Baseball Just Might Save the World

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I normally post about things media or technology but I decided I wanted to share something different today.

With all that is going on in our world and our country, many people express concern about the youth of today and how they are part of this problem. As a teacher, I could not disagree more. This past weekend proved my point perfectly.

I went to my nephew’s little league regional championship game. And what a great experience it was. These boys are 10 years old and at their first “BIG” game. They are from Chatham County Georgia and their nickname is The Cheeto’s because they wear orange uniforms.

They are a rag-tag team of players, some playing baseball for the first time ever. They are all adorable, smart and polite. As I sat waiting for the game to start, I watched countless volunteer parents, coaches, announcers, field workers…the list goes on and on – all of these adults working together to make sure these kids have a great experience. And the kids were having the time of their life.

These kids don’t notice if the other players were black, white or green, only-can that guy hit? Wow what a pitcher! And playing their hearts out.

I watched my nephew, working along side his little friends, support each other when errors happen and hug each other when good plays were made. He even pitched the last strike out to win the game for the Cheeto’s . I was a nervous wreck, the parents were nervous wrecks, but Joey handled it like a pro. Even when a questionable play was called that loaded the bases with 2 outs, he was able to keep his head together and throw three strikes. I am so proud of him, not only for being a great ball player but for handling the pressure and caring about his team.

One of the great things was watching what baseball was teaching them. How they would cheer for each other and back each other up. So many life lessons can be learned in the game of baseball.

I noticed the coaches, my brother as one of them, making sure the kids played hard and fair and also making sure they had a good time and didn’t worry too much about winning. Don’t get me wrong, they wanted to win but these coaches knew how to balance that winning attitude with fun.

All of the players say the Little League Pledge at the beginning of each game:

Pledge

I trust in God
I love my country
And will respect its laws
I will play fair
And strive to win
But win or lose
I will always do my best

Then I looked around at the parents. These people were amazing. Supporting both teams, cheering on their kids, spending their hard earned money to pay for uniforms, hotel rooms, and driving the 5 hours for this game.

What it taught me was that it’s the parents, teachers and coaches of this world that are making sure that our next generation are good solid human beings. If a kid has parents who support them, teachers who care and coaches that care as much about the life lessons as they do about winning, our kids will turn out just fine.

If these boys are any indication of our future, it is definitely looking bright. If YOU are worried about our future, stop by a little league game, or better yet, volunteer to help, you will be glad you did.

Just wanted to share. Thanks for reading.

Community Advice

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Hello Media Connections:

I have a student who is graduating in December and needs some advice. She wants to work in media and use it as a tool to educate society about different social topics.

She has a passion for fighting gender stereotypes, particularly in sports.

Her capstone included doing research about the negative effects stereotypes can have on male athletes.

She wants to work in the non-profit arena using documentary film as her vehicle.

You are all experts in this world, where should she start? What types of jobs or internships should she pursue?

She is smart and passionate and would make a wonderful advocate for any social cause, I am just trying to steer her in some good directions.

Here are some suggestions I have already given:

*Start blogging about your cause
*Create a website and social media around your cause
*Connect with any and all people who work in your cause
*Volunteer
*Create your own short films, put them on your website and youtube and use social media          to connect people to them

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Thank you.

Expert?

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As an Assistant Professor of Mass Communications with a specialty in technologies of communications, I try to stay connected and researched in all the ways my students will be expected to communicate in the media field as they move into the industries that they choose.

But an expert? I am not sure if anyone can be an expert on emerging technologies for communications these days. Everything changes so quickly, as soon as I begin to learn something, there is something new to learn.

I work hard to know what is going on, up to the minute, in my field, but I believe that it is now up to all of us, as a collective, to learn and grow.

This is one of the things I really like about LinkedIn, I am able to have a community, specific to what I study and teach, that helps me to stay connected and learn everyday.

I began a website for sharing and learning technologies of communications. I wanted to create a place where we could all go and find answers, creations, information and knowledge about our collective areas of study.

The site consists of 12 areas of technology for learning and teaching:

  • Historical overview of Media Communications and technology
  • Interactive Storytelling
  • User-friendly Resources for Web and Interaction for Communications
  • Working with and on Mobile applications
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality products
  • Animation
  • Gaming
  • Emerging Technologies in Learning
  • Social Media for Interaction
  • Analytics and Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Awareness/Civic Engagement/Social Change
  • Looking into the Future

So, if you are an expert in one of these fields, or want to learn more…please share! We depend on each other to learn, grow, create and teach.

http://www.MCATshare.com

So, THANK YOU to my learning community. Please keep creating the wonderful posts I read each day and the information you share.

Exude Passion

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I have been teaching high school Seniors and college students for a number of years now.  Normally when you ask them what they want to do after college they respond with comments having to do with how much money they want to make.  I have often tried to dissuade them from focusing on the money and follow a passion.  Many of them don’t know what their passion is.

Recently I started thinking about the whole “passion” thing.  What is it, really?

My initial Google search responded with two definitions:

  • Strong and barely controllable emotion.
  • The suffering and death of Jesus.

So, let’s leave the latter one out of this conversation.  We want 18-23 year olds to have a strong and barely controllable emotion about SOMETHING.  Sure, they might love music or acting or sports and believe that they will be the next great superstar, and hopefully they will.   But what about the ones who are searching, how do we help them find their passion?

Next I Googled, “find your passion” and I got many suggestions:

  • Revisit your childhood
  • Make a creativity board
  • Make a list of people who are where you want to be

After some more in depth readings, I consistently came across the name Dr. Cal Newport of Georgetown University and his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

Newport talks about cultivating rather than following your passion.  I like this idea and I think it is something that can help students to better understand the “what’s next” of their life after college.

“ “Follow” implies that you discover the passion in advance then go match it to a job. At which point, you’re done.

“Cultivate” implies that you work toward building passion for your job.” (Newport)

Newport’s ideas are smart and simple.  Cultivating a passion requires that you approach your work like a craftsman.  Honing your abilities and becoming the best you can be at whatever job you choose.  When you are great at something, you fall in love, where there is love, there is passion.

So, whether you are an accountant, artist, teacher or grocery store clerk, if you pour your energy into being the best you can be, you will find a passion.  If you cannot find the caring or energy to do this, perhaps you might be in the wrong job?  I see far too many people working this way. People just getting the workday over with.  If only they would take the time to be the best clerk, teacher, accountant they can be, they might just find some passion.

And, can’t we all use a little more passion in our lives???

I would love to know your thoughts.  Please share here or visit my website: MCATshare.com

Resource:

Millburn, J. ‘Follow Your Passion’ is Crappy Advice. Retrieved from: http://www.theminimalists.com/cal/

 

Social Awareness -> Social Change, in the middle: Civic Engagement

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Today I took some time and watched Billions in ChangeThis short film centers on Manoj Bhargava, the creator of Five Hour Energy Drink, and his philanthropic work.  And let me tell you, it was quite inspiring.  The work he is doing will change the world.  His inventions shop, Stage 2 Innovations is creating inventions and technologies that will make a difference in everyone’s life, but they concentrate on;

“inventing stuff that makes a difference in other people’s lives. Specifically,  focusing on inventions that can help the poorer half of the world make their lives better, that’s what we define as a great invention.” 

As a Mass Communications professor, I teach the technologies of media but believe that as “the media”, and good people, we are responsible for creating social awareness/social change in our world.  I work this into as much of my curriculum as possible.

But in order to get from Social Awareness to Social Change, we need to create Civic Engagement.  WE are the change.  Building a website or create a documentary that makes people aware of what needs to be done for a better world, is a start, but it is the call to action that creates the real change.

I am building my Advanced Technologies class around the creation of an Interactive Documentary for Social Change.  The students choose a cause or social campaign that they believe in, create several videos that build the understanding of the cause and then use the tools of technology and social media to create the awareness.  But the project is not complete unless there is Civic Engagement and some form of Social Change.  The engagement can be represented in analytics, feedback and interaction from audience/users.

One of my challenges with this course it creating the excitement in my students to want to get involved with a cause, any cause.  According to the Journal for Civic Engagement, recent years have witnessed a decline in civic engagement among college students.

I thought I would look into how to best develop Social Awareness/Civic Engagement/Social Change for my students.

Beginning with Social Awareness, a definition:

A socially aware individual values human rights and acknowledges the importance of harmonious social interaction for the developmental progress of human beings.

Civic Engagement:

Civic engagement refers to the ways in which citizens participate in the life of a community in order to improve conditions for others or to help shape the community’s future.

Social Change:

A range of typical social and civic outcomes from increased awareness and understanding, to attitudinal change, to increased civic participation, the building of public will, to policy change that corrects injustice

Looking at these three definitions helps me to begin laying out the plan of action for my students work.  The student will create a project which, focuses on a social issue, values human/animal rights, and gives the opportunity for citizens to participate in order to create increased awareness and understanding.

To do this, here are a few ideas to follow:

  • Use deeds, not pleas to bring change- Don’t just talk, Do SOMETHING
  • Use what you have-Work with the resources you have
  • Create compelling, personal stories for support
  • Speak a language everyone understands-don’t get fancy, get real
  • Small scale changes may be an essential component of persistence on a larger scale
  • To go far, go together-convince people to join your passion

The hope is for the excitement to come from the creativity and caring, and maybe they just might learn something.

This again, is a work in progress.  It would be great to have input from colleagues who are working with this now.  I welcome any response or shares on my website, MCATshare.com

The MCATshare.com website is dedicated to creating a place for teachers and students(of any age) to go and find ways to use Media Communications and Technology to change the world.  Please visit, learn and share!

Thank you!

References:
Mochari, I. Inside the Mind of the Billionaire Who Built the 5-Hour Energy Empire Retrieved from: http://www.inc.com/ilan-mochari/5-hour-energy-billions-in-change.html
Bridgman, M. Encouraging Civic Engagement on College Campuses.  Retrieved from: http://ccncce.org/articles/encouraging-civic-engagement-on-college-campuses-through-discussion-boards/

Social Media Rules

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Social Media Rules?

As a high school teacher for eight years, I made it a rule to not allow friending of students until they graduated.  I am now a college professor, who spends many hours lecturing on social media image and its effects on your life and career.

So, I have recently had a change of heart about allowing my current students to friend me on social media.  If I am going to lecture on the importance of conscious social media posting, shouldn’t I lead by example?   My constant mantra- Think Before You Post is something I truly attempt to live by.

As evidence of Curt Schilling’s firing from ESPN today, if you want to be respected for the work you do, you need to treat your social media as another outlet of yourself, just as you do your appearance and public image.

USAToday posted 5 simple rules of social media, but here is my favorite:

The Grandma, First Grader, Boss Rule

Ask yourself, “Would I want my grandma to see this post? What about a classroom full of first graders? My boss?” If the answer to any of those questions is ‘no,’ do not post it.

Here are a few things to consider with social media:

  • Once you put it out there, it’s there forever
  • Copyright infringement
  • What you say reaches a lot of people…including future employers
  • It is your calling card
  • Practice good grammar
  • Know about what you comment on
  • Know social media guidelines at your workplace
  • Create positive relationships-be careful who you connect with
  • Don’t lie or use misguided information…know your facts before posting

For teachers, here is a Prezi I use to talk to students about conscious social media:

The Road Ahead: with Social Media

So, Whats a Chatbot??

Funny robot sit with headphones

So after reading Jan Rezab’s post and watching his Social Media Minute(great videos!) on Social Messaging Bots:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/social-messaging-bots-biggest-thing-since-facebook-jan-rezab?trk=prof-post

And watching Mark Zuckerberg discuss Facebook’s launch of the Messenger platform with chat bots:

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-36021889

I realized that I knew nothing about bots and it was time to see what they are about.  So, here it goes.

A Chatbot is a chatter robot is a type of conversational agent, a computer program designed to simulate an intelligent conversation with one or more human users via auditory or textual methods.

Chatterbots(original name) were mere curiosities for amusement only, in the 1960’s. One of the earliest chatterbots was called ELIZA.

ELIZA’s key method of operation (copied by chatbot designers ever since) involves the recognition of cue words or phrases in the input, and the output of corresponding pre-prepared or pre-programmed responses which can move the conversation forward in an apparently meaningful way.

Now Facebook is taking it to a new level.  Messenger’s Chatbots are promising to streamline interactions between customers and businesses through an automated process.

I decided to try creating a bot for myself.  I Googled around and found that most of the bot building is a bit more complex than my capabilities, but, I did find a site that would allow me to make my own “baby bot” as an experiment.

Pandorabots allows you to create a chatbot, without any great knowledge of code, that lives in their playground(unless you pay a monthly fee, of course).

 

Here is my baby bot:

Go here and sign up for free:

https://playground.pandorabots.com/en/

Once you are signed up you can search my chatbot: mcatshare and talk to my bot.  You can also build one of your own.  If you are having any trouble, email me and I will walk you through.

I will put a tutorial on my share site: MCATshare.com

Thank you!