So our professor Alec Couros has encouraged us to look more closely at social movements on social media. 1 hour later, and with 15+ browsing tabs open, I'm at a loss. I suppose I can start with Katia Hildebrandt's post that Alec linked us to, of which the main message was that we must risk our privilege to speak out for those who have no privilege to risk. This is certainly a sentiment that is hard to argue against.
I read with great interest the comments on that particular blog post, which had over 40 comments, far beyond the average amount, so it was clearly a post that touched some nerves and had some reach.
One problem I see is the concept of #slacktivism, where one can feel like they've supported a cause by merely clicking a like button or doing some other task that requires minimal effort. At the same time, there are infinite travesties in the world that many aren't even aware of happening every day (check out natural disasters, or even the world news for each month), an infinite parade of social inequalities out there, perpetrated by other people, unfortunate circumstances, nature, and a whole host of other issues.
No issue is simple, and my main issue with Twitter is that it is not exactly the type of platform that is built for deep debates and understanding. I'd say that perhaps Twitter is not necessarily the place to tackle complex social issues, or any complex issue. It is a great place to share fun news, network, or find great ideas (that you can go read about more in other places).
As evidenced below, it's also great if you are looking for a year of free nuggets, #NuggsForCarter, which was only recently dethroned as the most viral (retweeted) tweet of all time:
Of course, as outlined by Catherine Read in her excellent post, there are a whole host of issues that gained traction on social media, from #BlackLivesMatter, The Arab Spring, etc. Just look at NASA's #YearInSpace, a wildly popular campaign that shows just how powerful social media campaigns can be. Twitter and Facebook are forces to be reckoned with. So in an age of infinite participation, what part are we as teachers supposed to play in all this? For example, do we care that only 66% of Canadians who were eligible to vote in the last election voted?
So where does that leave us?
So much disinformation and hate can be spread on social media... it has often been likened to an echo chamber. I tend to agree with Jordan Peterson on this one, though, who likens social media more to an Amplifier. Clearly, social media can be used to amplify anything, whether or not we'd simply classify these things as merely "good" or "bad" things.
I've always also been mindful of the evidence that continues to come out of publications around mental health and social media. For something that can create so much good change in the world (something that bothers me: how do we measure this anyways? A post for another time?), it sure seems to make our teens and especially adults sad:
-How Social Media Increases Depression and Loneliness
-Does Social Media Cause Depression?
-You Asked: Is Social Media Making Me Miserable?
As Daniel noted.... being an educator in the world of social media activism #difficult (great post, go read it!)... well yeah, it certainly is. The race is on to connect EVERYONE in the world to the internet, which has basically slowly turned into something that everyone needs to have, similar to water and food.
Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne push us to consider the next evolution of the personally responsible citizen in their article that Alec suggested we read, to that of the Justice Oriented Citizen.
...if participatory citizens are organizing the food drive and personally responsible citizens are donating food, justice oriented citizens are asking why people are hungry and acting on what they discover (Westheimer & Kahne, 2004, p. 4)
So, my answer to the question, what is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online? is....
Educators should strive to create students who can think analyse and think critically about complex problems, and teach them how to use all the tools available to create social change, including online tools.
Till next time,
Well, we crawl along!
This Friday was the due date for the next round of tutorial videos! The exciting thing for me was that we covered three different chapters, since I broke up the students into smaller groups two weeks ago. The production process took much less time than last time as well! These are some big pluses.
In typical fashion, I have about one third of the videos actually in hand... with a lot of promises from other students that they just need until Monday. I'm lenient as usual, well... because most of the videos will come in, and if they are of higher quality because of the delay, that's only a good thing.
It's fine, as most students began working the next set of notes, Arrays... this means that I hope to be complete the majority of the course material by December, which would leave us the entire month of January to remix the notes, create exercises, solutions, and Quizlet practice for our Grade 11 Computer Science Wakelet Course!
In order to get a better sense of how things are going, I interviewed a student today about what he thought about the new upcoming Wakelet project, and the new rubric and process for making the tutorials. See the quick four minute video below of the interview:
It was funny that my dear student forgot about the Wakelet part of the project... in his defense I do believe he was away for Major Production last week when I introduced the idea to the class.
And, as usual, if you hate watching videos, the summary:
-The student discussed how he thought it was neat that we'll make our own exercises and solutions, and quizzes on Quizlet.
-We discussed how nobody really complained about how much "extra" work this is in class, say, compared to a 1 hour test.
-He thought is that tests are too stressful anyways, require a lot of prep time at home (while we do all our stuff in class for these video tutorials, which he thought was a big plus, leaving his home life free to do what he likes.... currently he is building a "smart" mirror in his spare time) and aren't overly useful in terms of retained knowledge.
-He really thinks making the tutorials actually makes him learn the material better.
-We also discuss the futility of "homework" when you go home and are stuck anyways... doing everything in class means you'll have more resources like your peers and the teacher in order to get help.
Well... that's about it! I'm excited to see how this project evolves over time... I'm sad that it won't be complete until the end of January... but I intend to continue updating my blog, so it's possible some of you may see the finished product!
I don't think we'll do this every year... but I will definitely do it over again in Semester 2. I like to do something new every year or two as my own interests evolve, so I actually wonder with starry eyes what I'll be doing with my grade 11 class in two years.... and of course, I'm always getting input from students, prior and present!
We'll be having a few guest speakers coming into class, mostly former students of mine who now work in the industry, so that'll be a nice break for my students, and a great opportunity to really hear from people who are "doing" this stuff out there.
Until next time, stay curious!
Big changes unveiled this week! I'll list them out:
1) Rubric Update:
I added a clarity of content/examples section on the suggestion of the students and removed the story board section. We found the script was fine, and storyboards were not necessary (although some students made them).
I also added a section for the completion of the video description, and adding time stamps on the video. See the new rubric below! The first and last sections are new!
2) Major Project Part 2 is introduced: Using Wakelet to make a Curated Class set of Notes
So the major idea here is that we will complete our class tutorials for each section, much easier now that only 2 or 3 students will be making a video per chapter. That should wrap up by end of November.
Then, I will have students remix my notes to make them more student friendly.
We will also create our own exercises, and solutions for each exercise.
We'll then make a Wakelet for our Grade 11 computer science class, and see what the world thinks! We plan to include our "best" tutorial for each section (class vote), the class notes for each section, as well as the class exercises and solutions in the Wakelet.
A big special thanks to Dean, Kyla, and Melinda for helping me with this idea the other day during our breakout session in class! You guys are the BEST! :D
Alright. That would basically be it for this week. I took a video (below) of me introducing these ideas to my class. They were very receptive, and were excited at the prospect of "fixing up my course and sharing it with the world". It's amazing how quickly they went from being sort of anxious about "being on the internet" to "let's do this!". What a great class, and an amazing experience for me as a teacher, who was sort of skeptical about the value of sharing everything we do with the "world".
I can only thank everyone in this course for this opportunity.
So, stay curious.
A quick video of me introducing our big developments discussed above with my class!
This is going to be a very brief post! I've been mad busy doing report cards the last 4 or 5 days, so it's been a roller coaster!
The students just wrapped up the last unit on conditional control structures, so there isn't much to report.
This next week will be spent on them creating their videos in class. It's also a short week at the school here, as parent teacher interviews are this Friday, and Monday was Remembrance Day.
The students are excited to give each other some feedback. I am hoping this process will be much more valuable now that they've had my feedback first on their first video. I think I mentioned last time that I broke the students into smaller groups, so there will only be a few videos per topic, and thus I'm hoping the feedback to go more smoothly as well.
I've also discovered how to organise the YouTube channel better into Categories, so I spent some time doing that as well! Check it out below by clicking on the picture!
Hopefully I'll have more to report next week! I anticipate that I will!
Some of the Open Educational Resources I checked out.
Alrighty, so I went ahead and checked out a variety of OER's (click here to find out what an OER is in more depth and how they relate to Open Educational Practices).
Briefly, according to this Wikipedia article,
"Open educational resources (OER) are freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes. There is no universal usage of open file formats in OER. The term OER describes publicly accessible materials and resources for any user to use, re-mix, improve and redistribute under some licenses. The development and promotion of open educational resources is often motivated by a desire to provide an alternate or enhanced educational paradigm."
We also had a presenter in class, Verena Roberts (add her on Twitter), who spoke to us about Open Educational Practices (OEP). In a nutshell, OEP aims to remove the walls in a classroom and tackle big community problems as a network of learners. In the process, students will usually use OERs, experts, and may or may not contribute to some sort of OER or remix an OER. One particular quote that stood out to me from Verena's presentation was the one from the first slide:
"...real learning isn't done behind walls or with boundaries, I believe that the real learning begins when we are left to figure something out, to problem solve, to collaborate and discuss with people of experience. It's about the "doing" and what can be learned from the experience" -High School Student
I do think we need to give students more opportunities to learn in these sorts of settings, where everything is a bit chaotic, and big, and messy. That alone would be an amazing learning experience, because I think it emulates what actually happens in "real life".
So, I viewed a bunch of different OERs that were presented to us in class. I made a quick video of the experience. I feel like I ran into some bad luck, and ended up searching topics that maybe those particular databases didn't really excel in. I'll give a quick summary after the video (for those of you short on time, or those who hate videos)
My quick summary of my video:
-It can actually be hard to find good quality resources, you do need to spend some time going through everything, or adapting and remixing.
-Openstax is neat, I think it's an amazing effort to make these open source textbooks. Just a great resource in general.
-Khan Academy shows you the power of OERs, more below.
-MERLOT needs a better rating system. They also need to find a way to make sure resources that are there are still working and up to date. Clicked on a lot of stuff that just wasn't as advertised or was a broken link to nothing. For reviews, perhaps something based on clicks versus the star reviews users can leave behind. Maybe add a comment feature so a one star review can explain why it was one star would be an idea.
Which leads me to my big point: All these OERs need a better rating system. YouTube sort of naturally does this... generally a learning video that has a lot of views is probably a very well done video. I ran into an issue on MERLOT and others that either the resources didn't have ratings, or it was hard to actually find the learning resources (it would link you to a website and you'd have to go digging around), or just the resource had moved and hadn't been updated. I find you don't really get these problems on YouTube (I'm a big fan of YouTube, as you can tell).
I think a shining example of what an OER can be (although not very interesting as far as the lessons go) is Khan Academy.
Why is Khan Academy is Damn Delicious?
It's free, and it's open for your learning needs. People on Quora think it's great too (although if you scroll down far enough, there are people saying it's not so great on that page too!).
The videos are consistently of high quality and similar format video to video, so you get "used" to them. You can find pages of people complaining about the exercises not being good enough, or the videos not being original enough, or that they aren't "anything special". But if you are trying to learn content, I don't see anything wrong with the videos. Direct instruction is often necessary to learn a skill. Practicing a problem is necessary to learn a skill. I used to do 1.5 hours of guitar a day, and a lot of it was playing the same bloody thing over and over again.
The only thing about Khan Academy though is they are a non profit that has over 100 employees who are paid to make content and make everything work. I sort of feel like this isn't necessarily in the spirit of OERs... but it's also what makes Khan Academy so darn useful. It's easy to search, the information is all in one place, and you don't need reviews because it's high quality stuff. If you google what Khan Academy employees make, you'll see it's over $100,000 on average. They've also exploded in active monthly users, that's a lot of people taking advantage of this resource:
Another thing. They are a non profit, but they have a LOT of funding. Obviously if they are paying high salaries this must be the case, but it explains part of the reason why it's such a slick free service.
So where is this OER movement going?
I don't think it's going anywhere. The variety of resources out there is amazing. There is an issue with some of them having broken links, a lack of actual in depth reviews to help teachers decide what resource they'd like to use without investing too much time... but if you are willing to sift through that there are AMAZING resources.
If someone can figure out an actual accreditation process, I think we could see the rise of "universities" that are completely free, where all the resources are OERs, but then you can pay to actually get an accredited degree. That's what I see as the next natural step of this movement.
Does anyone out there see the potential for how OERs could be turned into a real certification of some sort (imagine getting your computer science degree online this way?), perhaps offered by a university, with an accreditation fee or something to verify that you learned all the necessary material?
Till next time,
My own "Teacher"Tube
I've been doing a good job of keeping my YouTube channel updated for my students in Grade 11 Pre-calculus. They are starting to catch on too as they begin to realize that videos will actually be uploaded and ready to go. I jumped from 29 subs (I know right, sad) to 38 in a few days, which means my students have been subscribing.
I've also begun uploading in class demos I do for computer science. See my latest here (audio is horrible, recorded it with a really old crappy microphone I got from the school library).
The fancy mic the school bought me arrived yesterday, so I'll have much better audio on the next one!
Reading on Self-Paced Classrooms
I recently read this article on one instructor's strategies in creating a self-paced classroom, and it got me thinking about my grade 10 computer science class. This semester, it seems to me like I have more students struggling than usual. Something in the water? No idea!
So I was trying to brainstorm some ways in which I could help my students, and at that exact moment, my email inbox puked out that article from ISTE, or the International Society of Technology Education, which is a great organisation, I recommend checking them out.
If you have 5 minutes and hate reading, you could just watch the YouTube video below on Self-Paced classrooms. The benefits are huge, and I hope to implement some of the suggestions, especially those on splitting up the class into those who get more direct instruction and those who consume resources more independently. I also liked the idea of a Google Form to help students reflect on their learning, which also allows the teacher know who they need to check in on more frequently.
Some students also do NOT do well with a self-paced classroom, so I really thought the article's idea of only allowing students with a certain grade threshold to proceed with the self-paced material a good idea.
Lately I've been staring at my phone, which tells me how much of my life I'm wasting away on social media. Since starting this class, it's more than usual (but I think for mostly good reasons!)
However, I read this quick article on how it's affecting teens and teachers from ISTE. Seems like most kids live in a home that has a mobile device, and over 50% of teens consider themselves addicted to their phones! According to the article, most teens spend about 8 or 9 hours on their phones! I wouldn't have believed it, but I've had days in the last month where I used my phone for over 6 hours for multimedia use... which for me is nuts, but I've been doing a lot of video editing and searching on it for this class and others, so that might be why.
I found an interesting and quick video on how our phones are changing our bodies AND brains. Spooky stuff, just right after Halloween! Check it out:
So, I've decided that i'm addicted to my phone, (scary article, if you do some of those things you might have a problem like me!) but I don't know how to check my Twitter mentions. Such irony. D'oh!
In light of how much we use our cell phones, do you guys see evidence in your classrooms or even outside of your classrooms that we are addicted to our phones? I gotta say, when I drive I like to play a game where I count how many people are driving on while using their cell phones. It's a depressingly high number of people... what do you think we should be teaching in classrooms to help combat our collective supposed cell phone addiction? Is it even possible to combat this, given how many apps work on our dopamine pathways, fueling the addition?
Till next time,
stay saucy, and also, STAY CURIOUS!
saucily and curiously yours,
PS: below is another reason I can't enjoy live concerts anymore. Just enjoy the show!
Wow, it's been busy these last few weeks. I literally just finished uploading all the tutorials I received (Well, lets be honest, I had to hound a few people, and I am unfortunately still waiting on 2 people to hand in... -_-)
My class YouTube Channel, "Coding Tutorials" has a NEW YOUTUBE BANNER, YAY! Special thanks to my student Yulie (who wishes to otherwise remain anonymous) on her creation of our excellent new banner.
I've made a quick video and posted it to YouTube if any of you prefer to hear my beautiful voice and see pretty pictures of things such as rubrics, videos, my computer monitor, possibly my coffee mug, and also my whiteboard. Oh, and don't forget the pretty fade to black transitions (cue Darkness My Old Friend!)
If you hate videos, I'll quickly summarize below after the link:
The quick and dirty version of my YouTube video:
-I gave the students my feedback (see video to actually see some of the rubrics filled out).
-A few students added some text to the screen as they narrated to summarize things and I found this really useful so I showed the class. I hope my modelling how I expect the critiques to work will help them out, as this time they will be giving each other feedback (I wanted them to experience my feedback first before having them do it this round).
-I have decided it's a must that students write their own descriptions for their videos on YouTube, so we are adding that in to the Rubric.
-I also wanted students to add a table of contents with timestamps to each respective area to their video (in the description under the video on YouTube). This will make the videos much more useful as various concepts are covered in each one.
-THE BIG NEWS is that I've also decided that since it took so long (3 weeks) or so for students to make the first batch of videos (we were also working on class notes and things) is that I'm breaking down the concepts into groups, and having 3 students do each video only. I don't need 9 or 10 videos for the same concept. The fact it was taking so long was really bothering me, so I think this is actually a great solution, and also it gives the students some flexibility in choosing the concepts they feel most comfortable making videos for. Luckily I had a good spread with nobody fighting over the limited 3 spots per concept. See the video, last 1.5 minutes is the whiteboard with the concepts and student groupings.
-This also means the feedback the students give each other can actually be done as a group of 3, which I feel will make it a lot more valid and useful for each grouping (versus just getting feedback from one person).
-Oh, also, my principal so was kind as to purchase me a $200 microphone so when I make my computer science videos at my desk I can sound oh so pretty. Yay! Thanks Bryce (follow him on Twitter here)!
Till next time everyone!
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!