Category Archives: Major Project

A Real Media Smarts Resource!

I had planned on completing these reviews earlier in March, but as our teaching worlds were turned upside down recently, they are a little later than I would have liked, but no less, here’s another one!  Hopefully it will be of good use to my colleagues and classmates as they embark on their newest remote, online teaching journeys.

Media Smarts is the second resource I would like to review for my major project.  It is another website dedicated to educating children about digital literacy and media literacy, and it’s Canadian!  They have many different types of resources for teachers, for parents, and for kids.  They have an entire section dedicated to Digital & Media Literacy with many different Media Issues like body image, intellectual property, and violence listed.  The website also listed a variety of Digital Issues ranging from authenticating information to cyber security, and online ethics. It also includes general information about digital and media literacy as well as information about video games, movies, and music.

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There is a “For Parents” tab that offers many resources for parents to begin talking to their children about media and digital literacy.  There are resource links to blogs, games, tips, guides, videos, and workshops.  This is a great option for parents because I think it is very user friendly and easy to access, especially if you are not 100% comfortable with the topic.  All the links provide detailed explanations and videos on how to discuss certain topics or how to become familiar with different ideas online.  It definitely breaks things down, however I found some of the videos I browsed to be very simple, which can be good if you are brand new to the internet or teaching young kids, but any child older than ten would likely find the videos too simple and childish.

But the part of the website I really want to dig into is the Teacher Resources.  I found this page to be incredibly resourceful and informative when it comes to the different sources and information listed.  There is a Digital Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools which is actually broken down into K-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12.  These then connect to specific lessons and outcomes for students to hit and connects it to a specific framework piece, like ethics and empathy, privacy and security, community engagement, digital health, consumer awareness, finding and verifying, and making and remixing (very similar to Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship if I do say so myself)!  And there are a ton of lessons to choose from to connect to the framework and age of students.  As I scanned some of the example lesson plans, they all seemed age appropriate and suitable for the students they suggested.screen2There is also a page connecting outcomes by province and territory to digital and media literacy which I haven’t seen before.  It goes so far as to break it down by province, and then by subject area and then to specific curriculums.  I was shocked when I decided to look further and found when I clicked on the English B30 tab (since that is the focus of my project) that it listed every outcome digital and media literacy could connect in.  Beyond that, it even gives lesson plans and suggestions for each outcome!  You will definitely need to check this out if you are looking for lesson plans on media and digital literacy in the future!  It’s an unreal library!!

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You can also find lessons and resources using the search engine, but I think finding them by outcome or subject to be much more useful.  However, the search is also useful because you may search by resource type like game or guide, topic like aboriginal people or cyberbullying for example or by media type like music or movie for example.  Again, I would recommend checking it out yourself as it’s something I will be using in the future.

I thought for the purpose of this post that I would talk about one of the lessons I found that would fit very well into my already established unit plan.  It’s called Fact Versus Opinion and the overview states:

“This is the fourth of five lessons designed to teach students to think critically about the way aboriginal peoples and visible minorities are portrayed in the press. “Fact Versus Opinion” begins with students discussing the difference between fact and opinion. Students then apply what they have learned to an opinion piece selected by the teacher, and then an opinion piece that they have selected.”

It gives a very clear outline of what is expected of students and gives all the necessary materials for the lesson.  It also includes outcomes for the lesson itself and what students should achieve by the end of the lesson.  The only thing I would mention about the lesson as it does seem a little young for grade 12 (it is recommended for grade 9-12) and would probably need to be adapted a little more for a higher-grade level.  However, you could easily use the provided editorial for a warm-up and gradually make the analysis for thegiphy (9) activity more difficult.  Overall, it is a process I would like to use in my classroom.

I was really impressed by Media Smarts resources and I would definitely recommend using their lesson plans especially because they connect so well to Ribble’s Nine Elements and our Saskatchewan curriculum!  Have you used any Media Smarts lessons?  How did it go?

Thanks for reading my review!

Until next time,

Shelby

Common Sense Media – A Major Project Review

As part of my project, I wanted to evaluate a couple of key resources that have come up a lot in our discussions over the course of the semester.  The first resource I want to focus on is Common Sense Media.  This has been a staple in resources and conversations, with a lot of us directing each other to the website for lessons, resources, and information.  I have used it a few times this semester for informatCommon_Sense_Media_logo.svgion and I find they have an incredible library of questions and answers for both educators and parents.

They have lists of resources for apps, books, movies, and websites all in relation to age level!  But the part I want to focus on is the pieces for educators.  Once you click on the “For Educators” tab, you are taken to a screen with tabs for Digital Citizenship, EdTech Reviews, Professional Development & Advice, Resources in Spanish, and now, Coronavirus Resources.

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There is clearly no shortage of resources here and it is well-recognized because of the professionalism, and ease of implementation for the resources.  There is even an Implementation Guide to help teacher integrate these resources and lesson plans into classrooms, schools, and divisions (and it’s free!).  Under Professional Development, there is even a link to a webinar for the Digital Citizenship Curriculum.  This could be very useful for any teacher, whether they are skilled with digital citizenship or just getting started.

Now, to the important segment of this blog post: the lesson plans!  There are a variety of different topics to choose from and you can even filter by grade.  So for the purpose of this blog post, and my major project I am going to focus on the grade 11 and 12 resources.  What I notice right away is that they are definitely age-appropriate topics and would work in a grade 11 or 12 classroom.  I’m sure my students would have enjoyed the conversations that began from the topics.

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The lessons are listed below:

One thing I love about the lesson plans is they give a snapshot right off the bat, telling you the approximate time and a lesson overview.  There are individual links to the lesson slides, handouts, and quizzes.  It also includes take-home resources for family engagement and activities – and it opens in google docs and slides!

My only complaint would be that it connects to standards from the United States, and unfortunately does not connect to other curriculums, however, I think these lessons could have their place in many Saskatchewan curriculums given time and creativity.

I decided to check out a couple lessons I would consider using in my ELA classrooms and I was impressed with the resources as well as the connections made to students their age.  There were applicable questions asked, and examples that I believe would engage students and make them reconsider their online identities without rolling their eyes or replying sarcastically.  I like the maturity of the discussions and the opportunities the lessons allow students to explore within the classroom but that might also extend beyond the classroom walls.

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One lesson I really liked was “The Change You Want to See” which I thought connects well with my Global Issues unit in my ELA B30 course, and connects to my major project the best.  It asks, “How can you create a digital footprint that showcases your purpose?”

I like that it focuses on the why of a digital footprint and how it can help find purpose.  It also focuses on thinking about problems students would want to advocate for, and aligning themselves with like-minded individuals online.  This lesson could begin my whole unit plan, and even lead deeper into them campaigning in an online forum for their cause.  The lesson plan outlines everything a teacher needs to prepare, as well as steps to help students make their way through the lesson.  It even lists organizations reviewed by Common Sense Media to help students engage in a campaign, which I think is very important because it takes a little of the weight off the teacher in terms of making sure students aren’t becoming involved in online places that may not be entirely appropriate.giphy (17)

Overall, I would recommend using Common Sense Media for educational purposes, and I think it is age-appropriate, convenient, knowledgeable, and easy to use! I know I will be using it in the future and look forward to the conversations I will have with my students about Digital Citizenship!

Until next time,

Shelby

The Planning is Coming Together!

Hi all!  This week, I put more work into my major project and it is slowly taking shape.  If you need a refresher on what I’ve been up to, check out this blog post.  Basically, I have been planning and using my grade 12s as guinea pigs this semester and the results are almost in!!  I’ve now started putting the pieces together in a formal document for my unit plan, outcome connections, and big questions.  It’s not quite finished, as there are a few attachments I am still working on, but for now, here is my unit outline!

My next steps will be to finish the handouts and videos, and ask a few of my amazing students if I can use their projects as samples!  I will also be creating a resource page for all the sources I have used throughout this project, as well as additional sources I found useful in my hunt for activities and strategies I used.

My original plan was to create a Google Classroom with all the documents, handouts, videos, etc.  but I’m not sure if this is still the route I want to choose. I really love using Google Classroom, but I’m wondering if others would appreciate a working document instead?  Thoughts??

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Thanks for checking in and stay tuned!

Shelby

Major Update – Still Under Construction

It’s been awhile since my last update on my major project and I figured it was time to let everyone know what I’ve been up to!  I have been spending lots of time researching, brainstorming, and compartmentalizing how to bring this unit plan to fruition. I didn’t actually think making a unit plan for digital citizenship would be this difficult!  giphy (5)However, I have a plan set to get some physical evidence of my unit plan finished this week.  I have started to outline my unit plan and I have matched my outcomes to Ribble’s Nine Elements as well.  I have goals and vision for what I want my project to be; it’s just difficult to put into words (hence my lack of blog posts lately).  My brain has been all over the place!!

Over the past few weeks, I have been making small tweaks to my ELA curriculum in my everyday classroom.  We began a new semester in February, and it was perfect timing to begin making adjustments.  I’m hoping these adjustments will influence my unit plan as it continues to mold.  One thing I have realized since beginning my project and outlining it, is that I do not want it to be a stand-alone unit plan.  I don’t want to discuss digital citizenship in-depth and then not discuss it again later in the semester.  This has created a challenge in how I approach this formation of the plan.  I have decided to create a few general resources to use at various points throughout the semester, so I can encourage my students to keep thinking about these important topics.  These resources are beginning to look like fact-checkers, and critical thinking questions to challenge my students’ opinions on what they are reading.  I had a “research organizer” I used last year and now looking at it, I know it needs A LOT improvement, so I have been updating it! (Stay tuned!!)

However, the real focus of my unit plan will be setting expectations, discussing online etiquette, and setting up the mindset for our semester which I have decided will be finding valuable sources, fact-checking, as well as recognizing bias in a variety of formats.  Students are attacked with messages, advertisements, and news all day, every day, and I want my students to take a step back from this overwhelming world of data and communication.  As an ELA classroom, we will need to look at more than just news articles and videos but also plays, short stories, poems, and novels.  It is my idea to hopefully incorporate these templates I will create to help my students understand not only how to find valuable sources of research and news, but also understand what the real purpose is of any piece of literature or video or speech.  I want them to become critical thinkers and also more responsible citizens in the online world.  I would be lying if I said our conversations surrounding the Portrait of a Graduate has not left an impact on me.  My students aren’t going to remember Hamlet or the poems we read in two years, but it is my hope I can teach them something about digital responsibility, advocacy, and bias as they move forward in their lives.

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A big part of our semester focuses on The Search for Self which I think connects directly to my students figuring out who they are and how they can be better people.  I also discussed in my first update that I will connect this unit to the other unit of focus which is The Social Experience.  It is my hope that I can touch on every one of Ribble’s Elements within these two units.  I have linked each one of Ribble’s Elements to an overarching unit question.  It’s something we spend a lot of time focusing on, and always link our content back to during the unit.

So, my unit plan is definitely still under-construction, but I feel like I’ve made real progress in what I am trying to accomplish.  My next steps will be to finish the resources and link them on my blog for some feedback then create some vlogs for some of the online resources I’ve found to help other teachers with digital literacy!Brain-Under-Construction

Stay tuned!

Shelby

Ribble, Green Eggs, and Common Sense!

With final exams ending and my basketball tournament schedule lately, I have definitely not gotten as far on my major project as I would like so far but I’ve made some progress since my last post! My plan is to create a digital citizenship unit plan for my grade twelve English students.  It fits nicely into the curriculum, hitting a couple of outcomes. and I have already done bits and pieces of online citizenship with them in the past but as I have mentioned, it’s definitely an area I know I could be more conscience and explicit with in my teaching. As Leigh stated in her update, I assume my students have the skills to be responsible online citizens and, in some cases, even as budding adults, they lack the necessary skills to be successful. NOPE

I originally thought this unit plan would be a stand alone one, where I only focus on teaching digital citizenship and attempt to work through each one of Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship.  Then as I began planning out a timeline and the lesson ideas, I realized this might be a little too much to take on timewise, integrity wise, as well as curriculum wise.  I’ve decided to pinpoint closer to the skills I know my students both lack and need more experience with which is Digital Etiquette, Fluency, and Rights and Responsibilities.  These ideas I can easily tie into articles, essays, and videos that will help teach my curriculum as well as teach my students about digital literacy.  I’m going to tie it directly into my global issues and social experience unit plan to hopefully teach my students that being globally active and responsible counts both online and in the real world.

These are some of the big issues we tackle in this unit:

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As grade twelves, you would expect them to know a thing or two about the online world, but after some discussions in my courses, even over this past week, it is evident they need to learn how to find credible sources for information and be able to evaluate real news from “fake news.”  Tomorrow, I actually plan of having my students critique a text (video or article) for its credibility as well as its argument and persuasive tactics.  I will let you know how it goes! You can check out the assignment here if you would like! I also got some inspiration from this article!

They also live in a bit of a dream world, not expecting what they do online to ever have consequences in the real world, but I think it is important to teach them that they need to giphy (11)be respectful to one another online, because they can be very guilty of spreading a picture or discussing classroom happenings in their ever-expanding group chats on many different platforms.  I’m still processing how to do this all, and it has involved quite a bit of research, looking at different articles and strategies for teaching in a digital world like this article here from Common Sense Education.  The part I am struggling with is that it needs to be authentic and not preachy, so I get the glazed over looks and they forget what I say the minute they walk out of the room.  Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Capture1The last idea I really want to address in my unit plan is giving credit where credit is due.  As exams ended a couple weeks ago, I was incredibly frustrated grading my grade twelve final essays because guess what?  They plagiarized.  Not all of them, but enough to cost me energy and time, as well as it leaving a sour taste in my mouth leading into second semester.  Some do it on purpose, but in my experience most were never explicitly taught what not to do and this is a problem!  And not just for the students going on into university.  The internet is a vast network and it is important that students learn the value in giving credit to other sources of information online.  Not everything there is free, and it is a skill going forward that could be vastly important in the digital age.  I happened upon this awesome powerpoint, from a colleague, that helpfully explains how not to plagiarize and how to cite properly (Green Eggs and Ham anyone?)!  I am going to start here and hopefully teach them the right and wrong ways to find and give credit to sources in a variety of templates (not just an essay).green eggs

Going forward, I have a lot of ideas swirling in my mind, and I think it is important to start thinking about how in the future I will start this topic and unit plan.  My process has so far been a lot of research and a lot of reading.  It’s time to get to the real work in the next week and put these ideas into physical lesson plans and continue critiquing some previously made lesson plans!

Until next time,

Shelby

My Major Project – An Outline

Since this class began, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about my major project.  What would I like to do?  What do I have time to do?  What do I have an interest in finding out more about?  I feel like I’m pretty tech-savvy and the idea of researching more about the apps we use daily was intriguing, but what I finally settled on was developing some media literacy and digital citizenship resources for my classroom.

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Anyone who know me, knows I’m a planner.  I LOVE unit and lesson planning – I think it’s fun to create different projects and plan out how to teach students different topics, and I get to be creative which is my favourite part.  Just ask Brad how insanely organized my courses are.  The best part about planning is everyone does it differently, and has their own approach and I love how two people can look at the same curriculum, and interpret it so differently, and design units and lessons that are totally different, yet address the same ideas.

So back to my topic.  I have decided to go with option one: development of a curriculum-supported digital citizenship/literacy resource.  I made this decision because 1) I like planning, and 2) I have noticed there are less sources directed to high school media literacy and digital citizenship explicitly.  I think it would be very beneficial for myself to create a resource package to use in my classrooms and share with other teachers as well.  5a5343f99e00de5d5277df0111180fd5My starting point will be to investigate a course I’ve become very familiar with over the last 4 years: ELA B30.  This course has become my baby and I have tweaked and perfected it over the last four years I’ve taught it.  I don’t know why, but I’m never satisfied and I find there is always another outcome I feel like I need to hit in a better way, which leads into how digital citizenship fits in.  The curriculum states: “View, comprehend, and evaluate critically a variety of visual and multimedia texts by international, including indigenous, artists and authors from various cultural communities, and identify how the texts address beliefs, values, and power” (CR B30.2) which leads into lots of conversations about critically viewing and evaluating the world apps, social media, connected, smartphone, app store, play store, social media, business app, app for your businesswe live in.  I think this outcome would be an excellent fit for some knowledge on digital citizenship and media literacy.  Then there is the outcome: “Create a visual or multimedia presentation that suits the topic, purpose, and audience; teaches others about a global social issue; and persuades them to act on the issue in a responsible manner”(CC B30.2) which I believe fits nicely into the topic of media literacy for an upcoming generation.  This curriculum is wide open to interpretation and that’s why I think it’s a perfect fit for this project.

To begin more indepth research for this project, I’m going to start by looking closely at some other resources out there, and evaluating them. I’ve already found a couple on Twitter!  I may even organize my unit and plans in an LMS, like Google Classroom since it is a platform I’m familiar with and will use often.  I will also be checking out Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship.

To make sure I stay on track and am within Saskatchewan’s guidelines, I will be looking at the Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Continuum and the Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Policy Planning Guide as per Alec’s recommendation.

Wish me luck!! 🙂

Shelby

 

 

Wrapping Up My Major Project

It’s finally here! Today I am wrapping up my major project for EC&I 832.

For my major project, I choose to do a Personal Journey Into Media (option #2). You can read about my original plan: Major Project Projections however, my plan changed slightly over the course of my exploration. My original plan included exploring 3 things:

  1. Exploring Snapchat as a social media platform
  2. Exploring Seesaw as an educational app
  3. Integrating memes into literacy (in March – meme month! I am a big fan of alliterations).

Exploring Snapchat and Seesaw remained in place throughout the term. However, as I began the set up of Seesaw, I realized how much my students (and I) didn’t know about being digital citizens. Because I was just learning about being a digital citizen, I used our class sessions, readings and vlogs to learn about myself first! I couldn’t just hand my students a new app and expect them to know how to use it responsibly.

The apps we use in the classroom are mostly RAZ Kids and Mathletics, which unlike Seesaw, do not include social interactions or creating posts that others can see. We needed digital citizenship education! But I hadn’t taught this before. In fact, it wasn’t until this course that I found out about the Digital Citizenship Education in SK Schools document and even later when I discovered that teaching digital citizenship is part of our division’s policies. I am sure glad I know about this now! I plan to continue to use my Twitter account to share information about this because I know I am not the only person who wasn’t aware of this!

Through early February, I spent my time setting up the Seesaw app and preparing a digital citizenship unit. Which meant that I really did two of the major projects options combined into one (option #1 and option #2). I drew on a number of sources including Media Smarts, Common Sense Media, Google’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum and many more. I took online courses to be a Google Digital Citizen Educator and many courses about setting up and using Seesaw through their PD in Your PJs sessions.

The latter half of February was spent starting up our digital citizenship unit and before I knew it, March was almost here and I was supposed to be starting meme integration into our literacy unit. I have some really cool resources and tools to integrate memes into literacy (which I haven’t yet had a chance to use yet) but I had to make an executive decision. We had only just begun our digital citizenship education and still had much to learn alongside starting up with Seesaw. I didn’t want to switch things up  when we just got the ball rolling! So I decided to cut the meme integration for now and continued to work on creating my Digital Citizenship unit.

Thus, my major project changed to focus on exploring these 3 things:

  1. Exploring Snapchat as a social media platform
  2. Exploring Seesaw as an educational app
  3. Creating and teaching a digital citizenship unit.

Meanwhile, I was using Snapchat as a personal social media app and having a blast!

Though I realized that I use Snapchat mainly for: having fun with filters, taking pictures of my dog and snapping about what we are up to (the last picture is us getting ready to hike to Horseshoe Bay Canyon – see my photo of the canyon in this post and then go visit it because it is A-MAZING!)

Here is look back at my app exploration and digital citizenship education journey:

  1. The first week included setting up the Seesaw app and checking out all the great set up resources that Seesaw has to offer educators. Check out my process here!
  2. Then I examined how Ribble’s 9 Elements relate to the Seesaw app and considered whether I would use Seesaw next year to replace Remind (which I currently use as well).
  3. Next, I headed Back to the Basics with Snapchat to learn about the company, examine the app from the eyes of a newbie and get an insider view into some of the features.
  4. Our first digital citizenship lesson looked at the Internet as a place you can visit (just like a field trip). We took an online field trip and came up with some rules for how to be safe online. Check out the lesson details here.
  5. Up next was examining some of Snapchat’s core beliefs in the wake of the Kylie Jenner tweet about the new update which put Snapchat in the Spotlight for quite some time.
  6. Our second digital citizenship lesson was about personal and private information. See lesson details here! This lesson included the kids creating safe usernames for each other — so much fun!
  7. Then the fun really began! I explored Seesaw’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service in my blog post.  Did you catch the sarcasm? To be honest, it wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be! I learned a lot about privacy during this class and am much more skeptical when a website or app asks me to agree to sharing information.
  8. In our next digital citizenship lesson we learned about digital footprints. We transformed our classroom into the Internet, were hired by a detective agency and had to find clues by following the Digital Trail of two digital citizens from the animal kingdom.
  9. If reading Seesaw’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service agreement wasn’t interesting enough, I went ahead and read Snapchat’s too.
  10. Next, I took some time to reflect on my learning in class and think about the importance and the why behind teaching digital citizenship. You can find those thoughts here.
  11. Our fourth digital citizenship lesson focused on what it means to be a digital citizen.
  12. Then I wrote a review about Seesaw, recommending it to other teachers! If you can’t tell from reading the review, I am pretty pumped about integrating this app into my classroom so far.
  13. As I started to move up in the world of being a Snapchat user, I took some time to explore Bitmoji’s as they relate to Snapchat.
  14. For the next three digital citizenship lessons, we spent a significant amount of time focusing on cyberbullying — what it was, how it differed from in-person bullying, how it was similar to in-person bullying, how being a responsible digital citizen means not being a cyberbully and what to do if you witness or are a victim of cyberbullying. Check out the lesson details here. We need to learn about being kind online before I would hand over the reins and let them start commenting on Seesaw.
  15. My last look into Snapchat for the semester dealt with Digital Health and Wellness as it pertains to social media use and in particular through the use of Snapchat. You can find my thoughts here.
  16. Now that we had some digital citizenship basics under our belt and had been using the Seesaw app to create posts for several weeks, it was time to open up the commenting feature on Seesaw. Learning to comment came in phases. The first phase of commenting instruction can be found here. Unfortunately, our next phase of commenting will happen after the Easter break but know that we are continuing to work on it beyond this course.

Okay, so I have given you a quick glimpse into my app exploration and creation of a digital citizenship unit. The strange part for me about this project is that it is more about the process and less about the product. All along I have been wanting to create a final product to hand in and had to accept that this project was more about blogging about my learning process. The semester is coming to a close and I have learned so much about Seesaw, Snapchat and teaching digital citizenship. But..it feels like my learning has just begun and the semester has flown by!

In my mind I have many future blog posts planned out such as how Snapchat can be used as a classroom tool, more about the activities and ways we are using Seesaw, how we are even deeper into learning about constructive commenting than before, other digital citizenship lessons that I have lined up for my students and so much more! I guess the best part is that all of this learning can continue on and it was a pleasure to engage in a major project that was relevant to me and that I felt I had some control over in regards to the process and the outcome.

Cheers

Snapchat – Health and Wellness

You don’t need to look too far to find information about how social media is causing an increased or at least sustained momentum with regards to youth anxiety and other mental health concerns. There are several examples of tech guru’s working in the industry place limitations on themselves or their families. Despite much work being done on this topic, it is also contested (this article was published only two days ago!) by many who cite not enough research has been done to draw conclusions yet.

Many researchers are examining the effects of technology as they relate to distractedness and how app features are specifically designed to manipulate our brains. Tristan Harris talks about the extent in which tech companies “ethically steer people’s thoughts”. He discuss the business of technology and how all tech companies are competing for one thing: your attention.

In this Ted Talk, Harris discusses Snapstreaks and how the app is intentionally designed with your psychology in mind. Once again, the Internet is abound with articles and information about how Snapchat (the app I am engaging with for my major project) and Snapstreaks are addictive and relate to potential mental and socio-emotional concerns. (See also, My Bitmoji Gives Me Anxiety).

Harris founded the Center for Humane Tech and the Time Well Spent movement to encourage understanding of how the Internet is hijacking our society. In response, apps can choose to make more humane and ethical decisions about how to fight the attention addictions they create in the first place. Here is one example of how Snapchat is doing this.

Anya Kamenetz article “Your Kids Phone is Not like a Cigarette” argues that “when it came to tobacco, the solution was simple: Quit or don’t start smoking. That’s not the case here. Phones, tablets and other devices that have caused so much concern have more in common with cars than with cigarettes; unlike tobacco, they are essential tools that can be used in a healthy way”. So, we need to figure out how we use those tech tools in a healthy way.

I posted earlier this semester about how the Internet is Not the Problem. The Internet and it’s big business model which tracks and benefits from human psychology calls into question what we understand about society-technology dichotomy and brings many ethical concerns to the forefront. But to sit around and blame the Internet doesn’t help anyone. We need to continually be ultra-informed and aware about what is happening in the tech world. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance can be potentially very harmful. Technology is transforming at lightning speeds and in order to care for our digital well-being, we need to stay caught up. Dr. Ribble’s 9 elements of digital citizenship includes the element of Digital Health & Wellness. Ribble makes the case that “Digital Citizenship includes a culture where technology users are taught how to protect themselves through education and training”.

Let’s work on maintaining our digital well-being together!

Where will you start on your journey of digital well-being? If you’re not sure, try some of these suggestions.

The Evolution of Commenting Online – Part 1

My students and I have been looking at this poster during all of our digital citizenship lessons. After exploring what it means to be a digital citizen, we have returned to this poster to guide and set a purpose for each new lesson. For example, when we talked about being kind online, we were focusing on the “heart” of a digital citizen. When we discussed personal and private information, we talked about “wearing our thinking caps” before we share information online. When we talked about rules for being safe online, we discussed listening to our gut feeling.

Today, when I opened the “commenting” feature on our Seesaw app (one of the apps I am exploring for my final project), I brought this poster up again for my students to see and asked which part of a digital citizen must we engage when we think about commenting on other people’s work. Of course, they responded with: respect themselves and others.

 

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In order to guide our thinking about how to comment, we looked at this graphic and discussed what each element meant, along with examples. This included the discussion that random emojis, using for example 30 smiley faces or 28 exclamation marks would fall under the category of unnecessary. For our first go at commenting, we focused on the elements true, helpful, necessary and kind (we left out inspiring because we just aren’t there yet!) and the kids were excited to start commenting right away.

My students work on Seesaw during Daily 5 so they got started on this as soon as their group was at that station. They assignment for today was a short one (take a picture of their Ted Harrison art project) and write a caption explaining how they imitated his art style. This was a short assignment so that they had time to comment on the work of others and explore some of the comments that had been left for them by me. Their comments have to be approved by me before they are posted so they weren’t able to see comments from their peers right away.

After two days (when all groups had made it through this station and their first chance at commenting), I put all of the comments up on the screen for the kids to see. We filtered through each one deciding if it fit into our THNK (no I yet!) model. Some of the kids were surprised that I put their comment up for everyone to read (even though it is visible to everyone in the class through the app). This allowed us a teachable moment about the permanency and availability of their online actions. This also gave us an opportunity to talk about the “grandma rule” (they thought the name was hilarious!)

What we discovered as a class was that most of their posts were two things: true and kind. Here are some examples:

There were a few that went beyond the true and kind model to include helpful and necessary as well. Here are some of those examples:

This is just the beginning of my students and their learning how to comment. Next week we will be adding another layer of rules that comments must include in order to be approved! Stay tuned!

Is Bitmoji the New Face of Your Digital Identity?

As described by Bitmoji.com, “Bitmoji is your own personal emoji. Create an expressive cartoon avatar, choose from a growing library of moods and stickers – featuring YOU! Put them into any text message, chat or status update”. There are over 1.9 septillion different combinations to make your bitmoji look just like you. Sometimes, I am kind of creeped out by how much my friend’s bitmoji’s really do look just like them.

So, how do you make one?

Bitmojis are are fun way to respond to messages in a variety of apps. I have been using Bitmoji for a few weeks now and really enjoy the creativity it allows me in conversations via text and Snapchat especially. Snapchat has recently introduced Friendmojis. To check out how to use Friendmojis, click here.

Bitmoji (owned by the software company Bitstrips) is a Toronto based company that was started by high school friends Jacob Blackstock and Jesse Brown in 2008 with the original intent of providing a web-based service for people to create their own comics without having to be good artists. In 2016, Snap Inc. (the company that owns Snapchat), bought Bitmoji. As I have discussed in earlier posts, Snapchat is one of the apps I am exploring for my major project.

Source  – Bitmoji now allows you to take a picture so that you can make your real image to your avatar.

Common Sense Education provides a good review of how this tool can be used in the classroom including as a safer profile picture for students to use at school. The review offers it’s own bottom line: that Bitmoji wasn’t necessarily made with education in mind but that they are many cool users for the app in the classroom. One interesting suggestion this review gives is for students to use Bitmoji as a way of representing characters in books or other texts. I know this simple idea opens up many possibilities in my mind for uses in the classroom. Remember, you must be 13 to sign up for the app though so best reserve this for high school students.

So, why do people love Bitmoji so much? Several sources that I have scoured for this blog post suggest that it provides the kind of face-to-face (if you can call it that) interaction that text message bubbles do not. Young people aren’t the only ones using it either. Most of my 25-30 year old friends are using Bitmojis. My youngest teenage cousin is using a Bitmoji and so are people I know that are similar in age to my parents.

What do you think of this reason for loving Bitmojis presented in the Forbes Magazine article The Inside Story of Bitmojis: Why We Love Them, How They Make Money, Why They are Here to Stay?

So, EC&I832 classmates, do you think Bitmoji fits into the emerging definition of digital identity?

Check out how the new selfie feature makes it even easier to create a Bitmoji in the image of your IRL self using the selfie option:


If you don’t have a Bitmoji already, here is how you can get one and then download it onto Snapchat:

 

How do you think I did?

Before you download Bitmoji or Snapchat to your phone, make sure to check out their Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Lucky for you, Bitmoji and Snapchat operate under the same Privacy Policy under their company, Snap Inc. You can check out my review of Snap Inc.’s Privacy Policy here.

As for the Terms of Service, by creating a Bitmoji, you grant them the following rights:

“Rights You Grant Us: Some of our Services let you create, upload, post, send, receive, and store content. When you do that, you retain whatever ownership rights in that content you had to begin with. But you grant us and our affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, and distribute that content including in connection with marketing and promotions for as long as you use the Services…You alone though remain responsible for the content you create, upload, post, send, or store through our Services…just know that we can use your ideas without compensating you”.

So, please be informed before you engage with this app and any new app for that matter!

Have you used Bitmoji? Do you like it? What apps have you used it with? What do you think of it as making text messages or chats appear like a more face-to-face human interaction? Do you see it as a way to create your digital identity online? IMG_1965