Category Archives: eci832weeklyposts

Literacy in the 21st Century

This week in EC&I 832, we were asked to consider what it means to be literate today.  First, I looked at a few different definitions of literacy:

“Literacy has always been a collection of communicative and sociocultural practices shared among communities. As society and technology change, so does literacy.” – NCTE “Literacy in a Digital Age”

“Digital and media literacy is an expanded conceptualization of literacy.” Renee Hobbs, EdD Interview

“Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society” (UNESCO, 2004; 2017). UNESCO Defining Literacy

The following is an excerpt from a conversation with a few grades 3 students this week:

Me: “What is literacy?”

Student 1: “Like our literacy time? It’s when we do Daily 5.”

Student 2: “It’s when we practice reading and writing.”

Me: “Do you know what it means to be literate?” 

Student 3: “I think it means we know how to read?”

Student 2: “Yeah, my mom says I have to learn how to read if I want to get a job one day.”

Quite simply, these students have a decent understanding of literacy – learning how to “identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts”, and understand that it is important so they can “participate fully in their community and wider society” (UNESCO).  Learn to read and write so you can get a job one day.  If only it was that easy!

Before digital citizenship, there was just citizenship, and before digital literacy, there was just literacy.  As the world evolves, so does our teaching and learning around literacy.  The NCTE updated the definition of literacy in a digital age in November 2019 in response to the “continued evolution of curriculum, assessment, and teaching practice”.  Furthermore, Renee Hobbs, EdD explains that there are “five inter-related competencies that are now needed to participate in contemporary culture”:

  • Access: understanding how to access information in a digital space
  • Analysis: ability to identity author, purpose, point of view, evaluate credibility
  • Create: be able to brainstorm and generate ideas to create messages with media tools
  • Collaborate: with create, the ability to work together to create messages
  • Reflect & Take Action: ability to apply ethical judgement and social responsibility to online situations
13-literacies
“The world demands that a literate person possess and intentionally apply a wide range of skills, competencies, and dispositions.” NCTE

To be a well-rounded individual in today’s world, Kathy Schrock identified 13 literacies that should be taught across content areas. Her post gives a great overview of all the different resources educators can use to teach the literacies.  A note – the post is routinely updated, and the last update was January 8, 2020 (at the time this post was published).  Here is a link to a slideshow with definitions of all the literacies.

As I think about what it means to literate in a digital world, I consider my ability to interpret, criticize, understand, analyze and create through media and information literacy.  Like many of my classmates (and really, the entire world), I have been glued to social media during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.  While one might feel anxious and worried about all the fear mongering and misinformation online, I have been practicing my media and information literacy skills.  Before I compose or retweet a tweet, I read laterally and incorporate a few tools to spot real vs fake news.

CRAAP
Screen capture from our EC&I 832 class with Dr. Couros on March 10, 2020

One tool we discussed in our EC&I 832 class was using the CRAAP test to evaluate sources. Dr. Couros highlighted a few of the potential issues with the tool, but it is a starting point for teaching students how to evaluate information.  I think it is important for educators to explain that there is no one tool that is the “be-all-end-all” for evaluating sources online.  The practice of discussing how to evaluate information and media is the first step in changing the future of how news and information is shared online.

Like many of my classmates, Shelby shares how the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to discuss digital literacy and the dangers of misinformation.  Daniel describes the constant questions from students and says, “I’ve come to the conclusion that rather than answering their questions, I should be investing in their literacy skills [and] helping them develop sound information gathering and research skills.”

For example, with my students, we talked about reading laterally and using accurate news sources.  With COVID-19, the information is changing at a rapid pace, so an article from even a few days ago may no longer be relevant.  I think a lot of the panic and hysteria arises when people continue to post and re-post things like “a doctor friend of mine said this:….”.  While the information may be relevant, what is their authority or credentials?  How does it make you feel when you read the post?  Do you feel confident that this information is accurate before sharing?

Let’s be honest. This week has been long for teachers – with uncertainty regarding Sanctions, and the fear and anger regarding schools staying open or closing amid COVID-19.  It is impossible to not talk about what is going on – this is an unprecedented event in our history.  With the mass consumption of information and news taking place online, our job to teach digital literacy to students is more important than ever.

So, what does it mean to be literate today? Going back to Renee Hobbs, EdD, we need to find a way to “connect the dots between accessanalyzecreatereflect and take action“.  This means both in the digital sphere and offline in a way that is socially and ethically responsible.  For example, how are you going to take action during COVID-19?  My goal is to use my digital literacy skills to share accurate information and avoid fear mongering during this panicked time.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

 

 

 

 

 

#DigCit in Schools

Go to Twitter and search #digcit. You will find interesting discussions and credible accounts to follow regarding digital citizenship. You will also find many educators and accounts sharing information about digital citizenship, for example:

This is an important topic for all educators, regardless of subject area. This week in EC&I 832 we were asked to reflect on the role teachers and schools have in educating students about digital citizenship, our current practices and how to address digital citizenship in the future.

In November 2013, the Saskatchewan Government released the Saskatchewan Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying. The action plan included six recommendations, including: Support Students to Develop Responsible and Appropriate Online Behaviour.

recommendation
Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools (2015), Preface

 

 

In response to these recommendations, the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools was created to assist schools and teachers.  The guide was intended to respond to the following action:

proposed action
Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools (2015), Preface

Similar to the Saskatchewan, other provinces have created digital citizenship guides and resources to support teachers and schools. A few examples:

With all of these resources available, it is easy to see that policy makers and schools divisions believe that providing digital citizenship resources is important.  There are many suggestions and recommendations for providing instruction to students in our schools, but there is no plan to hold teachers accountable to incorporate these teachings.  So what should be the role of teachers and schools in educating students about digital citizenship?

School and Teacher Role

Using resources and supports made available to school divisions, I think it is important for teachers to model responsible behaviour when using digital tools.  Stand alone “digital citizenship” units may have been useful in the past, but at this point in our digital world it is necessary to follow digital citizenship guidelines in all teaching and interactions.  Using various guides and resources mentioned earlier, teachers must begin to close the gap between teaching citizenship vs digital citizenship.

For example, in the article “Turning Students into Good Digital Citizens“, Helen L. Chen explains that skills to navigate the web and social media are, “no replacement for the very basic foundational skills of critical thinking, written and oral communication, and, increasingly, flexibility, teamwork, and the ability to adapt to new working environments and collaborate with people from a wide range of backgrounds”.  Knowledge and experience using digital tools must be paired teaching students how to be good citizens.  I wrote about what it means to be a digital citizen earlier in the course:

  • “At this point, digital citizenship and citizenship are intertwined as life does not exist without the Internet anymore. As educators, it is more than managing a digital footprint, but rather acting ethically online with knowledge and empathy and making the transition towards ‘Digital Leadership’ as described by George Couros.”

Most importantly, I think schools should be able to teach students how to think critically, be aware of safety online and be a responsible participant.  Mark Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship is an excellent guide for teachers to think about and incorporate digital citizenship across curriculum.

CDEINZ2UgAE0x_6

In short, I think the responsibility of educating students about digital citizenship can take place when teachers and schools are provided support, resources and most importantly, time.  Teachers need time to learn about digital citizenship through professional development opportunities before they can teach their students.

Current Practice

Every school I have worked in during my six year career (six different schools – life of an arts education specialist) has had a different dynamic when it comes to technology in the school.  This is affected by the changing tools supported by my division over the last six years (for example, introduction of Chromebooks, iPads, Google Suite and other approved apps), as well as the level of engagement from administration and down to staff and students.  Using the SAMR Model, technology was often seen as a substitution tool at the beginning. The overhead projector was replaced with the digital projector or using computers to type up written work instead of a neat handwritten copy.

samr_r2

I moved into a new build school in 2017, complete with beautiful interactive projectors.  We received “training” on these projectors which included a 30-minute presentation on how to connect your computer to the projector (by someone from the company).  I am not kidding – these very expensive projectors with lots of capabilities quickly turned into a very expensive data projector.  It was not until after I did my own research (watching YouTube videos) and then attending another training session that I was able to make full use of the projectors. But, I recently returned from maternity leave to the same school with a huge staff change this year, and unfortunately many projectors are not being used to their full capabilities again.

While that story is not related to teaching digital citizenship in our schools, I think it shows the importance that teachers and schools need to prioritize and commit to learning how to use digital tools effectively and responsibly.  In my current school, without digging very deep, the only guidelines I can think of are a Media Release form (provided by my division) and “cellphone jails” with the senior students.  That being said, I am one of the arts education specialists, so it is possible all the grade alike PLCs have their own digital citizenship practices in place and I am not aware.  My thought is that if I am using technology with students, digital citizenship conversations and teaching need to take place.

BUT, before I started taking educational technology courses at the U of R in 2018, the term digital citizenship was not part of my vocabulary or teaching.  I have always had a keen interest in using tech with students and considered myself to be “tech savvy” and current with social media.  But I had no idea about my role and responsibilities as a teacher to create well-rounded digital citizens.  I bet there are many teachers today who feel the same as I did two years ago.  How do we change this?

Digital Citizenship in Schools – The Future

During our class this week, we participated in a discussion to determine key characteristics of digital citizens at various ages.  Two of the questions looked at ways to support teachers and schools and anticipated challenges.  Something that stood out to me was the lack of professional development for teachers.  Sure, policy guides and resources are great, but they are only effective is teachers are given an opportunity to understand how to use them.  And while there are many optional PD sessions available (Digital Citizenship PD offered by the STF), it still requires the teacher to find the information about the sessions and time to attend.

My classmate Shelby explains that the importance of educating students on media literacy and shares a definition from CommonSense Media: media literacy is the “ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending”.  Teaching media literacy includes helping students learn to think critically, be smart consumers of products and information, recognize point of view and create media responsibly.  These skills are relevant in many subject areas and are an important part of the digital citizenship puzzle.

What if our school division identified digital citizenship as a focus area (similar to numeracy, literacy, early years and FNIM instruction)?  Then every school would be required to create a school-wide goal that aligns with the school division goals.  Individual teacher professional goals could then relate an align with the goals.  School-wide and community engagement would result through various initiatives (instead of a Literacy or Numeracy night, we could host Digital Citizenship Night).  With a little extra push from school divisions to include digital citizenship as part of all curriculum with students, I think we would start to see a trickle-down effect, especially if we involve families.  If we begin to speak a common language regarding digital citizenship/leadership with staff, students and families, then we will be moving in the right direction to prepare our students for the future.

ribble quote
Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools (2015), p.5

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

The Evolution of my Digital Identity

This week in EC&I 832, we were tasked with reflecting on the idea of digital identity and how our past, present and future practices relate to our own digital identity. I will explore:

  • the concept of digital identity;
  • my evolving digital identity from the past, present and future; and
  • practices related to my students’ and daughter’s digital identities

What is digital identity?

Daina and Allison presented their video in class this week sharing an excellent overview of digital identity, first looking at the concept of identity followed by digital identity.  In the video, they shared Nora Lizenberg’s definition that “a digital identity is the representation through a set of features of the identity of an individual that is used in some processes of interaction with others in distributed networks for recognition of the individual.”

That is a lot to take in, so here is my break down of the definition:

  • “digital identity” (who and how we are represented online)
  • “representation through a set of features” (features of online apps, like profile pictures, bios, etc)
  • “used in some processes of interaction with others in distributed networks” (maybe through comments and posts on social media sites)

A few more definitions:

    • “A person’s digital identity is an amalgamation of any and all attributes and information available online that can bind a persona to a physical person”.  (Forbes.com)
    • “A digital identity is always unique in the context of a digital service, but does
      not necessarily need to uniquely identify the subject in all contexts. In other words, accessing a digital service may not mean that the subject’s real-life identity is known”. (NIST)

Overall, my understanding is that your digital identity begins with what you share about yourself online and information that is available to the public online. The challenge:

Untitled
Common Sense Education

A Brief History of My Digital Identity:

Before 2007:

It is the year 2000 and I am using my family computer, complete with dial-up Internet. I have patiently waited for my brother to get off ICQ so I could login to MSN Messenger.  I am using the Hotmail e-mail I created with my dad (cutie_cat2000).  First, I use Yahoo Search to look for meaningful song lyrics to add to my display name, then I patiently wait for my friends to appear online. I usually stay “offline” until someone important signs in, and the chatting begins.  This ritual took place a few times a week and it was the beginning of life online.

  • Digital identity so far: cutie_cat2000 e-mail address (I’m cute [haha], Cat as a nickname [although I was never called Cat] and it’s the year 2000)

Throughout the rest of elementary and high school, I explored various social media sites like Hi5 (remember when you could see who viewed your photos?), MySpace (top friend drama!) and Facebook (Grade 12 year, 2006-07).  I wish I could remember a way to login to some of my old accounts, or to view the Geocities websites I made in the early days of my Internet journey.  A few things I do remember are that I only shared a few very carefully selected photos on my profiles.  Prior to about 2006, my digital footprint existed, but I can’t find any history of it today.

Enter Facebook. The beginning of the end.  Multiple photo albums from single day events.  Any picture is fair game – the more unflattering, the better.  It was almost a game to tag friends in unfortunate photos before they had a change to review the tags, leaving a trace of our activities online forever.

  • Digital identity in high school: hundreds of photos shared on Facebook, daily status updates of mundane life details and personal information in my bio like: full name, birthdate, location, school, job, relationship status, religious views, political views, favourite music, TV and movies, etc
  • Quantity of posts over quality. No real “theme” or personal brand

University years, 2007-2013

I continued to use Facebook (it was a BIG deal in University) by sharing photos, comments and posts that usually had no purpose.  One thing I remember with Facebook posts – I moved to Montreal for my undergrad, and I found that comments from my Saskatchewan friends often included bad language.  I always deleted comments that made me feel uncomfortable or did not align with my values.

I also started using Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn during this period.  I even purchased domain names in my name as a way to protect my digital identity.  But I can honestly say that I didn’t really understand why I was doing it except that I might want it one day.

  • Digital identity in University: becoming more aware of how my personal social media reflects who I am, therefore trying to control the type of posts and photos on my personal pages
  • Using the same username across all sites as a way to create a personal brand (not sure why I did this, but someone probably told me it was a good idea.) After a digital cyber-sleuthing activity we completed in class this week, I probably would not do that again. Same username makes it very easy to find you online.

Transition period – 2014 – present

This time period of my life represents when I started working as a private piano teacher in Regina, school teacher with Regina Public Schools, followed by lots of travel and major life events (getting married, having our first child).  As I developed my personal music lesson business, I became more aware of my digital identity online. I wanted to control the narrative and make sure that if potential clients ‘Googled’ me, they would be impressed with my accomplishments and feel confident in my abilities as a music teacher.  I was trying to attract business, so I did a few things to “clean up” my digital footprint.

Digital identity in my professional life:

  • Utilize LinkedIn profile and make connections in the community and arts industry
  • Focus Twitter account on tweets related to music education and arts in our community. I wanted to appear as an active member of the Regina community.
  • Create catherinereadymusic.com to attract students and provide information (I tried to direct all my social media posts about teaching piano directly to my website)
  • Clean up Facebook photos albums, tagged photos and posts on my timeline (I hid most of my albums, made sure my profile was very private and was careful with what I posted online. I always asked myself, “would a parent hire me to teach their child if they saw this?”)

Luckily these efforts were not wasted, as they led into my career as a teacher with Regina Public Schools.  I wanted potential human resource professionals to be impressed if they Googled my name, so I check out my name frequently online.  Fortunately,  “Catherine Ready” brings up websites and photos that I have selected or given permission to post online.

Present – Future

Over the last couple of years, I have been more selective with the photos and information I post online.  While I consider myself someone who shares online, I try not ‘spam’ my friends and family with daily content (except for Snapchat – send baby and dog photos to a few family members).  As a family, my husband and I made a few rules and guidelines to follow when posting about our daughter. Mostly, we try to share happier moments and avoid naked baby photos.  As my classmate Leigh mentions in her post about Digital Identity, I try to make use of the ISTE STEP approach when posting online.

screen-shot-2020-02-29-at-8.37.52-am
“Building and Keeping a Positive Digital Identity” -ISTE

As I look towards the future with my family and students, I reflect on the different types of online identities. These types should consider security, privacy and anonymity and include:

  1. Open – shared through all platforms
  2. Avoidance – avoid all online activities and social media
  3. Audience – use different social media platforms for different purposes
  4. Content – carefully considered and curated content
  5. Compartmentalization – different identities on different platforms

My types:

  • Past (early years) – OPEN user, sharing freely and exploring social media
  • Past (University years) – AUDIENCE user – lots of different platforms for different reasons
  • Present (Professional years) – AUDIENCE user, shifting to a CONTENT user. For example – Instagram is for curated photos and closer friends, Facebook is to share with teacher friends and family, Twitter is for professional life (no personal life)
  • Future – I am beginning to see a shift towards a COMPARTMENTALIZATION user, especially as I consider how I want my daughter’s identity to grow online.

One thing I have learned throughout my educational technology courses with Dr. Alec Couros is that we need to stay on top of the frequent changes to our digital world.  Learning about privacy policies and terms of use agreements in my major project reminds me that we have control of what we post online and the information we share with companies and apps.

Returning to the question posed by Common Sense Media: How can I cultivate my digital identity in ways that are responsible and empowering?  In the ISTE White Paper, “Building and Keeping a Positive Digital Identity” (2015) , five essential questions are presented to think about when building a digital identity:

  1. What information am I sharing
  2. How secure is it?
  3. Whom am I sharing it with?
  4. What am I leaving behind?
  5. What are my rights?

Furthermore, these questions can help “kick-start meaningful conversations about online behavior, help students understand the broader impact that online identity can have in their daily lives, and provide a foundation of understanding for adopting appropriate online practices” (ISTE, 2015).  On Twitter, a few classmates (Amanda, Leigh, Shelby and Nancy) had a great discussion about encouraging a positive online presence.

The general consensus is that parents and teachers need to be part of the conversation to help young people build positive digital identities and encourage responsible interactions online.  By working with younger generations, we can empower our students and children to make choices that enhance their digital identity.

IMG_3054

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Friday Night Dinner – My Generational Divide Focus Group

Every Friday night, my family gathers for a big family dinner planned and executed by my mother. We call it “Friday Night Dinner” and it is something everyone looks forward to after a long week of work and school. I get to reconnect with my brothers and sisters and all the cousins run around and play. After dinner, we sit around our big dinner table and have conversations that usually bring out our generational divides (My parents, the 5 kids [siblings and myself], our partners and 7 grandkids).

In short, we have our very own ‘generational divide’ focus group that meets weekly to discuss the latest issues and trends in our world.  Generational stereotypes? Yup, we cover all those and more.c4552553a55501a39ae09446e1d519ce There are “OK, boomer” comments from the Gen Z’s, the Gen X’s calling the Millenials lazy (read my classmate Matteo’s post) and the phone-addicted Gen Z’s being anti-social in the corner. The Gen Alphas are usually in their own world, so there is still hope, right?

Although many sources use different birth years to determine your generation, I like this image below (from 2015), as it highlights and pokes fun at some of the typical opinions and experiences of each generation.   a-generation-gaps-bruce-feirstein-vf

During our class discussion, I wondered if being focused on generation gaps was something more prevalent today. But Dr. Couros showed us a few different magazine covers over the last 40 years, each one condemning the next generation as being lazy, entitled, etc. It appears that a common concern is that the next generation is “doomed” unless we do something about it. With an understanding of the gaps that exist between each generation, we can consider how these divides affect the world we are preparing our students for in the future.

What kind of world?

Gone are the days of sending students on prescribed educational paths that will result in 30-year careers in one industry.  Teachers are often told we are teaching students for jobs that do not even exist. In fact, “in many industries and countries, some of the most in-demand jobs didn’t even exist five or 10 years ago — and the pace of change will only accelerate” and since it is impossible to know what the future holds,  “the key to molding job-ready graduates is to teach students how to live — and learn — at the intersections” (Iste.com).

POG-illustration-500pxThese “intersections” are areas that interdisciplinary learning can take place and we can prepare our students by using models like ‘Portrait of a Graduate’.  Many organizations have created their own ‘portrait’, but here is an explanation by the Oxford School District based in Oxford, MS.  As educators, we have the task of preparing our students for the future by developing skills and a mindset to take on the challenges in their future world.  The world we are preparing our students for is constantly changing, so I think it is important that we focusing on developing relationships with our students, which will allow us to curate their passions and help students find their spark.

Do schools need to change?

The article “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” describes new skills that need to be taught to students that build on traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills currently taught in the classroom. These include:

skills

“Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” (p. 4)

In some ways, schools are already taking on these skills by incorporating the 4 C’s of 21st Century skills as described by my classmate Amanda in her post this week. Amanda explains that, “Cultivating a classroom environment around the 4 C’s also gives students the chance to become “knowledge-able” instead of just knowledgeable”.

Another classmate, Christina, explains that our schools need to change because our culture is changing and “We need to keep up with how the digital world is evolving or we will have students thrown into a world with no skills how to navigate it.”  As educators in a 21st century world, we have a responsibility to keep up with these changes as life long learners.  We can do this by participating in professional development, or taking relevant courses like EC&I 832!

(As a side note – consider reflecting on how you used technology in your first year as a teacher and compare it with the present day. The SAMR model is one way to consider our technology use and how it is evolving.)

I also think it is important to change how we frame digital citizenship conversations with our students.  This includes moving from a cyber safety or fear/avoidance based model to our current model that emphasizes actions a responsible citizen should take.  Last week, I created a video “What does it mean to be a (digital) citizen”, and I think it highlights the shift schools need to take with digital citizenship in schools.

What does citizenship look like in the future?

In the research for the video above, I found a lot of information about moving from a ‘personally responsible’ idea of digital citizenship and to consider using Westheimer’s framework of what it means to be a citizen.  This includes looking at the benefits of participatory and justice-oriented citizens online.

Kinds_of_Citizen

At this point, digital citizenship and citizenship are intertwined as life does not exist without the Internet anymore. As educators, it is more than managing a digital footprint, but rather acting ethically online with knowledge and empathy and making the transition towards ‘Digital Leadership’ as described by George Couros. I love this visual from Sylvia Duckworth and Jennifer Casa Todd.  We have the opportunity to inspire our students to find passion, influence others and make positive change!

diff-dig-cit-1-fi

Returning to my ‘Friday Night Dinner’ discussion at the beginning of the post, I am curious if we can shift our family conversation to look at the positives each generation has to offer.  The Millenials are pretty good digital citizens, but it is the grandkids that will make all the difference.  Everyday I learn something new from young people as they become digital leaders to promote positive change in our world.  Even though the current passions might be the ‘Renegade’ dance, there is no denying their commitment and dedication.  As educators, parents and adults in the lives of young people, we have the chance to cultivate these passions and help promote the wave of the future: digital leadership.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

An evening with Mary Beth Hertz

This week during our EC&I 832 Zoom session, we had an excellent presentation and conversation with Mary Beth Hertz, author of “Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet” and current high school art/technology teacher.

We shouldn’t be teaching kids to be afraid of social media, or that technology is bad for them. We should treat these tools like any influence in their life and help them manage the responsibilities connected to these tools effectively and ethically.Mary Beth Hertz

There were many takeaways from our conversation, but for the purpose of this post I will focus on my top three:

  1. Learning how the Internet works
  2. Validating what our children/students are doing online
  3. Understanding bias

1. Learning how the Internet works

Hertz explained that part of her high school technology course begins with teaching and learning about how the Internet works – from IP addresses, Wi-Fi, and cookies.  This discussion made me realize I vaguely know what is going on, but not enough to explain it to my students.  Hertz believes it is important for students to understand how their devices connect to the outside world, as well as privacy and safety with the devices. For example, what are the concerns with using the free Wi-Fi in a coffee shop vs your password protected Wi-Fi in your home? What are the safety concerns with being connected to an Alexa or Google Home? Hertz explains that part of being literate in a digital world is understanding the implications of technology, even if you don’t understand the functionality. 

giphy

via GIPHY

Takeaway? We (as educators) need a basic understanding of the Internet to guide our students in a digital world!

2. Validating what are children/students are doing online

In a discussion of some popular apps like Snapchat and TikTok, we highlighted the obsessions or unhealthy communities young people find online.  Hertz focused on the idea that kids are not necessarily addicted to social media, but instead addicted to each other.  We also talked about Manoush Zomoradi, who dedicates an entire episode of her podcast, ‘Note to Self’ about the pressures of maintaining Snapstreaks. I encourage you to listen to the relatively short episode to understand the phenomenon (especially if you are obsessed with streaks, like myself! Going on Day 1038 with my niece…)

That being said, Hertz believes it is possible to teach young people self-regulation and reflection when it comes to technology use.  Another comment she made was that preparing our students to use their time wisely used to be a technology teacher’s job – but now everyone needs to be involved. How to use technology responsibly (and further discussions of digital citizenship) need to be included every time we use technology in the classroom or with our children.  Hertz explains that we should understand that there is value in what they are doing online, and we can validate this by acknowledging the digital divide among our students. Amanda and Daina provide excellent descriptions of Digital Equity and that young people fall into three categories when it comes to technology use.  They are described in an article shared by Hertz as Digital Orphans, Digital Exiles and Digital Heirs.

Takeaway? We need to build relationships with our students so we can understand and appreciate what they are doing online.

3. Understanding bias

maxresdefault

Hertz described bias in a way that was very easy to understand and I immediately started using it with my students this week.  If you are reading something (like “news”), and it makes you feel a certain way (an emotion), then you likely have bias as the author is trying to influence how you feel.  She also explained that bias is very difficult to teach because nothing is just news anymore and articles often lack context.  There is so much media bias and fake news online, how do we teach it as educators?  One suggestion from Hertz was to use AllSides.com, a website dedicated to providing balanced news.  We also need to look at where these biases originate, like from parents as inherited preferences (especially related to politics) or in our own cognitive biases that influence decisions.  This discussion lead towards the importance of fact checking and how ‘Reading Laterally’  helps our students fall out of the trap of not trusting anything.  We need to be a little be skeptical when we read online, but we can help our students by giving them the tools to understand how to avoid being fooled online  and how to make sense of bias.

Takeaway? We need to help our students understand bias and how it influences what we read online. 

As an arts education teacher, I have started talking about digital citizenship and how we use technology with students, even if it feels unrelated to arts ed.  Mary Beth Hertz helped me realize that if you are using technology with students, these conversations about technology need to take place.  It is not only the classroom teacher or the parents’ job – we all have a part in shaping mindful technology users and responsible digital citizens.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Major Project: A Personal Journey into Media

My major project for EC&I 832 will follow my personal journey into media and an exploration of four apps: Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and Flipgrid. I am a daily user of Snapchat and Instagram, recently discovered TikTok for “research” last semester in EC&I 831 and started using Flipgrid this week with students as an educational tool. Last semester in EC&I 831, I wrote a post that explains my love-hate relationship with social media and my final summary of learning also explores some of the pros and cons of social media in short interlude videos (fast-forward through the face-to-camera speaking parts- see time codes below).

SNAPCHAT: 0:10 | TIKTOK: 1:34 | INSTAGRAM: 3:03

As an arts education specialist, some of the themes we focus on in Grades 5-8 include Pop Culture, Identity, Place and Social Issues. These themes have relevant connections to social media and I have had a lot of conversations with students about apps and how they are used in their personal and (sometimes) educational lives. My biggest concern is the lack of information students have regarding privacy and safe use of the apps as well as misinformation about how data is stored and shared.

For example, a student explained to me that the FBI receives and analyzes every single Snap you send, so nothing is private. And the cops read all your DMs on Instagram. Hmmm.

Although I am a fairly certain these statements are incorrect, it made me realize that I do not really know anything about the privacy and safety of our data with these apps. If I want to help my students safely navigate a digital world, I think it is my responsibility as an educator to have a basic understanding of these social media app Terms of Service and privacy implications. But as a personal, everyday user of the apps, it is imperative that I understand what is happening to the photos and information I share on a daily basis.

My major project plan will include a detailed overhaul of everything and anything about the apps: exploring and understanding the app platform, Terms of Service, privacy agreements, access to information from a legal standpoint, data storage and sharing, types of users and usage and the potential educational value. I will also embark on a personal experiential journey of the apps in a way that is typical of common users (and also different from how I already use Instagram and Snapchat). Although Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok do not appear to be educational tools, I want to see if there is a way to use these apps in an educational setting. I plan to use Flipgrid with my students over the next couple of months and learn alongside them, as sometimes I find they are the best teachers when it comes to new technology! I plan to use 8-10 weeks for the project, beginning during Week 3 (January 21) and completing my research before Week 12 (March 31) to allow adequate time to summarize my findings. I will take 2-3 weeks per app for the detailed overhaul and continue ongoing experimental use throughout the project. My draft plan:

DatesAppExperiential Plan
Week 3 (Jan. 21)
Week 4 (Jan. 28)
Week 5 (Feb. 4)
Flipgrid-Use with students for a current unit plan (“Social media activism” and “activist art”)
-Engage in some PD through the app developers and explore some of the feedback possibilities
-Connect with other teachers who have used the app
Week 6 (Feb. 11)
Week 7 (Feb. 25)
Snapchat?? Any ideas? I already use this daily with my family (mostly for Snaps of my baby)
-I rarely use the ‘story’ option, so maybe I could start using it? And make it interesting and worth watching?
Week 8 (Mar. 3)
Week 9 (Mar. 10)
Instagram-Move away from my current use (sharing photos of my daily life with a private account, mostly baby photos)
-Create an open account specifically for my dog, Callie (yes, I will be one of “those” people)
-Connect with users using specific hashtags
Week 10 (Mar. 17)
Week 11 (Mar. 24)
Week 12 (Mar. 31)
TikTok-To get the full “experience”, I think I need an open account
-I feel weird posting videos of myself or family, so I am also going to create an account specifically for my dog, Callie (pet accounts/videos are also a thing on TikTok- also, sorry in advance, Callie)
-Follow trends and create videos. How many likes can I receive? How can I increase engagement?

My plan will likely evolve over the semester, but I would really appreciate any feedback about how I should try ‘experiencing’ these apps, especially ones that I already use on a daily basis. I am excited to have a better understanding of how these apps gather and use our data and to help guide our students through our evolving digital world.

Thanks for reading!

@Catherine_Ready