Summary of Learning

I’ll be honest, I dreaded this summary of learning all semester long. I knew that I could easily write the reflection portion of my project, but I struggled to decide how to actually present my learnings. As I split my time between around four locations, I knew that a group project wouldn’t really be an option for me. However, I also knew that there was no way I was going to write or sing a song without others doing it with me! After a lot of research and reflection, I finally decided to use PowToon for my project. As it is a tool that I have never used before, I felt that I was able to step outside my comfort zone and really challenge myself. I loved using the tool, but wish I would have done more research into it before! I did not realize that free presentations can not be more than 5 minutes long… until I was 5 minutes into my 6 and a half minute  (already audio recorded) presentation. I then had the idea to just make two presentations and upload them into iMovie… until I realized that I could not download my presentations as mp4’s without paying the premium price! After lots of panicking, I finally decided to make two presentations, screencast them with Screencast-O-Matic, upload my screencasts to iMovie, and merge the two presentations as one. So, basically what started out as using one tool to make my project ended up in the use of three! Even through all the ups and downs, I am happy with how my project turned out. I feel that I was able to summarize my thoughts and learnings in an entertaining, professional way. Check out my presentation below!

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My Contribution to the Learning of Others

At the beginning of the semester, my ECMP class was posed with the question: “How have you contributed to the learning of others?” We were asked to consider this question throughout the semester and reflect on it as the semester comes to an end. My personal learning network, or PLN, has grown significantly as a result of my ECMP 355 class. This class has given me the opportunity to both learn from others and contribute to the learning of others. Throughout the course, I found Twitter and the class blogs to be the most effective ways to connect with others.

Twitter:

This class has officially instilled a love of Twitter in me. I had used it sporadically in the past, but found that using it so regularly during this class allowed me to make greater connections. I usually just used it for tweeting out articles that I thought were interesting in regards to educational technology, inclusive ed, and other related subjects. I also made sure to retweet and like many of my classmates’ tweets. I not only did this because I felt what they had to say was important, but also because I know how great it feels when you realize people actually value what you are posting! When the opportunity arose I also commented on others’ tweets with questions, advice, and opinions.

Below you will find one example of a time when I believe I contributed to the learning of others on twitter. While this exchange didn’t necessarily result in a lot of interaction, I felt that I shared a great resource for blending traditional math manipulatives and technology.

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Another instance of providing a classmate with my opinion and advice can be found below. My answer is pretty brief, but I felt that by sharing ideas I had seen in the past, I provided Kayla with the opportunity to connect Minecraft to the curriculum.

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I also made sure to tweet out any resources that I found especially helpful, an example of which can be seen below. I know that it can sometimes be a challenge to find a new way to learn a skill, so I thought that I would show my peers a resource that I found to be effective.

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I also tried to start conversations by asking questions about what my peers posted. For example, during this exchange I not only wanted Ashley to feel that what she posted was of interest, but I was also curious about why she chose the project that she did.

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During a twitter chat put on by STARS Regina, I felt that I was both learning from others and contributing to their learning. The chat, on mental wellness, was my first time joining a chat, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! As I tweeted quite a bit during the chat, I wont include a screenshot of all my tweets, but the Storify for the chat can be found here

One of the things that I love most about Twitter is that it allows people with likeminded interests and views to connect and collaborate. My first year roommate (now an education student at the U of S) shares views on education and technology that are very similar to my own. As you will see below, she tweeted out an education related question recently and mentioned me in it. It felt great to be able to provide her with my opinion on something that I am passionate about, and felt even better that I was able to connect with someone I do not catch up with near often enough! 

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Blogs:

To be honest, I did not comment on nearly as many blog posts as I had hoped to. I have no better excuse than I often just got caught up by other things and forgot to comment. However, when I did comment I really tried to write comments that were of good quality. I tended to keep my comments pretty positive, and provided many compliments. There were so many high quality posts, and I wanted to make sure that my classmates knew what an outstanding job they were doing. Whenever possible, I liked to include questions to provoke further conversation and reflection. I also provided my classmates with helpful advice or resources when applicable. There will be a link to all of the blog comments that I have made at the end of this post, but below you will find just a few examples of the comments that I made.

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When writing my own posts, I also liked to mention others’ posts when I felt like they were especially well-written or contained important information that added to my own writing.

This post, on reconciliation, mentions both Ashley and Ryan’s posts on the subject.

This post, about my opinions on the sexualization of children, mentions Raquel’s post on slut shaming and cyber-bullying, as well as Zachary’s post.

This post, a reflection on Carol Todd’s resilience, mentions Kerrie’s post, as she provided a great summary on the talk.

Here is the google doc containing all of the comments that I made on others’ blogs, as well as screenshots of a selection of instances where I felt that I contributed to the learning of others on Twitter.

Overall, I am proud of the contributions that I made on Twitter and the blogs. While I wish that I would have commented on peoples’ tweets and blogs more often, I felt that the comments that I did make were substantial and helpful. I feel that I have built a more substantial and positive digital footprint as a result of this class, and look forward to continue building my PLN even after ECMP comes to a close.

 

 

Saying Yes to Yoga: My Learning Project Summary

Yoga Mat

Photo Credit: Kejohnson0319 via Compfight cc

It’s so hard to believe that this semester is already coming to a close! I know it is said all too often, but the time really did seem to fly by. The end of the semester also marks the end of my formal yoga learning project. It feels like I have barely begun my journey, even as I am finishing it. If you take a look at my first learning project post, you will see that I chose to learn yoga for my learning project for a multitude of reasons. Yoga has always been something that I have been interested in, but I never seem to stick with it long enough to see the effects. I felt that if I chose to learn yoga for my project, the project and subsequent required documentation would hold me accountable and lead me on the path to a healthier lifestyle. Additionally, I am really interested in incorporating yoga into the classroom someday, as I think there are so many physical and emotional benefits to it.

At the beginning of my learning project, I felt nervous and uncomfortable, and put off actually starting my project as a result of these feelings. I think as a society, especially one where technology is so accessible, we put so much pressure on ourselves and others to be perfect. I worried that the pictures and videos I took of myself practicing yoga would look silly and others would judge my abilities. While these feelings didn’t totally disappear by the end of the semester (this post is evidence of that), they did start to lessen. I learned to (somewhat) let go of my anxieties and just focus on the yoga. I also learned that my worries about facing judgement from others were unwarranted. Yes, maybe people were sitting in front of their computer screens laughing at my attempts, but I seriously doubt it! The comments that I received throughout my yoga journey were all positive ones. They uplifted my spirits and pushed me to continue with my project.

Throughout my learning project, I feel like I truly discovered the numerous benefits that yoga has to offer. When I started yoga, all I hoped to gain was flexibility and an outlet for final semester stress. Looking back, I realize that yoga has benefitted me both physically and mentally, however I think that the mental benefits may just hold more importance than the physical ones. While there is no doubt that I made progress in my flexibility, I am much more proud in the growth in mindset that I gained. As mentioned before, when I started I had low self-confidence and had a hard time just “letting go.” Now, I feel confident in myself and my abilities, and am able to use yoga as a time to decompress and self reflect. Practicing yoga brings a sense of calmness that I did not think possible before starting my learning project. This may be the end of my learning project journey, but it is not the end of my yoga journey. I’m really grateful for this class for allowing me to learn a new skill. I have learned to love yoga, and hope to continue practicing it regularly.

My Learning Project Posts:

  1. My Learning Project: Becoming Stretched and De-Stressed
  2. Sun Salutations
  3. I Bend So I Don’t Break
  4. That “Aha” Moment
  5. Put Your Back Into It
  6. SWORKIT Yoga
  7. After Work Revitalizer
  8. Pushing Past The Need for Perfection
  9. Saying Yes to Yoga: My Learning Project Summary

 

We Are All Snowflakes

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Photo Credit: Rogg4n via Compfight cc

As I dig more deeply into social media and the world of technology, I am continuously awed at how effective technology can be in bringing people together. This week, my ECMP class had the privilege of “meeting” Amanda Todd’s mother, Carol Todd. For those of you who don’t know, Amanda Todd was a young girl who was mercilessly bullied on and offline as a result of a picture that she took of herself. Eventually, the sextortion and cyberstalking that Amanda endured day after day led to her decision to take her own life. Her mother, Carol, has since started “The Amanda Todd Legacy,” and aims to educate others on internet safety, mental health awareness, and cyberbullying.

During her talk, Carol shared a mix of personal anecdotes about Amanda, information about her case, and her own thoughts and analogies on education and digital citizenship. My classmate Kerrie Craske does a wonderful job of summarizing Carol’s talk, which you can read about in her post titled “The Legacy Continues.” All of Carol’s talk was meaningful, but what I found to be most incredible was the overall positive attitude she continues to hold, despite all the hardships she has had to face. During her talk, Carol told us a story about an internet troll who went out of his way to say some horrible things about her and the work that she does. Instead of arguing with the troll and stooping to his level, Carol chose to ask him why he felt the need to write such comments. This resulted in the man explaining his life to Carol, and he eventually got involved with the Amanda Todd Legacy. While this type of story does not seem like it would be the norm for every case of trolling, it reminds me of the quote: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” I admire Carol’s ability to see past the negative and look for deeper meaning in every situation.

Carol’s positive attitude extends to the use of technology, as well. It would be easy to assume that someone whose daughter’s life was arguably ruined by the use of social media and the internet would be against it, but as an educator Carol understands the importance of teaching students to become responsible digital citizens, rather than scaring them away from technology altogether. She used a variety of thought-provoking analogies to explain the importance of teaching children how to use technology responsibly from a young age. One analogy that I think really speaks to Carol’s positive personality is one that can be found on the legacy’s website:

” We know that every snowflake in the world is unique and different. No two are the same.  Snowflakes are fragile.  Just like people.  Snowflakes are unique. Just like people.  Snowflakes are beautiful.  Just like people. Don’t people deserve to be treated in the same way as snowflakes?  No one should be made fun of regardless of who they are, what they look like, what they like to do or wear.  We are all snowflakes.  Everyone is special.  No one should be BULLIED for being uniquely their own person.”

Carol’s passion for social justice was incredibly evident during her talk, and her messages are not ones I will soon forget. She reinforced the importance of teaching others to be positive digital citizens, and the importance of being kind to one another, no matter what.

The Case for Coding

If you had asked me a few months ago about my thoughts on coding, you would have been met with a blank stare. I had never even heard of the word before, let alone seen the practice used in schools! However, when I started my internship at Davidson School, I was introduced to the wonderful world of coding. Many of the teachers at the school were part of a SWISI project that aimed to teach students how to code. Grades 1-12 were part of the project, and each grade was given a variety of opportunities to try their hand at coding through an assortment of activities. My grade one class, for example, was given a few copies of a board game called Robot Turtles. By playing the game, students were able to learn about direction and problem analysis. Feel free to check out my classmate and fellow Davidson intern Rheanne’s post to find out more about the project and her co-operating teacher’s role in it. I’ll admit that even after having been at Davidson for a while I still didn’t really understand what coding was or what the point of teaching it in schools is. It was during a PD day that I really got to see the benefits of learning coding firsthand. During the PD day, staff were given the opportunity to try out SpherosHour of CodeScratch, and other coding related activities. Prior to this PD day, I thought that coding could only be done on a computer by writing script. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is more than one way to teach coding! The activities were engaging, hands on, and pretty fun, too.

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While I will admit that the PD changed my thoughts on teaching coding, it is definitely not something that I actually enjoy doing. I have completed the Hour of Code twice now, and both times I found myself getting really frustrated and confused. As I think about it more though, I am starting to wonder if the reason that I do not actually like coding is because I was not introduced to it until now. If I had practiced it throughout my educational career, would I have a more positive attitude towards it and be more successful at it? As much as I do not personally enjoy coding, I think that it is so beneficial in the classroom. In my opinion, even if students never want to use coding outside of school, it is still something that they should learn how to do. This article  explores the benefits of teaching students to code, some of which include heightened problem solving and logic skills. Additionally, learning to code provides students with a larger skill set and more opportunity for employment. I wanted to learn about what the argument against coding in the classroom is, and along the way found this article. I think that the author has a valid opinion, and also believe that it is important to consider whether this is just another fad in the education world, or if there is real merit to teaching the skill. However, I think that the author only believes that educators teach coding so that students can get jobs that use coding. In my opinion, the analytical skills learned from coding alone is enough reason to teach it in the classroom.

 

Pushing Past The Need For Perfection

For this week’s learning post, I didn’t want to just find another yoga resource, review the resource, and add some pictures or videos. While this way of learning and posting has been working for me in the past, I am finding that there really aren’t that many beginner/intermediate hatha yoga poses out there! I didn’t want to just keep posting about the same old poses over and over. So instead, after trying intermediate yoga for the past few weeks and finding that many of the resources use the same poses, I decided I would compile a list of the poses that I seem to be trying over and over, no matter the resource. However, after researching a little more, I realized that an article on Greatist had already done the work for me!  The Greatist article has a write up for each of the following poses including how to do them and their benefits, so I wont take the time to list those again. However, here are my own personal opinions on each of the poses!

Plank

Plank

I LOVE plank pose. It’s fairly simple, but can be adapted to every body type. It’s one pose where you can definitely feel the effects and benefits as you’re doing it, and it’s so beneficial for strengthening abdominal and arm muscles.

 

Chaturanga Dandasana

Chaturanga Dandasana

This pose was much more difficult for me. If you look at the Greatist article, I look nothing like the woman doing the pose. However, it’s a pose I will continue to work on as it seems like it will really help strengthen the arms.

 

Upward Facing Dog

Upward Facing Dog

I found upward facing dog to be fairly simple and liked that it gave a nice stretch for my back. It seems pretty similar to the cobra pose often used in sun salutations.

 

 

Half Moon

Half Moon

If you look at the Greatist article, you will see I only included a picture of the first part of this pose. The first is one that I have done many times and feel comfortable doing. The second part was incredibly difficult for me though! I don’t know if it’s a lack of balance or flexibility, but I just could not keep my front leg straightened while also trying to have my arm touch the ground and keep myself standing up. I think a good adaptation for this pose would be just bending the front leg, but for some reason this idea did not actually cross my mind when attempting the pose.

Warrior 1

Warrior 1

Warrior 1 is a pose that I am actually very familiar with from my beginner yoga resources, so it was interesting to notice that my warrior looks absolutely nothing like the girl in the article’s. I think next time I will try a deeper lunge with my legs further apart. I like this pose because it allows me to practice my balance and is not particularly strenuous!

 

 

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Warrior 3

Yes, I’m aware that this picture is super blurry, but that’s because I could not hold still for it! I found warrior 3 to be incredibly challenging. I just could not get my body to stay horizontal. The article suggests modifying the pose by placing hands on the ground or a block, and I think this would help with balance, and would help me get my leg straighter and closer to being 90 degrees.

 

Intense Side Stretch

Intense Side Stretch

When doing this pose I was really surprised that it was considered an intermediate pose, as it seemed so simple. However, after looking at this picture I realize that my back was not as flat as it should have been. I think this would have helped stretch me more and therefore would’ve made the pose more difficult.

 

 

Dolphin

Dolphin

Dolphin was a new pose for me, but is one that I really enjoyed. It was very calming and relaxing, and seemed like an extension of Downward Dog.

 

 

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Bow

Oh wow was I awful at this pose! If you look on the article you’ll see that the point of the pose is to have your thighs off the ground. Well, that was not happening for me. However, if you look at the picture in the article the woman seems to really be struggling, so it must not just be me! This is one I will keep practicing. My goal is to have my thighs lift at least somewhat from the ground!

Camel

Camel

Again, a super tough pose.It looked easy in the picture but it turns out I am just not super flexible. My goal for this one is to eventually touch my feet. Any tips from fellow yogis?

 

 

 

Sorry this post is so picture heavy, but I think they’re really important in order to monitor progress! I’ll admit I was pretty disheartened after comparing my own pictures to the one from the article. For lots of them, I thought I was doing the pose correctly and then looked at my pictures and felt like there was something wrong with me. It made me question whether I have really made progress at all, and whether I am “good enough” to consider myself an intermediate. I was in kind of a slump, until I found another article on Greatist about why our yoga poses will never look like the instructor’s, and why that’s a good thing. The article discusses how muscular constraints and skeletal limitations mean that all people look different doing yoga. There was one quote in the article that really hit home for me:

“It is better to strive in one’s own dharma [your essential nature] than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s own dharma, but competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity.” -Bhagavad Gita

The article and this quote in particular really made me question why I was questioning myself! No, I do not look anything like the woman in the photographs. But why should I? I have been practicing yoga for a few months, she probably has been for years. While I am struggling through many of the intermediate poses, that does not mean that I should go back to the beginning. The poses are challenging me and I am still getting all the benefits of practicing yoga, so why not just keep practicing and modifying them to fit my needs and abilities instead of giving up? Overall, I am back to feeling confident about my progress and abilities.

“Sext-Up” Ramblings

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photo credit:library.unt.edu 

Last week, I had the opportunity to watch the CBC documentary Sext Up Kids as part of my ECMP 355 class. I had heard a lot of hype around the video, and prior to watching I expected to be surprised and disgusted by its contents. However, after watching the documentary, I can honestly say that it did not shock me in any way. We live in a hyper-sexualized society where kids have more access to media and information than ever before as a result of increased technology. As usual, my thoughts and opinions on the matter are a jumble. So instead of a well written, fluent post, here are my random musings:

  • Parents are not solely to blame for the hyper-sexualization of children. I have seen a lot of comments and posts on the internet about how parents need to learn to control their children, and how the hyper-sexualization of children is a result of poor parenting. I am not a parent, so obviously I do not have experience with this. I have very trusting parents. My parents encouraged open and honest conversations about sex, dating, social media, etc. They encouraged me to consider my actions, and post, write, and say things that I could be proud of. They never told me to act or dress a certain way, and never censored my views of the media or blocked websites on my computer. Do I think that their parenting styles shaped me into the individual I am today? Definitely. Did I still make mistakes in real life and on social media that I continue to regret today, even though they were awesome parents? Absolutely! The societal pressures facing kids today can lead them to do things that they regret, on and off the internet. When parents have honest conversations with their children about the societal pressures they face, I believe that the risk of regret will lessen, but there will still be risk.
  • Children are not solely to blame for the hyper-sexualization of children. I’m sure you’ve all seen them. The countless memes that mock “kids these days” based on everything from their technology use to their clothing and makeup. People are so quick to judge children, and yet they don’t even consider the world that they are growing up in. Technology is more accessible than ever before, with children being exposed at a young age. A plethora of social media platforms now exist, most of which have pretty flexible and easy to get around age guidelines. Media bombards children with messages about the importance of maintaining an idealistic appearance. Yet somehow, people are still shocked that the hyper-sexualization of children is a thing. So what do we expect? Do we expect children to ignore the pressures of society, swear off media and technology of all kinds, and view themselves as confident, self assured people who do not need the “perfect” body, clothes, makeup, and life to feel great about themselves? Do we expect children to do all of this and more, without first educating them on, and talking to them about, the constant societal pressures that they will face?
  • The slut-shaming needs to stop. Slut shaming is defined  by Geek Feminism Wiki as “the act of criticising a woman for her real or presumed sexual activity, or for behaving in ways that someone thinks are associated with her real or presumed sexual activity.” My classmate Raquel writes a much more eloquent blog post about the topic than I could ever hope to. Slut-shaming is not a new thing, but it seems that since the rise of social media and texting it has become a lot more prevalent. I think most women can remember at least one time that they have been slut shamed. I have been a number of times, but will share my most “blog appropriate” anecdote. After dating my grade nine boyfriend for around two months (dating in this context meant texting each other sappy messages, teasing each other at school, and watching movies occasionally) I broke up with him because, well, I was 14 and having a boyfriend didn’t seem that great anymore. After breaking up with him, I received a slew of texts from strangers calling me names such as “dumb, ugly whore” and “ungrateful slut.” After receiving these texts, I just remember feeling like I had been punched in the stomach. I curled into a ball and sobbed. I couldn’t help but feel (unnecessarily) guilty, and just remember thinking “if people are thinking things like this about me just for breaking up with a guy I’ve been dating for two months, what happens when I actually start going on dates? and having sex?” I had actually completely forgotten (or more likely blocked out) this memory until watching Sext Up Kids. In the documentary, girls share their own experiences with slut shaming as a result of sending sexts or nude pictures to boys. Yes, I get that most people will just think that the girls shouldn’t have been sending such sexually explicit pictures and texts if they didn’t want others to see them, but shouldn’t we be more concerned that both boys and girls alike felt it perfectly appropriate to slut shame these girls for their actions?

Basically, this post is just one long ramble of things that crossed my mind during the documentary. As for what needs to happen to change these “sext up” kids? Children need to be taught the importance of being safe on the internet, but also the importance of taking pride in what they post. This is a concept that I explored in a past post on digital identity. They need to feel that they can turn to the adults in their lives, namely parents, guardians, and teachers, and have open conversations with them about the pressures that they are facing. When it comes to having conversations on sexualization, I think my classmate Zachary explains it best in this blog post: “Instead of attacking sexualization as morally unacceptable, we need to remove stigma, and open ourselves to meaningful conversations about sex and sexuality with youth. We need to address their deep desires, the ones with which youth have always struggled. We need to change our language, away from shock and revulsion, and towards acceptance and support.”

After Work Revitalizer

You know the saying, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?” That’s kind of how I’m feeling about my learning project right now. As mentioned in my last post, I love that this project is allowing me to step outside my comfort zone and explore the multitude of yoga resources that are out there. However, after not loving the last few resources that I have used, I decided to go back to my favourite tried and true resource, Do Yoga With Me. Don’t get me wrong, I will definitely continue to seek out new yoga resources for my learning project, and I definitely see the value in trying new ways of learning even if they don’t turn out to be my thing, but today I just wanted to use a resource that I already know works for me!

I’ve definitely seen progress since the beginning of my learning project (I couldn’t even touch my toes before starting yoga), so this time instead of searching for beginner videos on Do Yoga With Me, I decided to try out intermediate. To my surprise, on my search I came across a video called “After Work Revitalizer.” You may recall that in my “That Aha Moment” post,  I tried and reviewed a video called “After Work Revitalizer 2.” It was during this video that I finally understood why so many people are so crazy about yoga, and I have been faithfully using it ever since. I always kind of wondered where the first “After Work Revitalizer” video was located, but just never bothered to look into it. Needless to say, I was thrilled to find the first video in the intermediate section! At first I thought maybe they put it in the wrong section because I assumed that there was no way part 1 of a video would be more difficult than part 2, but once I started the video I quickly realized why it was placed in the intermediate section!

I enjoyed this video immensely, but it was definitely more challenging than “After Work Revitalizer 2.” Maybe it was all in my head, but it seemed like the instructor went through the poses much more quickly, and they were much harder. I know that I am becoming stronger because even though the poses were challenging and at times I was shaking and tired, I was still able to complete all of them! I found that this video had all the same benefits as the first. It helped my neck and back pain, cleared my mind, and kept me focused. I am looking forward to adding this video to my regular lineup!

This video also introduced me to the concept of restorative inversion. At first it just seemed like a fancy name for laying down, putting your arms and legs in the air, and letting the blood flow, but after some research I have found that there are many benefits to practicing restorative inversion. You can find a definition and some of the benefits of the practice here. While I had never heard of the practice before, I now realize that quite a few of the poses I have learned are deemed restorative inversion poses. I also came across this article on master inversions. All of the poses are definitely way above my skill level, but they’re all poses I would love to someday achieve with a lot of time and effort!

 

The Great Slacktivism Debate

Photo Credit: Elijah via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Elijah via Compfight cc

According to Techopedia, the term slacktivism refers to “simple measures used to support an issue or social cause involving virtually no effort on the part of participants” (Slacktivism, n.d.). Prior to this class, I had never heard of slacktivism, or how controversial the topic is. Who knew that one made up term could cause so much online debate! The more I research slacktivism and reflect on my own opinion of the practice, the more I realize that I still have not fully formed an opinion. As a result of an increased use of social media this term, I am realizing that I am someone whose opinion is easily swayed. It seems that every time I read an article, tweet, or blog post, I automatically agree with most of what is being said. I recognize that I need to question and critically analyze more, and agree less. However, this is a difficult pattern to break.

In an effort to wrap my head around the impact that slacktivism has on social change, I sifted through articles on the subject. This article written by Scott Gilmore for Maclean’s debates the negative effects that slacktivism can have. Gilmore writes about how social media has made slacktivism even worse than it used to be, and how people who like, share, or retweet social causes are doing so to make themselves look good rather than to actually help the social cause. Gilmore states that “the real root of the slacktivist problem is biological. Our brain has evolved to reward us for perceived altruism” (Gilmore, 2014). While I do not agree with all of Gilmore’s opinions, I do think that this quote has some truth to it. I’ll admit that any time I am asked to like, share, or retweet a cause and do so, it makes me feel like I have accomplished something and as a result I feel good about myself. It brings me to question my own intentions. Why should I feel better about myself just for clicking a mouse? Shouldn’t I be solely focused on the marginalized groups that the click of a mouse is supposedly advocating for?

Gilmore advises readers to quit being slacktivists and to simply either donate their time or money to a cause instead of using social media as a crutch. Maybe this is the “slacktivist” in me speaking, but what if you don’t have the money? What if you don’t have the time or resources to donate to a certain cause that you’re interested in? Is it really better to do nothing just so as to avoid being judged as doing it for your own benefit? In her post The Death of Slacktivism Gillian Branstetter argues that slacktivism no longer exists. She writes that “millennials, once maligned as spoil and lazy, are now armed to the teeth with the benefits of a digital world” (Branstetter, 2016). The gist of Branstetter’s post is that social media allows for better organized and publicized social causes. Her post cites quite a few social movements as evidence for the extinction of slacktivism, including Black Lives Matter and #FightFor15 to name a few.

After researching slacktivism, I am closer to forming an opinion but nowhere near finished. Yes, the click of a mouse may seem lazy compared to donating money or time to a cause, and can lead to perceived altruism. However, if social media were to be eliminated from social activism, I think causes would suffer. Social media allows social change issues to gain greater exposure, and can be a beneficial platform for social change when utilized correctly.

Sworkit Yoga

As you may remember from my first learning project post, I chose to learn yoga because I wanted to start living a healthier lifestyle. Part of living a healthier lifestyle included becoming more active and eating healthier foods more often. While I have been practicing yoga often, I have been feeling lately like I need to include more physical activity in my life. I was telling this to a friend, and she recommended trying an app called Sworkit. Sworkit is a free fitness app that allows users to follow along with customized workout videos. I have been using it for about a week and am loving it! I have been using it for all different types of workouts, but the other day I decided to try the yoga portion of the app. Read on to learn what I believe are the benefits and drawbacks to this app.

A screenshot from Sworkit's website

A screenshot from Sworkit’s website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits: 

  • The app is customizable. Users can choose between four types of workouts: strength, cardio, yoga, and stretching.They can then either create their own workouts, or choose from premade workouts, and from there can customize how long they want to work out for. I love that I can create a workout that fits my lifestyle and ability level.
  • The videos are fairly easy to follow. I have tried just printing out workout plans and taking them to the gym with me, but a lot of the time I worry that I am not following the exercises correctly. By following along with a video, I am able to see exactly what I should be doing. This has made my workouts much more effective, as previously I would often give up or spend a lot of time just trying to figure out what I was doing. There are transitions between each exercise, and during transition time the screen shows what exercise to do next. I really like this feature, as it keeps me feeling prepared and motivated.
  • It’s free. I considered trying the Beach Body program or something similar, but honestly I’m just not willing to spend the money right now. Sworkit allows me to work out anywhere, at any time, in a way that works best for me.
A screen shot of Sworkit's "Light Warm Up Cardio" video. This particular picture shows what transitioning between each exercise looks like.

A screen shot of Sworkit’s “Light Warm Up Cardio” video. This particular picture shows what transitioning between each exercise looks like.

A screenshot of Sworkit's "Light Warm Up Cardio" video.

A screenshot of Sworkit’s “Light Warm Up Cardio” video.

While I am loving using Sworkit for MOST of my workouts, I did not love the yoga portion of the app. Here are the drawbacks I found.

Drawbacks:

  • The yoga video felt very disjointed. What I love about yoga is the flow from one pose to the next. This seems to make the poses easier and allows me to relax. I used Sworkit’s “Yoga Full Sequence” as part of my learning project, and it just seemed like they thought of as many yoga poses as they could and put them together. It’s hard to follow a yoga video where the videos are recorded by pose, not sequence. So for example, one pose would have me laying down and the next I would be standing up, without any flow from laying to standing.
  • There was no natural progression. I like when poses build on each other and progress from basic to more difficult. With this video, I never knew what would happen next. I found a lot of the poses to be very basic and below my ability level, but then they would randomly throw in a super challenging pose without any buildup to it… I’m embarrassed to admit that I hurt myself trying to follow some of the poses!
  • It was not soothing. As my learning project progresses, it has become less about getting in shape and flexible, and more about using yoga as a relaxation tool. It’s tough to relax when there isn’t a calm, reassuring voice explaining each pose, which brings me to my next point…
  • It was hard to follow. My favourite yoga videos that I have used throughout this project are partially my favourite because of the instructors. I have learned that I enjoy having someone explain the poses to me in a calm, quiet voice. This sets the tone for my yoga sessions. Sworkit does not have someone explaining each move.

The Verdict/General Musings

What I love about this project is that it is allowing me to try out a variety of resources that I otherwise would not have. It’s pushing me outside of my comfort zone. In the past when I worked out or practiced yoga, I would find one resource and just stick to it, whether I thought it was very effective or not. This project has made me see the multitude of resources that exist for practicing yoga, and I am loving finding new ones!

While I enjoy Sworkit for my cardio and strength workouts, I was not impressed with the yoga feature. I will continue to use it regularly, but hope to find better yoga resources. Besides the drawbacks I listed, I just wasn’t challenged enough. I love that I can feel myself getting stronger, and also love that I am continuing to enjoy yoga and all of the benefits it has to offer!

While using Sworkit,  I also discovered that playing music greatly benefitted my yoga session. I am constantly practicing yoga in different rooms and places (I don’t stay in one house or city for too long before going somewhere else), but wanted to see how I could make the environment more calming. I didn’t want dim lights because I wanted to take video, but decided to try playing some slow music and was pleased with the results!

Does anyone have any tried and true yoga apps, videos, resources, etc. that they can recommend? I am always willing to try something new!