Summary of Learning – EC&I 831

I started out the semester using hashtag to describe myself without really knowing what it meant.

It certainly is a wonderful feeling to look back and compare myself with the person I was three months ago. I feel this class opened up my world. It helped me overcome my fear and be more active on social media. I still feel that keeping up with Twitter is very time consuming and overwhelming. There are so many valuable ideas and conversations if only there were enough hours in a day to be able to read and participate in all of them.

The most challenging part of this class was to share my podcasts on Twitter. Thankfully it turned out to be a rewarding experience. I figured out how to use Anchor all by myself and was able to record the major steps of my piano learning journey. Although being a support staff often makes it hard to incorporate things I learn as part of my classes, this time I was able to create a shorter podcast for grade 7/8 students incorporating an informative, persuasive and entertaining recording as part of their lesson on the author’s purpose. The students thought it was pretty cool. Talking about students, we never know who we are going to touch through our work. One day one of my students stopped me in the hallway asking if I was a YouTuber. I said not exactly but I do have YouTube videos such as my Summary of Learning from my EC&I 834 class. This student of mine stopped me in the hallway two days later with a huge smile on his face saying “Ms. Demeter! I subscribed to your channel”. I cannot believe that he came across my video without me ever mentioning it to anyone. I’m glad though that he checked it out and found it valuable.

Since this class gave me the opportunity to experiment with both, learning a new skill through face-to-face interaction and online resources, I came to the conclusion that I don’t really prefer one over the other. I feel they both have advantages and disadvantages and they can complement each other if a significant amount of time is invested in them. I also feel that building a relationship with my piano teacher during my face-to-face classes were extremely valuable in order to have guidance, and keep me on the right track when having no sense of direction.

I am thankful for the opportunity to listen to Dr. Roberts’ (2019) presentation on Open Educational Resources, as well as the follow up discussion lead by my colleague, Dean Vendramin in his podcast.

My biggest take away this semester is that I not only learnt about Open Educational Resources but also had a chance to immerse myself by practicing building relationships through social media, co-designing learning pathways while building my personal learning network through reflection and sharing. Having the opportunity to follow my peers’ learning journeys and reflections, as well as becoming familiar with the incredible work of a number of social activists, helped me realize how important the online world is when it comes to making great ideas flourish and staying connected.

As part of my Summary of Learning Podcast – EC&I 831, I decided to invite a very special friend of mine, Brandi to be my guest. Brandi, being a piano player, a Mom of three amazing children who also has teaching experience seemed to be my perfect guest to discuss social media and open educational resources in our personal and professional lives.

I would like to thank my Prof. Dr. Alec Couros for his support and his engaging, high quality online sessions as well as my colleagues for providing me with great ideas and encouraging me throughout the semester. Without you I wouldn’t have been able to do this. I would like to invite you to meet a true gem, Brandi, through my Summary of Learning Podcast.

Thank you!

Social Media Activism

Not being familiar with the term Social Media Activism, hearing the word “activism” immediately brought back pleasant and not so pleasant memories. Just as Catherine mentioned, the term activism is often identified with protests, marches and fighting for change that was very much present in my life growing up. Hearing the story of a few great social activists, helped me see the value of social activism. As Curtis described “By people joining in on social media for a cause, brings awareness to issues that may otherwise be dismissed”. Several intentional actions, formal or non-formal movements with the goal of bringing social change prove that social activism can be effective.

Marley Dias experiencing the lack of diversity in her grade 5 classroom starts a campaign looking for books about black girls. With the donations she has received, thanks to her online campaign, her collection reached 1000 books. Her promoting diversity led to the JetBlue’s Soar with Reading Initiative targeting the ‘book deserts’ neighbourhoods in New York by setting up six free vending machines where books are available all summer for borrowing.

Martha Payne, the ten year old school girl from Scotland by starting a blog about her daily lunches served at the school cafeteria, was not only able to reform the school cafeteria meals with the help of the support she was getting from all over the world, but through the Mary’s Meal Charity, she also helped build a kitchen in Malawi where 14000 people are being fed.

In the #CHHS Lets Talk, Brett Rothery raises awareness of mental health as well as the ‘Sit with us’ app. designed by the 16 years-old Natalie Hampton as a result of sitting alone her entire 7th grade in the school cafeteria are wonderful examples of using social media as a tool to make a difference.

No Strings is educating children in the form of a puppet show. The main reason for these wonderful puppeteers getting together was to open up new ways of thinking and help children deal with critical problems, such as staying away from landmines in Afghanistan. Today there is a wide variety of topic addressed in the form of puppet shows translated into different languages, demonstrating kids that there is hope.

Craftivist Sarah Corbett led a gentle protest with hand-embroidered hankies helping the retail employees working for M&S get higher wages, by reaching the goal of receiving the “Living Wage” accreditation.

As we see through the above mentioned social activists’ actions, they all met their goal of bringing social justice. In my view, having online conversations can be more productive since it gives a chance to reach people from all over the world. Although the online world has the power to provide support, the success doesn’t always come without a price. Social activists often face controversies and negativity that can escalate to higher levels, such as loosing a job.

When it comes to our responsibility as educators, I feel it is important to model to our students how to be digital citizens, by becoming personally responsible, participatory, as well as justice oriented citizens. We also have to teach them that freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences. In order for them to become successful up-standers, it is crucial to teach them to take action in their community, as well as do research and build knowledge. I think it is important to teach students about the existence of negativity in the online world, such as doxing, as well as ways to deal with it if that ever becomes the case.


This week my piano teacher and I decided to look at songs and he suggested to try learning “Edelweiss”. Although it seems to be a challenging piece, I am going to give it a try. My wish list of songs keeps growing, and I hope that soon I do get to accomplish some of them.

Being a support staff, I often find it hard to implement the things I am learning in my Ed. Tech classes. I just started co-teaching with classroom teachers at the beginning of the school year, and right now we are working on a unit on Newspaper writing in a grade 7/8 classroom. While looking at the text features and the purpose of writing, I decided to do a recording with examples of entertaining-, persuasive-, and informative texts. The topic of these recordings is the same as my learning project. All recordings are based on piano learning. I also created the script so our beginner English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners can follow the text easier. Listening to a recording without seeing the person, not being able to read off their lips, makes it quite hard to understand all the details. Beside the listening and reading activities, as part of the unit, the students will also be discussing and writing their own newspaper articles. Incorporating the four domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing are key when it comes to language learning. I am excited about the opportunity to co-teach with my colleague and I am looking forward to creating new, engaging ways when it comes to supporting our EAL students.

In this week’s podcast, I mainly focused on ways I can implement what I had learnt through my learning project into my teaching. I also tried to play with the idea of spicing up my podcast a bit, so I included a story that I often listen to in the Philosophy of Piano podcast focusing on the importance of state of mind and believing in the power of inner voice. This is especially helpful for me when I am thinking of my final project, the Summary of Learning.

For the Summary of Learning, I am planning to interview my piano teacher on the topics of piano learning and playing using social media and face-to-face interactions, open educational resources and open educational practices. I am preparing myself for this BIG step ahead of me with Buddha’s inspirational words.

Thank you for being part of my journey! 🙂

How OEP is affecting me as a teacher and student

I often wonder where I would be, regarding my English language knowledge, if I had access to Open Educational Resources (OER) growing up. If I think back, most of my schooling in Romania, with extrinsic motivation playing a big role, always focusing on the grades, was mainly based on “surface learning” (Roberts, 2019). Comparing my previous experiences with my EC&I 831 class, I clearly understand the difference between “surface learning” and “deep learning” described by Dr. Roberts (2019) with the latter based on intrinsic motivation. In the learner centred environment of EC&I 831, I am given the opportunity to learn something that I am truly passionate about, leading to “knowledge-creation” through a high level of intrinsic motivation.

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about Open Educational Practices (OEP) through the eyes of both, a university student as well as a teacher. Through my piano learning project, I am experiencing the four stages of Open Learning Design Intervention (OLDI) described by Dr. Roberts (2019) which helps me better understand the steps of my own learning and the value behind each step.

I didn’t have any doubts regarding my learning project since I felt I was part of a safe learning space with my supportive professor, Dr. Alec Couros and peers by my side. I also felt that the abundant world of OER is hard to use for a number of reasons. For me personally, the hardest part was to find high-quality, user friendly resources. It is challenging to decide if the resources are quality materials or not, especially when the topic, or skill is completely new. To overcome this barrier, I decided to find a piano teacher for co-designing and scaffolding purposes along my piano learning journey. Building and sharing my experiences and knowledge in the form of a podcast and on Twitter made me feel quite vulnerable. Overcoming the strange feeling of being outside of my comfort zone and recording every step while taking risks and making mistakes, literally in front of the world, help me see my own growth within my learning path. After overcoming the fear of being judged, sharing also brought me the gift of interactions, positive feedback, collaborations, and connections leading to learning from one another. Reflecting on the “multiple people, spaces, perspectives, experiences and nodes of learning” (Roberts, 2019) combined with an open mind and willingness to learn helped me build a Personal Learning Network (PLN).

At the end of the day, as a support staff, I find it quite challenging to incorporate OER and OEP. Beside the major drawback, which is lack of time in my case, Dr. Verena Roberts discussed in the podcast hosted by Dean Vendramin that we need to have open readiness as well. Having no digital literacy skills can make the OEP quite hard to happen. Lori Thibault also names a number of drawbacks in her blogpost, such as finding reliable, age-appropriate resources, having limited access to devices, programs, applications, low internet speed, lack of technological training and adequate amount of preparation time. At this time, I am focusing on building a safe space for my students as well as expanding the learning environment beyond the classroom walls by finding, creating, remixing and sharing my learning experiences through social media, blogging, and podcasting.

Time signature and intervals

Keeping my head up and moving forward with my slow and steady pace, I did make a bit of a progress and learnt a few new concepts this past week.

I had a chance to learn about these interesting numbers that one would see at the start of a line when looking at a music sheet. These symbols are called time signatures that tell how many beats are in a measure. I was mainly focusing on 3/4 and 4/4. In a 3/4 measure you’d count 1, 2, 3 and in a 4/4 measure you’d count 1, 2, 3, 4 with a major accent on 1 and a fairly minor accent on 3 in the 4/4 measure.

Although there are other time signatures in piano, such as 2/4 and 6/8, at this point I am only ready to demonstrate the 3/4 and 4/4 measures in my weekly podcast through the “Theme by Mozart” and “Party Time” songs.

Another new concept I became familiar with is the interval. Interval is the space between two notes used to create different feelings. Intervals are called 2nd (C to D), 3rd (C to E), 4th (C to F), 5th (C to G), 6th (C to A), 7th (C to B), the octave (C to C) depending on how many spaces are between the keys. There are two kinds of intervals, when the keys are played separately it is called melodic interval, and when played simultaneously, it is called harmonic interval.

Since I am only focusing on the white keys at this point, I am planning to learn more about intervals as well as continue to work on finger independence through various finger exercises. This is going to be my goal probably for the next year. Lol

I am also planning to speed up my sight reading through BAGE Mad Minutes that I learnt about from Daina Seymour’s blog. I am also determined to play the 2 octave with parallel hands. After three weeks, I am at the point where I am getting mad with this thing. How is it possible that I can play it with separate hands, but cannot put it together? I hope I will have some good news for you by the end of next week.

Thank you for being part of my journey, keeping me strong with your kind words and encouragement and sharing wonderful ideas that help me move forward. As a sign of my appreciation I’d like to end this blog with a piano joke:

Thanks for reading my blog! Stay tuned 🙂