Category Archives: networked learning post

Remixed or Registered: Open Education

During last week’s class I kept making the connection with open education and pharmaceutical companies. What drives the development of new drugs? Corporations fund research, this results in life saving/life changing medications to be created.  Companies then charge for this medication to cover costs and make a profit (a lot of profit).  This money is then used to fund more research and create more lifesaving/life changing drugs. To ensure that those with less financial means can access those drugs, governments limit the amount of time companies can maintain patents on those drugs.  It then becomes public and any other company can make cheap replicas.  The initial run of medication encouraged by capitalism promotes innovation.  That is the idea, but obviously it is not that simple.  What about those that died because they were sick during the initial patent?  What about those that still cannot afford the pills after it is in the public domain? What about those that could survive with the latest version, but their insurance won’t cover this new pills cost?

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Now let’s look at textbooks.  Companies are paid by governments to develop academic documents.  Those companies then charge schools to pay for said textbooks. Updates do not make financial sense and schools will not pay for those updates because the initial costs of those books was so much. Jump ahead 12 years and we are using science textbooks that reference someone training for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics or the very current use of space shuttles.  Budgets are cut, publishers do not receive the funding, and new books are never made.  Teachers then take resources they can find, try to update and provide students with current information and are sued for violating copyrights.  We have been given the medicine and it is better than nothing, but it’s years past the expiry date. Our patients, our students are now suffering.

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We are in a world where we can take information and “remix it” to suit our classrooms needs. We no longer have to rely on that pharmaceutical medicine, that Pearson textbook.  Lawrence Lessig’s analogy of an airplanes flight path not violating trespassing laws is an interesting take on this remixing that we are doing. While educators may not be manipulating a piece of pop culture, we are manipulating research, texts, and a variety of other resources that are stamped with a circled C or R.  But how many of us have left the textbooks all together and now create our own resources from bits and pieces we have found online? How many of us share those resources? How far do we share them? In this way we are making our own open education, however it is within the confines of our institutional walls. I have not uploaded my ELA lessons, but maybe I should.

With access to the internet I have millions of lesson ideas to go through. I did not need to pay a fee to use them, or request them as part of a yearly order. I did pay to be educated on how to best use them, but some could argue that a few YouTube videos and some volunteer time in a class could have done the same thing.

I am currently using the next version of a textbook for math. MathUp is an online resource. It can be updated easily and I can decide what to use in the same way I could choose questions or chapters to assign from a textbook. To suit my needs I have begun to “remix” it. I take sections and images and compile them into my own lesson. Sometimes I follow the proposed outline, sometimes I abandon it entirely. Despite this, it is not open education. My division pays a fee to access this program, just as it paid for textbooks in the past. If I upload my version of these lessons I would be violating copyright laws; even though large sections are not recognizable from the program itself. I am soaring far above the ground, but I am trespassing.

A “remixed” Mona Lisa. Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on

So when do we abandon this? Open Education requires (as discussed in last class) an economy of sharing. Have we reached the point where we no longer need companies like Pearson to develop programs? Do we need them in the same way we rely on Phizer? Is the answer funding through taxes? In some ways what teachers are doing is exactly that. We are paid through taxes, we develop lessons and programs, we pass on those lessons to others. They in turn develop them and pass them on to someone else. But I feel like there is something missing. What is driving innovation? Is it an intrinsic need to share and do better? Do we need that first patented pill? Do we need that copyrighted textbook? Do we need that original song to mash up?

I’ve rambled on, but this is where my brain goes with Open Education. It seems like a dream at times and others it feels like we are already there.

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Accessibility of Open Education

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This past week our class learning topic was centred around the pedagogy of open education. Our guest speaker, Alan Levine challenged us to find our own definition of open education. So of course, I took to google to begin my research. Year of Open compiled a great list of definitions around what open education is from a variety of sources. After combing through the definitions, there were a variety of terms and words that stood out to me in regards to what open education means.

I believe that open education works for the common good. I see open education as a way to remove barriers around education and make learning accessible to all, giving opportunities to someone that may not have had access to technology or information before. As a person of privilege, it is my responsibility to help build opportunities to those that may not have access to learning. Being equitable in giving opportunities around education is what open educational resources allow.

Open Educational Resources

When I think about access globally, it makes me excited about how opportunities have grown for those in countries driven by poverty and war thanks to open education. However, it still makes me question how far we have yet to go to make education truly accessible to all. The pandemic put this into perspective for me. Students from my school were able to take a device home for online learning. However, this did not guarantee learning for all. Some of the barriers included, no internet, low bandwidth, a child not being able to log on independently because they were small, parents having to work and not being able to support their child’s education.

I don’t want to discount how far we have come. I believe open education is moving in the right direction. Global access to education is increasing. For myself, I feel very fortunate to have had opportunities to take courses from Harvard edX, listen to speakers from other countries to develop my skills as an educator, and complete my Masters of Education from home as I continue to work and live in rural Saskatchewan which was something not fully possible even 10 years ago. Connectivity to learning globally is growing exponentially. The Podcast featuring Sarah Kresh and Alan Levine provides a great example of how open education is working. I enjoyed listening to how moving away from textbooks to open access is impacting learning globally to remove financial barriers.

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Open education is something that I can start with at a local level in my K-12 context. As an administrator, many of my students and their families struggle to make ends meet, therefore, I aim to remove barriers around a child’s educational experience. Some of the areas that I put first are ensuring food security during the school day, ensuring they have basic needs met, removing the barrier of having to purchase school supplies, providing opportunities for open learning through project based learning, accessing virtual guest speakers, and providing technology access to all students during the school day.

Open educational resources not only applies to higher education but I believe could make a positive impact on K-12 education. Teachers can utilize OERs to access free resources to use in the classroom and customize to meet the needs of individual learners. Students can gain access to information to learn and create innovative projects through technology which used to only be found in textbooks. However, part of digital citizenship is teaching students to be critical of the resources they find online to ensure it is reputable and factual. Open education allows students to develop their 21st century skills in a world dominated by technology.

One of the best OER websites I found was OER Commons. I typed in the search below and found a wide variety of lessons regarding plants that teachers could tailor and customize for their students.

Screenshot from

Educators no longer have to work in isolation. I believe collaboration and sharing resources is key to creating stronger systems in education. Teachers need opportunities to find free resources online, share resources with other teachers, and collaborate not only within their schools but look for other educators to learn from globally. In the early 2000s, professional learning communities were developing and growing in the world of education. However, due to budget and time constraints it started to lose momentum. I believe it is vital for educators to have opportunities to collaborate with others within their work day. Therefore, one of my goals for my school moving forward, is to plan and provide time for teachers to meet together weekly to learn from each other, share resources and collaborate to develop engaging lessons for students to access. I hope to help them navigate open educational resources to find new resources to support students and remove barriers.

Open education helps educators develop and grow their learning and educational resources. This in turn impacts the students we serve and even children around the globe we may not have even thought could get a chance to access education because of this movement .

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Online Activism: Awareness, Apathy, and Animosity

I do feel that online social media activism can be productive.  It can build awareness in a way that conventional media fails to by removing the authority figure from the distribution.  We do not need mainstream media or governments to forward the information. The public can actually go around those authorities to comment on movements they may shy away from or wish remained hidden.

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This does of course mean that those who wish to attack others can do so in a similar manner. My version of what needs to change may be in direct conflict with someone else.  Just think of the conflicting activism between those who promoted Covid precautions and those who railed against it.  What you view as activism might seem authoritarian to others.

This is where a productive conversation turns to a mess of personal attacks.  The internet provides a bubble of protection, like swearing at someone in your car who cut you off.  How often do you read a thread and actually see a divisive topic calmly discussed? Both sides see the anger but both are blind that the debate is over.  I think there is the possibility for civil discord, but it seems rare. At least in person there is a chance at expressing yourself calmly and less chance for misunderstanding.  Tone is difficult to get across in a comment.

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While the internet is full of vitriol it can provide a safe place for those to gather who would not be able to do so in reality.  This works in spaces that have strong and supportive communities, those that can rally around those that are attacked and maintain strong but fair guidelines. As I recall discussing in EC&I 830, social media allows those who have to remain hidden, a place to exist and thrive. Fear and bigotry may have halted someone from expressing themselves in their personal space. Safe online places provide much needed support and community.

The use of social media to uplift voices and stories, create awareness, and build and strengthen relationships creates a space for organizations, activists, and citizens to demand justice

A Guide To Activism in the Digital Age- Maryland University

These safe places provide the launching point for online and real world events. With social media people can get organized quickly. A rally that once relied on group meetings, a poster campaign, phone lists, etc., can now begin with one post. Word of mouth is a retweet that reaches thousands instead of whoever is in earshot. This global reach is one of the greatest powers that online social media has.

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The responsibility of educators in this field is something I struggle with. I am comfortable discussing how social media can be used in activism and how it has been used. I am still caught up in what we were told in the past, remain neutral. I will do my best to provide both sides of the argument, but I’m not oblivious that my own bias bleeds through. In the past I have chosen “safe” subjects to use social media to promote with my students. There are very few people who get angry at supporting those struck by a natural disaster.

Being a good digital citizen is about so much more than being safe and responsible online.

Dr. Katia Hildebrandt- July 6th, 2015

I do not think I am a good digital citizen yet. I stay silent too often. I see friends post hateful things and stay quiet. I avoid the confrontation because I know the hours of sleep I will lose over their replies. My own mental health can’t handle it. This is the reason I left twitter, reddit, and “snooze” so many people on Facebook. I have started to speak to these people directly, it’s easier to express myself and I have found they are far less defensive when there is not a digital audience to our conversation.

While I have participated in online activism it has been those safe subjects I discussed in class. I did the ice bucket challenge, and despite the backlash, it was not a bandwagon, virtue signalling act for me. My father died from a similar disease and it felt good to do something. I joined my friends Run for the Cure. In fact if you would like you can donate right here.

CIBC Run For the Cure Banner

Like anything online, social media can be beautiful or terrible. It’s a perfect place for activism to exist. The entire point of activism is to shine a light on that part of humanity. My goal is to turn on the light more often. The dark is much more comfortable; perhaps because in the light we are awake.

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I Do, We Do, You Do! Modelling Responsible Social Media Activism

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This week we have been discussing social media activism and our role within it. Three questions were posed to think about and answer.

  •  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?

Social Media Activism

I’ll admit I have a had a strong fear of putting my beliefs and values out on social media even though I readily share them on a daily basis with adults and the students I work with. I try to be a good model of human rights equality and an ally to LGBTQ and Indigenous communities. Previously, I had been taught to keep my social media accounts private and neutral so that I would not face backlash or repercussions from superiors who may see my posts.

However, I became increasingly uncomfortable with social media activism during COVID. I found that I no longer enjoyed going on feeds because people always had an opinion about a topic and huge divides were happening based on what you believed regarding vaccines and mask mandates. It didn’t stop with COVID related topics. People I had known for years seem to be growing in their bravery to share their own beliefs that I found racist, privileged and very oppressive. Each day I was contemplating whether or not to respond but figured it would be an argument that wouldn’t get anywhere to make lasting change. From our class discussion on Monday, June 5th something Katia said and wrote really resonated with me and made me want to start to change my social media habits for the better. “Silence speaks just as loudly as words.”

I wondered what my social media platforms were actually saying about what I stand for and believe. I took a look at my Twitter account and I found that I was doing a lot of retweets, sharing and liking of educational resources but nothing too thought provoking to stand up for my beliefs or bring about change so I decided to try to Tweet more purposefully this week around social activism and share items I wish to see change in the world.

These three posts are topics I strongly believe in and talk about face to face with others so why wasn’t I sharing them online as well. I believe they are worthwhile and need to be sent out to the world. I realize that I have a long way to go with social activism online but I do see the value and importance of it. If I don’t try to use my platform for change as an educator and mother, what am I teaching my students and child? The article Social Media: The Catalyst For Creating Social Change? by
Michael J Mc Cusker suggests that we need to “understand you’re why, and speak with knowledge of the issue. Adding value is crucial. Putting yourself out there is the only way to get heard” (Mc Cusker, 2021). My why is to help make a better world for my students and child to live in that demonstrates love and respect for all instead of hate and divide. Therefore, social media activism is definitely meaningful and worthwhile.

Having Productive Conversations Online

I think that you can have productive conversations online if you are cognizant of the platform and arguments you may face when you put out a question or topic that could be challenged. I feel that Facebook is not the platform for productive conversations. People do not seem to be trying to bring about positive change on their platforms and tend to either agree with you or argue as to why they are right. However, Twitter seems to be a stronger space to invoke productive conversations online. The accounts I follow will often pose questions or share topics that naturally lead themselves to open discussions and conversations. Twitter chats such as #saskedchat provide meaningful opportunities to support online conversations. The blog post 13 ways to start a conversation online by Elizabeth Perry provides some helpful tips for getting started with conversations online. Some of the highlights and takeaways included:

  • Joining online forums where people share common interests with you
  • Being authentic and vulnerable
  • Developing your online profile to be similar to your real life personality
  • Using conversation starter prompts to get started
  • Being patient with responses

Just like in person connections and relationships, it takes time to develop and grow your online community. Having meaningful conversations online is something worthwhile to explore. You may meet and learn from someone across the globe who you might otherwise never knew existed. However, there may be times when you are challenged by people who do not share your stance on a topic or trolls that insert themselves in your feed. Being able to know when to stop this unproductive dialogue is key. People can disagree on topics but it shouldn’t be at the expense of someone’s mental health or well-being. This is something to remember when teaching students about their presence online.

Modelling Active Citizenship Online


Just as when we teach a new concept or idea in curriculum we need to model and scaffold digital citizenship in respect to social activism. As an educator today, it is my job to be informed and understand how technology and its use by our students is impacting the world. A great way to start with all students is to engage in the topic of digital citizenship. The article What is Digital Citizenship and Why is it Important? from provides a great starting point for educators to understand digital citizenship and why it is important to teach. Students must be taught that what they put online should be thoughtful and promote human rights not spread hate or false information. Without guidance, students do not have the knowledge that what they are doing online can have significant negative effects and impact others. Just as we teach our students that words can hurt and not be taken back, so to can the messages, pictures and posts we put online. Therefore a scaffolded approach through teaching digital citizenship is vital to support student learning in this area. A great tool to use would be Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools.

Students use technology more than ever so educators must work to model and teach skills about being a good citizen online. Students need to understand that their presence online can help do great things in the world like bringing about change for equality through social activism. However, being a responsible citizen online is key to ensuring what they are putting out online will not be detrimental to someone else.

As educators and leaders, we decided to go into this profession to impact students and the world. Therefore, being models of social activism and responsible citizens online will provide our students with the knowledge and tools to become capable and competent digital citizens who use their voice and platforms online in a positive and safe way to bring about change in the world.

What do you do to model social activism to your students? What does your online presence say about you?

My Journey with Twitter!

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I have been a on Twitter since, March 2017. I attended a conference with two of my colleagues regarding how to be a better educator. One of the speakers was George Couros and he challenged all of the educators in the room to join Twitter to start creating an online presence and connect to other educators. One of my colleagues and I accepted his challenge and joined immediately! After joining, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. I started following the people from the conference and occasionally sent a message back and forth with my coworker but that was where my Twitter usage stayed for several years.

When I became a new Administrator, I started to follow more educational leaders to gain insight into how to become more effective in my new role. One of my favourite leaders to follow includes @joe_sanfelippo who shares his #1minwalk2work. I have used his work to not only motivate myself as a leader but my staff each week.

From Twitter @joe_sanfelippo

Other leadership accounts I follow include @PrincipalProj and @JonGordon11. I have enjoyed finding ideas and strategies to use within my role as a leader to help strengthen my skills and support my staff.

I would say I am skilled in the retweet! This was primarily how I have shared information I have liked up until the Winter of 2022. When I embarked on completing my Masters of Education, the second class I took was EC&I 834.

Dr. Katia Hildebrandt was my professor and she had us get onto Twitter throughout our class. I very much enjoyed following my classmates and reading their posts. During this class, I learned a lot about #edtech and started to follow leaders in educational technology such as @alicekeeler and @catlin_tucker. These two accounts helped me grow tremendously in my skills around educational technology by giving various tips and strategies to use educational tools in the classroom more effectively.

During this class, I started to link my blog posts to my Twitter feed and began to receive comments from not only my classmates but other users within my school division and the educational world. Twitter became a great professional learning network for myself during this time.

Well, here I am again taking EC&I 831 with Katia. This term I am learning from a whole new group of classmates about social media and open education. I am enjoying the interaction through posts and links my fellow learners are sharing. I am also becoming braver and better at creating my own tweets. I was a fangirl this week when I shared a post from @alicekeeler and she thanked me for sharing it! Overall, I have found many strengths and a few challenges with my Twitter usage that I can share.


  • Building a professional learning community
  • Learning from colleagues and educational leaders globally
  • Finding strategies and ideas to use to better my skills as an Administrator
  • Challenging my current practices and helping me develop as a person and professional
  • Connecting with educators across the province who I would not otherwise have the opportunity to work with or learn from


  • Creating an eyecatching tweet
  • Learning how to create a concise tweet (I am wordy!)
  • Linking other accounts and hashtags to my posts
  • Finding time to sift through the information on Twitter

I think when I joined Twitter early on, I would have benefitted from doing some research to help develop my tweeting skills. This article from sprout social would have helped me develop on my skills on Twitter early on. This video has 5 great tips to help make your Twitter experience better.


Although, I have lots to learn still about being a Twitter user. I am no longer apprehensive to share and connect on Twitter. I love the sense of community it is creating as a professional platform for myself. I am looking forward to trying something new such a taking part in a Twitter chat. I will continue to use Twitter as my professional platform to learn and grow as an educator and leader.

What do you use Twitter for? Do you have any recommendations of accounts to follow in education and leadership?

Finally, if I don’t follow you already please find my on Twitter @MrsKSimon and I will be sure to follow you back!


Side-eyeing Twitter

I have had a twitter account in the past, but barely used it. Early on it was just to enter contests (retweet this for an entry), then to follow a few celebrities.  It had little impact and I often forgot about it, only popping back on when someone sent someone’s tweet to a group chat.  After a while it just became a way to check on local power outages ( #skoutage).

Saskpower Twitter-Screen Capture

My venture back has been reluctant. The fact that the first people I was recommended to follow were Elon Musk and Andrew Tate says something.  Maybe this is not the place for me. Still, this is a requirement and I am a rule follower.  I followed and liked and made a post.  Then I closed it.  Every few days I would open the app, scroll through what classmates had posted and open the odd link. I would think about what to post and then close the app.

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I have not been giving it enough of a chance. I started to search for education and mainly found comedy or advertisements. I returned to the posts from our class.  This is where the benefit of a PLN truly showed itself.  This group is doing the hard work, finding and filtering through all of muck that is Twitter and the internet.  It is inspiring and intimidating.  I am seeing far more resources and suggestions from peers than I have in years. I need to do better.

I post a few links, make a few comments and want to shut it off again. I click on the links and see the comments.  One person says that forcing reading is cruel and unusual punishment.  I am curious and click on their profile; they are selling a book on how to change your school.  Of course they are.

This is why jails have books- Screencapture from my phone.

I am reluctant to push twitter in my classroom. My students prefer discord and I’m sure something else will emerge in future years.  I do see how it could be used as a way to communicate to parents and the local community what is going on in your class and your school.  However Edsby (as flawed as it is) has become a more contained way for me to do this. It is a safer place.  Perhaps that is the problem.  Those things that make something a safer place are kept out of the chaos that is twitter.  This means more of the toxic things that keep making me leave.

I open it again and it is June. Schools are posting about pride, acceptance, support, and love.  I am scared to look at the comments. So I will avoid the trolls and focus on the bridge that is helping others get over them. I will try and add more resources, interact with those in class, add to the positive. In the same way we pick up trash in our school halls and smile at students who are not in our class; we can make it a better place.  The trolls keep climbing up though, they are pulling the boards from the bridge and they’re getting louder.

Screencapture- RBE pride post and the trolls.

Algorithm on Steroids: A TikTok Story

The closest I have come to using TikTok was during last spring’s class when I used my wife’s account.  I decided to join for the purpose of this post, but made sure to do something I rarely do.  Read the terms of service.  I focused on the privacy portion.  TikTok says the only information they gather is what you provide in your TikTok profile and the information in any profile you use to login.  For example I used my google account (after the first week), my profile only has my age and name. No mention of gathering contacts (unless you link them, which I did not). I did not put on a vpn to get a true sense of what the app would do with my isp address. Initially it leads you to think that they will only gather other information if you give permission, then later on it says browsing history for advertisers. Sneaky.  This was not something I noticed until later (as you will see in my point form reflections).

My screenshot of one of TikTok's terms of service.
My screenshot of TikTok’s terms of service.

As TikTok is a series of short videos I have decided to present my initial findings in point form.

Week 1 (just using app as a guest, not signing in with an account)

  • First few videos are all of a hill on fire in Edmonton.
  • Fires in Alberta.
  • Lots of Indigenous creators.
  • Animal videos.
  • Lots of weird cooking videos.
  • Indigenous content (specific ones on cultural appropriation).
  • Comedic animal videos.
  • Comedic kid videos.
  • Watch one comedy video on hockey and then…
Screenshot of Coach Chippy video.
  • ….Lots of Canadian centred content (heavy Canadian accents)

Week 2

I reread what info they take if you make an account from a third party (nothing about the content you use just profile info).

  • Sign up with google (same email as YouTube)
  • Almost immediately creatures I follow on YouTube shorts start showing up (coincidence?).
  • Still lots of indigenous content (mention of indigenous TikTok).
  • Started following Lewis Capaldi.
  • Turns out the YouTube connection was a coincidence.
  • Animal and kid videos have combined.
Screenshot of Zesty Newz video.
  • Told them not to track contacts and then the first person they recommended to follow was my wife (she does not make videos).
  • Started to follow Hank Green and felt sad
  • My dog is quite sick, so I’ve been up late scrolling through TikTok, feeding the algorithm.
  • Forwarded my first TikTok video
  • I’ve heard of this happening- where did the past half hour go?
  • Following Lewis Capaldi was a mistake (dog video)
  • It knows I’m a teacher.  Getting a stream of teacher related content.…which means the few teacher TikToks I was sent before I downloaded TikTok are floating around somewhere and TikTok has access to the part of my phone. I didn’t give it access to…or it’s kept track of my isp from watching videos before I had the app.
Screenshot of TikTok terms of service. I guess TikTok considers itself a Third-Party advertiser.
  • It is teaching me slang.
  • After my dog died it has become an easy distraction. Far too easy.

Throughout the second week I started interacting more, using hearts forwarding three videos and following a few creators.  TikTok was much better at figuring me out than YouTube.  Even before I started liking and following it got a very quick sense of my politics.  With YouTube I watch one conservative video to try and balance my bias and then that is all I get recommended (no matter how many-“do not recommend” buttons I click). This, along with how much information it seemed to have without me giving permission, was frightening.

At the same time I see the benefits.  I am getting a broader amount of content that is providing useful information.  For example as a CIS white male I have worried about how well I will be able to speak out on anti-lgbtq+ issues.  TikTok has provided me with allies that have added to my vocabulary and done so in a compellingly calm way.  YouTube thinks I am anti-trans because I watched Neil Degrasse Tyson on Joe Rogan.

While TikTok is far more comforting I am worried about how comforting it is to those on the opposite political spectrum.  Is it just one giant confirmation bias?  It feels that way and it is very seductive.  I don’t know how long I will continue using it, but each time I switch back to YouTube I am fed angry content.   TikTok just seems happier. I get fed self-affirming videos, creators that are not just white males, progressive reflections, and dog videos that make me feel sad.

Screenshot of Annakprzy video.

I hope I am able to find my way through the weeds and gain from the benefits while not pulling that comforting blanket of confirmation over my eyes.

Tik Tok in Education: Yes or No?

Cristiam Oliveira GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I’ll admit that I really had no idea what Tik Tok was when I created an account over a year ago. I kept hearing about it from colleagues and students so I thought I would check it out. However, fast forward a year, I still feel like there is a lot more to discover about the social media platform. First, I thought I would do a little historical research to figure out more about this worldwide app. Brandtastic’s blog gave a great overview about the history of Tik Tok. Some interesting facts I learned was that it was created in 2016 as a lip sync app in China. In 2022, over 60% of users were under the age of 25. Tik Tok is not without controversy as it has been pushed towards being banned in the United States and off of government employee phones. However, it continues to be one of the dominating social media platforms in the world.

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All I have used it for is watching videos which in the evening can turn into a full hour session in an instant! I still have not made my own videos and truthfully don’t think I ever will! If I were to take the plunge, this getting started video would be very helpful to those just starting out on Tik Tok, though.

I learned from this instructional video that to create a Tik Tok video it is a three step process of recording, editing and posting. However, the process of adding filters and music seems to be daunting. I am more in the discovery phase of Tik Tok. After downloading the app, I used it solely on a personal level to watch funny videos at the end of the school day or check out a trend a colleague or Professor suggested such as Pot Roast’s Mom.

However, recently I have started to explore it professionally as well. I have found many helpful tips and even funny videos on #teachertiktok. Some of my favourite accounts to follow professionally on Tik Tok include @farmerlovesphonics who has helped me research and provide strategies and instructional practices to staff that align with the Science of Reading. I also enjoy the tips and ideas regarding addressing challenging behavior and social emotional learning from @behaviorconnection. These accounts are just a couple of my top followers for professional use.

Something new to me as I explored Tik Tok further this week was creating collections. This is a feature I found very useful instead of simply saving them to favourites, you can create categories. This week I created a gardening category to support my major project for this class, a general school collection for professional ideas and a motivation collection that I could use with students and staff during discussions and meetings.

Speaking of students, I was thinking about how Tik Tok could be used safely, to support student learning. I would probably use some of the motivation videos in lessons with students to support social emotional learning. I might also use funny animal videos to increase engagement. As I currently work with younger students up to Grade 4, I believe this would have to be mainly teacher controlled. As I sit in my office at school, I can’t seem to get onto Tik Tok at the school which makes me wonder if it is blocked for usage at the school level. This could be a problem when trying to use it for educational purposes. However, with older students, perhaps you might engage them by challenging them to create a video for a project or topic they might be learning about. Again, strong guidance and safety protocols would have to be adhered to as many parents may not feel comfortable with their child using Tik Tok.

So, after reviewing the social media platform, I still have many questions about how to use Tik Tok appropriately in schools. As a mom of an 11 year old, I am working to teach my daughter digital citizenship and internet safety but she still believes a lot of what is out on the internet even though it might not be factual. Therefore, for the students I work with I would primarily use it as an option to share appropriate videos with them during a lesson or on google classroom. I will continue to use the professional ideas and accounts I have found within Tik Tok to support my role as an Administrator and Teacher. I will continue to use Tik Tok both personally and professionally as a place to watch interesting and humorous videos. I like to check out the newest challenges such as #skipping challenge. However, the next Tik Tok star will not be me!

I would like to know your thoughts on Tik Tok. How do you use Tik Tok on a professional level? Do you allow students to access it? What are some of your favourite Tik Tok accounts to follow?

Thanks for reading and sharing your answers!


Social Media: A Love, Hate Relationship But Mostly Love

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I have always been intrigued by social media and use a few different platforms both personally and professionally to connect, learn and keep up with the current world. The first social media platform I joined on a personal level was Facebook. I loved being able to see pictures and posts from family and friends. It was a great way to keep up with my sister and watch my nephew and niece grow up even though they lived five hours away from me. One of my favourite features on this platform is the memory section! It is interesting to see that I used to post a lot more and it has saved me on occasion by helping me remember birthdays of those I care about.

However, I have found in recent years, my use on Facebook has declined. I no longer post what I am up to. I find the feed to be quite sparse with posts from family and friends. Instead it has become filled with more ads connected to my searching habits. During the pandemic, I began to search for a sense of community professionally. While working from home, I enjoyed watching live talks from Dr. Jody Carrington who helped myself and my school staff through navigating online teaching and trying to feel connected during such a trying and isolated time. Recently, I have started using Facebook for more professional communities. I have a strong love of literacy and have joined several groups based on current research. It has been a great experience seeing what other schools across North America are implementing into their literacy programs.

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Instagram has been my go to platform for all things related to healthy lifestyles such as recipes, fitness ideas and a little fashion inspiration! I find it is a platform, I mainly use to scroll for ideas and not so much as a connecting piece with others. Once again, I do not enjoy how my feed becomes inundated with ads related to my searches. One look at a clothing website and suddenly several ads pop up daily related to this website.

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I’ll admit when I first heard of Twitter, I thought to myself that I didn’t understand it and was never going to join. However, I attended a conference in March of 2017 which I just looked up on my profile for reference and to learn my Twitter anniversary. George Couros was speaking and he challenged the audience to get connected to Twitter as a professional learning community. This platform has been my main professional outlet to connect and learn from other educators and scholars ever since. I am not good at creating my own tweets very often but enjoy retweeting a positive message and/or quote. Recently, I found myself watching an Ed. Tech tournament on the feed which had people voting for their favourite Ed. Tech tool. I watched and voted daily. I am proud to say that Canva which is one of my favourite Ed. Tech tools was the champion.

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Social media has allowed me to learn and grow from others based on my individual interests and choices. It allows me the opportunity to feel connected both personally and professionally with people I wouldn’t normally be able to on a daily basis. However, the downside is that I often find myself navigating through ads and have seen an increase in propaganda and political divides filling up my feeds on all of my social media platforms. I need to remember to unplug once in awhile because time passes so quickly when you are scrolling in the evenings! I am curious to see how these platforms change and which new platforms emerge in the future. As my thirteen year old niece informed me, “Auntie, Facebook is only for old people, you need to join Snapchat. I’ll send you my username so you can connect.” So far, I haven’t accepted her invite but who knows what might happen in the future! Which social media platform do you use professionally? Thanks for reading!


Social Media and Me: A Reluctant Journey

I am old enough to have been around for the early years of social media. Before sites like MySpace and Facebook we wandered through chat rooms and early group chats in ICQ. It was very new and we were not ready.

For the first time we could speak to random people throughout the world without the need of ham radios or waiting weeks or months for responses through pen pals.

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For me the novelty wore off quickly and I was lucky enough to avoid some of the dangers from sheer luck (and the speed of dial-up in a small town). MSN Messenger took off in my social circles and for the most part social media was just a series of group chats. The only thing that was close was playing online games like EverQuest where other players would ask A/S/L (age/sex/location).

Years later Facebook emerged, just in time to connect with friends I had lost touch with from university. In my twenties the feed was full of pictures of bars, birthdays, and making your life look better than it was. At the time I was not overly concerned and saw the whole thing as something frivolous. It was an easy way to keep track of people who a few years before would have just become parts of my memory. We no longer said, “I wonder what….is up to,” we knew and they just posted twenty pictures of their vacation.

For a long stretch this was my interaction with social media, interspersed with YouTube and the odd twitter quote I read in an article. When I went back to school to become a teacher, YouTube became a valuable resource; videos simplifying math or science concepts, old Bill Nye clips, and dance or music videos when students needed a stretch. I have a distinct memory of showing an OK Go video to a class I was subbing in to explain Rube Goldberg machines.

OK Go- This Too Shall Pass

As time moved on and politics have become more populist, social media became more toxic for me. Anonymity gave people the same mentality they had in a car when they swore at someone who cut them off. Posts that could be disproved with a little bit of skepticism and knowledge where shut down with shouts of “idiot,” and “sheep.” I gave up trying to have rational discussions and started to hide feeds. COVID and lock downs poured gasoline on the entire internet.

Listening to my students interactions did not help. Thoughts you might share with friends in private are now broadcast to the world. I am forever grateful that the stupid things I said to friends have been left in the past as an embarrassing memory of who I used to be. As the age of those going online continued to drop, those that pray on them have reached out. As a child I remember warnings of who to watch for in the real world, but at least at home I was safe. My students now need lessons on how to be safe from people in the virtual spaces we open in our homes.

Last year I took a step back. I stopped going on Reddit, hid Facebook in a folder on my phone and found my news from “reliable” sites on the right and left political spectrum. Then I took a class called Contemporary Issues in Education Technology. We discussed and debated and I started to see some of the positives again of social media. Those that were isolated due to location or identity had somewhere to reach out. Support groups, organizations, and caring people were there. Imagine that, someone using the internet and social media to help people and not just attack.

I have still taken a step back, only delving deeper for this course. I am still cautious, but I am better prepared to help my students and care for my own interactions on social media. So I’ll dance with the devil, but my mouse is hovering over that close account tab.

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