Hi everyone, and welcome back to my little slice of the internet! Today, let’s talk about my experience with Twitter.
I am by no means ‘new’ to Twitter. I believe I got an account either at the very end of high school or the beginning of university. My use of Twitter quickly changed as I went through my undergrad degree and saw the platform’s potential as a professional tool.
Once I convocated and began my teaching career, I was interested in engaging more intentionally with my PLN and joined some Twitter chats, most notably #saskedchat (a Saskatchewan-based education chat). I diligently joined the weekly chat and got to know many familiar faces within that subgroup of my PLN. #saskedchat was the perfect place for me to break into Twitter chats and developing my PLN – the people were friendly and funny, there were enough people present to keep a conversation going but not so many that it was totally overwhelming, and (being a Saskatchewan-based chat) it was specific to my place.
After being a frequent member of the chat for a while, I had the opportunity to try out a new, unknown realm of Twitter chatting: hosting my own night of #saskedchat. This meant coming up with a topic for the night, drafting the questions I would ask to participants, and leading the chat on the night of the event. It was, honestly, very easy and a natural next step in my #saskedchat journey. **I tried, to no avail, to find a saved document with evidence of my Twitter chat questions from when I hosted. I remember it was on the topic of Parent/Family Engagement, but have no idea when exactly it was or what my actual questions were. I hope everyone will believe me without providing evidence! haha
Since starting my graduate studies, I’ve obviously been a bit busier, so have fallen in and out of Twitter many times. Thus, I consider myself to be a Twitter “flitter,” because I will flit away for periods of time, but always seem to come back.
I flitted back in to Twitter during EC&I 832, and enjoyed it once again. I made a point to engage in #saskedchat and the course hashtag that semester, and was reminded why I like Twitter as a professional platform. However, after that course was over, I once again flitted out of the Twitterverse.
I think my main problem with Twitter is that the feed feels so overwhelming. Within minutes, there are dozens of new tweets to read. I simply can’t keep up and feel that I will miss something due to the sheer amount of content. I am a “sit-down-and-do-a-task-only-if-I-have-enough-time-to-finish-it” kind of person, so I avoid clicking on Twitter because I feel like I need to dedicate long periods of time to effectively go through my feed. I think the lesson here is that I need to start small and accept that I will never see everything. My goal is to start with just a few minutes a day (maybe setting an actual timer will help) to help build the habit and make it feel manageable.
To sum it all up:
I have been engaging with Twitter as a professional tool for a long time
I have experienced the benefits of engaging with a PLN on Twitter
I see the various ways Twitter can be used as a professional tool
I often flit away from Twitter for long periods of time, but always come back
I need to be more intentional in order to attain daily engagement with Twitter (start small)
Hopefully by putting my intentions out there, it will keep me accountable to following through! I look forward to continuing my journey with Twitter as a professional, educational tool.
Over the last two weeks, I have been exploring TikTok. I have been using TikTok since the early days of the pandemic when there was not much else to do, but I have only ever been a TikTok lurker. So I figured now was the perfect time to step up my TikTok game.
Before I started working with the platform I decided to do a little research into the giant that is TikTok. It is undeniable that TikTok has a major influence not only on teenagers, but global trends, news cycles, and in the case of education, the classroom. But why?
Interestingly enough, TikTok was one of the first social media platforms that curate the main page for the user:
It really started to make sense why TikTok quickly became one of my favourite social media platforms.
As my research continued it became harder and harder to find information on the social media giant. Every time I typed something into Google (i.e., “TikTok news”, “TikTok 2023”, “TikTok as Social Media”) nothing came up except for Tik ok itself. I found this quite interesting. But I did come across one article entitled TikTok: What It Is, How It Works, Why It’s Popular that had a lot of useful information:
Launched in September 2016 by the Chinese startup company ByteDance, it’s known there as Douyin.
Launched in its present form in 2018, TikTok joined the ranks of social media giants in record time. It had about one billion active monthly users worldwide by September 2021. A 2022 marketing report by data.ai (formerly App Annie) predicted that TikTok will break three billion downloads worldwide as well as users spending $3 billion across iOS and Google Play by the end of the year.
ByteDance was reportedly worth up to $140 billion by mid-2020, based on the private sale of a small stake in the company. TikTok alone was said to be worth about $50 billion.
The biggest takeaway for me was that TikTok is HUGE and it has no sign of slowing down.
Exploring the Platform
As I mentioned, I am an active TikTok user, I guess. I don’t follow anyone except for a few close friends, and I most certainly have never made a TikTok. I never had an issue with not following anyone as the algorithm is spot on and my TikTok page is always tailored to my needs and wants – almost in a scary way. But nevertheless, I figured I’d start by following some people that reflect my interests. I began my search by looking for TikTokers that were connected to teaching, reading, history, and hiking. The number of accounts I could follow was astronomical, so quite honestly I just started following and interacting with people that caught my interest. See some recommendations below:
Then I figured it was time to try and make my own TikTok. I am not the most camera-ready person so this seemed like the perfect time to introduce my cats to the world wide web. I will admit the process of making a Tik Tok was actually quite hard. I ended by watching some videos to help me get started:
Recently, I have been seeing the “p is for papas” trend on TikTok and I knew this is where I had to start. Overall, making the TikTok didn’t end up being terribly hard, but the overall quality is entirely my fault and Schmitten can take no blame:
No cat was harmed in the making of this video and they were compensated fairly for their time and labour.
Editing the TikTok was simple enough with some nice features that allow you to crop and adjust the sound. I did find it crazy that certain hashtags like #fyp:) has 15171.1 billion views (yes you are reading that right). So who knows, maybe I will be Tik Tok famous before I know it. Fingers crossed.
Overall, I have been on TikTok in some form since April 2020. I have never seen anything offensively graphic or concerning, but rather my experience on TikTok has been quite educational in the sense that I owe a great deal to TikTok and what it has taught me (as embarrassing as that sounds).
Educational Opportunities for Teachers and Parents
Over the last two weeks, I have seen that there is a multitude of positive benefits Tik Tok has both for teachers, parents, and the world of education as a whole. It is undeniable that Tik Tok is now a part of life and embracing it is in the best interest of everyone, but particularly the students.
I was able to find many (and I mean many) interesting reads on the benefits of Tik Tok in the classroom and I was I could list them all here, but alas I cannot. The most interesting bit of information I learned was about “micro-learning”, in which students learn new information in small chunks at a time. Microlearning sessions are under ten minutes and can take as little as one minute to complete.
“#LearnOnTikTok has over 282.8 billion views. In a wider context, the popularity of TikTok’s education content fits into a trend towards micro-learning. Microlearning is 17% more efficient than traditional, longer-duration courses and distils topics into digestible, small chunks. Gen Z strongly prefers it. Virtual learning environments and online video tutorials are also a big yes for zoomers. This makes TikTok the perfect delivery vehicle for micro-learning. It’s in their favourite format: video, and on their preferred device: their phones.”
The research points to an undeniable fact – students want to learn quickly and I am here for it.
Issues and Concerns
If you have been on the internet for any length of time this year you will likely know that there have been major concerns over TikTok:
As your average citizen and TikTok user, I don’t think I am all that concerned, but I have been wrong before. I will say that the deeper you dive into the topic of TikTok the scary it gets. I found myself on some pretty interesting corners of the internet with a TON of conspiracy theories.
On a less global note, I have seen the negative influence TikTok can have on teenagers in the classroom. Throughout the school I work at, there has been a clear increase in the number of students posting inappropriate videos on TikTok from fights to filming teachers. Last year, the “devious licks” challenge became popular and caused a wide range of issues from harmless fun to serious vandalism. The trend cycle is so quick now that this challenge went out faster than it came in, but I fear it’s only a matter of time until the next big trend.
Overall, I have no intention to stop using TikTok. While there are negative aspects to the platform, I believe this can be true for all forms of social media and the positives of TikTok seems to vastly outweigh the negatives in my opinion.
Choose a social media tool that you would like to know more about. Create an account (if you haven’t already), spend some time learning about it (from resources or via conversations) and experimenting. Report some of your observations related to the tool (e.g., features, function, positives/negatives) and its impact on users (especially kids). Contemplate whether or not there are educational opportunities for the tool and/or what teachers or parents should know.
I first heard about BeReal during my trip to Mexico over Easter Break, where some of the other members of the tour group told me about it. They were from the UK, and I think it must be a more common social media platform there, whereas I get the sense that it is just catching on in North America. I was instantly interested in BeReal because of its unique design/premise, which favours authenticity and real life moments, rather than the highly-edited and curated feeds one typically sees on other social media platforms.
Being interested in this platform, I told the members of my tour group that I would sign up for a BeReal account when I got back home and follow them on it. They were my only 2 friends on the app, so I soon got tired of the app and my posts dwindled away. I jumped back into this app for this week’s blog prompt.
How BeReal Works:
The app sends you a notification at some point during the day (you don’t know when this will occur), and then you have 2 minutes to post your BeReal for the day. This post is intended to be a snapshot of whatever you are doing at the time the notification goes off; BeReal posts include both a selfie and a picture of wherever you are/what is in front of you at the time. You can react to others’ posts with RealMojis, which are snapshots of your own face showing the different reactions (thumbs up, laughing, etc.). You can also comment on others’ posts, give your BeReal a caption, and view your BeReal memories from previous days. As an incentive to post on time, users are allowed to post additional BeReals if their first is completed within 2 minutes of the notification going off for the day. I don’t remember this being a feature when I first started using BeReal in April – so either it is new, or I totally missed this option!
BeReal is original and goes against the filtered/edited nature of various other social media platforms – I love the idea of being more ‘real’ online and giving others a glimpse into your unpolished, true life
it’s easy to set up an account
RealMojis is an interesting concept that is unique to BeReal
you can easily add contacts you already know right in the app
this app encourages your notifications to be on and for you to have your phone with you at all times (which is not my style at all, so this aspect misses the mark for me)
there doesn’t seem to be any easily-recognizable home page or place for notifications, which (to me) makes the app feel strange to navigate
this app is not common among my friends yet, so there is a lack of people to follow (I reached out to classmates in this course on Twitter to get a few more people on my feed)
legal and ethical privacy concerns for posting at work (especially as a teacher)
there is a Discovery tab, which is just a feed of random people’s BeReals (not your friends); I am not personally interested in this at all
apparently, there is a way to see how many times someone has re-taken their BeReal picture, but I haven’t noticed that anywhere yet (maybe all of my friends are first-snap people?)
the app will tell you how late someone was posting their BeReal for the day (the members of my tour group told me that it is always funny to see people who have posted 5 hours late, and then their BeReal shows them doing something cool – it sends the message that they waited to post so they could show something interesting, which is really missing the whole point of BeReal)
Applications for Educational Use:
Nothing immediately came to mind for useful applications of BeReal in the classroom. Because the app is so time-sensitive (and dependent on notifications being enabled), I don’t see how it would work to use in real-time in the classroom. However, a BeReal inspired project (that doesn’t actually use the app itself, but the concept of it) did come to mind for a history/art project. Students could depict an important event in history as a BeReal. This involves students considering what the person would have looked like during the event, and what they would have seen in front of them in that moment. This same concept could also be used for a novel study or literature project, with students depicting book events and characters as BeReals.
Implications for Youth:
For me, BeReal as a platform can have both positive and negative effects on youth. I appreciate that the intentions behind the app are stepping outside the norm of social media and encouraging people to share their real selves. It gives me hope that future generations won’t be bogged down by unrealistic expectations and pressure to be a certain way.
However, perhaps this push to ‘be real’ is a double-edged sword. Do we really want to share every last detail of our lives with the internet? RoxAnne pointed out in her blog post that this could be potentially dangerous if people online know exactly where you are and what you are doing.
In addition, isn’t there a kind of security that comes with having a real-life self and an on online self, and they don’t necessarily have to be one and the same? I, personally, like having distance between my online and offline selves, and I don’t want youth feeling that they have to share everything with everyone. I also believe it is an important social skill for youth to learn what is appropriate to share in different contexts; if we share everything online, then we aren’t practicing these social norms.
Furthermore, I dislike the message BeReal is sending by: a) encouraging its users to constantly be near their phone and listening for a notification, and b) rewarding those who did so. This, to me, is an unhealthy relationship with technology that could be harmful.
At the end of the day, I don’t see myself continuing to use BeReal regularly. While I love the concept of authenticity and literally “being real,” the time-sensitive and notification-dependent nature of this app doesn’t appeal to me or work for my personal technology-use boundaries I have in place.
As a Cusper, I feel that I had the benefit of growing up in two world. In my early years, social media was particularity non-existent. As a family, we had the very typical early 2000s computer room with a monstrous desktop computer that connected to dial up internet. On this computer was nothing that 5 year old me ever cared about outside of Microsoft Paint and Minesweeper, which I had no idea how to play, I just liked the idea of it. But as the years wore on, it became clear that I was growing up along side and with technology and social media.
My friends and I often call this era of social media the “wild west” – an experience that isn’t just unique to my friend group. When I say social media in this context, I am not talking about Instagram, TikTok, or even Facebook. I am taking about open chat forums and questionable websites. But nevertheless, we survived to see the rise of modern social media.
The first form of social media I remember using was, of course, MSN Messenger. MSN played a significant role in my early childhood, but particularly from the ages of 10-13. I remember these days with mixed emotions. I often joke that I would pay the MSN gods any amount of money to get my old chat logs back, but as I reflect on my actual true experience, I remember is just how ruthless we were. It was in this era of my life that I truly began to understand cyberbullying. MSN was the first time I was able to speak to my friends behind a computer screen and this opened up an uncharted world. While I do look at this era of my life in relative fondness, I do believe that it would be a disservice to not at the minimum acknowledge that damage that undoubtably came from the platform.
It wasn’t until I was in high school that I feel social media, as we know it today, really began to take off. It was during my high school years that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and AskFM began to take off. It would again be a lie for me to say that social media, especially during these years, was only positive. I spent far too much time as a teenager worried about what I posted, if I sounded cool enough, and fixate on how many likes I did (or did not) get. In many ways I was consumed by social media and the serotonin it gave my from insist social gratification. At the time, I don’t think I saw an issue with this mentality. As an adult, however, I can very much see the negative impact that this had on myself growing up.
As I got older, however, I have very much seen a shift with my relationship with social media. Now I am the first to admit that I spend FAR too much time on my phone. I have every form of social media that one could possibly have. And, I have a particular proclivity to spend an hour (or multiple) scrolling through Tik Tok.
I, however, am a self proclaimed social media lurker. I rarely post on social media anymore. For example, my last Instagram post was from August of last year and before that I had not posted since August 2019. I do use Twitter and Instagram stories more regularly, but overall I like to take in what I see on social media and leave it at that. I have found that keeping a more private online presence has very much helped myself personally to shed the idea that I had to please everyone.
Professionally, however, I am more open to posting. I have had a Twitter account since the 2010s. During high school I would use Twitter to do whatever – I honestly can’t even wager a guess to what I posted, but I’d imagine it would be some sappy song lyrics and a joke I got on Google. When I started my teaching career, I cleaned up my Twitter and I have been using it semi-regularly to post student projects, school events, and anything related to teaching. In the day to day of teaching it is hard to keep up sometimes, but I do hope that in the future I can work to increase my social media presence.
TikTok has also played a surprising role in my career as an educator. Now, I have never posted on TikTok, but I spent an obscene amount of time scroll through videos upon videos. And in reflection, I have gained a great deal from the platform. I am 100% the person that says “I was doing some research” or “I just saw that…” when discussing global political, current affairs, or classroom pedagogy. In reality, my research was TikTok. I do, however, have to remind myself that not everything I see on the internet is true, but overall, I do honestly feel TikTok has made me a better person – but don’t tell my students that.
Overall, my journey with social media has been long and winding. It has had its up and its downs, but my life right now would be vastly different if social media didn’t exist.
Thanks for reading!
Write a blog post that addresses the following questions and/or statements: Describe your relationship with social media. How has social media affected your personal or professional life in positive and/or negative ways?
As a millenial, I was growing up at the same time that many social media platforms were rising in popularity. Since my adolescent years, I have used (in as chronological an order as I can remember): MSN Messenger, Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, WordPress, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Discord, TikTok, and (most recently) BeReal.
My experiences with social media have been overwhelmingly positive. In my adolescent and teenage days, I used social media on a personal level to connect virtually with my friends. Fortunately, I never experienced cyberbullying or any other online issues. I would say the most negative experience I had was feeling pressure to measure up to others during a time in my life when I was still figuring out who I was as a person. No particular negative incidents come to mind, though (for which I am grateful for!).
Once I entered university, I began to delve into using social media professionally. I started this blog in my first semester of university, and it has followed me all the way through my undergrad degree, my beginning years as a teacher, and two graduate degrees to follow. It has truly become an authentic time capsule of my journey of ‘learning to teach.’ In university, I also tried out Twitter and LinkedIn as more professional versions of my online identity. This chapter of my life helped me to expand my previously narrow idea of what social media could be used for.
Since starting my career in education (and beginning my true ‘adult life’), I believe I have come to find a comfortable balance in my relationship with social media. Watching the Netflix film “The Social Dilemma” was a game changer for me – if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it! I now enjoy unplugged time where I leave my phone behind when walking my dogs, have push notifications turned off for my social media accounts, and think more critically about the content I am seeing on social media platforms. Taking EC&I 832 with Alec Couros as a previous course in this degree also helped to open my eyes to the realities of social media, algorithms, digital footprints, and media literacy.
All in all, I feel very fortunate to have had such positive social media experiences, from supportive friends who follow my travels religiously on Facebook, to a helpful and welcoming PLN on #saskedchat. As an adult, I am now more cognizant of how social media can be a time suck or harmful to our self esteem, and I can set personalized boundaries so that I can enjoy the pros of social media while, hopefully, avoiding some of the cons (although, that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself getting caught in a TikTok loop every now and again).