Category Archives: Reflections

The Golden Rule

This week, we discussed social activism online and whether or not it can be effective.  Is it worthwhile?  I think it is possible for it to be worthwhile and meaningful if the people that are advocating for the cause are invested beyond just social media.  We discussed in class the idea of slackivism.  Wikipedia explains this to be the concept that people believe that are contributing to a cause by simply re-tweeting, sharing or liking a page.  However, sharing or liking something on Facebook, although a great way to create more acknowledgement towards a specific issue, does not solve the issue.  It is a way to share information and give people who actually WANT to create change, a medium to do so.

Khaled_Mohamed_Saeed
Image Via Wikipedia

One excellent example I found was Wael Ghonim: a social activist who used social media to help create the revolution in Egypt in 2011.  Essentially the movement began with the death of Khaled Said, and a picture that was posted and shared relentlessly on social media.  This sparked interest and Ghonim created a Facebook page to support this outrage.  He gathered hundreds of thousands of followers; then realized, it wasn’t enough to just gather online.  They needed to do something.  He asked his users an important question: “Today is the 14th of January. The 25th of January is Police Day. It’s a national holiday. If 100,000 of us take to the streets of Cairo, no one is going to stop us. I wonder if we could do it.” (TED, 2015)  And they did it.  The video goes on to explain the aftermath and the revolution we know today.  I think it is awe-inspiring that something so life-changing began on social media and with one picture.

As educators, I think we do have a responsibility to model active citizenship online, but it can be difficult.  As teachers, we are on the radar all the time.  Anything we say online can be traced, twisted, or interpreted the wrong way and it can affect us, personally and professionally.  The challenge then becomes to advocate professionally and ask ourselves questions before interacting online:

  • “How will this be viewed by people who do not know me?”
  • “How will this be viewed by people that do know me?”
  • “Would I be okay if my students saw this?”
  • “Would I be okay if my colleagues/family saw this?”

Although, it is unfortunate we cannot be as uncensored as other people can be online, are these not questions we consider before speaking out loud?  Why should what we discuss online be different than what we talk about in our classrooms or in our day-to-day lives?  And shouldn’t all people really abide by these “unwritten rules”?  We are taught from a young age to be kind, to listen to other’s opinions, to think before we speak, so why is it that as soon as we are hidden behind a screen and a keyboard that we forget these guidelines apply and become trolls, argumentative or outright rude?  I think the most important thing is that we model our personal beliefs and values and model the

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Image via CCTV

ideologies that we would be okay with our students, our friends, and our families seeing and modeling too!  After all, that is our job and yes, sometimes it is hard to remain in this mindset in the heat of the moment, but these rules apply to the real world, why shouldn’t they apply to the online one too?


Week 5: Social Media and Its Potential to Build a Positive World

15 years ago, the world didn’t know Facebook and Twitter, it’s hard to imagine how fast the social media has developed over the time. It’s no doubt that since the booming of social media, the world has been connected and people are getting closer to each other than ever.

Social media has changed the world in the way it enables people to know what is happening in other parts of the world where few people are capable to travel there and see by themselves.  When the Harvey hurricane hit Texas, people around the world were watching constantly updated news on Facebook and Twitter, many people in the center of the hurricane used social media to inform their friends and families that they are safe and they shared the pictures their local area current situations. People from other parts of the world reached out to the hurricane’s victims via social media, they sent supplements, food, clothes, people also established many online donation lines via social media. With social media, people can discover mystery countries such as North Korea where only a few people have had the chance to actually go there and see, people are able to see the life of a place where they would never be able to go with the shared pictures on social media. Social media has also changed the world with its capacity to spread information. Local authorities use social media to inform their residents about emergencies, electricity cut, or community social events. In remote communities, social media acts as a tool for people to interact with outside world. Education makes a better world and online education through various social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter enable more and more people to access knowledge anywhere and anytime. My MEd – Educational Administration program used to be delivered in purely face-to-face format but it has just been transformed into an online program to accommodate students from across Saskatchewan, I have a classmate from Nunavut and she is able to take classes in the program thanks to the online format of our program.

Social media has many potentials in building a better world thanks to the speed of spreading information. Although there are still many people who still don’t use social media due to various reasons, unavailability of the Internet, lack of devices, personal choices…, in the future, I strongly believe that the number of people who use social media will dramatically increase. The more the number of people uses social media, the more we are connected to each other. 


Taking Control of my Digital Identity

Tansi classmates,

This blog post is about my digital identity. Specifically, I am going to address three topics. The first topic will be about my path towards creating a digital identity. The second topic will be about why I decided to have an online presence and digital identity and the third topic will be about my strategies to maintain and stay up to date on my digital identity.

This section will be about my social media and digital evolution. I began to learn about social media when I was still in elementary school. I remember the beginning of online chats with ICQ. Remember this?

That sounds brings back so many memories! Skip forward to when I was an undergraduate student. There was MySpace, Hi5 and then Facebook. The rest is history…

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Image via: logodatabases.com

hi5

Image via: gigaom.com

There was, however, a time that I really avoided getting on board with all the social media trends. For example, when I heard about SnapChat I really did not want to try it out. I found the constantly changing technologies to be too much to keep up with.  Another example is Twitter. I had joined Twitter a long time ago and then my page was hacked and someone was retweeting pornographic images from my twitter feed.

 

are-you-kidding-meThankfully a friend of mine texted me and let me know that there was some suspicious activity on my account. The problem is, that if you are not the original author of that tweet and you retweet it, then it cannot be deleted from your twitter profile (as far as I understand but if you know how please let me know!). At this point, I felt overwhelmed with Twitter and I just gave up. It was this Twitter experience along with working in the area of vocational training that brought me to a point when I realized that I needed to make a conscious effort to create a positive digital identity.

Now, looking at the second topic of the reason that I have decided to make sure I have an online presence. This article that we read in the first week of class gives voice to the reason that I ensure I have an online presence. A student in the article put it best. He said: “It is better to have an online presence,” added Daniel Mobilio, 14. “If people search you on the Internet, you don’t want them to get a bad impression of you.” This is particularly important because I work in the field of vocational training. I have to make sure that my students are aware of the fact that “it’s a few more years until the paper resumé will be dead.”

Many of my adult students like to connect once our class time together is over. I also like to keep in touch with them to get updates on settlement. I use LinkedIn as a way to stay connected with former students and to model a positive digital presence. Roberta mentioned how “technology must be relevant and interactive to the coursework.” I really liked this point and I would say this is one of the main reasons that I decided to get online and get building an online presence. I know that I need to understand what is relevant and integrate interactive forms of learning, and be able to provide the best coaching and mentoring possible. This means, being ahead of the trends in my field.

Going forward, to maintain my digital identity I plan to use my personal learning networks on Twitter to stay abreast of the changes in social media, specifically as it relates to vocational training. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool and I learn a lot about maintaining a digital presence on that network as well. Through LinkedIn I have also created various mentoring/coaching relationships with other practitioners.

What strategies do you have for keeping abreast of the changing technologies? Do you feel overwhelmed by the task of maintaining a positive digital identity?

Thanks for reading.

 

 


Teaching the Truth about Fake News

In today’s day and age, you can’t go a day without hearing some new rumour or supposed news story.  Even real news stories can have a twist of fake-ness to them.  So how does one educate the citizens of tomorrow how to distinguish between real and fake?  Students are bombarded with advertisements, viral videos and countless media outlets on a daily basis.  It is then vitally important to challenge them to be critical about what they read.

One way of doing this, is teaching them the proper way to research.  I often do this in my ELA B30 classes where my students are in charge of researching a global issue via TED.com.  They need to discuss their issue and present relevant information for the class and also come up with viable solutions for this global catastrophe.  I encourage students

Google-like-a-boss
Image Via LifeHack

to find something they are passionate about and in most cases they do.  I’ve had topics such as Blackfish, global warming, overpopulation, refugees and war, and poverty.  These are REAL issues and my students gladly teach the class about why we need to act now!  Of course, with these issues comes two very different sides.  So, we discuss how to find credible sources, what types of things to look for in a valid website or post.  We discuss finding said information in more than one place and making sure as Alec Couros said in class, “take the emotions out of the equation.”  When people are revved up about an issue, it is human nature to find information that justifies our way of thinking and not information that challenges it.  Coralee discusses in her blog this week a lot about the Trump government and his accusations  that anyone who doesn’t agree with him is soliciting fake news.  She also makes an excellent point that someone is obviously believing this fake news.  To avoid this myself, I encourage my students to look at both sides.  What are the arguments for?  What are the arguments against?  How can they challenge these points appropriately and rebuttal?  The biggest challenge in teaching my students to think critically is getting them to remove their emotions from the situation.

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Image Via FoxNews

The same works for day to day teachings.  It’s not something I intrinsically do but it’s something that when the opportunity comes up that I take advantage of.  It could be as simple as a rumour they heard at school.  If a student confides in me, I ask them “how do you know it’s true?”  It often gets them to pause and think about the source of

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Via Tenor

information, even if it’s for just a second.  These little teachable moments are what matters the most because it teaches students to not only think for themselves, but it asks them to question the status quo and think about everything that they learn and hear.  In class if a student brings up a question and one I do not know for sure, I ask students to google the answer; but not just one student, a few.  This creates discussion around the answers they find as they criticize each other’s responses.  Whose answer is right?  Are they all right?  Is there a combination that is correct?  What sources did they use?  These lessons are the most important and they aren’t something that can be structured, only molded into a lesson given the right circumstances.

As for myself, I try to read many different sources on a certain topics before deciding on a correct answer.  It is more time consuming but then I can feel confident in the knowledge I am acquiring.  I recently watched “What the Health?” a documentary on617985582 Netflix about the meat and dairy industry in the United States.  What I learned on the documentary was enough to make me give up meat forever.  However, I realized that the story was completely focused on veganism the entire time.  Never bringing up the flaws in its own diet.  After thinking about the documentary a little more, I started analyzing it and discussing it with a few of my friends.  And then my search took me online to a plethora of resources both crediting and discrediting the documentary.  My head kllmwas spinning with information.  In the end, I did not give up meat or dairy because for one, I enjoy both of these things and come on, like I’m going to give up pizza!  This is just one example of debates online and my approach to critically analyzing what I read and see in this world full of information.  It is enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed, but it just takes practice to cut through the fluff and hopefully find at least a version of the truth you can feel satisfied with!


Fake News, the Millennials, and the Classroom

via Giphy

It’s hard not to think of President Trump when you consider the concept of fake news.  As a prominent global figure, who is quick to label most media outlets that do not speak favorably of him or his Administration, it is hard not to think of him. As a Gen Xer who grew up watching network news, I am quite offended by his accusations and a little alarmed.

Although not our leader, he is considered the leader of the Free World, and as such a role model for our young people. In my view, the bizarre statements and erroneous claims are troublesome – if not fake. Recently, Trump claimed he ‘came up’ with the term fake news in a recent interview with former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee on TBN. This claim being disputed by, CNN Editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza, in a recent article. I have had practice discerning credible media outlets, and more specifically,  what political bias or point of view they are presenting. However, this was a skill learned with time and without the constant suspicion of false reporting. How would that have affected my worldview of the media? of power? of justice?

In our EC&I 831 session on October 10th, our professor Dr. Alec Couros pointed out that although we may think certain information as fake, others may believe it. Satire is no exception. I found an edited version of a recent interview between President Trump and former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee. As you will note in the clip, Governor Huckabee is replaced with Stephen Colbert from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS. Clearly, this is satire. However, when I say “clearly”, I am making a lot of assumptions about the viewers. Who do you think would be prone to believing this? Perhaps people in other nations who are not familiar with Colbert? Thoughts?

Here is the original interview with Gov. Mike Huckabee on TBN.

[Fake] News on Social Media meets the Classroom

My classmate, Ryan, shared in his blog post on this topic recently that the Millennial generation, those born in the 1980s to the mid to late 1990s, are more likely to get there news using social media. As this is the demographic that I teach it had me wondering how these young adults interact with the news they receive on social media.

Pew Research Center conducted a study that confirms Ryan’s source in that Millennial’s aged 18 to 29 years old are more likely to turn to online platforms for news. However, of all adults accessing their news using social media, for example, only 30% have some confidence in its accuracy.

Few have a lot of confidence in information from professional news outlets or friends and family, though majorities show at least some trust in both, but social media garners less trust than either

If I can take this at face value, then I speculate that at least 66% of the population use either common sense, critical thinking skills or fact check when consuming news on social media. In that 30% who have some confidence in news on social media I wonder who are being blindsided by fake news and bringing that into our discussions in the classroom. If you note from the study above, 77% of us trust at least some or a lot of what our friends and acquaintances share with us. I wonder what will happen to this statistic over time with the increase of fake news in social media.

If fake news becomes so convincing that even the best ‘sniffer’ in the classroom doesn’t question it’s authenticity then aren’t we contributing to the distortion that fake news can generate? If we become increasingly aware that fake news is out there will we become suspicious of anyone who shares with us? How does that change the dynamics of our relationship with others? To be honest, Grad studies has already started to open my eyes to a new way of thinking about my world! Now I need to be extra careful in what my friends/students/acquaintances tell me in case they have been infected by the Fake News virus?!? Alec shared a great quote in class and I truly feel the affects of it:

“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

― Garry Kasparov

What to do?

I see great opportunities to demonstrate methods of fact checking mainstream articles that students wish to use in assignments. One great resource we have are our librarians. Students can certainly contribute to this as well. Furthermore, building into the assessment piece the process in which the student determines they are relying on a credible source may be beneficial. I can see how this holds the student accountable to their audience when sharing information. Again, going back to being a good digital citizen.

Do any teachers or adult educators build the process of fact checking, or otherwise verifying, sources into their assessment? Has that been successful in holding the student accountable?

 

 


Moving my Bubble

There is no debate that social media has changed and continues to change the world we live in. Industry, education, communication, government, industry, and the list goes on. Where the debate rages is whether or no social media is a force for good, or a force for evil. I have already discussed my own predisposition to see the negative potential of the Internet and social media in previous blog posts here, and here,

 (taken from here)

This week’s EC&I 831 lecture didn’t do a whole lot to dislodge me from my  preconceptions. I’m not sure I would be able to have the same sense of humour if anything like this happened to me. Intellectually, however, I know that social media is a tool. As with any tool, it can be used to positive, or negative ends. I already know, and have experienced some of the negative outcomes social media can have for kids, individuals, or the public at large.

I also realize the Internet and social media is only going to become prominent in my students’ lives, and therefore more prominent in my own life at school. I’m not trying to completely bust out of my bubble. I believe that a healthy amount of skepticism and suspicion will go a long way in keeping my own on-line activities safe, as well as allow me to be a cautionary influence for my own students as they explore social media. That said, I also want to wholeheartedly embrace social media and its power to transform how my students learn at school.

I need to move my bubble a bit, and truly appreciate the positive role social media can have, is currently having, and already has had to change the world. I can’t think of any better way to move my bubble than to inundate myself with some stories of positive change created or abetted by social media. So let’s get to it:

Ice Bucket Challenge!

(Taken from here)

Who doesn’t remember the ice bucket challenge? In 2014, a challenge to dump oneself with ice cold water went viral and resulted in 115 million dollars being raised for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research, over 8 weeks …

Batkid Saves San Francisco!

Over 10 000 volunteers signed up through a social media campaign headed by the Make-a wish foundation to make a boys wish to become batman and save San Francisco come true.

Charity Swearbox

I love this one. Charity Swearbox turns one of the things that bugs me the most about twitter into a positive. Every time you swear into twitter, it turns into a donation to a charity of your choosing.

Child’s Play

 (taken from here)

Facebook and Twitter have helped Child’s Play raise millions of dollars for kids that are confined to hospital.

Crisis Mapping in Disasters

(Taken from here)

Volunteers collaborate to build maps showing the needs of communities hit by disasters to help guide purposeful and effective intervention. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a map built by the collaboration of volunteers ended up being used by the US Marine corps to help them direct efforts., and helped to save lives.

These are just a few examples of the many I could find with a very basic search on  the impact of social media. Meaningful instances of the real good social media can play definitely helps me to temper more entrenched predispositions to distrust social media, and I believe will entice me to make genuine efforts to better incorporate social media in the classrooms I support.

Week 4: We should teach our children how to apply the knowledge in their own context rather than the knowledge itself

I had a chance to listen to a Ted talk by Pavan Arora with the topic: “Knowledge is obsolete, so now what?”  Pavan talked about the ever-changing knowledge nowadays and he insisted that some knowledge will be useless in the future. Pavan then raised two thought-provoking questions: (1) “Are we teaching what the students need?” and (2) “How to ensure students can apply the knowledge we teach them today in the future?”. I would like to address these questions with my personal observation and with what I have experienced in the educator role.

(1) “Are we teaching what the students need?”

In the digital age, students are now more accessible to knowledge than ever. When students face a certain problem in their life, for example, they use search engines such as Google to search for instant solutions for that problem. In school, students use different resources to locate the knowledge they want to learn. This evidence demonstrates that students are taking control of their learning more than ever. While this is considered a good learning habit of students, a one-size-fits-all and inflexible curriculum is believed to negatively affect this learning habit. Let’s say when we put 20 students in one computer class, teach them how to use Windows operation system because we assume Windows is common and all students should learn how to use Windows for good. By doing this way, we totally ignore the need of other students who might find they like to learn MacOS or another system rather than Windows. Consequently, these students would find the lessons on Windows system useless and they would less likely to apply that knowledge in the future. Choosing what to teach by subjectively assuming the needs of students poses a high risk for educators. It is a waste of time, budget, the energy of educators since students find what they are taught irrelevant, and inapplicable. As a result, students might participate in learning those subjects because they want to secure their marks, attendance but not because they are interested.

(2) “How to ensure students can apply the knowledge we teach them today in the future?”

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(Credit: Actnext.org)

As an educator, I would like to spread the thinking “no knowledge is useless” to my students because I believe at some points of life, each of us might use a knowledge which we thought we are not gonna use. By this, I would encourage students not to devalue any knowledge even when they find it useless or that knowledge doesn’t serve their interests. Teaching based on the needs of each of individual students seems like an impossible task to be done in short time for educators because to make this happen, we need an educational reform that requires lots of time, and supports from Ministry of Education and other educational departments. Some of us might be required to adhere to a certain curriculum but what we can do is to talk to students, listen to what they think about the knowledge that we are teaching, encourage students to give us feedback, from that we will be able to find where we can adjust, maybe just a little bit in the curriculum, so we will be able to deliver knowledge that students find useful and interested in learn. As I said before, personalizing each of individual student’ learning when you alone manage a classroom with let’s say, 20 students, is an impossible task. The goal is to recognize the diversity of the needs of the student. From that, we can try to provide as many opportunities as we can for students to engage in interactive learning, learning through experiment, teach them creativity instead of the knowledge itself. I believe when we teach students the knowledge itself, they might forget what they have learned even just after a few days. However, when the students are taught how to apply the knowledge in their context, they will remember the knowledge for a long time and they will likely be able to use the knowledge even in the future.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. If you are a teacher, I would be happy if some of you can share how do you teach creativity in your classroom? How do you teach students to apply knowledge?

Nam Le


Concerns of an Educator in the Digital (social) Media Age

This week we are asked to reflect on what we, as educators, feel are concerns about teaching in the digital (social media) age. And, further, to reflect on how we can balance these concerns with the need to prepare children (or other learners) to succeed in a rapidly changing world and uncertain future. I will address these concerns and possible solutions as an adult educator and as a mother of a preschooler.

As an adult educator at the post-secondary level, I try to be mindful of the types of digital media (including social media) I use to facilitate learning. As with most  educational institutions we have heavy curriculum, and tight timelines, that may not lend itself easily to utilizing certain types of digital or social media.  Micheal Welsh’s Tedx Talk on moving from students being knowledgeable to knowledge-able really struck a cord with me. Welsh shows a picture of a lecture theater full of (disengaged) students presumably being ‘taught to’. Welsh rightfully argues that this does not engage students in learning.

What really struck me was Welsh’s ideas of engaging students and enriching the learning experience. Welsh argues that students must be given the opportunity to practice obtaining knowledge. He advocates that educators present real problems to students, where the answer is not necessarily known by the teacher; give the students the opportunity to collaborate with others (even on a global scale), share and collect information, and publish it for others to learn from; and do all of this with relevant and available media.  So many ideas are buzzing in my mind in how this can be incorporated in some of the courses I teach… but only a few…

The challenge, as I have experienced, is in courses with very heavy curriculum, tight deadlines, and where the major assessment piece is a set standard test that uses the multiple choice bubble sheet. Faced with this, the student’s number one question is definitely “Will this be on the exam?”.  What then? How do we address the need to educate young adult learners to become critical thinkers, to practice creating knowledge, when we are only asking them to demonstrate their ability to understand what is in the course textbook?

I realize this is a dire picture to paint for higher education, and not all courses are like this, but I believe part of the limitation is instructor lack of understanding and use of digital media for educational purposes. In my opinion, institutions need to put more energy into encouraging and educating instructors in the multiple ways in which digital and social media can be used to open the world of possibilities for student engagement and enriched learning. Additionally, institutions need to understand the barriers educators face in understanding and implementing digital and social media in the classroom and address those concerns, such as heavy curriculum, anxiety of learning new technology, or work-life balance.

Concerns about young children and digital media

As a mother of a preschooler, I am concerned with the amount of screen time little children are being exposed to. If I remember correctly from our conversation during Tuesday’s (October 3rd) online class, children’s screen time averages 6 hours per day. Although my preschooler averages much less, she is still exposed. I have noticed that too much screen time causes overstimulation and her inability to regulate emotions when interacting with us. Marley, a teacher in the K-12 system, expresses similar concerns of her students being overstimulated by exposure to digital media, at home and in the classroom.

The insight I gained into a teacher’s thoughts on this issue, makes me wonder how I can ensure my preschooler’s exposure is meaningful. Because, let’s face it, digital media is, and will continue to be, a conduit to higher learning and connection to others. As a parent, I am one of my daughter’s first teachers and with that I have a responsibility to ensure the online content my daughter is consuming is both safe and appropriate. I need to consider ways in which I can help my daughter recognize the value of what and how she is learning by becoming more involved in her interaction with digital media.

I will admit as one who has intermediate skills when it comes to utilizing digital media, including social media, I still feel behind in what are the most current and innovative tools and apps that can facilitate meaningful learning for children or young adults. Embracing new ideas and exploring new-to-me digital media applications is opening a world of possibilities for me to facilitate improved learning experiences not only for my daughter, but also for my students at the post-secondary level.


“Expiration date on my carton of knowledge”

Evolving Learning = Evolving Concerns

This week, as I read, watch and think about how learning has changed in so short a period, even from my own schooling in the 1990s, my personal concerns with social media and its impact on learning begin to shift. Yes, a concern for privacy and safety remains, and I doubt that will change. How I view that concern over privacy and safety is moving as I draw parallels to the dangers of many commonly used tools. But a different concern also emerges, a concern over my role in preparing students for the kind of learning and employment they will later engage in. This is not a new concern, and has been the main driver of my own professional development right from the beginning of my teaching career six years ago. But the readings of the past week help me better articulate my concern.

My Responsibility

I have always seen my role as central in preparing students for later life. The impact of a teacher is not always immediately felt, nor can it be easily quantified, but there are very few who would argue against the influence a teacher can have in our youths’ development and later life outcomes. Working in a community school where I see the disadvantages some students are pushing against, I know how critical school can be in a child’s life. Supporting students, who are most vulnerable, in their classrooms is a defining characteristic of my position as a Learning Resource Teacher.

The Concern

           “Few of us today will have a fixed, single career; instead, we are likely to follow a trajectory that encompasses multiple careers.” (Wesch, 2010)

“65% of elementary school students will have jobs that don’t exist today.”    (Arora, 2014)

These facts are not very surprising when I consider how much the internet has changed since my own childhood. Things are moving quickly. But it can be intimidating to think that we are trying to prepare students for employment that does not yet even exist today. When they grow up, they will be trying to gain employment in fields that I cannot even fathom today.

Learning, Not Knowledge

The starting point for me must be a persistent self-reminder that learning is not at all the same as it was in my own childhood classroom. As Pevan Aurora says, “the value of knowledge is dropping.” The mass of human knowledge is exponentially increasing at an ever-increasing rate, and trying to keep up, as an education system, is impossible, and to be honest, ridiculous.

As knowledge continues to expand, it is also becoming more and more accessible. It is here where schools must be playing an active role. Trying to impart a fixed pool of information that may, or may not be relevant a year from now is not going to prepare my young learners for the jobs of today, much less jobs of the future.

Expiry Date on my Carton of Knowledge

(credit: theMolisticView CC by-nc-sa 3.0, at here)

Knowing that it is how students learn, and refining their ability to direct their own learning, that needs to be my focus, I can begin with myself. I believe I can give myself some credit here and say, with confidence, that I have continually been refining my practice. I know that things that I learn will probably not remain best practice for long. Alternative strategies, understandings and technologies are continually being developed.

For now, this means that I need to immerse myself in the potential for social media to enhance student learning. I am trying to implement Seesaw with my small reading groups in a bid to connect with both my students and their families in a way that is relevant. Five years from now … who knows? But one thing is abundantly clear, I cannot let concerns over potential safety issues with the Internet stop me from teaching my students how to use the tools they will absolutely need to participate in later schooling and employment.

Sources

Arora, P. [Tedx Talks]. (2014, May 29). Knowledge is obsolote, so now what? 
     [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWR5YXm2mRg
Wesch, M. [Tedx Talks]. (2010, October 12). Fro knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able 
     [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeaAHv4UTI8

Innovation Over Information

DIGITALage
From Hawker Chase

I think my biggest concern about teaching in the digital age is teaching students properly about social media etiquette and making it actually authentic to their learning.  So many teachers feel like it is necessary to teach using technology and social media and end up doing it just for the sake of it.  I want to make sure when I am using it that it is actually authentic to the learning outcomes as well as engaging for them.  Students know when you are doing something just for the sake of doing something so it is important that the learning outcomes match the media you are using.

Another concern I have with teaching in the digital age is the monitoring of the World Wide Web.  If I were to implement blogging or social media in my class, I would be most concerned about what I am exposing my students to.  What happens if their work gets torn apart on the web?  What if it becomes viral?  What if an already emotional student gets more criticism than they can handle? Social media is linked to mental health, so now am I responsible to ensure their mental health remains high because I required them to be exposed?  How do I do that?  Do I need parental permission in order to expose students to a world they already have unfettered access to?

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Along I have my concerns, it is imperative that we teach students about this digital world because they need to be successful.   Pavan Arora stated in his Ted Talk “Knowledge is Obsolete” that “65% of grade school children will have jobs that don’t exist today” (2014).  This means that as educators we have a responsibility to teach students not knowledge, because as Arora pointed out, it is obsolete.  At the touch of a button, you can access any information you need, so why continue to teach route memorization, when the more important skills are critical thinking, creativity, and innovation?

Michael Wesch also made a good point in his Ted Talk, “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able” when he said that students aren’t learning anything in the classroom, they are learning to listen to authority.  What is that teaching the generation that will one day be in charge of our world?  Everyone has a voice and it is incredibly easy to state your opinion online for the world to see.  But what is more important is teaching students to use this voice in a positive manner and learn how to educate themselves with the internet and its abundance of resources.  Educators need to teach students how to cite information, how to interpret a good source from a bad source, and how to establish their own networks of learning online.  I’m not saying it will be easy, but it is the direction we are headed and as educators, it will be a lot easier to embrace this change, stop trying to teach information and be the “experts” and also students to find their own passion and creativity so they can become their own type of expert in a field that may not even exist yet.