Author Archives: teachertremblay

September 25, 2021: I Caved… I’m on the Tik Tok.

I had so much hesitancy about getting TikTok, yet it always intrigued me and I enjoyed watching them. When we were assigned to experiment with a social media platform that is somewhat, “uncharted territory” for us, TikTok seemed like a pretty solid option. In addition to my budding curiosity, TikTok has had multiple mentions in regard to its ability to entertain and educate.

These conversations have popped up in class discussions, Twitter, and our blogs. As a matter of fact, Curtis had commented on one of my previous blog posts about the educational opportunities TikTok has presented, especially during the pandemic. This prompted me to do a little reading on the subject. After taking a peek at some articles, I found one that resonated with me and posted it to my Twitter. After all of this conversation, it got the better of me and I caved. Folks, I’ve become (a very novice level) TikTok user.

Creating TikToks

To fully experience TikTok, I felt I needed to download the app, fall into the time waste trap everyone warned me about, swipe for endless entertainment, and then actually create some content. I wanted to experiment with trends and “original content” to see which of my videos got the most likes and/or views. When I was downloading the app I thought it was interesting that there is a prompt that asks you to choose what kind of content you would like to see. They offered a number of options and a lot of them appealed to me, so clickity click I went! Once my account was set up, I went to the Discover page and searched, “Cats of TikTok.” Wow. I was in heaven– endless entertainment of cats doing weird things. I honestly could have sat on my couch forever, just swiping away! The next day, I recruited my fiancé to help me capture some content of our feline fur baby, Salsa. I had felt like I watched enough cat content to make Salsa the next TikTok sensation and I went into full, “momager” mode (move over Kris Jenner). It was surprisingly difficult! I decided to start with a simple TikTok trend called, #kissyourpetshead. When working with animals, we learned that it is difficult to make them do things. We needed to wait for opportunity to strike. After multiple fails, we decided on another idea… If you own a cat, you need to try this with them! During the pandemic lockdown, my fiancé and I were on the constant pursuit for entertainment. We discovered something called, “Cat TV.” Basically, you just put on a video of squirrels running about and birds chirping, which in turn, provides endless hours of entertainment for a very bored self, fiancé, and cat. Salsa would sit at the computer and watch the birds and try batting them away. I think she was confused as to why she couldn’t capture them, which made it more entertaining! I sound like a crazy cat lady… and it’s because I am. Below is 8 hours of entertainment for the whole family… You’re welcome.

Once Salsa nestled into her spot on the stairs for the night, we turned on her Cat TV. It didn’t take long before she was on the kitchen table, fully engaged in her favourite feline show. This is how Salsa made her debut into stardom via TikTok:

Oh my goodness. Not only did we find it hilarious (I’m sorry, if you’re at this point in my post and don’t feel the same), but then we could also edit it! This presented a whole other facet of entertainment. We tried out all kinds of filters, techno music, you name it! Next, it was time to upload. Over the course of 24 hours, Salsa’s brilliance has gained 7 likes and 457 views. Stardom, here we come!

Since I was satisfied with how our first TikTok went, I wasn’t planning on making another. THEN, on Friday evening, Salsa was sitting on her cat tower. Opportunity had struck. It was time to give her a little smooch and examine her reaction. I got my fiancé to film me giving her a kiss and I got shot down. Hard. I think this was her way of telling me she’s had enough. FYI: We only have 16 views on this one.

Overall, TikTok was very user friendly and we didn’t need to do much research into how it works in terms of editing and uploading content. However, something that I found overwhelming was the sheer volume of content. When I say endless, it truly is.

The best helper…

I was reluctant to get TikTok at first, but I would be lying if I said that my fiancé and I didn’t have fun filming our cat and editing videos of her. Although, I don’t think Salsa felt the same. If anything she will probably be taking a step out of the lime light for a while, but not until she helps me finish writing this blog post.

Pros, Cons, & “Must Know” Info.

I’ve probably mentioned Common Sense Media a thousand times because I love their reviews on various social media platforms. I find their reviews are brief, cover the information people are most concerned about, and their information is framed in a way that makes sense to people who aren’t well-versed in social media lingo. Common Sense Media provides a very thorough review of TikTok, so I will speak to the pieces that stood out to me the most…

Safety

The safety piece was one of my biggest question marks, as I know lots of kids have TikTok. Common Sense Media highlights with any social media platform, there are always risks involved. However, it appears that TikTok has different rules depending on the age of the user. These rules include:

  1. Users under 13 years of age cannot post or comment on videos and the videos they are exposed to are curated for a younger age.
  2. Users 13-15 years of age accounts are private by default.
  3. Users 16 and over can livestream and use direct messaging.
  4. Users 18 and over can buy, send, and receive virtual gifts.

When I made my account, I don’t recall being asked about my age. It’s possible I missed something, as I am not an expert by any means. I guess I’m wondering how can TikTok monitor the ages of people using their platform and have these safety settings in place? I know kids who are under 13 years of age who create and post content, so I’m guessing that the, “work around” for this safety feature is quite simple. However, Common Sense Media also highlights that parents can enable certain settings such as Restricted Mode, Family Safety Mode, and limit the amount of time their child spends on the app. I also conducted a small survey with my students (more on that to come) and they explained that their parents also have created TikTok accounts and follow them in order to monitor their activity.

TikTok Challenges

Common Sense Media explains that these are basically trends or ideas that go viral and are copied by users of the app. I always thought they were more spontaneous creations or developed by creative TikTok users, but they are often planned by brands for marketing purposes. Some of these challenges are in good fun and seemingly harmless. They can even raise awareness about various causes. However, some can be dangerous such as The Skull Breaker Challenge, which we talked about in last week’s class. Common Sense Media shared an article outlining various challenges and the dangers associated with them. I don’t believe that all challenges are bad, but as parents and teachers it is imperative to have discussions with kids about these challenges and encourage them to be critical thinkers about the implications of them:

  1. Is this challenge funny at the expense of someone else’s feelings?
  2. Can I hurt myself or others doing this challenge?
  3. What is this challenge supporting? Is it for a good cause?
  4. Is this challenge disrespectful to others or involve the destruction of property?

This leads me to The Devious Licks Challenge. This article explains the challenge and highlights the value of teaching students about digital citizenship and the permanency of a digital footprint. In addition to these conversations, reading the community guidelines with kids to review expectations when using social media is a tedious task, but understanding the fine print is important.

Privacy and Security

My biggest hesitancy with getting TikTok was around the privacy and security piece. I’ve heard people voice concerns about this, which discouraged me from engaging with the app. However, I have other forms of social media, so I’m kidding myself if I think my information isn’t floating around out there somewhere. Although that may be true, I still think it is important to be aware of the privacy and security regulations about your social media platforms. Common Sense Media notes that some companies and the U.S. government are wary of TikTok being used as tool by China to spy on users of the platform in other countries. In addition to these concerns, they do have a bit of a shady record when it comes to managing their privacy and security…

Terms of Service, Didn’t Read (TOSDR) is a nifty little resource when you’re wanting to read the fine print that I mentioned previously, but don’t want to spend copious amounts of time on the task. According to the TOSDR, the privacy grade they gave TikTok was E. Grade E is not great… Actually, it’s the lowest possible grade you can get on TOSDR (check out their grading list here for more information). The “high flyer” areas noted are that personal messages can be read and TikTok can delete any content without notice or reason. Some of the, “good to go” areas are that personal data isn’t sold, you maintain ownership of data, and TikTok provides information about how your data is used. I think TikTok has a somewhat poor reputation, however, we need to keep in mind that other social media platforms that are commonly used (such as Instagram) were also given the same overall grade as TikTok on TOSDR. When I saw TikTok’s grade initially, I felt a little uneasy. However, after seeing that other social media platforms were in the same boat, it made me feel a little better, but also made me more cognoscente of the apps I use. I know that the above points sound somewhat negative, which isn’t necessarily my intention. My aim is to offer a critical perspective about TikTok to further inform my use of it, seeing as I now have the app.

Impact on Kids & Educational Value

When it comes to TikTok, kids are probably the best possible source of information. I was curious about my students’ use of social media and if any of them use TikTok or engage with the platform in any way. To dive into this a little deeper, I gave the students a survey. I was surprised to find that quite a few of my students did not use social media. Of course, the majority did, but there was a fair amount that did not. Overall, the kids mainly used TikTok, Snap Chat, and YouTube (on my survey I originally forgot to include YouTube, so the kids included it on their own if needed). Some responses from the student survey that I felt were noteworthy are:

  1. “I don’t use social media. I don’t even have a phone. I would rather read!” (I thought this was cute, so I had to include it!)
  2. “The coolest feature is the self-editor.” (2 students mentioned this.)
  3. “I like TikTok for the comedy side, but not the dance side.”
  4. Most TikTok users in my class create and watch TikToks. The rest mostly only watch on their own accounts or on an older sibling’s.
  5. “I like YouTube better because it’s like TikTok, but without the hate.” (2 students spoke to TikTok having more cyber bullying and strangers trying to connect with them.)
  6. “I like TikTok because it makes me known.”

After getting some feedback from my students, I started to think about the impact TikTok can have on kids. I thought comments #5 and #6 were interesting. TikTok is a way for kids to connect with others and feel a sense of belonging, but can also be isolating when cyber bullying starts or the platform becomes dangerous due to strangers with problematic intentions. The responses to these questions highlight the value of teaching kids about genuine relationships that they form, “in real life.” Not that relationships developed through social media are meaningless, but it is also important to share connections and relationships with people in your immediate circle. The self-editor comments caught my attention as well. Of course these features are fun, but I think it can skew what kids think they should look like… Or they see other TikTok users that look flawless, when in reality, it is just a filter or the effects of a ring light. Although this article is in relation to Snap Chat, it also shares connections with TikTok. It doesn’t surprise me that there is a connection between stress, mental health, and social media. I think managing your mental health and social media is all about balance and boundaries. Ridding yourself of all social media isn’t always the answer, but giving yourself a social media break or following accounts that, “spark joy” are helpful bits of advice to keep in mind.

The article I mentioned at the beginning of this post pointed out some interesting ways that TikTok can be used in regard to education. The mention of, “bite-sized” lessons was interesting to me. I find that I can ramble on in the classroom, but TikTok allows teachers to get the basics across in a short amount of time. In addition, by being open with students about engaging with social media platforms they use, it demonstrates a willingness to learn about their world. The most obvious benefit to me in regard to using TikTok is the relevancy of the app and connecting with students. So many kids use it in some capacity, making it more appealing to engage in their education. Kat shared a TikTok created by her school in this Twitter post. I appreciate that the creation of this TikTok brought the staff together with the common goal of enticing students to get their read on with the new books in their library.

Overall, I’m still learning about this app and how to harness its powers in the classroom… and even for my learning project! I’m still no expert, so please share any insights or clarification on the details I mentioned in this post. Out of curiosity…

  • Do you have TikTok? If so, how do you use it?
  • Do you have other social media platforms and not have TikTok? What are your hesitancies about getting TikTok, if any?

Thanks for making it through this very long post… Again.

Until next time,

Leigh

September 19, 2021: The Learning Project Outline

I’m one of those people who get a bunch of ideas in their brain (due to excitement), then begin to overthink everything and my brain turns into a hamster stuck on a wheel. That is how I’m feeling with The Learning Project already… In a good way! I am very enthusiastic about my topic, mainly because there are so many different avenues I can explore. However, because the options really are endless, it is going to take some organizing and narrowing things down. Strap in folks, because here comes my plan… With some other details!

Learning ASL, Exploring Deaf Culture, & Deaf and Hard of Hearing Classrooms: The Inspiration

I believe everything happens for a reason and sometimes it is difficult to ignore common themes that continue to appear throughout your life…

Recently, I started working alongside a colleague who used to run a deaf and hard of hearing classroom. I think it is so interesting how deaf people learn to communicate and understand the world without experiencing sound. To me, it is truly amazing and speaks to the power of learning being a dynamic and complex process… One size does not fit all. In addition, my sister-in-law is a speech and language pathologist. When she was receiving her training, she was required to learn American Sign Language (ASL). Over the years, she has casually taught me some very basic ASL, which I found myself enjoying. I was also in choir all through elementary and high school. One of my music teachers would have us sign certain songs as we would sing. Signing and singing was my favourite. I felt like I could really capture the emotion of the piece in a meaningful way. Looking back through an educator lens, I also think it is an inclusive practice that we should see represented more frequently.

Taking a more personal angle, I’ve met two deaf people in my life. The first person I met was Mrs. T. I got to know her through my dad’s work and my mom sold Avon to her… Sidebar: Who remembers Avon? She had lost her hearing in adulthood and was able to read lips. I remember my mom explaining when my brother and I would go over to her house that we needed to make sure that she was looking at us when we spoke and that speaking loudly won’t help. She had a black dog who would alert her when her phone rang or if someone was at the door. My mom also said when they would talk on the phone, Mrs. T used some kind of voice-to-text device and had various pieces of technology that she used in her daily life. This would have been in the late 90s, so I can only imagine how many more developments in this area have occurred since. When I first met Mrs. T, I remember feeling nervous. I had never met a deaf person before and didn’t know what to expect. To my surprise, there was nothing Mrs. T couldn’t do and if I didn’t know she was deaf, I probably wouldn’t have figured it out. When I teach the Grade 4 Sound Unit in Science, I love showing this video. I appreciate how honest and inquisitive kids are… They just ask whatever is on their mind! I also think this video takes the “fear/nerves” out of meeting a deaf person for kids, as it highlights helpful information about deafness that is beneficial to anyone (not just kids) who are meeting a deaf person for the first time.

In addition, I worked with a deaf man throughout high school and university when I worked at a local cafe. He was a master lip reader and could sign, but no one I worked with could sign with him, myself included. He would speak sometimes, but was difficult to understand, so he was pretty dynamite at expressing himself through actions. Communicating took a lot of patience and I began to realize that being a deaf person and knowing how to sign doesn’t do much good if no one else around you knows how. He was no shrinking violet and worked really hard to be part of conversations, but I would imagine this would have been exhausting and challenging. It honestly started to bother me that I couldn’t fully communicate with him and I wanted to do something about that, but just didn’t know where to start.

*Cue The Learning Project…*

Learning ASL, Exploring Deaf Culture, & Deaf and Hard of Hearing Classrooms: Resources Collected… So far

Initially, I wanted to learn some basic ASL. I was thinking maybe signing the alphabet, some basic phrases, and possibly learning how to sign picture books and share this with my students. However, there is a whole deaf culture that I feel is important to acknowledge and engage with if I am learning their language as a hearing person. I have also been lucky enough to have gained a colleague who is extremely knowledgeable on this topic, so I started to consider learning about these classrooms in my school division. Who knows, maybe this project could lead to something bigger career-wise for me?

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been gathering resources, following different organizations and people on social media and reaching out to different teachers in my school division to set up a time to chat and inquire about any resources they are willing to share. I have so many resources that I need to start looking through. So. Many. Below, I’ve created a document that is essentially a giant resource dump. Some of these resources might be more useful than others depending on where my project goes, but to help me wrap my brain around my project, I felt like I needed to at least go through everything to help me determine a starting point. I am almost positive this list will grow, so the creation of a Wakelet may be necessary! Since I haven’t had a chance to ask the individuals I contacted if I can share their names or resources as part of my project, I’ve used letters to identify them and I will share their resources if they grant me permission. For now, here is my own list and some of their websites/suggestions I plan on diving into.

The Learning Project: Resource Dump # 1

Learning ASL, Exploring Deaf Culture, & Deaf and Hard of Hearing Classrooms: The Plan

At this point, I’m not sure what I would like my “final goal” to be. Essentially, I want to learn more ASL than I know now, about deaf culture, and about the deaf and hard of hearing programs in my school division. Going back to my choir days, I would love to be able to sign a song (or at least part of) and teach my students some sign language as well. My project is more process than product driven and I plan to document my growth through blog reflections, YouTube videos, creating a Wakelet to keep track of my resources, and connecting with educators in my division to (hopefully) experience a deaf and hard of hearing classroom.

I find making some kind of plan with dates and deadlines helps keep me stay accountable and on track. So, what I’ve included below is exactly that. However, please know this plan will change and evolve over the next few weeks. Since there are so many topics I am hoping to explore, I decided to focus on a specific topic for a week or so and then move on to the next, while continuing with my ASL practice throughout. To learn ASL, I’m going to start with lessons by Bill Vicars on his YouTube channel and begin with ASL 1, which is the beginner level for learning ASL. I also found another resource called Start ASL that offers free lessons to learn on your own, as well as paid options. Hopefully, my schedule starts forming more of a clear picture for you!

Tentative Schedule for The Learning Project

Bits and Pieces Collected: So Far…

As teachers we all know that conversations never actually get wrapped up– the bell rings, “*Insert Student Name* got hurt on the monkey bars”, *CRASH*… Any other interruptions you’ve experienced? That being said, I’ve been given lots of “tid bits” of information to further explore by colleagues, but haven’t had a chance to really have a conversation with anyone yet… Although I’m in the process of making arrangements for some of those! Nonetheless, I’m excited about what has been shared with me so far. Some of these bits and pieces are:

  1. The speech and language pathologist (SLP) at my school mentioned something to me about the difference between Deaf vs deaf and that there are varied views about using certain sign languages. Some groups do not use any signing at all, while others use a variety of ways to communicate (e.g.: ASL, lip reading, various technologies, etc.).
  2. Another colleague mentioned something to me about these two ladies on YouTube that… The conversation ended there due to a playground calamity. So I must find out about these two ladies…
  3. Cochlear implants and auditory processing… Two very new things to me! This was mentioned to me by an SLP I plan on chatting with in a few weeks.
  4. Also, a serious shoutout to Kelly is in order for passing along some resources and names of people who could help me out with my project!
  5. Self Advocacy… This came from one of the resources passed down to me. I feel like this is a very necessary piece to the puzzle when learning about deaf culture and navigating deafness. Furthermore, any difference or exceptionality requires self advocacy, which I think is the hardest thing for people to do with pride and confidence.

If you’ve stuck around this long, you’re a trooper, but you’re not off the hook yet! I’m curious…

  • 1. Has anyone taught a deaf or hard of hearing student? What was your experience?
  • 2. Does anyone have any resources they would be willing to share?
  • 3. Has anyone learned ASL or another language in general? If so, do you have any advice for me? I tend to bite off more than I can chew!
  • 4. Tell me about your project! How have you organized it? Or are you, “going with the flow” to see where it takes you?

Thank you for reading this very scattered blog post! I am excited to see where this project takes me and I look forward to following your learning projects as well!

Until next time,

Leigh

September 12, 2021: My Relationship with Social Media and its Evolution

A Brief History…

Until I began taking more classes with Alec, I did not really understand what constituted as social media. I understood the basics such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but I did not realize I had been using social media much longer than I had originally thought. My most significant memory of my social media history throws back to 2004 when I was in Grade 5 and finally got my first email address, which eventually evolved into using MSN Messenger. I remember getting home from school, sitting down at our family’s desktop computer in the living room, turning on my Logitech webcam, and chatting with my friends. Prior to this new and exciting way to connect outside of school, my only other option was our land line.

Bring back memories, anyone? Source here.

I used MSN until about Grade 9, as that was when Facebook became popular and MSN more obsolete. However, I had travelled with my family that year and made friends all over the world. We still chatted through MSN, but eventually switched to Facebook. In a post from EC&I 832, I reflect on my experience of getting a Facebook account and developing a positive digital identity. Click for the full story! Facebook was my main source of social media use from 2008-2013. Eventually, I caved and got Instagram in 2013. My brother and I had a competition going to see who would cave first into Instagram… Needless to say, I lost and he is still winning, as he refuses to get it… He’s definitely the more stubborn one. At this time, I was in university and entering my internship. In addition, I had recently started dating my fiancé.

Instagram post circa 2015… She still needs to improve on her study buddy skills.

What I appreciate about Instagram is that it has chronicled my life since 2013 and its major milestones. To be honest, I love looking back at old posts, as each post is a snapshot of my life. Since I was almost done university and on the job hunt, I was more conscious about what I posted. I have found my Facebook to be reminiscent of high school and my early days of university, rather than my Instagram… Definitely more cringey, to say the least. I was always pretty conscious of what I posted, but I have found each form of social media represents me at certain points in time.

Digital Citizenship, Identity, and Media Literacy: A Learning Journey

Growing up, the approach to teaching digital citizenship in schools was heavily focused on cyber safety and discouraged the use of the Internet. I found myself being nervous to try different things online, such as researching and creating a PowerPoint presentation. For a long time, I would steer clear of anything technology related and thought chat rooms were dangerous. However, I wasn’t completely wrong. The Internet can be a dangerous place if you lack the skills necessary to navigate it, but that doesn’t mean the best approach is to avoid it altogether. Anything in life that is unfamiliar poses dangers. For example, 16 year olds drive cars, which can be unsafe if the teen lacks the proper training and skills. However, if they have the proper training to do so safely, it allows opportunities for decision making, independence, and eventually expanding on their skillset of becoming a proficient driver. Prior to taking more of Alec’s courses, I was still a little stuck in the avoidance mindset. However, my understanding of social media, digital citizenship, and media literacy has evolved over the years. I’ve also come to understand that as long as these things exist, my understanding of them will be in constant motion as well. Below, I share some resources that have been helpful for me along my digital learning journey.

Digital Citizenship and Identity

It is difficult to write about social media and education without mentioning Mike Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship:

  1. Digital Access
  2. Digital Commerce
  3. Digital Communication
  4. Digital Literacy
  5. Digital Etiquette
  6. Digital Law
  7. Digital Rights and Responsibilities
  8. Digital Health
  9. Digital Security

Personally, I am still gaining an understanding of these elements and locating myself within them. However, when I find myself grappling with these concepts there is a place to to turn to! Alec and Katia created a document titled, Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools. It has been an immensely helpful resource when developing lessons for students and for simply educating myself further on the topic. As I revisited this resource for this blog post, something that stood out to me that didn’t before was the emphasis of citizenship as participation. In order for students to learn how to be a good digital citizen, participation is an integral part of the learning process.

Screenshot from here. Original source from here.

The avoidance strategy of the past and my previous mindset has been proven to be ineffective and if anything, putting students more at risk. In some of the readings provided this week, pros and cons of social media use are highlighted. In relation to TikTok, one article highlighted some of the dangers associated with the platform. Some examples include, sexual exploitation of children, kids giving out personal information to strangers, and cyberbullying. All of this sounds incredibly scary, but it boils down to education. Another article from this week highlighted the positives that can come from social media use with teens:

  1. It lets them do good
  2. Strengthens friendships
  3. Offers a sense of belonging
  4. Provides support
  5. Allows for self-expression

Social media has allowed the world to become a smaller place. While it can cause issues, it can also solve them as well when used responsibly.

Something I appreciate about this graphic above is that the Responsible Use Policy takes a collaborative approach with students. When students feel empowered, involved, and capable they are more likely to be accountable for their actions and honour guidelines. In addition, students need to understand the permanent nature of a digital identity and that posts on the Internet do not simply disappear after a designated amount of time. At the beginning of each year, I send home a Technology Contract with the students to sign and review with their families. I like to include the THINK acronym as part of the contract because it offers a guideline of the type of content they should be posting and interacting with. Although these are rules to live by in general, this definitely applies to posting online and maintaining a digital identity that students can be proud of in the future.

Media Literacy

If the pandemic has taught me anything other than how to wash my hands, it is the value of media literacy! Being media literate is means to have the ability to access media, critically analyze it, evaluate the information and source, and being able to produce media. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve seen so many articles that look “real,” but contain falsified information. However, discerning fact from fiction is easier said than done. As a matter of fact, I personally think adults struggle with this more than kids in some ways. Adults are just as much at risk to share false information via social media. Without the proper skills, it is difficult to discern factual from false information, especially when it seems authentic. This is a skill that I am building upon myself. I’ve become better at finding multiple sources to verify information and following people on social media whose views do not necessarily align with my own. This offers me a two-fold understanding of an issue and a well-rounded knowledge base. If you haven’t already made an account and used Common Sense Education, I highly recommend that you do! It is packed with articles and lesson plans on teaching kids about digital citizenship and media literacy. To be honest, those lessons have been helpful in supporting my own understanding of these concepts!

Personal and Professional Impacts of Social Media

As you can see, my growth in these areas is ongoing. On a personal level, I try to keep my social media presence fairly private and minimal. This is mainly because I’ve never been a huge “poster,” unless I find or experience something that I deem is worth sharing. I try to capture meaningful moments and hone in on those, rather than a bunch of posts that won’t matter to me in a year. However, I enjoy keeping in touch with my family who live in New Jersey and seeing what they are up to… Especially now, seeing as the pandemic has put a damper on any travel plans! Even though I don’t post often, I find I waste a lot of time scrolling through my social media, which is a negative for me. Lately, I’ve been trying to be more cognoscente of my screen time and that when I am home with my family, I’m not distracted by my phone. I think the reason why I get so distracted by it is proximity. If I could only use social media from a desktop computer, it would make the experience more cumbersome, deterring me from spending so much time on it. On a professional level, I mainly use Twitter and Instagram to connect with other educators and Pinterest for creative lesson planning ideas. At this point, I haven’t really experienced any major downsides of using social media for professional purposes. Although, if you are not careful and mindful about the types of content you share and post about, you could find yourself in a sticky situation. Some major positives about using social media for professional purposes is seeing what other teachers are doing in different schools, divisions, provinces, or even countries. I had started a YouTube channel as part of my major project for EC&I 832 and it was probably the best thing I did for myself, not knowing at the time a global pandemic was on the horizon. Not only did I come across helpful channels, such as Pocketful of Primary, but I could easily create accessible lessons by making videos for my students during remote learning. The pandemic has certainly caused all kinds of chaos, but it really has pushed me to explore social media in a professional context to connect with others and experiment with different apps and programs to provide my students with learning opportunities from afar.

History of Social Media: A Reflection

The History of Social Media Activity was definitely a walk down memory lane for me! I wasn’t around for the Pre-Commercial Internet (Pre-1991), but some parts brought back memories. For example, Britannica Encyclopedias were available in my elementary school library and I’m pretty sure my parents still have their set. Something that struck me as distinctly different from the other eras was that it was only, “read web.” I didn’t really take notice of that until it was pointed out in class. During this era, the internet was used mainly for content intake versus creation. The Early Internet (1991-2005) was my jam! That was when I first started becoming familiar with it and chatting it up on MSN Messenger! Something that our group discussed that resonated with me was that this era was when computers and the Internet had started being used in schools and there were computer labs, instead of laptop carts. It was mentioned, at the time, teachers knew very little about technology and the Internet. This probably meant that there were very few filters and safety settings on these computers at school. The “work arounds” at that point would have been easy to figure out, I would imagine. This left me wondering if any major issues had occurred in schools during this time regarding computer use? The 2005-2015 and the Current Era are where the “read and write web” were born! Something that I appreciate about these eras is that through the use of social media, the world has become a more accessible place. It has allowed for the development of communities worldwide to connect and bond over common interests or attributes. However, I also think these eras highlight the digital divide more than ever before. Prior to these eras, having technology readily available was a privilege and not unusual if your family did not have a cell phone or desktop computer at home. Now, it surprises me when people don’t use cell phones or have an email address. However, the pandemic has demonstrated the need for access to technology or the Internet in general, as it allows people to stay current and educate themselves. Without access, people can lose the ability to educate, create, seek justice, and connect with others. As a matter of fact, the United Nations deems Internet access a basic human right. The highlighted article explains that governments of countries that are in the midst of civil unrest have the ability to shut down Internet access to take away their civilians rights to freedom and expression. I never would have thought of Internet access as being a right, as in my context, it seems so second-nature. However, it is important to bear in mind that Internet and technological access is not something people around the world can all enjoy freely.

Social media and the Internet have truly provided many opportunities for people. However, to harness its powers, it takes education and practice. I am looking forward to learning more about social media and its impacts on education. Here’s to learning alongside you all and another great semester ahead!

Until next time,

Leigh