My Silver Lining
Air Date: May 4, 2020
#6 My Silver Lining
May 4, 2020
0:00 Interview with Kawennakon Bonnie Whitlow, Instructor and Indigenous Special Projects Officer.
- Learn more about Kawennakon’s teaching philosophy in an article she co-wrote with Vanessa Oliver, Kim Anderson, Kari Brozowski, Stephanie Tschirhart, Danielle Charles, Kaienkwinehtha Ransom, “Yehyatonhserayenteri: A Haudenosaunee Model for Onkwehon:we (Indigenous) Education,” for the Canadian Journal of Education 42.2, Summer 2019.
11:06 Interview with Abby Goodrum, Professor and Program Coordinator, User Experience Design.
21:13 Interview with Chandler Berardi, Alumna and Academic Program Administer.
- Chandler Berardi’s YouTube channel with her two new singles. Catch her weekly Sunday afternoon kitchen concerts on Instagram or Facebook.
One Market is created and produced by Bruce Gillespie and Tarah Brookfield. Music by Scott Holmes. Graphics by Melissa Weaver.
Bruce Gillespie 0:05
Welcome to One Market, keeping the Laurier Brantford community connected. I’m Bruce Gillespie. This is Episode Six. This week, we hear from a staff member about how she’s adapted her Mohawk language course for remote teaching, and talk to a professor about some guidelines for designing better online experiences, which are something we could all use more of these days. Then we’ll hear from our first alumni guest who’s launching her music career and entertaining fans around the world from her kitchen every Sunday. All that and more coming up on this episode of One Market.
Our first guest is Bonnie Whitlow. She’s a special projects officer in the Office of Indigenous Initiatives. She also teaches a Mohawk language course, I started by asking her, how much has your work life changed since the end of in person classes and being asked to work remotely for the foreseeable future?
Bonnie Whitlow 1:03
Oh, significantly, I never leave the house. But, I think just in terms of trying to manage workload or those types of things, the first, I would say, three or four weeks were pretty intense trying to go online, I mean, not necessarily for my usual workload, but for the course that I teach. So, the Kanyen’kéha course, the way that I teach it is interactive, and through oral tradition and focus on oral and not literacy. So, it was really difficult. And I did try to use the MS Teams and the Zooms, but I quickly learned that the kind of oral drills that I would try to do in a classroom were not suited at all to the online platforms. So then, I’ve had to struggle a bit trying to figure out how to transition those drills. And I think the biggest takeaway that I have is, it’s okay for me to ask them to do like the pronunciation and the repeating after me, but I would have to think long and hard about how I would be able to correct pronunciation from a distance because when we were doing it it just, like, it just didn’t work at all, because of the nature of the online services. So, that was one of my, my biggest takeaways. So, trying to find an alternative for that would be something that I’m going to have to research a bit more.
Bruce Gillespie 2:58
Yeah, it never even occurred to me. I mean, I just think about, like, language courses I took as a student, I took them all in person, and that’s part of the appeal of them is you actually get to hear someone close up, you can sort of go back and forth, you know, until you get the pronunciation right, you consider watch someone’s lips move in real time to see how they’re making it. That must be a whole lot more challenging to do in a in a remote kind of way.
Bonnie Whitlow 3:19
Yeah, I didn’t find an effective way to do that. So, I kind of gave up on those and then had to change the focus of my classes, more towards the cultural context and the teachings, as opposed to trying to encourage oral proficiency.
Bruce Gillespie 3:40
Right. That makes sense to me, at least. I mean, that’s, I mean, given how quickly this happened, and given the technology we have on offer, that seems like a completely reasonable decision to make.
Bonnie Whitlow 3:51
Yeah, it changed everything. So, it changed, it just changed everything about my course. It was, it was an interesting last three weeks, but the nicest thing was because I had to make that change, I did sharing in a slightly different way. And the, the sweetest part of it was on the last day of classes, because there’s such a focus on the social environment and the community building evironment in my class, I think that that’s what the students really enjoy the most. And so, on the last day, I finished and I said goodbye to everybody, I finished off with a Thanksgiving Address, the Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen, and teaching that I had about that, some writing that I am including in a book that I’m writing with Norma. I’m not sure if you know about that, Bruce, but there’s several faculty members and staff members on campus who are writing a book based on Norma General’s teachings. One of the things that I was most proud of was this writing that I had done about the Thanksgiving Address, and I shared it with the students. And then I said goodbye, and then nobody hung up, the class all stayed, and they all just wanted to talk, and they wanted to continue along. So, what we’ve done is we’ve changed the classroom, and now it’s just for fun. It’s just a Kanyen’kéha hangout, and we’ve been teaching, we’ve been translating a few songs into
Kanyen’kéha, and then teaching the students to sing a few songs.
Bruce Gillespie 5:38
That’s great, what kind of, what are some of the songs you’ve been working on?
Bonnie Whitlow 5:41
Um, well, it’s really hard to translate songs, because many times they’re poetic or metaphorical, and none of that translates at all, there is no connection there. But, the ones that we’re doing right now is, “Dancing in the Sky.” There’s two young women from out in British Columbia, whose song was included in the Colten Boushie documentary, and it’s, the song has become a bit of an anthem for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women events, and so that’s one of them, that we’ve translated, we’ve gone about halfway through that one.
Bruce Gillespie 6:27
What a great project to undertake, and especially with students who were wanting to do this after official classes ended. That’s, that’s a real mark of having an impact on people. I love that.
Bonnie Whitlow 6:38
Yeah. And none of them, like none of them hung up. And I was literally like the end of Ferris Bueller, at the end of it going, “Okay, bye, bye. You can go now.” And then I realized they wanted to talk, so then they, that’s what they asked for was to just continue. So, that’s what we’re doing.
Bruce Gillespie 7:00
That’s great. So, what are your, now that you’re working remotely all the time, like the rest of us. What do your days look like? Are you mostly like in meetings on Zoom?
Bonnie Whitlow 7:09
Yeah, that’s, that’s actually now that I’m accustomed to, and I know in the first little while, I kind of struggled trying to figure out the technology. But, now that’s just normal, a couple of meetings a day on Zoom, I get my kind of human interaction. And then usually, like small reports, or the book that we’re working on, the book that we’re writing for Norma. And then, the really interesting thing about it is I have broken out of the nine to five kind of shell.
Bruce Gillespie 7:44
Bonnie Whitlow 7:44
So, before when I was working on campus, because I’m a single mom, like, that nine to five, that was my time for work, and I didn’t break that, and I rarely did evening things. But, now what I’ve found is, I have more flow to my day. So, I still get up early and go to bed early. But, my day is much more stress free. So, I find if I don’t get something done in the morning, it doesn’t matter because I can come back to it in the afternoon, or I can answer emails at night, or I can just pop in and out of what we’re doing. And the hardest part without a doubt of my day is learning how to homeschool my son and doing grade five math.
Bruce Gillespie 8:37
I’ve heard this from so many people. I’m so glad I’m not in that position because elementary school math sounds terrifying these days.
Bonnie Whitlow 8:43
Grade five math is hard. So, that’s my biggest challenge during the day, so even learning all of the new technology is quite, kind of, dwarfed by that because I have to not only learn it myself, but then I have to figure out how to teach it to my son.
Bruce Gillespie 9:05
So, besides homeschooling grade five math, what are you doing, sort of, to keep yourself busy and distracted when you would probably otherwise be outside your home doing something else?
Bonnie Whitlow 9:15
Well, that actually hasn’t changed because I do crafts and I do art, and I make design, like, I design my home and I do those types of things. I’m always, like, ripping down a wall, or making a set of shelving or doing, recently, my favorite thing that I’ve done actually is I’ve started, I’ve ripped all of my photo albums down every single, or not photo albums, picture frames, I’ve taken them all down off the wall. I have taken all of the old photo albums from my mom and my family and I have started to make specialized matting using a lot of our kind of Haudenosaunee iconography, and they’re turning out fantastic.
Bruce Gillespie 10:10
That’s so good, because I think I’ve also heard lots of stories about people picking up hobbies they left behind, and sort of not, you know, not being happy with results. So, the fact that you have time to do this, and you’re actually really happy with how it turns out is perfect.
Bonnie Whitlow 10:22
Yeah, so I have time to do all of those little things, I’ve decluttered my entire house.
Bruce Gillespie 10:28
Wow, you’re making me feel super lazy. I feel like my house is, like, way more cluttered than usual. But good for you, you’re inspirational as always. So, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I gotta use that.
Bonnie Whitlow 10:41
And the other thing, my favorite part of it is I get to spend time at home with my son just being at home. I can’t imagine being stuck in a house with anybody else. He’s who I would want to spend time stuck in a house with. So, that is my silver lining.
Bruce Gillespie 10:58
Bonnie, thank you so much for taking time to talk to us today.
Bonnie Whitlow 11:01
Well, thanks for calling me and inviting me to your podcast.
Bruce Gillespie 11:06
Our next guest is Abby Goodrum, a professor and coordinator of the User Experience Design program. She knows a lot about designing better online experiences, which feels very relevant these days. Here’s our conversation.
So, with people being asked to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19, most of us are working or studying remotely and most of our daily interactions have gone digital. I think working online to this extent is new for most of us. So, when you were telling me about the 10 general principles for interaction design, Jakob Nielsen’s major rules of thumb for human and computer interaction, I thought they could be something we might all find useful. We don’t have time to go through all 10 principles, but we will definitely provide a link to them on our website for folks who want to see more about them. But for now, could you walk us through maybe the top two or three you think are most relevant for folks in our community?
Abby Goodrum 11:58
Absolutely. So, I think one of the things that struck me immediately was having to shift gears to do everything online. Like, my grocery shopping, my interactions with the government for services, my interactions with my doctors, everything is, for me anyway, has shifted online. And, you know, at first I thought, well, I’m just a little oversensitive to how these experiences are panning out for me because I teach this. But, the more I’ve talked to people, the more I realized, no, everybody is having the same kinds of frustrations with these online interactions that I am. It’s not just because I have this sort of heightened awareness because I’m a professor of this. And I reflected back with one of my students just a few weeks ago, the Jakob Nielsen kind of nailed down the basic guidelines for creating positive interactions in an online space 25 years ago. It’s not new, and I think we’ve kind of, during non-pandemic times, we kind of say, “Yeah, yeah, you know, we know how to make good interactions happen online.” But, the pandemic has really forced us to look at these again with fresh eyes. So, the first thing I would say is, um, Jakob Nielsen’s ten heuristics, these are guidelines, heuristics are just guidelines. And so, the one that really stands out for me on almost a daily basis is match between the system and the real world.
Bruce Gillespie 13:47
Yes, that makes sense.
Abby Goodrum 13:49
So, if you already have what we call a mental model for how something should work, like how a library works, or how a grocery store works, or how, how a government service, like getting your driver’s license renewed, how that, you know, works in the real world or doesn’t. Then, when you’re interacting with the system, that’s trying to provide that service for you online, it should leverage the mental model that you already have of what a library, or a grocery store, or anything, how it already looks. As well, we already have a pretty built up understanding of how a lot of software already works, and I reflect on icons, we know what certain icons mean, we’ve seen them so frequently. There is absolutely no benefit in reinventing an icon if everybody already agrees what a particular icon should do. So, we know what a file folder is. We know what a microphone is, an icon for trash, and you have a model for what that is. Don’t go and reinvent the wheel to be cute.
Bruce Gillespie 15:02
Abby Goodrum 15:02
Bruce Gillespie 15:03
And I think, I think that that’s really smart because, and I think about, sort of, teaching some of my older relatives, how do you, like, use an iPad or something, like, we recognize these icons, so why would you change them if they’re universally known.
Abby Goodrum 15:15
And yet, I, you know, I’m being exposed now to a wealth of online conferencing softwares that I hadn’t used before, I was familiar with one or two. But now I’m having, you know, webinars and podcasting software and, you know, online meeting kinds of co-workspace softwares thrown at me. And you’d be surprised at the range of icon usage for simple things like to indicate, you know, turn on your video camera, or turn off your microphone, these things should be standard. The other one that really stands out for me that a lot of new websites, so people are having to, you know, take your services and products and things that they’ve always offered online, and some of them rapidly and for the first time, especially teachers, and some, you know, shop owners. And a critical guideline, a critical heuristic that Jakob Nielsen, put forward 25 years ago was visibility of system status. And all that means is if I click on something, or if I open something, or if I have any kind of an interaction at all, I should be able to see or hear that there’s been, there’s been some effect.
Bruce Gillespie 16:37
Abby Goodrum 16:38
This is so important. If you’re making a purchase online, for example, when you hit submit with your PayPal or your credit card, you should get an audible click and a visual change in screen that lets you know that something’s happening. It’s processing your order, or it’s taking your order, and it’s all done.
Bruce Gillespie 17:02
Right. So, you’re not sitting there wondering, did it work? Is my credit card lost to the internet universe? Do I need to, you know, dare I try to refresh this page and get charged twice.
Abby Goodrum 17:12
Exactly. So, you want to be able to know, you know, what’s happening right away? Every time I do something, I should get some feedback.
Bruce Gillespie 17:20
I think it makes sense.
Abby Goodrum 17:22
Yeah. Do we have time for one more the one that I really think is super important?
Bruce Gillespie 17:28
Abby Goodrum 17:28
Okay. This is user control and freedom. And it actually goes along with error prevention. So, you want to give people the ability to not make fatal errors, you want to be able to provide information about how to get back, how to undo something that you just did, you don’t want someone to lose all of the work that they just spent so much time crafting. And you want to make sure that if people change their minds, they can go back and start over without having a lot of, without losing what they’ve done, or without going down a bad rabbit hole.
Bruce Gillespie 18:12
I love that. Because I mean, thinking, sort of, our own context as teachers, that’s something I think we can really apply to online classwork, right, it’s that you can save your work as you go in some way that’s not, you know, you’re not typing 500 words into something, a form online and then it disappears, because you forgot to do something or did something wrong, or you changed your mind. So that seems like something really, really useful for us.
Abby Goodrum 18:35
Yeah. Yeah, and help documentation is, is really useful for this. So, if you have the ability to explain what something is going to do, what a particular form is for, and how to how to get out from it, any kind of helpful hints you can give are super appreciated by the users.
Bruce Gillespie 18:56
I was on a webinar the other day about teaching online, and one of the great ideas they had which had not occurred to me because I don’t do a lot of teaching online yet. Was that when you answer students questions by email as you normally would like, this is the deadline, or this is the formatting I’m looking for. Copy and paste those answers into our Frequently Asked Questions spot on your website, so that everybody sees those questions. Because it’s probably, because I think in a classroom, we can ask that class in front of 80 people and everyone would hopefully hear the answer. But online, you know, you can’t assume that people will be, 80 people are gonna email you the same question. And if someone has asked you, there’s a good chance your instructions may not have been that great in the first place. So, collecting all those responses somewhere online where everyone can see them, I thought was really smart.
Abby Goodrum 19:39
That’s exactly right. And that just absolutely highlights the importance of being user centered in your design. When we’re making a piece of software, or learning module or creating an online course whatever we’re doing. As the creator of that it will seem super clear to you, the words you’re using to label your content or your files, the actions that you know, the expectations you have for particular actions. As the creator of that content, it seems so obvious what you’re talking about. But, you’ll find really quickly that your users, your students, or your customers, or whoever you have using the software, or the website, they’re not in your brain, their mental model is not your mental model. And so, if you’re not prepared to test it out, pilot, test it out with with real people, your real audience, then you do have to be prepared to be flexible and iterative, as you talked about. And you know, creating FAQs based on the questions and the interaction you get, changing the way things look ever so slightly. If it’s, if you have the time to do that before launch, so that you have this sort of iterative, evolving prototyping and construction that reflects real users in that environment really using and interacting with that content.
Bruce Gillespie 21:09
Abby, thank you so much for joining us today.
Abby Goodrum 21:11
Oh, thanks, Bruce. It was great talking to you.
Bruce Gillespie 21:15
Our final guest is Chandler Berardi, who is our first alumni guest. Chandler graduated from the Digital Media and Journalism program a couple of years ago. And for the past year or so, she’s also been an academic program assistant in the Faculty of Liberal Arts. But today, we wanted to talk to Chandler about her music. She’s been singing since she was eight. And playing guitar since she was 13. She’s a performer in high demand locally, and just released her first two digital singles. I started by asking her about what her normal performance schedule looks like.
Chandler Berardi 21:48
If I’m playing Fridays, Saturdays come the summertime, when patio starts to open, there might be a couple days throughout the week that I’ll play. But typically, it’s on the weekends. And then, like you mentioned, weddings and things like that, which are always a really cool and fun experiences to be a part of.
Bruce Gillespie 22:09
So obviously, a lot of those kinds of things aren’t happening during the pandemic. And so, something you started to do is concerts from your kitchen Sunday nights.
Chandler Berardi 22:19
Yes, kitchen concerts. Yes, absolutely. Honestly, it started off completely having nothing to do with really wanting to kind of fill that void. One of my best friends lives in Calgary. And we were talking, his mom is a nurse in labour and delivery at the Branford General Hospital in town. And obviously, we are going through quite the tough time right now with COVID-19, and our front line healthcare workers are are going through the brunt of it. And he and his brother who he lives in Calgary just were absolutely sick to their stomach, not being able to be with her and wanting to to help in some way, we both kind of have a lot of friends and family members who are in the health care profession. And he just wanted to do something, we needed to do something. And so, we were talking, kind of spitballing ideas. And I was like, Well, why don’t I like, kind of go online and do a concert and see if I can some drum up some sort of interest and draw attention, and we can create a GoFundMe, and hopefully people will want to donate. And this can, kind of, be the start of our, our own kind of little way of helping. So, that’s how it all started, which was amazing. We’ve had so many people donate, and people are so, so generous and wanting to help out. And it just felt so good to keep that kind of sense of consistency. So, I’ve continued to do it every week, and people keep coming back, which is so awesome.
Bruce Gillespie 23:57
And we’re coming back, and I say we because I’ve been there every week because there’s, I mean, what’s it feel like performing to your phone when you’re used to playing in front of actual crowds?
Chandler Berardi 24:09
I really, really thought that it was going to be very strange. And at the beginning it kind of was because I am, obviously you should be in front of a decent sized crowd in a busy restaurant or whatever else. There’s lots of voices and it’s loud, it’s just a very generally loud environment. But to just kind of sit in my kitchen with my parents behind me, it’s just so quiet. I think that’s the weirdest thing about it is that it’s just so quiet. But, honestly I can, I think I could honestly say that I quite enjoyed the live aspect of some of it from my kitchen better than I do going into a bustling restaurant, which is just a bit strange. But typically, when I go to restaurants and bars and things like that I’m competing with a sports game on the television or, you know, people who haven’t seen each other for a long time they’ve, they’ve kind of gotten together with friends to kind of catch up. And then, there’s this girl who walked in with a full PA system and a guitar and a microphone. And it’s, it can be kind of, I mean, I wouldn’t say unwanted, but sometimes I feel like sometimes I’m just, kind of, intruding on people’s conversations and, and there’s that kind of hover of people’s conversations and things like that, that I have to kind of play overtop of, because sometimes I feel, I don’t know, like I said, intrusive. So, it’s nice to know that when I go live, people are, people are coming in because they actively want to be there to listen to me, and they don’t just happen to be out for dinner, and then somebody walks in, and they just happen to be playing music.
Bruce Gillespie 25:46
And again, I think that the thing that from an audience perspective makes it fun is that it’s very interactive, you’re always responding to people’s messages in the chatbox, you’re always taking requests. It’s a, it’s a really nice atmosphere. I look forward to it on Sunday nights now, it feels like my Sunday night thing.
Chandler Berardi 26:02
Thast’s so sweet, honestly that means so much to me. And it’s funny, because I, I chose Sunday, because I figured I have a lot of other musician friends who are kind of doing the same thing, because this is their full time job. And obviously, there’s, they’re out of work right now. And I was like, “Well, everybody will probably do like Friday and Saturday, because that’s usually when we, when we do our gig, so I’ll choose Sunday, and then hopefully won’t run into competing with anybody.” Or I figured Sunday would be a safe day, which is nice, because in my family, we have what we call our Sunday night dinners where my, kind of, close extended family we all get together on Sunday, and we sit down and have dinner and dessert together and kind of catch up and stuff. So, obviously, we can’t do that now with social distancing with my uncle and my cousins and things like that. But, it just kin.d of gives me that sense of, you know, my kind of Sunday night dinner, but now it’s, like, all of you guys, which is so cool.
Bruce Gillespie 26:58
We obviously can’t let you go without talking about the fact that this year you’ve released your first two singles. The first one came out in February and the last one, the second one, which is called “Princess”, just came out last week, I think,
Chandler Berardi 27:10
Bruce Gillespie 27:11
What’s that been like?
Chandler Berardi 27:12
Oh, my goodness, it has been absolutely incredible. I’ve, in multiple circumstances, tried to put it into words, and I just I can’t. When I released my first single “Loss”, at the end of February, it was so exciting and so nerve wracking. At the same time, I was working really hard with my good friend Steven Broncho, also goes by Steven Ryan, who is producing all of my music and is another really good friend of mine who is a talented musician, beyond belief. And we worked really hard on this together. And I wrote the song, like I mentioned, about a year ago. So, it was a long time coming and I was so excited to finally have something out in the world for people to be able to hear that was, that was mine, that was a piece of me. And that really kind of laid down the foundation for who I wanted people to know me as an artist. And I did that, I had no idea it was gonna happen. I honestly was just, I was so scared and so excited all at the same time.
But, when it dropped, the response was unbelievable, like, people reaching out to me just letting me know, like, “I just need you to know how much this song means to me, I’m going through such and such in my life right now. And this song is what I go to to help bring me back or to, kind of, ground me and I can’t tell you how much I needed this song right now.” And I honestly just, I have goosebumps right now talking about it because I know how I feel when I listen to my favorite artists who make me feel that way. And I listened to their music and it touches me so, so deeply. And I have always dreamt of being that kind of artist for somebody else. Obviously I feel like anybody in the music world does. But, never in a million years did I think that it would happen this way I guess. And it has and I think that’s been the most amazing response. It’s not even, “Oh, I’ve got this many streams or this many people have saved it or blah blah blah.” It’s the people that go out of their way to reach out to me to say, “your music means something to me and I need you to know that,” because I honestly couldn’t ask for anything else. So, it’s been a very exciting experience.
Bruce Gillespie 29:31
So, what can we look forward to then? Have you already recorded, like, an albums worth of material? Are you doing this song by song? Is there something more coming in the future that we should keep an eye out for?
Chandler Berardi 29:41
Well, the plan is unfortunately kind of at a halt due to our quarantine, but I believe with Steven, who’s producing my music, we’ve kind of got a little bit of a workaround where we can still continue to record the rest of my songs because I will be releasing an album. So, that is very, very exciting. It’s going to be more of an EP. So, it’ll be about six or seven songs, and I cross my fingers because I’m really hoping that I can get a seventh together for this. But yeah, it was originally going to hopefully be released in the summertime, but because of our situation, it might be pushed back a little bit, but I’m hoping that we can still kind of get it together. Because we still have lots to record. Unfortunately, we kind of took it at the realm of, okay, let’s do this song by song rather than recording everything all at once, and then kind of picking away at them as we went. And that kind of, a little bit shot me in the foot. But, there are definitely ways to work around that to continue recording while being quarantined. So yeah, we can definitely look forward to lots more music from me coming soon, which is super, super exciting.
Bruce Gillespie 31:02
That’s great. And it’s a, it’s one more reason to feel sort of hopeful and optimistic about the future, which is what I think we all need these days.
Chandler Berardi 31:08
Oh, well, thank you so much, honestly it’s, music has always been the one thing that has continuously brought me hope no matter what I’m going through, no matter how sad, or upset or something I’ve experienced in my life. Music has been that one thing that never lets me down in terms of giving me hope. So, I love that I get to share that with people.
Bruce Gillespie 31:33
And that’s a wrap. Thanks for joining us. We hope it’s helped you feel a little more connected to the Laurier Brantford community. If you liked what you heard, tell your friends and colleagues. You can subscribe on Apple, Google, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcasts. Worried about missing an episode? Sign up for our newsletter. You can find the link on Twitter and Facebook @onemarketlb. We’ll be back with a new episode in about a week. One Market was created and produced by Bruce Gillespie and Tarah Brookfield, music by Scott Holmes, graphics by Melissa Weaver. Today we’d like to leave you with a clip from Chandler Berardi’s latest single “Princess.” Thanks for listening. Keep in touch.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai