ILP Check-In – Macular Degeneration

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Photo CC: by the National Eye Institute

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about this (perhaps it was a few posts back?), but I talked about my Grandma and the disability she currently has – low vision. (I hate to use the word blind, as she’s not completely blind, she just has low vision). This is due, however, to macular degeneration, a degenerative disease of the retina. What essentially happens (from my understanding) is that as the retina deteriorates, cells die and cluster together in the central field of vision, thus giving the individual (in this case, my Grandma), a clouded field of vision. This doesn’t stop her, however (I greatly admire her for that), and she gets along just fine. The thing is, however, is that she can’t read. This therefore makes it difficult for her to distinguish between products when she shops, and usually requires the help of someone else in picking out products. Anyway, as I stated earlier in my previous post about this, I thought it would be interesting to research if companies take into consideration those who have low vision or are completely blind when designing their packaging. My verdict? No. I searched and searched about elements of package design, companies logos and packages, what was taken into consideration when designing said logos and packages, etc., but couldn’t find anything. According to what I learned in my design class a few years ago, good design is essentially (obviously) visual, as a company would want its product to stand out from the rest. The result is a finished product that is attractive and pleasing to the eye. According to Packmage, the composition elements essential to good package design are logo design, graphic design, color design, and character design; all visual elements. There are, however, two other elements essential to good design: shape factors and use of material. While I found nothing on catering to the visually impaired on the same Packmage site, I discovered another site in which a college student documents her final project, which subsequently is on package design for the visually impaired. This individual focuses primarily on differentiation between spices, but documents a lot of useful information that could potentially be carried into other product areas as well. For example, shape differences: “Shape and form are very important. They [the visually impaired] are very sensitive to varieties of shapes and can detect even slight differences.” The second is texture, which “is as important as shape.” The third is spacial orientation: “spice jars musn’t [sic] be limited to only one part of the area like the drawer or a shelf. It must be able to be moved or kept anywhere . . . .” (This college student’s site can be found here. This is a super cool site, and I encourage anyone to go check it out!) So in the end, while companies may not directly cater to those with low vision, individuals like my Grandma rely on certain elements of that package design to distinguish between certain products, such as medicine bottles, spice containers, containers for drinks, and so on and so forth. Package design, however, relies so heavily upon visual elements in that design, that those with low vision still require help in differentiating between the majority of products.

On a side note, (aside from looking at the picture above), if you wish to see what it’s like to have macular degeneration, put a small piece of clear tape on each lens of your glasses (if you have them), and try doing simple tasks such as running the washer and dryer or writing a thank you card. Make sure to leave enough room between the tape and perimeter of your glasses for your peripheral vision, as peripheral vision is not affected by macular degeneration.

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Be Active!

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Photo CC: By Esther Vargas

Social media is such a powerful tool, whether we realize it or not. Ideas that started in college dorm rooms are now some of the most powerful communication tools we as the human race have, connecting individuals from all over the world. Individuals with similar interests and passions, whether they live in small-town Nebraska, London, England, or Tokyo, Japan, are connected and are sharing and receiving ideas; ideas that could possibly better the human race as a whole. Therefore, in quoting Teen Vogue (there’s something I don’t do often!), “We’re connected by a community of interest, not geography.” Therefore, it’s because of this that millennials are creating widespread and successful movements with literally the click of a button. Something as simple as a tweet or a Facebook post can successfully create some type of spark that creates something so much bigger, so much more widespread, than “‘a person on the street, rallying or protesting'” (Teen Vogue). There are Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts completely dedicated to whatever activist group one may be seeking, and these groups are extremely successful. These provide places in which individuals can connect, socialize, discuss, debate, and bring to light issues that may be of some concern to a shared number of people. The more people realize these groups are out there, the more momentum they gain, and the more well-known and effective they become; becoming nationally or internationally known. The teen nominee I researched was a 15 year old from here in the U.S., and the movement is God Loves You. The focus of this movement is why one should stay strong despite what may be going on in an individual’s life. This movement utilizes Twitter, and tweets words of encouragement and success stories to it’s followers, which is very cool. I’ve myself personally become connected with two movements addressing something that I think is plaguing our society: pornography. There’s this movement called “Fight The New Drug,” in which it’s goal is to enlighten individuals about the harmful affects of pornography on the brain and relationships, and provides support and resources for those who want to get out. It’s a fantastic movement, and if anyone’s into the whole Christianity thing, xxxchurch is another great resource, essentially offering the same information and resources as Fight The New Drug. As I stated above, pornography (I feel) is very destructive to our society as a whole, and some of the key issues activist groups and individuals need to focus on are those substances and materials that are harming and are hurtful to our society.

To answer the last question, however, (kudos to you if you’ve read this all the way through!) I thought this module was incredibly interesting, as it discussed new pathways for individuals to make their voice heard in a society where it’s very difficult to be heard in the first place.

Googling Myself

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Photo CC: By SEO

To start off, and in all honesty, it was a little creepy Googling myself. I say this because there’s quite a bit of information about me that’s out there . . . information that’s readily available to anyone who wants it. Aside from this, however, it was very interesting. I didn’t think I would find much, but I was surprised. The first link that popped up was my personal Twitter account, encouraging those in search of me to catch up on my latest Tweets and give me a follow. After this was my Merit page, saying I was named to the Dean’s List this past fall, and after this were various links to various articles from local newspapers – The Star-Herald and the Gering Citizen – advertising the fact I had made various honor bands throughout my high school career, including All-State, and some golf tournaments as well, including the Nebraska Amateur Championship. My Grandpa’s obituary also was in there. In terms of pictures, my Twitter profile picture popped up, along with other past profile pictures, a golf picture from my junior year of high school, my Grandpa’s picture to his obituary, and a picture I posted to Twitter not too long ago of my other grandparents. Other than that, however, that was it. I couldn’t find my Facebook profile, but that didn’t surprise me as I may have certain privacy settings in place. Among the other social media sites I have, these being Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter, my Twitter profile was the only one that popped up, but that’s probably because I use Twitter the most. In terms of what my online identity says about me, my online identity would most likely portray the fact that I’m very dedicated, active, and passionate about what I do and what I like to do. On the other hand, however, if any potential employer would have the intentions of trying to dig up some dirt on me, I’m afraid they wouldn’t find anything (I lead a boring lifestyle in that aspect!) On a side note, articles about my three siblings came up as well.

Digital Citizenship

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Photo CC: By Thomas Galvez

In researching and thinking about digital citizenship, I started thinking about what my first exposure to this topic really was. As it turns out, it was during an American Government and Politics course I was in not too long ago. While this class met in person, it was a mixed class, as a good portion of the required work was online. I’m sure we’re all too familiar with this now, but this was all new to me at the time. In giving the instructions for posting and replying, the professor said to treat others as you yourself would expect to be treated. (Ever heard this before?) However, he continued to say that while you yourself may be looking at a computer screen, there’s an individual on the other side of that screen; an individual with dreams, aspirations, feelings, and emotions – just like ourselves. Fast forward to now, and while I was exploring some of the sites for this week, one of the short videos contained in the “5-Minute Film Festival: Teaching Digital Citizenship” discussed this concept called “netiquette.” This concept actually predates the internet, and contained a simple set of rules on how to interact with others online. While the first rule was to remember that there’s a person on the other end of a device, the other rules are as follows: “the use of ALL CAPS is shouting online, be careful what you send, and validate information,” so as to not lower your credibility. Simple, right? Another interesting point of view came from a maned named Juan Enriquez and his TED Talk: “Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo.” His talk in its entirety can be summed up in a nutshell: be careful as to what one puts online, as it’s there forever. However, the most useful site I researched was one called common sense media.(I was actually excited that I found this site on my own, but it turns out it was one of the links in module 9. Sad day!) However, it’s super cool, as it covers everything from determining how appropriate movies are for children, how to talk to them about terrorism and other goings on in the world, and of course, digital citizenship. This site did an incredible job explaining how and when to expose children to media, what role media should play in their lives, and even how to act appropriately when utilizing such devices. There are also a number of other videos available as well, videos covering everything from the power of words to plagiarism to cyber bullying. (I know this last one was more of a review type description of the site itself, but I just think that it’s phenomenal). In all, practicing digital citizenship, and then passing it on to students or one’s children, is critical, especially in today’s world.

My learning thus far . . .

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Photo CC: by Martin

To start off, and to be completely honest, I didn’t know what to expect before taking this course. I’ve taken other online technology classes before, but they were never much use (in my opinion) and in all honesty, I forgot about all the information just as fast as I learned it. This course has been different, however, and so far it has exceeded my expectations. I say this because there is so much independent learning taking place. To compare it to the other technology courses I’ve taken, they were much more rigid, and there wasn’t much room for exploration. It essentially was this: you did the required assignments, participated in the required forums (if there were any), took the quizzes, and moved on to the next chapter. Whereas in this class, we’ve all been encouraged to branch out, to break out of our comfort zone, and to learn about new topics and subjects that interest us, while still learning about and learning how to utilize the plethora of different technologies available to us. For example, I’ve learned a lot about my independent learning project, which is graphic design. I’ve also discovered that while I already utilized some types of social media platforms, such as Twitter, I’ve come to like blogging as well. I would’ve never thought twice about blogging before this, but it’s actually pretty fun. In terms of taking part in the modules, on the other had, I’ve really enjoyed them. While they’re each due Sunday night, what’s appealing to me is that we can work through them at our own pace (I typically should get started on them earlier in the week, however!) The ones that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the most, when I think about it, would probably be module 3: choosing your own education and module 5: building your own PLN. These have stood out to me because in terms of module 3, I’ve rediscovered my love for TED Talks (they’re literally the best thing in the world), and in terms of module 5, I’ve discovered that in whatever interests you, that there are literally thousands of professionals out there in which you can connect with. For example, as you all know, I built my PLN around children’s literature. There were numerous authors and illustrators I’ve followed, and there have been some that have even tweeted at me and followed me back! How cool is that? It’s mind blowing how one can instantly connect with people around the world like that. In terms of what module has been the most challenging, on the other hand, it has probably been module 7: ds106. I say this because I didn’t have a clue about what ds106 was/is, and it was difficult for me to wrap my mind around it for some reason. It’ll come to me, however! And lastly, in terms of what I hope to learn in the second semester, I hope to really dig into my ILP, even more so than I already have, and also discover new and exciting ways to implement all the different types of technologies into my future classroom. I also hope to take part in all the different daily activities/daily challenges that are available out there. In all, this has probably been one of my favorite online classes so far. It’s really kind of relaxing to sit down and work through the module . . . hopefully I’m not the only one who thinks this??