EDTC 300 – Summary of Learning

Hey everyone!

It’s been a long 7 months, but the time has finally come for me to share my summary of learning for EDTC 300.

My original summary of learning was to simply be me talking over a PowerPoint.  However, I found that to be too trivial for me, as making PowerPoints, and talking about them is right in my comfort zone.

(My original PowerPoint that I decided to scrap)

As such, I have decided to do a few things.  I made a Newsletter using Smore, that gives a brief summary of what you might learn in EDTC 300.   (You will see my Newsletter in the video, but I invite you to check it out at the link above as well!)

Additionally, I made a persuasive video as to why everyone should take EDTC 300.  I show tidbits of the learning experiences, some of the tools used in the course, and I tried to add a little humour here and there.  (Mostly at the beginning through popular memes, a topic covered in this course).

Also, for this final project, I made a goal for myself to limit the amount of times I said ‘um’, or ‘uhh’, or similar words.  It has long been problematic for me to speak without using such words.

(Script for my video)

Here is the complete list of the tools that are mentioned/used in this video (in order of appearance):

Microsoft PowerPoint (Popular Presentation Tool)
Soundboard (Ferris Bueller clip)
Know Your Meme (Salt Bae picture)
Smore (Newsletter editor)
(Icons made by Icon Pond from Flaticon is licensed by Creative Commons BY 3.0.
Icons made by Freepik from  Flaticon is licensed by   Creative Commons BY 3.0.) (In Newsletter)
Skitch (Annotating Tool)
Friending Cats and Following Eggs by David Meerman Scott (Article used for Skitch Demo)
iMovie (Video Editing Software for Mac Users) (Used to edit my summary)
QuickTime Player (Media Player and Recorder) (Used to record all clips for my video)
Screencastify (Screen Capture and Audio Recording Software) (Used for all previous videos in EDTC 300)
WordPress (Free Blog hosting Website)
My Professional Portfolio
Twitter (Follow me @DannyStJacques)
Code.org (Coding website used in EDTC 300)
(My #hourofcode video)
This is Why Kids Need to Learn to Code by Doug Belshaw (Article used in video)
Google (Search Engine used in Digital Identity Clips)
Character Education for the Digital Age by Jason Ohler (Article cited in video)

My Professional Learning Project Blog posts (Mentioned in video)

Thanks for a great class!

 

 

 

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Helping Others Grow

Hey all!

Before I go any further, I want to say that I’ve thought about my title for a good half an hour.  I couldn’t come up with anything more creative than that, so it will hav to do!

As for the topic of this post, I will be exploring the different ways I have contributed to the discussion, or tools I have used in EDTC300 to help others learn alongside me.

Admittedly, I was not very present during EDTC300 do to a tedious period of hospitalization.  It was considerably harder for me to get work done than I originally anticipated when signing up for this course, and it required a deferral.  That meant I would not be actively completing this course alongside my peers.  As such, when it came time to contributing to others’ learning, I had to get a little more creative, as the Google+ Community, as well as others’ blogs were no longer being frequently updated.  Continuing reading to discover how I contributed to others’ learning despite my challenges.

Google+ Community

Although I did not actively participate on Google+ after the first few weeks of the course, I still managed to make a few posts of encouragement here and there, and tried to contribute in a meaningful way before others’ learning projects really took off.

  (My introduction to  my peers in EDTC 300)

( Comments I made on others’ posts)

It’s hard to say I used Google+ to it’s full potential during this course, but I can attest to how useful it can be to create an online community.  It enables many different users to share resources, ideas, and events in a close community.  It can be a powerful tool for maintaining an online PLN, and if done right, can be more orderly than alternatives such as Twitter. Unfortunately, it seems as though Google+’s days are limited. 

Blogging/Comments

In the first posts on my blog, I always tried to give the reader something to think about, especially for my learning project.  I felt that opening the door to new ideas, and inspiring others to keep on going despite their frustrations (by discussing  my own frustrations with my learning project).

One post I felt really did a good job at inviting others to think a little further about their learnings is my mid-semester reflection.  This post was not required by any means, but I thought reflecting back on the first half of the course would provide me a point of reference for this current post (which it did), but also show the idea to others so they may do the same.  

Needless to say, I was happy to see that there was some engagement with my post (the comment above).  Unfortunately, I wrote this post shortly before my time in EDTC was virtually at it’s end, and I did not have an opportunity to respond to the comment.

Another blog post in which I contributed to others’ learning was my post done in Collaboration with Raegyn.   In this post, we explored the world of blogging, and how some might not see it as ‘safe’. By collaborating with each other, we effectively both contributed to the other’s learning, as this blog post contains a mixture of ideas from both of us.  To top it all off, we presented it in a fun way through the making of a skit.  It could now be an interesting concept to use in the classroom to have students act out a potential scenario portraying the pros and cons of the blogging world.

Sadly, despite having commented on others’ blogs before my hospitalization, my records of them have been lost, and I can no longer track down the comments I had made.  (If any of my peers are reading this, and I made a comment that helped you on your blog, feel free to comment below!)

Twitter

Twitter is by far the way I contributed the most to others’ learning.  Over the course of this course, I of course, followed the course of expanding my PLN on Twitter. (Repeating words can be fun).  To do this, I originally aimed to make 2-3 Tweets per day.  Although I did manage to reach an average of just over 2 tweets a day in the time I spent actively working towards completing this course, I found that not all Tweets are created equally.  What I mean by that is that some posts are well received by others, and others seem to go unnoticed.

These two posts are a prime example of this.  These were posted roughly a week a part (While I was recovering), and one post received 8 likes, and the other got nothing.  At the time of posting, I was actually more excited about the tool that could be used by students to create AR stories. (No really, check it out.  It looks amazing, and I definitely want to use it in a lesson), than the other post.  It was sort of saddening that that post seemed to fall to the wayside, despite how excited I was to post it originally.  As such, I decided to focus more on the quality of my posts, than the quantity.

This meant more retweeting quotes I found inspirational, interacting in meaningful ways on others’ tweets, but most importantly, the use of Twitter Chats.  For those who may not know, Twitter chats are a wonderful way of interacting with other users on just about any given topic. They are so effective, I have been considering starting/joining one of my own if I ever have the time.  (For those interested in Twitter Chats, and how to host a successful, this blog has all you need to know).

Twitter Chats

Although Twitter chats are not the only form of contributing to others’ learning that took place on Twitter for me, I feel like they are the most prominent.  I have participated in a few different Twitter chats, however my two favourite are by far #saskedchat (Thursdays at 8pm) and #newteacherjourney (Sundays).  Both of these chats have given me opportunities to build my own knowledge, but they also gave me a channel for which to speak my thoughts on various topics relating to the field of teaching.  Here are some of my contributions to both of these chats:

I have found that Twitter chats are my preferred way to building my PLN.

Google Drive/Website

Although this is not necessarily in the context of this course, it is a way of implementing technology to contribute to the learning of others.  Back in March of 2018 (Outside of this course), I created a Google Drive which was going to be for me to store lesson plans.  (I had crazy dreams at the time, like planning lessons across every subject/outcome in the SK curriculum.  Definitely an instance of setting unobtainable goals for myself).  However, in September, it was suggested that the cohort of Middle Years teachers have a space to share lessons and plans that they have developed.  As such, I opened up the Google Drive to them.  This is what it currently looks like:

The website is currently a work in progress.  It was created to provide a different interface to share lessons and units plans.  Personally, despite what Google Drive allows for, I found it could sometimes be difficult to navigate.  With this website, it is possible to give a brief synopsis of each resource in order to reduce the number of clicks for its users.  However, as you can see from the GIF (created using Gyazo), there are a lot of pages involved.  Managing all of them might become too much of a burden, but time will tell.

(Looking at this, it is likely I will rethink my approach).

Having a website online that enables a group of educators to share resources they have developed is an excellent way to maintain an active PLN.  However, due to the bulk of the webpages, I may need to put more thought into how each grade level is split up.  (Or maybe just leave it to subject/grade).

This is still a work in progress, and I plan on having it more complete over the course of the December break.

 

What’s next?

When it comes to what will happen in the future, it’s simple:  keep going.  As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day — and neither is a PLN.  It takes time, effort, and perseverance.  I plan to join regular Twitter chats still, as they are fun, and it’s always time well-spent.  Developing further skills, and joining different Twitter chats may be in the future.  Maybe even knitting, or blogging.

 

#knitterintraining : Knitting is a metaphor for life

Hey all!

Over the past few months, I have been fortunate enough to learn the skill of knitting.  Let me tell you, it was not easy.  Knitting and me were not exactly the best of friends.  The reasons for this are many:

  • I seldom read instructions (Knitting typically requires the use of patterns, and I am guilty of not even learning how to read those).
  • I can’t focus for long periods of time. (The second I lost focus, I would accidentally drop a stitch, and it became a constant game of picking up my dropped stitch.)
  • I like to start over when I make a mistake. (Knitting was particularly challenging in this regard, as many mistakes were made).
  • I rarely have a lot of time on my hands. (Knitting is time consuming, even more so than I thought at the beginning).

However, despite these struggles, I am incredibly grateful that I took up knitting, and even managed to knit my own infinity scarf (without following any particular pattern of course.) The trials were gruesome, and perhaps my own stubborn attitude added considerably to the difficulty level, but nonetheless, I found a way to power through and come out with a final product I am happy about.

(Me, happily wearing my finished product).

Skills I learned (Pertaining to knitting)

Over the course of this project, I tried to learn something new for every post.  I was actually more or less successful in that endeavour.

  • How to make a slip knot : this is perhaps the most important thing to learn, because without it, you can’t start knitting.  It’s the very first stitch of any project! (My mother later told me I could just use a simple knot, but I decided to do things like the videos told me!)
  • How to cast on: (You will find that a lot of my skills were learned from one video).  This was by far the most frustrating part of my experience.  I spent longer learning how to cast on than I did on any single paper in University.  It was nearly the end of my knitting journey, but I persevered.  (In addition to the video, I had a lot of help learning this part from my sister and mother)
  • The knit stitch:  This was another frustrating part of my journey.  When I first started, I somehow picked up extra stitches, and randomly dropped stitches.  My first few hours, I had very little to show for, but I knew I was improving. (The picture on the left is what I had to show for my first few hours.  The picture on the right is after I got the hang of it.)
  • What to do when you run out of yarn: Contrary to popular belief, or at least my original belief, running out of yarn is not a reason to go into a state of full on panic.  As the video shows, there are easy ways to join a new ball of yarn to your project.  However, they leave pesky tails hanging out of your scarf, as can be seen in the following picture.
  • How to bind off: Although I had a video to learn how to bind off, my sister happened to be visiting, and I found it much easier to ask her how to finish my project.  Luckily, I got this on my first shot, and didn’t have the same frustrations as every other step.
  • How to weave in loose ends: Once again, I chose to take advantage of my sister being around to learn how to weave in my tails.  However, I figured including the video would allow anyone else hoping to learn how to knit. (See my blog post on my final steps here)
  • How to link both ends of my scarf:  Admittedly, I did not use a video at all for this.  My sister simply told me it was the same as weaving in the tails from when I added yarn, and away I went.  The picture is when I have almost completely finished attaching both ends.

Now, although I feel like I have come a long way, there are still two skills I would like to learn:

  • How to purl: Although it was in the video, I chose to not learn a second stitch during this project because I really wanted to achieve mastery over one stitch before learning a second.
  • How to read patterns: As I do plan on knitting in the future, it would be crazy not to learn how to read a pattern.  Even if I am not a big fan of instructions.  Patterns seem to be important, and my decision not to learn how to read them may very well have made my journey that much longer.

Other things I’ve learned:

  1. Knitting is for everyone: I learned that knitting isn’t reserved for older ladies.  It can be a fun experience for kids, and it is extremely exciting to finish your first project.  I guess you can’t believe everything you see on T.V.
  2. You will make mistakes: At first, my mistakes were limiting.  Every mistake I made, I felt I had to start over.  And so I did.  It was only after a few hours that I decided to keep going when I made a mistake.  That is when I really started to see progress.
  3. Knitting requires some focus: When I picked up knitting, I thought I would be able to do it absent-mindedly, sort of like when I use a fidget toy.  Turns out, I could, if I was okay with making a lot of mistakes.  Which, I wasn’t.
  4. Patience is a necessity: I am not always a patient person, especially when it comes to myself.  I always get over-excited, and try to rush things, and knitting is not something you can rush easily.
  5. Time:  Knitting requires time.  I always thought I could come away with an amazing final product with very little time invested into knitting.  I was wrong.  This simple scarf I made required more hours than any other project I have attempted in University.  It took time, patience, and perseverance.
  6. Following a pattern might make life easier: Although I willingly chose not to follow a pattern, I have a feeling that if I did, my scarf would have turned out much better.  Or at least, I may have learned more about knitting than I actually did.
  7. I am a very hands-on learner: Although I used videos for most of this project, I found out that I learn a lot better when someone is right in front of me, showing and explaining the steps.  Then, I have to attempt it by myself.  Videos are a great way to learn, but for me, they were far from optimal.And perhaps the most realization I had from knitting:
  8. Knitting is a metaphor for life.  Every single stitch represents a different moment, a different decision, a different day.  Most stitches happen as expected: They are easy, and they look as they supposed to.  However, sometimes, you will make mistakes.  It might be dropping a stitch, or picking up an extra stitch.  Those feel horrible and might be preventable.  But ultimately, they can be fixed.  In the end product, you can hardly tell where I made such mistakes.  Finally, some things are out of your control.  Sometimes, the yarn has a tight knot in it, or it will split.  At the time, it feels bad, and it seems like it’s the end of the road.  However, there are ways around it.  There are a few times, when making my scarf, such a thing occurred.  Not going to lie: I was ready to give up.  I thought it was the end of the world.  Instead, I decided to keep on going.  To find a fix, and keep knitting.   Now, looking at my scarf, you can hardly see where these things occurred.  It’s just like life.  Sometimes, you will make mistakes, and other times, things will happen to you that are out of your control.  They aren’t the end of the world, and looking back, they make up a rather small blemish on the entirety of your life.  These small blemishes aren’t worth ending and starting anew.  Actually, they are more a mark of perseverance.  When things got tough, you kept going, knowing that in the end, something much better awaited.

Knitting gave me a lot of time to look deep inside myself, and discover something that has been missing all along.  Knitting taught me that in life, accidents will happen.  Sometimes, you can fix them, others you can’t.  But the most important thing is to keep going.  To not give up, and realize that no matter how big a mistake may seem at that time, it is small in the grand scheme of things.

So, you want to be a knitter too?

Over this experience, I have explored a number of sources, despite only really using two resources for my project:

  1. YouTube:  YouTube is amazing for learning anything.  There is a how-to video for every skill under the Sun, and knitting is no exception.  For this project, I relied primarily on one video from Hobby Lobby on YouTube.  However, that particular channel has a number of different videos pertaining to knitting, and other hobbies that I may check out in the future.
  2. A real, live knitter:  The greatest resource I had was having someone near me who knows how to knit.  Whenever I was stuck to the point of frustration, I was able to have someone explain/show me how to proceed.  I highly suggest finding someone who knows how to knit before embarking on this journey.  But, if you can’t, other resources work too!
  3. Ravelry and LoveKnitting :   These are two sites I was planning on using, but didn’t due to opting not to use a pattern.  For my next project in knitting, I will likely find a pattern off of one of these sites, as they have plenty of different options to choose from.
  4. The LoveKnitting App: This app has both Ravelry and LoveKnitting included.  It is designed for you to keep patterns on your Smartphone.  These patterns are found on the aforementioned websites.  It is a nifty little app, that makes finding the pattern you’ve been working with a cinch.

This is the end of my knitting learning project.  When I first started out on this journey, I never would have dreamed of getting as far as I did.  The first weeks were frustrating, and the mistakes were multiple.  I learned so much, both about knitting, and about myself as a person/learner.  I hope this project inspires others to take up knitting, or at least give it a shot.  Nothing is more satisfying then completing your first project, even if it is riddled with errors.

Good luck!

#knitterintraining : Knitter’s Eve

Hey everyone!

I have been hard at work on my scarf, and although it is just about done, I’ve decided to give one final update on the unfinished version of the scarf.

As I was working on my scarf, I ran out of yarn.  This meant, I had to go out and get more (which is a big part of the reason this post is delayed as long as it was, as I just didn’t have time to make it to Michael’s, which is 50 minutes away.)

However, I finally did get more yarn, but I was faced with a new challenge.

Although it is a little hard to see, I managed to keep going.  In the top of this picture, you can see two ends coming out of my scarf.  This is the spot that I had to join the new ball of yarn.  To do this, I had to learn.  To do so, I followed the instructions on this YouTube video.

Luckily for me, it took no time at all, and I was able to continue knitting to my heart’s content.

After countless more hours, (I am finding that knitting is far more time consuming than I originally thought), I finally had something that resembled a finished product.

The scarf was almost four feet long, and I decided it was long enough.  (For this first project, I decided not to use a pattern.) . To think, it joiwas going to be a practice pot holder before the real deal, and I just kept going.

One problem, as you may see they are still there from earlier, are the ends that were out from when I joined the new ball of yarn.  To fix this, I went to an expert.  Or rather, my older sister, who has been knitting for quite a few years.  She taught me how to weave my ends in.  To do so, I needed a special needle, shown below.

These embroidering needles are like sewing needles, but are bigger in order to hold yarn.  Now, having the needles was only half the battle.  Next came weaving the ends into my scarf.  This proved to be a little trickier for me, as the yarn I was using tended to split apart a lot.  Nevertheless, I found a way.  I was able to weave in both ends, and it’s as if they were never there.  (Weaving involves taking the loose ends, and weaving them into adjacent stitches using the embroidering needle).

Finally, as my scarf was so lengthy, I opted to make an infinity scarf.  Using the needles I used to weave in the loose ends, I was also able to tie both ends of my scarf together. (Picture below).  It wasn’t as bad as I had already gotten some practice, but it was still a challenge for me to find the right stitches.

I am happy to say that I have finally finished my first project in the world of knitting.  Stay tuned tomorrow as I will explain my struggles, what I have learned, but most importantly to see my finished product!

An Hour of Code: Building Blocks of the Future

Hey everyone!

Today, I decided to give the hour of code a shot over on code.org.  Specifically, I chose to do the hour of code with Minecraft.  (When I saw I could code Minecraft, I just couldn’t resist.  All of the other options just disappeared from my view.)  Even though it was a short experience (much shorter than I would have liked, it was incredible.  Being able to code a small project in one of my all-time favourite games was unreal.  (I’ve spent hours with friends creating villages, leveling mountains, and creating giant pits of death in the middle of nowhere.)   The game itself has some of my fondest video game memories, and being able to create my own project within brought back some of those awesome memories.

What I Learned

The main thing I learned from this experience is that coding is not as hard as I once thought it was.  In fact, it was just like playing with lego: you put blocks in, and you create whatever you want.  It is a good way to get a small introduction to what the future will likely be based around.  And the code can be quite exact at times. For example, if you look at the last step of my video, everything that spawned did exactly as I instructed it to.  And I have to admit, what I told it to do, wasn’t what I thought I was telling it to do.  (If that makes any sense at all).  I encourage you to watch the end of the video, and try and make sense of what I just said!

What I Think About Code

This little coding project was one of the most fun things I have done in a long time.  It was simple, and I got to see instant results.  As I went on, I had more fun adding different commands, and spawning different items.  Overall, I think coding is a lot easier than I originally thought it would be, and I am sad I didn’t take the initiative to try it out sooner!

Is Coding Important in my Eyes? (Spoiler: Yes)

When I think about the road we are moving down, I feel like coding is an almost essential tool for all students to at least begin to grasp.  For instance, think about grocery stores.  5 years ago or so, we started seeing self-checkouts.  These self-checkouts are run automatically, but to build them, and maintain them, some knowledge of code is required.  Now, it may seem like a relatively small piece of society at this point, but we are rapidly moving towards a more automated world.  And the type of workers required will shift from physical labourers, to digital labourers, who work primarily in the domain of code.  So yes, coding is an important skill to learn.

 

With all that being said, I cannot wait to use this coding website in my classroom.  It was a fun and quick way to get an introduction to coding.  I related well to the task, being Minecraft based, and I am sure my students will enjoy it as well.  Best of all?  Anyone can do it!

 

#knitterintraining : Progress

Hey all!
Over the last few days, I have been doing a lot of work to improve my stitches.  In my last post, I was making a lot of mistakes.  Sometimes, I would pick up an extra stitch, and others I would lose a stitch.  At one point, I somehow lost 3 stitches in one row – I am not entirely sure how I managed that, but I definitely felt a need for improvement.

Alas! Improve is what I did.  Although my stitches are from perfect, progress is being made, and it’s been an exciting process.  The picture below shows my most recent work.

 

As you can see, I have decided to keep going despite making mistakes.  What I have found is I am becoming far more consistent with my stitches, and my persistence is paying off.  I do not have to constantly start over, which is what I did for my last post.  However, there are still some instances where I make mistakes, and it is hard not to get down on myself.  For instance, on the work in the bottom part of the picture, there is a hole which can’t be seen.  This hole was because somehow, I missed a stitch.  Ultimately, I suppose that is the point of learning something new.  It reminds me of a saying, which went something along the lines of : you will always fail more than you succeed.  But, the more you fail, the greater the success will be.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the exact quote, and the above is a rough paraphrase, but I am beginning to experience what it means.  In the first stitches of my knitting journey, I was extremely frustrated.  It made no sense to me, and it was frustration after frustration.  Now, as I move forward, I am finding I am improving, and my success, although fewer than my failures, are all that much sweeter.

In the next few days, I intend on knitting a scarf.  This will be my final project in the realm of knitting for now.  I am not sure how it will turn out, however I look forward to the challenge of learning to fix my mistakes, and making sure my stitches are more consistent.

(As a reminder, this is the video I have been following to learn how to knit)

Digital Permanence

Hey  all!

Over the last little while, I have been pondering the idea of a digital identity.  Not only for me, but also what digital identity could mean for my students.  How a positive digital presence can help them, whereas a negative online identity might be problematic for them in the future.  This video does well to sum up the importance of a positive digital identity, but also what it could mean to have a negative digital identity.

That being said, I believe it is of utmost importance that students are educated on the permanence of what they put online.  That doesn’t mean to be so scared of putting anything online.  After all, we live in a digital age.  To have no digital presence in the current state of the world would be similar to never leaving your house from the day you are born in the physical world.  You become unknown, which can be as much of a detriment, as a positive.

Having a Positive Digital Identity

With that in mind, it is clear that it is important for students to be educated on what a positive digital identity looks like.  Teachers need to bring up this topic at an early age, and have students begin building a positive digital identity before a negative one.  More importantly, teachers need to model this.  No parent wants a person teaching their child if every single picture of that person depicts them holding an alcoholic beverage for example.  It is not exactly screaming responsibility.  In order to teach their students to become model digital citizens, teachers need to lead by example, much like they would do when teaching any other subject.

It Won’t Go Away With Time

Now, when it comes to what a negative online presence  can do, teachers need to educate students so they do not have to learn first hand.  In Jon Ronson’s TedTalk, the idea that one Tweet can dismantle everything you have built in your lifetime.  This is done by social media shaming.  Take note, this video was added to YouTube in 2015.  This google search was done today.

As you can see, Justine Sacco is still strongly associated with the idea of online shaming, despite the original Tweet being nearly 5 years ago.  This story alone can be used as a powerful teaching tool to show students the necessity of always having a positive online presence — that tweet took less than a minute to make, but its effects have lasted 5 years and counting.

Additionally, now that we are living a meme culture, this is another powerful video I have found that students may respond to better.  This video talks about memes through the last 10 years, and it looks like just how the people in the original picture feel about their image becoming a meme.  Some were happy with the effects it had on their life.  Others, not so much.  In most cases, these pictures were all originally directed at very few people.  However, all it took is one person to get their hands on it, and post it to more websites for it to become viral.

How Schools Are/Should Handle It

From my observations, the topic of digital identity is handled differently by schools across the board. There has not been one approach that every single school has adopted.  In some cases, the digital age is embraced.  Students are using the web as a tool, and they are building a positive online presence from day one (which I firmly believe is the way to go).  A lot of schools seem to have left it up to the teachers to decide.  And from what I have seen, this can mean one year students work constantly at building a positive online presence, only for them not to look at it ever again after they have changed teachers.  This is  not ideal when it comes to building a positive online presence, because as mentioned above, no digital presence can be as much of a detriment as a negative one.  Finally, there are some schools who seem to flee from the idea of technology. This can mean the banning of cellphones, the limited use of online tools, or simply a complete lack of technology in daily lessons, preventing students from ever getting an opportunity to build a positive online identity.  The way I see it, if we do not equip students with the tools they need to build a positive digital identity early on, we are not giving the best chance at living in an increasingly digital world.