A story of my name

Let me tell you a story…

When I was 5 years old I changed my name to Harmonica Goldfish. The motivation behind that is still a bit unclear but the context was that my family had just moved to Manhattan and I spontaneously told the new children I met at the park in front of our apartment building that my name was Harmonica Goldfish.

Once the laughter subsided as children started knocking on our door asking for Harmonica Goldfish, my mother convinced me I should change my name to Patricia instead, since that was actually (and still is actually) my full name. That my new teachers would call me that but may not call me Harmonica Goldfish. I accepted that and was known as Patricia when I started school.

Most people call me Tracy now so sometime between 1973 and now I reverted back to Tracy. I imagine things gradually shifted back towards Tracy during the year…or at least when we moved back to Montreal the following year, when the reason for our year in New York – my father’s fellowship with Cornell University – had come to an end.

At one point in my 30s I worked at a school where everyone called me Patricia for about 5 years. Don’t quite remember how that happened. Towards the end of that same period I began and completed a Masters program, where people called me Patricia. Gradually, by the end of the 2-year program, I think I began to be known as Tracy again.

This little story of my changing name makes me think of the line, “no matter where you go, there you are.” I could try to mark a new start somewhere with the changing of a name but when it comes down to it, I am Tracy. I am me. And with that comes all of the qualities that brought me to where I am now – mainly a strong desire to create hope for the future through education. A tenacity when it comes to an idea that I believe fosters that hope.

I’m good with that.

Teaching as an act of optimism

I gave this blog a little facelift, using a modified template I’m using over at Camping Out that I like. I think it looks nice and fresh, just like the gorgeous day I’m having today on my day off this week :) (I work 4 days/week). At the same time I changed the quote I use in my byline to

Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.

It’s attributed to Colleen Wilcox and rings true for me.

I’m wondering what it stirs in others? I invite you to reflect on it. Does it ring true to you as well? Why?

The Changing Face of Economics Class (and advertising)

**cross-posted at AdultEd.TracyRosen.Com**

The idea of advertisement is in constant evolution. It is becoming more and more personal. Google’s ads are streamlined to reflect our search queries and sites like facebook do the same thing.

Test it out. Do a search for something specific on Google. Like a particular kind of shoe or boot. Then log into facebook and lo and behold, the ads will suddenly be geared to just those shoes you were looking for!

Just the other day, I heard about an app called Aurasma that brings static advertisements to life with your SMART phone. Someone with a SMART phone can not only view these ads but can create their own as well. More and more, companies rely on us for their advertising. If I talk about how much I love my new x, y, or z on facebook or twitter, I am helping out the company by effectively advertising to all of my contacts.

If advertising is so much more than the print, radio, or tv ads of yore, how do we teach about it?

I’d say it’s essential to read about how it is changing. And to bring that into our classrooms.

Adweek.com is a good place, with a lot of content about the latest trends in advertising.

Facebook’s New, Entirely Social Ads Will Recreate Marketing by E.B. Boyd at Fast Company, a company with, “… a focus on innovation in technology, ethonomics (ethical economics), leadership, and design. Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders…”

AllTop Advertising – a collection of the top read advertising articles from across the Web.

Another thought. How could these changes be reflected in the assignments we give our Economics students? Do you have any ideas? Do you know of anyone who is already integrating new advertising techniques into their class assignments?

Adventures of a Paradigm Shifter

Guest Post – an educational consultant and staff leader reflects on using an iPad for the first time. This post is cross-posted at Maria’s iPad Blog.

Yes...

The iPad came out of its box looking simple, unassuming and seemingly without controls – using this, I was promised, would become a “paradigm shift” for me: it would simplify my computer tasks when away from the office. I was dubious at best and not a little bewildered — you see, I was one of those (few?) who made it a point not to use a computer when not at work – yes, I’m a 50 something technical neophyte who uses a computer because I have to in my work as an educational consultant and staff leader in the Adult General Education programme at our centre. It was becoming obvious, though, that I needed another tool to help me easily access the ever-growing mass of documents and information overload when away from my desk — a different kind of laptop? I wondered (I envisioned myself easily clicking away on a slimmer, lighter version…). My director, however, convinced me to try a tablet instead…tablet? As in Moses and the tablets? Gaming tablets? (I felt like Moses!) So I did a bit of research and discovered that a tablet “combines the features and portability of a smartphone” (I have a cell phone, but it’s not one of the smart ones) “with the power of a laptop – the best of both worlds in one sleek device” — so there it was in front of me, a sleek device that I wasn’t sure what to do with.

Moses and tablets

Image from Contracast, click for source.

In a previous mini-introduction to the iPad, I had learned that it used touch-screen capability so I anticipated problems for work-related use. Luckily, an important tool that helped me transition to using the iPad tablet was a separate keyboard – in my case, the Zagg 2012 version. Setting up the keyboard to “recognize” my iPad turned out to be satisfyingly easy (I accomplished this myself!), and after that, it looked like I had a mini-laptop in my hands.

The first thing that really impressed me was how quickly my iPad turned on: a light press of the side button and a “slide to unlock” (though at first, being left-handed I tried to slide left…) revealed a screen full of intriguing “apps” (I had heard about those) such as “Notes,” “Calendar,” “Reminders,” “Camera,” and “Safari” – I started feeling optimistic…these sounded like promising allies in my technical adventure. I had been instructed to go to “Settings” and enter my password in order to access wireless internet at home and I was nervous about that…what if it didn’t work? But it did – the indicators were clear and simple. I was also encouraged to start exploring on my own, so I cautiously began: what better app to start with, I thought, than “Safari” — a light touch of the compass symbol and I was immediately brought to a screen that offered a Google search. Okay, then – what to look up first? I had just been talking to my husband, Gerry, at our kitchen table about how communication technology was changing so quickly (social networking and Twitter), and he expressed his view that even someone like F. Scott Fitzgerald (one of my favorite writers) had been kind of “tweeting” almost a century ago, as evidenced in his notebooks. Notebooks? I had read all of his novels and short stories – how could I have missed his notebooks! So I typed in “Fitzgerald notebooks” and got a list of several options: I touched the entry “The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald” and was rewarded (at our kitchen table) with the complete text of this work! Also, I was able to manipulate the size of the print by touching the screen with two fingers and spreading or narrowing the distance between. Gerry had made an interesting point: Fitzgerald’s entries in his “Notebooks” were similar in nature to what you could find on Twitter today – reflections, comments, observations – imagine, I added, what he could have done with a tablet…

postscript – the author tells me this post was written using Evernote on her iPad.

to pin or not to pin…

I wrote about how much I like(d) using Pinterest just last week in Pinterest for Teaching. About how excited I was about its potential for sharing resources and even professional development, of a sorts. It’s so exciting, it’s almost addictive.

And then 2 things happened, maybe 3.

  1. I had a conversation with some people at work.
  2. I read this article.
  3. I realized how clumsy the service is.

  1. I recently started working as a tech integration consultant at a school board with two adult education centres and one of the things I did in preparing myself to begin last week was to start collecting resources about adult learning. I began a little blog (soon to be moved to the school board’s servers) and I started pinning, inspired by other educators who were pinning collections of resources on their own pinterest accounts.

    I told our technology director about this and his reaction to it all was that was all fine and good BUT. And the but had to do with preservation of information.

    Pinterest is a neat way of collecting resources, there’s no getting around that. It harkens back to my high school bedroom wall, which was covered in pictures torn out of magazines, quotes I loved from the books I read, and posters from the albums I listened to. That bedroom wall was my private sanctuary and pinterest is about sharing those things – at a rapid speed.

    The other night pinterest was down, just as I was writing that post I referred to at the top of this one. A major concern that was outlined in this conversation I had with our technology director had to with saving resources on an outside server. What happens when/if they decide to shut it all down, or something horrible happens and their servers crash in a major way. Or. Or. Or.

    Part of my job is to share and organize resources for the people at our centre. They need to be able to have access to them without the worries that they may one day disappear. I get that. And when I am putting a lot of energy into a search for resources I want to make sure they are somewhere that can be found in the future.

    (one could argue about the transient nature of web-based resources to begin with, that they are all renewable in the sense that they change at a propulsive rate. And that the web search itself is a thinking tool so a collection of resources may not be the holy grail that people are looking for…)

  2. In The Reason I Just Deleted my Pinterest Account, Jeff Dunn talks about copyright issues and how Pinterest is saving its butt by pushing all consequences to the user. Now, I think this actually makes sense. Pinterest is just a vehicle and users should be aware of stealing images from others but many users aren’t. And no one reads the terms and conditions of registering for online services. They just don’t. So I’m wondering how many people know that they could get sued by Pinterest if anyone comes after Pinterest with a copyright infringement lawsuit.

    Even though I think it makes sense, at the same time the very nature of the service Pinterest offers encourages copyright infringement. And that makes this all pretty shifty to me.

    (once again, one could argue about copyright and copywrong, about who information really belongs to once it makes its way out of our heads and into the world but in the meantime, copyright infringement lawsuits are very real and costly things.)

  3. Again, when I was putting together that post I reference at the top of this one about using Pinterest in education I lost a resource and just couldn’t find it again. I had done a search for boards on education, fsl, math, science, literacy, adult ed, learning, etc… and had found one great board of quotes that play with the English language. For some reason I had forgotten to link the reference in my blog post. I had the pinner’s username and I had the name of the board but could not find it by searching on Pinterest. In fact, I had two such cases. One I was able to find with the help of a Google search but the other is still lost in the pinterverse.

    That is what I mean about it being a clumsy service. Even if you know exactly where something is you can’t necessarily find it. I guess the secret to that would be to pin and like everything that you think you may want to see again in the future but you don’t always know, do you?

So. Back to the question – to pin or not to pin? I’m starting to lean to the not. Though I really do like the essence of this service, there is starting to be too much that gets in the way of my using it comfortably. At the least, I’m going to begin double saving the education resources I pin. That may become cumbersome in the long run though, however for now I do like the idea of sharing the resources I find with other educators and looking through the ones that they have already found.

What do you think? Do you pin?