This week I chose to make a quick video and share my true story of openness. In my video…as you’ll soon find out if you choose to watch it, that I am aware of how “off topic” my story is based on the content of the course, but it’s my story none the less! I watched this video on True Stories of Open Sharing and loved the idea – so in addition to this story I am also going to post a video of myself reading a favourite book of mine in hopes that it will come in handy or touch someone, somewhere one day. Watch for that later this weekend! I think this post ties into my Learning Project as well as I am encouraging my kiddos everyday when they get a chance to be our Facebook Author and Photographer to tell the stories that matter to them…the ones that catch their attention, make them feel happy or catch them off guard. I am asking my littles to step out of their comfort zones, so I should do the same.
This week I had the pleasure of looking through some OER’s to better help my understanding of online education. First, what is an OER? Click on the link connected to the blue OER above or check out this short video:
There are a plethora of online educational resources available in the blink of eye! We are living in an era where education is shifting and changing at rates that are hard to fathom. Education is moving to the online world and institutions are scrambling to keep up, to offer their students something different, something to keep them at the institution instead of exploring other online, free, options. In my blog last week I speak a lot about the pro’s and con’s of open education, feel free to pop back and check it out! This week, I am going to take some time and review the site TED ED: Lessons Worth Sharing as an OER available on the web. Check out the short video below as an introduction to the idea of TED-Ed.
First, I love the idea that TED ED promotes “what every teacher hopes, that their students would be, a life-long learner”. TED ED allows people all over the world to access the best education because the whole point is “to capture and amplify the greatest teacher’s in the world”. TED ED gives people the opportunity to access hours and hours worth of lessons in a wide variety of subject matter featuring original animated videos, resources and questions from “Ted speakers and fellows, educators, designers, animators, screenwriters, directors, science writers, historians, journalists and editors.”
I LOVE this site and know I will absolutely be accessing lessons for both myself and my students. I found the TED ED site very user-friendly and well organized.
Step 1: Select the subject you are interested in.
Step 2: Select the grade or age level of learner.
Step 3: Dig through and find the video you’re interested in!
Step 4: Select it and enjoy!
Each video offers a “Watch”, “Think”, “Dig Deeper” and “Discussion” section so that you not only get the information relayed in the video but you can then take it further and discuss with not only the other learners around you, but those around the world too. There is also the option to read different blogs related to the subject matter which could enhance the learning opportunities of older students or adult learners who wanted to deeper their understanding. The TED ED experience is a global one which makes it unique and different for kids!
From what I can tell from not only watching many videos on TED ED but also reading about their philosophies around education I would be confident to say that the resources on this OER are typically high-quality. TED ED is seeking out the best of the best in particular field of studies and is supported fully on donations and funds from the TED ED store to keep everything running but still free for educators, students and all learners.
TED ED is very easy to search and navigate! You have the choice to search by subject area as mentioned above, or you can type key words to the search bar and locate videos and information that way. All of these options as well as the fact that information is shared in the form of videos, questions/quizzes, and blogs makes it very easy to use and appeals to a large audience of varying age of learner.
Overall, I am thrilled that I was introduced to TED ED: Lessons Worth Sharing. I absolutely see the value in this resource and think it would be beneficial to myself and my colleagues. The videos are a great length to show in class and the questioning fits directly into curriculum and promotes higher level connections and thinking. Check out this cool math lesson and the video that accompanies it for a look into what TED ED has to offer!
Remember an account is free, so sign up and try it out! Let me know what you think.
Imagine a world where everyone was awarded the same opportunities and the playing field was fair…not equal, but fair? WOAH! Snap back to reality…not the case. Unfortunately we live in a world where depending on where you come from (both live and the family you were born into), how much money you have, if you are a certain race or of a certain capacity,etc. it often determines the opportunities that you are awarded. First, what does it mean to have something be “fair but not equal”? I love the imagine below…you’ve probably seen it, but take a minute to really look at it and think about the implications of this concept.
Equal would be giving each of these people 1 block – there were 3 available, there are 3 people, each person should get 1. However, although this is equal by definition, it really only helps one of the people in the picture. The first person does not need to be higher over the fence, the middle person can finally see but our shortest person still can’t even come close to seeing over the fence. When we distribute the blocks fairly each person in the photo gets what they need, as pictured on the right side of the photo. Open education has the potential to be the right side of this photo! We can fairly distribute opportunity and knowledge so everyone has the chance to better themselves.
In my awesome classmate Colleen’s blog this week she asks one of the most important questions about “open education”, what does it actually mean? By direct definition, “Open education is a philosophy about the way people should produce, share, and build on knowledge. Proponents of open education believe everyone in the world should have access to high-quality educational experiences and resources, and they work to eliminate barriers to this goal. (Source: here)
But, what “Does “open” mean openly licensed content or code? And, again, which license is really “open”? Does “open” mean “made public”? Does “open” mean shared? Does “open” mean “accessible”? Accessible how? To whom? Does “open” mean editable? Negotiable? Does “open” mean “free”? Does “open” mean “open- ended”? Does “open” mean transparent? Does “open” mean “open- minded”? “Open” to new ideas and to intellectual exchange? Open to interpretation? Does “open” mean open to participation — by everyone equally?”(Farrow, 2017) We can’t properly assess or have an educated, for lack of a better term, conversation about the pros and cons of offering education to all if we don’t understand what it means.
I thought the above diagram did a nice job of answering some of those questions by showing how many facets of this system come together to create opportunity – open educations promotes a flexible learning style and offers the benefits of high quality, diverse, education at a much lesser cost than obtaining it through a University or other post secondary setting.
I’m just one opinion in a sea of opinions…and you all know the saying about opinions…but I would like to take the time to offer my pros and cons list on open education. I’ll start on the negative so I can finish on a bright and shiny note!
The law is the law! As Larry Lessig says in his TED talk, there is a very fine line between how copyright laws protect us and how they drastically limit our ability to share through the open education platform. It is hard to know what we can share, who we can share it with, what’s protected from change, what’s not, etc. Lessig argues that people need to exercise common sense so that we can be protected using our laws, but not so limited. Sadly…common sense is not so common sometimes. It is crucial that regardless of the laws that you check the content you are downloading and sharing to ensure you are not breaking copyright law.
Quality control! Open education invites people to share knowledge and resources which can be dicey as far as what content is available to view and learn from. When we open the gates we have to expect the flood. Similar to sites like Wikipedia, the information you are receiving is not necessarily the highest quality and it is next to impossible to police every outlet. We have to be aware and concerned about relevant and accurate information.
The human condition! When you move to online education there are a few aspects that are lost in comparison to studying in person – number one, you are losing the ability to learn from a living, breathing person. As Ze Frank says in his TED talk, we are living in the “out there”, living in a digital world non-stop – although there are benefits we lose that human connection. Also, when we switch to an online, open education platform there is potential to limit some groups based on language and culture. Just because we are learning online and sourcing resources from a vast market, does not mean that we are accommodating languages (as most resources are posted in English) and not all resources would culturally appropriate for certain groups. Learning to vet information will be crucial as well as promoting and encouraging those who can offer other languages to share, share, share is crucial!
The good, the bad and the ugly. One of my least favourite times in my classroom is when I depend on technology for my lesson and the internet is down, my computer is frozen, the link doesn’t work or the internet is slow or spotty, I’m irate and I have access to the technology and the programs I need to, under normal circumstances, make it work. There are people in the world who do not have those luxuries and so open education and online resources do not help them out. Not to mention, there is mostly no compensation for sharing resources online so there is always the question of whether or not this type of learning will be a sustainable source for people long term.
Now, lets hit the high notes…
24/7 Accessibility, options to expand, new and every changing resources! The use of Open Educational Resources allows students to have access immediately to education in every facet from teachers and learners all over the world. The information is instantaneous and generally speaking, free to share! This gives access and opportunity to people all over the world to learn from each other and gain knowledge that they may not have had access to otherwise. OER’s can be updated all the time too which gives students and teachers the peace of mind that they are using the most up to date resources in their teaching and learning. What it comes down to, is that now with the use of OER’s we have full, immediate access to learning 24/7 from the comforts of our own homes. The world is our oyster and not just for those who can afford it.
Dolla, dolla bills y’all! Let’s be real…school and text books or access codes are VERY expensive! There have been many classes that I have taken where I have spend upwards of $100 to hardly open the book and have the professor suggest online resources anyway as they are more up to date. The use of OER’s gives students the opportunity to benefit from the most up to date resources without spending the money on paper copies that will sit and collect dust afterward…not to mention the great impact that this could have on our enviroment – save paper, save trees, save our air from the pollution that processing puts out, etc. Okay, okay, you may think this is a stretch, but look long term!
In my opinion, I love the idea of Open Education and think it opens doors to new and exciting opportunity in ways the world has yet experienced. We will see the best the world has to offer, and not just the best of those who can afford to go to school as it is now. As educators we need to EVALUATE our sources regardless of where we are finding them, find the best available (which I hope we’re doing regardless of whether they are OER’s or not) and utilize them to inspire and interest our students in being life-long, self motivated learners.
I want to leave this post on a positive – check out the little video below that does a nice job addressing the world of Open Education.
Half way through our learning project?!?! Where is the time going?! Now that I am given some time to reflect on this journey, I have to say, I am so incredibly thankful that I was given the push to change my current classroom practice. I think sometimes we get in a rut once we have taught for many years and it’s hard to step outside of what we know and out of what works. My Facebook page, although I adore it as a tool to help engage parents and allow them to have meaningful conversations about their child’s day, it was a routine I was very comfortable with and therefore was never motivated enough to change. I always wanted to have the kid’s write and take photo’s for our page because I value what the kids notice in our day that I might not. When I am running the show I frame the day however I choose, everything is through my eyes only. When the kids take over we all get the opportunity to experience things through their eyes – see what they see and what is engaging to them. The joy they find in the small things is so refreshing. I think this project, even in its early stages has reminded me that my classroom needs to be a student centered place full of exploration and inquiry.
I have given my littles very few guidelines as to what they can take photos of, or what they can include in their writing aside from : be kind, be creative, be appropriate and tell us something cool about your day. The results have been amazing and the kids are so excited for their turn. The parents have been incredibly receptive to the experience too – they have expressed how much they love seeing what interests their children throughout a day. I had 19/24 families send back the permission slip I sent home for this project – I was really happy with that as I was unsure if families would be comfortable with images of their child being shared online in a more open concept. Once I posted our “Internet Safety Tips Video” I received 2 emails from families who then wanted their child to participate. Sometimes I think families need to see the technology and practice in action to know that it is worth while, connected to curriculum and meaningful.
Now, everything hasn’t been just butterflies and rainbows – I have absolutely ran into bumps along the way! Below are a couple:
Kids are using a VERY expensive piece of technology.
I am entrusting one of our brand new Ipads with the kids – we spent a whole class learning how to use it, how to handle it, what to do and what not to do. Time well spent as if something happens to it, we don’t get another
I can’t email or text myself photos off the Ipad.
For whatever insane reason, we as a school do not have control over what programs/functions the Ipads have. If we want a new program, or to change any function on the Ipads we have to email support, wait, wait, and keep waiting and then have them approve it and then it goes onto all the division purchased devices. That being said, I can’t conveniently send myself the photos and videos from the Ipad once the kiddos take them – I have to Google Drive them a few at a time, download them, save them and then upload them to my facebook. There are also no editing tools on the Ipad if I needed them…
Below are some examples from my first few authors, they have all been asked to use nick-names for this project as my permission slip mentioned no names would be directly associated with photos:
Today we welcomed “Star” as our Facebook Author/Photographer! Enjoy her photos! “Star” got the opportunity to take photos of whatever she chose today – here are 11 of her choices. “Star” was very responsible with the Ipad and made everyone feel welcome by being included the process.
“I just loved tacking all off the piters” – Star
(I just loved taking all of the pictures)
Today we welcomed “Inky” as our guest author/photographer! “Inky” had so much fun taking silly photos all day long with his friends.
He says: “I want to play games. Math and free gym and recess and morning work and agenda were my favourite. I liked the story too!”
Thanks for taking over for the day “Inky”.
Today we had “Karate Kid” take over our Facebook page! He was a sneakster with the camera catching lots of friends on camera and video. Thanks so much “Karate Kid”, it was so cool to see what you noticed throughout our day.
He says, “Ole the kides on fasboke are qiyit. Bo not go on the site you bot now.”
(All the kids on Facebook are quiet. Do not go on the sites you don’t know)
Have my kiddos video tape themselves reading – either level appropriate books or their own works!
Tomorrow is the official kick off to my “Facebook Photographer/Author” project! We have spoken about internet safety, what we share online and what we don’t, and we are ready to start. I have attached the form (similar to the Tweet one Alec showed us, or this one) that kiddos will fill out when it’s their turn to be an author! I used nicknames instead of real names as the only option because I told families in my original permission slip that names and photo’s would not be posted together.
The above comic sort of sum’s up my initial feelings on a lot of social media activism…but, I shouldn’t let myself get ahead of myself, first, what is social media activism? Overall, it is using social media and the internet to get information out quickly and effectively and in this case, to spread a message or cause for the better good of a certain group. I stumbled across an excellent PDF that does a great job summarizing a lot of these explanations, Digital-Activism-and-Non-Violent-Conflict, in this article, Edwards, Howard and Joyce say a digital activism campaign is “an organized public effort, making collective claims on a target authority, in which civic initiators or supporters use digital media.” So if we know what social activism is, the opposite is social “slaktivism”. Social slaktivism is, according to a wikipedia definition, “showing support for a cause but only truly being beneficial to the egos of people participating in this so-called activism.” Otherwise known as armchair warriors or people who like or share aspects of social activism but don’t actually do anything past that in supporting or moving the cause forward.
Now that we have that formality out of the way, what does this actually mean in the society we live in today? My wonder is, are the social activists actually making a difference in the real world or is it just loads and loads of attention and reach online? Also, are there positives with just those things alone? I’m tossed up on this idea because so far based on some of the campaigns I have seen, aside from awareness and getting people talking, what else are they doing? I appreciate, respect and value the conversations that have come about with the hashtags such as #bringbackourgirls, #metoo, #blacklivesmatter, etc. but the problems that these campaigns are fighting for, are still enormous issues and it appears that so far, the hashtags aren’t solving them. The social issues that these online activist are taking on are big, they’re big and they’re important and I think these hashtags and conversations are incredibly important, unfortunately I think it’s not enough.
When we think back to Kony 2012 or The Ice Bucket Challenge for ASL research, both could be considered some of the first viral activist campaigns that generated millions of viewers and some social “uproar” however, it isn’t good enough anymore to have a one-hit-wonder, if we want real social and world change we need to focus on creating campaigns that have staying power. If we want meaningful and worthwhile campaigns they need to be organized, have strong leadership and be able to use resources and people-power to their best and most efficient uses. There is a term deemed, “mission creep” that more or less means that if a project is too broad and unfocused it won’t have said staying power and therefore is not relevant for a long enough time to be meaningful. If goals can be small and achievable, or at least broken into smaller and more achievable pieces you have a much better chance of changing peoples mindsets long term and seeing goals met. This week in class we spoke about the vagueness of the Kony campaign and how it was “a call to action” but it didn’t really say what the viewer was supposed to do, where they were suppose to do it and aside from bringing awareness and encouraging viewers to write to their leaders, it wasn’t specific and therefore not as effective as it could have been.
It was recently exposed that former head of The Regina Sexual Assault Center had been embezzling money to the tune of more than $700,000 and has now been charged and sentenced to 3 years in jail for taking the money from the non-profit. The reason I bring this up, is the fact that it proves the immense power of good organization and proper leaders in bringing awareness and funding to non-profits and social change. There are so many good movements and resources that still carry the potential for disaster – not only did this women take money from this particular non-profit, but she took money from all the men and women that visit and need the center, she took money from all the other sexual assault organizations that now will have people questioning their intentions, etc. It is sad that we even have to have stories such as this one when speaking about all the good that non-profits and social movements intendto accomplish.
Overall in this area, I have to remain fairly wishy-washy. I love the idea of social activism, I love the idea of the conversation and the wide spread audiences that you wouldn’t be able to reach in any other way, however, I worry that it’s not enough on it’s own. We need to back and support the hashtags, the groups, the conversations with real, concrete support through money and rallies and action.
Next sticky situation…Is it possible to have constructive conversations about social justice online – in short terms, in my opinion, no. GIF courtesy of!
What is inevitable, is this meme…internet fights galore! People have their opinions and they are especially not shy in sharing them when they have a computer screen to protect them.
informal 1. a person who makes abusive or aggressive posts on the Internet, typically one who conceals their true identity.
It starts with someone coming up with their passion, their cause, their ideas and then sending them out into the big wild yonder known as the internet and when that’s done it’s up to the rest of the world to respond. There are going to be supporters and people that share either the same views, or can share their view with respect and understanding…on the flipside, there are the internet trolls who will go on and intentionally cause arguments and unrest in a conversation, or even take it as far as harassment. There are VERY few conversations around the topic of social justice posted online that you won’t find racism, sexism and just plan ignorance from people online. I think these trolls that are taking over the internet and interjecting themselves into important conversations online are ruining the ability to have these conversations and make changes through open dialogue. In Marley’s blog this week she mentions that she feels like she needs a bit of an action plan in place to start participating in social justice online and I couldn’t agree more…I usually am too emotionally drained from reading through comments and opinions online to offer my own or share what is near and dear to my heart. I think I will take her words to heart and start by making small and achievable goals to start being a responsible voice online.
I will leave this week’s blog post on a quote from a popular television show that resonated with me this week. The show is called American Horror Story : Cult and they are tackling some VERY current issues in this season with regards to politics, sexism and the overall manipulation of the United States right now. The show is a little out there and at times can be very violent, sexual and disturbing – just as a disclaimer before you jump in if you haven’t seen it. But there was a conversation between two characters about making changes, making their voices heard and leaving a legacy and one character says, “So you’re going to write a book?” and the other character responds, “No I don’t have time for that shit…I’m just going to release something on social media.” Truer words have never been spoken it seems at this point.
I’m moving ahead with my learning project and so far I have 17/24 permission slips back (here it is again if you want to peek it :University Class Media Release Note) meaning I have 17/24 kiddos ready to take over our Facebook page as Jr. Author’s and Photographer’s.
Before we officially kick off the project I wanted to go over internet and computer safety with the whole class so we all were on the same page as far as how we need to conduct ourselves online! I knew my class had varying degrees of experiences online so I was already aware that some would know exactly what I meant, and some wouldn’t have the slightest! The varying degree of involvement with the online world happens at this age for many reasons – 1) kids sometimes just don’t have a lot of access to computers at home either because they don’t have the technology for money or personal beliefs, or their families limit the hours of screen time, 2) kid’s have only ever had access to sites that are strictly monitored and selected for them making it unnecessary to learn safety guidelines or 3) some are just online all the time with no guidelines or rules and just do as they please without regard for safety…therefore never learning them. We started with a “Show what you know” on the board – I asked for help answering the following question..
“WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAFE ONLINE?”
Some of the responses were : “Not sharing information about yourself”, “Asking permission”, “Not going on things you don’t know”, “Being safe”, “Don’t talk to strangers”. Those are kids who have spent time online and have even a little bit of an idea of what it means to be safe on a computer. Some other responses were, “Hold the computer with two hands”, “Don’t run and hold a computer”, “Don’t colour on the computer screen because then you won’t be able to see what you’re doing”, “Shut the computer down properly”. The children who provided those answers were still stuck in the “Computer safety” phase and had a harder time wrapping their head around the idea that we need are taking about safety once we are logged into our computers. After this discussion we watched a video from the American website, Brainpop Jr. that specializes in short educational videos for kids on a variety of subject matter. Brainpop uses fun, funny characters to explain concepts to kids that are sometimes hard to otherwise and they do so in an engaging and exciting way. Brainpop Jr. is geared for primary, but there is also a Brainpop site geared towards middle years as well. The yearly subscription is around $225 CAD but in my opinion, worth every cent. With each video there are quizzes, activities, word work, art activities, etc. The video I linked below is the one I showed my class around Learning About Internet Safety. This video is among the free resources you can access on their site – check it out!
Once the video wrapped up, we spoke a little more about the idea together and then set off to create posters to advertise to others how we can be safe online! Below are a few examples of the poster’s my little’s are working on:
Once we complete the posters I plan to shoot a short video of the kid’s sharing their ideas – keep your eyes peeled for that!
All in all, I’m excited at how this project is shaping up! My kid’s are looking forward to it and feel like they had a hand in creating it which I think is so important in education.
Social media gets a bad wrap – there are plethora of reasons why people feel like social media is bad for you. Michael Kwan, a freelance technology writer from Vancouver has wrapped many of the reasons in one article! There are obviously privacy and safety concerns, the psychological hardship that is caused by trying to live up to the portrayal of ones online self, constantly comparing yourself to the images of friends and acquaintances and, similarly to what we spoke about in class, social media creates an echo chamber effect. The echo chamber effect is essentially the idea that we seek out information that promote our agendas and then we find narratives and people that support our views and don’t bother acknowledging other viewpoints and ideas – especially on social media. Other pitfalls include social media being a distraction, showcasing a less than desirable side of ourselves that could potentially create a negative outcome in our professional lives, and then the potential damage to our relationships, feelings of social isolation caused by living in an online world and the teacher in me coming out, potential for poor grammar and laziness in writing. One minute it’s all sunshine and roses, and then, “glimpse into the abyss” as this funny GIF illustrates.
Now that all that negativity is out of the way (I am a realist in a lot of ways I think there is no denying the downsides) I want to take a minute of your time and doing a little celebrating! I was happy to see that a couple of my colleagues Joe and Marley also decided to take some time and look at the incredible amount of good that come from the use of social media. There is a lot of negative in this world so sometimes the soul needs to seek the positive!
FIRST: Social media acts as instant communication and gives you the ability to spread whichever messages you choose! Why not spread something positive? It’s just as easy as something negative. You can tell about yourself, ask about others and stay full updated on your friends lives, or learn about someone new! We have the ability to spread positivity this way.
SECOND: Social media helps build empathy as we post about the trials and tribulations of our lives and others whom we care about can post and offer help or support. Part of the human condition is celebrating ups together, or sharing our downs together. We can take comfort in knowing we aren’t alone as others have shared in our same life experiences. As an educator I also would like to celebrate and acknowledge the amazing work of organizations like Kids Help Phone or Bell Let’s Talk for opening the conversations about how important self care, understanding and empathy are, and for being there to support youth and adults in our province. These outlets are widely shared on social media and therefore a huge positive that is offered.
THIRD: Social media gives us the opportunity to be in touch with the world and therefore build like minded communities! I know I mentioned in the negative (not to dwell ) that the “like-mindedness” can turn into an echo chamber of close-mindedness, however, this idea also gives people hope that they are not alone, that there are people in the world that feel as they do and that they can relate to. When you live in an isolated place, whether that’s by choice, or geographically you can feel disconnected and social media opens up a connected community even though you are not necessarily with the people you’re viewing.
In my classroom I use social media as a way to connect home and school – again, the personal, community connections that I mention above! My classroom Facebook page offers my families a glimpse into their children’s learning and day at school. My families can see their child engaging, spending time with friends and learning. I also use my social media to engage parents into conversation with their child by posting a question or task each day for them to try together. In my personal instance, social media has been an invaluable tool to help me connect what I do each day with what kiddos are doing at home. Social media use for me is only a positive experience and I am so thankful for the opportunity to use it, and work with families that also utilize the technology. Below are some examples of the pictures I would share on my page for my families to enjoy!
I would like to leave this post with a quick video that does a nice job highlighting the positive effects, and the multitude of social media use in our communities and the world.
I have made the decision to forge forward with the integration of a new technology into my classroom for my learning project! I have given this a lot of thought as I already have a Facebook page well established in my room, but I think this is a great opportunity for myself as an educator to try something new and follow the lead of my students. I always get wrapped up in the curriculum and feel bound by time and themes so I know this will help grow my pedagogy and make me a more responsive teacher. My kiddos this year are intrigued with our Facebook, always asking me to snap photos and “put them on our page” so instead of that, why don’t they show me what is important to them and snap the photo’s themselves?
Each day we will have a new Facebook Author and Photographer who will share whatever they want from our day. I will screen the information and add it to our page! This project will give kiddos ownership in a safe way. We will also focus on internet safety and digital citizenship throughout the project. I have attached a permission slip that I will send home tomorrow to my families – I have asked that these slips come back on or before Friday so I can start our project on Monday! This permission slip will cover sharing photos or videos on my blog with no names attached as well as sharing my final project with all of you in class. I feel like this is both a legality and a courtesy to my families to ensure everyone feels safe participating. Feel free to check it out, use it, modify it, etc.