I am so thankful that April is here! I don’t know about you but it’s finally starting to feel like spring to me (which also means summer is closer). I’ve already started tanning since I noticed the UV index going higher.
In honour of April and my excitement for summer, my April moodboard is here! And it definitely has a more tropical summer theme, since I’ve just been in that mood.
For years, I have wanted to become consistent with exercise. Like a million teenage girls, I participated in the quarantine workout videos on Youtube (think Chloe Ting and Daisy Keech). But I would do them for a few weeks straight but then lose motivation; until I discovered The Bar Method.
I was first introduced this past summer by my friend. Her mom had two vouchers for a free class and registered us both. Immediately I enjoyed it, and when they had a deal for three months of unlimited classes, I was quick to sign up!
What Does it Consist of?
“Each exercise is meticulously designed to transform your body through high-repetition, low-impact resistance training. With elements of Pilates, yoga and other strength training workouts fused into a ballet-inspired barre workout, you will experience unthinkable flexibility, total-body definition, and metabolism-boosting endurance that lasts long after class.”
– The Bar Method
My local studio (West Vancouver) is a quick five-minute drive from my house, allowing me to be super-efficient with my time. The environment of the studio is so lovely, especially the instructors. Even in my first class ever, the instructor learnt my name and gave me adjustments during the different exercises.
There is a 1-hour and a 45-minute class option. But within these lengths, the type of class varies. There is a classic Bar Method class, Bar Express, Bar Flow (which incorporates yoga!), Bar Cardio, and Bar Advanced. My personal preference is the Bar Express because it is a quick 45 minutes, so I am in and out of there (don’t get me wrong, it definitely doesn’t mean for an easier class).
I have been consistently attending Bar classes at this studio since the summer and have noticed changes in my body, especially my strength, which I had never worked on before! The low-impact class is still very challenging, but it’s not difficult enough for me not to want to go back. It always leaves me wanting more, and in each class, I’ve noticed at least one new exercise I’ve never done before.
Overall, I highly recommend The Bar Method for anyone looking for a new workout method: “low impact, high reward.” The studio is so welcoming and supportive. And they even have a fantastic student discount. This format of workout has motivated me to become more active, and the
This week, I revisited Ryn’s blog, titled The Stars, Too. Her about page describes the website as “an amateur journalistic blog … wherein the author offers their analysis of shows from different performing arts mediums, as well as the industry as a whole.” To me, this description is a perfect and accurate encapsulation of the blog.
After looking through the posts that have been made since the last time I visited the site, as well as prior, Ryn is doing a great job of sticking to the theme of her content that she self-described. Clearly, the intended audience is those who appreciate the fine arts.
It would be reasonably accurate to argue that her blog is a digital garden. Tanya Basu elaborates on this notion, explaining “that they can grow and change, and that various pages on the same topic can coexist” (Basu, 2020). Ryn does just this – while she has a specific niche, she talks about various topics that fall under said niche, such as ballet and theatre. However, her website is a personal-enough space where she can share her own music. Therefore, not only is her blog a digital garden in itself, but she also includes her singing, which ties into the ethos of individuality, a crucial part of digital gardens.
In my previous review, I mentioned that Ryn could benefit from including other personal things in her blog since her about page only said a little about the author. At the same time, I acknowledge the importance of controlling one’s online identity and data, which is crucial when having your own space on the internet and more clearly explained in the article The Web We Need To Give Students. I think incorporating her music is a great way to create more personability and helps create a connection between the reader and the author; music is a deeply personal thing. She also has a poetry piece that I really enjoyed reading. It is about ballet, so it ties into one of her blog’s topics; again, it is personal and depicts a series of emotions.
It is clear that the intended audience is lovers of the performing arts, and every post on The Stars, Too has been published with intention. The theatre and ballet posts provide a comprehensive look into the performances, and the personal aspects, such as her poem and song cover, still tie into the main focuses. Therefore if the reader is on the website to look at a ballet review, they won’t be disinterested in the poetry because it is still about the same topic. This also means that the author will connect with the reader through personal aspects.
References: Audrey Watters. 2015. “The Web We Need to Give to Students”
Basu, Tanya. September 5, 2020. “Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet” MIT Technology Review.
Artificial Intelligence has had a looming presence in our society for decades. Still, with the recent popularity of ChatGPT, questions have begun to arise regarding its impact on our lives. While artificial intelligence may be viewed as a threat to authentic schoolwork, I believe that educators should recognize the benefits that can come from it. Not only this, but they should find a way to incorporate it into the education system as a tool rather than a restriction.
Chat GPT was launched in November of 2022 and was able to amass over one million users within a week (Baidoo-Anu & Ansah, 2023). It is self-described as “a conversational AI created by OpenAI that uses advanced deep learning techniques to generate human-like responses to natural language input” (ChatGPT, 2023). Since its release, it quickly became a large-scale topic of discussion and controversy. Many have questioned its legitimacy and accuracy, while others have brought up the implications that it would have in education. The chatbot is incredibly easy and fast for anyone, namely students, to retrieve information. Not only this, but it can write essays, create outlines, solve numerical problems, and write code. Consequently, this makes it easy for students to compromise their academic integrity. A Stanford survey found that 17% of students used ChatGPT on their fall quarter-finals (Cu & Hochman, 2023). This demonstrates that cheating using AI continues, even in prestigious institutions. Furthermore, in higher education, the use of AI to complete school work could be argued to “undermine … the very purpose of higher education, which is to challenge and educate students, and could ultimately lead to a devaluation of degrees” (Cotton et al., 2023, p. 3). University students could be jeopardizing their academic careers as a result of the technology, and it is crucial that it is not used in a way that could impact their quality of education.
While AI technology could pose a threat to genuine schoolwork, it is also valuable to note the possible benefits that it can have within the realm of education. ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for students to help them learn better. The chatbot has been noticed and recently used to create individualized student learning plans. A study discovered that it was able to adapt to the varied levels of knowledge and create necessary adjustments when required (Chiang, 2020, as cited in Baidoo-Anu & Ansah, 2023). This model could contribute towards more efficient studying and learning among students at all levels of education; and would provide personal suggestions, allowing for a deeper understanding of course content. Not only can this form of technology be of use to students, but teachers can also benefit from it. One professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania stated that using Chat GPT decreased the time it took to make and test the exam from 30 hours to 15, a 50% decrease. This illustrates that an open mind about artificial intelligence could save them time. Not only this, but the time could be spent in other ways, such as having more time to develop connections with their students (Baidoo-Anu & Ansah, 2023).
It is my opinion that artificial intelligence is an inevitable aspect of our future, and the technology will only continue to improve and be less detectable. Therefore, its restriction will serve no benefit to students or instructors. Instead, educators should be conducting further research into how we can implement the use of AI technology “throughout the student lifecycle in order to take advantage of the immense potential that these technologies have for constructing intelligent learning and teaching systems” (Alam & Mohanty, 2023, para. 38). AI has and will continue to be integrated into our society, and combatting it will make things harder for both educators and students. In fact, a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has included an AI policy in his syllabus for the first time, but he is not forbidding it. Students in his class are permitted to use it for discussions and other work as long as they check for errors and state that they used the software (Wood & Kelly, 2023). I believe this policy is fair and encourages honesty, a vital part of academic integrity.
To conclude, it is clear that artificial intelligence can be used negatively and can provoke unoriginal work by students. However, I think educators should be taking strides toward using technology in schools; this includes implementing AI as a tool. By encouraging the use of AI to help students further their understanding, rather than banning it entirely, students will likely be more informed and therefore make more informed decisions.
Alam, A., & Mohanty, A. (2023, January). Foundation for the Future of Higher Education or ‘Misplaced Optimism’? Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. In Innovations in Intelligent Computing and Communication: First International Conference, ICIICC 2022. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-23233-6_2
Baidoo-Anu, D., & Owusu Ansah, L. (2023). Education in the Era of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI): Understanding the Potential Benefits of ChatGPT in Promoting Teaching and Learning. Available at SSRN 4337484.
I hope your March has been going well so far. Mine has been super hectic, and my February was the same. Normally in my downtime I either watch a movie or read a book. But because I’ve been so busy with school work, and a lot of that includes doing readings for classes – reading for pleasure hasn’t been super appealing to me.
I do have a bad habit of buying books, and failing to make time to actually read them. So here are 6 of the books in my to-be-read list that I’m excited to read once I have time!
This week I had the pleasure of reviewing Sammy’s website, which is suitably titled SammyUniverse.
Immediately, when opening the home page, the banner had a picture of a planet with the blog tagline. I think the photo she chose ties in with the title of her blog since it is a planet in a “universe,” similar to the universe she created with the website. It is also similar to the header style discussed in the article “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” Travis Gertz details this commonly used home page format and attributes the widespread use to the fact that it simply works for many people and companies, creating a trend that can be seen on many other sites.
After scrolling past the banner, there are some clear template blocks still containing placeholder texts. There are some headings which state that “Music, Film [and] Random Things” are going to be explored. There is also a block with a motivational quote, a few sentences, and a link box; however, the link does not direct the reader to any page. It’s unclear whether this block is a filler or something Sammy wrote but possibly forgot to link. Closer to the bottom, after more filler blocks, there are links to some recent posts and assignments and contact information. I do like the homepage, and the colours of the banner photo match the she chose, but I wish it were more concise and included content from or about the blog. The blog’s footer is a GIF of purple/blue clouds, which I thought was a nice creative touch. I liked that it was moving and matched the other colours of the website; it captures the readers’ attention. Sammy could use this to her advantage and include some social media links in the footer since I didn’t see any throughout the rest of her blog.
The website’s typography is relatively simple. Around three sans-serif fonts are alternated between writing portions, but they fit the blog’s theme and are easy to read. One header on the Film page includes a combination of two fonts that I found visually appealing, especially with the inclusion of the bolded word. It allows the reader to understand what Sammy is trying to emphasize.
It could be beneficial for Sammy to consider incorporating more contrasting font styles into her text to allow for variety.
Sammy’s website has a few different cool aspects that come together to create a captivating user experience.
Similar to the footer, other movements occur throughout the blog, such as appearing text and images that fall into place when the page is opened. These things grabbed my attention and made me want to keep reading. Next, I really enjoyed the use of images! From a reader’s perspective, there was a perfect balance of photos and text. The pictures were all relevant to the blog’s content and acted as a visual aid. It was especially crucial in the movie reviews and music recommendations, so the reader knows what is being discussed. The music and movies were also linked, which is important when discussing or recommending a piece of media, especially if you want the reader to view or listen for themselves.
The website layout is unique from other blogs that I have seen. The music and film pages are sole pages and don’t include individual posts, making everything easy to find. The same can be said for the blog content, which is just one long page. On the Posiel page, all the content is separated by each week of class. I found this format to be interesting, but it took some work to navigate. While it was all categorized into Process Post, Weekly Content, and Mini Assignments, it isn’t easy to find what you are looking for if you do not have every week of course content memorized. It would likely be a good idea to title each week and the assignments; doing so would give context to the reader and make it easier for them to find what they need.
In conclusion, Sammy Universe was a very captivating website that I enjoyed exploring. The theme was consistent throughout the site, and the colours and photos matched the theme or the content. Its general usability is good, but the Posiel page could be easier to navigate. Overall, this blog was fun to review, and I look forward to seeing what else Sammy has to add. Keep it up!
This week’s lecture was especially interesting and different from the previous classes. We had a guest speaker come into class. Mauvé Page is a designer and a professor at SFU for the publishing department; she talked to us about graphic and website design.
This week, I especially appreciated reading the article “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” First, it was generally enjoyable to look through, the design was bold but also simple, and the features were interactive and moved as you scrolled. It also sheds light on a homepage design that has become very typical and has overtaken mainstream companies. The author describes the design as a 48pt headline text using the lightweight in white … “perfectly centred over the stock photo of anonymous hands fondling an electronic device” (Gertz, 2015). I found this reading really interesting to go through because it discusses something that I have seen on so many websites. Therefore I was able to look back on my experiences with other websites and notice the specific trend that the author is noticing and talking about. It is fascinating that so many large companies lack and ignore the creative aspects of creating and designing a website and follow the cookie-cutter template/trend that has become prominent.
When starting my website and figuring out what kind of vibe and aesthetic I would go for, I did a lot of research and a general google-search for other lifestyle blogs. One blog that I found that had a fairly unique blog design was Amber Fillerup Clark’s blog. Her blog is a lifestyle one, where she talks about her own life, and her blog has expanded as she had kids with her husband.
What I like about her homepage and general website design is the off-white background and the consistency of the editing and colours of the images she uses. I appreciate that she edits her photos in a specific way that makes them appealing and coherent when looking through her posts.
The pink sidebar that is pictured moves through her posts every few seconds, which I found to be a cool addition; and a feature that helps with audience engagement since it can catch your attention. I also like the colours she uses; I find them very appealing and soft; and how the rest of the website is relatively symmetrical. One thing I don’t think works as well or could be improved is the typography. In my opinion, none of the titles or headings stand out enough to read; they don’t catch the user’s eye. Perhaps they could be in a larger typeface or bolder.
This week, I got to explore Ryn’s website: The Stars, Too. At first glance, I appreciated the minimalism of the website. The site was very easy to navigate: all the content was in its appropriate place and category. It was also helpful that the ballet and theatre posts were separated into their respective categories. The primary colours are black and white, which I enjoyed because it allows the blog images to stand out even more.
I was intrigued to learn more about the blog since the home page was so simple, so I went onto the About page. The information on that page included the author’s name and a brief explanation of what the blog was for. I was hoping for additional general information about the writer and the blog. Ryn may consider including some detail about why her blog topics are of such interest to her. Although I understand why there wasn’t a photo of the writer, since it’s a blog about theatre and ballet, it could be beneficial to include a personal photo. The image doesn’t necessarily need to be of the author, but it could be a photo she took of the theatre or ballet to help create a more personal connection between the writer and the reader.
However, it is possible that Ryn has done this purposefully, with a specific intent in mind. Her reasoning could relate to our class reading, Self-Presentation in Social Media: Review and Research Opportunities. This paper by Erin E. Hollenbaugh aims to view how people present themselves on online platforms and allows for a certain degree of anonymity (Hollenbaugh, 2021). Evidently, every person with any media presence chooses what they want to be shared on social media; therefore, there remains anonymity within the aspects that are not shared. Not only this, but John Suler also discusses the concept of anonymity in his article, The Online Disinhibition Effect. He states that “anonymity works wonders for the disinhibition effect” (Suler, 2004). Perhaps Ryn’s degree of anonymity serves a purpose for the overall goal of her blog.
In contrast, my peer’s blog posts were filled with content! (See theatre here and ballet here) She provided extensive detail in her reviews of Shakespeare’s Richard II and Mayerling (a ballet). I was impressed by the amount of detail put into writing each post. The writing style was easy to follow, and I could clearly understand what my peer was writing about.
The process posts provided the reader insight into the work being done on the website each week. This included some setbacks and advancements that were involved when creating their website. She also incorporated information and knowledge from the course readings into these posts, making it clear that they were read and understood well.
To speak on the written work on the website, Ryn did an excellent job. Her writing has no grammatical errors, and the vocabulary choices were very fitting. Not only this, but it was clear that the word choices were used in a way that allowed the reader to understand the writer’s main point better. To add, the writing choices also accurately reflected the writer’s tone, and the illustrative vocabulary complimented the blog topics (theatre and ballet) very well.
To conclude, Ryn’s blog provides a wonderful platform for lovers of the fine arts to go and read about various pieces. The blog is simple and to the point, with the writing being easy to read but appropriately elegant at the same time. These content pieces on my peers contribute to developing her online self. Her interests are apparent, and she aims to speak on these interests throughout her blog posts.