RSS Feeds: The Jury is Out – Weekly Blog Post 2


Ghodke, S. (2010).
Retrieved from

At the close of another session of sampling the benefits and advantages of the digital world in which we live I am wondering if I am streamlining my processing or merely adding layers to my connectivity.

This week we explored RSS readers (one piece of new learning was that RSS means Really Simple Syndication –hmmm). We set up a Google reader and added a number of feeds. I liked that at least I knew what an RSS feeder actually was.

Given that I take another digital course where we are required to connect with fellow bloggers, (and cite from their work) this felt like a simplified way to follow them. For example, here is a link to a fellow learner/blogger that I cited this week in my musings about copyright and creativity. I also added a couple of blogs from our own ADED1P32 cohort and one from a Canadian “home cook” with this drop-dead delicious recipe for ButterCream Icing   (not that I can eat much of this anymore!). I also added a couple of news sites as I am a bit of a news junkie.

I was left questioning the inherent benefits of the reader. I know that in the video we watched Welcome to RSS in Plain English we were told that the old way of surfing the net is old and slow. In using a reader we are changing the information flow from outward by us, to inward, for us (if that makes sense!). As this relates to my personal learning environment I see that I have placed the reader icon in my information exploration category.

Well, I also see this – my reader is rapidly filling with new information. But I am also left to wonder if the constant influx of information is helping or hindering me. I added the Toronto online newspaper The Toronto Star to my reader, as one of my sources of current events. Today there was an article that examines the impact of 24/7 connectivity on our brains and on our stress levels. Tapper (2013) cites research that demonstrates our immersion in all things online is altering “our relationships, our brains and sense of self.” Further, he notes that our ability to process information through hyperlinks such as that which we obtain when scrolling through our readers, is hindered because we are retraining our neural networks to absorb information in a “distracted, piece-meal” way while we are diminishing our ability to “read deeply” and potentially “not very clearly” (Carr, as cited in Tapper, 2013).

Right now my reader contains 313 items, all of which are sent to me. In the very short term I am not sure that I am finding this tool better than my bookmarks. I can see that I need to live with it, play and learn more.

However, in terms of my digital literacy, truly understanding the underlying use of an RSS reader means that I am continuing to grow and develop in my knowledge and skill base as they relate to my PLE.  This means that I can stay current to the digital world around me.

Right now the jury is out – let’s check again in a few weeks!

Tapper, J. (2013, January 26). Turned on, tuned in but tuning out? The Toronto Star. Retrieved from–your-brain-online


Digital Footprints: Great Learning, Indeed!


CC image courtesy johnnyberg

Once again, I found myself at an intersection between my learning (formal) and my professional practice. This session, in both of my own courses (in which I am enrolled) we examined our online or digital footprint. The digital footprint is defined as the “information left in cyberspace about someone (Ribble, eVersion, p. 29).I reflected on the why’s or why not’s as to how much or how little I engage and how I try to protect my online persona. This blog posting in my New Media course captures a great deal of how I feel in terms of digital communication, especially around the challenge of incorporating basic netiquette in our interactions. Read here and you will get a sense of the online me and how I am somewhat conflicted in what I disclose.

However, I strongly believe in the correlation between fundamental Netiquette as a practice and being a ‘good digital citizen’ (Ribble, 2011)  in the online world in which we are now living. We have been asked if we want a digital footprint. I believe that if we engage in any sort of dialogic online communication, it is inevitable. Ainslie (2009) does an excellent job of synthesizing the merits to educators of the value of staying engaged digitally in order to enhance personal, and therefore, student learning. He also gives excellent suggestions as to how to easily set up ways of monitoring our own digital footprint – something that I have not yet done (and find a wee bit daunting!)

Ribble (2011) states that all of us must learn and practice within the norms of the digital society (eVersion, p. 3). I agree. How then can we continue to promote the inherent advantages of managing our online presence? Once again this week, I was confronted with overt Facebook bullying between my (post-secondary) students. Of course, this engendered a multitude of feelings and conversation from all sides, without any judgments being applied.

To me, this is understanding the digital footprint in action. Our Netiquette readings this week (which BTW, should be required reading for anyone engaging in online interactions) ask us to “remember the human.” If we consider the impact on those around of us of what we say in person, then we should consider the impact of our digital interactions. We must also consider the impact on our own digital footprint when we engage in a way that may not represent us in the best possible light.

In a world where cyberbullying is receiving widespread attention and where misdeeds can be transmitted with the forwarding of a screen grab, or a Tweet or a smartphone photograph, maintaining a positive digital footprint should be something to which all of us ascribe.

Great learning and development for me, indeed!

PLE’s: A New Concept

My Personal Learning Environment. That is a term with which I had been unfamiliar until completing the readings and the viewings for this session. I work on a regular basis in a learning management system (LMS) in order to post work for my own students and to interact with them, albeit less in a less dialogic fashion then I would like. This has been made abundantly clear as I view the embedded tools in our own Brock LMS system, Sakai, and the work done in the courses  in which I am currently enrolled.

Cann (2007) defines a personal learning environment as “a system that helps learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to set their own learning goals, manage their learning, manage both content and process, and communicate with others in the process of learning.” His slidecast, (in Slideshare) provides an excellent overview of the rationale for the examination of one’s own personal digital  practice, but what resonated most with me was his assertion that learner control of learning in the Web 2.0 world in which we are currently situated needs to be a foremost consideration for today’s educators. Given that I am a post-secondary teacher, I can see that the two digital literacy courses in which I am enrolled are not a minute too soon! One of the points that Cann made that was highly instructive, was the flexibility that a personal learning environment afforded learners (and less control by the teachers). One of the reasons that I have completed most of my degree in an online format is the flexibility that this type of learning has offered me

The tangential benefits of this review of my practice as a student of this Learning in a Digital Context course are not lost on me. The various tools and activities which we examined as a part of this lesson are excellent resources.

This PLE was constructed in good, old Word. I explored both Popplet and Gliffy and did not feel comfortable in either one. I will need to go back and examine them to see if I can better master what they offer. It shows the type of digital activities in which I engage; primarily communication, research and information collection and dissemination and my somewhat more nascent attempts and curriculum development and project management using a variety of online tools.

PLE Image

Callaghan, A. (c) 2013.  


PLE references



New Tools in Action: Wordle Journal

This is my first attempt at a journal that has been transformed by Wordle. It explains my rationale for taking this course (entitled Learning in Digital Contexts) and the convergence in the learning that I am seeing between two media-based courses  (the second in New Media Literacy – goal to support my learning and degree completion and to enhance my skills in teaching marketing and advertising courses in my work life – see home entry) that I am completing this semester. One emphasizes skills and the other knowledge so they provide a very good and balanced set of outcomes.

While this is not my first attempt at a word cloud, it is the first time that I have integrated more than just key words or concepts. In this case, I wrote a journal entry that examined my learning after the first week in this course. One of the sort of ‘aha’ moments for me was in the realization of what I don’t know. I consider myself relatively literate in that I use many forms of technology in my work and personal worlds. The number of tools that currently exist to support digital learning are in some ways, overwhelming.

In fact, the randomness (if there is such a word!) of the graphic probably represents a truer version of my place in the online world in which we live.

Wordle Journal - Session 1

Callaghan, A. (c) 2013.