That’s All Folks

I’m freakin’ done you guys! This class has been a heck of a journey, and I’m so glad I decided to join.

I have finally completed my Personal Journey into Media. When I first chose to embark on this route, I was nervous as to what lay ahead. I dabbled in social media, both personally and professionally, but not much more.

I put off leaving for my journey as I eased my way into the two media I chose to explore, TikTok and Flipgrid. The more I learned of Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship, the more I realized how important this trip of mine would be.

My knowledge continued to grow as I made my way through the different side streets, back alleys, and dead ends of the chosen media platforms, eventually finding some wide open spaces where I could really put the pedal to the metal.

I finally dove in and created my first TikTok video which somehow became quite successful hitting almost 1000 views. The way the algorithms work fascinate me.

I was thrilled to see the TikTok brains of my students live in action at our school Talent Show.

Finally, I used an entire weekend researching and getting to know the ins and outs of Flipgrip.

I have compiled my learnings into a Microsoft Sway presentation for your viewing/reading pleasure. I have very much enjoyed my journey through these two media and look forward to the next ones I can dive into.

My Personal Journey Into Media
I am not a TikToker, nor do I think I ever will be. I am, however, raising and teaching TikTokers, Snapchatters, Tweeters, Youtubers, Instagrammers … you get the idea. As a teacher, I hav…
Go to this Sway

Summary of Learning

I’m not sure I can actually summarize everything that I have learned over the last semester when it comes to digital citizenship and media literacy. I was a total noob and still kind of am, but at least now I am aware that I know nothing and will embark on a lifelong adventure of forever trying to understand the online world.

I am so grateful that I took this course as it has been invaluable to me as a teacher and a parent, and my future career as an educational leader. Not only do I understand the utmost importance of teaching our students to be responsible digital citizens, but I see now how mis- or disinformed so many of us are. My key take aways, that are shared in my Never Have I Ever version Canva presentation are as follows:

Never Have I Ever

  • Posted pictures of my kids/students online.             

One of the first articles Alec shared with us spoke about “sharenting” or parents sharing photos and videos of their children online. The article quoted a spokeswoman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children saying “Each time a photo or video is uploaded, it creates a digital footprint of a child which can follow them into adult life. It is always important to ask a child for their permission before posting photos or videos of them.” I had never before considered asking my children for permission to post images of them online, nor that I had already begun creating their digital footprint since the day they were born. After learning about Ribble’s 9th element, digital security and privacy, I realize now that posting media of my children is a breach of their privacy and trust. This also touches on digital etiquette and the moral and legal sides of sharing media without people’s approval or consent.

  • Had students or myself been unable to do schoolwork due to lack of internet or devices.

Digital access has become a huge topic of conversation since lockdowns began for the pandemic. It really laid clear the “haves” and “have nots” when it came to having access to the internet and technology that would allow students and teachers to learn and teach remotely and electronically. In one of my blog posts, I discuss the connection between the digital divide and inclusion in schools. Including more technology in the classroom is excellent, but it could come at a cost for students and staff that are unable to do the work at home. Schools have a responsibility that students who do not have digital access at home are not expected to perform tasks requiring it for homework. Governments have a responsibility to bridge the digital gap and ensure equality for all.

  • Taught digital citizenship and literacy in my classroom.

I still have yet to officially begin teaching digital citizenship and media literacy in my classroom. I have learned so much over the last semester and look forward to implementing this into my teachings. I really enjoy Mike Ribble’s 9 elements if digital citizenship as it helps to break down the key learnings involved. The progression chart provided on the website is indispensable in creating a curriculum-type plan for each of the grades. We have looked at several different resources available to teachers to incorporate these lessons into their classrooms, including Common Sense Media, CIVIX, and Media Smarts. The article “The challenge that’s bigger than fake news” says “It’s critical that students know how to evaluate the content that flashes on their screens”. Throughout this semester, I have been questioning why we, as teachers, have not been given the proper training to teach digital citizenship and why it is not mandated that we teach it in our classrooms. If nothing else, this course has taught me the utmost importance of teaching these skills to our kids and students.

  • Shared fake news.

I’m sure we have all shared fake news at one point in time in our lives, but it seems to be spreading as quickly as the coronavirus. People find online media that supports their beliefs and not necessarily the facts and share them without looking into it or doing any type of research. This epidemic all stems from a lack of education on the rights and responsibilities of using media. The term “digital native” may seem to refer to someone who knows everything there is about the online world, but people need to be taught how to be responsible online citizens. The article Fighting Fake News in the Classroom explains that“The amount of information at their fingertips leaves educators with a huge task of helping students navigate the world of media.” Educators are responsible for the task of teaching students how to critically analyze media by using different techniques such as lateral reading and checking sources.

  • Wasted hours scrolling TikTok.       

Now that I have landed in an algorithm on TikTok that actually interests me, I am beginning to understand how my kids and students can spend hours scrolling through different videos – it’s really no different than me binge watching Yellowstone. Time flies when you’re having fun. I have gone to quickly check TikTok only to realize a ½ an hour had passed in what seemed a matter of minutes. This addiction or inattention to the fact that we are losing so much time online is reflected in the health and welfare of today’s society. It is imperative that students are taught that their online and offline lives are indeed one and the same, and how to navigate them in a safe and healthy way. Online media can indeed be helpful in our offline lives, but students need to be aware of the health risks of spending too much time online, and the effect it could have on their offline relationships. Sherry Turkle, in her TED talk speaks about people being “alone together”. So often, we see people, not just students, with others, but not, because they are in their virtual lives on their phones. Teaching our students the value of both their online and offline lives is critical to their health and development.

Flipgrid o’rama

I went down a Flipgrid rabbit hole this weekend and learned a ton. The website is really user friendly when it comes to researching different things about it. I was able to very easily find the Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy, and the links between articles could have had me reading all weekend had I wanted to. They were all really interesting though and relevant to my research.

I have received my Level 1 certification and am working on Level 2. These are basically just tutorials to read/view and are actually really helpful in getting to know the website better. I discovered the site has a blog with an enormous amount of tips, tricks, and ideas. It also has a Discovery Library where you can search for topics relevant to what you’re teaching and use them as you wish. I am a huge fan of ready-made material; why reinvent the wheel? You can also comepletely edit every aspect of the topic once you add it to one of your groups, so it’s really easy to personalize to what you are teaching. They have a feature called Gridpals where you can connect with other teachers and classrooms across the globe. This could make for a very cool penpal initiative!

I finally used the app in school today with my students. They were super excited when I told them they got to create videos. I used the “Hello, I am …” topic that is included when you make any new group and had my students make little introduction videos so they could play around with and learn the features. They had a lot of fun, but we have noticed some things that are not so great about the platform:

  1. In a class of however many kids, each student would need their own headphones with a mic to record a video, otherwise it would be noisy chaos. For schools that lack this technology, this could be a major problem for using this platform.
  2. I found that you have to refresh the page often or go out, then come back in to see new videos others have posted or even to access the group or topic.
  3. If you have given the class specific requirements to include in their video, once they enter the “add a response” page, they can’t go back to look at the requirements and double check.
  4. You can’t save video drafts. It took the kids a long time (rightfully so) to check out all the different features and add what they wanted to their posts. Some of them didn’t have time to record their videos and will have to start all over again tomorrow.
  5. If the technology the students are using is a bit older, the videos might not be great quality. We noticed some of our videos were laggy.

All in all though, it was a good first try and my students are already suggesting interesting ways to use the site in class. I look forward to seeing what else we come up with!

La morale de la morale

This week’s topic centers on the ethical, legal, and moral ramifications of using technology in the classroom. I think this is a very important topic as it can be seen as one of the main reasons people hesitate to incorporate more technology into their teaching practices. Teachers, including myself, are afraid of what consequences might arise from using online platforms with their students.

All of the students in my building have their own email accounts through the school division. While helping a grade 5 student navigate her email the other day, I noticed that she had messages from TikTok and Snapchat – she had used her school email account to sign up for these apps, likely because she doesn’t have her own private email account yet. Students use their school accounts to avoid asking parents for theirs because they know they are not allowed to use those apps at their age. Is it my duty to tell her parents? Did I invade her privacy by looking at her personal email account? Am I supposed to know the answers to these questions? If so, who’s responsibility was it to teach me?

The article Ethical Issues with Using Technology in the Classroom claims that it is “helpful for teachers to recognize these types of situations and to discuss them with other educators to develop awareness of new ethical issues” (para. 12). Is this really enough though? There could be legal ramifications to some of these situations and teachers have a right to be provided with PD to help them navigate this.

Besides these issues, I often ask myself how I could incorporate the apps my students use regularly into the classroom. I even wrote a paper claiming that using apps like TikTok and Instagram in the classroom could significantly help with a student retention issue we have with older students at our school. I have a hard time seeing though, how this would work. The accounts students have with these apps are private; I can’t see them wanting to post school-related material to their personal pages, nor do I think I should have the right to view things they have posted outside of school. This could become a nightmare when navigating what is appropriate to view in school and what isn’t. Henderson, Auld, and Johnson (2014) claim that “Teachers should unpack whether it is ethical to participate in, or expect access to their students’ identities that they use in their social media as part of their learning process in the classroom” (p.3). If I were to use these apps in my classroom, I would be asking my students to create separate accounts, probably using their school email. Which brings me back to my questions in the last paragraph.

For me, it still all comes back to teacher training; I feel like we are going into this blind. Why aren’t we being provided with more guidance?

TikTok for the Win

Ok folks, my first TikTok video had 947 views. I’m told that is pretty good, and coming from my teenagers, it must be true! That is not why I’m writing this post though.

Our school had a talent show yesterday. We had about 1/3 of our students sign up to perform. They were all nervous, and excited. When it came time for the show, the students BLEW MY SOCKS OFF! I expected some of them to do well, but seriously, I was left speechless at some of the performances. Now, we’re talking kids all between the age of grade 2 to grade 6. When they signed up saying they were going to hula hoop or dance, I expected some cute performances. Dudes, these performances were next level.

The hula hooper not only hula hooped (which I cannot do at all), she did a whole choreographed dance while hula hooping. She was doing the Macarena while hula hooping for gosh sake! The 3 dancers practiced for weeks and choreographed their own hiphop dance. The student that said she would solve a Rubik’s cube not only solved it in under 2 minutes (again, I have no clue), but also danced while doing it. The student that was doing the moonwalk also had a whole choreographed dance and I seriously thought it was Michael Jackson up there performing. The whole school was flying high from this spectacle of talents.

When telling my husband about it last night, it dawned on me; these are TikTok kids! Every day, for hours on end some of them, they are watching people perform in videos on TikTok or Youtube. They know what’s up. If you want to get “likes” you need to step up your game and put on a show. I don’t think most of them even realize the correlation between what they did yesterday and their online hobbies and habits. They stepped up their game and then some yesterday. They had the whole school vibrating. Even the ones who’s talents were, let’s say, minimal, the confidence they had up there was huge. Yesterday I got to see first hand how the media can have some really positive influences on our kids. It was so much fun, the principal told me we had to organize another one for June.

I Have 1 Follower!!

I finally made my first TikTok. It was getting ridiculous really, it’s not that hard. I think I was thinking too big; like I had to make some epic video to be able to post it (I think my teenagers maybe gave me that impression). After having a conversation in class last night with fellow classmates, I realized just posting a little something that interests me is all it takes. My video has 189 views! haha! And I have a follower (thanks Patricia!) lol. When looking at some of the people that liked my video, I saw that part of one of their profiles exclaims “breasts are awesome!” and I am reminded why I was hesitant to join the app in the first place.

I’m planning on really digging in to my Major Project this week. I’m hoping to use Microsoft Sway to present it. It’s a great site that can be used for students as well to present topics in a new and innovative way. I haven’t used it with my students yet, but plan to do so in the near future. Tomorroe is Flipgrid day with my students, so that should be fun!

Like. Happy black man holding like heart icon pinata on pink

Digital Divide and Inclusion

I’m going a little off-topic from the blog prompt this week, but it is relevant to our conversations and especially to us as educators.

Wikipedia describes “The digital divide [as] a gap between those who have access to new technology and those who do not. These technologies include, but are not limited to smart phones, computers, and the internet”. I am also currently taking the course Leadership for Inclusive Education with Corey Hadden where we are speaking about inclusive school reform. Discussions centre around making schools more inclusive for students with disabilities, but the conversations and teachings have gone much deeper than that. Inclusivity also includes serving students that come from all marginalized groups, including those with cultural, racial, socio-economic, and gender identity differences (Whitley and Hollweck, 2020, p.297). There is another aspect not often spoken of that the authors mention: “issues of equity that have been revealed by distance and emergency learning efforts” (p. 307).

Though socio-economic status can often be the cause of digital divide, it is not always the case. Having access to the internet in rural areas throughout Canada is often not necessarily a reflection of the inhabitants’ state of finances, but rather a reflection of a lack of resources made available to them. This article provides an in-depth look at the situation and explains things much better than I could ever do.

The Unacceptable Persistence of the Digital Divide | MIT Technology Review

Digital divide is a global problem. Right now, I’m focusing on my little corner of the world. I myself do not have access to reliable internet, nor do my children and my students. We are being excluded from a world of possibilities that are at our fingertips, but cannot reach. If our schools are to be truly inclusive, then we also need to take a hard look at what kind of technologies they have access to. We are doing a disservice to our students who will graduate and enter the work force without having acquired the same skills and aptitudes available to those who have full access to the world wide web and all of its possibilities. I deserve better. My kids deserve better. My students deserve better. Canada deserves better.

I Majorly Need to Work on my Major Project

Actually, I have been plugging away at it pretty steadily, but I still feel a little behind. I think that is just a reality of working full-time and going to school full-time.

I dove in to Flipgrid by doing a project for another class I’m taking; two birds, one stone. My group and I needed to create activities for the other class groups. We used the website to write out scenarios that they needed to respond to as a group with a video. It went well, and we were able to make separate activities for each group, all within the same activity. I made an instructional video as an introduction to the activities for all groups to watch. Some disadvantages I noticed was that the groups, being in separate areas, could not make one video with all of them in it. Some groups worked around this by videoing their zoom call and adding their answer in this way. So, maybe not the best tool for group work, but definitely great for individual. I look forward to exploring the rest of the site, including how to become a Certified Educator. I have yet to introduce it to my students, but have just finished a book study with them and will use it as a platform for their final project.

TikTok, TikTok, TikTok. I just can’t get into it! It feels like a massive waste of time, which is kinda the point I suppose. Instead of making videos, which I can’t seem to bring myself to do, I have been investigating their terms, conditions, and policies. So far, what I have been reading has really contradicted what my teenagers have been telling me about the app – they have been indispensable throughout my TikTok journey, providing me inside information into the app that only someone who is completely obsessed and uses it for hours throughout the day could do. If you are researching TikTok and don’t have a teenager, I suggest you get one.

My journey will continue. I will continue to feel behind in my work, will start using Flipgrid with my students, and who knows, maybe I’ll make a TikTok video.

Media Illiteracy

I’m pissed off this week. Can I say that?

I feel duped honestly. Like someone has kept the wool pulled over my eyes and I’m just now realizing. As most of the world has, I’ve heard of “fake news” and know what it is. I even pride myself on being fairly savvy and able to detect fake news when I see it. Alas, I am not savvy nor proud. I am only really learning now how much I have blindly put my trust into organizations and websites that I see online, because they “seem” to be trustworthy and legit. Chris B. shared the article A Reminder That ‘Fake News’ Is An Information Literacy Problem – Not A Technology Problem which states “we’ve stopped teaching society how to think about information, leaving our citizenry adrift in the digital wilderness increasingly saturated with falsehoods without so much as a compass or map to help them find their way to safety”. I feel this statement. I feel like an idiot. Completely lost in the “digital wilderness”.

I guess my anger more so stems from my role as a parent. If I have no other task in the world, it is my job to keep my kids safe. The mama bear in me is angry that my children are being constantly exposed to false information and have not been taught ways to navigate this. Their teachers and I have been able to teach my kids to be book literate, math literate, food literate, physically literate … but if I am not even digitally literate, how can I expect my kids and students to be?

I have two examples from this week alone of media illiteracy. The first is me; I ordered some bathing suits online from an ad that was in my Facebook news feed (I know, seriously Leah?). I thought I was being quite savvy as I checked out the “about” section of the website and looked at reviews. The about section was even a little sketchy but I chose to ignore my gut feeling because the bathing suits were like, so cute! *insert eye roll* I went ahead and ordered them then continued to scroll Facebook. Suddenly, there is ad after ad for bathing suits – the exact same bathing suits I ordered – but all under a different company name. I’m not saying I’m not going to get my merchandise, and maybe I will like them, but the fact that there are several different websites all selling the same suits is super sketchy in my books.

My second example is more serious. My 89 year old grandfather, who was a salesman his whole life, and was very savvy with his money, etc. has been speaking with a gentleman (jackass) that has convinced him he has won 2 million dollars and just needs to send them $8000 to complete the transaction. My grampa ain’t no fool … well, he wasn’t, but he has fallen, hook, line and sinker, into this too common trap we hear about all the time on the news. Holly’s article reminds us “no one is immune from believing misinformation”.

I suppose, in short, I’m pissed at all the people out there that create, spread and share fake news. And I’m pissed because I feel like we are failing our youth. Holly’s first article states: “The amount of information at [students’] fingertips leaves educators with a huge task of helping students navigate the world of media.” It’s time for society to step up and start serving our youth properly.

Media Literacy Course: Where do I sign up?

Why hasn’t anyone required me to take a media literacy/digital citizenship course?! The more I read into the topic, the more I realize how much I don’t know about it, nor does almost everyone else my age. I’m not sure if I somehow missed out on PDs or required courses but I am truly questioning how it is that my colleagues and I have never received training in this. If we are to be teaching this concept to our students, we need some serious background knowledge first. Needless to say, there are virtually no digital citizenship teachings happening at my school. There is a little bit of talk of including the topic of cyberbullying in our health classes, but that is pretty much it.

Scrolling through Facebook, I am met with friends and acquaintances with strong opinions about certain subjects posting articles to back their claims for or against. Examples include anything from Covid being a conspiracy theory, to climate change being false, to reasons why Justin Trudeau is a dictator. None of these people have done their research; they see an article that supports their ideas and spread it across their social media platforms like wildfire. Bart Mihalicz shared an article with us this week that refers to media bias and the favoritism some media can present towards certain subject areas. Though I am fully aware about the concept of fake news, and have dabbled in teaching it to older students, the article The Challenge That’s Bigger Than Fake News has really opened my eyes to the immediate need of teaching our youth (and ourselves) how to discern between reliable and unreliable sources.

What I would like to see for the future of our school is a scripted program for all ages to be taught digital citizenship. We would need to first begin with some professional development for our staff to ensure we are all on the same page and have the skills and knowledge required to teach the subject. There are two resources of which I am aware that I feel could serve our school for the task of teaching our students. Common Sense Media has been discussed at length within our ECI 832 class. It appears to be an excellent resource for the elementary grades, though it is American and is not offered in the French language, which would not serve our francophone community. The second resource from CIVIX Canada is an excellent resource that I have used in the past to teach about media literacy and verification skills for students in grades 7-12. It is Canadian and is offered in both official languages. The CIVIX resource touches on the strategies mentioned in used by the fact checkers in The Challenge That’s Bigger Than Fake News article including reading laterally, using “click restraint”, and making use of Wikipedia. If you teach grades 7-12, I highly recommend this resource.