Category Archives: Networked Learning

Open education: tons of potential, but does it let governments off the hook?

In our #EC&I831 course, we recently had a guest speaker, Alan Levine (@cogdog on Twitter), join us to talk about open education. In short, the essential understanding is that education and education resources have an opportunity to become more open-sourced, and not limited to the prescribed resources of the day. The conversation was intriguing, as a lot of what was discussed is also prevalent in my own teaching practices: resources losing relevance, and a struggle to find quality replacements or supplements for them. I can’t be the only one to experience this, so in that sense, this conversation could be relevant to all teachers.

In addition to this week’s meeting, I perused some additional resources related to open education. I had a listen to Lawrence Lessig’s TED talk, “Laws that Choke Creativity”. His premise, that society can combat the idea of a “read-only culture.. a culture which is top-down, owned, where the vocal chords of the millions have been lost” (1:08), can be seen in the efforts surrounding open education. Alan’s idea that education can be truly free and available for everyone rings true here, as well.

Now, having said that, I tend to always think about these ideas can actually play out. The more I think about open education, a couple, perhaps unfounded, concerns pop up. First, with the emergence of all sorts of different educational tools and strategies, I wonder if there is a possibility the education actually becomes less cohesive, and potentially even more inequitable, if there are too many different pathways to try to navigate. I’m not saying this because of a sense of self-preservation for the teaching profession, I suppose my concern is that the value society has of the entire education sector decreases.

This leads me to my second point: if the onus is on individual teachers to find, curate, and perfect the entirety of their teaching resources, I feel this may let provincial governments, who are supposed to be responsible for provisioning school divisions, and by extension, teachers, with the resources needed for their success, off the hook. I can’t back this up with any supplemental evidence, and I’m not going full conspiracy-theorist, but it’s something I wonder about as educational resources continue to be revised and made openly available. I use some of these myself (I’ve used CK-12 many times, for example), so I’m not advocating for minimizing the open education future. I just hope that we, as teachers and society at large, can make the most of the open education movement while still enshrining the capacity of teachers and the public education sector to give every student the means to develop as young people with positive futures ahead of them.


summin’ it up – cheesy TV infomercial style

This semester has been a wild ride! I decided that I didn’t want to wait until fall to complete my degree, so decided to take the final two classes of my graduate degree in one nutty, six-week semester.

In my professional life, I would say I am definitely more of a serious personality. But after the formality of writing a final reflective paper for my Capstone Synthesis class, this Summary of Learning was an absolute breath of fresh air, where I got to harness my creative, silly side and make something a little nutty (to match the nuttiness of the last 6 weeks).

The format of my video was inspired by Chris, a classmate from a previous class (EC&I 832), who did a radio countdown video with song titles/lyrics that connected to topics from the course (think “Oops! I Did It Again” to link to Digital Citizenship faux pas). Unfortunately, I don’t think his video is viewable anymore, so you can’t see the awesomeness of his project (I reached out to Chris on Twitter to see if his video still exists somewhere on the interwebs, but haven’t gotten a reply yet).

Remembering Chris’ clever idea to link well-known songs to content from the course, I decided to add my own spin to this idea: I would write my own lyrics to the tune of popular songs and present them as a cheesy infomercial selling “Greatest Hits” CDs – circa the 90s/early 2000s. Check out the video below for an idea of what I was going for (Nostalgia Alert!).

Anywho, I now present to you my completely goofy Summary of Learning informercial! I hope it brings you a smirk or a giggle – I know I sure cackled away at myself for how outrageously campy and absurd my project turned out.

Thanks for watching! KKF out.

*mic drop*

Open Education?

I am a strong believer in sharing. I am not just saying this because it is the topic of the week. I have truly ALWAYS shared my resources.

New teacher who needs some resources? I got you! I need an intern gift? Give me a USB and take everything. Sharing has always been my love language.

Some teachers, however, are very apprehensive about this. I’ve never fully figured out why, but I hear a lot of concern about copyright laws or a deep connection to the metaphorical blood, sweat, and tears that go into creating resources. Or sometimes teachers just feel it is a right of passage for new teachers to struggle, which just seems downright wrong.

When it comes to creating my own resources, I have never, I mean not once, created something from scratch. And I would, with almost 100 percent confidence, bet no teacher has. It is a simple concept – everything is a remix:

My best lessons came from other resources. And why wouldn’t I want to share these lessons with my fellow colleagues to hopefully allow them to use them in their own space when they worked so well in mine?

This is where the concept of open education resources (OER) comes into play.

According to Open Source, 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. Such barriers might include high monetary costs, outdated or obsolete materials, and legal mechanisms that prevent collaboration among scholars and educators.

Prior to this course, I had never heard of open education, but man am I on board! As I explored this concept more, I realized that I have actively been utilizing open education resources for the majority of my career through sources like TedEd and Kahn Academy, but as I explored I learned about many more:

  1. Complexly: “The world is not simple. And that can seem like a burden sometimes. The reality is, the human species will never fully understand itself or its universe, let alone any individual. But instead of seeing that as a failing, we’d like to suggest that the process is as powerful as the outcome. The more we understand, the better we get at being humans, and that is one of the only worthwhile goals out there. We are a group of people who make stuff to help that process along and reflect our own excitement and enthusiasm for understanding and imagining things complexly.”
  2. Project Muse: “Project MUSE offers open access (OA) books, journals, and digital humanities works from several distinguished university presses, scholarly societies, and independent not-for-profit academic publishers. Through our open access hosting programs, we are able to offer publishers a platform for their OA content which ensures visibility, discoverability, and wide dissemination. These materials are freely available to libraries and users around the world.”
  3. Project Gutenburg: “Project Gutenberg is an online library of free eBooks.Project Gutenberg was the first provider of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971 and his memory continues to inspire the creation of eBooks and relate content today.”
  4. Library of Congress: “This page features items from the Library’s digital collections that are free to use and reuse. The Library believes that this content is either in the public domain, has no known copyright, or has been cleared by the copyright owner for public use.”

Of these resources, the one that I found the most interesting was Complexly. I am a HUGE John and Hank Green fan. I mean I’ve got a signed Crash Course poster in my classroom? Clearly, I love them. So I was a bit shocked to find out that they had an entire website, and organization, dedicated to OER. On the Complexly website, you can find a video range of shows that are produced by the organization to help others gain knowledge. Of course, this included the more well-known Crash Course videos and the Anthropocene Reviewed podcast, but I was shocked (again, huge fan here) to find that there were a number of other resources under the same umbrella as Crash Course and the Anthropocene Reviewed:

  1. Life’s Little Lies: “The things you should know about how the world works, but probably don’t. With a mix of life hacks, consumer psychology, and economics, hosts Hank Green and Michelle Barboza-Ramirez share information on how to navigate life decisions whether they are big — like buying a house — or small — like ordering dinner.” (Complexly)
  2. Origin of Everything: “Origin of Everything is a show about under told history and culture hosted by Danielle Bainbridge that challenges our everyday assumptions.” (Complexly)

And honestly, the list quite literally goes on, but this feels like the natural stopping point. I had no doubt that I would be a strong proponent of OER, but after further exploration, I feel like this has become my new life mantra: OER! OER! OER!

And really, the benefits are endless. According to the University of Adelaide:

  1. Immediate and continued access: Students can access OERs anywhere in the world, at any time. This includes both before courses start and after courses end.
  2. Enhancement of regular course content: You can use different types of materials, including multimedia, to help engage students. OERs can be useful supplementary material when students need background information or are interested in extending their knowledge.
  3. Adaptability: You can add, remove and edit content to suit your needs. If you’re using an OER textbook you don’t need to worry about using the whole book to justify the cost to students.
  4. Increased diversity: You can use a selection of resources to include a wide range of perspectives, such as Indigenous voices, and/or edit resources to ensure language is inclusive and relevant to your students.
  5. Continual improvement: OERs can be quickly improved through direct editing or via feedback and any mistakes can be corrected without needing to wait for a new edition or going through a lengthy review process.

Now this is something everyone should get behind! Parents, educators and administrators included.

Using content/topics discussed in class this week, write a post around the topic of open education and the culture of sharing. I’d recommend watching one or more of the videos shared above to include in your post. You may want to consider how these topics relate to your own personal/professional context. 

Can online social media activism be meaningful and worthwhile?

Oh, boy. This one is tough!

My thoughts on social media activism have bounced around so many times, almost depending on the cause each time. I think social media can be a powerful tool, but I’m unsure if it can consistently deliver actionable results.

There are, of course, many successes. Pulling from this website (, we can see several movements that leveraged social media to help further propel the impacts. For example, the Arab Spring is often cited as one of the first major movements exposed by social media. Being able to share what is being experienced by people in the affected countries, live and unfiltered, helped reveal the struggles of people in a place that is, I would say, not as appreciated by the world at large, and saddled with negative stereotypes and misconceptions. These are real people, experiencing real hardships, and are striving to take action and make their country better.

Some activist movements seem primarily social media-driven. For example, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge revolved around people being recorded doing some sort of skit or action to pour ice bucket water on them, making sure to note the goal is to raise awareness and funds for ALS research. I remember the first round of posts and shares all made mention of ALS, but as the challenge progressed, more people seemed to do it for the “viral” piece, not so much the ALS piece. To me, a distinct example of this was when some notable NHL players began participating in the ice bucket challenge, but not making note of the ALS research/cure focus. I remember the video put out by Jonathan Toews, then of the Chicago Blackhawks (and also the captain during and after the Kyle Beach incident), where he said something along the lines of “here’s my ice bucket challenge”, but nothing related to ALS. It seemed to highlight that as a social media campaign progresses, it eventually loses sight of it original meaning and intent. Kind of like the game “Telephone”.

Despite this, I do think it’s important, especially as educators, to make sure that conversations surrounding social justice are open and easily viewable. I think by consistently doing so, such topics and efforts become normalized. There’s certainly resistance to this notion, however, such as the bandying about of the word “woke” as some sort of negative connotation. I believe there is value in questioning why some people view “woke” negatively. I wonder at times if it’s understood what woke means? It doesn’t help that social media sites seem to use their algorithms to stimulate argument and disagreement, and not so much conducing of collaborative dialogue and consensus-building.

Reading this over, this all seems like a bunch of rambling just to conclude that my answer is “yes…maybe…with some work involved?”. I think social media is a powerful tool, that if properly leveraged, can be used to promote social justice and equity. It’s already used to sow anger and discontent in many circles, so why can’t it instead be used to model positive social citizenship? I think it can.

My time with Twitter

If someone ever goes to my Twitter page (@brayden_ursaki) and checks my date of sign-up, they might consider me to be a veteran. I apparently made my account in 2011, which means I was just out of high school and must have been experimenting with it. I don’t remember much of it from back then, to be honest, and I don’t think I ever posted anything. I’m grateful for that, because years later, I attended a PD session facilitated by my school division and it was an early version, of sorts, of this course. We were exploring some basic possibilities with social media in education, and at one point, we were asked to create a Twitter account, if comfortable, and make a related post. A colleague searched for my account and found it before I remembered I already had one, and I am so glad there was nothing there for him to see (my Facebook was cleaned up before I started adding profession-related friends, unlike the Twitter account).

Jumping into Twitter has its pros and cons. First, it is infinitely engaging, constantly finding new conversations to explore, and I like that it is primarily discussion-based, rather than content posting. I’ve made some basic posts and re-tweets, and I like that I can use both “likes” and “bookmarks” to keep track of things I want to preserve, based on whether I want others to see as well or not. In addition, it seems to be the social media site with the largest teacher presence. The quality and quantity of resources, strategies, and overall learning I’ve been able to find has greatly expanded my perspectives on education.

However, I do notice problems with the site. First, the algorithm. I’m learning that if I so much as have liked a post or comment from a category not related to education, my “for you” tab will reflect that potential interest. This is all well and good if it’s something generally benign, such as sports. However, there is such a seedy, negative, and downright combative side of Twitter commentary that I’ve found to be mentally draining at times. I’ve learned that if I want my feed to be primarily education-focused, I need to make sure my follows and likes stick to people in those topics. I’ve found desktop-based sites such as Tweetdeck massively help with streamlining my feed, but when using the Twitter app (which is the majority of the time), it just shows everything it can.

Overall, I’m happy there is a large community of educators on Twitter. It’s definitely been the tool I’ve used most often, and I’ve found that I hear about new educational trends or ideas before many other staff members in my school. When these same ideas pop up in our school conversations and meetings a few weeks or months down the road, I almost feel like a prophet (sooort of…).

Thinking about Instagram for Education

As mentioned in my earlier post, I am far from a social media power user. My experience with social media revolves around Facebook and Twitter. Twitter, in particular, has been engaging in the sense that it appears to be a highly-populated site for educators and all sorts of conversations, resource sharing, and so on within the education sector. I am decently well-versed in the educational possibilities of Twitter, so instead, I decided to give Instagram a look.

First, a couple preconceived notions. I’ve long struggled to differentiate Instagram from Facebook, but it appears to be more of a content sharing format than link aggregator or sharing of posts, as Facebook would be. To view the experience from anew, I created a new Instagram account. I didn’t get far, however, without automatically being temporarily suspended, apparently under suspicion of botting. Fortunately, by providing more private information about me, Instagram felt much more comfortable with me. Of course it did…

Jumping in, it appears I can’t get far without following people. There also doesn’t appear, early on, to have groups or things like that. However, it does seem like I can click on the “explore” tab or search for specific topics. In this case, I typed in “education” and selected one of the suggestions, “education system”. The page loaded to reveal a continuing stream of pictures and videos related to the topic. Clicking on any of them revealed the comment provided by the poster, and additional comments from other people. It seems really easy to contribute.

Thinking about how this could be utilized for education leaves me a little uncertain about its efficacy. First, it seems like Instagram is unusable if one doesn’t have or create an account. As a teacher in an elementary school setting, I don’t think it’s very reasonable to ask students to create or contribute an account, so already the student-facing component seems out of the question. Thinking about my own purposes, it certainly seems like a useful tool for posting content. It does seem a little less conducive towards conversation or the provision of external links or resources. It does seem very consumption-focused, and more about what gets posted than the engagement with it, at least from my limited experience with it.

After this brief experimenting with a fresh Instagram experience, I would comment that its education-related applicability seems more limited than other mediums, such as Twitter. It doesn’t seem as conducive towards conversations between teachers, as it doesn’t have things such as threads, and the way it handles external links seems clunkier than Twitter. Overall, it might be a decent secondary content viewing tool, but ultimately less than Twitter.

open education, capitalism, corporatization, and the sask dlc

Prior to our presentation from guest speaker Alan Levine (AKA Cog Dog) this week, I wasn’t sure what ‘open education’ meant or what it entailed. I figured it was an approach to education, or a tangible ‘thing,’ but now I understand it to be a mindset. Alan described it as a belief that education should be fully accessible to everyone. As a teacher in the public education system, this is something I wholeheartedly believe in.

One of the videos I watched from this week’s resources was “Why Open Education Matters,” which discussed why free public education is important. While this video was short and sweet, the onslaught of thinking I had as a result was quite the opposite – so buckle up! My thinking went in two directions as I viewed this video:

  1. The Sask DLC and Corporatization of Education

Warning! Controversial Topic Alert!

Since attending STF’s Annual Meeting of Council and the Rally for Public Education at the end of April, issues surrounding the newly-minted Sask DLC have been a hot-button topic on my mind. Many of the logistics of exactly how the Sask DLC’s courses will roll out in the fall are still unknown and a ‘grey area.’

At first glance, one might think that the Sask DLC is a great example of open education, as students can access an array of unique courses in an online format to make them more accessible. However, each school division is only being given a certain number of spaces for their in-house students to take Sask DLC classes. If a student does not get one of these (limited) spaces, they can still take Sask DLC classes IF they want to pay $500 per course.

Disappointed and frustrated doesn’t begin to describe how I feel on this subject. Currently, my school division (and many others, as I understand it) has an abundance of in-house online course offerings for our students. Going forward with the Sask DLC, students who want to take extra online classes that are of interest to them or fit better into their schedule are going to have to pay tuition? This is no longer free, public education but a private corporation that is profiting (on top of being funded $57 million dollars from the government for its start-up).

I could go on about this for quite a while (and even did some fact-checking and sharing on a Facebook post of mine on the topic, which drew some questions from a Facebook friend this week – I am trying to embody being an activist on my social media!), but in the interest of your time and the length of this post, I will just end by saying that I found the Sask DLC to be an interesting case study to consider in relation to the tenets of open education.

2. Capitalism and Putting Monetary Value on Education

While listening to the aforementioned video and contemplating free education, I thought: “But the education I’m getting as a graduate student has worth and value, and I feel it has been worth the literal price I’ve paid for it.” Then my train of thought went to questions such as: “Do we want all education to be free?” “Would education have less value or reverence if it didn’t cost a lot?” “Isn’t part of the incentive to finish/do well in university classes due to the money you are shelling out?”

Then I caught myself and realized I was thinking with my Western, capitalism-steeped brain.

(Sorry to get deep into scholar mode here – I’m concurrently taking my capstone synthesis course and we have done a lot of discussion on Western thinking, capitalism, democracy, colonialism, and the like) The instinct to put monetary value on everything (including knowledge and education) is a Western, capitalistic practice. I instantly balked at the thought of free university education because I have been conditioned to think that way. In our culture, obtaining a university degree is a symbol of status and post-secondary education is correlated with a price tag. You pay the big bucks to (hopefully) make the big bucks and get prestige in return. Yet, there are many countries that offer free post-secondary education. In these places, education is not tied to monetary value but its inherent value to better society.

During Alan’s presentation, the question of “Why don’t teachers like to share?” came up a few times. I think our Western views are creating a lot of this resistance to open education. Until we have some cultural shifts and truly see education as a common good with intrinsic value, things will remain largely competitive and corporate, rather than collectivist.

In Conclusion

At the outset of writing this post, I am left with many questions about open education and how it interacts with the realities of our current education system. However, I do have a better understanding of what open education is and what it values. I believe it is a beneficial mindset that fosters sharing, remixing, and constant improvement. That being said, the current state of our Western society and rigid, compartmentalized education system, in many ways, goes against this and is perhaps what makes open education difficult to grasp or envision. It is my hope that we will continue to see open education become a reality in our province and our world – it might just take some time and a lot of mindset shifting.

(My apologies that this blog post came out quite formal-sounding and scholarly. I just finished writing my final reflective paper for my master’s program, so I think my brain is still in that mode. I appreciate it if you read to the end and were willing to engage with a post that was a bit more cerebral than a typical blog usually is!)

If anyone has feedback or opinions on any of this, I would love to have an honest conversation with you! Sound off in the comments!

Until next time,


Social Media Activism

During my time in university, I was constantly bombarded with professor after professor that instilled the fear of social media in us future educators. I remember time after time, sitting in a lecture hall and being told horror stories of a teacher who got reprimanded for having social media profile pictures that showed them with an alcoholic drink in their hand or teachers who were fired for posting their political stance online. At this point, I became apprehensive about using social media in any form. I started to private my accounts and delete anything and everything that I felt was unnecessary.

social media activism blm lgbtqia+
Social Media Activism

But this was hard for me. I am an active social media user and quite politically engaged. Now I was never outwardly stating my opinions online nor would I pick a fight with a comment section, but I had no problem sharing news, links, and stories that clearly demonstrated my political leaning. I understand that the university was trying to protect young educators like myself, but it did truly instill an unnecessary fear of the online world. Over time, however, and mostly as I became more comfortable with my position as a teacher, I began to rejoin the political world of social media.

Que 2020.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, I began to become actively engaged with the political and social world of Twitter. It was during this time that I realized the massive impact social media activism can, and does, have on the world around us. It was during the Covid-19 lockdown that George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis. I followed the events that were unfolding across the border and it became clear quite quickly that social media was a powerhouse for change as hashtags like #blacklivesmatter began to take off.

Three months of quarantine taught us to live online, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that it was what we saw online that sent us back onto the streets. On May 25th, the circulation of video footage capturing George Floyd’s murder by four Minneapolis police officers quickly incited local protests. Three nights later, our feeds streamed with live images of protesters burning Minneapolis’s Third Police Precinct. In the course of June, uprisings expanded at unprecedented speed and scale—growing nationally and then internationally, leaving a series of now iconic images, videos, and exhortations in their wake. Every historic event has its ideal medium of documentation—the novel, the photograph, the television—and what we’re witnessing feels like an exceptionally “online” moment of social unrest. –

The Second Act of Social Media Activism- Jane Hu

The mass social change that came from the killing of George Floyd was astronomical, and dare I say unprecedented. Millions upon millions of people were drawn to the streets through connections via social media to right the wrongs. Many argue that protests do nothing, but this is simply not true. The social media frenzy that was caused by the killing of George Floyd resulted in massive social change:

Of course, the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing social media frenzy was not perfect. One particular moment that was highly criticized at the time was #BlackoutTuesday. The movementslacktivism gained immense traction with millions of people posting a black image on their social media in solitary for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. However, the issue with the movement was twofold: the hashtag drown out posts from the BLM movement and it was a form seen by many as a form of slacktivism. Over the last number of years, there has been a rise in performative action on social media with many critiquing others for only doing the bare minimum to elicit change. This performative activism was very much on display during the George Floyd movement and it shaped the opinions of many people as many saw this as a way for the privileged and white to wash their hands of what occurred.

Despite this, I truly believe that the change that came from the George Folyd movement was meaningful and worthwhile. Conversations on social media were centred around how to elicit change, end systematic racism, and how to reform deeply ingrained social institutions. From these conversations came systematic change not only in the United States but across the globe. And most importantly, it reminded people that change can happen when people come together.

Early on in my career, as I noted above, I was very hesitant to actively engage on social media in a political sense. But as I have grown in my place as an educator, I feel quite the opposite. It is from movements, like George Folyd, that it becomes clear that as an educator I have a unique position to influence social change. It is easy as educators to be worried that we are pushing the social boundary too far as much of our role is based on presenting a positive image to the public, but I do think that this image can include acknowledging our beliefs.

It takes just a few minutes on social media to see that teachers across the world are engaging with social media activism in a positive and constructive manner:

Teachers hold a unique place in the public eye, but that place should be used to elicit positive social change for all students.

Interested in discussing social media activism in class? Learning for Justice has a great introductory lesson to the topic.

Can online social media activism be meaningful and worthwhile? Is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online? What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?

putting the ‘active’ in activism

Before this week’s topic of “social media activism” was brought up in class on Monday, I had never sat down and actively considered it. Sure, I have seen (and used) frames that support different causes on Facebook profile pictures, noticed online petitions floating around, and even donated to a few causes here and there, but I guess I just viewed those things as ‘another part of the internet’ without thinking about them from a critical standpoint.

After browsing through some online articles and resources this week, these are my highlights and current thoughts on social media activism:

1 – A Bridge to Real-Life Action

Shelby Brown, the author of this article, outlines her personal journey with activism, describing how her passion for a cause (women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies) began with using a Facebook frame and ended with volunteering weekly at a Planned Parenthood. This personal story of activism highlights the ability for social media activism to act as a bridge, or stepping stone, to real-life action.

Rather than going all-in for a cause right away, social media activism allows for a more gradual journey of activism. People who might be initially interested in an issue can dip their toes in slowly before committing to a more active role.

In my own life, I have experienced a gradual increase in involvement in a cause: Dressember.

One of my Facebook friends has been an active supporter of Dressember for several years now, and I would nonchalantly ‘like’ the posts and read some of the information about the organization. After being a passive observer for a few years, I accepted the invitation my Facebook friend issued online to be more involved by donning a dress one day in December, donating to the cause, and posting about it on my own Facebook to spread the word. I might not be ready to commit to the full month of dressing up, but I became more involved as a direct result of seeing my friend’s Dressember posts on social media.

While social media activism can be a powerful way to reach more people, I believe that the underlying hope is that social media activism will cause tiny ripples that eventually lead to real-life activism as well.

2 – Understand the Root of the Movement

Researching a cause in order to understand its core values and intentions is a key step in social media activism, according to the same article by Shelby Brown. In the barrage of content available on the internet, it is easy to become complacent and share posts without being fully informed. Take the extra steps to ensure you know what you are supporting.

3 – Social Media Can Increase Accessibility

One of the reasons social media activism can be so effective is its ability to be far-reaching. Rather than being pigeonholed into one medium, social media campaigns can be shared and seen by many more people. This provides access to information that some people might not have had otherwise. Both of the articles (below) discuss social media’s ability to increase access to information.

“Why Is Social Media Activism Important?”

“Is Digital Activism Effective?”

4 – Helpful or Performative?

Finally, social media activists need to be aware of the difference between true activism and performative activism. This article provides a clear distinction (screenshot below) between the two:

Shelby Brown explains the difference as actively hearing stories of those who are impacted (activism), versus simply trying to share one’s own opinion (performative). When engaging in social media activism, we need to be aware of our own privilege and focus on creating platforms for silenced voices to be heard, rather than perpetuating the same dominant discourses.

Moving Forward

The next time I see a social justice campaign or think about sharing something, I will be considering it through these social media activism lenses. During my research this week, I came across this lesson plan for introducing a conversation on digital activism with students. I think my responses to the prompts from the lesson (below) sum up my current thoughts on social media activism.

  1. Agree – if used in the right way, social media can increase accessibility and act as a pathway to get people involved IRL
  2. Agree – engaging online can be a less intimidating first-step, but the ultimate goal is getting people to take action outside of social media
  3. Agree – I feel that each generation becomes more and more social-justice-minded because they are connected to diverse people and perspectives from around the world – thanks to technology
  4. Disagree – engaging in social media activism is a real and valid form of activism

What are your thoughts on social media activism?

What do you think about the 4 prompts above? Agree, Disagree, or Undecided?

Until next time,


Tweet, Tweet

I have been an on-and-off Twitter user since 2012. I joined the Twitter-verse for a Spanish 20 project where we had to compose tweets in Spanish to demonstrate our comprehension of the language. At that point, I was a relatively active Twitter user, but by the time I hit my mid-twenties, I mostly stopped using it on a regular basis.

I started using Twitter again after I got my first teaching contract in 2018 so I could interact with other teachers and stay up to date on the world of education. Again, I wouldn’t say I was the most active and I was never able to amass any sort of large following, but I did enjoy composing the semi-regular tweet to highlight my classroom space and to see what other educators were doing. I found this particularly useful in my first year of teaching since (as I am sure we all know) I was just trying to keep my head above water and any advice was valuable to me.

It wasn’t until 2020 that I became a chronic Twitter-user – to clarify, a chronic Twitter-scroller mostly. The Covid-19 pandemic was a large factor in this. I found myself staying up until the wee hours of the morning doomscrolling on Twitter then the killing of George Floyd occurred and the scrolling only got more intense.

At this time, I wasn’t tweeting all that much, but man did I spend a lot of time on the app. So eventually, I forced myself to take a break from the Twitter world.

I didn’t make my grand (the second if you’re counting) return until 2021 when schools reopened. I again tried to maintain some sort of presence on the platform and even received a thank you from admin for highlighting the school in a positive manner. This, however, made me somewhat responsible for tweeting about school events I would be at. On quite a few occasions, I’d get an email saying something along the lines of:

Hey Mariah, can you tweet about career day? Don’t forget to add some pictures. 

I did ask if this included a raise, but alas, it did not. And I would say this is where I am now. I would say I identify as a semi-regular Twitter user with a lacklustre following. There is a reason that I have always returned to the platform and it is because of the connections.

The beauty of Twitter is global connectivity. Users are able to interact with a vast network of professional and like-minded people and this is what I have found to be the most beneficial. I follow a number of accounts that regularly Tweet content that is connected to the field of education:

It is through these accounts that I have been introduced to a wide variety of different pedagogical approaches that were absent throughout my undergraduate studies. Organization Facing History has helped me create lessons and units that dispel bigotry and hate while DiscoveryEd has taught me numerous (and I mean numerous) lessons through their weekly EdTech News Roundup:

Beyond actual teaching practices, Twitter has also calmed me down too many times to count. A bit ironic I’d say since I am known for having to take a break from the platform because of doomscrolling, but that’s neither here nor there.  While I love my family, friends, and partner dearly, sometimes they just don’t understand how draining the job can be at times, but the Twitterverse is home to a number of educators that fully and wholeheartedly understand where I am coming from and this has saved me more times than I can count. While I follow a number of people I find Brad Johnson to be a big saving grace throughout my career. Daily, he is providing uplifting, and sometimes not so uplifting but realistic tweets about the field, which I have found keep me sane:

Over the coming years, my main goal is to develop my PLN using platforms like Twitter.


With the classroom changing every single day, I feel that platforms like Twitter are one of the few places where I can stay up-to-date and relevant as a teacher. I think we have reached a point where we can no longer pretend like social media doesn’t exist and having a presence as a teacher not only helps build relationships with students, but it most certainly translates into a classroom that more accurately reflects the realities of the 21st century.

In your post this week, please reflect on your experiences with Twitter thus far.  If you already used Twitter prior to this class, talk about how you have used it. If you’ve just started using it, think about what Twitter might look like in your future classroom or as a professional development tool. In what ways do you find Twitter to be a useful/not useful tool? If you are a reluctant user, tell us why! If you have participated in a Twitter chat, you can reflect on that process as well.