My Personal Journey...
Well, we got derailed, that's for sure. I didn't have childcare the last 2 weeks, and I pulled my kiddo from daycare as a precaution about 1 week before the government shut them all down.
So, the main thing I wanted to accomplish was to personally really dive into social media... a lot of things fell by the wayside... but that's because the deeper I dove into it (and sorry for the lack of updates), the more I realized that my project was about two personal things for me:
1) Increasing my use of YouTube in my classroom
2) Increasing my use of Twitter for both professional development, but also just to engage with social media, and overcome my resistance to using Twitter, sharing a few times a week, while at the same time not being glued to my phone.
Let us remember the things that I thought I would do but never really did:
The Fallen (sort of):
Aspects of the project that didn't quite work out, or, at the least, did not work out the way I envisioned they would (hence, the fallen!):
1) Investigate TikTok (this flopped, basically, because for math and science, I couldn't find a *good* use of TikTok... I think there is potential for Drama/Theater, in sharing little videos of skits/techniques)
2) Investigate Instagram usage (sort of did this in passing with my interview with Tyler found here).
3) Investigate Wakelet usage in the classroom. I'm putting this one in the graveyard, although I actually DID make great use of Wakelet this semester... I....
So, overall, that was actually not so bad! Things on this list still got completed, just not the way I originally thought I would investigate/use them... so, there it is!
Turns out that YouTube holds great potential in being a repository of educational video lessons, and also as an access point to notes and other activities that enhance learning potential. Kids are telling me that the ability to go back and "see" the lesson again (as horrible as it is) alleviates a lot of anxiety and stress because they can just watch it later at home.
A highly successful teacher shows off how he uses Twitter and Instagram in his classroom.
A Dive Into My Twitter Usage
A couple screen shots really paint a picture to me: Compared to even 3 months ago, I have REALLY started to integrate Twitter into my teaching practice. I use it for PD, I use it to connect to you guys, and I use it to share whatever little tidbits of knowledge I have. I made a quick recap video of my own usage, but the two pics below, for me, show me my metric growth:
The 28 day summary speaks volumes. I almost DOUBLED my followers, had a 50% increase in tweets, a 74% rise in profile views, and a 160% increase in "impressions"... I didn't realize I had grown so much until I went and checked out the analytics page.
I even started even using social media (Twitter/Instagram) for the robotics club I started at the school... for someone who literally barely used Twitter at all 6 months ago, this is a HUGE WIN!! MISSION COMPLETE!!
CLICK HERE TO SEE A QUICK RECAP VIDEO OF MY TWITTER USAGE
A Dive Into My YouTube Usage
Click the picture above to see a recap video of my YouTube usage.
This is where I spent the MAJORITY of my time in this project. I didn't realize how much of a difference a focused effort on my YouTube channel was making until I discovered the analytics section of my channel page. Here is probably the BIGGEST and most heavy hitting metric I could find:
In 2019, my YouTube channel had 1,041 views. For the first 3 months of 2020, my YouTube channel had 2,026 views, almost literally DOUBLE THE VIEWS in ONE QUARTER the amount of time. Sometimes your hard work pays off!
March 2019 was a big month, with 99 hours of content watched, and 1,219 views. Believe it or not, most of this was actually BEFORE schools shut down (I'm actually getting LESS views now that classes are temporarily on hold due to COVID-19.
What else did I accomplish by spending so much of my efforts and time on YouTube? The roughly hour a day I was spending on editing, uploading, and curating all my videos that I was creating led to:
-47 subscribers to 137 in 2 months
-Monthly watch time up 182% @ 99 hours
-I have 3 playlists now: Grade 11 PreCalc, Grade 12 PreCalc, and Grade 10 Computer Science
-I have uploaded my blank notes to the description of each video (which meant having to create all the blank PDFs, uploading to my Google Drive, and then going back and adding it to each video description--boring and time consuming).
-Creation of the "10 minute math" content list... Well, this is coming, I hope to upload some in the coming days!
Students tell me that being able to view the content online is more valuable than they thought it would be, and that it alleviates some stress for them. It also helps them review topics, and allows them to see things they didn't quite get right the first few times. It's not rocket science... and it takes a surprising amount of time to even just make a commitment to film everything, edit it, curate it, and share it, but it's well worth the effort based on the feedback I have received. A few parents even reached out and commented that while it was weird having my voice in their houses at first, they are thankful to have everything online.
That's it's for now!
Extra points to anyone who gets the corny reference to the amazing Green Day's song "when September Ends"... but what I'm saying is... with schools seemingly on hold and everything shifting to online learning for a while, I thought it'd be nice to do a collective #eci832 hurrah hurrah and push to create a shared Wakelet of resources that could help teachers, students, and parents in the aftermath of CODV-19.
SO, as part of my personal dive into social media--using it more often, and effectively--I went and combed through all the resources people had been sharing under the #eci832 hashtag, and tried to categorize them.
I'm sorry if I missed you! I also posted a link so that you could become an editor of the Wakelet, and add your own resources or modifying the headings, create new ones... whatever you think is required!
Want to Contribute? It's not too late!
Just click here if you'd like to become a contributor. You'll be able to add resources, add headings, modify... I trust my #eci832 crew! Let's do this!
So, I present to you, the current Wakelet, "Online Teaching Resources #eci832 Edition" as it stands...
Big thanks to... Mystery People (and Dean!)... and, of course, #eci832
Contribute away, and in the meantime, thank you!
Cheers, everyone, and great job on creating an interesting course dynamic and, as usual, teaching me so much more than I would have ever been able to do all alone!
Ya done good, #eci832!
There are plenty of resources for schools/teachers there for Digital Citizenship
Before I get to the main topic, I thought I'd share some useful resources this week on #DigCit... the internet is literally rife with resources for teaching digital citizenship.... Here are a few you might consider:
1) Everything you Need to Teach Digital Citizenship - Common Sense Education
This a great one, it has lessons for all ages, broken down into grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 (which always strikes me as a large age range... difference between a 14 year old and a 17/18 year old? Huge, but anyways).
2) How to Promote Digital Citizenship in the School Library (Demco Ideas & Inspiration)
This article is a bit more straight forward, just sharing 6 abrupt and down to earth ways to promote digital citizenship in your everyday classes. Definitely geared towards early/elementary school teachers. My favourite is the suggestion to watch BrainPOP Jr.'s video on internet safety, see below! It comes with a quiz afterwards if you open it up on their website here.
3) 9 resources for teaching digital citizenship (By the always wonderful ISTE)
Each of the resources in this page (created Feb 5, 2020-so you know it is hot off the press... although it does link to older resources from a few years ago at times) is a wealth of other resources and information.
4) Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide (From the School Technology Branch of Alberta Education)
This is a great resource document, which leans a bit more on the academic side of the argument, citing research and such.
5) Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools (published by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education)
This is a great resource document, which leans a bit more on the academic side of the argument, citing Ribble (does it surprise anyone it's written by Alec and Katia?).
Citizenship is defined as the state of being a citizen of a particular social, political or national community. Citizenship carries both rights and responsibilities.
So what is holding us back?
Right from resource #4 above, it states that....
Digital citizenship is a complex subject matter. It is the intent of the current guide to bring shape to this domain through questions and considerations that may be weighed by leaders. Through this process, the current work will assist leadership and stakeholder decision-making, guiding the development of effective digital citizenship policies.
So, OK, this stuff IS hard. It's complicated. It's tricky for teachers, parents, and policy-makers to wrap their brains around. It's tricky to understand the full ramifications of it's use in schools, to update privacy laws, to make it "safe" for classroom use... but maybe that's just the thing, maybe we can't scrub this down and make it "safe"... one argument that is used in my school division (and I've heard feedback from many others, in many divisions) is that we need to lock this stuff down because we need to keep our kids safe. And while this is certainly a good argument with things like swords, guns, etc... it's not a great argument for something that kids have access to all the time on their cell phones, or at home.
By "locking" down social media for students, we are also shutting down all the teaching opportunities around it's proper use: how it should be properly situated in our lives, and how to use it to fuel our professional and personal growth, and how to ward against it's improper use against us, by understanding it's massive power and reach fully.
We already know that teenagers lack that voice that says "is this a good idea", and that they are less likely to engage in moral and ethical thinking (Digital Citizenship policy development guide, 2012, p. 10)... and here we kidding ourselves that we can just avoid using and teaching about social media in schools, and that kids will just "sort themselves out" individually at home later on proper usage of social media. Yikes! It's like assuming that since we taught kids that they can get hurt in real life, that we should just leave obstacles all around the house for them to possibly get hurt on. After all, they know better! They'll just sort out the "two separate lives" of real world, versus the online world, themselves. See the excerpt below:
From Alberta's Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide (2012)
Let's get real. We need to start treating social media, offline, online, as all the same thing, because they are already.
chools, like many things, are THE PLACE for kids to learn about social media, and how to be a good digital citizen. As suggested before, citizenship comes with rights but also responsibilities, and we are collectively dropping the ball on teaching kids about the power and responsibilities that come with social media.
Ironically, one study found that adults are actually more likely to fall prey to internet scams, versus the youth of today (we grew up with the scams, Baby boomers didn't, might be one reason). Perhaps policy makers of today need to relearn that same lesson around digital citizenship and social media in schools.
Policy makers, and schools need to stop dropping the torch on Digital Citizenship and Social Media in schools. School is definitely the place to collectively, everyday, integrate and teach about Digital Citizenship, and proper use of social media. The longer we wait, the worse it is going to get. Teachers can certainly "go about it on their own", and I suggest that they begin to do so until each provincial education body wakes up and starts working together... but imagine what difference we could make if we all pushed?
Maybe there is so much waffling around integrating Digital Citizenship into schools because these are the sorts of people calling the shots?
Let's pull together and get this done. Instead of having a bunch of isolated pockets of amazing and talented teachers such as the ones in #eci832, or like the amazing @Tyler_JL I interviewed last week working on this problem, what if we pooled our resources and got stuff done on a canada-wide level? WOW! It's like Dwight says....
One last "why"...
Taken directly from the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools document (Hello? Manitoba, are you there? Why don't we have something like this already? Ooooofph):
From Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools, 2015, p. 6
If those reasons aren't enough to warrant teaching Digital Citizenship in schools, what is?
Presentations on Digital Citizenship
Great work to our 4 presenters last week. My takeaways were:
1) Leigh (check out her awesome blog! Video is top left)
I really liked the line: "schools need to stop blocking everything because you can't keep it all out and teachers lose teachable moments as a result".
This is a divine line. Certainly, one of the worst things we can do it just block everything, as it robs teachers and students of the chance to experiment with these tools in a safe setting. Making social media impossible to access at school doesn't actually stop anyone from accessing it (many students at my school finds ways around the filters, or simply just use their cell phone data). Blocking means that teachers have trouble using it reliably in class to teach. What a mistake.
2) Victoria (check out her awesome blog! Video is top right)
Best line: "By restricting student access to social media we fail to actually teach students anything about being digital citizens"... this couldn't be more true. Very similar to my favourite line from Leigh's video. It'd be like teaching how to drive without ever driving a vehicle.
3) Matt and Trevor (check out their blogs here and here respectively. Video is bottom)
What did I enjoy most about their video? I really liked the idea of using social media to examine how science misconceptions spread online... that's a great exercise and highly relevant today, and would be relevant anytime!
Big shout out to our presenters, who did such a great job! Thanks for facilitating the conversation.
How Should We Introduce Social Media to Students Nowadays?
You know, I guess I sort of got lucky. Social media wasn't a thing yet while I was in my "crazy" years during high school and university... I say "crazy", because I may have been more inclined to post things online that may have not reflected well on me in the future. By the time blogging and social media were just becoming a thing, it was maybe a year or two before my education degree, and I was a bit more mature. Enough to understand that whatever you post online is there forever.
Thinking of this, I really think schools can provide an invaluable service in teaching students how to be digital citizens. I do think it's an integral part of school. Many parents need help in this area, and probably always will need help. If you click the image below, it'll take you to a few great resources from ISTE on how to approach social media and technology based on the age of your child.
Another great resource I shared last week with my group was Google's How To Be Internet Awesome, which is a great game-based way of teaching students and kids about being safe online. A lot of topics are covered. I wish in my past, I had this... but I was also lucky enough that by the time I needed it, I was more than capable of finding the information for myself (being an adult). Kids nowadays don't have this luxury.
Moving forward, I'd like to continue to inspire my students via social media if possible, and model for them appropriate uses of such. I have a few unique opportunities to do this (and, if I can finally manage to interview my colleague, Tyler Letkeman next week, I'll be able to share what he has been doing with social media in his classroom).
The ways I can model digital citizenship and "good" use of social media for my students includes:
1) My use of YouTube for instructional classroom videos
2) Use of social media for the Massey Robotics Club
3) In general, I chat with my students all the time and surf the web with them, and we have very informal talks about what is out there right now on on the internet. Although these chats don't seem like much, they do seem to engage students very much as we talk about the weeks/days happenings and what we think about them on the internet and social media.
I don't think teachers can get away with not having some sort of online presence nowadays... you have to practice the craft if you are going to teach about it effectively.
I think that teachers must model the use of social media for students... this'll be the greatest way of helping them understand how to use it. Of course, I don't think EVERY teacher needs to do this... it's easy enough to just go look up people who use social media wisely and just show that to students... but I am coming to sort of expect teachers to have some sort of online presence... you have to practice the craft if you are going to teach about it, after all.
Till next time my techy friends... stay curious,
Hi, we don't exist!
None of these people exist.
All images from ThisPersonDoesNotExist, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that generators pictures of people who do not exist.
The pictures are 100% generated by the AI, and in no part are from a data bank or anything like that.
The AI also can createcats (my masters level computer scientist friend, Andrew Fisher, former comp sci student, tells me cats are hard... sometimes you see the pics look a bit screwy), horses, art, random fake scenes that do not exist from the hit TV show THE OFFICE, it reads Reddit and other sources to create fake news articles (that update every 30 minutes... here is a funny one about every adult getting enrolled in mandatory organ donation).
So, it begs the question... in all of this, what does it mean to have a digital identity? Do we all automatically have one? If we don't have one, should we "get" one? How do we get one? Why?
Take Control of Your Digital Self Least Someone Else Does
Yes, if you don't curate your digital identity, you run a few risks:
1) someone else controlling it for you.
2) not having one.
I think it's a risk not having one because well, I feel like that's starting to get a bit weird, at least in this part of the world. At the very least, you should curate a professional identity online, especially if you are looking for work in the future. If you're on the run from the law... well, I guess that's a bad thing to have one, isn't it?
Multiple (Fragmented) Digital Identity Disorder
ell, I made that up. It does't exist... except that more and more people are utilizing multiple different personas online. It's not even a bad thing... I can understand having a Twitter account for my educational endeavors, and maybe I fancy myself funny, so I have a different Twitter account where I tweet my funny, random thoughts that aren't related to Education. I may not want those two Twitter accounts mixing for all sorts of professional and nonprofessional reasons.
But nowadays, as we become more and more involved in all sorts of smaller, niche things online, people get to know us as complete human beings less and less. As per this article, we are fragmenting more and more.
Nowadays, I think it's becoming less and less possible to separate your digital self from your physical self.
I think we have to do a lot more to teach students about their digital identity, and how to properly develop it, safely and professionally. I think digital etiquette is something that needs to be taught, as all other etiquette requires as well. For example, don't post pictures of people online without their consent. Here is an article about Digital Etiquette.
What Are Some Guidelines for Classroom Teachers Around Digital Identity?
Well, in my video above, I conveniently cover the 4 aspects that I think are most important from my own readings and synthesis of the topic. Quite simply, your digital identity encompasses how you use social media, but also however you present yourself in a non physical format. This can be online via health records, court records, social media posts, blog posts, etc.... If it's electronic, it might one day end up as part of your "digital identity". Make it a good one!
In the classroom, I think this very interesting case study is a great example of how we should be leveraging and teaching Digital Identity in schools. The power of social media is awesome, and but also very scary. Use wisely.
That being said....
Stay curious my friends,
Yours in curiosity,
Before I dive into YouTube and why I think it's the absolute best, an update on what I have been planning and researching for my Major Project this term:
1) YouTube: My continued commitment to posting my course lectures (can't post much else... maybe someday the computer science student projects?) This article covers my goals, how much time I spend during the week doing "YouTube stuff"
2) TikTok (this one is going TERRIBLY haha... there's a link to a test TikTok I made... it got about 300 views in a day, and now it's dead. It's not educational at all): Update --> So my Drama Teacher friend doesn't actually use TikTok (I misunderstood her)--she cited draconian Divisional Policies as the culprit--but she is willing to chat with me about how she used Vine when it was a thing, and I think this is very similar to TikTok, so I AM going to interview her on that and post it.
3) Twitter/Instagram: I've lined up an interview with a colleague of mine who uses Twitter in his English class to great effect. I'll discuss my own usage of it as well, and how I've been developing my own use of it
4) Wakelet: How I've begun using it for presentations, and getting students to use it to summarize their own learning.
Remember... my personal journey is not to develop resources for others (well, my YouTube really is for my students who like to review their notes)... and I guess the Wakelets might be for public consumption... I'm just trying to chip away at the iceberg of things that I wish I was, which is why this project is such a great thing for me to develop personally... I feel like I have so far to go and I've been at it for so long already....
To learn, students need to DO SOMETHING.
World Class Lectures For FREE
I mean, come on, where else would you be able to get world class lectures without actually attending the university or lecture in person? That's right, on YouTube :)
YouTube is a strange place where you can learn anything. I keep saying it's the best thing since sliced bread. For a motivated learner, I really do believe you can find almost anything you want to learn for free on YouTube. Draw back? Quality isn't always great, but for a lot of mainstream subjects, it's amazing given that it's also FREE. A smattering of amazing educational channels follows for your own use:
TERMS OF SERVICE OVERVIEW
Yeah, it's bleak. But that seems to be the case for just about anything useful on the internet. You want great services for free? Well, prepare for sketchy internet practices. I'm actually a big fan of things like Wikipedia (which have been shown to be better or just as good as the "name brand" guys), and if we have to pay for it, I think that is fair. I think it should be free to those who cannot afford it. As far as YouTube goes, it gets a D from Terms of Service--Didn't Read. So, for student use, you'll have to check with your divisional policies. For example, in my division, YouTube is blocked for students (crazy, it should be open!), but with special permission, I was allowed to get students to post to YouTube and use it in my classroom.
How I Have Been Using YouTube
Two major ways:
1) To post my own lectures. My goal this semester continues to be (a holdover from #eci831) to upload every lesson. This means I am now doing this for 3 courses: Grade 10 computer science, Grade 11 Calculus, and Grade 12 Calculus. It doesn't sound like much, but this takes me about 20-30 minutes five times a week... this time involves editing videos, creating them, and uploading them. It takes a surprisingly long time... but I am happy to say that compared to how I felt about it last year, it is actually starting to become a HABIT to do this stuff... small victory! That was my major roadblock before!
-The lessons are typically around the 35 minute mark. That's long! I'd like to develop quick 5 minute topic overviews... like "how to _______" videos for those who need quick refreshers. I'd start this with math videos.
-In January I had 57 subscribers. Now I have 101. I'd like to have 150 by the end of April!
-Continue uploading videos until I have every course covered.
-Post links to my blank notes in the description of each video so people can download them. This involves uploading the PDFs (which I have to create!) to my Dropbox.
2) I use YouTube as a way for students to show their learning. This is self explanatory. Idid this last semester with my Grade 11/12 computer science class and it was great! I hope to continue doing this!
Goals are hard!!
The last thing I'd leave you with is a video I've posted before (in eci831 I think)... it's one of my favourite videos. It's from Derek Muller, who I think is a bit of an inspirational figure for me anyways... I enjoy his YouTube channel... he has spent a bit of time working for Bill Nye, and did his PhD thesis in physics education.
It doesn't matter what happens around the learner... we are not limited by what experiences we can give to students... no technology is inheritably superior to any other... researchers spent so much time researching whether one technology was more effective than another, that they failed to investigate exactly how to use the technology to promote meaningful thought processes. So the question really is, what kind of experiences promote the kind of thinking that is required for learning?
Alright, well, that's it for an update. I've been spending a lot of my energy on YouTube... and I've been doing a lot of research for Twitter, and for TikTok. Hopefully I'll have those interviews done in the next week or two (my Robotics Club has been keeping me mad busy though!!)
Stay curious friends,
The Essential Elements!
We examined Ribble's Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship this week in #eci832. I've been reflecting how this relates to my social media journey project. I'll be looking at TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, and maybe Wakelet as I journey into the wilderness of social media and education. TikTok is the first one I am tackling. Progress has been slow. This is a bit related to being a content-catalyst for next week's ECI832 Lesson! It's hard, yet inspiring, to try to keep up with the Hollywood videos created by the amazing group last week: shout out to Catherine, Nataly, Amanda, and Melinda.
I'm especially interested in TikTok... so while I believe all these points apply to the other social media platforms I'm examining, I'm especially turning my attention to TikTok. Here they are....
Element 3. Digital Communication and Collaboration: "the electronic exchange of information".
Well, TikTok allows people to exchange videos, which could have any sort of content or purpose. The most popular "purpose" I've seen in my "studies" on TikTok is that of entertainment, meme generation/spreading, and self-promotion.
Element 4. Digital Etiquette: "standards of conduct or procedures and has to do with the process of thinking about others when using digital devices".
There is great potential to discuss the appropriate use of Etiquette when utilizing TikTok, as you are presenting yourself to the world when you post a video.
Element 5. Digital Fluency: "the process of understanding technology and its use. Includes the ability to discern good information from poor, such as “fake news” from real news."
Lots of information is shared on TikTok, from memes, to reactions to current events, and news. Discerning what is valuable from what is not is certainly a part of this platform. Choosing it for entertainment or information is another.
Element 6. Digital Health and Welfare: "physical and psychological well-being in a digital world. Educators need to ask the question of how much screen time is appropriate for students."
My biggest downfall is opening the TikTok app. I've started setting a timer for 10 minutes, because time flows differently when you open the TikTok app. It's easy to drain an hour watching video after video. This is not OK. Definitely a discussion for students around appropriate use and screen time limits.
Progress on TikTok
I've recently identified from some discussions with students ways that they think TikTok might be useful in education. We all agreed that perhaps for Drama/theater, TikTok might actually be useful for motivating students, and giving them a global audience for their performances. See the video below that I filmed today while I was having some candid conversations with some of my grade 11/12 computer science class about TikTok and how they use it.
Well, you heard it here first! Some kiddos use it as their news source (which scares me frankly). It was in another unrecorded conversation where one student suggested it'd be great for Drama/Theater. So I went to the drama teacher, and low and behold, she said that coincidentally, her grade 12 class was just talking about TikTok today! Imagine that! The butterfly effect? Who knows!
So, my colleague and I, we decided that she would try to use some TikTok in her classroom, and let me know how it goes. I'll do a quick interview with her, and post it as part of my examination of TikTok, whenever it is complete! I am excited to share the results with you!
Do any of you foresee any useful educational uses of TikTok? I really can't find much on the web that actually seems reasonable/useful, at least at the high school level. Drama/theater was a new idea for me!
Till next time,
Dopamine is the same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink, and when we gamble. Dopamine is highly, highly, addictive. We have age restrictions on smoking, gambling, and alcohol and we have no age restrictions on social media and cell phones.
Our Future ... an Age of Distraction!
Well, as part of my blog post this week, I went ahead and asked my 73 year old colleague what he thought of Millennials. He immediately replied: "entitled, lazy, and not nearly as reliable as people who are older than them."
So there you have it. See you all next week!
Haha, just kidding. Since I am making my post very late this week (just you wait until it's your week to prepare your material for being the content catalyst the next week, you'll die!), I looked to my amazing peers for some inspiration. Dean had an amazing interview with a student, that is playing right now as I type. I think you should definitely check out that interview, it's 30 minutes long, but well worth it. Catherine was posting about her social media project, making her doggie (Instagram: @callie.the.golden.pup) Instagram famous in her exploration.
Wow. I'm actually starting to develop some serious concerns about my social media usage just from this course. It is GREAT keeping up to date with everyone, but I don't know if moving forward I'll be able to keep a healthy balance between work, my family, and my studies. Am I just being inefficient? I have no idea. Maybe I'm a millennial? BINGO!
What do Schools Need to do to stay relevant?
Millennials have been hit hard, from more debt, to worse job prospects than their parents, to getting participation trophies too often, the list goes on and on.
We also have access to addictive technologies like social media and cell phones. We live in an age of distraction. I don't know the answer to the above question. But I know what I believe:
I believe that schools should be doing everything possible to help their teachers integrate appropriate use of social media in all their classes. Participatory learning, powered by social media outside of the classroom should be a feature of all classes. This will allow teachers to model how to effectively use social media, and allow students to develop their digital identities in safe and constructive ways.
To this end, I'm sharing this resource here, which I chose to use as my basis for being a content catalyst next week (Feb 11) on digital identity. It's a conference paper written by two professors who created a course that was totally based on social media and digital identities.
The article is a case study that really highlights the possibilities around teaching and integrating social media as a catalyst for participatory learning. All throughout, it gives teachers and students opportunities to model effective use of social media, and to develop positive digital identities.
I feel that given all the bad press social media gets, I think this is one of the things that students need urgently moving forward. It's not quite banning cell phones as Simon Sinek mentioned in his YouTube video, but it might be better.
We are getting into trouble in how we relate to ourselves, and our capacity for self reflection ... we are getting used to a new way of being alone together ...
Last class, we had the wonderful and informative Mary Beth Hertz speak to our class. She was definitely a good choice as a presenter in our class, as the author of Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet. While I haven't had time to read her book, (would be nice to get around to it... I've actually done a good job so far of hitting my goal of listening to 2 books a month on Audible, I recommend it for anyone who is taking a masters or education and is busy!). It's obvious from my peers, like Melinda, who is, like me, doing a review of apps for education, that Mary Beth would have a lot to share with us. Or like Trevor, who is also in a 1-1 classroom, or Leigh, who wondered about how kids connect and are "addicted" to each other and how social media plays into that connection.
I really enjoyed her talk. I found her to be very focused on how to ensure that students understand the complexities of social media, and how to verify and fact check information, which is totally a thing educators need to do more of!
In fact, I went on her blog and found it to be good additional reading.
Can I Be Alone, Please?
However, as the quote above from my favorite recent TED talk by Sherry Turkle suggests, I think there is more to social media in schools that just teaching students the risks, benefits, and how to utilize it properly. As a bit of a social media/news/technology junkie myself, I think we need a sincere talk about how technology both connects us and yet isolates us at the same time. No matter how much we connect online, no matter how useful this technology becomes, after listening twice now (thanks Audible! I swear I don't work for them!) to Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday, I think more and more we are losing the capacity to self reflect and truly be alone with our thoughts... which is part of being a healthy human. There are just too many distractions, made by people who understand how the brain and dopamine works. We get more and more wrapped up with "me" and things we are interested in only. I appreciated Mary's informative talk, which focused largely on educational moments and fact checking social media, which is admittedly a problem. However, I was largely interested in how to balance social media and technology in our increasingly busy and connected lives.
I believe that teachers and society at large have a vested in making sure our students understand how to balance their phones and social media as part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
... you only want to pay attention to the bits that interest you. And some people think that's a good thing ...
SOMEONE IS LISTENING
The part of Mary's presentation that interested me most (and there are LOTS of things she said that interested me!) was when she spoke to how technology makes it very easy for us to be tracked. We don't know what is done with our information, but often, all we need to sign up to "free" services is to give up all our data, and we do it without a second thought (I certainly have, as a user of the internet and apps).
What struck me was how she got rid of her Dot Mini, an amazon device that can certainly make your life a lot easier and cool. I am glad she shared this story with us, and her students.
Why did she get rid of it? Well, the devices by default record all audio in your home. It gets sent to Amazon, or Google, depending on the device you buy, for "processing". "Smart" and "connected" products are spying on you.
Does Anyone Care?
Anyone who says they like companies knowing what products they might be interested in so they can buy stuff easier needs to get checked up. It goes far beyond that. Giving away vast amounts of information about ourselves to strangers and companies who reap maximum rewards from it cannot be a "good thing" for you. What do you gain? Would you tell a complete stranger named Amazon on the bus where you live, what you like to buy, what you had for dinner yesterday, details about your personal life, the lives of others in your life? Does this seem healthy?
I think we ought to make this clear to students, while at the same time we also teach them how to "safely" use these technologies, and leverage them to improve our teaching. There are a lot of applications of technology and social media. I mean, check out this AI that can tell if students are paying attention. Does this or does this not make instruction better?
PAY ATTENTION OR BE SAD
Certainly, there is more false/misleading information out there on social media (where most people get their news) than completely factual and unbiased (is that a thing?) information.
Mary Beth has this recent example (and how she taught her class to combat it and recognize it)
Recently, a study found that pro-vaping posts on Instagram outweighed e-cigarette safety campaign 10,000 to one, as another example.
Social media and the internet is not a magical playground, that is for sure. People make money on social media, and the intentions are not always geared towards education, although social media certainly has lots to offer clever teachers and their lucky students.
I would say that social media is like anything... do it in moderation... but I think social media holds a lot more power than your average "thing you should do in moderation". That's because people crave connections, and social media offers this mirage aplenty. But really, does it?
I'm going to leave off with one last quote from Sherry Turkle, who whose TED talk I've referenced all throughout this post.
So what do you think? Should we be warning students about the pitfalls of social media? Believe me, I'm all FOR the educational opportunities, but I do think that we need to be VERY careful with our students and social media... we should err on the side of caution.
We're lonely but we're afraid of intimacy ... We are designing technologies that give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.
“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”
And so, before I've even finished my Wakelet project from #eci831, (and yes, thanks for asking, this is actually the week where it all comes together--my class is working so hard--so I hope to have it complete by next weekend!) I'm embarking on another journey, YAY! I hope there is good candy and snacks along the way.
I started with a review of what my more prepared peers have already posted. Brad, for example, is doing a social media awareness campaign, which already puts his project on way higher ground than mine! Or Melinda, who is also doing an app I plan to cover, and others that I have never even heard of! Nancy is actually looking at seniors and their use of social media, and is going to develop a resource around that and digital citizenship. Others, like Daniel, are just looking forward to another great adventure learning from everyone in the class, and from our great professor, Alec Couros. I do feel blessed to be amongst so many great and talented educators.
THE DRAINING POWERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA
I began my personal journey with a quick reflection of my own interactions with social media. Just a few days ago, I opened the TikTok app, and marveled at how I literally drained 35 minutes of my life. Granted, this behavior is one I struggle with--I was procrastinating this post, among other things. I could have gone for a nice run in 35 minutes, I could have cleared my mind, found some peace--but TikTok is addicting. There are Memes about it.
I did a lot of reading. I even bloody Googled about it, and found that there is a movement of Silicon tech people--from Bill Gates to Steve Jobs--who limit their own kids use of social media and technology. Head scratching, but enlightening?
“Those devices in our pockets, are so psychologically powerful, that they don't only change what we do, they change who we are.”
Potter's book on Media Literacy talks about "automatic processing, information problems, media exposure, programming, automatic routines, gluts of information that aggressively pursue us" and other things. What is this social media beast?
And if we discover that the new medium brings along effects that might be detrimental to our society or culture, we have the opportunity to influence the development and evolution of the new innovation before the effects becomes pervasive.
SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ME?
The hardest hitting quote from Mark Federman for me was the above. It is up to us to decide the value of something, and whether or not we are going to interact with it. Students can't help but be affected by their teachers, they spend so much time with us. That is why we have such a sacred job. So if something is detrimental, perhaps we can get ahead of it before much damage is done.
Many social media platforms favor brevity over many other things. TikTok is a short 60 second or less video, with the default video being 15 seconds. Twitter is 280 characters. Do we lose anything when this is the case? Does it matter? I don't know, I just teach math and computer science.
But I can think about it. And that's what I hope to do on my personal journey.
So, in light all all this, my plan is to review a few social media platforms/apps, and see what their utility might be in the classroom, but I also plan to look at their utility for us in general in our lives. If I am going to use them with students, I would hope that they have the potential to be good for their development and growth long term.
I plan to examine the educational uses, life uses, drawbacks, and controversies around....
-Wakelet (well, I'm already doing a bunch of stuff with this already, so probably time for a nice review of it? I also happen to think it's the best thing since sliced bread!)
-TikTok (can it be useful in the classroom? Or is it just something everyone looks at? I've just recently started using this app)
-Twitter (this one seems obvious to review, both for educational purposes and just general life purposes)
-YouTube (and it's potential both in and out of the class)
-Something else (yes, mystery! This is a maybe, as time permits ... it will all become clear!)
Alrighty. I'd like to leave off with one last article... I found it interesting, and I do believe the picture actually got shared in our last class...
I found a good thought piece about it, so I'll leave you with a quote for thought. Thanks for sticking with it...
But the most important difference is what happens after the newspaper was done: people talked to each other about what they’d just read. They could engage in a civic discourse about the news of the day, because they were all reading the same basic material.
My name is Matteo Di Muro, the original Prairie Boy, and I've been teaching since I was 14. I currently teach mathematics and computer science in Brandon. I try to keep on learning things, and I'm getting onboard with sharing with others, hence this site!