#6 A picture is worth 100 words.

Wordle: Untitled

I recently marveled at the use of word clouds, such as those made by Wordle.net . I went ahead and messed around with it, creating the above image.  I had a lot of fun customizing my art.  Wordle provides a very nice visual of a message being communicated by composing its words into a picture.  I wondered why I appreciate visuals incorporated into digital content.  Are they important?

Visual literacy is a significant component of digital literacy. “Visual literacy, referred to at times as visual competencies, emerges from seeing and integrating sensory experiences “ (Jones &Flanning, 2010, p.5).  Visual literacy enables people to interpret visible actions, objects, and symbols .  This is fundamental to normal human learning.  Visual literacy requires artistic expression, and encourages storytelling (Bleed, 2005).   Visual information is easily absorbed, much more easily than learning facts and figures.  When accompanying text, it often deepens the meaning of the message.

Visual Literacy is also about being able to both interpret and generate images for communicating ideas and concepts.  Visually literate individuals are informed viewers, critics, and consumers of visual information.   Effective visual communicators are knowledgeable designers, composers, and producers of visual information.   They are open minded to symbolic, explanatory and abstract images.  Emotional, psychological, and cognitive influences in representations of visuals must also be taken into account when viewing visual media online.

Visual media are integral to how we work, entertain, communicate and educate.  Visual learners depend on them for leaning.  Our society depend on visuals to communicate instantly, as well as universally.  The concept of visual literacy in rapidly evolving as our society embraces digital technology along with its visual media.


Bleed, R. (2005). Visual Literacy in Higher Education. Maricopa Community Collages.  Retrieved from: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli4001.pdf

Jones, B., & Flannigan, S. (2010). Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century. Retrieved from: http://www.nmc.org/pdf/Connecting%20the%20Digital%20Dots.pdf


#5 Sharing is caring. Where are the gaming consortia?

Jane McGonigal’s TED talk about saving our planet through solving real world problems through online gaming gave me a lot to think about in terms of online gaming environment accessibility.  An average person in a strong gaming society spends 10,000 hours gaming by age 21 (McGonigal, 2011).  This is the same amount of hours a student spends in school up to the time they graduate from high school.  Gaming has the potential to have an enormous impact on education if designed correctly.  People love to play games, its part of our nature.  Online games encourage collaboration and team behaviors that empower online gamers to achieve great things.  McGonigal suggests that many skills learned through online gaming are transferrable to the real world.

Our society has the potential to benefit from playing more games, but where does one find these online gaming environments?  Sure World of War Craft is an option, but imagine if every school had access to a bank of collaborative games for students to play specifically designed to tackle different parts of the curriculum.  Our education system would be so much stronger if students learned communication skills and curriculum components while gaming for fun at home.  Students would love their teachers if homework consisted of two hours of online gaming.

In a society where there is so much change happening it is easy for inequalities in access to games to develop.  Teachers can have a hard time keeping up with all the new games becoming available online.  Games are expensive to develop, so once a good one surfaces it should be shares by schools across the country.  In an effort to embrace digital media Canada’s Ministry of Education should push to create a consortium of virtual reality online game environments.  These game environments could perhaps be only available to schoolchildren of certain age in order to meet student’s safety guidelines.  There is so much for students to gain by making learning fun. 

A couple of immersive virtual reality gaming environments I was able to find are by an Ottawa company, BlackCherry Digital Media.  A game focused on Canadian history is, Cupids400 in Linden’s Second Life.  SheKnows, a Canadian women’s online publication listed Moshi Monsters, Wizard101, Stardoll, SecterBuilders, Meez, RuneScape, IMVU, and SuperSecret as top teen and tween virtual online games.  There must be more games out there, some more educational than others.  Come one Ministry of Education, wake up and start a consortium!


Ellis, K. (Oct 19, 2012). Popular virtual worlds for tweens and teens. Retrieved from: http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/845879/popular-virtual-worlds-for-tweens-and-teens

McGonigal, J. (March 17, 2010).  Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make the world better. [Video file] Retrieved from: http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

#4 Moving towards all-digital publications

Newsweek iPad

Last week Newsweek, a well-established magazine publication with an 80 year old print history announced to go all digital starting January 2013. I was not shocked by this, but surprised because I did not think our society is ready for such a change. Many people around me, myself included use smartphones and tablets to access news on a daily basis. At the same time I know many that spend a buck a day to get their paper version of the paper to read at lunch. What is the significance of this change? Why did it happen? How soon will all newspapers and magazines move to a strictly digital format? How many people actually use their smartphones and tablets to read the news?

A “new report from comScore brings us the sobering—or exhilarating—news that two out of every five Americans now read newspapers and magazines on mobile devices” (Brown, 2012).  European Travel Commision’s New Media Trend Watch confirmed that 39.5% of the total Canadian mobile audience and 79.3% of the smartphone audience use their phones to stay up-to-date on the latest news.  These statistics make Canadians look very smart.  Based on these statistics a large portion of out society reads news on mobile devices and it would make sense for Newsweek to promote themselves as a strictly digital publication.

Next, I was curious about actual numbers of mobile device users.  There are 10.5 million smartphone users in Canada and 115.8 smartphone users in the US as of March 2012 (European Travel Commission, 2012). Canada’s overall population is roughly 35 million, meaning that only 30% of the population has a smartphone.  USA’s has a population of roughly 312 million, meaning that about 37% of the population have smartphones.  These numbers are supposed to increase drastically from month to month as our society embraces the digital culture.  Right now, they are still low.

I’m not a journalist, a marketing specialist nor a sales advisor, however it seems to me like Newsweek might have taken quite a bit of a risk with their decision to go all digital. Newsweek’s sales will most likely benefit from this change in the future, but today our society is not ready to read all the news online.  I’m glad Newsweek is leading the way in digital literacy, however The Canadian Newspaper Association claims that there are almost 4 million newspapers purchased daily in Canada, plus many more are distributed free of charge.  What’s fascinating is the speed with which technology changes our society.  How many mobile device users will we have in Canada this time next year?  How many more publications will go all-digital by than?  So many questions, so little answers



Brown, T. (22 October 2012).  Newsweek embraces the digital future.  Retrieved from: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/10/21/tina-brown-newsweek-s-all-digital-future.html

European Travel Commission (2012).  New Media Trend Watch: Canada. Retrieved from: http://www.newmediatrendwatch.com/markets-by-country/11-long-haul/45-canada?start=2

#3 Blogging and professional nursing standards

In an attempt to become a member of a nursing learning collective I searched “nurse educator and blog” on Google.  I was quite disappointed with my search results.  Most blogs were outdated and did not have a community of followers.  I than searched “perioperative nurses and blogs”, with simmilar results.  It turns out that blogging is not very popular with nurses, and that some areas of nursing are more popular than others in the blogosphere.

Nursing blogs that have made the top 10 and top 50 lists include emergency room nursing, labour and delivery, intensive care and student nurse blogs. Nursing education and perioperative nursing do not have an established on-line learning collective.

The College of Nurse of Ontario (CNO) has been very cautious of using social media for professional purposes. Only in the last year has there been a move to use social media for professional development and as a reflective practice tool. CNO’s quarterly professional nursing publication, The Standard in the Fall 2011 focused on the use of social media in nursing. When blogging, nurses must consider their professional standards, mainly ethics, therapeutic nurse-client relationship, and confidentiality and privacy standards.
The ethics standard requires nurses to conduct themselves in a matter that reflects well on the profession. When posting nurses must regard themselves and their colleagues with respect in order not to undermine their healthcare team and thei profession as a whole. The therapeutic nurse-client relationship standard requires nurses to set and maintain
appropriate bounaries within a relationship and help patients
understand when their requests are beyond the limits of it. The line can be blurred when clients start to comment on a nurse’s blog, start following it, or request to be friends on Facebook. The confidentiality and privacy standard requires nurses to maintain boundaries and build nurse-clinet relationships based on trust by respecting clients’ rights around confidentiality and privacy. This means that sensitive information about a patient collected during a
therapeutic nurse-patient relationship should not make it into the blogosphere. Information posted on ablog should never identify a patient. Patients are a vulnerable population and have a right to privacy.

Being consciencious of professional standards might make blogging about work encounters appear difficult for nurses. When blogging, nurses must use a professional filter, realizing that anything they post is, or can easily become public with their name attached to the information. Keeping this in mind when posting calls for erring on the side of caution and should help nurses stay professional and on-line.

College of Nurses of Ontario, (2011). Nursing 2.0. The Standard, 36(3), 10-13. Retrieved from: http://www.cno.org/Global/pubs/mag/TSMvol36no3ENG.pdf

#2 Visibility of Change

I really enjoyed chapter three’s discussion about the visibility of change in our society (Thomas and Douglas, 2011).  As per Thomas and Douglas (2011), Jim Giles conducted a study of errors in similar articles in Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia.  He found that the level of content accuracy was almost identical.  I was stunned.  Throughout my academic career the professors warned all students against using Wikipedia- the substandard, unreliable information source.

I admit that I do use Wikipedia, the last time I used it was last weekend to check the growth rate of mushrooms while on a mushroom picking expedition with my family.  It is a quick, accessible, easy reference.  Even though I am a Wikipedia user, I have always been skeptic about its reliability of information.  Reading about the speed of change in our society has changed my view of Wikipedia’s value in our society.  I now realized its importance.  Even though Wikipedia might have a couple more errors per page, overall its information is much more up to date than any professionally published encyclopedia.  It is understandable that our global village is constantly buzzing with social, political and scientific changes, and an expert panel reviewed article might never make it in time for print of a new paper encyclopedia edition.  Professional publishers will never be able to keep up, but Internet users as co-creators of knowledge might stand a chance.

Newpedia started out as a for-profit peer reviewed online encyclopedia, however it was unable to keep up with publishing all the changes happening in our society.  Wikipedia is a modified version of the original Newpedia, created after making some changes to the information creation concept of Newpedia.

History of Wikipedia

There is no way to escape the fast paced change of our society.  I find that social media such as youtube and facebook are also good examples of change in our society.  Some of the content posted is totally unreliable, not factual.  Some of the content is reliable, good quality information.  Each day individuals are challenged to distinguish which sources of information best fit their needs.  We have to learn to distinguish when its ok to use Wikipedia, and when to reach out to academic databases such as ProQuest.  I feel grateful that this program is forcing me to reflect and keep a closer eye on the changes around me.


Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Seattle, WA: Create Space.

stickfigureparades (2009, December 2). The History of Wikipedia (in two minutes). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVFPW0r4jWk&list=UUSzb8_IasQSCggwDAxAN3gw&index=3&feature=plcp

Step away from the computer?

My husband shared an interesting article with me from The Globe and Mail this Friday.  Step away from the computer screen by Kate Hammer talks about our society being totally dependent on technology when it comes to obtaining information on a day-to-day basis.  Grade school children were assigned 100 trivia questions to answer without the use of Internet.  The children as well as some parents felt lost, not knowing where to start their homework research.  The students learned methods of obtaining information other than the Internet, asking other people and going to the library to study books.

The story got me thinking about the importance of keeping up with technology.  To some degree, I feel like I need the opposite kind of an assignment, answering 100 questions without being able to use paper print sources or asking a colleague.  Technology is moving ahead with great speed and I constantly feel I’m falling behind.  I feel like I know lots about technology, but I am not actually using it.  Last semester I became fascinated with the idea of using virtual worlds such as Linden’s Second Life for education.  There is a huge potential to use virtual reality simulations for nurse skill training, however there are no large-scale secondary education or workplace programs that are currently using this technology in Canada.  Virtual reality simulations can be used to better prepare nursing students’ skills for clinical practice, improve patient care safety and increase student nurses confidence, decrease their anxiety (Jenson & Forsyth, 2012).

This semester I gave myself a challenge of getting more comfortable with technology by not using any paper for the completion of this class.  I purchased an iPad and vowed not to print the syllabus, not to buy a paper book, and not to make any paper notes.  Last semester I ended up with a huge pile of printed and than highlighted journal articles, but this semester everything has to be electronic.  Each time I pick up my iPad I learn lots, from using Kindle to highlight the required text, to getting comfortable with iAnnotate to make notes on pdf files.  It’s not easy, and I constantly find some challenges.  For example I just realized that the Kindle edition of the Thomas and Brown (2011) text, does not have page numbers.  I now need to figure out how I am going to quote using APA format.  Change is not easy.



Hammer, K. (2012, September 14). Step away from the computer screen. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/step-away-from-the-computer-screen/article4547435/


Jenson, C. E., & Forsyth, D, M. (2012). Virtual reality simulation: Using three-dimensional technology to teach nursing students. Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 30(6), 312-318.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Seattle, WA: Create Space.

LMS Trends

The LMS Trends Elluminate session felt like a parenting course.  I can not imagine parenting school aged children without first getting an informative introduction to Learning Management Systems (LMS) of this sort.  I was blown away by the technology available to teachers, students and parents through Desire2Learn (D2L).  It was very exciting to get an in-depth tour of D2L by the person that is its founder. John Baker stated that his goal is to improve and transform learning experiences, which he certainly is doing.

D2L seems to be a very diverse tool, which was demonstrated by the chart of technologies available within it.  Most of its tools are aimed at increasing social presence online.  D2L’s commitment to mobility, having their programs work on any mobile device is a major advantage in accessibility.  The calendar tool which was discussed allows for communicating with parents, using e-portfolio facilitates networking with colleagues and industry subject matter experts, media e-capture allows students to share the videos of their work with others.  Baker talked about incorporating artificial intelligence into course design to make learning more personalized.  Saeed, Yang and Sinnappan (2009) discussed the possible benefits of matching students’ technology preferences to the course design.  Most students are flexible to accommodate different web technologies (Saeed, Yang and Sinnappan, 2009), however a more personalized approach could potentially improve academic performance across all learning styles. The above ideas are all new to me, and probably to many others who might not be digital natives.

John Baker discussed issues around implementing technology that is available.  Many teachers are afraid of the unknown.  Canadian teachers work on a shoestring budget compared to some other countries that have spent huge money on supporting teachers to use LMSs.  Online support networks of LMS users offer teachers a place to share ideas on how to implement LMSs in their classrooms.  Sharing of experiences and pedagogical primitives (Kali, Goodyear and Marauskaite, 2011), provide an important resource in making sense of pedagogical online course design. Online teaching is challanging because many teachers have not had the experience of being taught online.  User conferences where clients and creators come together and offer feedback on how D2L is and could be used, is also a very valuable learning tool.

It is good to know that despite some struggles in implementing technology on a wide scale, Canadians are still worldwide leaders in building and implementing LMSs.  This Elluminate session has made me a more informed advocate of using LMSs because I have a better understanding of their potential.


Kali, Y., Goodyear, P. & Marauskaite, L. (2011). Researching design practices and design cognition: contexts, experiences and pedagogical knowledge-in-pieces. Learning, Media and Technology, 36 (2), 129-149.

Saeed, N. Yang, Y., & Sinnappan, S. (2009). Emerging Web Technologies in higher education: A case of incorporating blogs, podcast and social bookmarks in a web programming course based on students’ learning styles and technology preferences. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (4), 98-109.



Virtual Worlds

The notion of using virtual world technology for education is brand new to me, as I have never previously heard of it.  In my experience, virtual world has only existed in recreational video games.  The advantage of virtual spaces is that they provide visually rich, engaging spaces where students learn through seeing, knowing, and doing (Stoerger, 2010).    Behaviorist approach to education, which Marlene Brooks described as immersive learning, brings an innovative approach to education through discovery, exploration and engaging in virtual experiences.

I was deeply intrigued by Marlene Brooks’ description of the use of virtual world technology in hospitals and health professional training in general.  Examples of how educators have adapted virtual environments in order to immerse medical students in learning experiences grounded my understanding of the concept and got me really excited.  Her description of the Cupids400 project was fascinating.

In my own practice, I think that Unity3d could be used to train perioperative nurses.   The operating room is a high stress, dynamic environment which is expensive to maintain and low traffic due to its sterility considerations.  Learning on the spot is often difficult.  Simulations of emergency scenarios, for example resuscitation drills could help staff role-play and learn what to do in such situations.  I also see great potential of communications training for healthcare professionals using virtual worlds.  In my experience people are usually reluctant to participate in live role-play.  Virtual world could provide small group experiences where staff could feel more comfortable to practice verbal problem solving.  Skills learned in virtual environments can be transferred to real life situations (Stoerger, 2010).  I am eager to learn more about virtual world technology, I even created a Second Life profile and started exploring myself.

Marlene talked about virtual worlds allowing for development of activities around the content being taught.  This is am opportunity for educators to be creative and design engaging scenarios or games.  Many educators are intimidated of technology they are unfamiliar with, myself included.  Appropriate training for teachers who run, design and debrief games is important (Crookall, 2010).   As Marlene has mentioned, engaging students in co-construction of knowledge often transforms students to teachers, and teachers to students.  Students often learn best when helping others to achieve their goals.  Virtual world technology can be incorporated into many forms of e-learning, and can be used both synchronously and asynchronously.  I am astonished at the possibilities of using virtual worlds, and somewhat disappointed that I have not come across them earlier.  The digital divide of the Canadian provinces is quite apparent in Marlene’s talk, with Newfoundland and Alberta leading the Canadian virtual world of education.

Stoerger, S. (2010). Creating a virtual world mindset: A guide for first time Second Life teachers. The Journal of Distance Education, 24 (3). Retrieved from http://www.jofde.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/696/1156

Crookall, D. (2010). Serious Games, Debriefing, and Simulation/Gaming as a Discipline.  Simulation Gaming, 21 (6), p.898-920. Retrieved from http://sag.sagepub.com/content/41/6/898.refs




Readings from first week

The Guri-Rosenblit and Gros article included Khan’s (2005) definition of e-learning as “an innovative approach for delivering well-designed, learner centered, interactive, and facilitated learning environment to anyone, anyplace, anytime by utilizing the attributes and resources of various digital technologies along with other forms of learning materials suited for an open, flexible, and distributed learning environment”(2011, p.3).   I found this definition very meaningful, because it covers all the bases of what e-learning, in my opinion should be.   I feel strongly that if an e-learning program was to be successful, all of the points provided in the definition need to be present.  My definition of a successful e-learning experience has also been enhanced by the concept of  “fostering positive attitudes about the value of lifelong learning” (Guri-Rosenblit and Gros, 2011 p.3).  Because e-learning’s huge advantage is, that it is available to anyone, anyplace, anytime I believe it has the potential to play a huge factor in sustaining life-long learning.

My experiences with e-learning are split between Ontario and Alberta.  After reading the McGreal and Anderson (2007) article it became apparent that my satisfaction is equitable with the geographical divide.  The e-learning program at my workplace in Ontario is poorly designed, corporate-centered, using rigid learning management systems not fit for its purposes and student interaction.  I am finding the e-learning in Calgary to be much more aligned with Khan’s definition, especially by focusing on being learner centered and using many digital technologies.  Using different digital technologies fits multiple learning styles, which is something I as a learner appreciate.   Although Canada does not have a federal ministry of education, and the provinces govern their own e-learning initiatives, I found it very interesting that the collaboration between provinces around e-learning is not stronger.  It is ironic that even though the world is becoming a global village, the physical divide of provinces is hampering the coordination of e-learning initiatives in Canada.  I realize that physical distance is not the only factor.  I can imagine how a series of e-learning by Canadian Nurses Association would be difficult to organize because nurses are governed by individual provinces.  The population of Canada can be compared to that of many European countries with smaller land areas.  I wonder if the fact that the e-learning developers are physically closer influences the outcomes of their initiatives.  Perhaps Canadians across the country must work on fostering more effective virtual environments and online communication.

Overall I am blown away by how huge the topic of e-learning in Canada is.  This is something I never previously considered.  I now understand e-learning could be much more than asynchronous learning, reading modules followed by a multiple choice test on a computer screen.


Grui-Rosenblit, S. & Gros, G. (2011). E-Learning: Confusing terminology, research

gaps and inherent challenges. The Journal of Distance Education, 25 (1). Retrieved

from http://www.jofde.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/729/1206

McGreal, R., & Anderson, T. (2007). E-learning in Canada. International Journal of

Distance Education Technologies, 5 (1), 1 – 6. Retrieved