RE: The Boy and His Dog

I love stories about children and about dogs, but this story is beyond love. The story of Owen Howkins and Haatchi, is a simple love story between a boy and his dog. I must thank Blogging with Friends for showing this to me, because it is something that truly changed me.

When Owen and Haatchi came together, two lives were changed. Haatchi, a three-legged Italian shepard helped Owen live a new life. Owen suffers from Schwartz-Jampel Syndrome, which constantly puts Owen’s muscles in a tense flexed position. Before Owen’s family adopted Haatchi, Owen was scared of all strangers, not wanting to communicate with anyone. Owen knows that it was Haatchi that changed the way he felt about people, now Owen will go and speak to anyone about his best three-legged friend.

Haatchi was found hit by train after being tied to the train tracks, but then brought into the Howkins family. Owen and Haatchi have a unique bond, Owen’s mother stated that “It’s almost like [Haatchi] understands.” Bonds between humans and man’s best friend are indescribable at times. Dogs have some odd ability to know exactly what’s going on and understand how to help out.

If you want to check out some more amazing dogs check out CNN’s Article of five amazing dogs.  Follow Owen and Haatchi on twitter @HaatchiHD.

Thoughts on Twitter

Matthew Moore, 3/2/14

The rapid and widespread popularity of Twitter has never ceased to amaze me. I acknowledge that it is a platform for wide-spread communication of ideas from one person to another person who could be many miles away they will never meet. I have never understood though how conversations on Twitter work though. I have been told that it is a veritable platform for communication and that people have had long and fulfilling talks with others via Twitter, but I do not know how they do it.

Over the last month I have been trying to address people in my intended future field, writing and English, via Twitter, but I have been unsuccessful. I know that I cannot honestly expect everyone I tweet to look at and address every tweet that they receive. Some of them clearly don’t respond to anyone other than friends, and I must admit, I am the same way. I would send out tweets to various Professors and others that seemed to be in the writing filed, but I was only meant with a torrent of silence.

As I was tweeting though I began to notice a number of things that kept bothering me as I was trying to compose my messages and find new people to address. First off, I was spending a bizarre amount of time composing these tweets as opposed to any of the other tweets I was doing. Most tweets took me less than a minute to bring them to a point that I was satisfied to shoot them off to whomever their target was, if anyone. But for these tweets, it would take me at least several minutes to settle on a message I thought was adequate enough to send.

I suppose the key idea that kept popping into the back of my head while I was writing to these people was, what are the rules? In face to face social conversations, I am well acquainted with the rules; stand a respectable distance away, don’t raise your voice except for emphasis, maintain eye contact, ect. Talking on the internet though, I was completely clueless. How long am I supposed to wait for a response? How formal or informal should I be with someone I have not met? What is a casual topic to start conversation with? There just too many things I simply did not know. This lack of knowledge of how to speak online threw me completely off and I can’t help but feel as though it negatively influenced my ability to speak online. This is bizarre to me.

I myself have written about how it is supposedly easier to speak online that off, and yet here I found myself stifled. Without proper knowledge of what the community’s rules are I was paralyzed and unable to speak effectively to others. Normally I would have tried to learn the rules through observation, but I did not notice a significant amount of conversations while I used Twitter. I suppose I just did not have a conversation focused experience with Twitter, and as such there was nothing I could observe.

I feel bad about this to be honest, as I’m unable to comment on how to represent yourself for twitter in a positive or a negative light. I suppose I could make a comment on the importance of learning the rules of any online community you engage with, but that would feel hollow without any advice to give. Perhaps there are no uniform rules across Twitter and it is more dependent upon who you speak to on Twitter. If you know the person then, I suppose you should speak to them there the same way you would respond to them in real life. If you’re addressing a person you aren’t familiar with, try to remain respectful. I’m sorry I can’t add anymore to that. 

RE: Leadership and the Workplace

Leadership, it is truly all around us, there is always someone at the head of the pack leading their team members on. Will you be that person? @yseguinotWRT tweeted an article on Leadership, I wanted to break it down and bring in other ideas to give everyone a whole sense of leadership, along with how and where to use it. Leadership can be used in all aspects of your life; work,organizations, friends. It is how you use it in these places that shows if you are a good leader. Leaders strive to solve problems and create long lasting solutions, but there are somethings leaders do not realize they must also achieve while problem solving.

1. Constructive versus destructive communication

When communicating with others you want it to be an honest conversation, false statements are not valued when it comes to growth (self, corporations,organizations). Honesty is always the best policy.At the same time constructive communication needs boosts people up, shows that them that what they are saying is important and valued.  Conversations needs to be consistent, leaders need the communication to keep the positive growth consistent and the negative side effects to a minimum. Having open communication with your team members shows that each of them are valued and that their input is important, which leads us to…

2. Seeking input

You cannot just assume that people are going to come right up to you and tell you what is going right and what is going wrong, as a leader, you need to step out of your element and ask questions. Ask your team members, in groups as well as one on one, what things is the team and you the leader are doing well. Not only knowing the things that are going well are important, but knowing what things aren’t doing so well, where can you improve. Oftentimes, the boss has one on one sit down with their employees to evaluate them, to seek input on your own leadership have those same sit down but ask your team members how you as a leader are doing. Everyone can always improve. Showing your team members that their thoughts are important show that you trust them. Creating a team where everyone voice is heard will make everyone work that much harder because they know that it is on them just as much as the leader.

Seeking input can get hair and messy but that is why leaders have to do it. Everyone must dive into the comments that we often might not want to here, we must…

3. Engage in difficult Conversations

Criticism, it can be good and it can be bad, even constructive criticism can be taken in a negative way. As leaders we have to put ourselves out there and get uncomfortable. If you aren’t uncomfortable yet there is always more that you can be doing. The difficult conversations can included multiple subject, the most common one is team accountability. In a team everyone must do their part, so what should you do when someone is not putting in their one hundred percent. In the most respectful way, you have to sit them down and have an honest conversation of their role in the team. A leader must address problems with people directly. Do not make a production of the problem at hand,

As a leader you must realize that these conversations are not meant to be mean. They are only meant to help improve each member of the team.

A good leader is constructive, seeks input and can separate logic from emotion. To put leadership in a great way is Drew Dudley. He talks about how leadership can be an everyday thing, just check this out:

Re: Social Media Tools

I am not going to lie, being enrolled in this module really opened my eyes to the many apps, widgets and devices (whatever you want to call them) that the internet now offers to us. Being your standard 23 year old girl my internet activity tends to be focused solely on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. for personal and recreational reasons.

Social Media Examiner listed “29 Social Media Tools Recommended by the Pros” and it really surprised me by how many tools there are for expanding off of those popular social media apps (shareroot). I also surprised by the usefulness they serve in their own way (pocket, anyone?).

I think the only one I’d add on is hoot suite. I heard about hootsuite in a meeting for sports club presidents and how to promote their clubs. They recommended hootsuite because it lets you manage all your social media apps at once! If you are captain of the soccer team you might want to let people know when the game is and hootsuite allows you to put that on Twitter and Facebook at the same time. You can even schedule ahead of time when a post goes up, like a week before the game or 24 hours before the game.

I am glad I got to take this course that introduced me to some really useful apps for finding good resources that can help me with my education and beyond! #tfws14 for life!

This post inspired by: @TheJennAdams tweet

Re: Gender Equality

I really enjoyed Maggie’s post on an article about a girl losing her faith in religion in order for her to accept gender equality. These types of post are very eye opening and inspiring to me. I can relate to her in the fact that through life we all faces challenges and things that push us to an edge. The only thing that helps us at that point is to trust yourself and go with it.

I think the author of this article is someone who is a good candidate for speaking for gender equality. She is effective because she has seen both sides of the situation. She was raised as a biblical literalist and struggled to find herself outside of those beliefs. Someone who might not have that experience may very well not think twice about the societal roles men and women play.

This article really made me think ad I hope to read more about the same subject.

Re: The wrong way to teach grammar

Yesiris from class recently tweeted a short article posted on the Atlantic about the most effective way to teach Grammar. It seems the old way of repetitive pencil to paper exercises don’t prove themselves well. It seems one study even showed three separate students with different strategies to learning grammar. The third group was never provided grammar lessons but given creative writing lessons. Not one exceed the other except it seemed the two groups that had grammar lessons despised it!

I agree with the backwards design way to teach grammar through writing, rather than writing from grammar. I definitely think this almost makes learning the grammar a more personal experience for students. This is because they are learning from their writing and not a unified lesson that they may not understand. I would say it is considered differentiated learning because it’s a personal approach to how children learn. The way children learn grammar through their work makes it almost automatically streamlined to fit them. They will learn it and incorporate it into their writing by their terms not by “correct terms.”

I feel with the rules of grammar, you feel forced to write a certain way with a certain voice. Hopefully this approach is picked up by other schools and institutions to help give students their own voice in a still legible, intellectual manner.

Is your LinkedIn profile your friend or foe?

As a newcomer in some aspects of social media myself (I just recently got a twitter account less than a year ago) some places of the internet have still been left unexplored by me.

One of those is a LinkedIn profile. I have never taken the time to do so because I did not know if my educational or work background was profound enough to start one. However, after stumbling upon this article I am glad I have never started it yet!

It seems as though many people entering the online realm of professional profile making may have been daunted, confused, or bored by the entire process and left it unfinished. With that being said your online reputation is already being judged by future employers from your “unfishined business.”

Stephanie Sammons, the author, explains that doing a Google search of your name probably results in your personal sites first such as your Facebook or Twitter site. This can hinder you if you have not yet started and completed a professional profile such as LinkedIn.

As the author says “If you don’t define your online reputation, it will define you.”

So what I learned from reading this piece it is that it’s important to sit down and put some time aside to really revamp your online image especially right before going out to search for a future career. Knowing myself personally, I know I  have not completed my educational journey yet, so that part would be left unfinished. When the time came around for me to graduate and to go out to get a job, would I have remembered to polish up my LinkedIn profile or would it have gone forgotten?

Another great quote from this article I enjoyed was: “Your online reputation precedes your offline reputation in the digital age.” 

With that being said an unfinished profile might result in a potential employer thinking you are insufficient in starting and finishing projects. As time goes on technology will be more and more included in the hiring process and it’s important to cover all your bases and know how to present yourself professionally online.

To make sure you are taking the right steps to creating an effective online profile, you can check out another post I made featuring a checklist of important things to include in your LinkedIn page.

http://blog.wiredadvisor.com/is-your-linkedin-profile-harming-your-reputation/

RE: Get Digital, not the Devices

Looking through my twitter I found that @laurenaleonard posted an article. 7 Ideas for going Digital without devices by  lists seven way you can get connected digitally without using devices. Instead of listing them here, I am rather going to try each one out.

Youtube and Youtube Channels: Personally I love youtube, I could spend hours on it watching things educational and inspiration or I could spend that same amount of time just wasting it on dumb videos. Personally this is one of my favorite videos hands down, take a moment to watch it you’ll feel better about yourself.

101Q’s:
One hundred and one questions is an interesting website, they show you a quick video

Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 1.14.20 PM

Mystery Skype:

The concept is simple: classrooms Skype call each other and try to guess where the other classroom is located either in the United States or in the world.On the day of the call, students use their resources in trying to figure where the other class is calling from via Skype.

Connected Classroom:

Classrooms can connect via Google Hangout to go on virtual field trips, some are to aquariums, zoo’s and outerspace. Some future field trips include a virtual field trip to President Lincoln’s Cottage and a Museum field trip in honor of African American History.

Class Voice Blog:

What if you could give every one of your students in your class a voice? With a blog each student can expresses their views and opinions. Try using Kidblog to get your students involved in what is going on in the classroom, this is also perfect for the shy students in your classroom.

Twitter Tuesday:

Twitter can be used just like a blog, but a shorter, quicker way to get your students voice’s heard.

Plickers:

Plickers is a feedback system used inside of the classroom. Students do not need any sort of electronic device or even a clicker, just a piece of paper that has each students own personal barcode. To find out how to set up plickers and manage a classroom, just watch this video:

Cyber Bullies in Games

Matthew Moore, 15/2/14

Cyber bullying in this context would be a direct form of harassment from one person online to another. Accoding to an article on nobullying.com the rate of cyber bullying is on the rise. About twenty-one percent of children between the ages of eight and elven have been the victim of cyber bullying. Given what I discussed earlier relating to social media making targeting an individual easier, it is not hard to see that it could enable a cyber bully to more easily find targets, particularly those that play online games.

Online gaming, in the simplest terms, is the practice of playing a game over the internet. In recent years this has become a natural and welcome part of many gamer’s experience and the existence of online play is just commonly accepted in multiplayer games today. The inherit problem in playing with others online, especially when anyone can join the game and play, there is the possibility of cyber bullying.

One angle of the cyber bullying problem is that the bully may not even know that they are being a bully. One of the more well known forms of online play is the expanding genre of the massively-multiplayer-online-role-playing-game (mmorpg). In these games players are encouraged to role play, meaning, they pretend to be someone else. According to nobullying.com, “When children play these games, they often become immersed in the behavior of the game and may engage in cyber bullying without even realizing it.” The problem here is how immersed should the player get, and how should they represent themselves while they are pretending to be another person? While yes there is a cathartic effect of pretending to be someone else, it is easy to lose track of yourself, and with the online disinhibition effect a player can quite easily slip into negative behavior.

I’ve already talked about how communication through the internet can produce a disconnect between the harasser and the harassment they are giving out because of their online handle. Some games encourage a disconnect similar to this by way of role play. Many mmorpgs, at least the ones I have personal experience with, seem to not encourage players to role play with the world, but rather use this as an excuse to just be a terrible person. I should note that this is usually an unintended effect on the players, and it is limited to my perception. While it is only implied in other games that you should act differently, in a role-playing-game it is actively encouraged.

The problem comes from that players can remain largely anonymous. It can’t even be believed that one character will build up a significant name in an mmorpg, as many of them allow player to have multiple avatars. The player can have some characters that are perfectly nice and cooperative, while they can have one character made to harass and grief others.

“Griefing” is a more poignant form of negative actions in online games by way of direct player interaction. A griefer is a person playing the game that is not interested in the objective of the game, and instead focuses their efforts on making other players miserable. This can come in a variety of forms. For example, there is the action known as “camping.” When camping, one player keeps killing another player when they are in a weakened state, usually after recovering from a character death, and repeatedly kill them until the griefer grows bored, or the victim gives up and logs out.

Considering the popularity of online game among children cyber bullying can lead to more than a few problems. Nobullying.com offers some tips on what parents can do about their child being bullied or their child bullying others. These tips including such things as, knowing what games your kid is playing, talking to them about cyber bullying, and restricting your child’s access to games that have a reputation for cyber bullying. The problem is that almost all of the tips they give can only be given by the parents, and many parents tend to not be vary wary, or interested, in the games that their children play. Even if parents are, there is the inherit problem that you cannot control the actions of the other players. The only advice I can really give is to pay attention to what you, and possibly your children, are playing and to act responsibly yourself.

RE: Sexualized Females

Matthew Moore, 2/15/14

On a classmate’s blog, Gendertainment, I read an article that covered the representation of women in video games and I can’t help but be reminded of how female gamers are reacted to online. Typically speaking, women gamers tend to meet with a fair amount of negativity when they try to interact with other gamers on the internet. One insult that is usually thrown at them is that they are a “fake nerd girl,” a girl who only pretends to be interested in video games and/or other typically nerd associated media.

This assumption that any girl who expresses an interest in nerd associated media is a “fake” tends to color their perception online. Female gaming journalists constantly field questions along the lines of, “Do you really like video games?” They have to constantly prove themselves online and perform under scrutiny from gamers at large. One only needs to look up much of the scandals surrounding Anita Sarkeesian to see a prime example. This is a woman who was threatened with rape and murder for having the audacity to have a Kickstarter to fund a web series about tropes surrounding females in video games. 

The representation of women in games is rather suspect, and it is not favorable to how women are looked at in the larger gaming community online. The blog post goes on to indicate that, “Female characters in game are often portrayed with stereotypical gender roles such as ‘brazenly sexualized beings and objects of sexual desire.’” The sexualization of the female characters tends to not favor women and gives video games the impression of being nothing more than a boy’s club, complete with “no girls allowed” sign.

One statement that I draw some problems with the blog post was the statement that “sexualization of female characters is empowering.” Now, I recognize that this is an opinion, and I respect the author’s right to that opinion. However, I must disagree. From my observations, sexualization of a character, female or male, in and of its self is disempowering and not good for characterization. In almost every case of this I have seen, there was no reason for the woman to be scantly clad, other than to appeal to the “lawl boobs” crowd.

This is not to say that sexualization can’t be used to represent a woman well, but there needs to be some deeper reason for sexualization. I watched an anime called Witchblade, which I do not recommend, and the main character is wearing about two square feet of clothing in her transformed state. In a vacuum I would say this is pointless and some-what misogynistic. In the context of the anime, it could be argued that this representative of her overall lack of choice in her life and how the magical macguffin of the series has rendered her into an object, both metaphorically, and literally. The sexualization spoke to her character, though I am largely positive that this was not intentional, given other examples of sexualization in the anime.

Occasionally I hear the question of “how do I write a good female character?” This statement to me is largely systemic of the problems women face in how they are represented. This statement seems to assume that all women must be written in a particular way in order to be considered “good.” This assumption is problematic in itself, but the bigger problem is the sheer number of people who don’t see it as a flawed question. They view it as a legitimate query that should be answered in order to produce better characters. Think about all of your favorite characters. Now how many of them are defined by their sex, gender, or how they are sexualized? For the most part, the answer will be none. This is because characters that are defined by one or more of these qualities tend to lend them selves very easily to stereo types. Stereo types tend to not lend them selves to memorable or well written characters, and neither does rampant sexualization.