Category Archives: ECI 832 Learning Project

Personal journey into Zoom

Although video conferencing applications such as Zoom and Webex are not considered social media apps, they played a major role in the last few weeks in maintaining the social connection between people.  Since people have experimented with these tools, I do believe this will have a fundamental impact on how we will be engaged in life after the COVID-19 crisis is over. These apps will be part of our daily lives and will be a major tool of digital citizens.

Zoom has been widely used across the globe due to COVID-19. Most universities are using it to transfer their Face to Face classes to Virtual/Remote learning, including the University of Regina. My team at work has been involved in this transition. We had to offer Zoom drop-in sessions to answer any questions or help with any technical issues for the first time users. Therefore, I have been playing with it a lot for the past two weeks. I thought to explore it a bit deeper as part of my personal journey.

My experience of using it in my work encouraged me to offer my help to create and manage zoom accounts for the Arabic weekend community school that my kids attend, which include training teachers and creating manuals for teachers, parents and students. Zoom is keeping us connected in these rough times.  Zoom enables the social network and allows us to maintain “social distancing.”

After the first weekend, the feedback from the teachers made me make some adjustments to the settings.

  1. All teachers requested to have mute upon entry option enabled to avoid sudden interruptions
  2. We noticed that when a teacher shares her PDF, whiteboard, or worksheet, younger children will annotate on the shared screen and start to make a mess. Students were curious to find more about this new method of teaching and began to explore every option in the app. I had to turn off the ability for participants to annotate a shared screen by the host.
  3. My kids brought my attention that students, especially from the younger age groups, would start to privately chat with their friends during classes. I had to disable the private chatting as well.

Among the many resources available online, I would like to focus on a couple of the somewhat hidden options that were useful to have in our drop-in support at work, as well as some useful settings that helped the Arabic community school to run smoothly. I will include some resources that I found online that speak to the privacy and security that came up lately with the heavy usage of Zoom around the world.

Once we started the drop-in support sessions, we figured that there are a couple of options that we need that can make our life easier and facilitate our mission to explain how to best use Zoom. The most important one for us was to share the Zoom window interface. By default, Zoom windows and toolbar aren’t included when we share screen. We found it very useful when we explain how Zoom works, for example. To do that, you have to enable an option in zoom.us and the Zoom desktop app. I created a Google doc with detailed instructions on how to turn this option

The other useful setting was to set up a co-host, according to the Zoom website “You can be signed in to Zoom on one computer, one tablet, and one phone at a time. If you sign in to an additional device while logged into another device of the same type, you will be logged out automatically on the first device.” 

For example, I was able to pre-assign each one of the ID team at U of R  as an alternative host to all support meetings. In this case, each one of us can log in with their personal accounts as usual. When he/she logs in, they automatically are assigned a co-host role. Once the host leaves the meeting, an alternative host gets the hosting privileges; this is based on the order of alternative hosts. This made us not worry about breakouts in virtual room availability if the host had to leave the meeting.

On the other hand, setting up a zoom room for each class in the Arabic community weekend school was a different experience. I ended up creating one room for each class (6 rooms in total). Each room has a unique meeting link that doesn’t change. This made the life of the students (and their parents) much easier. Teachers with no prior experience were able to grasp the concepts very quickly and classes in the school were not interrupted.

However, like everything with technology, the extensive usage of Zoom showed some privacy and security concerns. Zoombombing is a well-known terminology that is currently used to describe “unwanted intrusion of an individual in a video conference call, causing disruption.” according to Wikipedia. I found many useful tips on how to minimize this issue. For example,

Some useful resources:

Social media Journey through Remote teaching and COVID-19

In this blog, I will share with you some resources on ‘remote education.” I collected these because of the developments with the COVID-19 pandemic. I would say this new situation and circumstances have evolved my relationship with social media entirely. Instead of just browsing the social media for simpler random and pretty many useless things,

I started to appreciate the wisdom of the crowds on social media. Initially, I was planning to give an update on my social media journey using Snapchat last week.

The COVID -19 pandemic fear and emergency measures here in Saskatchewan started to become very serious on  Friday, March 13, a day after the announcement of the first Coronavirus in Saskatoon. UofR announced all classes will be suspended for four days and will be back again in a remote mode of delivery on March 20. My department, along with many other departments at the University, started to act fast and plan for this huge transition.

I opened up my laptop and started Tweetdeck. The first column, #COVID19, second #saskhealth, third #remotelearning, fourth #remoteteaching and each one of these hashtags will lead me to another and another. The wisdom of the crowds on those hashtags led me to find a lot of useful information about the virus. I started to understand what it is. I watched many shared videos, PDFS, infographics, Google docs and many more. I jumped between social media apps that day the longest time in my life, from 7 pm to 4 am.

The first bits of information I looked for was personal. I was a bit nervous and worried about my kids. I went home and started to browse Google about how dangerous this virus is and how I can protect my family, myself and everyone around me. I kept thinking about how the situation would be over the coming few months.

I knew there is a big possibility that University will close and move to remote learning (many universities and schools in Ontario and the US have already). Will schools close as well? If yes, for how long? How I prepare my house and my kids for this? Millions of questions with no answers. I began to browse social media for resources, I quickly got some, but I kept on looking for more and more. Here are some excellent starting points for the parents/ teachers among us.

Over the weekend, I kept getting notifications from my work email to start preparing for the emergency situation and to figure out a task force and workflow for moving classes online.

Sunday night, I started to look for information and resources from other institutions on Twitter. It became my way to go if I am seeking more information. I was impressed and shocked by the massive amount of resources that are shared online. Then I remembered an email from a colleague mentioning that she found a resource on a group on Facebook.

I am not a big fan of Facebook but thought I should go and explore. I joined three instructional Designer groups that are very informative. I loved it, people share their resources, ideas, discussing methods and instructions, and more. Here are some examples

Again, and many more… Oh, social media is so useful that in a few minutes, one can get a few pointers to great resources that were created and filtered by the wise crowd.

I got a task at work to write instructions on how to upload content (using file, URL, media and labels) to URcourse. We have some excellent guidelines already that we use. It is a task that shouldn’t take a long and pretty straight forward. I couldn’t finish it during the regular work hours as it was so busy, and we were trying to complete other tasks.

I went home thinking I have to finish this tonight. I wrote the instructions then I thought maybe I should recheck Twitter and Facebook to check how other universities wrote their instructions. Here is a sample of what I found

So even for this basic and straightforward set of instructions, I was able to find tons of resources that showed me different styles of writing and diverse methods and strategies for writing the same set of information.

Should I say I converted? Will this be the first of many to come (self-motivated) journey through social media. I can’t know for sure, all that I know now is that social media has helped me significantly over the last week. I really appreciate the amount of support, care and innovation between all of us in this hard time. I felt everyone is trying to do their best to go over this hardship all the time altogether. I am curious to see research or a comparison of social media effects during the COVID-19 epidemic, and the lack of it during Spanish flu that happened almost 100 years ago and killed 50 Million people (World War 1 is estimated to have caused around 6-10 million deaths). Not only on raising awareness among the world population but also on the long term effect on economy, governments, education and relationships.

Instagram terms of use

Time for a new update! My last blog post was an overview of Instagram.   Here, I will focus more on Instagram’s terms of use statements.

Privacy policies of social media apps are typically stated in their terms of use statements.  These statements typically contain statements and agreements permitting social media apps to store, use and possibly share data on users.  Users are typically required to agree to these terms of use before using the services of social media apps.

In the following infographic,  I try to summarize a few key points of statements of terms of use for Instagram and how they affect a digital citizen.


One major concern about privacy agreements is their length and complexity. This makes a very large percentage of people, including myself, not reading them at all. Check the question below from Trevor Kerr on Twitter, with 13 replies confirming people do not read terms of use statements. I also found the following funny picture trying to compare the length of the terms of use of different new technologies. Instagram is longest!!

(from left: inder/Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat/Instagram)


Continue reading

Instagram

Instagram, Social Media, Symbol, Communication, Icon

For my major project of the course, I choose to provide comments on my personal journey of using social media apps as part of me being transformed into a digital citizen. I choose in this blog to provide some in-depth introduction to Instagram.

I am not a social media user. I had Instagram on my mobile a long time ago. It is my habit of downloading every app my kids mention, so I get a sense of how it looks like.  I used Instagram several times over the past two weeks. It is a user-friendly and straightforward app.

What is Instagram?

According to the App store: “Instagram from Facebook, Bringing you closer to the people and things you love. Connect with friends, share what you’re up to, or see what’s new from others all over the world. Explore our community where you can feel free to be yourself and share everything from your daily moments to life’s highlights.”

  • Instagram is the number 1 app in the Photos & Video category
  • It has a rating of 4.7 based on 1.4 million reviews (Wow, that is a lot of reviews!!!)
  • We are in version # 127

Statistics

  • According to Cindy Liu, a senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer.com, “Instagram Is the Fastest-Growing Social Media Platform in Canada.”
  • According to CIRA, Instagram is the third most popular social media network in Canada after Facebook and LinkedIn.

There are many reasons why Children/teens love Instagram? Quoting my kids:

  • Can communicate with friends and family without a phone number (only a small percentage of Canadian kids who have a phone also have a phone subscription)
  • Can share posts and receive likes, comments and more.
  • Can see other people’s posts like your favourite team, favourite sports player and more.
  • Can enter giveaways to earn prizes.
  • Can create and post your own stories and customize it
  • Can be updated of everything happening around the world
  • Can learn various tips and tricks

How you communicate and use Instagram?

Main features on Instagram include:

Home button:

  • I can browse and explore posts from those I follow. I can watch their stories by clicking on their photos above the post. Also, from the top, I can check all of the new stories from people I follow.
  • I can like, share or comment on posts
  • I can bookmark posts and organize them in folders like Pinterest

DM(Direct Messaging): I can send messages privately to people I follow. However, anyone can send me a message (after approving them) even if my account is private. The DM works like Facetime or Messenger. I can use it as a chat tool or make video calls.

Creating Stories: This feature alone has been a very famous addition to some of the social media apps. I can create and post stories by clicking on the camera icon at the top left corner of the app. Instagram works like Snapchat on this part. The story you create only lasts for 24 hours then disappears. I can make the story stay longer than the 24 hours by highlighting it. The limit time of a single story is 15 sec. I can create multiple 15-sec segments to create a lengthy story or use IGTV

IGTV: It can be used to create longer videos. Anyone have full access to IGTV’s content. No parental controls at all and lots of adult content,  which is  quite problematic from parents’ point of view.

Discovery: It allows me to search for videos, posts or photos on Instagram by clicking on the magnification lens. I can see posts from people even if I am not following them.

I find Instagram entertaining and addictive. I kind of understand now why it is so popular among students. Here are a few observations after using it frequently for two weeks.

  • Since I signed up for Instagram, I decided to follow only family and friends. However, I was drawn to follow more people each time I am checking it until I found myself following 120 people [now 318 :-)) as per the picture]. With so much posts, I discovered that I don’t see posts from my family and friends’ as much as before. I couldn’t keep up with all these posts from influencers, fashionistas, chefs, and news outlets. I had to create another account after only two weeks of frequent usage. I created another account to follow things I am interested in and kept my original one for family and friends. I found my daughter did something similar and created what she calls “a spam account” jointly with her best friend.  The definition is worrying me but I am happy I know about it now. This will give me a chance to talk to my daughter on how to protect herself.
  • Instagram is designed to keep you scrolling and scrolling with no clear end. I found this quite distracting and addictive, to say the least (let alone how much time kids spend on it)
  • Hashtags are a very powerful searching method on Instagram. The problem is Instagram is quite visual not like Twitter, so you can expect to see all sorts of visuals when you search for something. This is quite worrying for me as a parent, and I am not sure how to filter these images.
  • Instagram Is now hiding likes counter, which I find a good move to make users focus more on the content and quality of the post, not how many likes the post got.

For my next post, I will focus more on Instagram’s privacy and terms of use and how.

Major project Update

Alec asked us to provide an update of our major project, thinking specifically about how my project relates to one or more elements of digital citizenship. 

With this substantial global penetration of social media and its significant impact on all aspects of our life ( Personal, educational and professional), there is a need for a framework to teach Digital Citizenship to our kids has become essential and crucial.  The nine elements of digital citizenship by Mike Ribble are a great framework and guideline to know what does it mean to be a digital citizen? Common Sense Education describes digital citizenship simply as “the responsible use of technology to learn, create, and participate.” Mike Ribble says that “digital citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students for a society full of technology.” It basically defines how we use technology to engage with our community. Use technology to communicate at work, to buy/ sell online and to participate in online debates to discuss societal/global issues.   Therefore, when thinking of my major project, the following three elements of the nine elements came to my mind:

Social Media, Social, Media, Www, Icons, Icon Communication: This can be defined as “the electronic exchange of information.” Social media has become the primary form of communication among today’s generation. Digital citizens need to learn how to: 

  • Exchange information properly
  • Make appropriate decisions when communicating through social media apps. 
  • Raise the awareness of what to share and how to share it, 
  • Don’t share personal information or direct messages people you don’t know.
  • Know that when they delete a message or a photo, it doesn’t mean that it has been erased forever and that it can still be stored somewhere in the cloud. 
  • Protect themselves from cyberbullying and learn not to bully others. 

Media Literacy, Technology, Digital Citizenship, Candy Fluency/ Literacy: According to Mike Ribble, “it is the process of understanding technology and its use. The better educated or “digitally fluent” students are, the more likely they are to make the right decisions online, like supporting others instead of making negative comments. Digital literacy includes the discussion of media literacy and the ability to discern good information from poor, such as “fake news” from real news.”  Therefore, I am planning to provide information on how to use each app I am reviewing, highlight the main features and elements, how to use the app to our advantage and how to determine the accuracy of the information we access through these apps to make wise choices. With some apps like Instagram, I think I can reflect on the Digital Commerce element.  These are all essential skills that students must be equipped with to be able to compete and live in today’s culture. 

Digital commerce is growing significantly to the point it affects the regular retail industry. Ribble defined this element as “the electronic buying and selling of goods and focuses on the tools and safeguards in place to assist those buying, selling, banking, or using money in any way in the digital space. Career and technical education use the tools of technology to show students the path for their futureMaking a well-informed purchasing decision online is very important these days.  Tips on how to purchase online, what type of payment should we use? How to protect our paying method information? Choose who to buy from? Are all fundamental skills that our students, even adult, should be aware of and learn. 

The updated version of the nine elements of digital citizenship emphasized three guiding principals Safe, Savvy and Social (or S3). I would like to focus on the Safe (Protect yourself.Protect others) part of S3 on my major project by understanding our rules and responsibility while using each app. Read and analyze the terms of use and privacy policy. Moreover, learn how to protect our personal information and data online. 

With all these guidelines and frameworks in mind, I feel like my social media journey will be kind of exploring how to best use each app and how to be a good digital citizen while using it. I am excited as I am starting to look at apps with a different lens than before. I am confident I will learn a lot along my journey. 

“Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool, it is a way to prepare students for a society full of technology.”

Dr. Mike Ribble