, meeting new people and learning about myself

– I love children – all children, whether in my future classroom or otherwise, they have such a genuine love for life and a hunger to learn

– I love my family – my family lives on an acreage outside of Melfort, SK; they are the most incredible people and I am thankful for all the opportunities they have provided for me

These are only some of the more general things that I think are an important part of my digital identity. These are the things that shape my choices and the kinds of things I share and am passionate about.

Another article called Teachers, Take Care of Your Digital Footprint makes an honest and real statement, “If you aren’t controlling who you are online, someone else will.” I don’t want anyone else creating my digital identity. It’s my identity to create. I intend to make it an honest identity. I’d like to believe that it’s possible to be transparent online in a positive way and give others a window into what makes you tick, what you’re passionate about, and who are you are.

That is not to say that anyone, especially those in professional careers that deal with the public, such as teaching, should post every detail about themselves online. There is such a thing as oversharing and being insensitive and careless in posting online. I aim to avoid that and to think before I post. I am not really a writer, and I pride myself in thinking before I speak. So blogging I find that I combine the two. I take my time in my writing. Thinking before I post I guess you could say. In the last article I mentioned, they break down managing your digital identity into 4 easy steps:

– Google yourself (here’s what what happened when I googled myself – I also had to add “Regina” at the end as my name is rather common)

Screen shot 2016-02-07 at 2.38.50 PM

My “about me” page and my twitter handle came up – good news! Since there are a ton of Ashley Arndt’s on facebook my profile did not come up. The only thing missing now is by blog. But overall, I’m pleased with it at the moment.

– Establish a brand

– Get a space of your own

– Stay on top of things

After all my ramblings, I’d like to ask the question in the title of this post again: is there such a thing as an honest digital identity? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

63 Things I Should Probably Know In A Digital World…But Don’t

Yes, 63 is a very large number. I came across a blog post by TeachThought for the first time on my Feedly account, and then again on Twitter a couple days later. So I thought I should maybe check it out in case it continued to pop up over and over again and haunt me for the rest of my life. That may be a bit dramatic, but I don’t like to take those kinds of chances.

This blog post talks about how even though our fundamental human needs have not changed in the last hundreds of years, but that our world is changing and there are things that are vital for students to know. As I was reading, I also realized how many things I myself should know that I don’t. How can I teach my students how to be effective and respected digital citizens if I myself am not? Here are a couple things from the blog post that I personally think are SO vital for students to begin to know:

  1. Distinguish fact from opinion, and know the importance of each
  2. How to think critically—and carefully–about information
  3. Knowing the difference between who’s listening, who’s responding, who’s lurking, who cares, who doesn’t care, etc.
  4. The difference between someone knowledgeable, someone experienced, and someone adept
  5. A 140 character comment may not fully capture the nuance of a person’s stance or understanding of a topic. Don’t assume

Those were only 5 out of 63 things students should know! I would encourage you to head over and take a look through them as there are some things that I would never had thought of before. For example:

  1. What to share with one person, one group, one community, and one planet. (And the difference in permanence and scale between a social message, email, threaded conversation, and text.)
  2. How to effectively use technology in ways that might contradict their original purpose or design
  3. When it is socially-acceptable to check messages, update statuses, check scores, and so on. (Just because everyone at the table is doing it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have significant consequences.)
  4. Structure–essay level, blog post level, paragraph level, sentence level, world level, and acronym and initialism level–changes depending on where you publish

It’s not even that I have never thought of these things, but I have never thought of these in a classroom setting. I know these are all important things for myself, as a 4th year university student, but also what the implications are for students in the classroom with technology playing such a huge role in everyone’s lives. I’ve only scratched the surface of what this article has to offer, and I would love if you would head over and read it and let me know what things you think are most important, or what you hadn’t even thought important until now!

The Elusive 12

As I continue my learning project of learning the names and locations of all 196 countries in the world, I find there are a common 12 I have trouble with. I took the Countries of the World quiz again, the same quiz in which I started with. Here are the 12 countries I was missing:

Screen shot 2016-01-31 at 4.15.01 PM

Each black dot represents a country I did not name in the 15 minutes provided. I found this frustrating for two reasons – for one, my spelling has to be dead on. For a couple of these, I knew what they were (how to say them) but I could not for the life of my figure out how to spell them. So spelling is something to work on. The other was that many of the ones I missed in Europe/western Asia are extremely small on the map, so small in fact that I can’t see that I’m missing them. I find that I can consistently get 195/196 countries on my World Map app – that is when it says, “Find …. (insert country here)”. When I don’t have to spell the country, I can usually find in no problem.

So I have a little work to do in this area still, but I am already noticing that as I hear the names of different countries in conversation and the news, I find myself quite content that I know where in the world that is, and I feel a little more informed about the world around me. More than once I’ve had conversations about this learning project with friends, and they say what a useful thing knowing world geography would be – and it is! I am particularly pleased with the fact that this will be a lifelong skill and that it will come in handy in all kinds of situations.

Phase two of learning world geography is going to be learning all of the capitals of every country. The spelling is proving to be quite difficult in this sense, and I have taken to using a flashcard app where I can create flashcards with the names of all the countries on one side, and the name of the capital on the other. This way I can visually see the spelling and what I really like is that you can also turn on pronunciation help, that demonstrates how to say the name of the country and/or capital so that I don’t sound daft when I go around spouting my world geography knowledge. I challenge you to take the Countries of the World quiz here or the Capitals of the World quiz here and see where you stand!

 

The Making of a Splendiferous, Transcendent and Funkadelic Blogger

In case you were wondering, yes – those are all indeed real words. That is the goal here; to become an awesome blogger. The word “awesome” in my humble opinion is close to dead so I am increasing my vocabulary. To continue this process of becoming a kryptonian blogger – from here on out, assume any words you’ve never seen/heard of refer to awesome – I have created by first Feedly account. I have began following a number of sites and blogs, each to compliment a different part of my life. For example, I chose to follow TED Education for the vast degree of diversity among videos. You can learn everything from why human bodies are asymmetrical to why bread is fluffy, vinegar is sour, and Swiss cheese is holey. I should mention at this point that I am kind of a nerd and LOVE all random facts, history, and the science behind simple things.

Here is a glimpse of what my feedly looks like at the moment:

Screen shot 2016-01-27 at 3.05.16 PM

I obviously want to increase this feed to include all my interest and things I am passionate about, but at the moment I am still learning how to use all of these fancy things.

I also am interested in the world around me. As some of you may know, I am jetting off to teach internationally next year and am passionate about culture and people from all over the world. I think it is important to know what is happening outside of our North American bubble, sometimes even our Canadian bubble. So another feed I decided to follow was BBC News specifically. There are a huge number of news outlets and feeds, but this one I like because it covers world news, and is a news site I regularly check anyway.

And finally, a blog called ILearn Technology. It has everything from professional development to classroom management to teacher resources. Oh, and it has this video on how to make your year more awesome. Or stupendous, righteous, or resplendent if you would rather. Enjoy and let me know if there are any other feeds I should be following! I’m not a funkadelic blogger yet, but I’m trying to be.

 

Swaziland, Kyrgystan, Tuvalu, and Other Weird Places

As part of my last semester, I am taking a class on using computers and technology effectively in the classroom. One of our assignments is to do a learning project – we have to learn something over the next couple months.

I have chosen to learn about the world we live in! I’m going to learn the names AND locations of all 196 countries of the world, and their capitals. Depending on how effective I am, I would love to learn even more about these countries, but I will play that by ear. I have chosen to do world geography for a couple reasons:

  • When I meet someone from a new country, I want to know WHERE that country is instead of vaguely knowing it is in Asia for instance.
  • I want to be more aware of the world I live in. When I watch the news and they are talking about an event in a country (for example, the tragic shooting in Burkina Faso this past week), I want to know where that is, what it is normally like there, etc.
  • This is something I will not just use this semester, but for the rest of my life. Being more culturally and globally aware is something that will benefit me way past when this class ends

When I started this project last week, I wanted to know how much I already knew. I took a countries of the world quiz in which all you have to do is type in as many countries as you can think of in 15 minutes. You do not even have to know WHERE these countries are, you just have to name them. I could name 68 countries out of 196. Pretty pathetic.The green in the picture below are the countries I could name, and the red are the ones that I did not name.

Screen shot 2016-01-06 at 9.45.45 PM

My knowledge of capitals of these countries of the world was even worse. I could name 11 out of 196. ELEVEN!! I obviously have much to learn.

I have downloaded an app on my phone called World Maps in which you can pick a continent and it asks you to find a certain country. You can start with the top couple countries, and then increase the amount as you master them. I’m hoping to master all the countries in the world in the next week or so (good enough that someone could point to a country on a map and I would be able name it) and then move on to the capitals!

Has anyone else studied world geography or have any good ideas/apps/sites in which could help? Let me know in the comments!

The Light is at the End of the Tunnel

Well, after a not-so-brief hiatus I am back to blogging! A little update for those of you who read my blog a while ago and are still here – I am in my 4th year in my final semester of the Bachelor of Education program. After finishing my internship in McLean, SK last semester, I cannot say I’m overjoyed to be back doing university classes after having a taste of what being in the classroom is like. But the light is at the end of the tunnel and in just a couple months I will have the opportunity to take all of the skills I have been developing and to begin my career. For now, I will concentrate on developing these skills further, and building my network.

My last post a year and a half ago (yikes!) stated I was headed to Malawi, Africa for a month. I have to say it was the most challenging and fantastic time of my life. Teaching children of a completely different culture and language than myself, I learned how to communicate with not only my words but my actions and the kinds of activities we did. It was stretching for me to be in a place so different than our typical North American classrooms. Some had no desks, some had goats wandering in and out, some had no doors, and some even took place outside under a tree. However, despite all of these things I have never seen children so eager to learn and to demonstrate their learning than these kids. These experiences have all impacted me and helped me realize what I’m passionate about.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
My class, translator and I after planting a tree to do our part in stopping deforestation.

I am passionate about travel, children of all cultures, and Jesus. I plan to teach internationally when I graduate, and therefore I think technology will play a huge part in my future career. Not only in my personal life to keep in contact back home, learning about the new culture I have immersed myself in, and researching the people, but also in the classroom. The world is huge and technology has so much to offer. I love the feeling of being connected to people from all cultures and places all around the world. Stick with me over the next couple months and help me learn how to incorporate technology effectively into the classroom. What are your favourite classroom experiences with technology?

Five Weeks!!

That’s right – I’m going to Malawi in five weeks!! Now that the school year is finished and my finals are over, I can refocus all my attention onto my upcoming trip!

For those of you who don’t know, in June I will be heading to Malawi, Africa on a service learning internship for four and a half weeks. I will be teaching in a couple different primary schools, empowering students to think critically about HIV/AIDS, environmental education, and gender relations. I’ve been reading through the curriculum the last couple weeks (all 136 pages), and it’s getting me excited to get into these villages and to interact with these kids!

I’ve been reading a ton about the state of Malawi and what kind of issues this country is facing and my heart is already so set on doing something to make a difference. The kids that I will be teaching and interacting with are the next generation and the ones that can really make a change. It’s so cool that I get to be just a small part of that.

Teaching will take place in camp form – fun, interactive and energetic. I think that it’s going to be so great to finally use some of the things I’ve been learning in the last two years of university, even if it’s not in the standard North American classroom.

Now that I have the countdown on, I’m getting anxious to go. But as the days go by I’m realizing how much I still have to do before I leave. I still need to raise some more funds before May 23rd. If you are willing and/or able you can direct a donation towards myself at http://www.worldcamp.co or contact me directly. Thank you in advance and I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you soon!

My Personal Learning Network

Three months ago, who would have thought that I would have my very own blog and become an engaged member of Twitter! This semester has been instrumental in developing my online presence. It definitely threw me out of my comfort zone and challenged me in a lot of ways, but all for the better. The learning didn’t stop at just blogging or twitter either, but continued into creating wikis, google docs, pinterest boards, and exploring various methods of creating media presentations online. I had no misconceptions going into ECS 210 – I knew I was not technologically literate. However what I didn’t count on, was actually benefiting from the social media used during the class. If I am honest, I thought I would participate in Twitter and write on my blog for a couple months, and then when the class was over I could just forget about all my accounts and go on with my life as usual. However, I’m about to tell you about the journey that changed my thinking.

I have had a twitter account for over a year, however I had zero tweets of my own before ECS 210. My online twitter account @ashleyarndt19 has grown immensely in the last couple months. I have followed around 40 people, and about 30 new people have began following me. This may not seem like a very large number, but considering where I started from, I am quite satisfied. I began to engage in twitter in a very meek way, “favoriting” things every once in a while, slowly escalating to bravely “retweeting” an idea, and eventually doing the unthinkable – producing my very own tweet, with my own original thoughts (or at the very least, directing people to someone else’s original thoughts through links). That’s when it happened. Someone favorited my tweet. That’s when all fear disappeared. I started browsing through twitter, exploring hashtags, different accounts, and following links. There is an incredible amount of information and resources out there – we just have to look. I’ve been a part of a couple different conversations, offering my opinion or a resource that could help. I have to say it’s nice to feel like you are benefiting others’ learning! I’m still fairly new and inexperienced in the twitter world, but I plan to continue using it and expanding my knowledge. If I’ve made this much progress in the last couple months, imagine where I will be in a year!

The next scary thing to tackle was blogging. I’m not much of a writer, and I’m not one who enjoys writing much so I knew blogging would be a challenge for me. However it has been a real growing experience for me. So I first created my blog, and my first couple blogs were pretty short and weren’t hugely though through – I didn’t want to put my honest thoughts up for the world to see in case they were disagreed with. However reading others’ blogs and through seminar discussions in ECS 210 I realized that was one of the purposes and benefits of blogs. They can be used as a discussion to change/refine/rethink thoughts. There was one blog in particular of Josh‘s that echoed my thoughts on our autobiography’s – thoughts that I didn’t think anybody else had. How would we know if we never shared? That was the point that I began to be more free with my blog posts and start to put things out that maybe, just maybe, others would have a different perspective about. Guess what? Nothing bad happened! I had some good face-to-face conversations about some of the things I wrote about. I can’t say I commented on others’ blogs as much as I would have liked, as I was getting used to the blogging scene as a whole. However, I spend a great deal of time reading my peers’ thoughts and appreciating their thoughts and views. I hope to continue this in the future.

Once I began to get comfortable with blogging, I could really appreciate the other small details of it. I remember seeing Kara‘s blog page and being in awe. Then Julie Machnaik talked about it in seminar and she showed us how to do certain things. For someone as technologically illiterate as me, this was a huge help! I went home that day and redesigned my blog, adding widgets and other pictures. Looking back on my blog, I can already see my growth. I already have different, more educated views on some of my earlier blog posts and I think that that was the point. I am able to see my progress as an educator which makes me want to continue with my blog, getting my thoughts out there and continuing to expand my PLN.

Group projects have shown me the benefits of wikis and google docs. For an inquiry project, we even created our own wiki on bullying awareness filled with resources to share with others. I used to use pinterest boards to simply categorize my interests, but now I use them to create categorized resources and am able to tap into others’ resources as well as share my own.

All of the social networking that I have learned to do is about give and take. I can find as many resources and as much information as I want through links on twitter and blog posts, but there is benefit in sharing what I have as well. My personal learning network is already coming in handy. I have been given an opportunity to go to Malawi on a pre-service internship this summer and I get to share what I am doing with way more people than I could have a couple months ago. @UKSchoolTweet, an account based out of the UK that “shares education and learning related information” retweeted my blog post about my trip to Malawi – that opens up a number of a new people to learn what I am doing!

I’m Going to Malawi!

Hey everyone!

I have gotten the incredible opportunity to spend a month in Malawi, Africa this summer with an organization called World Camp! World Camp is a non-profit organization that is committed to empowering children in impoverished communities around the world through education. World Camp teaches HIV/AIDS prevention, gender equality, nutrition, environmental awareness and human rights. A ton of what we have been learning about in all of our classes. I’m so excited to put what I have been learning into practice!

This organization was actually started by a group of college students who wanted to make a difference in the world. What i’ve learned is that we have more influence than we know.

One of the biggest things that I believe in, in regards to education, is that education equals opportunity. Each day I will be working to make sure local students understand the keys to prevention and empower them to spread awareness. I can’t think of a better way to spend my summer than to empower students! Isn’t that what we’ve been learning to do?!

I’m grateful for the tools that we’ve been learning to build a social network in this class as well because I need your help! I need to raise funds to support this opportunity and the children I will be working with! If you cannot help me financially, I ask that you consider sharing what I am doing and spread the word! Never underestimate social media! Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to sharing more about this opportunity in the future!

If you wish to donate, or if you’d like to find out more of what i’m doing, you can go to http://www.worldcamp.co! Donations can be made in my name if you are willing and able to do that, or you can contact me directly!