Category: PLN Reflections

Open Education: some thoughts

I had no idea what open education was , and Alan Levine opened my eyes to its potential. I was really enlightened to hear about this philosophy. In its simplest form, I now understand that open education advocates for everybody to have access to high-quality materials for free.

Sharing is caring. Isn’t that we are all taught?

Dog Puppy GIF by Originals

In their advocacy for open education resources, the Hewlett Foundation argues “that well-designed, customizable, openly licensed materials can engage students and energize educators in ways that enable more responsive teaching and better learning”.




Celebrity gif. Lizzo wears a shiny sleeveless gown, shakes her head emphatically, and pumps an award statuette in the air while shouting, "Let's go!"

This resonates with me and aligns well with Alan Levine when he mentioned that making content available for many people to have access to is just going to make the resources better. The more people use it, the more eyes on it, the more adaptations can be made, and the better it gets. I see this as the ultimate form of collaboration, and that is where the magic happens.

I had some questions pop into my head about open education.

  1. Who benefits from this?
    • Literally everyone.
  2. Who is most directly affected?
    • Educators and their learners.
  3. What are the weaknesses?
    • Intellectual property/copyright concerns.
    • Difficulty accessing technology.
    • Potential for low quality resources.
  4. What are the strengths?
    • Eliminates barriers and expands access to resources.
    • Promotes equity and equitable opportunities.
    • Removes high-cost materials, making them affordable to literally everyone.
    • Promotes collaboration.
    • Takes the business out of education.
    • Opportunity to save money, removing the stress of loans/debt.

I think it’s clear that capitalism plays an important role in this.  If education opens all the doors, there needs to be a shift in thinking.  I just ordered 40 “new edition” textbooks for a colleague’s class, and that ended up costing our division over $1800.00. That may not seem like a lot of money, but if every course has to do this (and they do), think about how much that adds up.  Also, in order to offset some of that cost, students have to pay a fee to take that course.  This is just in high school.  If these textbooks were to be openly sourced, everybody would fare that much better.  Divisions would save money, which then allows them to put more funds into other areas of need like support workers, nutrition workers, or even, perhaps, pay for a license for teachers to access materials for free.

Some open education resources available right now by these respected institutions (source: Blink Tower’s “Why Open Education Matters”)

If education is supposed to be for all and we are here to support everybody having the best possible education available, the culture of sharing educational resources needs to shift. I think it’s time to move from philosophy into practice.

Craig T Nelson Yes GIF by CBS


Digital Citizenship and Online Activism

This week’s topic really had my brain buzzing. Because I do not have much of an online personal or professional presence, I haven’t given that much thought into the importance of social media activism. Before I got into dissecting that, I needed to get my head into what I thought about digital citizenship and the role I play.  I read Dr. Katia Hildebrandt’s blog posts What Kind of (Digital) Citizen? and In Online Spaces, Silence Speaks Louder than Words, and a few things stood out to me. First, I agree with her in that, even in 2023, we emphasize face to face active citizenship over digital citizenship (Hildebrandt, 2017).  I wonder why has it been this way for so long?  When can we expect this to change? I also agree that it seems the focus is on fear-mongering children about their online presence, and “instead of scaring kids offline or telling them what not to do, we should support them in doing good, productive, and meaningful things online” (Hildebrandt, 2017).  Teaching students how to be safe and protect themselves online is important, but it is only one piece of digital citizenship. There is a larger context to consider, and I think educators do hold a responsibility to help students learn about and recognize this online context. However, this also requires educators to understand it as well, and I’m not so sure we all do. Is it for lack of wanting? Is it for lack of caring? It is for lack of knowledge? Fear? I’m not so sure there’s one right answer.  Personally, I don’t have one direct answer.

Are educators using digital spaces effectively? I wonder: if educators are using social media solely for resources, does it create the perception that teaching is not about building community or connecting with others around our common humanity? Does it create the perception that teaching is about avoiding controversy, and staying out of things that are going on in local or global communities? Teachers and teacher-leaders, who are in a position of power and privilege, have a considerable responsibility to be continually learn about and understand the multiplicity of voices, experiences, intersectionalities, and inequities that exist in the classroom and the larger global context. Therefore, intentional, authentic conversations about social justice issues online is worthwhile because it demonstrates allyship, which I think is incredibly important as educators.

Megan Carnegie’s article states that “A 2020 study from the UK Safer Internet Centre showed 34% of 8-to-17-year-olds say the internet has inspired them to take action about a cause and 43% say it makes them feel their voices matter”. This is incredible.  If digital spaces are allowing students to feel empowered, imagine what could happen if educators aligned with them in doing just the same. So, yes, if the above statistic is the reality, online social media activism is clearly meaningful and worthwhile, and it is entirely possible to have productive conversations about social justice online as long as it is intentional and authentic.

Stan Mitchell states the following: “If you claim to be someone’s ally, but aren’t getting hit by the stones thrown at them, you aren’t standing close enough.”

Perhaps educators (me) need to lean into the discomfort of becoming an active online citizen, challenge the status quo, and start becoming allies with our students in digital spaces.


I feel like a #twitteridiot. I don’t know why, but I cannot get into it.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a strong social media presence, nor do I feel the need to. I don’t want to include my commentary for all the world to see, and I’m not so sure the world needs to read it. Since I have never participated in a Twitter chat, I have no comments about that. It intrigues me, but it also seems like a person must spend time attached to their device in order to engage, and that does not entice me.  That said, I do recognize that it can be extremely beneficial as a professional development tool for educators to use as resource sharing or gain insight about workshops and PD opportunities. For example, my peer, Christine, shared a really great document  with hashtags for educators to use.

Educational Twitter Hashtags

I think I will use those as a place to start searching for resources to use in both my ELA and Law classroom. I have found some very useful articles to use for current events in my Law 30 class, and that saves me some time instead of searching Google News. There has been a lot of information about the usage and implications of ChatGPT in the classroom, and that has been very useful. If I do continue to use Twitter, I think this is where it will be the most beneficial: professional development and resources.

Regarding what it might look like in my classroom in the future, I read a few great articles that piqued my interest like this one. However, I really liked this one as it’s short and to the point.  I don’t think I’m quite ready to venture into the “live” tweeting, but I do think the connecting with other classrooms is pretty cool. I also really like the idea of editing others’ tweets.  Students can always use practice in this area, so I think it’s a nice alternative to the proofreading I offer in my classes.

At the end of the day, I don’t think Twitter is for me in the sense of making my commentary known. I think I will stick to it as solely an educational tool for PD and resources.

How have you used twitter in the classroom? Did you find students were engaged with your activities?


To be quite transparent, I did not want to create an account on a new social media tool. If you read my first post, you’ll know that I only have one social media account, and I’m perfectly happy with that. I do not want my name attached to any other type of social media like Snapchat and certainly do not really feel comfortable leaving a digital footprint or compelled to do so just to see what’s up.  That’s just how I roll. I  do recognize that a social media tool doesn’t always have to just be the aforementioned apps. So, I thought I’d do some digging into YouTube.  Surely it’s a social media tool; plus, my kids are really fascinated by it (actually obsessed), and I’m not so sure it’s appropriate for them as all three are under 10 years old.  Enter my research. I read some really great articles, especially this one .

Here are my thoughts:

  • Playlist function is great –
    • As an educator I can save the videos I need for the multiple subjects I teach
    • Saving videos is also a great option
  • Excellent for educators to access movies/clips for the classroom without having to purchase anything
    • there is an option to purchase entire movies for a cheaper price that can often be paid for by one’s department
  • Live streaming
    • Pro: access to events if cannot attend
    • Con: can be used incredibly inappropriately, potentially causing harm for viewers
  • Free music streaming
    • ad-free for purchase
  • Content sharing of all kinds – literally everything an everything can be shared
  • Closed captions are always a bonus
    • transcripts are also available – it’s not perfect, but I think it’s a great option if needed.
  • Great to learn skills like breadmaking (shoutout to Larry)
  • Tutorials for pretty much anything
    • I think “YouTube It” has become proper verbage
  • Offers problem solving videos and great visuals for understanding complicated terms like the polyvagal perspective for trauma or intersectionality. 
  • Pretty much any subject being taught has information and tools to help people understand like “Dad, How do I?”
  • Don’t need an account to use it or share it.
  • Kids:
    • access to all the things (nudity, sex, violence, profanity, and general inappropriate videos and ads) for curious kids
    • Predators are there lurking and ready to take advantage of naiive children.
    • Microphone option for kids to search for things instead of typing
      • This can be used as both an advantage and disadvantage
    • Millions of videos uploaded every day, so are they really screening all things perfectly and monitoring content appropriately?
    • Option to control access to content for kids…for the most part
    • Youtube kids is an option for younger kids
    • Nothing is 100% safe. This is a great article that helps explain how to keep things safe on YouTube.

At the end of the day, I think YouTube is an awesome tool to help educators, parents, and all of society, but, as always, we need to be aware of the risks and continue to have the conversations about how to be responsible with it. Recently, I became aware that my 9 year old was searching for videos on inappropriate topics for his age.  Kids (all humans, actually) are curious, and, frankly, I wasn’t doing my due diligence in assuring he was being monitored.  For now, because one of my jobs is to protect my children, I’ve blocked YouTube until I feel like they are able to be responsible with it. I’m not naiive in that he can access it with friends and other places, but for now, while he’s at home or on his tablet, YouTube is not an option for any of them. There will  be continued discussions and frequent monitoring, but I’m okay with that. My oldest is 9, and I think that’s still a little too little to have free reign with the second most visited website in the world (Gonzales, 2023, “Which are the most visited websites in the world”).

I think it’s clear how amazing YouTube is for access to learning on so many different avenues, but I’m not convinced it’s appropriate for younger kids unless there are parental controls applied and frequent monitoring occurs.


Not very social with the media….

Ahhhhhhh. The Facebook.

I first become acquainted with this soul sucking vampire of a machine when I got back from backpacking in Europe in 2006. I remember thinking this was the absolute coolest thing to exist since Napster. I quickly became enthralled and would spend countless hours looking at people’s profiles (let’s get serious: creeping), looking for people I used to know in high school to “connect” with, and posting my own albums of the experiences and events of my life.  In the beginning, it was glorious. It quickly became an obsession. I would sit on my brown chaise with my laptop and my dog, Magnum, at my feet and scroll. Loving people’s statuses, checking for comments and likes, and joining groups brought me joy. It was the only social media I really became hooked on. However, after a few years, I found myself starting to get annoyed with people. It seemed more like “bragbook” or a place where people would post cryptic statuses for attention. People started to get hostile. Political. Honestly, the vibe started to shift. I noticed my vibe started to shift. Then, one incident occurred that was the nail in the coffin. I was part of a mom’s group…you know, the kind of group that is supposed to be a community who supports each other and answers all the questions of the unknowns of motherhood and parenting. You know. A village.  The first red flag should have been that I had to be “accepted” – basically, I had to be recommended by another member and then the “leader” would let me in after several days of waiting. Once in, I quickly realized it was not as supportive as anticipated and there was way more attacking and mom-shaming than I ever wanted to be a part of.  Basically, I stood up for a mom and tried to clarify something, and was called a troll and attacked. I’m a sensitive soul, and even though I have no idea who these people are in real life, I did not like how it made me feel. I spent far too much of my mental load worrying about those keyboard warriors than I needed or wanted. So. That was it. I was done. It was sucking the joy out of my life. I deleted my profile about 5 years ago now and haven’t gone back. Peace out, Facebook.

Snapchat? No, thank you.
Tik Tok? No, thank you.
Twitter? No, thank you.

Instagram? Yes, please.

I love it. In my old-ish years, I recognize that I don’t need to follow anybody or comment on anything. What I love about Instagram is that I can just mindlessly scroll when I need to turn my brain off. It’s easy. I laugh a lot at memes or reels. I love sending them to my friends along with posts that just  make sense between us. I love the ideas I curate looking at teaching profiles. I love learning about how to incorporate BIPOC texts in my classroom and how to weave social justice topics seamlessly into my teaching and everyday life. I love being able to learn about being a mother or how to parent and raise resilient children and gentle boys. I love learning about mindfulness, self-regulation, the vagus nerve, and resilience from gurus like Gabor Mate.  I love having belly laughs with my friends over the simplest…and stupid…memes. I love feeling nostalgic when I watch all the throwbacks to the 90s.  I love bookmarking recipes and watching people cook all the food. I don’t have to belong to any groups. I don’t follow or watch anything that makes me sad or upset. I just keep on scrolling if it doesn’t appeal to me. I barely make posts. I have never in my life made a reel and have no intentions to.  Instagram is quick. It’s simple. It doesn’t suck my soul dry of joy – it does just the opposite.

To be clear: I don’t use social media to be social.  I use it to learn and laugh.  If I stop doing that, then peace out.

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