Category Archives: Weekly Reflection 832

Ethical & Moral Dilemmas in a Digital World

Navigating social media and social networks as an educator is to say the least…challenging for many. Whether it be managing your own personal accounts or integrating social media with your professional role, it can be difficult to understand where the lines are drawn and what is acceptable. This blog post will share my own personal journey with social media as an educator, while connecting to articles that share what information on policies, procedures and cautions that teachers should be taking.

Depending on who you speak with, views on social media in the classroom can vary from one extreme to the other. This is what can make an ethical dilemma such as this one complicated because our own personal morals can be tied to it. My goal has always been to fall somewhere within the middle. That middle has seemed to change even after taking a few different digital technology classes, as my digital presence as an educator has grown and changed over time. As discussed in a previous post of mine, when students Google my name, the main items to pop-up are my blog website and my educator Twitter account. Since recently changing my last name last summer, I almost reinvented my identity from my younger self. If you Google my maiden name, there are many others in the world with a similar name and not much is to be found regarding my digital identity. For others this is not always the case.

Throughout the teacher educator program that I attended, we were always made very aware that our social media accounts should be private to students, and if someone did happen to see your profile, it should be manicured in a way so that students, parents, and administrators wouldn’t be able to come across anything that they could hold against you. We were told that we should remove anything that shows the use of alcohol, drugs, texting and driving, provocative photos and even posts that reflect a strong political or ideological view. Teaches are curated to be seen as this neutral robot that don’t have lives outside of the classroom. It is unfortunate that we often feel like we have to walk on egg shells in fear of being ridiculed by the public. However, I’ve always erred on the side of caution and took these steps because I feared ever having to deal with an online issue. For most of my adult life I never had my last name on any of my profiles and have had a family friend feed. Social Networks can also bring up ethical issues for teachers who are ”friends” with their students. In the article, “Ethical Issues with Using Technology in the Classroom“, teachers may learn things about their students, like seeing posts about underage drinking. Student’s often don’t understand that they no longer have their right to privacy by posting online, even though they often feel anonymous because there is no face-to-face interaction.

Within my own classroom, I do not directly have my students using social media. In fact, I don’t allow any the use of personal devices during the school day as we are fortunate enough to have 2:1 laptop access. In grade 6, I have many students that do not have social media accounts or personal devices due to their parents own personal choices. I support the parents who want to delay the use of social media accounts at this age because they have they own views and experiences with social media. Even though I don’t specifically use social media with my students, I still incorporate it in the classroom. With this I also have to be cognoscente of my students who do not have certain media permissions. In Dylan’s article, “Beware: Be aware The Ethical Implication of Teachers using Who Use Social Networking sites To Communicate”, Henderson et al. (2014) point outs, “teachers should be aware that this consent might need to be renegotiated at regular intervals” (p. 3). Teachers have the responsibility to ensure that students (and parents) want their own virtual identities to be made public when using SNSs as a tool for communication.” We connect with our families on a regular basis using Seesaw and our school website. Students post pictures of their class work and assignments and I post classroom activities and memorable moments. Parents can only view and comment on their own children’s work which makes it a very private digital space for families to interact with the classroom and their teacher. Using tools like this can prepare students for the use of social networking sites in the future.

I share my personal TikTok, Twitter and blog information with my students because those are the platforms that I know can be viewed by my students. The content I share on them is educational, and to share my love of our dogs. Other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are strictly for my personal use. If I come across an interesting TikTok video that is relevant to something we discussed in class or that I think they would enjoy, I will save it and show it together through the projector. Moving into the world of digital media classes has started to change my perspective on social media in the classroom. Since creating my blog and teacher twitter account, I have felt a bit more secure in my professional online presence. I share my Twitter handle and blog address with the parents and students so that they can see a positive example of me engaging with social networks. My believe my students connect with me on a deeper level when they see me positively engaged in the online world. It is important for teachers to choose what is most comfortable for them when navigating the ethical and moral dilemma of social media in the classroom and for their own professional and personal use.

Making Sense of Media

When I reflect on my own interpretations of information, media and the world around me, it is easy to forget how many years of learning and experience have gone into establishing the critical thinking skills I now have as an adult and professional educator. Growing up with the internet wasn’t always a walk in the park, as concepts such as digital privacy, security, and cyberbullying weren’t closely monitored. I relied on what I had learned from school, what my parents had taught me and what my friends perceived as right and wrong.

I very vividly remember sitting in my elementary school library at an Apple desktop computer (the orange, pink, green, purple and blue ones where you could see through the semi-transparent plastic- oh the nastalgia) and being taught how to enter keywords into a search engine and how it affected your searches. This simple, yet important lesson would expose me to the endless lists of results one can get when searching for information and how overwhelming it can be to decipher the grand amount of information. I remember thinking that this was such a basic concept, however little did I know that it would be just the beginning of my “Googling” journey that would set me up for the rest of my academic schooling.

Another memory that I have from this middle years time period is not understanding the ramifications of what “Copying & Pasting” meant. One of Shirsty’s articles that she shared “Ethical Issues with Using Technology in The Classroom“, discusses how students are confused that copying and pasting is plagiarism. My eleven-year-old self was absolutely guilty of this and it didn’t seem to be taken seriously by my institutions until my final years of high school and university years. I felt a rude awakening entering my first semester at the U of R and having no clue what is meant to create a citation in APA and MLA formatting. In part, this is largely due to the creation and utilization of online tools such as “Turnitin”, which allows educators to digitally screen for copyright and plagiarism within a student-created document. Now as a master’s student, I have an annual subscription to Grammarly which checks for plagiarism within your documents and also has the added benefit of grammar and spell checking my writing. This program alone has enhanced my academic writing and I learn more from it each and every time I use it.

Today, interpreting information and media has become a daily task of using critical thinking skills. One has to identify the source of the information, check the date of when the information was published, do background checks on authors and creators to see if they are a reliable source of information, compare facts and information, then make a decision on how to interpret it. It’s a lot! We are doing this at an alarmingly fast rate thanks to social media. It can be difficult to look through the lens of a critical thinker every time you open up a Facebook article or watch a Tiktok video. As a result, it is easy to fall victim to false information, and then share and pass on information that might not be entirely accurate, or even remotely true. We as both educators and parents have to teach children that just because they read or watch something online, doesn’t mean that they can always trust it. We have to teach these skills to them so that when they navigate the online world they can feel safe and make educated and responsible choices when consuming and creating content.

As a millennial, I was not only responsible for learning along the way when it came to my own personal journey with navigating the digital world and interpreting information and media, but I was also teaching the generations that came before me. My parents and grandparents relied on me to teach them how to use their first smartphones, laptops, Ipads and so many apps and programs. Yes, they had basic skills of typing, word processing and email, but that was the extent of it. I very often would get phone calls from my dad or my grandma because they needed help figuring something out on a device and I was always happy to help because it seemed to just come naturally to me.

Today as an educator, I often feel that because I grew up as technology was evolving, I just naturally learnt how to use these devices, navigate programs and decipher the information. But in reality, I was either taught formally or learned through trial and error. I have to remember that my students aren’t necessarily coming to school with a foundation of knowledge and skills that I expect for the classroom. I have to show them and guide them through the process of learning by experience. They will make mistakes along the way. That is inevitable. But, the more we can prepare them, the more successful they will be both at school and in their personal lives when making sense of this big complex world around them.

Literate Eh?

Oh boy. What does it mean to be literate? Well, the basic and straightforward definition traditionally means to be able to read and write. A more in-depth thought on someone who is literate can also be the ways in which we think about reading and writing. But there is so much more to it. In Canada, we take for granted that we have the charter of rights of freedom that states that students have the right to receive free quality education K-12. Most children on average learn to read and write in the primary grades and then continue to enhance and master their skills throughout their schooling. We have discussed in great detail already what it can mean to be digitally literate and media literate. I believe that one can be literate within any sector. Having a foundational understanding of writing, reading, math, science, media, physical activity, health, finances and so many others, creates well-rounded critical thinkers. This is our utlimate goal for our students in my opinion.

When I think of the word literate it brings me back to my undergraduate studies. I majored in Physical Education and Health Studies at the University of Regina and it felt like I spent five years studying what it meant to be physically literate. I even have a SPEA (Saskatchewan Physical Education Association) poster that says “You are not fully literate until you are physically literate” which many have probably seen in their gymnasiums in the past. I remember as a young grasshopper in my pre-internship feeling immense pressure to hit my essential learnings in my lesson plans that were tailored towards physical literacy. I really tried to teach physical education in a way that was not directly sport-dominated so that all students felt like it was a safe space where they could enjoy different curricular activities with their peers without being picked last for the dodge ball team. I always believed that you weren’t physically literate just because you were an athlete. There is so much more to physical literacy than being able to dribble a basketball or swing a bat. I had students that didn’t participate in any sort of organized sport, however, had a lot of experience in other aspects of physical education such as outdoor pursuits or promoting a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable for the long-term.

Another example of literacy that I have been diving into lately with my students is mathematic literacy. This year after our fall professional development institute, our school purchased a set of ten Wipebooks for each class that wanted them. These portable and lightweight flexible dry-erase sheets allow students to work collaboratively with others but more specifically, vertically instead of horizontally. The Thinking Classroom is a model of educational instruction created by Peter Liljedahl. The idea is that when students are standing up, working vertically, with partners, and with an erasable marker, they are more likely to try math problems without the fear of making mistakes or getting the answer wrong. The theory is based on ten steps. The steps that I try to always include are; random groups, vertical wipebooks (I have a ton of command hooks around my room and the students can set them up themselves), oral instructions only, defront the room (kids are on every wall in the classroom), lots of hints and extensions, and diagnostic/formative assessment. It is amazing to watch the most math-resistant kids writing on the boards and participating in the problems. All of a sudden the playing field feels more even and less intimidating. I have been using this as an introduction to new topics in math units, review for assessments and brain breaks. The units where I use wipebooks with the students, I see a positive influence on their workbook assignments and quizzes throughout the chapter.

When students first learn how to read and write, they are developing crucial building blocks for their personal literacy. Once students have the basic skills in reading, writing and math, the possibilities start to become endless for extending these literacies. When students are taught critical thinking skills when becoming literate in reading and writing, these skills transfer to everthing else they do. When it comes to digital literacy, students fall back on the skills they already have regarding reading and writing in the traditional sense. However digital literacy involes a host of other skills required to be successful and not fall victum to fake news and these days even some proganda.

Chris B’s article from this week describes to us that we often like to pinpoint our Fake News problem on technology, rather than our ability to teach and understand information literacy. Sure, technology can aid in helping sift through information that is clearly biased, but it can only do so much. Instead of investing in information literacy, technology giants are investing more into fact-checker programs, blacklist content and algorithms. “Why is it that a teenager in their parent’s basement halfway across the world can anonymously post a statement to social media falsely attributed to a head of state and have that commentary go viral, spread to the mainstream press and even influence international political debate without anyone stopping to ask whether there is a shred of truth to what they are reading?“.

This is where having a multitude of different literacy abilities helps us navigate the world we are in today and the one that we will be experiencing in the future. We can’t control everything that is put out onto the internet, but we can control how we interpret it and if we decide to share it. If Covid-19 taught us anything, it is to think before you share or tweet because Click-Bait headlines are there to trick us without reading the entire article first.

Educators Role in Digital Citizenship

Teaching digital citizenship in schools is currently part of the hidden curriculum. Just like teaching manners, social cues, how to tie your shoes, and so much more, digital citizenship falls under that umbrella. Many believe that teachers should only have to teach outcomes however, we know that we don’t teach just subjects, we teach children. To be able to teach outcomes, we have to be able to reach the little humans first. Yes, we hope parents have conversations surroundings technology and being safe online at home, but digital citizenship is a relatively new concept for many parents depending on their own personal experiences and access to devices within the home. We can’t assume that our students have a solid understanding of digital citizenship when they walk through our classroom door. Instead, it should be the opposite. Assume they are starting from scratch and work up from there.

My hope for the future is that digital citizenship will be embedded into the Saskatchewan Curriculum in an online format just like the other outcomes, sooner rather than later. In addition, there would be paid teacher training that is grade-appropriate for implementing the outcomes into your classroom. I could see it potentially incorporated into English Language Arts or Health Education teaching minutes or where you see fit. Digital citizenship is multi-disciplinary, so it could be its own separate document similar to treaty education outcomes (This document needs to be updated as well as it’s almost a decade old now but I’ll save that conversation for another time). For example, it could look something like this. (I completely made these up going off of the 9 elements of digital citizenship).

DC 6.1 – Examine how media bias can influence our perspective/opinions regarding information that we consume from the internet.

DC 6.2 – Analyze how digital communication and etiquette can be appropriately navigated within an educational context.

DC 6.3 – Establish an understanding of your rights and responsibilities when accessing technology both at school and at home.

DC 6.4 – Assess how digital commerce is connected to our digital security and privacy while online.

I know that writing curriculum is, unfortunately, a lengthy process, however, there is no reason that in 2022, we do not have a province-wide document and online outcomes in the works for the Saskatchewan Curriculum website. The Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Guide is a great start, however, I wouldn’t have even known that this document existed if it weren’t for this class. It is essentially a detailed description of the 9 elements of digital citizenship. But there are still no specific outcomes to assess for digital citizenship within our reporting process.

Technology in the classroom is only increasing every school year and it is more important than ever for students to have basic foundational skills throughout each grade level when using technology at school. Students are constantly absorbing media whether it’s to stay informed, connected or entertained. Bart’s article, “What is media literacy and why does it matter?”, states that “Despite many positives, there are many risks and issues within the world of media. Without cautiousness and care, these risks can make media consumption potentially problematic. Media literacy allows us to question the intent of media and protect ourselves from any negative impacts of media.” Introducing topics such as fake news and media bias can increase our student’s critical thinking skills to use in the real world.

Currently, my school and division expect us (K-12 Teachers) to cover digital citizenship quite heavily at the beginning of the school year and then touch on it as the school year goes on not only when issues arise but also as a preventative measure for any type of misuse/abuse of technology. When it comes to accessing resources or knowing what to specifically teach in each grade, we are often left to fend for ourselves. We do our best to share resources and ideas with each other but there is no school or division level document to refer to. Common Sense Media is a popular tool for grade-level specific lessons plans and can be a useful website for getting started. Websites such as Teachers Pay Teachers also have free and paid resources available as well. I do believe that there should be a streamlined document for primary, middle years, and high school teachers that they can refer to when teaching digital citizenship to their students.

The 9 elements of digital citizenship created by Mike Ribble is a great foundation for getting started with digital citizenship. He breaks it down into specific categories where digital technology impacts our choices as citizens interacting anyway online. The 3 main branches include Protection, Educate and Respect. These are a spin-off from the 3 S’s (S3 Learner) which are how to be Safe, Savvy, and Social while online. Access, Commerce, Communication, Literacy, Etiquette, Law, Rights/Responsibility, Wellness and security are the nine different elements. The 9 elements of digital citizenship can be curated to be age-appropriate for each grade level. An example document could include sections for K-2, 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12. Having the grade-level appropriate guidelines allows for some much-needed guidance without being too specific. Giving teachers resources with a scope and sequence that still allows for flexibility is highly desirable as an educator.

Please comment on what your school/division requires for teaching digital citizenship to your students. Maybe they are very progressive, or they might be entering new territory regarding digital media. I would love to hear the comparisons between different areas of the province.

Our Digital Identities

The idea of having a digital identity is fluid and it consistently grows with you as your personal identity changes over the years or even decades. We often like to assume that digital identity looks the same for everyone. However, for some, it can be a very crucial aspect of their daily lives, whereas others are hardly impacted by it. I believe that our digital identity is a culmination of both our personal and professional lives whether we like to believe that or not. When referring to our professional lives this can encompass students at any level, to a CEO of a company. It is very difficult to erase parts of our digital footprint, so it is important to teach students that your digital identity will follow you throughout the different phases of your life.

I know that my own personal identity has evolved since beginning my journey with technology and it most like will change again sometime in my future. I started using computers at about the age of 8 both at home and in elementary school. For the most part, it consisted of typing programs, CD-ROM games, word processors and the basic use of Google. It then moved into the use of online social media around the age of twelve. The most popular website for me was MSN messenger. This was my main source of online communication with my friends. Soon later, I created a Facebook account and I still use that same account today.

I was always conscious about what I posted online. My parents were always aware that I was using social media and they quickly became my online friends as a way to monitor my online activity. I don’t think I would have been smart enough to make a fake account for my parents to see back then, however that certainly happens today with the “Finsta” era. I quickly saw the negative sides of social media such as cyber-bullying, insulting comments, and threatening direct messages and knew that I didn’t want any part of that side of the internet. I knew by the middle of high school that my online presence would matter once I got to university, and eventually when I moved into the workforce.

When I Google myself, the first items to come up are my professional platforms such as my blog, the teacher directory from my school and my teacher Twitter account. However, I recently changed my last name as I got married last summer so I have only been Katherine Mihial for less than a year. It is interesting how traditionally, women can often feel like they have more than one identity if they change their last name. It can also depend on what time in their life they changed their name as well. When I compared my maiden name Google search it doesn’t include anything about my personal profiles as Collins is a much more popular last name and many other people who aren’t me come up such as a popular Canadian Cartoonist! Haha.

If you haven’t watched “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix, you should certainly watch it. I like to show a couple parts of the movie to my students because although it may seem extreme in the movie, it isn’t far off from reality, unfortunately. Check out the trailer if you haven’t seen it!

I don’t have any children myself, however when I think about the 27 students that enter my classroom every day I know that they will all have their own experiences with navigating their own digital identity. At the ripe age of eleven, many of them are already on social media on their own devices. Others don’t have any accounts or personal devices. Some have already had negative encounters online and it can be very difficult to navigate those experiences in fear of getting in trouble or having their devices taken away. In Kelly’s article that she provided, “Making digital citizenship Stick“, the key points it brings up include, 1) Knowledge, 2) Time, and 3) Support. I truly believe that these factors are so integral to implementing digital citizenship and having a positive digital identity in the classroom. By following the 9 different themes and using these steps to implement them, I believe we can see success in the future.

One of my main goals as an educator is to help teach students skills and show them tools to navigate the online world as safely as possible. I don’t want them to be afraid to reach out to me or their parents when in need of help or if they are unsure of something. We use devices almost every day in the classroom and students need to be taught and reminded over and over again that they need to demonstrate their responsibility by being good digital citizens just like we would want to be good citizens in our classroom. Our digital identity is a representation of who we are as digital citizens. Yes, we will make mistakes along the way because we are only human. However, we have come a long way since 2007 and the online world is now part of our real world. How we interact with others online is just as important as how we interact with people in person.

Please comment below and let me know your favourite strategies/practices for implementing digital citizenship in the classroom. I love hearing new ideas from fellow educators!

Hear Me Roar.

Do schools really need to change? If so, in what ways? I apolgize in advance if this blog post sounds like a soap-box, however; it feels great to type out my feelings on my own personal philosophy of the education system and our schools. To begin with, if schools didn’t need to change it would mean that everything currently happening in schools is working perfectly. Which, if you have worked in a school as a teacher, educational assistant, administrative role, caretaker, or any other role within a school recently, you know first-hand school is not working for so many students. So much of what needs to change is embedded in traditional values and beliefs of what schools look and operate like. When you compare a picture of a classroom in 1920 to the one that I grew up with in the 2000s, it is still very much the same. It seems only within the last five or ten years that classrooms have begun to move away from desks in rows to more flexible seating options and the use of multiple spaces to learn. Covid-19 has thrown a big wrench into these new changes as well too. When the societal expectations of the structure of the school day, outcomes, and assessments don’t change, it is hard to keep moving forward.

What sort of world are we preparing students for? I believe that we are preparing our students for a world that is experiencing dramatic social change. Social media, the pandemic, world events and current world conflict seem to be at an all-time high right now and our students are receiving their education in the middle of it. Teachers are no longer the sole provider of new information for our learners. Our kids are absorbing information from all sorts of media outlets and our job is no longer to teach factual information, but how to interpret information and make critical and informed choices based on evidence, and not to solely be influenced by others’ opinions. We see this being demonstrated through the media at an alarming rate right this very moment.

What sort of education or education system will be needed to adequately prepare students for the world ahead? Oh gosh. This is a loaded question. In my picture-perfect world, we provide an education system that meets students’ needs where they are and has adequate support to fill in the gaps that we often see right from the early years. It has clear, open communication and support from parents and the community because students are raised by a village, not just one single teacher. Education in the future requires multiple paths that students can follow versus the one single goal of grade 12 graduation at 17/18 years old. When we shove students through the traditional education system, a good chunk of them come out feeling inadequate, unsatisfied with themselves, and certainly not what we as educators would consider “ready for the real world”.

Is it possible to change our educational system, or is it more likely that the system will be replaced by other forms of education? Unfortunately, for our education system to see serious change, it requires a huge social shift within governmental politics, specifically in Canada, our provincial government. When you have an entire sector such as education or health care that is publically funded with taxpayer dollars, it is that much more difficult to make big leaps towards positive change. Many views and opinions that I have seen recently, more specifically in the united states, are saying that at this point the education system has to completely crumble to the ground before it can be re-build to something that is successful and actually will be sustainable for the future generations to come. I sure hope that we can make these important shifts in our system so that we can avoid the latter.

Great To See You Here!

Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog space for this course, Digital Citizenship and Media Literacies. I am excited to share this learning journey with you as I further my development in digital media and authentically utilize technology in the classroom. I currently teach grade 6 students in Regina, Saskatchewan. This is my fifth class in my masters program and I am definitely looking forward to gaining more knowledge from Alec. If you haven’t had him as a professor yet, you are in for a treat! I have previously taken ECI 831 and 833 which are both educational technology classes and I hope to take the other available ed. tech classes in the future as well. I really enjoy the format of the classes and I take away so much from the class community.

My name is Katherine Mihial!

I was born and raised and currently teach in Regina, Saskatchewan. However, I have the pleasure of escaping the city every day to our home at Last Mountain Lake. I am recently married this past August, own and breed labrador retrievers and love spending time outdoors biking, hiking, fishing and basking in the sunshine. I have many years of experience both participating/coaching/judging in the competitive gymnastics and cheerleading community. I am in my fourth year of teaching and have spent more time teaching during a pandemic than not. Hopefully, that changes!