Puppy Training: Update

I’d have a difficult time believing someone who told me Lucy, my hyperactive, mouthy puppy, would sit, stay and stop biting in under two weeks. I have seen celebrity trainers and been convinced their work was sorcery. However, after scouring the online world of puppy training, I have begun the journey of turning my monster into an exemplary student. Check it out!

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Given I had no prior dog training experience, it was challenging to determine whether positive reinforcement or a discipline-based approach would be more effective. I do not find it appropriate to inflict physical harm or implement fear tactics when training; nevertheless, there are many people who disagree, using methods like electric shock collars and/or scruff-shakes (pulling on loose skin around a dog’s neck). Despite Lucy’s tendency to be overly mouthy, I did not want to utilize the aforementioned training so explored positive reinforcement methods.

I researched on YouTube and ironically, after pages of sifting, I wound up back to the first video I found, by Zak George, a well-known dog trainer (see my first blog post regarding this endeavor here). While, there were informative perspectives on help forums, such as Reddit’s “puppy101” subreddit, it was invaluable to have step-by-step visual tutorials that I could follow.

Two videos by Zak were particularly helpful: How to Teach your Puppy to Sit and Stay and How to Stop Puppy Biting. Both are thorough but not overwhelming, and contain easy-to-follow instructions. It didn’t take long for Lucy to grasp the concepts and I was pleasantly surprised by how receptive she was to the methods.

While exploring the aforementioned online sources, I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that, as a technology educator, I help my students learn digital literacy skills to effectively navigate the online world, and my experience is a prime example of its importance. We have access to a surplus of information, but must be able to form opinions and determine credible sources. As stated in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, “A focus on expanding access to new technologies carries us only so far if we do not also foster the skills and cultural knowledge necessary to deploy those tools toward our own ends” (Jenkins H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., Robison, A., 2006). While there are many certified dog trainers, it doesn’t mean their training methods align with my own beliefs and it’s important I found an approach that resonates with me.

I feel inspired and committed to continue to train Lucy after my initial experience. I’m appreciative of my recent studies focusing on workflow, as they’ve pushed me to become more organized and focused on accomplishing my goals, including training Lucy. I suggest checking out David Allen’s Tedx Talk, The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, where he provides a reality check to procrastinators and scatterbrains who have too many things to do and use time constraints as their excuse for lack of productivity. He states, “If you’re trying to use your psyche to manage that mess [...] you get the result of two things that are the critical elements of self and organizational productivity. You’ll lose perspective [...] and/or you may be experiencing the results of what happens when you lose control” (2012). I can certainly relate to this sentiment, especially with adopting Lucy, and refining my own workflow will only benefit my continued efforts. For more information on David Allen’s workflow system, check out my previous post here.

I look forward to undertaking more advanced training exercises (i.e., proper leash walking, drop it) in the coming week. In the meantime, enjoy this video of Lucy showing off her one of her new skills.

Allen, D. (2012). The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/CHxhjDPKfbY

George, Z. (2014). How to stop puppy biting and don’t do these 5 things when training your puppy. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1H1JGfzaW9A

George, Z. (2017). How to teach your puppy to sit and stay. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/DPNz6reMVXY

George, Z. (2014). How to train a puppy not to bite. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/m9KQegi4r8k

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., Robison, A. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Retrieved from http://www.newmedialiteracies.org/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/NMLWhitePaper.pdf

I'm Productive, Aren't I?

How often do you feel as if you have an abundance of “to-do” items, yet there’s not enough time in the day to get them all done? It begins with a passive thought and quickly morphs into a dark cloud of panic. We’ve all been there and I am no exception. As a dedicated educational technology teacher, graduate student and nonprofit leader, I have what seems like a forever-expanding list of items that need to get done at all times. I have developed S.M.A.R.T. goals, watched more motivational videos than I can begin to count, and explored the wealth of productivity tools available, but still find myself at times overwhelmed beyond belief. The reason? My system needs a makeover.

Just as the “introduction of health IT can be very disruptive to existing workflows in a [healthcare] organization,” (Cain & Haque, 2008) the same holds true for individuals. Technology is ever-evolving and applications are constantly emerging that claim to help us be our most productive self, but without a system in place to reach one’s goals, whether simple or far-fetched, it’s easy to end up in a perpetual whirlwind trying to keep up with the latest and greatest tools. We all have those “aha” moments when we come across a new productivity tool that seems useful, but it’s imperative to analyze its features and ask the questions of how it can fit into our overall workflow.

David Allen, a leader and expert on productivity, has developed a system called Getting Things Done (GTD), which outlines five stages one should analyze and implement to harness their most productive self, ridding the widely-used excuse of not having enough time. As he simply states in his TEDx talk, “Getting things done is not about getting things done. It’s really about being appropriately engaged with what’s going on” (Allen, 2012). The five stages of GTD include collecting, processing, organizing, reviewing, and most importantly, doing. Furthermore, his system can be studied thoroughly via his available online tools, which you can find here.

Although I have a system in place that completes the five stages of GTD, it doesn’t follow the same order that Allen outlines. It needs improvement and begins with finding the most efficient and reliable productivity tools available. For my CEP 810 graduate course, I’m focusing my attention this week on sharing my experience using Evernote, an organizing, planning, and task-managing application. In full disclosure, Evernote was one of the many mobile apps that I downloaded at one time or another, but simply didn’t give it enough of a chance to grow on me. The first thing I noticed after creating an account was that the interface seemed user-friendly. Additionally, my interest was piqued by the fact that there’s a web-based, desktop, and mobile version, with a Google Extension to boot, as I need tools that sync well with all of my devices - one area I’ve noticed that Google Keep (another digital note-taking app) lacks.

The one thing I was hoping that Evernote would offer me versus Google Keep would be the ability to schedule reminders on specific check listed items (watch my video below). Evernote allows users to create “notebooks” (categories) and then “notes” within them. You can set a reminder for a note, but not for each particular item. This article from Evernote’s blog explains how to use the app as a task manager, however it doesn’t truly offer the features that I think of when I hear those words (i.e., assigning tasks in a collaborative manner, scheduling reminders for specific tasks, etc.). Nevertheless, Evernote is easy-to-use and after testing out the mobile and web versions, the synchronization is seamless. Phew! It comes at a cost though. With only 60 MB of free storage, I’m not entirely sold. Perhaps my experience will prove the app to be worth the basic $34.99/year subscription (1 GB of storage). Although it may not be a cure-all to improving my workflow, I plan to continue using Evernote and will potentially replace my use of Google Keep with it, utilizing it as an organizational tool.

Have any thoughts or opinions of your own? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!

 

Allen, D. (2012). The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/CHxhjDPKfbY

Cain, C., & Haque, S. (2008). Organizational workflow and its impact on work quality. In Patient safety and quality: an evidence-based handbook for nurses (chapter 31). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2638/

It's All About Who You Know

Since I was a child, I recall my father often telling me, “Success in life is all about who you know.” At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant. It was a vague expression, yet I figured it had something to do with the fact that he was a salesman. Little did I know, his favorite phrase couldn’t have been more accurate, as it didn’t solely relate to sales but rather a much wider-scope of attainable success. That said, as I reflect on the path that has led me to this present moment, any success I’ve had would not have been possible without support from others.

Considering the responsibility of preparing individuals for success in an ever-changing world and unpredictable future, education is a daring career. Since I studied marketing as an undergraduate, only later deciding to follow a career path in teaching, my experience in the classroom had been extremely limited. As many new teachers do, I relied heavily on the support of my colleagues and am greatly appreciative of their willingness to help me. Still, what many of us undervalue is the world of support that lies within our technological devices, including, but not limited to, globally-connected social media platforms, professional organizations and thought-leading bloggers.

Developing a Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN), as Trust defines as a “system of interpersonal connections and resources that support informal learning,” (p. 133) is a crucial feat that allows oneself to become an independent and lifelong learner. My PLN (as seen in the mind map displayed), includes many groups of individuals whom I learn from in a reciprocating manner. Beyond my interactions with colleagues, graduate school classmates and social media connections, I try to immerse myself as often as possible in the flow of content via blogs, journals and other online publications.

I recently began using Feedly, a news aggregator application, and highly recommend it to others as I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful in curating information. Feedly allows users to create categories of feeds and organizes it in an easy-to-navigate manner. Moreover, the mobile app is great for accessing your feed on the go.

One more thing worth checking out is Mozilla’s Web Literacy Wheel. If we are going to teach students how to successfully navigate the digital world, we must lead by example. In turn, the effectiveness of one’s PLN and curated ideas is contingent on how efficiently we can evaluate the information we come across. As is always the concern, not everything suggested is worth reading or implementing. Nevertheless, the more often we explore, the better chance we have of finding those hidden gems.

 

Trust, T. (2012). Professional learning networks designed for teacher learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28(4), 133-138.

Who Said I Could Only Teach Technology?

A couple of months ago, my fiancé, Samantha, and I had the bright idea - OK, it was mostly my idea - of adopting a puppy. You know, so it could give us some practice for when we are ready to have children. Taking matters into my own hands, I filed the adoption papers unbeknownst to her and before we knew it, we were holding Lucy, our soon-to-be daughter. Fun fact: Truth be told, her shelter name was “Rihanna Lonestar” and was part of a litter, all given pop star names. Let’s be real, how could Samantha say no? Look at that face! It was love at first sight and so the story goes, the rest was history.

Although Lucy seems quite intelligent, she is a bit spiteful. It’s not that she doesn’t understand, it’s that she may or may not want to actually listen when being told to sit, stop jumping, or stop nipping us. We love her dearly, but the time has come to start her training regimen. What better way to learn proven techniques then to dive into the online world of puppy training? Luckily, for my latest assignment in CEP 810, the graduate course I’m taking, I was tasked with choosing something to learn, solely utilizing help forums and YouTube. Therefore, over the next few weeks I’ll be tapping into videos and discussions on how we can get Lucy to finally mind her manners. More specifically, my goal is to teach Lucy bite inhibition, sitting and staying.

To provide some context, adopting a dog as opposed to purchasing one from a breeder can pose certain challenges. Puppies are oftentimes removed from their litter too soon, before they have the opportunity to learn bite inhibition. As Debra Horwitz, DVM, states, “Puppies start to learn bite inhibition with their littermates. If Puppy A bites on Puppy B too hard, Puppy B will yelp. If that doesn’t work, Puppy B will leave. This sends the message to Puppy A that its bites were too hard and if wishes to continue to play, it needs to be gentle” (p. 4). As Lucy was only eight weeks old when we adopted her, it leads us to believe that her mouthiness is a result of being removed from her litter too soon paired with our lack of knowledge and initial training.

Besides the fact that I’m eager to attain the necessary skill-set to train Lucy effectively, I’m also looking forward to sharing my experience, becoming part of the participatory culture mentioned in “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” (Jenkins H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., Robison, A., 2006), which was part of my weekly readings for CEP 810. The text states, “Students should discover what it is like to contribute their own expertise to a process that involves many intelligences, a process they encounter readily in their participation in fan discussion lists or blogging” (p. 21). For many years, I have been a consumer of content via help forums, however I’ve rarely contributed. Don’t get me wrong, as a singer songwriter and organ donation advocate, I’ve produced and published creative works in hopes to inspire others, but when it comes to providing advice, I can’t say that I’ve been part of this so-called culture. As learning is an iterative process where we all must give back to keep it ongoing, I must do my part. In James Paul Gee’s essay, “Digital Media and Learning: A Prospective Retrospective,” another insightful read from my graduate class this week, he mentions, “As newcomers advance, they are encouraged to contribute back to the group (family, community, social group, institution, or culture), based on their learning” (2013, p. 6). My puppy training endeavor will challenge me to be a consumer and creator, hopefully serving as inspiration for others to share their own experiences.

Certainly, this will be challenging, but by taking on a growth-mindset and with the help of online communities of dog trainers, I’m confident I’ll reach my goals. Wish me luck!

Gee, J. P. (2013). Digital Media and Learning: A Prospective Retrospective. Retrieved from http://jamespaulgee.com/pdfs/Digital%20Media%20and%20Learning.pdf

George, Z. (2014). How to train a puppy not to bite. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/m9KQegi4r8k

Horwitz, D. (1999). Counseling pet owners on puppy socialization and establishing leadership. Veterinary Medicine, 94, 149-156.

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., Robison, A. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Retrieved from http://www.newmedialiteracies.org/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/NMLWhitePaper.pdf

The Nature of Learning in the 21st Century

Photo by Štefan Štefančík -  source

Photo by Štefan Štefančík - source

In my CEP 810 (Teaching for Understanding with Technology) course, the initial assignment tasked students with writing an expository essay that responds to two key questions regarding learning. The essay (full version here) contains my analysis of what learning is defined as and what teaching methods support learning and its related concepts -- understanding and conceptual change. Upon reading the first three chapters of “How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School,” I have gathered specific evidence to support my response to the given prompt, exploring how learning is a comprehensive process that encompasses the transfer of knowledge and skills, and translates into understanding and the ability to make real-world connections. Moreover, I stress that collaboration, goal-setting, reflection, autonomy and digital productivity tools support an optimal learning environment.

I appreciate you taking the time to explore my insights. Please feel free to share your comments below!