Beyond the Glass

Reflections on education in a connected world. Jackie Sakatch

My Magic Carpet Ride

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Wesley Fryer

I have just completed the  sixth of the ten required courses to receive my Masters in Education degree from the University of Regina.  A few years ago I could not imagine myself on this educational journey.  For the longest time I never imagined enter a Masters program.  Frankly I didn’t think I was smart enough to get a Masters’ degree and I wasn’t sure I had the time or that I wanted to invest the time into reading journal articles.  I started to consider the possibility when my sister completed her Masters’ degree and my husbands work situation changed and my ability to bring in more income become vital in order to help support my family I needed to get my Masters’ degree. An administrator gave me the final nudge and suggested to me that I should consider getting my Masters and she wonder why I hadn’t already.  I had a lot of excuses why I couldn’t go back to school I was a mom, I worked full time, and I was scared.  Twenty years ago when I completed my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Saskatchewan you had to go to the library, use a big book to find search terms, and go to the shelves to get the journal article you wanted to read.  When you wanted to register for a class you stood in line all night to get a number so that you could stand in another line to register.  I had no idea how to get an article from the library in my living room or to register for courses from my computer at midnight.  I think I was at least two or not three versions of APA style behind.  I was positive I had lost my academic voice and would not have a clue how to write a research paper.

Then My Magic Carpet Ride began.

I took my first class from Dr. Shauneen Pete.  My eyes were opened to issues of social justice and the crisis facing First Nation and Metis children in a way that changed me.  The first two page reflection I wrote for that class must have taken me twenty hours to complete.  The annotated bibliography assignment we had I could have complete fifteen times over with the amount of resources I gathered and look through trying to find the perfect fit.

My next class laid the foundation of educational research.  Thanks to Dr. Paul Hart and my classmates I began to understand phenomenology, grounded theory, narrative inquiry and so much more.

In my next class  I started to believe that I could be successful in the Masters’ program, that I wasn’t faking it.  I did belong.   I must thank Dr. Andrea Sterzuk for helping me become a better writer.  I started to realize what I was thinking did matter and that my teaching experience provided a unique perspective into classroom discussions.  That what I was wondering about and the time I was willing to take to research my question was a valid response to the material being presented.  I stated to realize that this learning opportunity was for me.  I wasn’t interested in playing at learning I was interested in learning.  I had questions that I wanted to examine.

The ECE summer institute with Dr. Patrick Lewis and Karen Wallace changed me personally and professionally.  To be immersed in the process of learning and creating was amazing.  To be free to learn and experience in a risk free environment without the worry of how will I be marked on what I was creating. I did not have to ask myself is my participation worth an 80, 85 or 90 was incredible freeing.  What mattered was the process of being present not how well you could dance, sing or tell a story.

This fall I decided to try an online course which was a new experience for me.  Connecting online with my peers and the world gave me the gifts of numerous professional development opportunities.  I started to synthesize the information from the Summer Institutes and the ideas of creativity and connectedness.   My world change again.  Dr. Alec Couros, someone I had heard so many great things matched and surpassed his reputation.

Now my carpet ride would not be possible without the support of my husband, Keith, my niece, Kelsey and my parents.  Knowing that Ben, my son is well taken care of, loved and developing his independence makes the carpet ride that much easier.  I am forever grateful to you for allowing me the time and space to peruse my educational dream.  Ben, I hope that I am teaching you something about the importance of education, the importance  setting priorities and of making a commitment and sticking to it.  Thank you Ben for waiting that minute while I finish reading an article.  I love when you  sit and watch a TED talks with me.  Your insight always amazes me.

I am blessed to have had wonderful, passionate, knowledgeable instructors to guide my journey.  I am excited to continue my learning adventure next term.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Leland Francisco


The Strength of a Professional Learning Network.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Colleen McMahon
Throughout this term I have discovered the power of a Professional Learning Network (PLN) and Twitter. This weekend I have experience the benefits of having a strong PLN. I twitted out my last blog post The Gift of Openness and Alec Couros commented on my tweet

The next thing that happened is that the number of favorites and retweets that I received in a short period of time was phenomenal.

Blog explosion

I decided to check my blog stats and this is what I found.


Thanks to Alec’s retweet more people viewed and decided to follow my blog. The process of developing your PLN may take some time to establish but the more effect that your invest the more opportunities you will have to share and influence.

My classroom twitter account is slowly being used by families. After report cards went home on Friday this was the response I received from one of my families:

My classroom Twitter following is small but for the families that use it powerful. Just like an ant.

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by AnnaNakami

Hopefully it goes to many

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Charles Lam


Pigtails? A Piggy Back? No a Pingback!

When I first read the course assignments for #eci831 and read that I need to include pingbacks.  I admit the first thing my brain thought of was pigtails.

Pink Eye and Pig Tails

I quickly realized we weren’t going to be spending our time learning how to style hair (unless of course you choose that as your learning project).  My brain quickly jumped to the idea of a piggy back.  Now the more I learn about a pingback the more I think that the visual image of a piggy back ride is not so far off.   Sue Waters explains a pingback as including a link to another blogger in your post.  (Just like that!)

Piggy Back

How do I connect a pingback to a piggy back?  Well when you are brainstorming we often “piggy back” off of an idea of what the person before us says.  We add, modify or give an example of the idea that the person before us has suggested and deepen our understanding and perhaps create a new idea that solves the problem that lead to the brainstorming session.

I sent Alec Couros an email asking him about plagiarism and group discussions.  Some of the text of the email is below:

 I remember last year in a class I was taking we were put into groups to discuss our plans for our final project. People were really reluctant to share their ideas. Then we started to talk about why they were uncomfortable and it came back to the new online program that they had to take before they started their Master’s program about plagiarism. One of the things that someone in the group shared was that it was considered plagiarism to use an idea a group member shared in a discussion in your paper or project. I was in my Master’s program before the online course was implemented so I am not 100% sure of the accuracy of that statement.

It’s not accurate. If you cite where you got the idea from if it fact it is not your own idea, then it is definitely not plagiarism. I think most people are simply not confident enough about their ideas, or they think that they have nothing new to contribute. I often show them this:

I participated in a webinar hosted by The Daring Librarian where Sue Waters was presenting.  One of the points that people at the webinar made was that you should never apologize for what you are blogging or how often you post.  This reminded me of the blog post by Shauna Drackett where she questions if what she is blogging about is interesting enough and relevant?  Shauna concludes that in her blogging all she can guarantee is the satisfaction of a completed blog post and the thinking that she has done to complete that post.

As I was thinking about education and the idea of how intellectual property and wondering if one person owns an idea or if all ideas are a reworking and built on ideas of those who came before us.  I discuss some of these ideas in my own blog post Creativity, Play, Technology and FUN!

My email continues

If it is a true statement it opens up for me the idea of how education is changing to something much more collaborative and connected. I know that through this course I was intentionally looking for new/different content because I did not want to copy an article/idea that my peers had used. I think this might go back to the social constructed learning you were talking about. Oh. Might be an Ah-ha moment.

You may want to look at Stephen Johnson’s book titled, “Where Good Ideas Come From”. Here are quotes from the book. Also, here is a short video about the book.

After watching this short video clip I was curious about what Stephen Johnson had to say about ideas.  I found a longer TED talk and I purchased his book.

I started to reflect on what Dr. Richard Schwier had said about communities and how a community is a community it doesn’t matter if you spend most of your time online or in person the core of the interactions and the connection with people is what creates the community.  I then thought about what George Siemens‘ ideas about the relevance of higher education and what will happen as Open Education becomes more common place to universities as we know them today.  What information will be considered relevant?  Will the type of assignments and examinations that students complete be different?  Will the research essay lose it relevance and be replaced with work that incorporates the classical theorist but is then used and adapted by students and scholars today to meet the needs of the 21st Century?  As Stephen Johnson says in his video is this what we have been doing for centuries?  With the inception of the internet we are able to connect faster and farther than ever before. We are able to brainstorm and piggy back (and pingback) on the ideas of minds of academics and the person you would meet in the coffee shop.

On the first night of #eci831 Alec showed us these two slides
Carteasen_view_of_learning                                                           Socially_Constructed

When I first saw these slides I understood them and I thought I comprehended what socially constructed learning was.  Now that I have experienced building knowledge socially through the blog hub and my Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter I realize I have experienced the power of collaboration and being connected.  Here is one concrete example

This blog post gave me six new ways to use a teaching strategy I currently use in my classroom and make it better. I was able to have instant professional development that linked a current teaching practice with technology all before I had finished my morning cup of coffee.  I realize my responsibility once I have tried these suggestions is to leave a comment on the blog post so that I can move forward the learning of others.

The pingback allows you to cite and acknowledge where an idea comes from and it also allows you a window into the conversation to make suggestions and build onto the ideas of others.  I joined the Google + Connected Classroom Workshops  the number of members and posts that arrive in my inbox is amazing.  The desire to connect and be connected is strong and educators are finding ways to make those connections possible.

I think your idea still holds up. I believe that education IS changing to something much more collaborative and connected. I would love to hear more about your thoughts on this.

I hope this helps!


Thanks Alec, it does help, in fact it has begun to transform my teaching practices.



Minecraft Screenshots

I have wondered awhile about the game Minecraft.  Last Christmas my son was planning Minecraft on his iPad when my sister, who is a high school administrator expressed concern that we were allowing him to play Minecraft.  I was confused from what I had seen watching Ben play he was using blocks and materials to build a community in a virtual world.  It seemed to me it was like portable LEGO.  My sister explained that in her experience teens can become obsessed with the game and not think of anything else.  Ben described to me the two mode creative and survival and we agreed that he would only explore in the creative world.

Alec Couros challenged us to participate in Open Access  week so I planned to participate in this Connected Educators experience:

Minecraft Open House (ISTE, Games MOOC, rgMOOC, Inevitable Instructors)
1 PM – 3 PM ET.  Minecraft Open House.  Minecraft is a simple, easy to use virtual world that has been unlocking higher order learning skills in kids (especially creative skills) at an ever-accelerating rate, providing outlets for students who were falling by the wayside, and was one of the most popular applications at the most recent ISTE conference.  We’re honored to have ISTE’s virtual worlds group, as well as several other games in education movement leaders, join us today for an open house where you’ll get a chance to explore the environment, ask questions, and discuss it with experts in the field.

Unfortunately our van broke down and I was not able to be at home during the live event.  On the positive side I was able to watch the  video.

The people in this video made Minecraft look so easy.  The video outlines a Minecraft challenge website.  I enjoyed listening to the mother of two twelve year old girls talk about the different modes in Minecraft and the responsibilities of parents.  The girls talked about how they would love to use Minecraft in their classroom to complete assignments and explain their thinking.

I was curious about connects to a grade one/two classroom.  I visited the Minecraft teacher blog after reading the article How Minecraft is being Used in the Classroom by Andrew Webster.

I then bought myself the Minecraft app and tried it for myself.  Ben was very excited that I was interested in exploring Minecraft.  He sat beside me as I created my first world.  The next thing I know Ben had clicked on the egg a bunch of times and their were ducks everywhere.  Then he showed me how to make them disappear.  He showed me how to move around the world and how to access the resources I had available.  Once I was left to my own devices I somehow managed to get stuck under the ice and water.   I tried again and was able to create this structure:

2013-10-27 16.18.48

I will admit that Minecraft is not the game for me and I am not really interested in experimenting in this environment.   I think that it is a fine game for Ben to play.  For now I will continue to ask that he play in creative mode.  If a student in my classroom wanted to show me their learning in Minecraft I would accept their assignment and ask them to explain share how they used Minecraft to help them.

I am wondering if anyone has experimented with Minecraft in their classroom.  I am also wondering if you have concerns about Minecraft what your concerns are.


Frustrated and Inefficient

I retweeted this link this morning. I thought that 100 Twitter accounts for Teachers would be a wonderful way to build my Professional Learning Network.  I did find a few people that I was already following like Sue Waters  , Alec Couros, and George Couros.  I found a number of interesting people to follow on twitter including Angela Maiers and Chris Wejr.  As I was going through the list of suggested Twitter accounts I must admit I became frustrated by the process of clicking on a Twitter account listed on the website, following them on Twitter and then returning to the Tweet to get back to the website to click on the next account to see if I was interested.  I wished a subscribe to all accounts option was available and then I could have looked through the new followers and unfollowed accounts I did not want to connect to.

Today I started to work with my son to develop his digital identity.  He wants to create a YouTube channel so that he can post videos and share them with the world.  I decided to create this channel through my Google account so that I would have control over the comments and the content that he is able to post.  Before doing this we discussed the possibilities that someone might leave a mean comment and what we would do about it and how it would make him feel.  We talked about the possibility that if the comments made him uncomfortable we might have to change the settings on the account so that he felt safe.

Once I felt he was prepared we started to create the YouTube channel.  He had specific ideas about what he wanted to call the channel he has been talking about this for the last two months.  I went into my Google account to create a channel for him.  Then I started to upload the first  video from dropbox to  YouTube.  It uploaded but it was not full screen.  I then tried editing the video in iMovie and then sharing them on YouTube.  That did not work.  So I saved it to my Camera Roll on my phone and tried uploading from there to YouTube.  That got the video to my account on YouTube but not into the Awesome Tube 2 channel.  After some searching I tried downloading the video from my channel to my computer and then uploading it from my computer to Awesome Tube 2.  The video is still processing.

I imagine there is an easier way.  I hate this feeling of having a bunch of steps to follow but in the end I still don’t end up with the information where I wanted it.  Why is it so difficult to move a movie from my phone to YouTube?

138/365 Frustrated.


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