Category Archives: #digcit

The End of a Journey: Summary of Learning

The making of my Summary…

Maybe because I’m a bit nuts, I have always challenged myself to use a new tool for the Summary of Learning projects I’ve done for my grad classes with Alec.  This go-around was no exception.  I narrowed my choices down to two: Genial.ly and Sutori. Ultimately I chose Sutori because it had the least amount of options for creation!  Both can be used as presentation tools… but Genial.ly has WAY more capabilities than just a presentation tool and I did not want to fall into a rabbit hole.  Check it out for yourself!

Because I knew I wanted a way to include links to some of the content but still needed a way to share my learning in a “watchable” format for class, I “presented” my Summary of Learning on Sutori and captured it using Screencastify.  The link to the presentation on Sutori is here –SUMMARY OF LEARNING PRESENTATION.   When you view it as a presentation, you will notice the arrow beside some text.  Click on the arrow and it will open a hyperlinked site for you. 

The one link that I think everyone needs to explore is Top Tools for Learning 2019.  We have talked about or used a variety of these within our class this semester, but some of them are new to me and I am looking forward to exploring them.

As mentioned in my Summary and on Twitter, I curated a Wakelet of some of the Ed Tech we used this semester in class – check it out HERE.  I’d love to have more contributors – shoot me a message!  (and yes, I know I have a grammar error in my Tweet.  Ugh.)

As I mentioned, I used Screencastify to capture the entire presentation as well as to record a Star Wars Intro Crawler I created using part of our course syllabus.  Unfortunately this got cut from the presentation because my video became too long!  So, for your viewing pleasure, here you go!

 

 

A couple more tools:

I used Bitmoji for the cute little avatar likenesses – Bitmoji Kyla is way more put together than Real Life Kyla this last week, that’s for sure!

Bitmoji Image

 

and I used Canva to create two of the images in the presentation:

The Big Four – EC&I 831
Social Medium Exploration

 

Those are the highlights!  I hope you enjoy my summary of learning as much as I enjoyed my time in class this semester!

KYLA’S TOP TAKEAWAY from class:  Wakelet.  It has changed how I organize information in all aspects of my life.  Seriously.

 

Riding the #wakeletwave

 

I humbly present my Summary of Learning for EC&I 831.

Disclaimer:  I have a terrible cold and my nose is red and runny… hence, no webcam views of me.  You’re welcome.

 

Spreading Kindness Through Social Activism

The word “activist” has, in the past, had a negative connotation for me.  I pictured protesters and angry people (this is a similar reaction to my classmates Catherine and Melinda).  I follow some really amazing people on Twitter and to see how humans treat one another in online spaces or on social media – truly cringe-worthy exchanges at times – makes me feel like not one person has been taught any manners.

Angry Birds mob

All the chirping can be a bit overwhelming and has a tendency to make people feel disappointed with the lack of empathy, lack of respect, and sometimes even the lack of common decency towards other people.  Heck, even Thumper told us how to treat other human beings.

Image result for if you can't say something' nice, don't say nothing' at all

But… I’ve recently started to rethink that connotation, mainly thanks to the learning I am involved in through my grad studies and the incredible EC&I 831 classmates that I now consider part of my PLN.  We have created such a great group who share and tweet ideas to each other, and work together to support each other’s projects and personal learning goals.  It is these interactions which have started my shift in thinking, just as there is positive social activism that is restoring my faith in humanity.

A social activist, according to the Oxford dictionary, is “a person who works to achieve political or social change, especially as a member of an organization with particular aims.”

Can online social activism be meaningful and worthwhile?

Absolutely it can!  There are even awards for the best social activism campaigns.  Check out the Shorty Awards, which honours the best campaigns supporting social activism movements and cultural moments.

Hands down my absolute favourite digital campaign in the past few years has a message that really hits home for me.  I lost my mom in 2017.  She was only 59 years old.  No matter what she was going through – two bouts with cancer, living with COPD, raising five kids, living with an alcoholic spouse – she always looked on the positive side and encouraged everyone around her to “Be Kind Always.”  I miss her every minute of every day.  When I learned about the “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” campaign, I was moved to tears.  It is definitely a sentiment that my mom embodied, often volunteering her time and energy to helping others without any thought for herself.  She believed that being kind to others was the single most important thing you could be in your lifetime – that sending out kindness meant that the good vibes would just wash right on over you, too.  My momma was a smart lady.

“The Won’t You Be My Neighbor? #BeMyNeighbor digital campaign sought out to honor Mister Rogers’ legacy by encouraging everyone to spread kindness to every corner of the world. To offset the negativity on the internet, the campaign leveraged multi-platform and real-world activations.  The goal was to bring back the nostalgia of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and inspire the online community to take action and show a little kindness can make a world of difference. This universal message crossed generations, cultures and backgrounds, and became the foundation of the campaign.”

 

The #BeMyNeighbor campaign took the internet by storm, and the message of kindness resonated with everyone, garnering support from fans, influencers and celebrities alike. The impact of the film extended beyond the digital campaign, and prompted spontaneous acts of kindness across the country. People donated to local charities in Mister Rogers’ name, school groups started clothing and shoe drives, and theater chains provided postcards to moviegoers to write kind letters to their neighbors. source.  There was even a contest:

Is is possible to have productive conversations about social justice online?

Yes.  Part of having productive conversations is being a digitally responsible citizen.  Knowing how to have an appropriate conversation online is a skill that doesn’t just happen – it is a learned behaviour that must be practiced!  We would not expect a baby to be born knowing how to communicate – they learn communication skills by observing and practicing.   Teaching students how to be digitally responsible citizens and participate in effective and respectful online communication is being embedded into curricula at all levels.  Many adults would do well to learn this, as well.  Sites such as MediaSmarts and Common Sense Education have wonderful digital citizenship lessons designed for a variety of grade levels which are ready to use for busy teachers.

Change is hard and doesn’t happen overnight.  The difficult and important conversations need to happen.  I am learning this now with my learning project of Truth and Reconciliation.  There is much to learn and do and it is very overwhelming.

Change neon light signage

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

 

What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?

Whatever you do, think about what other people need, too.

In the article “The Internet and the Next Generation of Activism,” Nick Espinosa wrote “So if the future is being shaped by immediate access to all thoughts and niche populations, how do we as a species move our own evolution forward…?  The short answer is the next generation of educated students who will soon begin assuming power in society.”

The following clip, from September 2019, discusses recent uses of social media by young people such as Greta Thunberg and surviving Parkland students to mobilize fellow activitists and supporters.

Many young people today are educating themselves on an increasing level.  Alexa Chukwumah talks about how she used her education and influence as a call to action to start Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls in her Ted Talk.

 

How do we, as educators, help our students to become social activists or to enact social justice?  On her blog, Cult of Pedagogy, Jennifer Gonzalez shared A Collection of Resources for Teaching Social Justice.

 

A Cautionary Tale? 

With the use of technology can come some dangers, such as invasion of privacy, identity theft, and catfishing (right, Alec?).  There are, however, various groups at work who are like crusaders for protecting the technology that is being developed and used for the public interest.  During my research for our topic this week, I found a social activism group called   #PublicInterestTech.  Essentially, this group works to ensure technology is being developed to meet the needs of the public. “Not just what’s latest, and fastest and cool, but what is serving the greater welfare of society. Too many people – particularly those historically excluded or marginalized– aren’t able to access, benefit from or influence the technology that is present in our lives.”  source

 

Public-Interest Technology Resources is a website maintained by Bruce Schneier as a resources page for public-interest technologists with a public policy focus.  This is going to become increasingly important as more of what we do in our lives become technologically dependent.

 

 

So what are we waiting for?  Anyone with an internet connection and a passion to do something great can inspire social activism.  What is your passion?  How could you use the internet to raise awareness or do something for the greater good?

 

Do Something Great neon sign

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Keeping the “Act” in Social Activism

Can a hashtag have impact? Can social media really cultivate change? In my experience, social media has enlightened me, inspired me, and has brought me awareness on various issues and topics, such as:

The power of social media has brought people together to fight for these issues (and more), created discussion and conversation surrounding the topics, and brought awareness to mass amounts of people. In other words, these movements were propelled through social activism.

Social activism can be broken down into two parts.

Social: It refers to using social media for activism. Social media becomes unique in the story of activism because, like Catherine says, it can “gain traction very quickly and draw in a large audience” due to its ability to share instantly.

Activism: According to Wikipedia, it is the “efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in socialpoliticaleconomic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society.” 

So in turn, social activism plays a large role in our society today when it comes to social justice issues.

However, is it enough? The current topic of debate in our #eci831 class is: Can social activism be meaningful and worthwhile?

Daniel brings up an important point by saying “activism requires concrete actions and changes in behavior.” He goes on to say that using social media, such as changing a profile picture or retweeting a social justice issue, is the easy part. It’s much harder to spend time face to face, or doing something concrete, in order to bring change to a critical issue. In a Macleans article by Scott Gilmore, the term #slacktivism is highlighted. If you are new to the word, it’s “showing support for a cause with the main purpose of boosting the egos of participants in the movement.” In the article about #slacktivism, he writes:

“A slacktivist is someone who… will wear a T-shirt to raise awareness. She will wear a wristband to demonstrate support, sign a petition to add her voice, share a video to spread the message, even pour a bucket of ice over her head. The one thing slacktivists don’t do is help by, for example, giving money or time to those who are truly making the world a better place: the cancer researcher, the aid worker, the hospice manager.”

These are all valid points, especially since social activism can lack two big components: time and money. In saying that though, it’s important to remember the benefits that social activism can bring to our communities, our classrooms, and our world. Social media brings relevance to social justice issues through conversation and online discussions because “in today’s digital age it provides a voice for others“, a valuable point brought up by Curtis. Not only does it provide a voice for many, it also gives the opportunity to stand up for the marginalized on a larger level because it has the capacity to reach millions.

Yes, it can be dangerous to encourage social activism without action, but can it be meaningful and worthwhile? Of course. There are a lot of things to be critical about when it comes to social activism, but in the end, it’s important because it creates awareness, draws support, and brings forth a greater community for the cause.

Digital Citizenship in Social Activism

Digital citizenship plays an important role in social activism, especially in the classroom. However, the way that many educators have seen digital citizenship is much different than how it should be used in our classrooms today. Some may say that “digital citizenship can be defined as engaging in appropriate and responsible behaviour when using technology.”

Appropriate and responsible behaviour. Is that all digital citizenship is? Is that what it should be?

In my opinion, it goes far beyond the “do’s” and “don’ts” of the internet. In the words of Katia Hildebrandt, “Being a good digital citizen is about so much more than being safe and responsible online. It’s about participating in meaningful ways to promote equity in networked spaces.

If we want to raise a generation of young people who are inspired and motivated to create change, then we need to instil “digital leadership” in our students. In my latest podcast, I discussed the idea that George Couros brings up about moving from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership– “using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.”

Using the internet in a responsible and ethical way is good, but using the internet to inspire and improve the lives of others is better.

Jennifer Casa-Todd brings up five important ways to use digital leadership in the elementary classroom:

  1. Empower others who have no voice
  2. Address societal inequality
  3. Promote important causes
  4. Learn and share their learning
  5. Be a more positive influence in the lives of others

Citizenship vs Digital Citizenship

Instead of separating citizenship and digital citizenship so distinctly with our students, we need to remember that technology and social media are integrated into their day-to-day lives. We should encourage them to be leaders in every aspect of their lives, including social media. Christy Fennewald brings up an interesting point when she says “citizenship doesn’t end when you shut down the laptop or silence the smartphone. It’s all around us. And it’s just citizenship, period.” As educators, we have the opportunity to cultivate student leaders and citizens who aren’t afraid of making positive change through social media.

Joel Westheimer talks about the 3 types of citizens:

  1. Personally Responsible
  2. Participatory
  3. Justice Oriented

In a recent presentation, Dr. Alec Couros draws attention to some examples that fall under the three categories of citizens, specifically online.

IMG_0887
Image from Dr. Alec Couros
(from Catherine Ready‘s blog)
  1. The personally responsible citizen might sign online petitions, share inoffensive articles, or donate online to their favourite causes.
  2. The participatory citizen might develop and/or share petitions, initiate online fundraisers, or actively share or create information for the social good.
  3. The justice oriented citizen might share articles that disrupt normative thinking, engage in controversial and uncomfortable discussion, or campaign to work toward social change and equity.

The important difference between the three types of citizens is that the justice oriented citizen looks at understanding the underlying issue and acts to solve root causes.

How do we raise these types of citizens? As a primary teacher, implementing social justice in my classroom seems overwhelming at times. However, it helps when I start with empathy. Fostering a community of empathy and understanding is where I always begin. Once students have empathy towards others, they can start to create change.

It’s important for students to know that they are not too young to make a difference and their voices matter in the movement of social activism. As educators, it’s our responsibility to empower our students so that they can use their online presence to do something positive for our world.

So, is it possible for a hashtag to have impact? Yes, but it doesn’t just stop there. Let’s model and teach our students to move from participating citizens, to engaged and justice oriented citizens. We don’t want to forget the act in #socialactivism.

Becoming Knowledge-able

Have you ever taken a teenager’s device away from them?  Or expected them to shut it off or go without it while they are in your classroom?  I have teenage children.  Those devices are their lifelines.  They would rather gnaw off their own limbs than give up their phones.

Addicted to technology
For teenagers, the shackles may be Snapchat, Tik Tok, Youtube, and Games.

I used to teach Media Studies 20 (until my school cut it… which is a whole other conversation).  At the beginning of our digital citizenship and digital literacy unit in MS 20, I asked the students to “unplug” for 24 hours.  Essentially, the students were asked to give me their cell phones and I locked them all in the school safe for 24 hours – my phone included.  When I introduced the experiment, I got all sorts of reactions.  Some students smiled – “piece of cake!”  Some students hyperventilated.  A few students cried.  One student threw her binder across the room and walked out of my class to the office and demanded to drop the class (she was denied).

HOW DARE YOU ASK US TO DO SUCH A THING?

 

I sent a letter home to parents explaining the experiment we wanted the students to participate in.  To earn full marks, they had to agree to give up their phones for the entire 24 hours.  For partial credit, they could give the phone up for the school day – from 8:30 until 3:35. The reactions were varied.  Some parents wrote me letters asking me to excuse their child for “safety reasons” – they had to travel on the highways, or babysit, or they had medical issues.  (Not sure how we all survived without so much as seatbelts in the 70s or with all the horrible hairstyles in the 80s, or riding bikes without helmets, not to mention that the school still has a LAND LINE that students can use to call home).  No problem.  Take your partial credit.

A few parents called the school to complain about my use of power over their kids.  One parent called and told admin that what I was asking was against the law.  Admin backed me up, bless their hearts – one of the VPs even threw his cell phone in the safe with our class phones for a sleepover!   A few parents thought it was such a valuable idea that they sent THEIR phones to school to be locked up with their kid’s phone and planned a family game night!  Boy, were those kids thankful for me and their parents!

Of course, all of the reactions (overreactions?) were discussed.  Students learned SO MUCH from the experiment.  They journalled about their feelings when the experiment was introduced and answered a series of questions when the experiment was over.  Many found that they actually enjoyed the time being unplugged, after they got over the initial feeling of having lost a part of themselves.  The experiment was intended to make the students think critically about their use of technology and about the power media has in our lives.  Critical thinking is EXACTLY what students need to learn in order to be successful in our digitally reliant society.

We live in a time of instant access to information.  It’s a blessing in many ways and can make life easier for some people.  However… there is a huge gap in access for many people as well.  As educators, teaching in a world where knowledge is obsolete can be daunting.  It isn’t how we were taught, for starters.  I graduated high school in 1993.  My teachers during high school, for the most part, had an Objectivism approach.  Upon entering the Faculty of Education, my instructors were more in the realm of Constructivism.  I talked about this in a blog post last fall when I was taking EC&I 833.  Today’s learners rely upon a Constructivist/Collaborative approach.  They really need to know what to do with all of the knowledge that can be found at their fingertips.

Epistemological Perspectives

In his Ted talk “Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able,” Michael Wesch says “What’s in the air is … the digital artifacts of about two billion people on the planet connecting and sharing and collaborating.  We need to move our students from simply being knowledgeable (knowing a bunch of stuff) to be knowledge-able — able to find, sort, analyze, and ultimately criticize and even create new information and knowledge.”

Being critical thinkers goes hand in hand with being good digital citizens.  My colleague, Curtis, talked in his blog post about how the Tech Team in our school division is a big proponent of digital citizenship and promoting a positive digital identity.  “In addition to knowing what is positive, safe, legal, and ethical behavior online, respecting intellectual property, managing personal data, maintaining digital privacy and security, and being aware of data-collection technology…  will become the building blocks for students in an online space.”

As the NCTE state in their definition of 21st Century Literacies, “[b]ecause technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the 21st century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies are multiple, dynamic, and malleable.

Active, successful participants in this 21st century global society must be able to

  • Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;
  • Build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships with others so to pose and solve problems collaboratively and strengthen independent thought;
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes;
  • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information;
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

My favourite site for resources with which to achieve these outcomes is MediaSmarts.  There are so many ready-to-use resources and lessons that can help educators, especially those who may have grown up in a different era (ME!), teach the students who are in our classrooms today.

And, because I loved the original advertisement and all it taught me as a child, here is House Hippo 2.0.  A fantastic, quick watch to help start a conversation with your students about what is real and what is fake in our digital world.

https://youtu.be/5R_tOSRynZU

What do you do to help students develop critical thinking skills in a society that bombards them with media?

We Were on a Break!

Social Media.  Love it or loathe it, there seems to be no escaping its influence.  I remember a time before the internet was even a thing… and all the stages in between. Some of my fellow classmates are probably too young to remember the good old days of dial-up!   ICQ, MSN Messenger, MySpace, … my goodness how far we have come!

Image result for social media
Does your personal device look like you are consumed by social media?

The negatives of social media can seem overwhelming.  It’s a bit like a vampire, sucking time and energy from our lives.  In the wrong hands, it can be dangerous – cyberbullying, fraudulent interactions such as catfishing or even identity theft.  It is scary to think about all of the personal information that we release just by picking up our phones and scrolling through Facebook or by having our locations tracked in Snapchat (which I do not have and will NEVER download) or … is there any danger with Twitter other than I can blink and an hour has gone by while I read people’s rants on politics or get chatting with colleagues in my PLN? 

Though I feel social media is a necessity for our cheer gym and for me as a personal networking tool, I worry about the privacy of my own data and that of our students who may not be the most savvy of digital citizens.  I feel pressure to answer messages right away or to be checking my social media platforms continually.  As a result, I schedule regular “power downs” and completely disconnect from all social media for at least 24-48 hours.  In the summer, I’ll often go longer.  Does anyone else require frequent breaks from social media in order to protect their own sanity?

But, despite the dangers and all of the not so wonderful things about it, social media can also be a fantastic way to connect with others across great distances.  It is a fantastic collaborative space where I can get inspired for my lessons, find new resources, and connect with other classrooms or educators around the globe.  My best friend met her husband in a chat room in 2000… so I do know that connections forged online can be lasting and meaningful.  The power at our fingertips is absolutely incredible when you think about it.

Professionally, social media is an absolutely critical component of my learning and growth as an educator.   As so many of my fellow EC&I classmates have said, the connections we have with one another online help to strengthen our practice.  We can be continually learning and growing professionally with access to MOOCs and the interactive nature of social media.  But that also can bring a bit of a negative – continually comparing oneself to others online and feeling inferior.  As my classmate Amanda said in her blog post, “When I see all of the creative, thought provoking, and engaging things that other teachers are doing in their classroom, it’s hard not to compare myself to them.”  I totally agree, Amanda.  And a small part of me wonders if somewhere out there, maybe someone feels that way about my posts.  I hope not… because I am fully in the “fake it until you make it your reality” school of life. 

Though the following infographic is slightly dated (RIP Google+), I found this to be pretty spot on for the pros and cons of some of the most popular social media.  Facebook, Instagram and Youtube are the ones I use the most, and Twitter now that I’m getting used to using it (still hate it on a mobile device).  

pros and cons of social media
Which platform is your personal favourite?

Probably the most incredible thing about the power of social media for me, so far, has been the ability to connect with others and grow in my confidence and abilities as a teacher.  An inquiry I jokingly made last semester when I was in EC&I 834 – “How the heck does a person become an online teacher around here?” – has led me to a slight change in my career this year, all thanks to social media and a few awesome people who pushed me in the proper direction.  

How has social media affected your personal or professional life in positive and/or negative ways?  I’d love to hear your stories!