Category Archives: #socialLEADia

It’s time. #socialLEADia

In the concluding thoughts in my book, Social LEADia, I call upon my favourite poem by Robert Frost to talk about the decision that stands before us in Education when it comes to using social media:

So it seems to me that stand before two roads diverging in a wood.

Some stand and don’t choose a road. They shake their heads and bemoan the woes of living in a digital age. They cite privacy issues and big data, and hope that everything will resolve itself or that miraculously social media will go away.

One road is well travelled. It is one where fear and negativity prevail, and the path is so worn that we constantly try to fix the potholes. On this path, our lessons cannot include social media because it is blocked and banned and students are left to navigate digital spaces on their own . We know inevitably where this road leads because so many have been down that path before.

The other road is less travelled. It is somewhat “grassy and wants wear” because not as many people choose that way. But it is one that the teachers and students featured in this book have travelled. It is one where we think differently and act differently when it comes to leveraging the potential of social media. It is being led by the next generation of changemakers with positivity, creativity, and hope.

Just today I experienced several things that tell me that more people are longing to travel or are travelling the road to positivity than we think!

First, I was looking at new publication, ISTE Standards for Students So many of the standards for students require us to think differently about teaching and learning. In particular, when we consider the criteria for Empowered Learner, Creative Communicator, and Global Collaborator, as well as Digital Citizen.

Along with the ISTE standards, came a magazine called, “Empowered Learner,” also published by ISTE. In it, CEO Richard Culatta shares the following quote that pops out in the sidebar:

“I worry that too many digital citizenship conversations focus on what not to do, and that’s not very compelling. It’s much more compelling to talk about what we should be doing and how we could be using tech tools to make our communities and the world around us a better place.” (page 10)

He then goes on to say,

“So in addition to helping our kids recognize the things to watch out for, we encourage them to be leaders in the digital space to encourage other people to use that medium to do good.” (page 10)

YES. YES. YES.

Then I read an article by Emily Weinstein, found in the ISTE Digital Citizenship Resources, who draws from her experience at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Common Sense media to write, Debunking 5 myths about kids and their tech.

And finally, I got this tweet from Mr. McClenaghan. What really struck me was the line. “I’ve been waiting for your voice!” He also shared a post he had written.

I am so heartened by this growing movement towards making sure we balance our fears of technology with the incredible power and potential it has for our learners! It is definitely about time!

If you are at the ISTE conference this year, please consider coming to my talk and join us on the road less travelled.

 

 

Source: “Interview: Richard Culatta: ISTE CEO shares his vision for ISTE, previews coming attractions.”

Empowered Learner. ISTE Publishing. Arlington: July 2017.

 

Letting go the Fear Narrative #socialLEADia

The other day I was honoured to be on set of Family in Focus, a local television program hosted by my friend, Gillian Barker on Rogers television (Georgina). The topic: parenting out of fear.

During the conversation I shared how parenting out of fear and control when it came to social media really stifled my children and their passion and how my relationship with them and our conversations have changed as a result.  My learning from this resulted in my writing Social LEADia,which will be published this week, which highlights the voices of kids who are using social media in creative and positive ways for digital leadership.

Here are a few excerpts:

Don’t underestimate social media and the internet. If you just took a minute, and looked at the things that students do online that do change the world, you would be SO blown away. It’s actually really cool. Social media allows us to share our voice and issues that we care about and let our voice be heard by people in different cities, provinces and countries. Yes, we can do bad things online, such as cyberbullying, but we can also prevent the bad things, reverse it and do things on the internet that will help us change the world for the better. Social media is also a place where we connect with other like-minded young people and organizations. When we are able to connect, we can get and give support and encouragement, share ideas and information with others who share our passion and drive to create change.

Hannah Alper, 13 yr old

When I say social media most people, especially parents scream in fear, “Ah, social media” that’s where my kids go and write bad comments about their teachers or post pictures from that party they were at. This is where malicious behaviour takes place. But that doesn’t have to be the case. I recently wrote a blogpost called, “Why is the conversation surrounding social media so negative? And in it I document that my experience with social media is unusual, but it doesn’t have to be. So why is social media abused? What I found is that the conversation is always negative. Social media is abused by young people is the rhetoric that older people are using. So adults come and lecture students by saying “Don’t use social media.” “Social media is bad” “Don’t do this” and students start to identify social media as a negative place. Once you start lecturing to someone that they can’t do something it motivates them to do that thing and then they start developing these negative schemas of social media.  I have a radical concept for you–especially those of you who talk negatively about social media.

STOP.

Really.

If you present social media as a positive space, as a place for students to go to express themselves, to connect with professionals with other students, then that’s the type of learning you are going to see there.

Timmy Sullivan, 18 yr old

I think we really owe it to our students to put our fear asides and see what the connected world has to offer: to understand it better.

This quotation shared by George Couros in a recent post really resonates:

New DigCit Resource: Be Internet Awesome is almost Awesome #SocialLEADia

Google’s Be Internet Awesome is a newly released resource that combines internet safety with gaming. It looks like it would work well for upper primary/junior students.

It uses a Quest motif and an imaginary land called, “Interland” and its purpose is to teach students to “Be Internet Awesome”. I LOVE the sound of that!!

It focuses on five key lessons:

  • Be Internet Smart: Share with care
  • Be Internet Alert: Don’t fall for fake
  • Be Internet Strong: Secure your secrets
  • Be Internet Kind: It’s cool to be kind
  • Be Internet Brave: When in doubt, talk it out

All of these are very powerful and important points.

I went through one of the lands, “Mindful Mountain” just to try it out. This part of the quest reinforces that “you must be very intentional about what you share”

The user goes through a series of scenarios and makes you determine whether or not it is appropriate to share with friends, family, or others.  The idea is that you use the game features and you lose and/or gain points depending on your accuracy.

I received points and the following information at the end:

-Savvy Sharer (thoughtfully consider what you share and with whom)

-Patient Poster (pause and keep extra sensitive information to yourself)

-Informed Internaut (understand the power and consequences that come along with sharing)

What’s great about it:

  • The lessons themselves and conversations that would result from these lessons are definitely great.
  • The different mountains “Kind Kingdom”, “Mindful Mountain”, “Tower of Treasure” and “Reality River” are definitely far more positive than much of the fear-mongering that we often use when talking about internet safety, and touch upon a comprehensive approach to helping kids navigate online spaces.
  • Even when mistakes are made, the game is iterative so that you continue trying until you arrive at the right answer.

What’s not that great about it:

  • If you are not a good gamer (like me), you lose points even if you know the right answer which can be frustrating for some kids (or literally, maybe this is just me??)
  • Sometimes, when trying to get to the next level, students don’t always read the text (in this case the digital citizenship lessons) carefully
  • The Be Internet Awesome pledge, while very good, needs to be co-constructed with kids for them to really feel ownership of it.
  • It still exists out of context.

One of the chapters in my book, Social LEADia stresses the need for tackling Digital Citizenship in context and as a basis for Digital Leadership. A student can know Interland inside out and it may very well transfer to their own use of the internet, but it would be way more powerful if these lessons were reinforced throughout the school year, rather than tackled in a discrete unit.

I cite the theory of situated cognition which states that, “learning methods that are embedded in authentic situations are not merely useful; they are essential and knowledge must be applied in context in order to be used and made explicit” (Brown et al, 1989).

This is why I showcase the examples of Stephanie Viveiros, Kayla Delzer, and Robert Cannone who show us what it looks like to do this work using a class account (i.e. students have ownership of the account but technically the teacher posts because students are too young). I also talk about how Julie Millan and Diana Hale involve their students in the process of what responsible use of technology looks like. It’s also how with the mentorship of Jennifer Scheffer students like Timmy Sullivan are confident leaders both on and offline, and how Rachel Murat‘s high school students have moved beyond digital citizenship to digital leadership.

Here’s an excerpt from the Digital Citizenship in Context chapter:

Having a class Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat or Facebook account affords you so many unique opportunities. It can help to reinforce the following points and Digital Citizenship elements (I use Mike Ribble’s Digital Citizenship Elements):

-We emphasize that not everyone has equal access to technology (Digital Access)

-We only check our social media feed at certain times during the day to ensure a healthy balance (Digital Health and Wellness)

-We don’t put our notifications on because we don’t want to be distracted by them (Digital Etiquette)

-The classes and accounts that follow us are opportunities to connect with people: other classes from other communities and learn from them (Digital Communication)

-Our worth is not determined by how many followers we have because the most important thing is that we engage in conversations and relationships with the followers we do have (Digital Health)

-We block anyone who proves to be inappropriate or is trying to sell us something (Digital Security)

-We notice that there are some posts that are sponsored (Digital Commerce)

-We pay attention to how “edited” a photo might be by asking,” I wonder how many times they had to try to get such a perfect photo” (Digital Health and Wellness)

-We emphasize that a “like” isn’t the same as making a comment and forging a relationship, and that when you like something it means you agree with it  (Digital Literacy)

-We ask clarifying questions rather than making statements when we don’t agree with something or when we are not quite sure of the intent (Digital Communication)

-We delete a post if we think it might be misconstrued (Digital Communication)

-We regularly check our settings to see if anything has changed and talk about what should be private (stay in the classroom) and public (fine to share with the world) (Digital Security)

-We create a strong password and check for possible fake accounts following ours (Digital Security)

-When we use a hashtag, we understand that anyone can see our post even if they are not following our class account (Digital Literacy)

And So…

Use the Be Internet Awesome Pledge, (the headings), but allow your students to come up with the descriptors so they take ownership of it.

Use Be Internet Awesome as a foundation, but also engage in real-life sharing  using Digital Leadership as a framework with a class account.

 

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, S. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42

Student Voice, Student Leaders #SocialLEADia

One of the things that makes my upcoming book, Social LEADia unlike any educational book out there right now is the fact that I include student vignettes in every chapter. I also highlight several students who are using social media to leverage technology to make our world a better place and I direct you to their websites and Twitter accounts.  This was extremely important to me.

Why? Because knowing these students has forced me to reconsider what I think I know about social media; we oversimplify its role which is far more complicated and nuanced than we can understand unless we observe students and listen to what they have to say. It has also reaffirmed my belief that social media can and should play an integral role in our classrooms.

Here are a few excerpts from the student vignettes:

Curran Dee, who will be sharing an IGNITE at the upcoming ISTE Conference this year, makes this very true and somewhat disconcerting statement about his access to technology:

My school would say they do give me digital access because we have access to Chromebooks, but this is not digital access. We don’t blog. My teacher doesn’t tweet what we’re learning throughout the day. We don’t get to participate in Mystery Skypes or the Global Read Aloud. We only use technology to prepare for testing. I wish my school would take the time to see the difference in how I learn at home and apply it in my classroom and school, so my classmates can have the same opportunities I do.

By contrast, here is what 3rd grade Ryley Hanson has to say about using social media in Kayla Delzer’s class:

I use Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat in my classroom using our iPads. I take photos of kids that are working productively and crushing it, and I type a tweet to tell about the pictures. I like to show our followers what we are doing and why it’s important. I also like to send tweets to authors, creators of apps, teachers, families, and experts when I have questions or need more information…I want to be proud of my social media accounts.

Kayla uses social media in her classroom every day and has a Tweeter of the Day, and Snapchatter of the Day, and an Instagrammer of the day after her students engage in a “Digital Citizenship Boot Camp.”

Seventh grade Jin Schofield, in Robert Cannone’s class tells us:

Social media can be used to spread a message, raise awareness, and bring the world together. In fact, just last year, the way I and everyone around me used technology drastically transformed. We shared our class’s accomplishments online through our class blog and Twitter account, we organized an event about one of Canada’s greatest milestones, and we even raised money for Syrian refugees and a child with cancer, all through technology and communication. The phenomenon of the Internet and social media had just become apparent to us, and I think the way we used it to make our own difference in the world is something worth sharing.

In Robert’s class, Jin was a part of the “social relations committee.”

In the book I am as much a curator as I am a writer; I bring together not only the voices of students, but highlight educators from all over the world and what they are doing to empower students to become digital leaders.

We make decisions on behalf of students all the time; isn’t it time we at least hear what they have to say before we make blanket policies and statements about using social media in our schools?

What have you discovered about the role of social media in the lives of your students which goes beyond the typical narrative we have come to know and expect (distraction, cyberbullying, etc…)?  Would love to hear your experience in the comments.

 

How are we helping students to navigate social media spaces? #socialLEADia

I can’t wait to share my passion about the topic of Digital Leadership with the world in the form of my upcoming book, Social LEADia. In anticipation of its release I will be sharing excerpts from it… until which time I can actually hold the book in my hands!

This is one of the stories which I share in the book which reaffirmed for me the need for adults to be in social media spaces together with our students and children.

In the Spring of 2016, I tweeted out the link to a hashtag that kids had created for the Ontario Secondary School Literacy test. #osslt2016  My daughter and I got a real kick out of the very clever posts by students who had just written the test.  Even EQAO (the governing body overseeing the test) responded light-heartedly:

Then a friend of mine pointed out that there was an extremely inappropriate post in the feed. When I looked, I was mortified. Instinctively, I deleted my tweet and reported the tweet as offensive.  This student basically likened writing the test to wanting to be a suicide bomber and included a photo!

Then I took a closer look.  This was just a grade 10 kid trying to be funny and not really understanding the impact.  I looked at his Facebook page (easy enough to find) and realized from the very innocent profile and posts that he had just made a vast error in judgement.

I instinctively contacted him via Twitter.  It could have gone one of two ways: he could have responded maliciously, or he could have realized his error.  Here is how the exchange went:

Me: This is never ever appropriate. Nor is it funny.  And this tweet can come back to haunt you in the future.

Student: (Liked, Retweeted) Thx

Me: You are welcome. Delete it and hopefully no one will see it for now. Good luck!

Student: Kk (Deleted the tweet)

If I wasn’t in this space, I would not have been able to help this student.

This experience has reaffirmed my conviction that we need to spend more time focusing on using social media in positive ways. When we talk about social media, we can't always use the fear narrative; and we need to be in these… Click To Tweet