Final NLP Post: Learning to DJ

For the past 5 weeks, I have navigated different discussion forums and Youtube videos for my Network Learning Project for CEP 810. My initial goal was to teach myself how to DJ (or rather mix music) using the Pioneer DDJ-SB mixer and DJ software Serato on my computer.

However, as explained in an earlier blog post I found myself in a slight hiccup because I updated my computer to the latest MAC OS X Sierra which no longer supports Serato (for the time being) and using the DJ Tech Tools Forum I was able to find a different program that linked with the mixer — DJay Pro by Algoriddim.

I think that the Network Learning Project was fun and I enjoyed having the opportunity to try out different online resources that I don’t normally use when I am trying to learn/understand something.  I believe that YouTube is an easier tool to use, BUT that’s only to say it’s effective when there is available content that you are looking for.  I was unable to find any good video footage of someone teaching/explaining HOW to use the latest DJay Pro application with the specific mixer that I had. That was difficult and instead I found myself watching videos on each (software and hardware) to understand and then stringing the missing links on my own.

Oftentimes you can find instructions in video format on YouTube which I think makes it easier to learn because you get a visual representation of what you want to learn and some YouTube channels give you specific step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish the goal(s) that you have.

Furthermore, the other network option we were allowed to use were discussion forums. I think that discussion forums are a great way to interact with other people that have the same interests as you and/or even the same problems that you have. However, I find them to be more difficult to navigate and sometimes you had to be very specific with your search keywords in order to find a post that answered the same (or similar) question that you were seeking.

I found the forums to be the most useful when I first started off this project because I was able to find some beginner’s forums and learn about beat-matching, audio FX that are integrated into the software and choosing music that flows well together when mixing.  I also can say that the forums were great when I was in a bind about my software hiccup – and found someone with the exact same problem and other users had posted other DJ software options that work with the Pioneer DDJ-SB mixer.

After participating in this NLP assignment, I think that I will definitely continue to use YouTube for further learning opportunities; however, I’m not sure that I will use discussion forums as much as I potentially could.  I have used them in the past but only because they come up in general Google searches that I have done.

I think it’d be interesting to try to incorporate a similar NLP assignment into my Spanish class and have students teach themselves something specific using an online forum or YouTube videos — and then come back and share with the entire class how they learned, what resources they used and demonstrate their knew knowledge and understanding of that specific content.

Honestly, I think it’d take some pressure off of my own teaching and put the students in control of their own learning and understanding.

The following is my final video explaining what I learned and I even give you a couple samples of mixing and what I learned throughout the Network Learning Project:


Cooking with TPACK: PB&J with a Whisk

This week in CEP 810, we were introduced to the TPACK framework.  TPACK stands for Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge and I think that the following diagram created by shows how all of the elements of teaching and technology integration work together to create this framework:



Source: What is TPACK?

The diagram above shows how Technological knowledge, content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge all intertwine together to create a framework for how teachers should integrate using technology in the classroom effectively.  That is, they are using technology to enhance their students’ understanding  of the content knowledge and developing it around a method of teaching that is effective.

According to Dr. Matthew Koehler, a professor at Michigan State University in the College of Education, he explains on his website that there are 7 components that make up the TPACK framework:

Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), Technology Knowledge (TK), Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK) and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK).

Check out his explanation of each here:

We also watched a video from Dr. Punya Mishra about the TPACK framework.  I found it most interesting when Dr. Mishra explains how every physical item we have in a classroom can be considered a “technology” and that it’s really how the teacher manipulates that technology as a teaching tool.

I found that interesting because technically even a pencil and a piece of paper can be considered a form of technology, but it’s how we have our students use these tools in the classroom to learn is what makes it effective.

I’ve worked in a school where every teacher was given 30 MacBook Airs on a cart and their own personal MacBook Air to carry around with them.  But they had no idea how to use these technologies and how to manipulate them so that they can use it to teach the content to their students.

To show how teachers can learn to manipulate technology in their classroom, our CEP 810 class asked us to “Cook” with the TPACK framework.  I asked a friend of mine to choose any plate, bowl and utensil in the kitchen that we had.  He chose a smaller plate, a bowl and a WHISK.  From there, I chose from 5 different “recipes” and had to create it using ONLY the utensils given to me.  The following is a link to my video:

This was a fun  way to teach us how important it is to think outside of the box when it comes to the tools (technologies) that we are given in the classroom.  At one point, when I was creating the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I thought it’d be interesting to try both ends of the whisk, which ended up getting a little bit messy — a metaphor that can definitely reflect back in the classroom. However, no matter how messy we can get in a classroom, or how much we can “mess up” when it comes to teaching and repurposing different tools in our classroom – the ability to be flexible and open-minded as we are creating our lessons is what ultimately makes us better educators.


Update NLP: Teaching myself to DJ

As I’ve been practicing DJing, watching tutorials on Youtube and reading posts on forums for my Network Learning Project (or NLP), I have definitely come across some hiccups along the way.

To begin with, I updated my computer to Mac OS Sierra, which I found out does not currently support the Serato program that I initially installed on my computer when it was running the previous operating system.  I ended up doing some research and found out that a program that I also had installed previously called DJay Pro by Algoriddim now natively supports my Pioneer DDJ-SB mixer.

Finding specific video tutorials that teach you how to use DJay Pro with the Pioneer system are few to come by.  I found a few tutorials such as the following to show how to scratch:

So I watched some videos specifically talking about the program and then watched other tutorials on using the the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 separately with the Serato program. (There are a lot of similarities between programs, to be really honest DJay Pro is a very basic DJing program and I think easier to understand).

This is what I started off my DJay Pro panel when I was practicing on Thursday – I set it up to make it look like I was playing vinyl –


but after watching some tutorials they recommended that I have it setup like the following because it’s easier to visualize the song to match beats:





I also checked out the DJay Pro Online Community –

However, most of the information there had people discussing more trouble shooting questions, not necessarily learning information.  Honestly, I think the best forum for learning was the DJ Tech Tools forum. There were quite a few posts about beginning and then noticed that they even post links to Beginning DJ Tutorials such as this one about Beat Jumping.

I think there are quite a few challenging things to DJing – first off, knowing your music is key.  I spent some time listening to music that I thought would mix together well (or that I wanted to mix together). The other challenging part is matching Beats Per Minute (BPM) for when you transition between songs.  What’s nice about the using computers to mix music, is that most programs now automatically find the BPM for you, rather than you having to count it out in your head when you are mixing with vinyl for example.

The following is a video that I did of two songs that I enjoy the beats too that I think mix well together – “So Amazing” – Rihanna remix & “Phone” by Lizzo.  They both have a beat that are easy to hear and follow along with.  I will have to get a tripod to hold up my camera for my next video – because it was difficult to hold my phone to take video footage while also mixing the music.

You can hear me toward 1:24 – where I fade between the two songs and then play with the special effects for a few moments.  It got a little sloppy around 3:05 where I was trying to scratch.  I definitely want to work on being able to scratch between two songs – but I would need to have both hands readily available.

My goal for the next video is to work more on looping and fading between songs (matching their BPMs) and listening through headphones as to when to bring in the next song.

This has been an exciting journey but also nerve wrecking. Learning to DJ is a challenge – because there are so many facets to understanding – hardware, software and general music knowledge. Although this is difficult and I don’t expect to become a professional by the 5th week of class, I do know that I’ve become slightly better than I was before working on this project and I think it’s  pretty awesome that for my graduate program I can have fun while learning and teach myself something that I’ve always wanted to be able to learn.


Getting Things Done (GTD)

This week in my CEP 810 course, we watched a TEDTalk and read up on David Allen’s Getting Things Done model.  Before, I elaborate on what GTD tool I checked out, I want to point out some of the useful key information that Allen spoke about in his TEDTalk.

He introduced his lecture by talking about how “Crisis creates serenity;” and that as humans, we intuitively take action when we are in crisis.  He continues on by talking about how getting things done (GTD) isn’t necessarily even about actually getting things done, but rather how appropriately engaged you are with the task(s) at hand.

That comment resonated with me because I completely get that.  Between teaching Spanish all day, working for Apple (and teaching classes there) as well as being in grad school, while also trying to balance my relationships with friends and family, there are moments where I have to step back and breath.  Take a moment to myself and break down what needs attention first. I usually try to prioritize my work load by making lists (usually I use the Reminder App on my iPhone or the Notes Application).

My current system looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 10.09.59 PM.png

All events, payment reminders, important dates for school are put into my Apple Calendar that syncs with my computer and iPhone (all via the iCloud) – so that anything I change automatically syncs to all of my devices (eventually I will get an iPad pro that will come along with me wherever I go).

Anytime I have notes or something I want to jot down in list format or have questions about –  I use the Apple Notes application on my computer and iPhone which also syncs between each other using the iCloud.

As for e-mail, I am syncing I believe a total of 8 different e-mail accounts to both my computer and my iPhone (3 different G-Mail accounts, School e-mail, 2 iCloud e-mail accounts, a Yahoo account and my @MSU account).  I have created folders for each of those e-mails and I read e-mail automatically as it comes in.  I delete SPAM right away and respond to e-mails as they come in.  Anything that I want to save outside of the inbox goes into one of the specified folders for that e-mail account.

For my finances — I specifically use a spreadsheet I created in Numbers to help me out with that and I check off the bills that I pay for each month within that spreadsheet (bill payment reminders are setup in my calendar).

So coming back to the GTD method and tools, I feel like I use so much already that I thought I’d take a look at EverNote because I know so many people talk highly about this software. I downloaded it to my computer first (I know there’s an iPhone application as well).

I think I could use Evernote to help me organize my notes better so that I can be more productive. The fact that you can create multiple “Notebooks” and put notes within those, makes me feel like I could separate a lot of my notes that I have now. I like the fact that it automatically syncs with the iPhone, Apple Watch & iPad — and I like that I can make handwritten notes on the iOS devices – which could be helpful for jotting down quick ideas or drawings that I have as they come up.

I also like the easy integration of adding photos and website information into the notes as well. I’m hoping to use this more thoroughly as the year continues to keep and clip information that I find.  Maybe it will eventually replace my current Notes application.

*The one thing that I did change about my current organizational system for getting things done, is that I started to create folders for my notes so that I can easily get to my notes better and find what I am looking for with ease.

If you’re an Apple user and interested to learn more about iCloud and the applications that sync with it check out:


Professional Learning Network

This week in CEP810, we are talking about how we can expand our professional learning networks using online tools and resources such as Twitter and RSS feeds.

I started my Twitter account in 2009 toward the end of my teacher preparation program. I started following different educational sources and technology sources that I found interesting.  Every time that I went to a conference – such as MACUL, MAPSA and MIWLA, I would use the #hashtag for that conference and interacted with not only the experts teaching sessions but also other teachers and administrators who were attending the conferences at the time.  I always found this useful.  However, I never thought about using Twitter to find ideas for lesson plans or connect with other schools (potentially in other countries) to setup connections for my own classroom (like twitter pen-pals or something on those lines or compare cultures of classrooms in Spanish-speaking countries for my students) until now.

After creating the Popplet about where I get my information – I didn’t really think about how inundated with information I am — and it’s constant!


And between working both for Apple, Inc. and as a teacher, there’s so much information for me to learn and WANT to learn!!

I also created an RSS Aggregator and followed some resources. I used the aggregator — which upon downloading it to my iPhone, realized that I had downloaded it before and tried using it.  (Not sure why I stopped). Another one that I’ve also used before on an iPad is FlipBoard.  I think my first time ever hearing about RSS feeds was when I got my first Macbook Pro in 2007 – because Apple had a feed aggregator built right into the Mail application (I don’t believe it has it anymore now).

Now that I’ve relinked myself to some RSS feeds, I will have another place to go that can be added to my PLN.

PLNs for many reasons. One being that it helps educators grow, find resources to introduce to their students and find innovative ways to bring information (and technology) to their classrooms.

The following quote from the National Education Technology Plan and cited in our learning for my CEP 810 course, talks about how educators work alone and that half of teachers leave the profession within 5 years of graduating. I won’t lie, I continually think about how I want to get out of the classroom daily (hence, why I started the MAET program). It’s so true:

From the National Educational Technology Plan (2010, p.39):

Teaching today is practiced mostly in isolation. Many educators work alone, with little interaction with professional colleagues or experts in the outside world. Professional development typically is provided in short, fragmented, and episodic workshops that offer little opportunity to integrate learning into practice. A classroom educator’s primary job is understood to be covering the assigned content and ensuring that students test well. Many educators do not have the information, the time, or the incentives to continuously improve their professional practice from year to year.

Not surprisingly, half of freshly minted teachers leave the profession within the first five years (Ingersoll and Smith, 2003). These conditions exist because our education system and the institutions that prepare educators often fail to give educators the tools to do their job well. Our education system holds educators responsible for student achievement but does not support them with the latest technology the way professionals in other fields are supported. Although some preservice programs are using technology in innovative ways (Gomez et al., 2008), widespread agreement exists that teachers by and large are not well prepared to use technology in their practice (Kay 2006). As a result, the technology of everyday life has moved well beyond what educators are taught to and regularly use to support student learning.

After reading this, it helped me understand why I think about leaving the profession all the time — it gets lonely and you always feel like someone (administration, teachers, students, curriculum, etc.) is against you.  It’s like one man against thousands.

With a PLN, you feel like you’re not alone and the more in depth your create your professional learning network, the less isolated you will feel.

Learning to mix songs

Right away when I initially read the directions for the Network Learning Project, I immediately went to thinking about how I’ve always wanted to be a Disc-Jockey (DJ). During my undergrad at Michigan State, I did some very novice and basic DJing at a local club.  Pretty much I just played music from my iTunes library and faded between songs.

What I’ve wanted to be able to do is learn to mix songs, hold a beat and fade between at least 2 channels of songs to create a new remix.  Two years ago I attended the MACUL conference in Detroit and listened in on a session taught by Gary Abud, Jr. (@mr_abud). The session was called “Techno Teaching: What Educators can learn from DJs.” He posed the following question in his lecture:

“So, what if your students wanted to be in your schools and classrooms with the same energy that they want to go to a concert or music festival? Wouldn’t this be the level of ‘engagement’ we all strive to achieve as educators? Don’t we want learning to be a positive, fun, and memorable experience for our students?” – Gary Abud, Jr. – Techno Teaching, MACUL Conference 2014

Since attending that session, I think about ways I can incorporate music and technology even more in my classroom.  Not to mention, I think my students would be blown away if I could come up with a way to incorporate my new DJ skills with a lesson in the classroom.

So, what better way to step into this than with this project.  The project requires me to only use help forums and YouTube videos to learn as a way to discover more about network-based learning.

I purchased a very basic DJ Mixer by Pioneer –


Initially I went straight to YouTube and found some great resources:

A beginner’s Guide to DJing

DJ Tips offers an entire YouTube set of courses on how to DJ –

The software that I’ll be using is called SERATO (it came for free with the mixer) and there are several DJs that offer YouTube-based courses on how to mix music specifically using this software. One example is DJ Ean Golden who offers up expert level training on YouTube for free.

Along with all of these great YouTube sources, there are plenty of help forums as well for beginner level DJs:

DJ Tech Tools

Our DJ Talk

Serato DJ Software Forums

There are so many more resources out there as well. As CEP 810 progresses for the next 5 weeks, I look forward to learning how to mix music and share my learning experiences with you. I am also curious to see how this learning experience will work seeing as we are only allowed to learn via network-bases (YouTube and help forums) — non-traditional methods of learning.

Learning for Understanding

I am currently enrolled in CEP 810 as part of my Masters of Arts in Educational Technology program.  My first assignment was to identify my understanding of what learning is and discuss teaching methods that support learning (understanding and conceptual change). After reading the first three chapters of Bransford, Brown & Cocking’s textbook, “How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School,” I give my insight into how learning is enabled through understanding and transfer.  In short, providing students with an environment where they can think about their thought processes (metacognition), be motivated and looking at students’ initial learning will ultimately help students learn for understanding and transfer the content knowledge to future learning experiences. The full essay (830 words) can be found HERE.