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).
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:
Week 3 (Jan. 21) Week 4 (Jan. 28) Week 5 (Feb. 4)
-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)
?? 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)
-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
-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.
My final summary of learning for EC&I 831: Social Media and Open Education:
In my summary of learning, I wanted to capture everything I have learned over the last few months. I thought it would be fun to incorporate the top 5 social media apps that we discussed in the course and challenge myself to use or understand the apps.
YouTube (user for 12 years – my first upload was July 2007!)
VSCO (user for 5 years, but only recently understanding the VSCO Girl concept)
I hope the brief social media interludes in the video highlight some of the obsessions and common uses of the apps. I will say one thing – if you have not downloaded TikTok, be careful. I fell into a deep, dark hole of videos for over 2 hours…you’ve been warned!
Secondly, I originally wanted to include Rick Mercer style rants addressing the main issues and topics in EC&I 831. I quickly realized that it is impossible to film in the “rant” style as a solo videographer with a selfie-stick and an iPhone. In the video, I discuss the topics that resonated with me the most:
For the purpose of our class, we discussed activism through social media and were asked to consider the following questions:
Can online social activism be meaningful and worthwhile? Is is possible to have productive conversations about social justice online? What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?
What is social media activism?
“Social media activism is essentially using the platform of an online forum to lead or support a cause. It’s activism behind a screen.” (The Journal – Queen’s University)
“Bringing change or awareness about a cause through the use of social media, by posting or sharing ones thought about a particular event or issue.” (Life of Anna)
These definitions are very basic, but “social media activism” is somewhat self-explanatory – it is activism using social media. It could be liking or sharing a post on Facebook or using a hashtag in online posts to bring awareness to a particular issue. If you use social media, you have probably viewed or participated in hashtag activism:
You may have added a filter to your Facebook profile picture to temporarily support a cause. Or clicked the retweet button to raise awareness while drinking your morning coffee. The question we must ask ourselves is if social media activism is meaningful and worthwhile and looking at the positive and negatives is one way to explore the answer.
Pros of Social Media Activism
“Successful maneuvering of social media platforms creates significant changes in society through the impact of an individual who cultivates awareness and makes knowledge accessible to millions.” Human Rights Education Research Outreach
Allow marginalized groups to express their views freely
Using the power of networks, “online activism allows activists to organize events with high levels of engagement, focus and network strength” (The Conversation). The ability to share, like and retweet instantly allows movements and causes to gain traction very quickly and draw in a large audience. For example, when a tragic events occur, vigils are planned, shared and attended in a short time frame, all thanks to social media. Larger events are organized in locations all over the world through hashtags and social media posts.
Finally, the good, badly and ugly part of the Internet is that you can post and support whatever you want at any time. A positive example is that people all over the world can be part of Pride festivals, even if they are unable to attend in person.
“One of the greatest things about social media is the platform it can give to otherwise isolated and marginalized people. Entire communities have developed and grown together over social media, and this has exponentially strengthened many activism campaigns. Social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter allow people to organize events and communicate on a medium that is accessible to anybody who has an email address, internet, and some kind of connectable device. This vastly increases potential audience size, and ultimately increases the possible effect that these campaigns can have on policies, politics, and everyday life.” The Power of Social Media in Modern Activism
Cons of Social Media Activism
“The ease with which current social movements form often fails to signal an organizing capacity powerful enough to threaten those in authority.” Zeynep Tufekci
Unfortunately, social media activism has drawbacks:
A 2014 Maclean’s article explains that a “slacktivist is someone who believes it is more important to be seen to help than to actually help. He will wear a T-shirt to raise awareness. She will wear a wristband to demonstrate support, sign a petition to add her voice, share a video to spread the message, even pour a bucket of ice over her head.” All of this takes place instead of offering time or money which could truly help a cause.
My classmate Brooke dives into a deep discussion of #slacktivism and a few articles that explain and criticize the movement. She included this image (shared in class by Dr. Couros) that highlights the problem with #slacktivism.
“If our desire for social change extends beyond the resolution of a single issue, we need to close our laptops, turn off our phones, and spend time in the presence of others.” – The Walrus
With the ease of liking and sharing posts or adding a hashtag, it is inevitable that the wrong information will be passed along. #FakeNews is a perfect example of deliberately sharing misinformation, which was particularly problematic during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. #Kony2012 is another example of a movement that exploded on social media without really understanding the true facts. Social media activism has the potential to raise awareness, spread a message quickly and help grow a movement. But it is important to not disregard the power of slow-growing, face-to-face, grassroots organization. Wael Ghonim (an Internet activist that helped organize the social media campaign during the #ArabSpring) discusses challenges facing social media today and how it can be used to promote real change:
Before we can have conversations about social justice online, I think it is important to discuss the concept of a digital citizen and to understand three different ideas of citizenship as discussed by Westheimer and Kahne in the article, “What Kind of Citizen“.
Participatory – actively participates
Personally Responsible – acts responsibly in their community
“digital citizenship asks us to consider how we act as members of a network of people that includes both our next-door neighbours and individuals on the other side of the planet and requires an awareness of the ways in which technology mediates our participation in this network.”
With this knowledge, we are able to explore the possibilities of using social media to talk about social justice issues online. Below, I have shared Brooke’s (she made some excellent points in her post this week!) example of how each type of citizen may participate, using the food bank as an example:
The participatory citizen might create an online fundraiser, like a GoFundMe page, where people can donate to the food bank and use their social media page to highlight some of the issues related to perceived injustices regarding food security. They may also decide to volunteer at the food bank.
The justice-oriented citizen might use their social media page to share potentially controversial articles, and viewpoints which spark discussion about the root causes of food security, inviting others to join the discussion and organizing followers to contribute to participating in working towards social change in online and offline spaces.
The conversations about social justice can happen online, but they are more effective when they are rooted in offline organizational efforts. Another point is that online discussions should take place with the intent to promote change or raise awareness, rather than use the post for personal gratification (for example, getting lots of likes or shares). But how do we teach our students to use social media to have meaningful conversations about social justice issues online?
As educators teaching students who only know a world with social media, we should:
Teach students how to use social media for positive change
In Spring 2018, I participated in a joint Regina Public Schools/Regina Catholic Schools project called #YQRActivistArt. The project involved bringing the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra to Regina with an opportunity for our students to see the group perform live. To participate in the project, you had to commit to producing an art project in response to a social issue. Through planning and collaboration with other classes, our students chose social issues they wanted to explore and created an art piece to raise awareness about the issue. Every school did something different, and my students presented their projects in a school wide gallery opening:
The reason I share this story is because of the importance of teaching activism in schools. My students were engaged, motivated and excited to spread awareness and it allowed us to have conversations about meaningful and worthwhile ways to share information about different social issues. The guide, “Facilitating Activist Education” explains by teaching about activism, students may become “engaged citizen-activists – people who see themselves as capable of affecting positive change for social and ecological justice”.
By starting with offline activism experiences for our students, we can then move online with confidence.
Hildebrandt explains that by participating in social media activism, we take a few things for granted, like access to educational tools, computers and the Internet. With this privilege, she adds that “we have a responsibility to risk our privilege to give voice to social inequities and injustices. We have a responsibility to risk our privilege to give voice to those who have no privilege to risk.” Furthermore, as educators we have the responsibility to teach our students about this privilege. Wasting our time with #slacktivism is not an option because we have the power and ability to promote real change with our access to edtech tools and social media to support these efforts.
Finally, Yes Magazine shares four tips for using social media activism:
Take advantage of interactive activism opportunities in online communities
Make sure your activism is accessible and inclusive
Remember that small steps are critical to getting the work
Share the work that other activists are doing
To engage our students, we need to provide relevant tools and information to “speak their language” (using social media and edtech). Through conversations of digital citizenship and offline activism, we have the ability (and responsibility) to mold the next generation as informed and compassionate citizens who care about social justice issues. Let’s use social media to make the conversation relevant for our youth.
“Social media activism is great for so many reasons: It is more widely accessible, it gets conversations started, it sustains momentum, and it helps empower people who may have never thought of themselves as activists.” – Yes Magazine
I would consider myself an ‘early-adopter’ of technology, especially with the Internet and social media. As a millennial (born between 1981 and 1996), I grew up in a time when using the Internet was a new way of life as I learned alongside new developments. E-mailing, peer-to-peer music sharing websites (like Napster and Limewire) and instant messaging (MSN Messenger) were all part of my elementary school years. I remember coming home from school, connecting to the dial-up internet (who can forget that connection sound?) and beginning a series of online chats with my friends over MSN. This was the beginning of my social media ritual that would continue and evolve over the next 20 years.
Since I was figuring out these sites at the same time (or before) my parents, they didn’t have a lot of control or understanding of what I was doing on the Internet. An example: Yahoo Chat Rooms. One of my best friends growing up has a brother (who now makes his living creating video games like this one) who was very computer savvy. He helped us create Yahoo accounts so we could join large Yahoo chat rooms with strangers from all over the world. We even figured out how to participate in audio chat, usually with adults. Keep in mind we were young – in grades 4 and 5. All of this took place with our parents oblivious to what we were doing and before conversations about cyber safety existed. Did we tell them where we lived? Did we give out other identifying info? I don’t remember and I shudder to think of the potential dangers we could have encountered. Long story short, if there was something new on the Internet, we tried it.
Fast forward through high school (Hi5, MySpace and eventually Facebook) and I began to see the negative or bullying effects of social media. Does anyone remember the “Top Friends” feature on MySpace?
Then you add in the “relationship status” feature on Facebook…sigh. It wasn’t all terrible though, as it was a really cool way to connect with people from around the world. In grade 12 I went on a school trip to Europe, and our group joined with another group from a small school in southern California. A decade later, I am still connected with some people from this trip and we keep in touch sharing photos of our growing families and professional endeavours. Heading to university, I was able to join ‘Class of 2011’ groups on Facebook and ‘meet’ other students before starting classes. This was extremely helpful to discuss everything from textbooks to the first social gatherings of the semester.
I have spent the last decade exploring successful and failed social media including Google +, YouTube, Skype, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vine, Weebly/Blogger/Wordpress, Tumblr and Snapchat. Some have held my interest longer than others as I feel they add value to my life. Other apps are cool ideas, and should be really successful, but they don’t seem to have the same staying power as more popular apps (like TikTok or Vine [in it’s prime]). For example, I used the app “Mazu” with my younger nieces, and I thought it was a really positive experience. It was created to help teach digital citizenship and the positive power of social media. But then they just stopped using it one day. (Possibly a reflection on the short attention spans of this new generation?)
I am now at the point with social media that I feel “too old” to learn about some new networks, like TikTok. All I know about TikTok is my nieces and nephews had it for about 5 minutes and became WAY too obsessed that my sister (their mother) made them delete the app. As an arts education teacher, I feel like TikTok could be useful for ‘research’ and to reach my students, because we could learn some of the dance crazes like “The Git Up” or “Hey Julie”, but that’s why I use YouTube.
Even dating apps like Tinder and Bumble came after I met my husband, so although I understand the ‘swipe right/left’, it is something I will never experience in my social media journey.
When I consider how social media has affected my personal and professional life, I have a lot of positives but a growing list of negatives. Here is an example:
Snapchat: The only way that I communicate with my 16-year old niece. We have a great relationship and tell each other everything, but if it’s not face-to-face, it’s through Snapchat. According to my niece, it is the only way she communicates with her friends (not through texting or other messaging). Why? Because the chats are not saved unless you want to save them and also through snapstreaks. The stress of snapstreaks is something I know all too well, as I send and receive a picture of the wall every day to my niece to maintain our streak. We have been doing this for 910 days. NINE-HUNDRED AND TEN DAYS. I even have a reminder in my phone – “Snap!!!!! Streak!!!!”. What is the point of this?! It actually causes stress in my life because I am afraid of losing the streak and how it would affect our relationship. Before I gave birth to my baby, I gave my niece my Snapchat login info so she could maintain the streak when I went into labour (turns out my baby came quick and we didn’t have to worry about losing the streak). Is this the world we live in now? I was about to give birth, but one of my concerns was maintaining the streak as I felt like it is part of my relationship with my niece. That being said, I still do it every single day with no end in sight. (Insert shoulder shrug emoji here).
On a positive note, social media allows me to share milestones, travel and important events with friends and family. I can stay connected with people wherever they are in the world and maintain important relationships. In my professional life, I used Twitter, a personal website and LinkedIn to create a following that led to a full teaching studio of piano students within a few weeks. These positive networking experiences helped me grow and maintain my business. I also enjoy using Twitter to connect with other educators and sharing what we are doing in the classroom. LinkedIn has allowed me to interact with people in other industries that share common activities (like same universities and volunteer commitments).
But with these positives, there are also negatives like #fomo and feeling left out when not included in social activities. I think this is something that is an even bigger issue with our students and something I look forward to exploring further in this course. Also, as a new mom, I have spent A LOT of time on my phone perusing Facebook and Instagram while holding a sleeping baby. It is hard not to compare your baby to other babies and get wrapped up in the “Instagram vs. Reality” world. And then there are sponsored posts/ads (are they listening to our conversations??) that make me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Finally, as a teacher, I find that I get a lot of student follow/friend requests that I must decline. This is not necessarily a negative, but it does require having a conversation about privacy with my students.
In a recent conversation with my sister (mother of 4 of my nieces and nephews), I said “I hate the internet! I hate social media!”. I could see how it was affecting my sister and her kids and the daily struggles she is having with them and access to social media. She wondered if she should unplug the wi-fi? Move to a deserted island? How can we turn this around? What has to change to make it a positive part of our daily lives? What can teachers do to help our students navigate the constantly changing world of social media?
On that note, I have to go take a blurry picture of my face or the wall and write the letter ‘S’ to maintain a daily ritual.
This is it! The end of EC&I 830! I cannot believe how fast this course flew by, and I also cannot believe how much I learned over two short months. It’s amazing the community we developed and how much we were able to challenge each other to grow and learn in such a short time span. It’s been a pleasure to learn with all of you.
I loved the style of this course and how it enabled us to be in charge of our own learning. We brought a lot of debate to the table, and I thank all of you for challenging my thinking and opinions. There is no one right answer to any of the topics we discussed and I think that makes this course so great!
Without further ado, here is my summary of learning video! Thanks again all for a fantastic class and I hope you all enjoy my video (I had a lot of fun making it)!
When I began this week, I stood firmly on the agree side when the question was asked, “Is social media ruining childhood?” Of course, social media is ruining childhood! How couldn’t it be? Why do I not see children gathering outside? Playing hopscotch? Skipping? Shooting hoops? Riding bikes with their friends? Using their imagination to build forts? Because, social media controls their lives.
They no longer need to go find their friends, play these games, or use their imagination the way I did growing up, because they have a device that connects them to their friends, their device has the games, and their device allows them to be creative in other ways. Is this entirely a bad thing? No, I don’t think it is.
After the debate this week, I had many thoughts on the topic. I thought both sides of the debate did a fantastic job: Melinda, Allysa and Lori has some excellent points that made me nod my head and solidified my idea that social media is ruining childhood. They discussed the rise in anxiety, and cyber-bullying online, as well as the pressure kids feel to fit in, and how many of these problems are because children ignore the age restrictions, and parents are left in the dark – oblivious, or conscious of these decisions.
The disagree side is what started to sway me: Erin, Brooke and Daniel made some strong arguments towards the positives of social media, including the idea that it strengthens children’s relationships, creates a community, and they become more aware than children of past generations.
After both of these arguments, my original ideas were up in the air. I think the biggest difficulty for me was that I was stuck on the nostalgic idea of what my own childhood was like and that kids today were missing out! There was so much good before technology took over and I remember creating my own fun in the backyard, riding my bike all over town to meet up with friends, the new addition of MSN to my teenage years, and no social media. I grew up in the nineties and I am in awe at how fast things changed. I think I was stuck in the idea that I had the best childhood, so of course social media is ruining now-a-days children’s childhood because they are having such different experiences than I did 20 years ago.
Once I got past the idea that children today aren’t missing out; their childhood is just different with different opportunities and different challenges. I think yes, there are a lot of potential risks of over-using social media, and the risk of addiction for teens is very real. I had a couple of grade nines almost cry when I took their phones away for one day for a health experiment. Cyber-bullying is also a very real concern, and it is something I deal with daily in a high school setting. Unfortunately, cyber-bullying is worse than just bullying because it can follow a child home, and follows them every time they log online. This infograph does an excellent job of explaining just how prominent cyber-bullying is, and the different ways it is visible to teens.
However, as the disagree team pointed out, the online world can also be a great place for community development and support. When I am teaching about mental health, I always suggest using online resources to find supports if students are struggling but after Monday, it clicked. Students develop their own communities and support groups online for isolation, bullying, gender inequality, racism, etc. and this is awesome!! Another point the disagree team made was that students are able to explore their interests and ideas online, making connections to other students all over the world who are like-minded individuals and all of a sudden, they aren’t alone anymore and I think that is fantastic. Of course, there are risks associated with this idea, like pedophiles profiling and “cat-fishing” young children into meeting up or earning trust to have children partake in risky behavior, however, this is where education is key. Parents also need to be aware of the behavior of their children and not let them loose online. Teach them and discuss social media etiquette.
Advise parents to talk to their children and adolescents about their online use and the specific issues that today’s online kids face.
Advise parents to work on their own participation gap in their homes by becoming better educated about the many technologies their youngsters are using.
Discuss with families the need for a family online-use plan that involves regular family meetings to discuss online topics and checks of privacy settings and online profiles for inappropriate posts. The emphasis should be on citizenship and healthy behavior and not punitive action, unless truly warranted.
Discuss with parents the importance of supervising online activities via active participation and communication, as opposed to remote monitoring with a “net-nanny” program (software used to monitor the Internet in the absence of parents)
The real goal is to help students develop a positive online identity and understand the consequences of posting risky photos or videos online. Just because you do something when you are young, means it will follow you online for the rest of your lives. They need to understand that the things they say and do on social media is permanent and can harm their futures. I think this is also why, as teachers, we need to teach healthy digital citizenship to children from a young age, so that when they reach adolescence, they are better equipped to navigate this online world.
On top of this, students are more aware of their country, and the world they live in. Having instant connection to social media and news, things spread fast and they are on top of it. Often students are advocating for causes, researching bias of opinion and using social networking sites to trend important issues like #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, #prayfordouglas, or even something like #humboldtstrong. These kids have power at their finger tips, and once they realize it, things could start happening for our future, and our planet. The Learning Network says, “We’ve become the most tolerant and conscious generation to date, with 76 percent of Gen Zers concerned about humanity’s influence on the Earth and 60 percent hoping the job they choose impacts the world.” I think a large part of this is due to social media, in creating an open dialogue for a lot of these issues, like climate change, racism, gender equality, political campaigns, mental health awareness, and so many more. People are able to connect with others online, and start discussions that matter, whereas in the past, we have been limited to the beliefs of the people around us physically.
I think Melinda had a great point, when she said in her blog, “There needs to be a balance, kids need to be kids and play outside, rough house, interact, etc. They don’t need to have 24/7 screen time, they need to be active and imaginative.” And to sum up, I think social media can be a great outlet for children, but it is not the only outlet. Like Melinda said, kids still need to be kids, explore, and develop in the real world, be active and engaged, but I think there are a lot of great things we can expect from this generation as they become more tolerant, and engaged in the issues occurring in our world.
This week’s debate really made me think. I started somewhere in the middle; on one side, sharing is a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn important practices, share their accomplishments, and interact with other like-minded people around the globe. On the other hand, sharing can create a lot of issues with privacy, as well as cyber-bullying and consent to use specific photos posted online. This dynamic created a lot of debate in our class this week, and honestly a lot of debate in my own head.
Whenever the ideas of privacy laws and practices come up, it can be a very controversial and scary idea. What if what we post is wrong? What if we get in trouble? Can I lose my job for this? There are no shortage of horror stories out there to scare teachers into never posting a single thing on the internet again; class or non-class related. I too, often think and rethink what I share online about my students, which to be honest is very limited. Beyond team, athletic, and grad photos, I hardly post about my students online. Everything remains nameless and it is almost always acelebration of accomplishments.
I think the biggest struggle I had with this week’s debate was a lot of the focus was on the elementary stand-point and teaching young students how to be responsible online. What should you post? What shouldn’t you post? A lot of conversations circled around the idea of parents being super involved with their child’s tech use and also the teacher overseeing the practices. Seesaw, I’ve learned, is a great tool to engage parents and create important conversations with kids at home. This technology is awesome because it can often bridge the gap between school and home life. However, there is the down side of over-involvement of parents and the idea of “helicoptering.” In fact, Robyn Treyvaud states in her article, Dangers of Posting Pictures Online, that “more than 1 in 4 children admit to feeling worried, embarrassed, or anxious when their parents post photos of them on social media,” which goes beyond the idea of hovering or helicoptering. I know many of my friends are having children right now and seriously, the amount of “baby spam” I see in a day is ridiculous and the consequences can be even more serious! It’s something I don’t think my generation really understands, making it even more important for the next generation to comprehend! What parents post, even at a very young age, can affect a child’s mental health later on in life? It begs the questions, do you want the whole world to see a baby photo of you?
I think both sides of the debate did a fantastic job of making their case! When it comes to my world in a high school, photos, technology and phones are everywhere. We even have a school Snapchat and Instagram account run by the Spirit Committee, run by a couple of awesome teachers! My students are on their phones constantly; I use Remind 101 to contact students and my athletes for various things like deadlines, practice changes, or just general reminders for the next day. It allows my students to connect me as well without directly having my phone number. I also use Google Classroom for all the students’ homework, assignments, deadlines, and I also used it for Track and Field this year – creating an online platform for athletes to access permission forms, schedules, dates, and results. It worked fantastically and never thought twice about using these online platforms with my students. However, everything I use and do online is “private.” I’m not sharing student photos to the internet, not posting on Twitter about our interactive activities, and although I feel my students are safe because of this, maybe I’m not properly preparing them for the online world?
Randi Zuckerberg stated in his article that, “technology and the world around us is evolving so quickly that even children a few years apart may experience two very different forms of childhood.” And I think this couldn’t be more true. I know my childhood was vastly different than kids today and even looking at my current students. I graduated high school nine years ago, and THINGS HAVE CHANGED. EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED! I think it’s important that we don’t shut down these differences and instead we embrace them, because if we don’t, they we run the risk of not helping our students be successful in the outside world. Their world is online, and it will continue to be for the rest of their lives. They need to learn how to adapt and post appropriately online and protect themselves. It lends itself to the idea that we cannot protect our students by banning the internet or posting pictures online because what is that teaching them? They will rebel, and in turn post inappropriately online because they were never taught, nor was it modeled for them.
I think digital literacy and creating a positive digital footprint is incredibly important for students. What is the first thing their employer will do? Google them. What is the first thing someone just getting to know them will do? Google them. They need to understand that their online identity will exist online whether they want it to or not. If they do not create it for themselves, and twist it into the story they want to tell, someone else will tell the story for them. I think once students understand this concept, the rest becomes more simple than we think.
I have to confess that I don’t think I’ve really shared to my best capability as a young, millennial could. I have all the knowledge, and the tools and yet I don’t feel like my lessons or ideas are valuable enough to share or for someone else to use in the online world. This is funny, because I don’t hesitate to hand over lesson plans, ideas, binders, or
USB sticks of information to fellow teachers in my building. If there is ever a need, I oblige and give any of my colleagues what they need, in hopes that one day the favour will be returned if I ever need it. In my short 5 year career, I’ve taught a whopping 18 different curriculums at a high school level. I know, in my earlier years, teachers handed me lots of resources and now it’s my turn to help some young, stressed out teacher play the part. In Sharing: The Moral Imperative, Dean Shareski talks about how it is our responsibility to share these resources not just with our colleagues in the building, but with the world and I totally agree. I think that main reason I haven’t, is because I’ve never actually thought about it! I should. I’ve had many compliments on my plans and curriculum. I’ve made a bunch of “original” projects that would and could be useful to many teachers, especially in Saskatchewan.
We discussed in class one night about who owns our lesson plans? Us? Or the division? In some cases, it is the division, but I know in Prairie South, sharing is encouraged and I don’t think I would ever be reprimanded for sharing resources online via Twitter or my blog. I think my personal barriers is thinking that my work will not be of benefit to others, even though I’m sure this is not the case. As Dani stated in her vlog, she didn’t think her post would be noticed even though she should have known better. I feel the same way. I think I get caught up in the idea that the internet is SO big, how would my tiny footprint, make a difference. I also think I haven’t shared online because in my busy day, posting an assignment or idea to Twitter seems irrelevant and like more work sometimes. It’s super quick and easy, but it’s just not something I consciously think about on a day-to-day basis.
The benefits to sharing work and collaborating online are incredible! Dean discusses a few examples in his video and the one that stood out to me the most was Dan Meyer’s Math Stories. He put over 18 hours of work into one lesson. ONE. And he felt validated by it because he shared it and had over 6, 000 people download and use it within a couple of weeks. I think as educators, we get stuck in our bubble and in reality, there is SO much information out there that can help ease the stress and pressure on teachers to be innovative. If teachers learn how to use the information, filter through resources and had time to collaborate together, I think there would be a lot more sharing going on. Teachers need some professional development and education geared toward how to share, why it’s so important, and the benefits that can ensue. I think that the younger generation of teachers is a lot more equipped to help this movement become a reality, however I think there needs to be support by divisions and maybe even time in a day, week, or month to collaborate with others in their buildings to help develop a sharing network for teachers. The movement needs to begin small, and with an implementation like that, I think it would be possible to create a culture of collaboration.
Sharing students work is another story. I think it is great to get their ideas out there and
amazing things can happen. Students can learn more authentically and understand how to navigate social networking sites and be able to filter through information. I’m starting a project with my ELA B30 class as we begin Hamlet. In the past, I’ve struggled to make it authentic and get them to really buy in. I created an assignment after browsing a few websites on making Hamlet relevant. I decided to use social media to help them relate to the characters (with some motivation from this class). I want them engaged so I’ve decided to get them to create character profiles for the whole play. They have the option of doing it alone or in groups and they have the option to interact with each other online as characters or as an omnipresent narrator. Here’s the link to the assignment (also my first attempt at sharing my work online): http://bit.ly/2AYEYJO. I’m pretty proud of this assignment already and I think the students are already engaged with it as I had two new Instagram followers (Hamlet characters) yesterday immediately following me handing it out! I will keep you posted as we progress through the play and I hope to actually share some of their posts if they are good! Of course, I’d love to know what you think of the assignment? Maybe a fellow Senior English teacher like Kelsie could chime in? Anything I could tweak? And what do you think would get teachers more involved in openly sharing resources online?