Plagiarism

When I think of the moral, ethical and legal issues we are facing the 8th, combined with the 4th and 7th, commandment of the Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics written by Arlene Rinaldi are the ones that I reinforce almost daily. 

  1. Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
  2. Thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work.
  3. Thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s files.
  4. Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
  5. Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
  6. Thou shalt not use or copy software for which you have not paid.
  7. Thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without authorization.
  8. Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output.
  9. Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you write.
  10. Thou shalt use a computer in ways that show consideration and respect.

Being an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher and being a non-native English speaker, I can see how easy it is to fall into the trap of plagiarism. Texas A&M defines plagiarism as “the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit”. Other people’s words often appear in our students’ work. Being a non-native English speaker, I know that many times plagiarism is not caused by bad intention. Not being a fluent speaker, forces students to “borrow” other people’s words since they feel they cannot say the same idea any better. According to Bruce Dancik and Donald Samulack, the “unintentional plagiarism is a necessity” that helps non-native English speakers express themselves. 

As my classmate, Laurie Ellis mentioned in her content catalyst, educators play a vital role in teaching students to be ethical and responsible learners. Christopher McGilvery in the article called Promoting Responsible and Ethical Digital Citizens highlights the importance of always giving credit to the original source in order to avoid plagiarism. But in order for our students to know the severity of plagiarism we need to provide them with tools to be able to acquire “writing with integrity” (Candace Schaefer – University of Texas). Candace Schaefer describes three forms of responses, such as citing, paraphrasing, summarizing with paraphrasing being viewed as the most dangerous form of writing.

I do agree with McGilvery and Shaefer regarding the importance of teaching our students the various steps of becoming a responsible and ethical learner and writer. I tried to summarize the major steps:

  • Start early and come up with a detailed plan
  • Take accurate notes when researching a topic and cite correctly
  • Understand your topic and add value to it by sharing own ideas
  • Practice retelling the content by using your own words
  • Proofread
  • Use quotations to give credit
  • Give credit when paraphrasing as well
  • Use a plagiarism checker to avoid making this ethical, moral and legal mistake
  • Include reference page
  • Ask your teacher/professor for advice and guidance

As an EAL teacher, I also think we often misjudge our students’ level of language proficiency and just because someone “sounds” fluent we assume their academic language is at a high level as well. Sometimes the very high expectations do force students to fall into the trap of plagiarizing to prove themselves to our society.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/146269537@N07/46671000735/”>Paris Malone</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Thanks for stopping by!

The new and emerging challenges of literacy in a “fake news” world

“If we define literacy as the ability to read (or interpret) the world around us, then digital literacy should not be thought of as requiring a separate set of skills. Rather, digital literacy ads a layer to traditional literacy, enabling us to read or interpret the connected reality we live in.” (Couros and Hildebrandt, 2017)

But how should we read in our digital world and what should we believe? After I tested myself using the experiment my classmate, Rob Gareau included in his content catalyst, I realized that I was having a hard time differentiating between fake and true information.

One might ask: What is fake news? As Claire Wardle in First Draft describes, fake news can be several things, such as: click bait, authentic content moved to a misleading context, imposter sources designed to look like reliable sources we already know, false information meant to stir outrage, satire or parody, and news that you personally disagree with. Fake news can be created for two different reasons: misinformation, that can be intentional or non-intentional, and disinformation providing inaccurate information intentionally.

https://firstdraftnews.org/latest/fake-news-complicated/

As Nancy Smith in her content catalyst points out, the social media platforms play a role in distributing fake news as well. Although social media does not produce any content, it is still responsible for distributing information based on algorithmic and AI dicisions. An algorithm is a set of rules used to rank, filter and organize the content for users based on their actions and preferences. Through feeds, social media influences the information that we see, and they aim to personalize the content for us.

In order for us to be better informed, we need to learn skills to read critically and decipher information. Without fact checking, as Claire Wardle says “we are adding to the pollution of our information ecosystem”. It is crucial to support quality information by being critical of the information we consume.

How can we sort truth from fiction though, when lies and facts are side by side? According to Mike Caulfield a set of skills are needed, such as reading laterally in order to be able to judge websites. Lateral reading is an important piece of digital literacy. In order to acquire this valuable skill, students need to see examples and practice identifying them to be able to find better information and be better informed. My classmate, Christina Patterson, points out in her content catalyst, that just as in teaching literacy where teachers focus on the difference between fiction and non-fiction, students need to be taught the difference between fake news and true information. Canada’s National Observer Guide identifies 5 steps when it comes to spotting fake news:

  1. confirm the source 
  2. check the facts
  3. quality counts 
  4. read before you share
  5. speak up 

Just to name a few, factscan.ca and snopes.com can also be used for fact checking. Erin Wilkey Oh in The Future of Fake News is encouraging us to teach our students essential questioning as well: Who created this message? Why is this message being sent? Why was it made? Where is the message being distributed? Which techniques are used to attract my attention? Which lifestyles, values and points of view are represented or missing? (Oh, Dec 12, 2017)

Eli Pariser is teaching us to be sceptical and approach everything by questioning its truth. Because of the data literacy and algorithmic literacy curating the world for us, what we see online is “only one slice of the pie and one that’s been cut specifically for you.” Eli Pariser calls this the “filter bubble”, the media world we create where we only see and interact with things and people we already like, causing us to fall into traps all the time because we like when things are comfortable, certain and easy. In order to avoid being “isolated in a web of one” what we need is to see things that are relevant, important, uncomfortable, challenging and other points of view.

Thank you for stopping by!

Melinda

What does it mean to be (media) literate in today’s world?

According to Alberta Education, literacy has traditionally been thought of as reading and writing. Beside the essential components of literacy, our understanding of literacy in today’s world holds within a lot more. Alberta Education defines literacy as the ability, confidence and willingness to engage with language to acquire, construct and communicate meaning in all aspects of daily living.

Renee Hobbs describes media literacy “more parallel to literacy: reading and writing in a digital age”.

(Media) Literacy is critical in helping us make sense of the world. As my classmate, Krysta pointed out, in our present days’ information abundance it is very difficult to tell what is reliable information and what is inaccurate, biased and/or opinionated. In order to avoid misinformation, it is important to help our students become media literate.

But what is media literacy? From Daniel Dion’s content catalyst, I learnt that according to Sylvia Duckworth, Digital Literacy is when students know how to use various digital technologies and how to assess legitimacy of web resources. Being media literate means being able to ask important questions. Srividya Kumar refers to it as content curation and crap detection based on four criteria: currency, reliability, authority and purpose/point of view. The ten questions she believes a media literate person should ask are:

  1. How recent is the information?
  2. Is it current enough for the topic?
  3. What kind of information is included in the content?
  4. Is the information meaningful?
  5. Who is the creator or author? What is their expertise on the topic?
  6. Who is the publisher or sponsor? Are they reputable?
  7. What is the publisher’s interest (if any) in this information?
  8. Is it primarily data or opinion? If it’s the latter, is it balanced?
  9. Does the author provide references or sources for the data or quotations?
  10. Is the creator or author trying to sell you something?
https://medium.com/qatar-foundation/fake-news-and-my-father-media-literacy-tools-for-senior-citizens-8388c5e33b40

Renee Hobbs in the Media Literacy for the 21st Century: Interview with Renee Hobbs, EdD suggests 5 important competencies: Access (Listening & reading comprehension, hyperlinking, search strategies), Analysis (evaluation), Create and collaborate, Reflect and take action. As my classmates, Brad Raes & Shelby Mackey shared, according to the National Association of Media Literacy, Media literacy is “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create and act using all forms of communication”. “It empowers people to be critical thinkers and makers, communicators and active citizens”. According to Commonsense Media, Media literacy helps kids think critically, become smarter consumers of products and information, recognize perspectives, create media responsibly, identify the role media plays in our culture, and understanding the author’s intent of the content. Alina Tugend in the article These Students Are Learning About Fake News and How to Spot It points out the two equally unfortunate outcomes of the inability to judge content: “having people believe everything that suits their preconceived notions, or they cynically disbelieve everything. “Either way leading to a polarized and disengaged citizenry.”

In order to teach student how to critically understand, analyze and evaluate online content, images and stories, research shows that there are two major skills we should direct our attention towards: the first is lateral reading to help determine the authenticity or reliability of the respective site and the second skill is click restraint, focusing on resisting the impulse to click on the first result that appears, until looking at the full list of credibility and then clicking selectively. In my belief, in order to help students get a good understanding and truly develop their crap detection skills, digital literacy and media literacy should be taught throughout all content areas.

Until next time,

Melinda

Kahoot!

For my major project, one of the educational apps I decided to look at is Kahoot! I heard of it during one of the educational technology classes I had taken and I created an account at that time, but never had a chance to use it. I felt that my hands were tied. Teachers working as support staff not always have a classroom which means no access to a projector. Access to devices is quite limited as well, and my time with the students is often very short.

This school year though, I have been offering in-class support as well and I mentioned Kahoot! to one of our grade 7/8 classroom teachers. Him being a connected educator, the access to devices was not an issue any more. So, we were both very excited to give Kahoot! a try.

But what is Kahoot! some might ask? According to Commonsense Media, Kahoot! is an educational app for playing and creating quizzes recommended for ages 8 and up. This 4 star app is definitely worth checking out.

Kahoot! is a safe, fun and engaging formative assessment tool that gives immediate feedback of what areas the participants are struggling with. It is a popular tool used worldwide by teachers, students, employees and life long learners. It can be used in any subject, any language, on any device. Kahoot! can be played as a group or individually anywhere and any time. It can be used to create fun learning games and trivia quizzes. There are also a high number of free, ready to use existing games. For paid members there are more tools to chose from when it comes to creating and organizing these collections of games.

I decided to look into more ways Kahoot! could be used in a classroom. Besides using it for reviewing and reinforcing certain concepts in a classroom setting, it can also be implemented as a class work station, as part of study group or peer-to-peer challenge, as well as for homework. Although it has an option to time the participants’ performance, especially for homework use, it is recommended to have it switched off to prioritize accuracy.

I think Kahoot! is an excellent assessment tool for teachers. After playing a game, I was able to see a detailed analysis of my students’ performance helping me to define if the topic has been acquired by the students or not.

Trying to learn as much as possible about this app, I came across a number of tutorials, one named “learners to leaders”. The focus of “learners to leaders” is to teach students digital communication and collaboration by giving them the role of a teacher when creating their own kahoots. Such an activity empowers students to take ownership of what they are learning through creativity, critical thinking, as well as teamwork leading to digital fluency. An ESL teacher shared an interesting idea where students created “holiday selfie kahoots” about the holidays they celebrate, which could be a great way to teach students about digital etiquette as well.

I am definitely considering upgrading to have access to a wider variety of activities, adding content in between the slides, editing already existing documents, as well as organizing them into folders for the various grammatical content I am teaching to my English as an Additional Language students. This is a valuable tool that I see being useful not only in the classroom but for both blended-, and flipped lessons.

Have you used Kahoot! and how do you feel about this educational app? Please share your experiences. I would love to hear from you!

Thanks,

Melinda

The role of schools/teachers in educating digital citizenship

Whenever I think of the role of teachers and schools teaching digital citizenship, Dan Haeslar’s analogy comes to my mind.

Instead of avoiding, blocking or filtering, I feel very strongly about the importance of taking an active role teaching digital citizenship and media literacy to our students. As Mike Ribble describes “Just as you teach your students the rules of society, it is imperative that you teach them the rules of the digital world, and how to be safe and responsible with technology.”

Throughout my reflection, I was focusing on the three major questions my classmate, Leigh highlighted in her last week’s content catalyst.

  1. Why teach digital citizenship?
  2. When to teach digital citizenship?
  3. What needs to be taught?
  • Why teach digital citizenship? According to the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools, “students are generally proficient at basic use of technology, but are not necessary critical users and lack skills to be safe and responsible online.” As my classmates, Matt Bresciani and Trevor Kerr mentioned, digital citizenship requires participation in a meaningful and responsible way, helping students to move from being a consumer to using it as a communication and collaboration tool (John K. Waters in the article Turning students into good digital citizens).
  • When to teach digital citizenship? If I look at my own children and my students, I don’t think we can start teaching digital citizenship early enough. Children start using technology at a very early age, parents assuming that they are tech savvy just because they are good at “swiping”, which make the adult world overlook the fact that children are actually at risk.
  • What needs to be taught? As a parent and educator, I would love to be able to guide my children and students to become responsible digital citizens who are capable of building and maintaining a positive digital footprint. Teaching Mike Ribble’s 9 elements of digital citizenship in context, through real life examples and experiences would help students learn how to communicate and collaborate in a respectful, meaningful manner. I really like the idea of classrooms having Skype discussions with other classrooms, where students have the opportunity to share ideas as well as comment on each other’s work using the 3C and 1Q method. With the abundance of information, it is also crucial to raise critical thinkers by teaching our children to read laterally. I read with great interest the article Digital Citizenship: reflecting on the role of technology in relation to ourselves, our communities, and the world around us shared by my classmate, Christina Patterson, giving a great example for an authentic learning opportunity where students take something said online, or an issue that they know of or care about, and explore it, taking it to the next level where they discuss the topic in a podcast. The article How Finland starts its fight against fake news in primary schools, shared by Matt and Trevor, brings to our attention how crucial teaching people to think critically and to evaluate all information is.

There are certainly a great amount of valuable information and resources teachers can access to teach digital citizenship. The question is, do we have the time to look for these materials and do we know what to look for? As we see, some schools take educating digital citizenship very seriously. As my classmate, Catherine discussed in her blog post, it all comes down to prioritizing and committing to learning how to use digital tools. I absolutely love her idea, of making digital citizenship into a focus area, just like we do with math and literacy. I also believe that the optional PD sessions might need to become mandatory. Attending PD sessions and having tech savvy co-workers to discuss, offer support and peer tutor would help educators learn what digital citizenship and media literacy are and how to teach them in a meaningful way to help our students develop a complex portrait of a graduate.

Thanks for stopping by,

Melinda

Digital identity

Going back to 2011, I can see myself checking my emails in an Internet Cafe in a small town in Transylvania. That was my very first online presence. After moving to Canada, I created a Facebook account to be able to stay in contact with my friends and family from home. It was a great way to share pictures and have a sense of belonging. When I became familiar with messenger and Skype, I thought they were the BEST things ever, and they still play an important role in my life. Through messenger, I can stay in touch with my sister living in Hungary, not my parents though, since they cannot see themselves being able to get used to smartphones. But in 2008, they did buy a laptop which makes it possible for us to see each other on Skype. I wish they switched to smartphones so they are not tied to being home connected to their Wifi.

As we can see, it takes time for each generation to make the move and face the embarrassment of not knowing everything. This was exactly what made me apply for the Master’s Certificate Program in Educational Technology. I saw my kids being online, using various devices without knowing what they were doing. As a parent, I felt awkward and unsafe. I knew I needed to become what the Commonsense Media encourages us, parents to be for our children: role models who can teach their children good habits through using online media together, as well as keeping a healthy balance by keeping distractions to a minimum and turning social media off. My question is how can we educators help the parents who are in a position where I was a couple of years ago? With our very high immigrant population, not all parents are familiar with ways of teaching their children how to be responsible digital citizens. Knowing this, the pressure is even higher, that us, educators need to take this very seriously and teach our students how to develop their positive digital identities.

As Matt Bresciani and Trevor Kerr highlighted in their presentation “What role should schools play in teaching digital citizenship?” “Just as you teach your students the rules of society, it is imperative that you teach them the rules of the digital world, and how to be safe and responsible with technology.” – Mike Ribble

Listening to Daina Seymour and Allison Boulanger’s video on digital identity, made me think of the types of my own online identity. Searching my own name actually made me nervous. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find. Having a common name made finding information on me a little confusing. Certainly all the Educational Technology classes I have taken from Dr. Alec Couros, made me look at the online world from a different point of view, through a more educated and cautious lens. If anyone looked me up, they would see me as an open identity who shares authentic thoughts. Being a shy person, sharing online, outside of the circle of my friends is definitely out of my comfort zone. I also have the audience identity, using different media platforms, as well as content identity, providing carefully crafted content as part of my Educational Technology classes.

Although I am familiar with both students and adults having multiple accounts within the same platform, I never felt the need for having a spam account. Instagram users often dedicate one account to their business, and have a separate personal account. At the RTC Convention 2019 George Couros asked a classroom teacher for his twitter handle and his reply was “which one: my personal or my teacher one?” George Couros replied: “You should have one twitter handle.” advising people that what happens at a Roughrider’s Game, stays at a Roughrider’s Game. Even when you go to a Roughrider’s Game, with everyone snapping pictures and posting them immediately, you might have to watch what you’re doing. When I hear about the spam accounts, the ‘finsta’ accounts, I think this is like a survival mode. People are trying to create a safe space for themselves, where they can show their true selves without being judged. Can this be truly trusted though, with the option of taking screenshots of everything and re-posting things? So, I personally agree with George Couros on having our main focus on building and keeping a positive online digital identity.

The ‘perfect life’ of Instagram

As part of my Major Project, I am focusing on two very popular social media apps: TikTok and Instagram. In this blog post I decided to take a look at Instagram, a social media app that has become part of my life just recently. Focusing on Mike Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship helped me look at this app critically and have a better understanding of its behind the scenes.

  1. Digital Access: Instagram is an easy to access app. Anyone can look at someone’s Instagram without having an account of their own. There are certain limitations to Instagram without having an account, such as the ability to like or comment on a post, or like a comment, view stories and story highlights, follow an Instagram account, view a private account and use the mobile app.
  2. Digital commerce: Instagram users will encounter ads and photos promoting commercial brands. They can also make purchases via links embedded in stories. There are also people with several accounts using Instagram for building and promoting their business brands adding the geotag for easy accessibility. Startups can showcase their work to the audience as well. Instagram is an effective marketing strategy.
  3. Digital Communication and Collaboration: Instagram is a social media app giving the users the opportunity to express themselves through taking, editing and sharing photos and videos. The content of Instagram is made up of feeds, stories and IGTV channels, the later used for sharing collection of videos ranging between 15 seconds and 10 minutes. The stories are a series of photos or videos that will last for only 24 hours, then disappear. Instagram also provides the instant share feature across multiple platforms.
  4. Digital Etiquette: Just as TikTok users, Instagram users should also remember to be cautious how they present themselves in front of the world. Since this app has an option to comment on each other’s posts, this is when raising responsible digital citizens is crucial. Teaching people to THINK (Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?) before they post anything is the key. And the most important question would probably be “Is it true?” with all the special features that can make life look ‘just perfect’.
  5. Digital Fluency: Instagram being the worst social media for mental health, the users need to have the ability to differentiate reliable information from poor content. On the photo-based platform, where users have the ability to add filters and edit pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’, it is crucial not to believe everything we see in order to avoid psychological distress due to negative body image and anxiety. The article, Instagrammers reveal the difference between a posed body and a relaxed one, shared by Kalyn, brings to our attention not to believe everything we see.
  6. Digital Health and Welfare: Although there is an option to set a time limit, just as TikTok, Instagram can be very addictive. Instagram has been proven to have a lot higher impact on the users’ health and welfare due to the ‘perfect’ body, life or world that is depicted in the photos posted causing a high level of anxiety, depression, bullying, FOMO, or the ‘fear of missing out’. As Kalyn highlighted, the popular trend involving health, fitness and nutritional advice called ‘fitspiration’ also known ‘fitspo’ not only works as inspiration. The unrealistic expectations cause feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, unworthiness leading to lack of self-esteem and mental health problems. Spending more than two hours a day on social networking sites can increase the users’ tendency to fall into the “compare and despair’ attitude. Thankfully, as Nataly mentioned, Instagram is now hiding likes counter, another element that can cause lack of self-esteem being based on the number of likes.
  7. Digital Law: Just as with TikTok, setting a private account is crucial to be able to avoid anybody being able to see the content. Cyberbullying and sexting can still be an issue in within the circle of youth.
  8. Digital Rights and Responsibility: Instagram users need to be aware of the fake accounts of people who are just trying to become famous with a fake life they created. ‘Finsta accounts‘ are also trending where users post their ‘less-edited’ lives. This tends to be the right platform for racy content and bullying. When it comes to raising digital citizens, it is crucial to teach youth to be critical thinkers and be able to identify potential problems as well as be brave to inform adults of problems they come across. This way they can protect themselves and others. 
  9. Digital Security and Privacy: It is important to teach our students to respect their privacy by creating a private account as well as being careful with the information they share through photos, videos and comments, since after posting photos, image theft and screenshots cannot be prevented.

Looking at Instagram through Mike Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship, I am certainly seeing this social media app from a different point of view. The more apps I examine, the stronger I feel about bringing social media into our classrooms and guide our students in becoming critical thinkers.

More on TikTok

I have been spending endless hours on TikTok during the last few weeks since my curiosity keeps telling me to watch just one more video. I am definitely experiencing the feeling of missing out on something very cool or creative. I have mentioned in my previous post that I have restrictions set on my TikTok account since I share one with my daughter and my son likes to watch the videos as well. Sometimes I come across inappropriate songs or content, but I feel that it is not more than what kids are being exposed to on the various radio-, and tv stations.

I did want to know more about TikTok, so I went on their website to find out about the content that I miss out on for different reasons. In the newsroom, there are a number of articles highlighting some of the memorable TikTok moments, such as Charlie Puth seeking help from TikTok in coming up with the lyrics for one of the melodies he created. What I loved about this was, that many people collaborated and came up with creative content. It was quite successful and Charlie Puth did end up finding the right lyrics for his song. This was a great example for Digital Communication and Collaboration as well as Digital Etiquette, two of Mike Ribble’s 9 elements of digital citizenship.

Under TikTok shows heart on Valentine’s Day, I came across some valuable content, such as a recipe and tutorial for molten lava cake, as well as a TikTok showing great Digital Etiquette by addressing not only couples but single people as well, bringing a smile to everyone’s face on Valentin’s Day.

I also like the TikTok videos with the main focus on managing screen time. Obviously TikTok is aware of its addictive quality. What I appreciated about these recordings was that they are addressing one of Mike Ribble’s elements on digital citizenship by teaching Digital Health and Welfare.

There was still a missing piece I needed information on, the Digital Commerce. My main focus was looking into ways TikTok can be used to make money online. According to the article “How to make money from TikTok”, the #1 way is to become an influencer, that can lead to being approached by brands to showcase their products in your videos. I also came across an Instagram Marketer, Elise Darma who presents six ways to make money on TikTok:

  1. Growing a TikTok profile around a ‘niche topic’ then reaching out to brands and selling the account to them. This also means that the purchasing brand would have access to all those followers. I just wonder how this fits into the Digital Etiquette and the Digital Rights and Responsibility category?
  2. Going live and collecting donations from viewers. TikTok has a built in monetization, with the opportunity to buy coins.100 coins cost $1.39. Viewers can send coins to the creators of the videos, that the creators can turn into diamonds, converting them into cash through PayPal.
  3. Being part of influencer campaigns
  4. ADS platform, by signing up for TikTok ads
  5. Offering management services to creators
  6. Offering consulting services to boost their strategy to become TikTok famous

According to Elise Darma, another way business owners can make money from TikTok is to use it for growing an already existing business. She shares five creative ideas for TikTok videos that might be helpful for the world to get to know you and your business.

It seems that there is a lot more behind TikTok, than being a simple entertaining platform. I am looking forward to learning more about it and maybe experimenting with creating my own video. If I will ever be able to figure out how to make one. Lol

TikTok and Mike Ribble’s Nine Elements

My 8 and 11 year old kids are a big fan of TikTok, so I decided to look at a few apps, including TikTok as part of my Major Project. I downloaded the app and made an account, that my daughter and I share. Interestingly many of her friends are on TikTok posting videos, so I am not the only parent who agreed to this. Looking at this app more carefully, I learnt that it is a social network where people have the opportunity to record lip-syncing, share creations, create remixes, etc. It has cool filters, speed adjustment, duet function and music/sound. Watching several videos on TikTok, I certainly came across some very creative pieces, tutorials, funny videos, as well as recordings that I wasn’t sure of what their purpose was. I noticed that breaking news makes its way into TikTok as well. The death of Kobe Bryant was on TikTok for more than a week. I had a hard time watching those videos, since the content was very powerful and heartbreaking. I felt that youth throughout the world was mourning his death. At this point, I cannot say that I am for or against TikTok. What was shocking for me from the very beginning was the swearing and the sexual content. But is TikTok the only app where kids come across this? Luckily it has privacy and safety settings with the option to create a private account.

I looked at the 9 elements of digital citizenship developed by Mike Ribble regarding TikTok

  1. Digital Access: TikTok is an easy to access app, there is no account sign up required to view its content. My 8-year-old son has access to TikTok. Even though he cannot comment or post, he can still view the videos as long he has the app downloaded. My 11 years-old daughter and I share an account, or I could say I supervise her using my account. Since there are mixed reviews, this was the only way I felt comfortable of her being on Tiktok. 
  2. Digital commerce: I did not come across any information regarding this element. I am wondering if it is applicable to TikTok.
  3. Digital Communication and Collaboration: TikTok is being used for electronic exchange of information. People use short descriptions attached to their videos so the audience would understand the message. It is used to share creations, tutorials, bits of news, entertainment as well as for finding own voice and express self. 
  4. Digital Etiquette: When it comes to TikTok, it is important for people to remember to be cautious how they present themselves in front of the world. Since this app has an option to comment on each other’s posts, this is when raising responsible digital citizens is crucial. Teaching people to THINK (Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?) before they post anything is the key.
  5. Digital Fluency: has a strong connection to digital etiquette. As Ribble described, the better educated or “digitally fluent” students are, the more likely the ones to make good decisions online, supporting others instead of making negative comments. Digital fluency also ties in with media literacy and the ability to differentiate reliable information from poor content. As Matteo mentioned, some of his students use TikTok as a source to learn about news. It certainly provides bits and pieces of breaking news, but do our students have the ability, skills, and knowledge to think critically when it comes to the news or they fall for the ‘fake news’ as well?
  6. Digital Health and Welfare: I just downloaded the TikTok app not long ago, and just as Matteo said, if I don’t set a time limit, I end up spending hours a day watching TikTok videos. It is almost addicting. Most of the videos are short, vibrant, sometimes funny, or creative, sometimes super sad. If I am having such a hard time keeping a balanced approach when it comes to this app, how do we expect our kids and students to do so?
  7. Digital Law: Setting a private account is crucial to be able to avoid anybody being able to text. Cyberbullying and sexting can still be an issue in within the circle of youth.
  8. Digital Rights and Responsibility: this is a crucial element of being a responsible digital citizen. We need to teach our students to be diligent when using Social Media, raising critical thinkers to be able to identify potential problems as well as be brave to inform adults of problems they come across. This way they can protect themselves and others. 
  9. Digital Security and Privacy: It is important to teach our students to respect their privacy by being careful with the information they share through their TikTok videos and comments. 

Looking at the 9 elements of this widely used app made me look at it more critically. I think a similar activity would be useful for students to do as a class, to raise critical thinkers when it comes to Social Media.

How to educate our current and future students?

Do schools really need to change? If so, in what ways? 

As a parent and educator, I feel that with the generational, cultural and societal changes, we have to recognize the fact that making changes to our education system is crucial. We not only need to prepare our students to safely navigate in our digital world, but also finding ways to engage them while teaching these skills. Prof. Mary Beth Hertz draws our attention to the importance of taking the time to educate our students about technology and appropriate ways to use social media instead of assuming that our ‘digital native’ youth is on the right path of becoming responsible digital citizens without guidance and mentoring. Just as no one is born being a native speaker of any language, our children need to be taught how to be responsible citizens of our digital world. Bringing technology into our classrooms will also make learning fun and more engaging for our students. 

Is it possible to change our educational system, or is it more likely that the system will be replaced by other forms of education?

I am seeing that our education system is changing. The question is if it is changing at the right pace and if we are heading in the right direction? We definitely need to do more work shifting from the 1990’s teaching style where the role of the educator was to be the ‘monopoly of knowledge’, towards the role of a facilitator guiding students in their journey of creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, as well as developing their ability to synthesize information through project-based learning. The transformation of the education system will certainly look different at the elementary-, middle- and high-school levels as well as at the university. Growing up in Romania, we used to have specialized teachers for every subject matter starting grade 5. I often wonder if a teacher specialized in technology, teaching digital literacy and media literacy would make this shift faster, since it might take a long time for teachers to familiarize themselves and find the right fit to teach through the lens of our digital world. I think that in order to avoid generations missing out on learning how to be digital literate and media literate (Prof. Mary Beth Hertz), offering ‘technology classes’ for all grade levels could be quite beneficial. 

And when I think of the education system being replaced by other forms of education, I agree with Christina Petterson, that no matter how much the education system changes, human interaction is crucial for our students’ emotional development. Me working with EAL (English as an Additional Language) students who face so many challenges when moving to a new country, I cannot imagine them being able to cope with life with having no human interaction. Besides helping them learn English and all the subject matters, our job is also to help them through the nightmare of culture shock, as well as modelling social norms and interactions in Canadian society. In today’s multicultural society our job is getting more and more complex.

What sort of education or education system will be needed to adequately prepare students for the world ahead?

Both Prof. Henry Jenkins and ISTE underline the importance of open education where teachers scan the globe for best practices and collaborate with each other. Teachers of the ‘Future Schools’ in Singapore have the opportunity to watch model lessons in order to learn new ideas and provide suggestions to each other. Through skype sessions educators share best practices and critique lessons with colleagues in their school and with others from around the world. It is important for us to realize the power of sharing, communication and collaboration in order for learning to grow. I feel that providing more time for teachers to share, collaborate and plan together would be beneficial to make our education system more effective. 

What sort of world are we preparing students for?

The world is shaped by us, our values, actions and beliefs. Since technology is a key component in our everyday lives, we need to prepare our students to think and act as responsible citizens in our digital world. By raising adaptable, responsible, empathetic critical thinkers we can guide students towards digital leadership, as described by George Couros, where the Internet and Social Media are being used to improve the lives, well-being and circumstances of others.