Tag Archives: Jennifer Casa-Todd

New to Twitter? #FollowFriday

(Originally posted on uoitmed.wordpress.com)

One of the most relevant things to remember about using Twitter for professional development is that it is more important to follow really interesting and thought-provoking people, than to be concerned about how many followers you have.  I often create Twitter lists to which I direct learners when I am showing them how to use Twitter.  The title of the list indicates the kind of learning you may be apt to do if you follow the people on that list.

But another great way to find really interesting people to follow on Twitter is through the hashtag #FollowFriday or #ff . Though it is updated on Fridays, you may put that term in the search bar to access this information. I don’t do this enough (I am always worried about leaving someone out), but whenever I get mentioned in a Follow Friday list or see someone sharing one, I am always pleasantly surprised to find a new person from whom I think I can learn on Twitter and beyond.

Building Community using Follow Friday

Any leader who is trying to build community using a District or organization hashtag might want to create a #FollowFriday post.  What this does is not only honour the contributions of people within that community, but also indicates to others who else to connect with.

Dr. Robin Kay, Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Ontario’s Institute for Technology makes a point of posting about people in Ed Tech who would be good to follow.

Doug Peterson has long been supporting and building a community of Ontario Educators by creating several #FollowFriday posts.

Both Julie Balen and Lisa Noble shared a #FollowFriday post with me this morning that reinforced the amazing people I already follow, but introduced me to a couple of people whom I have never met.  Often, there is an ongoing sharing as in this example when Donna Fry added some other great folks to follow:

FF

So what are you waiting for?  Take some time by the pool or on a patio today to check out the hashtag and follow some amazing educators today who will help you to learn throughout the school year!

If you are really new to Twitter, you may find this resource helpful.

Twitter-2

Real, Fake, Edited, and Social Media

As a former English teacher, I am acutely aware of media messages  and the fact that they are a construct of reality.   When I first started teaching (just a few years ago), I taught my students the Media Triangle which we then used as a frame of reference whenever we viewed media:

Media triangle

http://themedialiterateteacher.weebly.com/media-triangle.html

So even before the internet was a thing and social media came to be, those of us teaching English and Media studies have been teaching kids that media is not real: that the audience, the text, and the production (techniques & conventions) are purposefully chosen and represent a construct of reality. This applies to everything: “reality” tv, magazine covers, film, news articles, posters, and now that list includes social media. Most especially, I taught students that we need to ask critical questions when they are confronted with a media text and and we should always be a little skeptical of what is being portrayed.  And so traditionally, media has been the culprit of many negative outcomes including,  

“exposure to unrealistic body images; modelling; pressure to conform; gender-typed socialization; objectification of the body; internalization of appearance ideals; increased negative affect that results from viewing unrealistic images of the body; social comparisons; interactions with peers and other normative influences; the adoption of appearance management behaviors and body change strategies to improve oneself; and compensatory motivations such as disordered eating as a way to validate one’s self-concepts” (Williams, 2014, pg 390)

Blame Social Media

Now, many posts, articles, studies, and musings are about the extent to which social media is to blame for these same issues which I tackled 20 years ago in my Media Studies class. And yet…

Perhaps the reason why there is a more pressing concern is likely because social media amplifies the access to some of these messages. Richard Perloff, in a study examining how social media effects young women’s body image, states that “social media, in Western countries such as the U.S., U.K., and Australia, have infiltrated individuals’ lives in ways that was not possible with previous mass media” (Williams, 2014, pg 389).  This is actually scary when I consider the Dove campaign video which was created in 2008.

In a recent post by George Couros, he references an article about a young woman whose Instagram feed painted a picture of happiness while in actual fact she was struggling with depression and ultimately committed suicide.  The commentary about Instagram is an interesting one:

“With Instagram, one thing has changed: the amount we consume of one another’s edited lives. Young women growing up on Instagram are spending a significant chunk of each day absorbing others’ filtered images while they walk through their own realities, unfiltered. In a recent survey conducted by the Girl Scouts, nearly 74 percent of girls agreed that other girls tried to make themselves look “cooler than they are” on social networking sites.”

I remember reading a post on my Twitter feed a few months ago about an Australian Instagram celebrity, Essena O’Neill, who apparently “blew up the internet” when she swore off social media admitting that every picture, every post was completely contrived and that she was never truly happy.  This line really resonated:

The concept of faking a “perfect” life on social media has been around almost as long as social media itself”

Julie Smith, author of Master the Media, shared this image on Twitter which I found tragically funny:

Instagram vs real life

A proactive approach: Use social media in media literacy lessons

We can limit the exposure kids have on social media (and I’m not saying we shouldn’t), but we may have to take a look at other proactive ways to address the multi-layered issue which arises here.  Research suggests that media literacy is effective in combating body-image perceptions in women and that a multi-system approach is necessary to empower youth and adults” to start to challenge media-propagated images of narrow and harmful idealized bodies.  This approach should include social media which “are capable of dramatically expanding the reach of media literacy programs on body image” (Andsager, 2014). (emphasis added)

Looking back at the media triangle, whether we are talking about an advertisement, a Facebook post, or an Instagram post, we can isolate all of the elements within it very effectively in our classrooms with students.  And so when we include social media examples, we are helping students who may not readily recognize the contrived nature of posts (be it those of celebrities or friends), have a clearer sense of real vs fake.

But as Andsager suggests, social media shouldn’t just be a part of the conversation, it can be a part of the solution  not just because of the potential of widespread messaging, but because when students actually create using technology and social media, they are learning about the interplay of text, production, and audience which may serve to help them to become critical of the media they consume.

I love how Mimi Ito says it in the book, Participatory Culture in a networked age:

Our mindset has to start moving beyond “How can I protect myself from media corporations?” and towards how can I contribute in an effective and responsible way?”

(Jenkins et all, 2016, pp 108).

 

References:

  • Andsager, J. L. (2014). Research directions in social media and body image. Sex Roles, 71(11), 407-413. doi:10.1007/s11199-014-0430-4
  • Fagan, Kate. “Split Image.” Weblog post. ESPN. N.p., 17 May 2015. Web. 6 July 2016.
  • Jenkins, H., Itō, M., & boyd, d. (2015). Participatory culture in a networked era: A conversation on youth, learning, commerce, and politics. Wiley.
  • Perloff, R. M. (2014). Social media effects on young women’s body image concerns: Theoretical perspectives and an agenda for research. Sex Roles, this issue. doi: 10.1007/s11199-014-0384-6.
  • Williams, R., & Ricciardelli, L. (2014). Social media and body image concerns: Further considerations and broader perspectives. Sex Roles, 71(11-12), 389-392. doi:10.1007/s11199-014-0429-x

Benefits vs Risks

Summer is awesome, isn’t it?  A time to step back from the frenetic pace of teaching to enjoy time with family, to catch up on everything you’ve put off during the school year, and time to invest in yourself.

For me, it’s always a really tough time too.  You see, about 12 years ago, on a walk with my youngest daughter (she was a baby at the time), I was stung by a bee and subsequently ended up on an operating table getting epinephren to the heart (yes, alla Pulp Fiction).  The story that led up to me going to the hospital is quite a funny one which really needs to be told orally–by my husband (Coles notes version: suck it up, eat your sandwich, fine we’ll go to the pharmacy, ok maybe we’d better go to the hospital).  He felt terrible about it all when he found out that I could have died if we had waited any longer; we had no idea I was deathly allergic to bees.  Truthfully, if I had been stung a few years earlier when we were about 3 days away from a hospital via canoe, I wouldn’t be writing this today.

So you can see that as much as summer is an amazing time to be outside enjoying all that nature has to offer, it is also pretty scary  Even with a double epi-pen, I’ve got about 40 minutes tops to get to a hospital.

I could spend most of my time inside in order to prevent getting stung, but then I weigh the risk with the benefits.  I would miss out on BBQs, lunches on patios, hikes, and much more.  I have to remind myself that I hadn’t been stung for most of my life, that the likelihood of being stung is not too high.

I’m not going to a bee farm any time soon, I do need to figure out where the nearest hospital is in proximity to me, and I still panic like crazy when a bee flies very close to me, but I’m not going to let my fear prevent me from enjoying the great outdoors and making great memories with my family and friends.

It’s kind of the way I approach life now.  I don’t take stupid risks, but if I think there is benefit to something, I swallow the fear and try it.  I don’t let the miniscule potential of things going wrong get in the way of what can be amazing.

What if we approached everything in life and in teaching this way?  What would be different?

william_g_t_shedd_quotes_01

Learn in Denver or from your patio #ISTE2016 #NOTATISTE

For those of you in my District and beyond who are new to the Ed Tech or the Twitter world, the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) hosts an amazing conference every year which is held in different venues across the United States.  This year, it will be in Denver, Colorado, so all times listed in this post are in Mountain time.

Print_ISTE

One of the best things about this conference is the sheer number of outstanding educators from across North America (and perhaps even the world) who attend.  Being there is an incredible learning experience.  I had the privilege of attending the conference last year  and the year before as well as in 2011.

But let’s face it, not many educators can afford the time or have the money to get to an educational conference like ISTE and in some cases, when your daughter is graduating from grade 8, you really can’t miss it! 🙂

If you are attending ISTE

If you are lucky enough to get there, and it’s your first (or second) time, be sure to check out this survival guide.  Once there, definitely check out the playgrounds and the poster sessions which offer a more personal and interactive experience.  Leave yourself lots of time . TALK to EVERYONE. Then, as there are literally 100s of amazing sessions to attend, take your time to plan to ensure that you know exactly what you would like to get out of your sessions and your experience.  Someone once advised me to focus on a general theme which I found helpful.

If you already learn from someone on Twitter, search for that person in the Program Guide; chances are, you will learn lots more from his/her session…and meeting a Twitter pal in real life is great!

If I were attending ISTE this year, I’d be sitting in the front row for each of these presentations  by these awesome educator pals who are passionate, knowledgeable, and are really great people too…and you’ll notice my general theme: Empowering teachers and students to use technology & social media positive ways.

FROM DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP TO DIGITAL LEADERSHIP, EMPOWERING LEARNERS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
Monday, June 27, 4:15–5:15 pm
CCC Four Seasons Ballroom
favoritesGeorge Couros  

PERSONALIZED PERSPECTIVES ON CREATING EQUITABLE DIGITAL LEARNING EXPERIENCES FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
Monday, June 27, 5:30–6:45 pm
CCC 505
favoritesPatricia Brown  favoritesDr. Nicol Howard  favoritesCarla Jefferson  favoritesRegina Schaffer  favoritesSarah-Jane Thomas  favoritesShana White

TRENDING THE POSITIVE: USING TECHNOLOGY TO CELEBRATE THE GOOD IN EDUCATION (Poster Session)
Tuesday, June 28, 4:00–6:00 pm
CCC Lobby D, Table 20
favoritesSean Gaillard  favoritesNatalie Krayenvenger  favoritesJennifer Williams  

SKETCHNOTING IN EDUCATION: THE BEST PRACTICES, BENEFITS AND HOW-TO’S OF SKETCHNOTING
Wednesday, June 29, 8:30–9:30 am
CCC 502
favoritesCarrie Baughcum  favoritesVicki Davis  favoritesSylvia Duckworth  favoritesJudi Holst  favoritesMarie-Andree Ouimet  favoritesKathy Schrock  

DESIGN LEARNING SPACES FOR LITERACY, TECHNOLOGY AND COLLABORATION: STARTUP CLASSROOM CULTURE
Wednesday, June 29, 1:15–2:15 pm
CCC 707
favoritesFran Siracusa  favoritesJennifer Williams  

CLOSING KEYNOTE
favoritesMichelle Cordy  
Wednesday, June 29, 2:45–4:00 pm
CCC Bellco Theatre

I am so excited for Michelle Cordy–not sure there has ever been a Canadian closing keynote before and she is simply amazing–If you can stay for this, DO IT! #canadianproud

Don’t forget to attend at least 1 Coffee Edu session hosted by Alice Keeler.  Yes, 6 am is early, but it’s a great opportunity to meet and talk to new people, and it may even inspire you to host one in your own area!  And any session Alice is facilitating is sure to be great as well.

Be sure to share your learning by using the #ISTE2016 hashtag and if you blog, consolidate and share your learning when you return (it’s a great way to curate resources as well)

Not at ISTE? No problem!

The amazing thing about technology and social media, is that you can literally learn from your kitchen or patio.  Of course it doesn’t feel exactly the same, but if you are looking for ideas, resources, or golden nuggets, follow the #ISTE2016 hashtag.  There are many times when a session might be captured on Periscope and shared through the hashtag so you can really get insight into what’s happening!

And then there’s #NOTATISTE

Yes, there is literally a hashtag dedicated to anyone not at ISTE, but who has lots to share or who wants to learn! I had heard of this before through my Edumatch Voxer group, but because I had attended the conference, I was only mildly paying attention. Thanks to Craig Yen, who will be live tweeting from the conference this year, I got the scoop!   Follow the #notatiste hashtag on Twitter, Join the Google + Community, or contact Lisa Dabbs to join the Voxer Group.  It’s a place for learning and sharing and just a little bit of goofy fun.

The best part is, even if you aren’t participating live, you can spend a few minutes a day over the summer to check out some of the great learning and sharing!

 

 

The power of a hashtag

In the Twitterverse (just like in some other social media platforms), a hashtag unites people, for better or for worse.  So regardless of whether or not you follow a person, by searching a hashtag, you can get the perspective, in 140 characters or less, of anyone in the entire world using that hashtag to post their thoughts.

As I peruse through #PrayForOrlando just now, I am simultaneously heartened and disheartened.  Often, a tragedy brings a critical lens on an issue, in this case the senseless murder of people based on discrimination. A hashtag created in response to such a tragedy, can serve as a collective response in the form of mourning, of prayer, of condolences, of reflection.  But it  can also bring to light further hatred.

So how do we deal with this in school?

Do we, as educators peruse the hashtag with students and have authentic conversations about the discrimination that exists in a real-world situation?  Ask how social media can work to comfort and/or further instigate?

Do we contribute our positive remarks to a hashtag to drown out the hatred, without looking together or acknowledging the negative comments?

Or do we avoid it because to bring attention to it may mean discomfort and possible repercussion?

Does what we do depend on whether a student is 13 or 16 or 18? Whether we perceive them to be “mature enough” to handle the conversation?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Warning: the Twitter moment  embedded below contains inappropriate language (which is one of the reasons why I started to wonder about this topic).

 

 

 

 

Teen Social Media Use, Addiction, & Education

This article, “13 right now” by Jessica Contrera came across my twitter feed via Fran Siracusa with the message, “This topic deserves a chat discussion.” It’s one of a few posts I’ve seen published by the Washington Post in their “Screen Age” series and captures the nuances of a 13-year old, Katherine Pommerening and her life online.

It definitely deserves more than a chat discussion as there are so many different layers and issues addressed about which ongoing conversations at the school level with teachers, at the District level, and with parents are necessary.  I may need a series of  blog-posts to work through it all.

Consider this paragraph written about 13 year-old Katherine:

She doesn’t respond, her thumb on Instagram. A Barbara Walters meme is on the screen. She scrolls, and another meme appears. Then another meme, and she closes the app. She opens BuzzFeed. There’s a story about Florida Gov. Rick Scott, which she scrolls past to get to a story about Janet Jackson, then “28 Things You’ll Understand If You’re Both British and American.” She closes it. She opens Instagram. She opens the NBA app. She shuts the screen off. She turns it back on. She opens Spotify. Opens Fitbit. She has 7,427 steps. Opens Instagram again. Opens Snapchat. She watches a sparkly rainbow flow from her friend’s mouth. She watches a YouTube star make pouty faces at the camera. She watches a tutorial on nail art. She feels the bump of the driveway and looks up. They’re home. Twelve minutes have passed.

It infers that teens today are “addicted” to technology and social media which is a common narrative.  In my recent talk to a group of K-5 parents in Mississauga, I was surprised by how many of their questions were around how much time is too much time online and what to do about their child’s “addiction” to technology.

This also touches on the idea that kids have few opportunities to sit and stare at a blank wall thinking about what they can do, because there is a whole world of stuff to do through their cellphones.   Think about a typical routine car ride: in the twelve minutes that Katherine is in the car with her father, there might have been some light banter but mostly silence.  Once upon a time, that silence would have been taken up with staring out the window, thinking about a variety of things.  Now, it can be taken up with reading, writing (texting), and connecting to others.   Adults see this outwardly as an addiction; as a bad thing.

But is it really?

When I talk to (or more aptly get grumpy with ) my own 13-year old about sitting on the couch and checking her feeds her response to me is:  But we aren’t doing anything. You could argue (as Katherine’s dad states in the article) that when we were young, we would be forced to go and do something–playing outside, playing a game, riding a bike, etc… But truthfully she does go out and engage face to face with friends. If we are having dinner, walking the dog, swimming, when she is horseback riding, etc… she is fully engaged and doesn’t have her phone.   To fill up her time, she’d prefer flip through her phone rather than watch t.v.  And truthfully, I have to admit that as a child who has always been a non-reader, she is reading much more on the Snapchat Discover feature than she has ever spent reading a physical book or magazine.  So this isn’t a bad thing either.

Is it addiction?

addiction

But are kids “addicted”?  And if so are they addicted to social media or are they addicted to being with her friends?

Cecilie Andreassen of the University of Bergen,  Norway who studied Facebook addiction, found addiction occurred more regularly among younger users than older users. She also identified that people who are anxious and socially insecure use social media more than others, possibly because those who suffer from social anxiety find it easier to communicate via social media than face to face. (Harvey, 2014, pg 1).  I haven’t been a teen for a long time, but there is no doubt that adolescence is the most significant time of social angst in one’s life!

In  “The Invisible Addiction: Cellphone Activities and Addiction among Male and Female College Students,” a study based the online survey responses of 164 college students,  found that approximately 60 percent of college students admit they may be addicted to their cell phone” (Baylor, 2014).

Yet scholars actually can’t agree as to whether or not the social media platform itself that is “addictive” or the functionality of the tool and what it does for the user.  The reality is that “[e]xcessive usage of social media is only beginning to be examined in a modern, media -laden world as a possible psychiatric disorder” (Harvey, 2014, pg 4) as the cultural adoption of these platforms are increasing so dramatically.

danah boyd, in her book, “It’s Complicated: The Networked life of teens is critical of associating the word “addiction” with teen’s engagement with social media. She states, “[t]he overarching media narrative is that teens lack the capacity maintain healthy relationships with social media.  It depicts passionate engagement with technology as an illness that society must address.  It is easier for adults to blame technology for undesirable outcomes than to consider other social, cultural, and personal factors that may be at play” (boyd, 2014, pg 79).  So in the example of parenting or education what are such factors that might be at play?

Cellphone/Social Media dependence the classroom

I have spoken to educators who are so frustrated because even with clear boundaries established in the classroom, teenagers cannot help but check their notifications as they pop up. The addiction narrative is intermingled with the distraction one.  Kids are constantly checking their phones, so we ban them as a common response.  There are so many NO CELLPHONE signs that still adorn school and classroom doors.

And then I read a chapter on Education and Flow, by  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi  which speaks to the theory of “flow”  (a pyschological state whereby you are so involved in an activity that you lose track of time or anything else) and started to think about flow and cellphone distraction and/or dependence.

In one of his studies, Csikszentmihalyi  gives teachers and students a pager.  When the pager goes off, both record exactly what they are doing and thinking at the time.  Take a look at the difference of the teacher response vs the student response:

Flow and Teaching

His conclusion is that the kids didn’t engage with the content in a way that the teacher did. He further goes on to say, “…people will seek out flow anyway. If they can’t find it in school, they will find it somewhere else. (pg 140)”

Today, I would argue that the “somewhere else” is the cell phone  where kids have a whole world of connections and entertainment in their pocket.

In the Baylor university study mentioned above, one college student said, “Cellphones may wind up being an escape mechanism from their classrooms” (Baylor, 2014).  This is a very harsh assessment but one that may give us pause to think about the extent to which our classrooms are places where learning comes alive for students and where they are involved?

My wonderings:

Are students less likely to continually check their cellphones if they are engaged in student-centered, inquiry driven classrooms?

Does teaching and learning which involves cell phones reduce the likelihood of students checking their phones for non-school related tasks?

Is it far better to have cellphones on desks and have conversations about dependence and self-regulation than it does to ban them completely (only to have students sneak them in their desks, take frequent bathroom breaks, and other potential behavioural responses)?

Is teaching self-regulation when it comes to technology use as important as any of the 6 Cs?

Despite the most engaging and interactive classrooms and reflective practices, are students still engaging in problematic behaviours when it comes to using their cellphones/social media excessively?  What are some effective ways to deal with this?

Would love to hear your thoughts and strategies!

 

References:

Baylor university; cellphone addiction ‘an increasingly realistic possibility,’ baylor study finds. (2014). NewsRx Health & Science, , 60. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.uproxy.library.dc-uoit.ca/docview/1561337547?accountid=14694

boyd, danah (2014). It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale
University Press.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Applications of flow in human development and education : The collected works of mihaly csikszentmihalyi (1;2014; ed.). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-9094-9

Harvey, K. (2014). Addiction, social media. InEncyclopedia of social media and politics (Vol. 3, pp. 18-19). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781452244723.n5

Screen time guidelines and education

I recently did a talk for parents in Mississauga and in my research came upon this article in Forbes by Jordan Shapiro which speaks to the  American Pediatric Society guideline updates. Interestingly, the American Pediatric Society, which had previously limited screen time to a couple of hours, now recognizes that “screen time is simply time”.  They definitely advocate for balance and moderation, but their approach has really shifted and makes sense to me.

The guidelines can be summarized as follows:

Screentime guidelines

 

Seems to me, we need to do very little for this list to apply to the classroom and to education in general.

Can we simply replace parenting with teaching?

How long before our Educational institutions just readily accept that technology and/or social media are “just another environment” and an integral  part of teaching and learning?

 

 

 

 

Social media and education: my research and wonderings

Yesterday, my friend, Jennifer Williams shared a tweet about how to create Facebook with classes. I replied to her that Facebook was blocked in my District, but that it looked great.  A complete stranger (a grad student from India) jumped in and asked how it was possible that Facebook was blocked in America.  Here is our Twitter exchange:

Facebook Blocked Blog

He concluded by saying, “just us having this conversation sitting opposite ends of the world is example enough”.  And indeed this is true.

This post is not meant to criticize Districts that block or don’t block, but more of an exploration of my wonderings prompted by this exchange. I know the dark side of social media exists.  I really do and keeping students safe is the primary concern of educators.  And yet, I am increasing confused around what we even mean by social media and the criteria by which we should determine what (or if) a site is blocked, not blocked.

I have already done some thinking about what social media means in this  blog post prompted by an experience by Carl Hooker, reflecting on the fact that according to teens, everything is social media. But because I am enrolled in a self-directed grad course called, Social Media in Education, I am wondering about academic perspectives and definitions.

Scholars danah boyd and Nicole Ellison define social network sites rather than social media itself in their 2007 paper, Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship, as online communities that allow users  to

(1 ) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system,

(2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and

(3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (2007)

In It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens, boyd refers to social media as a collection of “sites and services that emerged during the early 2000s including social network sites, video sharing sites, blogging and microblogging platforms, and related tools that allow participants to create and share their own content”  (boyd, 2014, pg 6).

And according to Kaplan and Haenlein (2014),  Social Media is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content (media content publicly available and created by end users)”

And so I’m not sure if I’m oversimplifying here, but when I consider those definitions, I think of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Music.ly, and Snapchat, but  also Youtube,  Wikipedia, Prezi, and Slideshare.   But can we also include Google Apps for education? and many Curating platforms?  Basically, can’t we say that anything that allows for content creation or remixing and public sharing social media?

Kerric Harvey, in Encyclopedia of social media and politics contemplates the ambiguity as well:

What is Social Media-

–Kerric Harvey, 2014

So, if academics and students have a tough time defining social media, what is the criteria by which Districts make decisions about which “social media” to block?

Something Henry Jenkins says in Participatory Culture in a networked era really resonates with me :

I could see the first wave of young people who had enjoyed extensive access to digital technologies, observing the ways they were incorporating these tools and practices into all different dimensions of their life and work..[but] many adults were shutting down opportunities that were meaningful for young people out of a moral panic response to technological and cultural change.” (pg 36)

I would extend the idea of moral panic to a very real concern about legal and liability implications that often accompany these decisions.  So in the same way that I understand the notion of blocking “social media”, I am perplexed my many questions (listed here in no particular order):

Don’t we want students to generate content not just for themselves but for others?   Do we still associate creation with something that needs to be done in a classroom for a teacher or are we considering the extent to which some of this creation can become part of a more participatory culture?

If we know that learning is social then isn’t sharing learning (including online) something that we should strive for as educational institutions?  Is the problem the extent to which users can communicate with each other (which may be abusive) rather than the sharing itself? If so, is this not a problem that need to be addressed regardless of whether students are sharing face to face or online?

What criteria determines which sites to block and which sites should be used for teaching and learning?  Is it worthwhile for sites to be open for teachers but not students? (especially in elementary) because of age restrictions of many social media sites?

Should (or could) schools determine which sites can/can’t be used based on their own school culture and the input of teachers and students or is this too complicated from an IT perspective?

What are the considerations that all stakeholders need to consider when making these decisions?

Are there Districts that don’t block anything? and if so, how do they ensure the safety and privacy of their students?

Do students sit at the table to help make sense of it all? Can they?

I think Jenkins states it well here:

Right now, we are at a moment of transition. For many of us, we are experiencing a significant expansion of our communicative capacities within a networked culture, yet very little in our past has taught us how to use those expanded capacities responsibly or constructively…It’s confusing, there are ethical dilemmas, none of us know how to use that power…The only way forward is to ask the hard questions, to confront the bad along with the good, to challenges [sic] the inequalities and the abuses. (Jenkins, 2016, pg 25)

I would love to hear your questions and thoughts as I continue to contemplate this topic.

 

 

References:

boyd, danah (2014). It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale     University Press.

boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 13(1), 210-230. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00393

Harvey, K. (Ed.) (2014). Encyclopedia of social media and politics (Vols. 1-3). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781452244723

Jenkins, H., Itō, M., & boyd, d. (2015). Participatory culture in a networked era: A conversation on youth, learning, commerce, and politics. Wiley.

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! the challenges and opportunities of social media. Greenwich: Elsevier Inc. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003

Recognizing Student Leaders: #DC2DL

Those of you who know me know that I am passionate (if not a little obsessed) with the idea of Student Digital Leadership which builds on George Couro‘s definition and can be seen in this post and the graphic the awesome Sylvia Duckworth and I collaborated on and she visualized:image

and then my re-thinking of what that looks like in this post.

We often associate digital leadership with adults using the power of technology and social media to share and connect who are in leadership roles in education. And this is great, but how are we helping our students to capitalize on the power of technology and social media?  Are we thinking intentionally about what this looks like?

And because I am passionate about the power of sharing on Twitter and other professional learning networks, I would love to see a collective curation of any examples of students learning & sharing their learning, using technology to promote causes or contribute to the well-being of others collected on the hashtag

#DC2DL

A friend of mine and awesome educator, Rob Cannone has said to me, “My students are going to change the world” and they likely will because he has given them opportunities to learn with the world, connect with experts, support causes, and share their experiences with teachers at our District-wide Ed Tech day and via Twitter.  I know there are lots of other teachers inspiring their students to do the same!

So let’s share that awesomeness in one place!

Wouldn’t it be great to see students using this hashtag as well as they recognize the positive power of social media which can be greater than the negative when we show them how they might do that?

Looking forward to learning and sharing through the hashtags!

When it’s time for a change

I currently have perhaps the best job in the world. I work with an amazing team of professionals, I get to engage in learning and thinking about topics in education which most people don’t often get to delve into because they have three classes of 30 to prepare for.  I get to go into classes to co-plan, co-teach, co-learn, and debrief with teachers of every subject area. Teachers trust me enough to take my suggestions and try them, knowing I will support them.  I get to lead professional learning around the meaningful integration of technology in school.  I have met and worked with hundreds of amazing educators in my District. This is no different than what other system leaders do.

And yet, I have been at a crossroads lately.  I miss being in a school.  I knew it was time for a change. The question became…go into administration? go back into a classroom?  or something else?

For my Sicilian parents who have been ever supportive of me, the choice was clear (little known fact my mom didn’t speak to me for a week when I told her that I wanted to be a teacher rather than a lawyer–she thought I was wasting my talents).  My mom said to me, “Why aren’t you a principal? You are smart enough! Can’t you be the Director?”  Having never gone beyond grade 5 in Italy and never studied here, she has no real concept of the whole Vice-principal, Principal, Superintendent, Director trajectory–but what a blessing to have a mom that believes in me so much.

For my husband and teen daughters, who listen to me celebrate and complain at the dinner table (when I make it home on time for dinner)  and who love and support me unconditionally, their advice was to reflect upon what makes me happy.  This has been the advice of my dear friends as well.  But how does one really know what makes them happy?  Isnt’ happiness a relative term?   I am happy when I am doing work that I’m passionate about. I am happy when I work with kids, I am happy when I feel like I am making a difference. I am happy when I am learning new things.  When I taught English (or Special Education or Coop or ESL or Italian) I was happy. When I am leading professional learning, I am happy.  But in each of those instances I was disappointed, frustrated, and longing for more as well because I am always reflecting on how I can be better.

George Couros, who has been an incredible mentor and friend to me over the past year offered this advice:

George Advice

So there was that happiness question again!!  But in discerning the answers to #2 & #3 were where I now set my mind.

The first step in answering question 2 is understanding my strengths.  We ask our students to do this, don’t we?  I think big picture, I try things and then reflect on their success/failure and try again. If I hear a good idea, I move that idea to action. I am happy when I  push the boundaries of what Literacy, Curriculum, and assessment look like (geeky but true). I am effective leader.  I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t have the freedom to be a leader. And so the question of impact…

What is impact? Isn’t this as relative a term as happiness?  If I can have a deep impact on 30 students, isn’t that more meaningful that having little impact on hundreds of teachers? How might I measure impact? A thank you vs a test score vs a thoughtful question that has come out of learning something new?  Does a principal have more impact in education than a classroom teacher? How about a Department Head? A Teacher-Librarian? An education officer at the Ministry of Education? A Superintendent? I would argue that this depends more on the person than the title.

George’s questions helped clarify my thinking and my answers gave me direction.

I applied to be a Teacher-Librarian at a high school and was successful.  In that role, I will have the privilege of working with an administrative team, with a collaborative group of Teacher-Librarians, with teachers, and with students.

I will miss working with the amazing people at the CEC and beyond, but in my new role I will have impact, I will be able to use my gifts and talents, and I think I will be happy! Best of all, I will be able to work with students again; why I became a teacher to begin with.

I can run a coding club, create a makerspace, run a book club, facilitate connections with students and the world. I can not just talk about student voice, but I can empower students to use their voices and be there to support them when they think they are voiceless or powerless.

It’s an IB school so I have a lot of learning to do: which I am so excited about and there are so many incredible Teacher-Librarian role models in Ontario and in North America from whom I continue to learn.

Did I make the right decision? Who knows? But change is good…Change is an opportunity to do something amazing!

Change