Category Archives: 831 Final Project

Nancy Smith Grad Studies 2019-12-11 04:57:00

Summary of Major Digital Project

For my major digital project for EC&I 831, I completed Option A: to undertake a major digital project that involves the integration/development of open educational resources related to my practice.

Specifically, I worked on creating a parent education initiative on social media.  

In March of 2018, I self-published a book, Social Citizens: A Positive Approach to Social Media & Parenting in a Digital World.  I wrote the book in response to a negative experience I had attending a parent session on social media safety at my son's school.  The session focused on all of the dangers of social media rather than explore how parents can help guide their kids in responsible use.  I found the session to be very extreme and the audience was left with many frightening examples of cyber-bullying, sexting and child pornography.  The advice was to discourage kids from using it as long as possible.

That advice did not resonate for me, so I shared a post on Facebook about my frustration

The response was overwhelmingly supportive (63 post reactions, and 48 comments).  My friends and family encouraged me to share the knowledge that I have as a practitioner and social media educator and apply it to help parents.

My focus was on speaking at schools, education conferences and for parent groups.  I had a business coach who was encouraging me to find ways to "monetize my knowledge" and that there were great opportunities to reach a large audience and profit from this.  This advice never resonated with me.  It wasn't the reason I was motivated to do this project, nor did the advice align with my values.

So, when our professor Dr. Alec Couros challenged us with creating a major digital project, I thought it was a good opportunity to leverage the work I had done and build out more resources that would be free/open to all.
I used the materials I wrote and researched for my book as the core content for my project.   
The digital project would build my website and my Facebook page 

I shared my project idea with our class in this blogpost on September 24:

It was validating to get feedback from other students that my idea would be valuable as a resource:

Little did I know at the time that this would be the easiest part of the project - coming up with the idea.  The hard part would become a reality over the month of October.

A few weeks later, I wrote this blog as an update on my progress:

I realized I had no idea where to start. So, I created a list and determined the priorities I would need to learn to complete.

1. I would need to learn how to use the website platform Squarespace so I could add pages to my website and build out the content

2. Determine content plan for my website, which I divided into two phases:

Phase 1: build out content for my existing book.  I spent over 10 months writing and researching the material, so it is important to leverage this.  Specifically, I will:

- record audio version to be uploaded as either an audiobook or podcast (still in research mode to determine which I will do)

I was eager to learn about podcasting, and it was beneficial that this timing coincided with the week in our course where we were reviewing tools & technology that could help build open education content.  Several students, including myself, wrote blogs about the app

I had tried recording using Audacity and Garageband, but found the process to be confusing and overwhelming.  I had previously I reached out to a friend who is a podcaster Ernest Barbaric , and who runs an annual Podcasting Conference called Podsummit.  He helped me get a professional recording microphone and gave me some great advice on the audio recording process.  However, I found being the perfectionist that I am prone to, I was overwhelmed.  Instead, I committed to trying the app I had reviewed,

The actual research and recording process from start to finish took me approximately 20hours.  I rehearsed, recorded, re-recorded and finally published the series of podcasts that would act as an audiobook

Here is the audiobook/podcast series

I was surprised when I looked at the analytics that I have had over 150 plays of my podcast episodes.  I was happy to see that they were all on the Planet Earth (I love that the app is FUN and easy to use) but was really interested to see that 60% of my listeners were in the United States!

Here is the blog post update after I completed my podcast series:

My November update

Realizing my goal of learning how to add to my website proved to be more challenging than I anticipated.  I found some resources online that I used including on, Youtube and Udemy.  And I was successful in building out the framework and content of the site.

I have added new pages, and have continued to work on content but must admit this did not get close to my goal for completion.

I guess the good news is, now I know how to do it, and I can continue to make progress and add to it every month.

I am pleased with the efforts I made on my Facebook page - during the timeline of this project I shared 27 facebook posts - and my Facebook analytics show that my content reached over 1,400 people across North America.  I am always amazed at how social media can help share your message!

In summary, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share my ideas/opinions/knowledge with these resources that are open for anyone to access.  

Final Project Update – November 4, 2019

I have been inspired reading the blogs of my fellow students and watching some of the videos they are sharing of the progress made so far.  It reinforces that not everyone is born with the gift of playing music on the guitar or piano being able to paint or sew ... and it takes hard work and determination and lots of practice to get really good at something.

I should know that it takes practice to get better and improve at a task, and yet, I have ALWAYS struggled with giving up too soon.  I want to buy a book, or watch a video and expect that I should be
able to master a skill, which I understand is completely unrealistic!  But, I am impatient.  It drives my husband crazy that I don't tend to read directions/instructions or event follow recipes.

I have started - and ultimately quit - more hobbies and projects than I care to remember.  It is a quality that I want to work on improving and this final project has been a humble reminder that I still need to work on!

So, I decided to take action and break down my goals for my final projects into actionable steps.

My goal for this week was to record the audiobook version of my book.

To be clear, this has been a goal of mine since the book was published in February 2018.  However, the process of how to accomplish this goal has been overwhelming, and therefore has never been completed.

I researched a variety of means to get this done.

  • I Googled "How to record an audiobook" and found out that I could basically do it myself, or I could hire someone.  
    • I did look into hiring someone, but I figured that would defeat the purpose of this final project exercise.  Plus, it would cost between $400-$1200 
    • I immediately was overwhelmed by the advice on many blogs on how "easy" it is to self record your own audiobook.  Most spoke about editing software, expensive microphones and the need for a recording studio for good sound.
    • I tried using Garageband which is free software on my Mac computer, but I was impatient with how complicated it seemed.
  • I went to the Calgary Public Library and discovered that they have an Audio Recording Studio that I could rent for free.  The studio comes with all the equipment needed including the microphones/editing software etc.  
Ultimately it was reading the blogs of other students that helped me determine the actionable step I could do - thanks to Kayln, Amanda , Kyla and others I decided that I could use  to record my audiobook.  I had written my own review in Week 2 on how to use Anchor, so I was already familiar with what the app is and what it does.  Without any hesitation or procrastination, I created a free account and got started.

I watched several Youtube videos on "Audio Book Narration Tips for Beginners" and gleaned several tips I decided to implement.

Focus on the pace and volume.  When I am excited, I tend to speak quickly so be aware of speaking slowly and clearly.  
Pause for effect.  Be sure to let information resonate with the listener by using an intentional pause 
Humanize my reading.  When I started recording I got dressed up, stood up and pretended I was delivering a presentation or book reading to an audience.  I LOVE public speaking, so this helped make my reading sound more personable.

Within 9 hours I had completed the audio recording of my book!  The only technology I needed was my phone and the app.  I took breaks and drank lots of water so that I didn't sound tired, raspy voiced or like a robot.

I recorded each of the chapters of my book as an episode of the podcast.  Once I finished each chapter, I reviewed for any edits that I needed to make - I used the handy ⚐ (flag) feature whenever I was recording and knew I would need to edit that part (ie. I sneezed, my dog snored)

I then hit publish and Anchor then guided me to take action for the next steps to get this published and here is my audiobook! 

Is it perfect?  No.  

Is it done?

Once the podcast chapters were published I finalized my artwork, and channel description.  I then clicked the link to have Anchor distribute my podcast to all of the various players.  Did I mention that this is all for FREE and only took a couple of clicks of the mouse?

I shared the links on my social media channels (Facebook page, and Twitter )

So far, I have had 11 people listen!  Maybe it was some of you?

Thanks for reading.  I'm curious, can you relate to my perfection procrastination?  

A turning point in my education

It is difficult to me to describe the impact this week's topic of Open Education has had on me.  It feels as though a massive shift in my understanding of how my collective experience and education has collided.

My previous understanding of what I thought open education was very limited in my definition.  I thought it meant that people could simply access online courses or materials for free without limitation to access.

Needless to say, I had a lot to learn.

The videos in our course materials this week were incredibly thought provoking for me.

I started with watching Ze Frank's Ted Talk from TedGlobal 2010 called "My Web Playroom".  I was captivated with his creativity and how he leverages the web to build a network of "connecting to people".  He also happens to be a very funny and engaging presenter so I was hooked.  I had seen some of his projects online before, but did not know he was the orchestrator of them.

I loved how he experimented with new ideas and content!

This theme of being willing to experiment and try new things.  To remix what exists with something new.  To share with others and have their input on your ideas was the consistent theme in many of the videos from this week's course materials.

Frankly, this was the inspiration I needed because I have been stalled in making much progress in my final project.   The simple, safe work is completed.  I shared my progress last week in my blog - basically, I have built the shell of the resource page for my website
But now the hard part has to happen.  I need to build the content for this page.

I have wondered why I haven't done this before now.  It isn't because I don't think it is a good idea, or that others have asked.

Dean Shareski 's  video Sharing: The Moral Imperative may provide the best answer to my internal question. In his video he addressed some of the same questions I have had about my work

is it worth my time?
How do I make it valuable and meaningful?

And I would add:
What if what I share isn't good enough?
Who am I to take this on?

But his video inspired me to take action. I really was struck by his statement that teachers should give their time and energy for sharing - and that essentially, education is sharing.

I then went to and recorded the audio book of into 6 episodes. I have been procrastinating doing this for over a year. It was Dean's video that inspired me to just get it done.

Here is the link to my podcast/audiobook:

I will be writing another blog post about the other readings for this week - stay tuned!

What did you think about the course material from this week #ECI831?  Did it inspire you to think differently about open education?

Update on my Final Project – October 2019

For my final project I have been working on outlining the plan for how I will build out the resource page for my Social Citizens website.

Progress Checklist (Completed):

✅ updated my 60 minute parent presentation
✅ delivered parent presentation at Calgary Academy on October 16th - had very positive feedback
✅ created Resource page on my website (see below)

Next Steps for October - November:

𝤿 research links to include on resource page
🗸 write 4 blog posts that are timely and relevant (maybe a Tik Tok explainer?)
𝥷 record audio for podcast or audiobook
𝥷 create explainer videos on key topics from my book

Step 1: Learn options for my website builder, Squarespace.

So far I have built the page but have not published it.

Honestly, I am so impressed with how easy Squarespace is to use.  I am not a web designer and yet I feel like my project looks really good!

For the resource page I have the option to add:
- website links
- videos
- download section for documents
- Podcast links

Now that the structure is there, I can start building out the content plan.

Step 2: Schedule a content plan.

I decided that I would approach my content calendar in two phases:

Phase 1: build out content for my existing book.  I spent over 10 months writing and researching the material, so it is important to leverage this.  Specifically, I will:

- create short videos of the key topics
- record audio version to be uploaded as either an audio book or podcast (still in research mode to determine which I will do)

Phase 2:  research existing resources and link out that would be a helpful resource to parents on digital citizenship and raising kids in a digital era.

Do you have any suggestions for me on topics or resources I should include to help parents?  

For my final Project #ECI831

I have decided to focus my major digital project for #ECI 831 in Option A: to undertake a major digital project that involves the integration/development of open educational resources related to my practice.

Specifically, I am going to design, implement and assess a parent education initiative on social media.

I am going to use the book I self published as the core content and I intend to create a variety of open source resources based on the material I wrote.  When I decided to write the book, I was motivated by parents who were looking for a resource to help them with their kids and managing technology and social media.
I had always intended to build out more resources for parents beyond the book, but I never have.  My website has a blog and I have been terrible at being consistent about writing.  In fact, my last post was in April .... of 2018.  

I previously had a section that was intended to have lots of resources for parents where they could find more information, but I removed it from my website because it was empty.  I never found the time, and did not make the time to complete it.

So, that is why I think this might be the right time for this project!  

Here are some of my ideas for content I plan to research, create, curate and collaborate on:

- research links to existing articles, videos and online resources to help parents with information on social media, research etc that will help empower them with information to help with parenting their kids in an area they may not feel comfortable or familiar with.

- create a free version of my book - I am thinking either a video series or an audio book that could be available online from my website

- create a podcast series where I interview experts that provide insights and information from different perspectives for parents to learn from.

- write at least 4 blog posts by the end of the class on the on this project

I welcome ANY feedback from my classmates.  Would this be a valuable resource?  Do you agree with my content suggestions that I might build out?  Any other suggestions.

P.S. I would like to offer to send anyone who is interested in a copy of my book.  I would really value your feedback on that too.

Thanks everyone!