Personal Media Examination

Personal Strategy:

My personal strategy for analyzing information is to examine both sides of the “truth”. If a major American political story happens, I head to both CNN and Fox News to examine the spin from both sides of the political spectrum. In fact, I believe that is important to read several versions of the same story as it allows you to get a first-hand look at how the truth can be manipulated.


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Average Day Media Consumption:

On an average day, I consume the majority of my information and news from Twitter. I follow approximately 225 accounts that are focused around my personal interests (sports, wrestling, pop culture, local and national news). If I were to estimate, I would say that I check Twitter 40-50 times a day. I try to read the tweets in a chronological order as I do not like to feeling that I am missing out on any news. I agree that this level of checking in may be excessive and I can certainly see how my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) has taken hold.

Facebook:

These last few months have not been very kind to Facebook, and it is very hard to be sympathetic as it is pretty much all their own doing.

Ignoring for a moment the latest Facebook Cambridge scandal, I simply have run out of patience for the hate and vitriol spewed in the comments section of every single Leader Post or CBC Story. No one has the mental capacity for dialogue anymore, instead people dig into their entrenched positions and hurl hateful insults back and forth.

I often wonder why I have not deleted my Facebook account, but the main reason to hold on is that I love receiving the Memory notifications to see pictures of my kids when they were just babies. But those memories are only a brief respite and I predict Facebook will continue to take a major slide.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below!

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The Evolution of Literacy

In year’s past, when I was in high school, literacy was defined as being to read and write. The Internet was just in the infancy of its popularity and was in no way consumed the way it is now. Furthermore, we had no idea what “fake news” was and instead we accepted what the news told us as truth.

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However, much has changed since then. Today’s students are always connected to the Internet, their online presence is simply an extension of their “real” lives. As well, the way news is consumed has changed a great deal as well so students can no longer accept what they see/hear as truth. Therefore, being literate has now changed a great deal. In addition to simply being able to read and write, students must be digital and media literate as well.

David Rosen, in his article, describes digital literacy as something that “involves reading widely, keeping informed, knowing when and how to be critical and when to embrace new information, new ideas.” The idea of critical thinking is vitally important to digital literacy and literacy as a whole. As teachers we must move past the idea of thinking that critical thinking is something that can be taught in two lessons and instead understand it must be the basis for all learning.

If we cannot teach our students how to understand whether something is real or fake, and how to determine the bias, then what are we doing?

Mudita Kundra furthers this point in the same article when she states “for students to be digitally literate, they not only need to learn how to use technology, but to be critical of the information they gather. Students are exposed to information digitally – articles, statistics, videos. They require explicit instructions that information might be old, biased, fake, illegal, or discriminatory.”

A further extension of digital literacy is the idea of becoming media literate. The following Common Sense Media article describes media literacy as “Media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending. Kids take in a huge amount of information from a wide array of sources, far beyond the traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines) of most parents’ youth.” Furthermore, the article continues on to say “The digital age has made it easy for anyone to create media. We don’t always know who created something, why they made it, and whether it’s credible. This makes media literacy tricky to learn and teach. Nonetheless, media literacy is an essential skill in the digital age.”

As you can see, the need for reliable and effective literacy programs are vitally important. The consumption of media is continually evolving, and if we can continue to grow our students into critical thinkers, then we will have done all we can for them.

Social Media during a School Shooting

After finishing the readings, I prepared to write a standard blog post responding to the ideas of digital identity. However, following the most recent (and tragic) school shooting in Florida, I decided to talk about the use of Social Media in a school shooting and how it relates to digital identity.

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As you can see from the above photo, when faced with a moment of extreme stress and panic, students relied on what they are most comfortable with, Social Media. As David Buckingham states in his article, “children are engaging with these media not as technologies, but as cultural forms.”

When we practice lockdown situations at our school, we stress to students the importance of remaining off their devices. The main logic being that if 900 students are suddenly calling loved ones at the same time, it could interfere with phone lines and police communication with the school. I agree that this is a valid reason, however, if ever faced with an actual school shooter rather than a drill, I believe it would be much more difficult to keep students off of their phones.

One interesting taken by some of the students was to post videos of the shooter on their Snapchat Stories using the SnapMap feature. As the following article explains, this could have both positive and negative consequences. Positively, the videos could be used by the police to help track the shooter’s location inside a school, but negatively “in a live shooting situation, the possible consequences are deadly… without realizing, you could be broadcasting your location and making yourself more vulnerable in this situation.”

The fallout from this tragedy is still unfolding and there remains a great deal to be learned about the use of social media during a school shooting. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on the issue.

Major Project Update: Exclusive Snapchat Focus

The best decision I made in the past week was to log in to the Zoom Room ten minutes before class began. Up to this point, I had imagined the major project as an integration piece, using Snapchat as a teaching tool and explaining the process. But after listening to fellow students and receiving confirmation from Alec, I know understand this process to be incorrect. Instead of integration, this assignment is to focus on a critical view of Snapchat, and how the digital citizenship elements relate.

How we can help develop critical thinkers regarding digital citizenship?

Photo Credit: Austin Community College Flickr via Compfight cc

Mike Ribble highlights nine elements of digital citizenship and my goal is to focus on a few of these themes and how they relate to my upcoming major project.

Digital Communication: Ribble explains “the expanding digital communication options have changed because people are able to keep in constant communication with anyone else.” In high schools, Snapchat has become the primary method for communication between students. Rather than trying to (unsuccessfully) attempt to stop this, I instead want to learn from the students about why this method of communication is so appealing to them.

Digital Etiquette: Ribble explains “many people feel uncomfortable talking to others about their digital etiquette. Often rules and regulations are created or the technology is simply banned to stop inappropriate use.” If students engagement with Snapchat is to continue to grow, then students must be taught the proper way to interact with others.

Digital Law: Ribble explains “users need to understand that stealing or causing damage to other people’s work, identity, or property online is a crime. There are certain rules of society that users need to be aware in an ethical society.” Unfortunately, child pornography and sexting have become major issues with Snapchat. Despite the uncomfortable nature of this discussion, students must be made aware of the potential dangers and permanence of this issue.

Digital Health and Wellness: Ribble explains “beyond the physical issues are those of the psychological issues that are becoming more prevalent such as Internet addiction. Users need to be taught that there are inherent dangers of technology.” Regarding Digital Health, my focus will centre on the idea of Snapchat streaks. I want to learn why these are so important to my students and what if anything can be done to move past this. When a 17 year old student states: “when you lose the streak, you lose the friendship”, you know this is a problem that must be dealt with.

So what does this all mean for the project?

My goal is to create a resource/activity package for my students regarding Snapchat. Upon completion of this package, it is my hope that the students will not quit using the app, but instead will be more aware and critical of the information they are receiving and transmitting through Snapchat. The presentation of my project will focus on the package I have created, as well as student testimonials illustrating their newfound critical thinking regarding their favourite app.

How can Digital Citizenship Evolve?

Today’s students are more technologically savvy than any generation before them. As a quick aside, I have been thinking about my major project and how to incorporate Snapchat into the classroom so I took the question to my students. Immediately, they provided me with numerous ideas and scenarios for me to access Snapchat in a safe and meaningful way.

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[Let’s embrace Snapchapt as a teaching tool and not let it scare us]

However, one key idea that we need to remember is that even though our students may be technologically superior to us, they still are young people who occasionally make mistakes and need to understand the repercussions of their actions. As Alec and Katia’s blog pointed out, the appetite for shaming anyone who has made a mistake remains hungrier than ever. Therefore, I want to teach my students to become more digitally conscious moving forward.

As Robyn Shulman points out, “Digital Citizenship is more than just a curriculum to be taught in a classroom; it is an ongoing process to prepare youth for a society immersed in technology, personally and professionally.” Digital Citizenship is not something that can be placed in a box, taught for one week and put away. It needs to be a lifelong commitment if we to best prepare our students for the future.

So what does digital citizenship look like going forward? I believe it is a combination of a need to embrace the technological knowledge our students possess while still reminding them of the dangers they face and the potential repercussions if they are not mindful.

Fight the Distractions? Or Embrace Them?

As a high school teacher, so much of my time is spent reminding/encouraging/demanding students turn off their phones and focus on the learning that needs to take place. However, the videos from this week are making me consider the issue somewhat differently. If our students are digital natives, then can we truly expect them to turn off a part of themselves?

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With some critical recollection, I am aware of the fact that a lot of my teaching methodology is based upon the way I was taught as a student, direct instruction with the teacher as the primary source of knowledge. The line of thinking states that if students are facing forward with pens in hand, there is no basis for distraction and the knowledge will flow freely. However, as my pedagogy has evolved I am starting to question the basis of this information. If the students are most comfortable with technology in front of them, will they be able to focus by simply writing notes?

I think back to when I went first attended university, maybe 5% of students brought a laptop to class, while during my postgraduate work, at least 95% of students bring some form of technology to work with. If we embrace this level of technology with our colleagues in university, should we not allow the same level of freedom to our Digitally Native students?

Of course, the pushback to this thought process always starts with the question of distraction. If the students are freely allowed to access their phone in class, what’s to stop them from playing games instead of learning? As I researched cell phone distraction, the results were disappointing. Too often websites focused on physically removing the device from the student as the only way to maintain their attention.

Photo Credit: JoanDragonfly Flickr via Compfight cc

So my goal this semester is to make a fundamental shift.

Instead of fighting a losing battle to remove the phone from their hands,I am instead going to focus on making that device a tool which enhances their learning, rather than leading to a distraction.

The method to achieving this goal is yet to be determined. My major project will focus on how to incorporate Snapchat into the classroom and before I can proceed any further, I want to talk to my students and learn from them as they are more knowledgeable in the app than I could ever be.

Major Project: Searching for Inspiration

Greetings and Salutations!

For those of you that have read my blog before, welcome back! And for those of you new to the class, strap in you’re ready for a treat!

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EC&I 832 is my third class with Alec, so I generally feel quite comfortable with the expectations surrounding the class.  However, after our first class I found myself struggling to choose a direction for the major project.  After some deliberation, I have decided to take a risk and venture into some media apps that I am not comfortable or familiar with.

Personal Social Media App Choice: Snapchat

Is it time to embrace Snapchat in the classroom?

Photo Credit: William Hook Flickr via Compfight cc

While I am quite comfortable with Facebook and Twitter, I have only a cursory knowledge of Snapchat.  While I do have the app on my phone, I rarely use it (usually only to send annoying workout pictures to my friends and family haha).

However, since Snapchat is such a craze for the students I teach, I’m beginning to wonder if there is an effective and safe way to include Snapchat in the classroom.  I’m not sure what this will entail, but I will enlighten you throughout the semester as I learn more.

Educational App Choice: ShowMe

Is it time for my teaching to evolve past the Abacus?

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At the beginning of this school year, I became a Connected Educator which means that I have a set of laptops that stay in my classroom to allow for 1-1 technology integration.  These laptops have been a tremendous help to me and my students as it has allowed us to take on outcomes and indicators in less traditional methods. However, my technology integration is far from perfect and it especially lacks in my Math class.  Therefore, my goal for this semester is to find an app that will effectively allow me to include more technology in my math class.  After some initial reserach, ShowMe appears to be an interesting place to start, but I will review some other media apps as well.

Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  One of the benefits of taking this class is learning from fellow students as well as the instructors.

So if any of you have ideas or experiences using Snapchat in the classroom or technology apps that you have used with a math class, I would love to hear about them in the comments.

Ciao,