Category Archives: digital citizenship

Social Media + Teaching = ????

When looking at social media, I took a moment to reflect on my first experiences with various networks. I had a MySpace account, I don’t think that anything that I had posted on it “about me” was true. I was still nervous about putting myself out there on the internet, where anybody could find me. I have had accounts with many other different sites, some that have come and gone, some that probably still exist somewhere but are rarely used.

giphy3
via GIPHY

I created my Facebook account in 2007 and, at that time, was one of the very first people in my school to get one. I know this from the confused looks I received from my peers when I asked them about Facebook. A childhood friend of mine had told me I should join the network, that it was the next big thing, and so I did. Facebook was 100% me and I definitely overshared (sometimes I hate seeing the “On This Day” posts….cue a major face palm!). Over time, I have limited some of what I share, I no longer update my status multiple times a day, I try to only share the important things, and I filter what I share and like based upon those that I am connected with on the site….more on this later.

I joined Twitter my first year of university in Alec’s ECMP 355 course. It was so different for me to experience and it took me a LONG time to decide that I like the platform (as in, I only really started enjoying using it during the Winter 2017 term for ECI 834)). It was too random for me to fully embrace the way it shared information.

When thinking about teaching in the digital age, I have to admit that I do not really know any other way. In internship I created a Wikispace with all of my assignments. Shortly after starting in my first (and current) position I created a classroom Facebook page and encouraged students and parents to connect. For me, many of the forms of social media have always been there. The major change that I have seen in my teaching career is the shift towards a focus of including these digital tools and various forms of social media into the classroom in a meaningful way.

App Networks Smartphone Mobile Phone Internet
via Max Pixel

Even though I may be considered a digital native in teaching, it does not mean that I do not have concerns over social media in schools. I worry about cyberbullying, about inappropriate content, and about not knowing how or when to interact with others online. I also worry about some of the things that I am guilty of: oversharing and sharing information that may not be safe to share (age, address, full name, etc.). I have many fears about having students online but none of them overshadow my strong belief that students today need to learn and understand how to use the internet and various forms of social media to access the knowledge they seek and, as Pavan Arora states, students need to learn how to apply the vast amount of knowledge that they can access.

I really resonated with Michael Wesch‘s comment that we need to be focusing more on what types of questions our students are asking as opposed to what and how are we teaching content. I think that this is a critical aspect of teaching in the digital age and have had many students ask me over my career “why am I learning this if I can just Google it?” or “why can’t I just use the app?” and each time I have stepped back and had to look at how I am teaching and how it can be more meaningful for my students. Sometimes, it comes down to a simple, yet unfortunate, “because that is what the curriculum asks you to do to earn the credit”, but often these questions cause me to come up with a new way of covering a topic, it pushes me to encourage students to come up with the content themselves through inquiry, a tactic that I enjoy using in my math class. By allowing my students to create the knowledge for themselves, they gain an ownership of their learning which helps them buy in to the other concepts that may not lend themselves to this as easily.

app-1013616_640
via Pixabay

By using blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms, we are helping our students learn to connect and interact with others from around the world in a professional manner. There is a definite need for ensuring that our students have a deep understanding of digital citizenship before embarking on this experience but, without allowing them to experience the open internet, I would argue that there is no way to be sure they understand what it means to be a digital citizen. When looking at integrating various types of technology, including social media, into our classrooms, Shelby mentions that we need to ensure that we are integrating the technology for authentic reasons as students can easily recognize when we are implementing something for the sake of implementing it. John Seely Brown and Richard Adler state that Web 2.0 is about connections, not just about information. I feel that this is the niche that social media can play in our classrooms. Brown and Adler also touch on research that demonstrates that a social aspect of education is essential and that students that meet in study groups tend to see greater success in their courses, something that is echoed in Jacque‘s mention of a student who regularly attends study groups. To push this to the limit, there is the case of a group of students taking notes simultaneously on a Google Doc and the interesting questions it raises about the importance of the course if these notes could be accessed without attending or could be forwarded to the next cohort of students.

Where do you fall on the scale of digital native to digital immigrant? Do you have a variety of different social media accounts? Which ones, if any, would you feel comfortable integrating into your classroom with either your personal or a professional account?

 


Open Education: To use or not to use, THAT is the question!

This week, we were asked to think about the consequences and complexities of learning “in the open”. This is something that I have often debated and dabbled in throughout my teaching career and I am excited to be jumping in to a space where I am a little more comfortable with implementing open learning in my classroom.

https://giphy.com/embed/bEVKYB487Lqxy

How integrating open education has gone for me thus far… via GIPHY

 

I have seen student blogs done well, I remember taking ECMP 355 (I think that was the number) with Alec in my undergrad studies and commenting on the student blogs of a Calculus class, asking questions and encouraging the students writing them to think outside of the box and, ever since then, I imagined a classroom where I would do the same. In reality, I struggled with access to technology, bandwidth, and student and community support in implementing blogs. I also had to grapple with an experience that many of my students had where using blogs was not as well planned as it could have been and they had a “sour taste in their mouths” about the process.

What are the best possible outcomes of having students share their work with the greater world? I can’t even brush the surface of the benefits! Having students be advocates in their own learning, asking questions, and making connections to experts or others that are interested in a topic are just a start. In taking students to Europe on a tour of World War sites, I had the opportunity to invite a Holocaust survivor to Skype into our classroom and share her story. As a group, we had read her two books on the experiences she had at Theresienstadt, a concentration camp, and we arranged a question and answer period with her during the school day. To top it off, she happened to come to Regina and we were able to take some students to meet her face to face. The learning that those students experienced could never be replicated by me talking, them reading or us watching a video. What if every student could connect to an “expert” or someone who has spent their lifetime investing in a particular hobby and learn from that person? What if they could ask their questions to someone who was present at an event? This may not be plausible for all situations but there are many where an expert can take a lesson from “blah” to amazing in no time at all!

What about the dangerous side of the internet? The side that may harm our students? I agree with Nam that our students are vulnerable and we need to understand that there are those online that do wish them harm. Some of them (or their parents) may value their privacy of not being on the internet, such as Joe mentioned in his blog. Not only do we need to be aware of those who may try to physically harm our students, we need to be aware of trolls and cyber-bullying, not just from the outside but from inside our classroom as well. The key to supporting our students is to ensure that we start their “open education” with digital citizenship.

Digital citizenship encompasses all the ways that we interact with others, either actively (commenting, posting, sharing) or passively (viewing) online. Coralee found a great image that describes the aspects of digital citizenship below.

9 Elements of Digital Citizenship

Photo credit: http://www.fractuslearning.com and Coralee‘s post.

By ensuring our students have a deep understanding of what it means to be a digital citizen, we are teaching them how to interact and how to protect themselves online. It is not enough to teach students the aspects of digital citizenship, teachers need to model this and hold true to their teachings, not being afraid to talk about the repercussions of those that were not acting safely and encourage conversation about issues such as cyber-bullying and how to prevent it.

Overall, is having our students learn in the open worth it? I would answer a definite yes. Not all teachers may feel comfortable with using open education at young ages but, in looking at educators such as Kathy Cassidy, with the right framework and planning, I think that it is always doable. I think the key is to start slow and gradually add to your reptoire of teaching tools.

Have you integrated different types of open education in your classroom? What types of activities have you used? Let me know!


From Contraband to Connections

cellphone
From Pinterest

When I was in high school, cellphones were banned from classrooms.  Teachers would take phones away by the dozen, and without batting an eye.  Cellphones were taboo.  They were a privilege and gradually they have gone from being such, to being an essential part of our every day lives.  Cellphones have slowly gone from being disposable to an ingenious way to be in constant contact and communication with one another.  They have gone from being something we took bad photos on, frantically pressing the end button when you accidentally hit the internet browser button or calling mom or dad when you were about to miss curfew, only to lose cell service, to a tool that takes better pictures than a camera, has instant internet access, and endless service to be used to share information with the world.  Now, why wouldn’t we, as educators want to harness a tool like that to teach students about our ever-changing society and world?  What better way to teach them about this life than through a tool that is already at their fingertips, waiting to be explored?

Most teachers shy away from the use of cellphones and social media in the classroom because they hardly understand it themselves.  This uncertainty causes many teachers to ban cellphones in classrooms or to be uncomfortable teaching students about it, because they themselves, don’t understand the material.  Teachers are supposed to be the experts; so how do we teach students about something when they are clearly the expert?  I grew up in the era of the “beginning of the cute flip phone” where Facebook was the newest trend in high school and EVERYONE had it.  For me, social media has been a way of life since my teenage years and so I can relate to my students quite well in terms of the use of social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Kik, etc., because quite frankly I use them daily.  For me, teaching students with technology is a given.  I have a Google Classroom, Class Dojo, and the Remind 101 app on my phone to send out reminders for homework, quizzes, and of course, so students can message me for homework help.  I do this all without batting an eye, but what I do, could cause another teacher to spiral into a panic attack, especially because I give students access to me 24/7 through Remind.  So with this in mind, teaching with social media should be no different, right??

Social Media Logotype Background
Kiev, Ukraine – October 17, 2012 – A logotype collection of well-known social media brand’s printed on paper. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Myspace, Tumblr, Livejournal, Foursquare and more other logos.

Wrong!   Using social media to teach students creates a whole other range of possibilities because students are exposed to the outside world.  In my Google Classroom, my Class Dojo, and my Remind 101, students’ messages, ideas, and lives remain private between, me, them and their parents.  Adding social media to the mix causes some teachers to disengage because there are many consequences and risks to using it.  In my case as a high school teacher, students have access to these apps on their phones constantly.  It causes a lot of problems, like cyber bullying, harassment, plagiarism, cheating, sexting, etc. but there is also a lot of educating that goes with it.  We have a couple of IMG_1986presentations around bullying and cyber bullying every year, as well as a presentation on sexting and child pornography by the police department.  A lot of these issues in social media can be solved by simply being open to them and talking about the issues with students.

Maturity is a big thing as well.  I have engaged in a few social media projects in my experience and so far, they have gone well!  In my ELA B30 IMG_1988class, students have the option of creating a character profile on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, and some have been pretty terrific.  I have also done a Snapchat project with my Grade 9 Female Health class.  The goal was to create more self esteem and positive body image so for a week, I asked them to take selfies by themselves and with their friends and post them to their stories for everyone to see.  The girls loved it and some of them actually said it helped them become more confident in themselves.  Although my experiences have been mostly positive, exposing students for the whole world to see their work can be amazing or horrifying depending on the reactions they get on their work from the public eye.  I think the biggest thing for teachers is to be open about the technology with students.  Because my students are older, I expect them to have a certain maturity level when they are engaging online or on social media.  We also discuss expectations and consequences to not following directions.  I think it is worth the risk to engage upon because students are exposed to this world whether we like it or not!  As educators, we might as well embrace it, and take advantage of a great learning opportunity and teach our students how to be responsible digital citizens!

8540717756_396867dbab_m
From Flickr