2018 Spring semester!

Cup of coffee with Macbook - learning online!As 2018 begins, so does more learning for me as a student and a teacher! It’s a Spring semester at MSU and a Winter semester at MCC. I’m super excited for this semester’s MSU course – CEP 820 Teaching Students Online. This course directly relates to what I’m currently doing at Macomb Community College where I teach. There is nothing like being able to learn and then directly apply that learning to what you’re doing in either your personal or professional life. Here’s to a great semester at both MSU and MCC!


Valeanu, Andrian. (2106, March). [Cup of Coffee Laptop Office Macbook Conceptual] [Image]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/cup-of-coffee-laptop-office-macbook-1280537/


P.Q. & C.Q. – “Live the questions NOW.”

The Journey

Looking back to the beginning of this course, we were asked a series of “Inside the Actor’s Studio” type of questions, questions that made me stop and really think about my answers. Little did I know that that type of questioning was laying the ground work for the entire course and what was to follow would prove to be a very engaging and enlightening experience. A quote by David McCullough from Warren Berger’s A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas immediately resonated with me:

“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air, and behold the view. Climb is to you can see the world, not so the world can see you”  (Berger, 2012, p. 191).

So often we are more concerned with the “prize” at the end that we don’t enjoy the journey.

Questioning your own life can be scary but it can also be exciting. Berger (2012) points out that while you’re questioning your own life, don’t only look for what’s missing also look for what’s there via “appreciative inquiry”. Berger (2012) explains that “the main premise of appreciative inquiry is that positive questions, focusing on strengths and assets, tend to yield more effective result than negative questions focusing on problems or deficits” (p. 190). Bottom line, focusing on what is missing and what we don’t have elicits negative feelings that can block progress. Happiness researcher Tal Ben-Shahar suggests to “cultivate the habit of gratitude” as “gratitude is the shortcut to happiness” (pp. 190-191).

Technology, Passions, & Curiosities

In the ever changing world of technology where one of the few constants is change, being knowledgeable and knowing your stuff aren’t the only skills that are going to land you a job or make you efficient in your field. As Thomas Friedland (2013) so appropriately states, “We are a world that taken us from connected to hyperconnected”, just look around next time you’re waiting in a doctor’s office or walk into a coffee shop – people are glued to their electronic devices, technology is all around us.

Just being good with technology isn’t enough but add passion and curiosity to the mix and you create a recipe for success. pqandcqinfographicWhat is important to you? What are you passionate about? What are you curious about?  I asked myself those fundamental questions not only how they relate to my teaching career but also how they relate to my life in general. I answered those questions and visualized them in an infographic that depicts my P.Q. (passion quotient) and my C.Q. (curiosity quotient) as Friedland wrote about.

My passions in life and my career include:

  • Health & Well Being
  • Creativity
  • Learning
  • Technology

My curiosities include:

  • How can I bring project-based learning to the classroom and make learning more meaningful?
  • How can continuing to expand my PLN online and offline help with change in the classroom?
  • How do I encourage students to ask the “tough questions”?
  • How can technology be used to enhance and bring excitement to learning?

Ask the questions and never stop questioning.

I’m enjoying the educational and personal journey I’m on, embracing the challenges and “beholding the view”, living my passions, exploring my curiosities, embracing technology, and in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.”


Ben-Sharer, T. (2012, April). Five Ways to Become Happier Today. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/fLhpyzVTc8A
Berger, W. (2014). A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breathrough Ideas. New York City, NY: Bloomsbury USA.
Friedman, T. L. (2013, January 29). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q.. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html?_r=0
McCullough, D. (2012, June). You Are Not Special Commencement Speech from Wellesley High School. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/_lfxYhtf8o4
Rainer Maria Rilke > Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/7906.Rainer_Maria_Rilke

Apps on Apple

To learn how to create an app for iOS, I started my journey on the Apple Developer website with the “Start Developing iOS Apps (Swift)” online tutorial. Why not begin with the company that actually developed the IDE and programming language (Xcode and Swift)?

The app within the online tutorial is a FoodTracker app. This app allows the user to add an image of a meal (or restaurant), use a rating system to rate the meal, and provides the basic functionality of editing, adding, and deleting data. Pretty cool stuff!

I encountered some errors while progressing through the tutorial and accessed Google to find explanations of the errors and locate solutions. This was successful most of the time. Thankfully the tutorial provided a lot of screen shots and thoroughly explained things along the way. One of the great things about online tutorials is that you can refer back to a particular section if needed. And in my case, it was needed. My errors occurred when I tried to be fancy and venture out on my own. Quickly I realized that since this was completely new to me, I had better stick to the plan that Apple provided.

After completing the FoodTracker app, it was now time to deploy the app to my phone. During the creation process, I used the built-in Simulator in Xcode, but it’s always best to test on the actual device. The tutorial didn’t have directions for this, so I turned to Google once again. I came across a great resource Launching Your App on Devices and voila! But it wasn’t that easy, sort of. I ran into a few setup errors and it was back to Google. I found another great resource on the stackoverflow discussion forum that solved my issue. Once I corrected the errors, my iPhone connected, and all was well!

I wanted to extend my journey, so I located a fantastic 17-episode series on YouTube called “How To Make an iPhone App with No Programming Experience”. I strictly used YouTube for my second app based on the popular card game “War”. I added a twist to my app and created it with a baseball theme (you think I would have learned my lesson about trying to be fancy). While progressing through the videos, I realized how much I had learned from the online tutorial and how the YouTube videos were reinforcing skills as well as teaching new techniques and concepts. The combination of the two made for a rewarding learning experience…well worth the extended journey.

Both resources that I used to learn how to create an iOS app played an important role in the overall learning process. Each resource complemented each other. I made errors along the way and had to re-watch videos and re-read sections of the online tutorials, but that’s part of the learning process and I embraced it. When I ran into a “sticky” part, I jumped to Google in search of answers and solutions. One of the challenges that I did encounter, aside from learning a new IDE and programming language, was finding the additional time to sit down and learn something new. Once I built time into my schedule to accommodate learning a new skill, I was able to better focus on the task at hand.

Before and after screen shots of the Baseball War Game app.
Before and after screen shots of the Baseball War Game app.

I do have a few bugs in my Baseball War Game app that I will try and resolve over the next week (fingers crossed). So, it’s back to watching YouTube, searching help forums, and Google of course.

A time to reflect…

Since being introduced to Popplet, I have been thinking about how to apply its use into the courses that I teach (web programming). Not only would this tool be great for brainstorming but it could also most definitely be used in website layout. After you go through the conceptualization and analysis steps within a website development life cycle, the next step is the design and layout of the site, enter Popplet. You could easily create a visual representation of a website’s architecture that can be shared with everyone. I will definitely be trying this out with my next website. A big thumbs up for Popplet!Thumbs up emoji!

This week in class, we also examined Twitter and its uses and learned about RSS aggregators. I have been using Twitter since 2009. I invite my students to follow me on Twitter and follow industry experts as well. It’s a fantastic way to stay connected with what’s happening in an industry that you’re interested in. Since I teach in a technology industry, which seems to change every minute, it’s almost a full-time job to keep current on technology trends and the next “new” thing on the horizon. Twitter allows me to stay current, follow what’s going on industry, and connect with industry experts, my colleagues, and peers. Another thumbs up for Twitter! Thumbs up emoji!

A few years ago I was really into using a news aggregator, then it seemed to fall by the wayside because I put my time into growing my Twitter presence and connecting with my students through the Twitter social media platform. Introducing news aggregators this week in class made me realize that I need to incorporate its use into my daily routine again – I need to “reconnect” so to speak. It’s another very effective way to stay current on trends and focus on getting information on a specific topic, or multiple topics, within one location. I registered for Feedly, selected the topics that I want information about, and bam! All the topic news and information in one place. I have also been spending time on Flipboard, which is another topic-focused news site that I can enjoy reading during the morning with a cup of coffee.

Connecting with all of these different social media tools has enhanced my ability to stay current in the industry in which I teach, connect with peers and colleagues (both old and new), collaborate, and connect and share with my students. I recently read an article titled Keeping Up-to-Date on Your Industry and the tagline read “Staying Informed”. I couldn’t agree more!

Networked Learning Project (Post #1)

Something that I have wanted to learn for a few years now, is how to use Apple’s Swift Apple iPhoneprogramming language and Xcode IDE to create a simple, functional app that I can deploy to an iOS device so I have chosen this as my learning goal for the Networked Learning Project. I have been an Apple fan and user since being introduced to Apple computers in 1985 and have had, and currently have, multiple Apple devices, but I have never ventured into the area of actually creating an iOS app. I will be removed from my comfort zone over the next few weeks (my background is in design, not computer programming) and embark on an educational journey that I believe will be very rewarding.

I have already identified a few online resources that I plan on using to get started on this learning process. Apple has informative “Getting Started” tutorials on their Developer website in their iOS Developer Library. The Start Developing iOS Apps (Swift) online tutorial will be my starting point after reviewing the Xcode 7 + Swift 2 Resources page that contains guides and references, videos, sample code, and free iTunes U Courses.

Another resource that I will be using is the Lynda.com library. I have a subscription to Lynda.com and there are multiple training courses that I can access for additional information, references, and video instruction.

There is also a short five-part series on YouTube created by Skip Wilson titled Swift for Absolute Beginners that I discovered during my research, and I will be including the series as part of my research and instruction.

Through the use of a variety of resources that include videos from Lynda.com, YouTube, iTunes U, and Apple, online tutorials, and sample code, I hope to successfully create a functional iOS app using the Swift programming language and Xcode IDE that will make its proud appearance on my iPhone and/or iPad in the weeks to come.

Learning with Novices & Experts

During the first week of class in CEP 810 at Michigan State University, I was asked to write an essay based on my reading and understanding of Bransford, Brown & Cocking’s (2000) How People Learn. The Learning with Novices and Experts essay can be found and responds to two key questions:

  1. What is learning?
  2. How do the learning processes of experts and novices differ?

I reflect on the definition of learning and the differences between novice and expert students and how each can complement each other’s learning which in turn, can alter their perceived way of entering into a situation based on their understanding of new ideas. I hope you find my reflection on the topic interesting and I openly welcome comments and feedback. Enjoy!