Connecting With Others

Well, this will officially be my final post for the EDTC300 class. My first semester of university has moved so much, that it’s almost overwhelming. EDTC300 is a class that I was looking forward to from the start, since I’m pretty big into technology, and it didn’t let down, even though it didn’t exactly hit my expectations. Learning how to effectively use technology in an educational manner is an important detail that we, as teachers in a modern world, need to know about. Connecting with other educators in an online world one of those details that I believe shouldn’t be overlooked.

With that, I’ll be going over the various ways I’ve connected with my EDTC300 peers over the course of the semester.

The way I felt most connected with my peers was through WordPress, and our blogs.

Through our blogs, I have been able to read and reflect on posts made by my peers. Even though I did a lot more reading than responding, it was still super interesting to be able to follow my classmate’s learning projects and blog posts. The learning projects were super interesting to follow since I could see the huge variety of things we were all learning, and the blog posts were also interesting because I could see alternate views to something that I portrayed in my own blog.

When I responded to my classmates on WordPress, I approached them differently depending on the post. For a learning project post, I tried to leave messages that were encouraging, and for regular blog posts, I posed questions to make the writer think more about the subject.

Some examples of my posts on the blogs

Another online community I – admittedly lightly – used was Google+. The EDTC300 Google+ page was a community for us to gather and ask/answer any questions we may have had with any project, reading, or otherwise. The way that I used Google+ was mainly to get a partner for the two-part argument assignment that I ended up completing with Luke Anderson (You can read Luke’s response here). We connected on Google+ and we were able to exchange phone numbers to discuss the assignment further. Google+ was a very simple way to get in touch with the entire class for quick inquiries.

Google+ post where Luke and I teamed up for a project.

The last big way we connected with each other through an online network was through Twitter. Through Twitter, we were able to connect with each other by sharing blog posts our other applicable links related to EDTC300. This was an easy, convenient way to share information with each other and connect with one another. Another useful way to use Twitter is participating in Live Chats, or more specifically for our class, Live Ed Chats. These chats let you connect with others in real time to talk about a specific subject set by the chat host. Ed Chats are a great way to connect with other educators from all over the world and learn from their experiences. It gives you a different perspective on things when you hear them from someone else who may not be a peer. Twitter is a great way for connecting with, not only your peers and fellow educators, but educators all over the world.

Some examples of connecting on Twitter.

All these different ways of connecting are, to be honest, a little overwhelming. However, all of these methods of connecting are extremely useful for an educator. It allows you to gain so many different perspectives on different subjects and views. Being able to connect with so many different people over the semester, purely through online resources, is an amazing thing that us modern educators should take advantage of in our classrooms.

And with that, this is the finale of my time in EDTC300. I wish the best to everyone continuing forward and I hope you all have a great Christmas, New Year,  2018, and foreseeable future!

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From Then to Now – Wrapping It All Up

Hello all!

Well, here we are. My final post of my learning project, the piano. In this post, I’m going be going over everything I’ve learned so far in my time with the piano, straight from day 0 to now!  I’ve come a long way since September, so I want to put everything I’ve learned into one blog post to close out the semester. So with that, let’s get started from the beginning!

Let’s start from the beginning of our piano journey and work to the end. Photo Credit: MFer Photography Flickr via Compfight cc

Week 1: “Oh look, another musical instrument!”

Week 2: “Learning How to Sit, Among Other Things”

Week 3: “Double Trouble”

  • Beginning to play scales/pieces with both the left and right hands simultaneously
  • Begin to search for my own piano to practice at home (up until this point, I was using one of the University’s pianos in the Riddel Center’s basement)

Week 4: “Another Week, More Progress”

Week 5: “Learning to Play An Upright is Pia-No Problem!”

Week 6: “Scaling Above and Below”

  • Tragically losing my progress video for the week!
  • Finally able to play C and G Major scales up/down the piano without any major mistakes
  • Conquered the ‘complex time signature’ piece from last week

Week 7: “Contrary To What I Thought, Scales Never End!”

Week 8: “To Do Good, You Really Gotta Tri(ad)”

Week 9: “Piecing It Together”

Week 10: “One Hand At a Time”

And that leaves us to this week, our final week! So, what have I conquered since last time? Well…

I learned the piece from Week 9 in both my right and left hands well enough to play it all the way through! It was a trek (especially the middle part of the song), but I was able to fully play it through hands together. I’m super proud of that.

Not only that, but I met my goal! Or at least, the minimum that I set for my goal. The minimum was to be able to play I Won’t See You Tonight Pt. 1’s intro on the piano in the right hand, which I was able to accomplish. I had also said I would have liked to learn the left hand part and play them together, but it ultimately proved to be a much more difficult task than I had thought. I WAS, however, able to play them separately, which is what I did for the recording in the video and I just put it together to make the overall sound better. The video is all of the right hand, however.

So, what have I learned about online learning in the past few months? Well, let’s go over it.

1. Variety is key.

While it’s great to stick to a specific resource for learning, it’s always good to use a variety if you’re trying to learn something. It gives you multiple perspectives and teaching methods, which may help you understand better. There’s nothing wrong with having one ‘main’ learning method, but it’s also good to have different learning resources, just for that extra perspective.

2. Consult ‘offline’ resources

You don’t need to completely rely on online resources! Researching offline resources, such as an instructor or a class, is also useful for the same reason I mentioned in the first point – variety. Not only that, but having face-to-face learning sessions, where the learning can be personalized to best fit you can also be a very effective method to learning as opposed to the “one size fits all” method you have when you consult online methods.

3.  Sharing!

Since we’re learning in an online space, it makes sense to share your progress in an online space, doesn’t it? Sharing your progress can be similar to consulting offline resources, where people may be more advanced in a certain area than you can help you out through an online medium. It adds the “face-to-face” value of offline methods while still keeping it offline. Outside of this, it always other people to watch your progress with you and encourage you. It’s always easier to learn something new when you have someone encouraging you from the sidelines!

Just some of the encouragement I received over the semester. Thanks guys 🙂

This closes my learning project of EDTC300. I want to thank Katia for giving me the opportunity to learn piano after wanting to for all these years, and I’m excited to continue learning piano in the future.

My Summary of Learning + How It Was Made

Hi everyone! We’re at the end of the semester, so it’s finally time for my summary of learning!

Now I want to go over how I made this whole thing, because oh boy was it a process.

My initial plan was to go kind of with the same idea I went with in the end, but instead of the “novel” type of thing I was going to video the whole thing and just chroma key myself into the ‘white void’ thing using a green screen. However, after a lot of testing, I realized without buying nearly $60 in lights, it wasn’t happening, the green screen just wouldn’t play nicely. So, I needed an alternative. That’s when I remembered that TyranoBuilder existed!

Image of my half-finished TyranoBuilder project when I was recording the voice lines.

TyranoBuilder is a really cheap tool that lets you create what is known as a “visual novel” without the need to learn coding. It’s a simple drag-and-drop program, similar to Scratch, but even then a little more self-explanatory. The coolest thing is that the documentation on this program is excessive, so if you’re ever confused about something, you can just look at the documentation and you’ll likely find the answer to any question you have.

Alright! So I chose to do a visual novel, I had a script already written up from my initial plan, now I just needed to do some voice acting! This was a HUGE process, since each individual line of dialogue needed it’s own file. The result of this?

The voice file folder.

58 voice lines. Add the one line that I forgot to record initially and you get 59. A lot, huh?

Once those were all in, I had to add in the sprites, which are just the still images of me that sometimes change expression as I talk. This was actually the easy part. I had a friend of mine take some pictures of me and then I used GIMP – a free image editing software akin to Photoshop – to edit the background out of the photos. Then I placed those sprites over the voice lines where needed, and presto!

As for the piano song at the end, I made that using a free digital audio program called REAPER, virtual drums called Superior Drummer, and a piano plugin called Addictive Keys. I made a simple drum beat, played a chord progression on the piano, then recorded the “solo” piano over all of that. It’s not mind-blowing but I think it serves it’s purpose as the outro theme pretty well.

My REAPER project for the piano song.

And that’s really all there was to it. It took a while to get started, but I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

Thanks for a great semester, EDTC300. Stay cool.

One Hand At a Time

Hey guys! We’re almost reaching the end of the EDTC300 class. It’s hard to believe we’re merely a couple weeks away from the end of the semester!

This past week I’ve been practicing the new piece I introduced last week, Canzonet. Specifically, I’ve been practicing the right and left hands separately and trying to get them a performance level that I think is acceptable. It’s been a lot more difficult than anything else I’ve played so far since I’ve started learning piano, since the rhythms switch between quarter notes, eighth notes, and even as fast as sixteenth notes which, up to speed, can be REALLY difficult. I’ve been trying my best however, and I’m getting closer and closer to what I can be happy with.

(video below is me playing through it in the right hand)

My plan for the next little bit is to focus mainly on Canzonet until I can play it fairly well hands together. After that, I plan to finally purely focus on my goal of I Won’t See You Tonight Pt. 1 that I set in my first learning project blog post. Thankfully, I set my goal to only be able to play the right hand part fluently, as I don’t think, at my skill level, I’d be able to play it fluently with both hands at the same time. However, I am changing my goal a tiny bit – I am going to learn the right hand part AND the left hand part separately, so I can play them both rather nicely. Then, using the magic of modern technology, I’m going to put an audio clip of the two together, so we can get a feel of what it would sound like IF I could actually play it hands together. It’s an unfortunate compromise, but one that I feel like I’m going to have to make for the sake of having it sound the best it can sound.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for next week where I’ll (hopefully) play Canzonet hands together!

Hour of Code: Learning How To Code, The Easy Way

Today, I took on one of the activities on the Hour of Code website. Hour of Code is a website with full of courses to learn basic coding through fun little mini-games.  You have tons of games to pick from, all of which can teach you very basic level coding that is rather common among the coding world.

The first screen I saw once picking my mini-game

Upon picking my mini-game – a variety of maze games – I was greeted with the above screen. As you can see, it starts off pretty basic. You drag the blocks on the left into the workspace on the right to make the bird reach the pig. Once you’re finished, you hit the run button on the very left and it runs the code, and if all goes well, you advance to the next level. Pretty basic, right? As you advance, the solutions to getting to the end of the maze become more complex, adding repeats, and if/else statements. However, it never really moves past “basic”, which is rather expected for something that’s geared toward absolute beginners.

When you come to a new level, if it introduces a new topic, you get a short video explaining how to use the new topic. The person introducing these topics are different each time, and range from Mark Zuckerberg to pro level NBA players. These videos are short and to the point, which is great for learning these topics. Something long-winded would just be exhausting to sit through and you may zone out throughout it.

Mark Zuckerberg explaining repeat loops.

So what do I think of Hour of Code? I think it’s a pretty neat way to introduce people to the world of code. I don’t think it’s an amazing teaching tool, but I think it’s a great gateway to dive into the world of coding, which is all it needs to be. Coding is super important in today’s world, as practically everything we do runs off code – websites, our phones, our computers, social media, and more. Using fun little mini-games like these are great ways to introduce people to coding, and may even convince some people to pursue it as a career. The world can always use more coders! Who knows, a coder that comes from Hour of Code might make the next big thing. Anything is possible in the world of code!

My hard-earned certificate.

Piecing It Together

Hello everyone! As we draw closer to the end of the semester, the way I start practicing the piano is also going to change a little bit. I need to start working on my goal, after all!

It’s time to truly start to become… a pianist! Photo Credit: MIKI Yoshihito. (#mikiyoshihito) Flickr via Compfight cc

This week has been more theory work than actually playing the piano. While I have been practicing the triads from last week a bit more, I have spent a lot of time working on a piece of music that I believe is called Canzonet, though I’m not completely certain since the copy I have has the top half of the title missing. It’s quite a different piece than any of the small excerpts I’ve been playing so far, since not only does the fingering change quite often, but the notes themselves are rather peculiar in key, with both flats and sharps intertwined. It’s quite nice sounding, at least from what I’ve been able to play through so far.

The piece I’m learning this week!

The little numbers written above the notes are the fingerings for that specific note. I mentioned fingerings for the first time in my second week blog post, but am just realizing I never really went into what that meant. Basically what it boils down to is the thumb is finger 1, index is finger 2, middle is finger 3, ring is finger 4, and pinkie is finger 5. The numbers on the page dictate which finger you’re supposed to use to play each note. So, for example, the first two notes of the piece are played with the thumb and then the ring finger.

That sums up what I’ve been doing this past week. Since it’s mostly been theory, I’m going to be saving a video for next week for when I’ll be able to hopefully play the piece with at least one hand. After that, I’m going to start working seriously at playing my goal piece.

Until next week!

What’s Real? What’s Fake?

In our society, fake news has always been something that has plagued the online and offline community. However, in the time leading up to the 2016 U.S. Election, and the time after it, fake news has been increasing at an alarming rate. As time goes on, it gets more and more difficult to differ what news sources are real and what is fake.

How can we tell the difference between fake news and real news? Photo Credit: Christoph Scholz Flickr via Compfight cc

Fake news is everywhere around you. An article by FirstDraftNews says fake news is sometimes shared “unwittingly by people on social media, clicking retweet [or share] without checking”. I have seen this first hand on my own Facebook page, where people I am friends with will share something either without even clicking on the article (and just sharing it from the headline alone) or without realizing it is fake news. More often than not, however, there is someone already in the comments telling the person of their mistake, which is followed by the original share-er saying “Oopsie!” but not doing anything about it, like deleting the post. Not everyone always checks the comments, so other people coming across the article may also fall into the believing this fake article and spread the information. This cycle repeats over and over until the news spreads like crazy, and many times some people aren’t even aware it is fake news until it’s too late.

A Stanford study talks about an exercise they performed on different levels of schooling (middle school, high school and college) to see how these groups reacted to things such as fake news, and the results basically boiled down to the majority of people in each of these groups were unable to differ real news to fake news. This study goes to show how imperative it is that we begin to teach students methods to determining what news is real and what news is fake. One way we can do this is to encourage students to look for sources if they find an article that seems suspect or surprising. If something seems off or unrealistic, it very well may be (though in a post-2016 U.S. election world, it may very well be real!). Check what resources the article used to check the validity of the claims being made. If these aren’t sufficient, look up other articles that may be making the same claims and check their sources. If there aren’t any sources, or the sources listed don’t back up the claims made in the article, you can likely claim the article is fake.

Some things to consider when determining if something is fake news. Photo Credit: IFLA via IFLA Blogs

It’s also important to just use some common sense and to be extremely cautious of anything you read on the internet. The internet isn’t a place full of pleasantries and truths; it’s one filled with falsehoods and doubt. Never take anything at face value on the internet; always do your own research before jumping to conclusions.

To Do Good, You Really Gotta Tri(ad)

Jesse here, back again with another title that just makes you wanna tell me to stop!

Please, just tell me pia-NO. Image from Pixabay.com

This week, my focus was on chords! Specifically, Triads. Chords themselves aren’t entirely new to me, as I was playing chords in the Radiohead song I played in last weeks learning project video. The triads that I’ve been looking at, however, are a little different. The chords I played last week were chords that were played among both hands, whereas the triads I looked at this week are three note chords played with one hand. They’re a little tricky, especially once you start getting into scales with many sharps or flats in them, since you have to position your hand a little awkwardly, but they aren’t too bad once you get used to them.

I’ve been working on these triads in a few different keys, specifically C Major and D Major. There’s also G Major, but its triads are the exact same as C Major just because of how triads are built. As musictheory.net puts it, a triad is built up of the root, a third, and a fifth. In my case, I am doing major triads, which ends up being built with a root, a major third, and a perfect fifth. This might sound like random jargon if you don’t know what this means, so if you’re curious about it, I would recommend reading this small post on musical intervals. If you have no prior experience to music it may be a little daunting, but I just recommend reading it if you do want to know what all of this talk means.

Triads is really all I’ve worked on this week, so with that, I’m going to sign off. Next week, I hope to learn a part of a new piece of music, so look forward to that. See you next week!

YouTube in the Classroom – Discussion

[This is part of a 2-part blog post I wrote with Luke Anderson. You can find his post by clicking here!]

As technology has been progressing over time, it’s use in a classroom setting has become more and more commonplace. When you enter a classroom, you can almost guarantee that you will see at least one computer, if not more, and other technological items, such as a SMART board. The introduction of technology also brings along the resources that come with it. One such resource that I believe is an extremely useful tool for the classroom is YouTube. YouTube is a video sharing website that has hundreds of billions of hours of video that ranges from pure entertainment to educational. The educational resources that are available on YouTube are extremely useful for many different reasons, such as providing a different look into a topic that may have already been taught, but just from a different point of view. This can be helpful to students learning as having something explained to them in more than one way may be better from them to fully understand a topic that is being taught in class. The pros outweigh the cons when it comes to using YouTube in the classroom, there are just rules that need to be followed to make sure students stay safe while using it.

When it comes to YouTube’s content, there is concern with what kind of content students will be finding and on whether they will be using YouTube for its intended purpose or not. In terms of content, if students are using it for the purpose they have been given which I believe, as teachers, we should have a little bit of faith in our students or at least be supervising them frequently. As long as we supervise them to nudge them onto the right path if they do happen to be goofing off, worries of inappropriate content shouldn’t be an issue if they are sticking to the topic they are looking for (which should be school appropriate anyway). As for students using YouTube for its intended purpose, that isn’t a YouTube specific issue. Students can go off topic on an assignment and not work on it/do other things even if they’re, say, writing an essay or doing a Math assignment. This also boils down to having some faith that students will stay on topic and, if not, we as teachers need to nudge them back on topic so they do not fall behind in their work.

Some have recommended alternate websites to YouTube, such as ROVER, to alleviate any possible concern of coming across inappropriate content while browsing YouTube. Even though we’ve established that, if the student is on topic, the possibility to come across inappropriate content isn’t likely, I still feel like this point should be addressed. The problem with a website like ROVER is that the videos are hand-picked. In theory, this sounds good, as all the videos are curated and are assured to be of quality. This is the heart of the problem, however. The amount of content, both educational and non-educational, that is being uploaded to YouTube each day is outstanding. The number of videos on a website like ROVER, while curated, pale in comparison to the amount of good, appropriate videos on YouTube. While I think ROVER would be a good tool to use alongside YouTube, I don’t think it should be used as a complete replacement, since YouTube has so much to offer in terms of educational content that ROVER just can’t offer.

In the case of a website like YouTube, the pros outweigh the cons. The potential behind a tool like YouTube is simply too great to be set aside due to a few overexaggerated concerns. Using YouTube, teachers can enhance their learning in ways that were once never thought possible. Bringing in resources from all over the world, teachers can explore different ways to teach their students to allow them to better understand the things they are being taught in school. YouTube is a beautiful tool that should be used to its fullest potential both in and out of a classroom setting.

Contrary To What I Thought, Scales Never End!

(Video at the bottom of post!)

Welcome to yet another week of my piano learning escapade! This week is going to be a little weird. In my blog post, I’m going to leave all of my writing to just this past week, but in the video following this post, I will be talking about this week AND the past week (since I lost my video footage for what should have been the video in my last weeks blog post).

So this week is a little slower than the last. Last week, I had pretty big breakthroughs in being able to play two scales and a difficult piece rather fluently, this week was all about a new different way to play scales – Contrary Motion.

What is Contrary Motion, you might ask? Well, it’s basically the opposite of how I had learned to play scales previously, which is in what is called Parallel Motion. In Parallel Motion, you play the same note in both hands one octave apart, either up or down the keyboard. So for example, in C Major, you would play C, D, E, etc. etc. in both hands at the same time all the way up the scale, and then all the way down. In Parallel Motion, you use the same fingers on both hands to play. This will make it so you’ll play C on the thumb in the same octave, and then in the right hand, you will play the next note up with your second finger (which would be a D), and in the left hand, you will play the next note DOWN with your second finger (which would be a B). This leads to a very different, but nice sound. It’s also rather simplistic to play!

Example of Contrary Motion. By Memoryboy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Outside of scales, I’ve started to delve into learning actual pieces of music! At the very least, small excerpts of music. I decided to try and learn the intro to “Everything In It’s Right Place” by Radiohead, which has a piano part that I am particularly fond of. I found a video on YouTube that used a program called Synthesia, and while the rhythms aren’t correct in the video, the chords are and that’s really all that matters to me, since I already know the rhythm. I’ve not completely finished learning the song yet, I’m still working on getting in my head, but it’s coming along and I should hopefully have it a lot better by next week.

This is all for this week. Hopefully next week I’ll have much more progress to report on.

See you guys soon!