To pay or not to pay? That is the question.


I took some pictures this week, but lots of them failed. And by failed, I mean that they were either completely black or completely white. On the plus side, I can google to find out what went wrong and find sites like 99 Common Photography Problems and How to Solve Them.

However, I decided to venture out and pay for a class. I am sure that I could find all of the same information for free on the Internet, however in last week’s EC & I class, our prof Dr. Alec Couros, mentioned that people are more invested if they pay a little bit.

I ended up paying a bit more than I wanted to for a Craftsy class: Basics of Digital Photography. The reason that I went with a Craftsy class is that I originally saw it on my Facebook feed and one of my friends had liked it and when I looked into their classes I saw that you could start anytime and that you had access to the videos from wherever whenever. I also read the reviews and though they might not be accurate, they seemed to be positive overall. I was a little annoyed because the cost of the class kept changing, I ended up paying $41.20, but I also saw it for $47 or $55 on the mobile app. I have watched the first three lessons so far out of nine.

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One thing that I did accomplish this week was sharing my photos. Last week, I said that my goal was to share my photos to the Saskatchewan Scenery Facebook page and I did.

sask scenery dslr


I also shared one of the same pictures to Twitter:
tweet sunrise

Another thing that I realized is that I learn best when I have to teach so here are a couple of short videos on ISO, aperture and shutter speed:

ISO video:


Shutter Speed:

Have a great week!


Googling Yourself Has Its Ups and Its Downs


I googled myself again today. My digital footprint actually looks quite different than it did before I started taking EC & I 831. Before this, it never actually occurred to me that I could have some control over my digital identity.


That’s a picture of me when I was 8.5 months pregnant to the left. Sadly, the picture in the bikini is most definitely not me, but I am glad that there seem to be other better looking versions of myself!

In the past when I googled myself, I would find my Facebook & LinkedIn profiles depending on my privacy settings, but what I would always find is the site. Of course, I made the mistake of reading the reviews and though there were many positive reviews there were also some very nasty ones. I was a young high school math teacher and I focused much more on the negative reviews- almost to the point of obsession and self-doubt. I certainly made mistakes when I was first starting out, but seeing a few harsh reviews was not helpful. It occurs to me that for the most part only students who either love you or hate you would take the time to review you, but I take criticism quite badly. Thankfully, now that I have been teaching longer I do actually receive occasional messages of thanks through Facebook or virtually. I am actually happy that there are no ratings of me on ratemyteacher in my current position and that the nasty ones are under my maiden name I think.

Apparently I am not alone googling myself. We read several articles for our EC & I 831 class this week. They were on the subject of digital identity.   Reputation Management and Social Media by Mary Madden and Aaron Smith was the article that I enjoyed the most. It pointed out that: “57% of adult internet users now use search engines to find information about themselves online.” Another article was about landing your  Dream Job Using Google AdWords and it describes how Alec Brownstein paid to use the names of creative directors so his name would come up in searches.

I actually googled “googling myself” and found out that a couple of years ago there was a trend of people googling themselves and putting the results on YouTube for the world to see.

I even found this little snippet from a show I didn’t watch, but it’s pretty funny:

The videos I found of people googling themselves were either of people I did not recognize (they might be famous, but they are way younger than me) and had a lot of inappropriate words so I will not post them here!

The same article that I referenced above: Reputation Management and Social Media, also mentioned people googling their friends and people from their past. In addition, according to the same article 18-29 year olds are much more careful with the content that they post on-line than those of us that are older.

Another interesting thing that came out of my “googling myself” google search is the following page about managing your online reputation:

google yourself

Who knew? I had no idea that there was even an option to go through the steps that Google suggests. I knew you could un-tag yourself in photos, but that was about the extent of my knowledge.

In today’s world, it will be imperative that our students have a positive digital footprint because the hiring world is much different than back when I was trying to land a job. It is very easy to search on-line these days and it can have a very positive impact or a negative one.


Facebook and my Photography Learning Project


How does Facebook relate to my photography learning project?

Well, it does in a lot of ways.

The first way is that one of the groups that I am a member of, Saskatchewan Scenery, inspires me to admire other photographers’ work. I mostly sit back as an observer, but have uploaded two photos off of my iPhone to the site:

sask scenery kronau sask scenery sunrise

Though I have not officially made a rubric for how I will evaluate my learning in this project, I would be happy if I felt that one of my DSLR pictures was good enough to upload to the Saskatchewan Scenery Facebook group.

Despite having read websites and watched videos on photography, I had quite a few failed shots again this week. I tried to take pictures again at my children’s gymnastics classes. They turned out dark and blurry. I did not want to use the flash because I did not want to flash the athletes as they were practicing (I accidentally did a couple of times before realizing it!) On the plus side, when I took a flash photography class fourteen years ago I remember the instructor telling us that only one shot for every seven would be a good one. I think my ratio is actually better than that with my DSLR already. I do get some completely black shots though.

I posted some of my failures on Facebook for my friends to comment on. Many of them take pictures on the side or are quite proficient with their DSLR’s. I got feedback right away. My friend Carlie lives in England and she posted numerous on-line sites to my feed. I then FaceTimed her and she gave me some pointers and suggestions. It turns out that I was mixing up a couple of the functions of the camera (P and M).

facebook fail statuscarlie facetime

Here is Carlie’s photography Facebook page.

I also posted some of my shots that I thought were good to my Facebook page to see if I get any feedback. I am starting small with my Facebook circle of friends, family, former colleagues and former students (well there are 417 of them so maybe it’s not that small), but I am sure that there are many sites that I could seek out if I need to post my pictures for more feedback.

My friend Carlie who I FaceTimed with sent me lots of links and also suggested a couple of on line photography classes. I am going to check them out. Two on-line class websites that I have now looked into a bit are craftsy and Carlie recommended the Flying Photo School.

One of my close friends  Jen (aka Nabi 21 on flickr)is quite good with her DSLR and takes lots of pictures of my family for me when she is visiting. Here is one of her shots of her dog nephew Theo:


photocredit: (I do have permission to use this photo)

I love how Jen was able to focus on the dog and get such a cute expression on his face. It is not easy to focus on children or pets since they move so much so I will have to learn how to work with my shutter speed. I also love the clarity of this picture.

Another friend Nanc Price is a scientist by day, but takes pictures professionally by night. She works with the Edmonton opera. I am in awe of her talent.  Here is a picture of her and one of her photos:


(photo credit Damien Coroller, photo provided by Nanc)

nanc tea cup


I love this still by Nanc. I love the focus on the teacup and the blurred background. She tells me that she took this picture at a candlelight event. I do not know how to focus that sharply on an object and blur the background yet so it will be a goal.

And finally here are some of my pictures that I am happy with this week:

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4memory card for class 113memory card scenery pics 032 memory card scenery pics 037

I think I am going to write another post with more of my favourite photos, but for now I will sign off! Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any great tips for learning photography on-line!


Copyright, copy left, creative commons, free?


The articles for our EC & I 831 class this week focus on copyright, creative commons and open education.

These issues are hard to navigate around as a teacher because things are changing so rapidly and have changed immensely since I started teaching.

Right now I am home with my son who has picked up norovirus, I am sure that it is the same one that has hit the campus. None of us have been on campus lately, but it is hard to contain a virus at one location just like it is hard to contain copyright images and materials on the web. Students may not understand the difference. Information is going back and forth and being downloaded onto the Internet at an immeasurable rate.

As a teacher, I try quite hard not to break copyright, it is actually becoming more difficult now that we are expected to use resource-based learning instead of just focusing on one textbook per subject area. Creative commons and Open Education could help me immensely with resource-based learning (although I have to translate most things into French anyways…). In fact, I often use YouTube videos, TumbleBooks and other true French resources when I am teaching because I want students to hear what a mother tongue French speaker sounds like as they are learning.

A few years ago, when I was still teaching high school, we actually had someone from one of the copyright offices visit our school  and keep track of everything we photocopied. It was actually pretty creepy. We called him the copyright police.

One thing that I am actually always wondering about is music. I know that YouTube videos can be taken down if the music is copyrighted. I found this site where you can find royalty-free free music. I am sure that there are many others out there, however when I searched for free music, I got more sites about royalty free music than actual FREE music.

I don’t imagine that most of the tunes are the current top 40 ones that the teens like though. I also realized that “royalty free” is not the same thing as “free.”

One of the videos that we watched for class addresses the fact that it would be good if there was more available in creative commons spaces. Larry Lessig is the speaker of the TEDtalk and the lawyer who founded creative commons.

We had to watch one of two other videos this week, but this subject fascinates me so much that I took the time to watch both of them. Both videos also features Larry Lessig, the lawyer who gave the TEDtalk above.

RIP: A Remix Manifesto

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

The video above was heartbreaking to me to watch as a mom. It describes the life of Aaron Swartz and his eventual suicide. He was obviously a prodigy who knew much more about computers from an early age than the rest of us. However, the government went after him for downloading journals. The potential penalties seemed enormous.

I do not know exactly where I stand on the copyright issue. I am an extremely rule abiding person. I will not even speed. However, that has more to do with my fear of breaking a rule and being pulled over than being against speeding (well now that I am a mom I am against speeding, but I digress…) I pay for all of my songs on iTunes. I even pay for the shows I watch on iTunes since I no longer have cable. I may have downloaded one or two songs on Napster back in the day, but that was the extent of my knowledge. It is actually hard today to adhere to copyright laws now that we have gone to resource based learning and we do not have a textbook for every student. We also do not have a device for every student.

I do think that students are going to keep copying and pasting their favourite images off the Internet and dancing to air bands of their favourite songs. There should be some leeway for educational use. If I understand correctly, a teacher would be breaking copyright every time he or she shows a popular movie in their class unless the division has paid for a license (my last division kept track of the films we showed so I think they did pay somebody somewhere something…)

It is a tricky road to navigate. How do we find the middle ground between intellectual property, paying artists, scientists and researchers a wage and transmitting information that could be lifesaving or the new cure to a disease? Creative commons and open education are certainly part of a solution to this problem, but not the whole answer. Thoughts?


ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed


ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed

I have been going in so many directions with my photography learning project that it is actually hard to slow down and write a blog about it! I have found many resources online.

My classmate Lori Duke responded to my blog post and recommended an app called CameraSim for $1.99. I downloaded the app which lets you practice taking pictures with your DSLR. This is what the app. looks like:

IMG_4877 (2)

The app gives you a moving photo and you have to change the settings to snap the picture.

When I found the Camera Sim app I also came stumbling across an app from Canon, the make of my camera, called Master Your Canon D-SLR. I have been looking for a similar video series online and couldn’t find it so I was very happy to find the app. It is broken down into 40 mini lessons about using your Canon camera. All of the lessons are between one and three minutes which is perfect for me. I paid $13.99 for the app. and it was well worth it.

canon2 canon1


In addition to watching the videos and experimenting with the apps, I have been practicing with my camera. I decided to take pictures of a car I made out of my son’s Laserpegs since they light up and flash. I was quite proud of myself for building the car since it’s not easy! Here is a Hyperlapse video of me experimenting with ISO:

(Sorry, the videos are quite fast, it was my first time using the Hyperlapse app.)

Here are the pictures:

ISO 100

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ISO 200

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ISO 400

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ISO 800

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ISO 1600

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Here is a video of me experimenting with aperture (AV):

What I have learned is that the aperture is how much the lens opens so it controls how much light comes into the camera. The smaller the number, the more light actually comes in.

Here are some of the pictures:


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F 5.6

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F 6.3

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F 8.0

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F 9.0

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F 10

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Here is a video of me experimenting with shutter speed (TV):

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I actually ran out of room on my memory card and the baby started crying so I did not finish the shutter speed video. However, my camera goes all the way up to 1/4000. I have learned the hard way that shutter speed is what I should be adjusting when I am trying to take pictures of moving objects.


I have been making a tonne of mistakes, however that is the way that you learn.

This was me attempting to take a picture of the gorgeous moon the other night:

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I tried to take pictures of my children at gymnastics and made the mistake of adjusting the aperture instead of the shutter speed:

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Here are some shots that actually turned out and that I am proud of:

sunrise feb 25 033 sunrise feb 25 020 sunrise feb 25 012




Self-Trolling Teenagers and Mental Health


For our EC&I 831 class this week we read a few articles and the one that I found the most interesting was the one about teenagers who troll themselves:“Why Teenagers are Self-Trolling on Sites Like Reddit.”. It is a new form of self harm that I had never thought of. As a teacher I am seeing more and more and more issues with anxiety and mental health. I do not remember students dealing with these issues openly when I was a student at all. Now I even work with coworkers who are very open about their struggles with their mental health which is a very good thing. I am seeing students who are unable to attend class and who hide under desks all day or sit on the couch in front of the office. I have been involved with quite a few students who self harm. I have seen students that are suicidal. Thankfully we have been able to intervene in the vast majority of cases. It recently occurred to me that I probably have some anxiety myself and have quite a few panic attacks now that I’m a parent. However, what made me able to deal with it when I was younger compared to some of my students are completely overwhelmed? Is it the difference in society today? Is it the social media access. Is it the latchkey kids?

It can be very hard to access the mental health system. They are very caring, but overworked professionals from my experience. I am not sure how to fix it but I am sure that some of these kids hide out in social media and on the internet. Teenagers who troll themselves on the internet are probably doing it for the same reason that other teenagers self harm: as a cry for attention and for validation.

I just watched the documentary by CNN called being 13:


It was an interesting documentary the ties into the subject of this blog. It is amazing to see how much social influence social media has on teenagers. As a parent it actually terrifies me since my children are young right now, but it won’t be that long until they will be influenced. What can I do as a parent to make sure that my children are not getting hurt by their posts and those of others? Is it the same as when I was a kid? Is everyone a subject to bullying these days? When I was watching it seems like the victim changed quite fast and everyone could get hurt. What can we do as a society to make sure that our teenagers and children and young adults are able to navigate these waters? I think that the best answer is to use social media in class and to teach about them efficiently and effectively. I have had students as young as nine or 10 thinking suicidal thoughts or self-harming because of messages they have received through Kik messenger or services like Yik Yak. We have seen students as young as grade 3 and 4 conversing with adults in sexual ways from school and home. Sites like 4Chan described in another one of this week’s articles:“Absolutely Everything You Need to Know about 4chan, the Internet’s Own Bogeyman” scare me because they let people be anonymous and hurtful. It’s like when I read the comments on articles about teachers. Everyone comments about how lazy we are, how we get the summers off and how we should be doing things differently. It’s funny sometimes to see posts that the public “like” about how things have changed at schools when we have actually been doing those things as teachers for years.

Conversely, social media can do a lot of good. There are a lot of social justice campaigns like We Day that teenagers can get involved in. Social media can also influence opinions. For example right now perhaps it can change Canadians’ perception of residential schools and possibly lead more Canadians to read the TRC report. Yesterday I watched a video about Ellen inviting an autistic barista to her show that many of you have probably also already seen:


Social media can highlight the abilities of some people that we used to considered disabled. So there’s certainly plenty of positives but how do we accentuate those and try limit the negatives so that teenagers do not feel a need to self-troll?

I definitely can’t “Snapchat Like a Teen”


I am frequently in trouble from my husband and sister for being on my phone constantly. I guess it’s a way for me to feel connected to the world. Thankfully, our professor Alec Couros posted an article on Twitter yesterday that made me feel better about my addiction to my phone: The Disconnectionists. Most of my friends and family live in other cities so I post a lot to Facebook and keep connected that way. I have recently been on Twitter much more due to my EC & I 831 class and I’m finding it finding it interesting professionally. There are many  interesting articles. In the past I used Twitter mostly at all the EDcamps that I attended.

After reading the article: “My Little Sister Taught Me How To “Snapchat Like the Teens,” by Ben Rosen I downloaded Snapchat. I notice a lot of my friends already had Snapchat especially if they were parents to preteen or teenage children. I still don’t really understand the allure. I can definitely say that I do not know how to Snapchat like a teen. In fact, it took me awhile to figure out how to get rid of this notification on my phone:


I did finally figure it out though. I sent a couple of snaps to my friends, but most have not even opened it or responded. I still have a lot to learn, I don’t even know how to sketch over the pictures 🙂 My colleague who is much younger than me did send me a story so I did see that.

It occurred to me to Google about Snapchat tutorials and this was the first one I came up with:


I did find this interesting video though:

I imagine that I would be the friend with the baby who Snapchats and sends nothing but baby pics! (yep, so far this is actually the case….)


A lot has changed since I taught high school five years ago. At the time we had a NO CELL PHONES rule. And by no cell phones, the school meant no cell phones in class, no cell phones in the hallway at breaks, no cell phones at lunch. Cell phones were supposed to remain in students’ lockers.  I remember it being a battle every single time I was on lunch duty because everybody had their cell phones out and I was one teacher against 1800 students. It seems like a battle that was never going to be won. In fact, if I had to make a personal phone call I would close the door of my classroom and hide in the corner so that the students would not see me. Other teachers blatantly broke the rule and would text and be on their phones in class, but would not let the students do the same thing.

Social media certainly has changed the way that I communicate and interact with my friends. Some of my Facebook friends are from high school and I was not in close contact with them anymore however when I moved back to Regina I was able to reconnect. I was very glad to have kept the connection open. I also have some former students on Facebook now that they’re adults and I find it very interesting to follow their journeys and their travels and their successes. It does, however, make me feel old to watch them get married and have children.

It really is amazing how much has changed not only at the high school and elementary level in just over 5 years, but also at the University level. I finished my Master’s degree in 2009 and the only on-line courses that I took were delivered by e-mail. There were no interactions with the other students, it was just communication between the professor and me for the most part.Usually my online classes were just used to fulfill graduation requirements for classes that had not been offered in awhile.

I finished the requirements for my inclusive education certificate last year. I had started it thirteen years ago. When I started back at the University of Regina, suddenly all of my classes had a URCourses component even if they were face to face. I really enjoyed being able to see who was in my class even before arriving and also being able to see notes, assignments, send e-mail and chat. All of this was totally new to me even though it had not been that many years since I had finished my M.Ed. in Manitoba.

It will be fascinating to see how fast and how far education changes in the next five years.