All posts by Bill Genereux

A Dog Not For Everyone

We saw this great commercial on TV recently featuring a man and his dog, selling State Farm insurance. Whoa! That dog looks just like our dog Daisy!

I later learned it is NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Australian Cattle Dog, Rigsbee.

And yes, our Daisy is the same breed of dog as featured in the commercial.


My wife Wendy looked up on Google what kind of dog it was in the commercial, and found this article which made her laugh out loud: Please Don’t Buy This Dog! The author talks about how high-energy the breed is and how it is a working dog bred for herding cattle.

That’s why my wife was laughing so much. I am outside every day, usually twice a day, exercising the dog so she won’t destroy our home.A simple walk around the block is nowhere near enough. She’s a runner!  One of the only ways I’ve figured out how to get a good enough work out for her is if I take her along on a bike ride.

I have to take her every day, rain or shine. Today she and I went for a run in white-out blizzard conditions. I wish I would have thought to take a photo from today because it was crazy! Instead, you’ll just have to see this video of me and Daisy going for a run last summer. Just imagine this video with me instead wearing insulated coveralls, gloves, and a hooded parka, and you get the idea.

Tech Savvy Students? Not So Fast!

Are there really educators out there who assume that our students are digital natives and highly tech-proficient? That’s a dangerous assumption to make. The research that I’ve read (Kennedy et al., 2008; Kvavik & Caruso, 2005; Schmidt, 2010), and research that I’ve done (Genereux, 2014) points to the fact that the more technologically complex a task is, the less likely it is that our students know how to do it.

Take for example, posting a photo on Snapchat. It is a much lower technological leap to use a mobile app and a mobile camera device than it is to publish a photo on a web page using HTML like was required in the early days of the web. Apps simplify everything, and almost no technological acumen is required.

What about publishing a video? Again, if they are using an app like Snapchat or Instagram, it is no problem. But if it requires using an editing program like Adobe Premiere, and uploading the edited video to YouTube, far fewer have done something like that.

It is no great secret to those of us who are teaching technology, that our students in general, are bringing minimal tech skills with them that they’ve already acquired. Of course there are exceptions, and we always have some enthusiastic learners who have some deep technological knowledge. However, true tech virtuosos fluent in a variety of technologies are few and far between. Typically, if one of my students has a deep understanding, it is in a narrowly defined area that they’ve spent a great deal of time exploring.

The article Students Say They Are Not as Tech Savvy as Educators Assume is the first time I recall seeing that students themselves say that

in order for high schools and colleges to better serve them, it is important to challenge the assumption that students are digital natives.

Just because a person is technology dependent does not mean they are technology experts. I’m completely dependent on my automobile. I drive it every day. I know a few things about how it operates. But I am far from being a car expert.

The good news is we live in an information-rich culture. If we want to get better at something, chances are good there is already good (and often free) information out there that can help us to get better. Mostly this is about being curious and having the will to learn something new. I think it is up to educators to help students to make connections about how relevant some of these technologies are, and how useful it might be to learn them.

References

Genereux, W. E. (2014, June), Student-Made Video Projects in a Computer Technology Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/23063

Kennedy, G. E., Judd, T. S., Churchward, A., Gray, K., & Krause, K. L. (2008). First year students’ experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives? Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24(1), 108–122.

Kvavik, R. B., & Caruso, J. B. (2005). Students and information technology, 2005 : Convenience, connection, control, and learning. Boulder, CO: Educause. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ers0506/rs/ERS0506w.pdf

Schmidt, H. (2010). Media creation and the net generation: Comparing faculty and student beliefs and competencies regarding media literacy within higher education. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Proquest dissertations and theses – full text. (UMI No. 3408757).

Social Media Benchmarks

measuring heightIt is good to make records of where you stand, just so you are able to see growth over time. As a kid, I made marks on my wooden closet door to track my height. I was such a slow growing kid, it took me several years to grow six inches!

I wish I had thought of doing this when I first started out using social media. I would have seen a lot of rapid growth in the early days, followed by some years of stagnation while I worked on my Ph.D. Now that that project is completed, I’ve started some online activities back up again. So I can track my progress this year and into the future, here are some benchmarks of where I stood in January of 2018.

Twitter

On my Twitter account @billgx on January 20, 2018,  I had tweeted 15.7K times, having 3101 followers and I followed 2814. I had 5175 likes and was listed on 41 lists. I also noted that I had posted 644 photos and videos. I had 0 moments, as I don’t know what moments even are.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a newer form of social media, and I haven’t been a very active user on that platform either. Below is a snapshot of my LinkedIn profile information.

On January 20, 2018 I had 711 followers on LinkedIn. I also had 29 profile views, 124 post views and 3 search appearances. At this point, I don’t really know what time frame those stats occurred in, whether they are over the last month, or since I joined LinkedIn. My profile strength was listed as Intermediate.

billgx linkedin profile

YouTube

Out of all of these, I’ve used YouTube the longest. For some reason, I have two YouTube profiles, billgx and bgenereux. I seem to remember this forking happening because I couldn’t recover the login to my billgx gmail account and I wanted to use gmail, so I made a new account bgenereux. Interestingly, I still have full control of billgx on YouTube. I just can’t read billgx’s email for some reason.

billgx has been around since 2006. In twelve years, I’ve had 1.3 million views on my videos, 626 subscribers, with a total of 144 videos uploaded. Last month, 22,790 minutes of my videos were watched, with 42,559 views counted, and 62 new subscribers added.

billgx youtube stats

My Bgenereux youtube account gets a lot less attention. In January 2018, I accidentally started posting videos related to the DIGME406 Social Media class, and just kept going with them. So I’m going to benchmark it to see what happens with this new activity.

On bgenereux, I currently have a lifetime total of 888 views and 0 subscribers. I had 203 minutes watched during the past month, and 79 views. On January 20, 2018 I had 12 videos uploaded on this channel.

Bgenereux 2018 stats

Facebook

I’m also including information about my billgx Facebook profile. On January 20, 2018 I had 900 friends on Facebook. I used to have more than this, but I’ve done some housecleaning and removed some people I don’t know and I know some people have “unfriended” me as well.

900 Friends on Facebook, January 2018

I’m pretty open about who I will connect with on Facebook. I suppose it could cause me problems at some point. But so far, the benefits of being open to new connections with people I don’t know have outweighed the risks. It used to be that I knew everyone I connected with on Facebook personally, while nearly everyone I connected with on Twitter, I had never met in person. For the most part, it is still true of Twitter, but my Facebook friends have more virtual friends in the mix now than before, and I feel my network is improved because of it.

Post Every Day

The best way to build up an online reputation is through the regular sharing of original content that provides benefit to others. Ideally, you will post every day, or even multiple times a day. Only through regular posting and sharing will you build up a library of stuff you have thought about and problems you have solved that others can see.

This habit of regular sharing has a couple of benefits. First, you might just provide a solution that can help someone else working on a similar problem. Also, you are showing what you can do to people who might have an interest in knowing more about you. An online portfolio of work that potential clients and employers can see is far superior than a resume or printed portfolio because it shows what you are working on right now (Kleon, 2014). If you can discipline yourself to make regular posts about the projects you are working on and problems you are solving, you are making yourself stand apart from the crowd.

Reference

Kleon, A. (2014). Show your work. New York, NY: Workman Publishing.

Social Media Tips

This is just a stream of consciousness thing I wrote a while back while reflecting on how to “do” social media. These are just my ideas. At some point I should polish this up, but I’m going to share it as it is now, so it doesn’t just reside in some file on my device that I’ll ultimately lose or forget about.

Onward to my hastily constructed Social Media Tips…

  • Don’t be a negative, be positive. Nobody wants to hear the negative.
  • Associate with great people. People who are better than you. People who are currently where you aspire to be. You will become like the people that you associate with. That’s the beauty of social media. You can associate with really great people. It’s never been possible to the extent that it is now with the internet. Why not find people you admire, people who know what you’d like to know, and connect with them online? 
  • Post regularly. There’s nothing that will enhance your success online more than providing a regular stream of valuable content.
  • To get more readers, to grow your audience, follow the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do unto you.”
  • Small Town Rules. (It’s the title of a book written by my friend Becky McCray.) Being on social media is much like living in a small town. Those of us who grew up in small towns have an advantage because similar rules apply in that setting. When people join social media they put themselves into an environment where everybody knows your business, just like in a small town .
  • Refer your own work for reflection. You can look back six months, five years, 10 years from now and see where your thinking was and how much you’ve grown as a person.
  • Establish yourself as an expert. How do you become an expert? Malcolm Gladwell famously suggested in the book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. So how much are you practicing whatever it is you wish to become an expert in? 40 hrs * 52 weeks * 5 years is just over 10000 hrs.
  • Avoid arguments. Discussions are ok. Once you sense you are talking past one another and no one is listening to the other point of view, it is best to bow out. I’m not sure anyone has ever changed their mind simply by reading a stranger’s opinion on the Internet. Most people are seeking information that confirms opinions they already hold.
  • Work on your character. Before you do anything, particularly if it is online, ask yourself if you’d be comfortable with this action being blasted around the world on various media outlets. Because if it is outrageous enough, it will be.
  • Be authentic. Show us who you are. Show your face and use your real name. The online world has enough anonymous garbage. If you know what you are talking about and believe what you are saying, there’s no reason you shouldn’t back it up with the real person behind those sayings and beliefs.

Like the Nicky Hokey Boys

Neki Hokey Boys

So THAT’s what she was saying! When I was a kid, sometimes my grandma would say my siblings and I were just like the Nicky-Hokey boys, and we never knew what she meant.

According to the Dick Tracy wiki, the father of the Neki Hokey boys

believed that a lack of discipline and traditional child-rearing would promote creativity and inventiveness in his sons, and they were given very little in the way of guidance and supervision. As a result, the boys were extremely rambunctious, disrespectful to authority, and difficult to control.

http://dicktracy.wikia.com/wiki/Neki_%26_Hokey_Ozone

People who know me well would probably say this sounds about right.

 

Blogging for a Decade

This spring will mark the 10th anniversary of my online social media and blogging activities. It has been marked with ups and downs, but I still do these things because I get tremendous value from my online participation.

I must have been excited to be at SXSW in 2008, because I signed up for Twitter in the wee hours of the morning.

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 11.08.00 AM

Of all the social media I have experimented with using, I would say that Twitter has consistently proven to be the most valuable to me professionally because of its openness. When someone is on Twitter, unless they have a private/locked account, to me it indicates a certain willingness to correspond with others on Twitter. To me, that represents endless possibilities because there is so much to learn and so many people to learn from.

This semester I am leading a group of K-State students in an online journey as well. We will be studying social media together in a distance learning class. I have a number of ideas I want to share as a result of my own online experiences as well as those of others who have succeeded and failed in the world of social media.

In preparation for the course, I’ve done a fair bit of reflecting on where I have been and where I am currently with respect to using social media and online tools. One thing I noticed right away is that I wrote a lot more back then than I have recently.

I may never get back to the level of where I was when blogging and tweeting was new and exciting. However, I did set a goal for myself to write 52 blog posts in 52 weeks in 2018. That’s at least one per week. Given that I have numerous blog post drafts that I began but never published over the past few months, I think one thing I need to focus on is just finishing what I’ve started. Clicking ‘publish’ would help.

Another goal I have for 2018 is to understand two social media platforms that I haven’t given a lot of attention to yet: LinkedIn and SnapChat. I have been on LinkedIn for some time, but really haven’t realized a huge value in using it yet. However, my recent visits to the platform tell me the environment is quite a bit different than when I first signed up for it. It feels more like a community of professionals, rather than simply a place to post your resume.

I want to learn more about SnapChat mostly because that is where young people hang out. Of course, I understand that is precisely why young people have forsaken Facebook for SnapChat in the first place, because they want to hang with people their own age. However, I am interested in learning more about what the young find so appealing in the platform. I’ve had a few quality exchanges on it, but I’m not very consistent about checking it. I’d like to up my game on that platform.

 

 

Movie Recommendation: The Mortal Storm

Mortal Storm film still

Occasionally the family and I go out to the theatre to see a movie. Mostly we just stay home because typically when I shell out hard earned dollars to see the latest thing out of Hollywood, I come home disappointed. Seriously, the ‘hit or miss’ at the theatre has become mostly ‘miss’ in my book. Earlier this year on Facebook, I complained about the awful Planet of the Apes movie that came out this sumer. Most recently, my family saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the local theatre. My kids loved it, but I was not impressed.

Mostly, over the past few years, while I’m home for Christmas break, I like to DVR a bunch of movies and watch them. I like to scan through the TCM offerings, and if the description sounds good I’ll record it. The other channels have some good movies too, but TCM’s are commercial free, and all classics that somebody somewhere has decided they are worth showing. I’ll watch a bit of the film and if it draws me in, I’ll watch the whole thing. If not, I’ll either watch something else, or I’ll take a nap. I have found some great films using this method, and also have taken some great naps.

This week, I came across a great show called The Mortal Storm. It featured some actors that I recognized, Jimmy Stewart and Robert Young, among others. It was set in 1933 Germany when Hitler first came into power. It was made by MGM in 1940, before the US was involved in the war in Europe, and was deeply critical of the German leader and his policies. I think that it is interesting how a Hollywood studio took a stand in uncertain times, and wonder if such a thing could happen today.

What struck me most, I think was the professor character who was arrested. I remember from my history lessons that in Nazi Germany all of the intellectuals, including the professors, who dissented in any way were rounded up and done away with. This was the first time I recall seeing that historical fact portrayed on film.

I wondered what it would take for a similar change of tide to occur in our country? How would I react? Almost everyone in the film seemed to buy into the new way of thinking. The professor’s family was split, with his sons aligning with the Nazi’s, while he and his wife and daughter held out against them. The daughter’s fiancee joined up as well, and she refused to go along for the ride.

I thought it was a very dramatic film with a compelling storyline. I could see parallels to what is happening in the world today. Our country seems very sharply divided along such different points of view of what is right and wrong. It is a little disturbing to wonder about the future. How many folks would stand up for what is right? How many would go along with what seemed to be the popular point of view, right or wrong as it may be?

If you get a chance to see The Mortal Storm, I recommend it. It will make you think.

Gingerbread STEM Challenge

Graham Cracker House by Vivian D. Nguyen
Graham Cracker House – Vivian D. Nguyen

This is a great STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and technology) idea that will appeal to students of all ages. I love this idea! Design and construct the important parts of your community out of gingerbread (graham crackers) with icing, candies and for the older students, circuits and programming. What buildings best represent your community? Represent them in edible form. And for those looking for an extra challenge, partner up with another group of students in a different community and video conference with them to learn more about their community.

Read more about the project at: http://gingerbreadstemcommunity.weebly.com/project-instructions.html

Search Twitter for #gingerbreadstem to see examples.