Monthly Archives: October 2015

What will you leave behind?

When thinking about a digital footprint the evolution of technology has increased the capability to create it on a massive scale. We post, tweet and Instagram constantly and each action forms a part of our online identity.

foot print

Samuel Rich via Compfight cc

My footprint …

The Fragmented Educator makes a lot of sense and helps explain what I have been feeling … Acceptable identity fragment. Although my participation in social media has been authentic it is certainly within a constraint of what I feel is “acceptable” to my audience. I am very mindful of not venting about my role as an educator on social media. Because social media (primarily Facebook for me) keeps record of everything I have shared and uses its algorithms to bend my identity and determine what my audience sees, can I ever be completely authentic?


“Furthermore, when you have no idea how you are being made to appear to your ffriends, you are hardly the author of your identity. If Facebook continues to apply filtering algorithms based on invisible criteria, you will never be more than the co-author of your identity”

Our children…

More and more parents are creating their child’s digital footprint before they even enter the world. The sonograms are on Facebook or flooding the Twitter feed. I have friends on both sides of the extreme for their own reasons. One set of parents have thousands of photos with a continuous narrative of their child on Instagram. They want to share with family that live a significant distance away. On the opposite side of the scale one of my relatives asked that there was no mention on social media of her pregnancy. She did not post and in fact waited until a few days after to post an announcement. Both valid and very personal reasons.


The article Digital Birth: Welcome to the Online World cautions us about how much we are sharing about our children. “First, you are creating a digital history for a human being that will follow him or her for the rest of their life. What kind of footprint do you actually want to start for your child, and what will they think about the information you’ve uploaded in future?” Once it is online, even though you think you remove or delete it, it still remains.

As educators …

When we post online it is important to remember that we are held to a high moral standard. Furthermore, as educators in a Faith-Based school this level is raised significantly. There are so many people trolling looking for the next piece of gossip or phrase to misconstrue.

Do educators have freedom to post whatever they want on their Facebook or Twitter account without it reflecting poorly on the institution?

Social media is over run with drama and bad decisions. The special education teacher that posted her student was a “hot mess” clearly felt that she could post freely. We need to remember that “The simplest thing, though, for teachers (and anyone else, for that matter) to learn is that Facebook and other parts of the Web are really the local town crier”. So what are the ethical considerations of online behavior as an educator?

Our students…

As indicated in Media Smarts Young Canadians in a Wired World kids today have online access in multiple platforms on devices that are usually portable. This means wherever they go they are connected.

The study indicated that girls are more likely to have online rules than boys. This got me thinking about my own children. They have both been very connected from a young age. Unlike the study says though they had the same online rules for the computer but I must admit that I was way more flexible with my son playing online with a gaming console however I don’t believe this was a gender thing. But what about other households?

When we consider that this study found that seven of the most popular websites are those that you can “post and share information and content” it is imperative that we teach students digital literacy skills. They need to “understand privacy, digital permanence, ethical decision making and protecting personal information”.


Posted by on October 26, 2015 in EC&I832


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Fear of Being Authentic on Social Media

“I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Monica Lewinsky

I was very moved by the TED Talk by Monica Lewinsky. She spoke about the challenges of people “stealing private words, video and pictures and making them public without consent and without context”. She made a very valid point that society is becoming “desensitized” and this is leading to increased trolling and cyberbullying. The internet, and now social media, allows us to comment, share jokes, call names and other kinds of harassing behaviour instantaneously. What we fail to realize is that this, as Lewinsky emotionally states, not only causes individuals harm to their reputation, it also strips them of their dignity.

Jon Ronson, a journalist and film maker, spoke about social media and the “constant high-dramas” that are created. We either have to do something heroic or something that shames someone else to get validation. I see a lot of people in my Facebook feed posting about their personal lives or criticizing the lifestyle of others which generates a frenzy of drama. Think about the dentist and Cecil the Lion. I don’t even have to say anything more than that because you know what a social media frenzy that was, Ronson provides a few more examples in his interview with Lewinsky.

I also found myself reflecting and identifying with Ronson in One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life. We “tweet” and “post” on Facebook and are saddened when we don’t get a “retweet” or “like”. I have been overjoyed when my tweet was retweeted or my latest Facebook post liked. We, and admittedly I, have become dependent on the congratulatory responses of others on social media. Why do we need the approval of others?

Ronson explains that “Twitter is a mutual approval machine. We surround ourselves with others that approve us.” It is so true! Granted my new “professional” Twitter account is mostly academics and colleagues, I can’t say the same for my Facebook account. I have been guilty of “unfriending” someone who was making posts that I found offensive. My actions sort of validate what Jennifer was talking about in her blog Digital Citizenship, Engagement and Breaking Out of Our Social Bubbles’ and perhaps I was unable to see their perspective because  of the discomfort from what they were saying. It is so much easier to unfollow and unfriend then to sit back and have an open mind. A very humbling moment in my journey.

In her blog Helen Regan writes briefly about the “Psychology of Online Shaming”. It becomes so easy to publicly shame others on social media. It allows us to get things “off our chest” and feel better but we often forget that there is someone, a real human being, at the other end of our comments. We don’t have to look into their eyes or hear the hurt in their voice. We can just spew forth whatever hurtful things we want and not have to worry, heck we can even turn the device off after we are finished. In her TED Talk Monica Lewinsky also identified that we lose context of the person. We forget that they are someone’s daughter, someone’s wife or someone’s sister. Our students need to reconnect to the human element of interacting with people.

So what does this mean in my classroom? The Saskatchewan Government gave us a great place to start (Yes it is a start with a long road ahead). The document Saskatchewan’s Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying states that:

We need to support students to develop responsible and appropriate online behaviour:

  • Although students are comfortable using technology, they may not be using it appropriately.
  • Because technology is a part of children’s everyday lives, they need to learn the necessary skills to use technology in healthy and ethical ways.
  • Cyberbullying is a major concern, particularly for parents and caregivers; some feel they lack the knowledge and expertise to help their children in the digital age.
  • We need tools to support parents and caregivers to recognize when their child is in need and know how to help them.

A final reflection… I find myself drawn into a vortex when reading and exploring the topics in the class. One link leads to another and then another. Pretty soon I can’t remember where I started. This week was one of my favourite! I came across Psychology of Social Networking when delving deeper into the topic of online shaming. I spent hours reading through the various blog posts by Dr. Balick. He believes that we “present ourselves in the ways that we wish others to see us” and social media is merely the “outward expressions of ego”. We can control what people see and although it is primarily the ego (think of all the selfies) it is still an online extension of our self. Looking back my online identity has certainly evolved (perhaps matured) and has moved from the ego to a more authentic outward extension of myself, however I am still very cautious of moving forward without restraint because of my position as an educator. I don’t want to find myself in the online shaming arena.

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Posted by on October 19, 2015 in EC&I832


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Social Media in Education

When thinking about what I wanted to explore this week and much like Ashley I was drawn into the realm of social media in the classroom. I came across a podcast entitled Social Media and Education: The Conflict Between Technology and Institutional Education, and the Future by Sarah Robbins-Bell. Social media has changed the way that we interact with media. It has altered the way we learn and share information on a daily basis giving us access to things that are happening, sometimes within minutes of the event.
social-media-488886_1280Social Media exemplifies exactly what learning should be. Everyone should be a lifelong learner. Everyone should have access to high quality information they can engage with and share with other people. As parents we give “free access to technology but when students go to school it is stifled”. This creates a disconnect for our kids and is often the reason kids feel the need to “sneak” their phones in or quickly jump onto Facebook during a work period.

Learning is changing. The way technology allows us to get information and share information certainly conflicts with the old school vision of what education is. We as teachers are not the “all knowing” in fact there are several students in my classroom who have taught me a thing or two about media. Kids are proficient with technology like video games, cell phone, YouTube and even Google … they see the world differently. Robbins-Bell feels that there are many benefits of learning available via social media and “if we don’t embrace the shift we will get left behind”. Until beginning this class I thought I was doing well but I now realize that I have just been treading water when it comes to media literacy and my students. We have to understand it to teach it.

The podcast worked through a comparison of Institutional Education vs Social Media. So what does institutional education offer? First it offers membership to groups like social clubs and extracurricular activities. It also offers intellectual discussions and access to resources and experts. Finally it offers its official endorsement. When you graduate you  gain the stamp of approval from that institution. How does this compare to social media?  Social Media offers an opportunity of self-expression things like Flickr provide a forum for individuals to express themselves. It also offers a place to be with other people who share common interests. This also means that in many places on social media people are reviewing, commenting, critiquing articles / stories that have been created (the peer review process in real time). Also, like an educational institution Social Media offers access to experts and personalities. The big difference is the vast amount of people available increases exponentially. Social media also offers an opportunity to enhance personal and professional reputations by providing  a place where you can build your portfolio online. This could lead to future opportunities without the stamp of approval from an institution.

Social media changes how we can reach people and how many people we can reach. If all communication is education wouldn’t we we want students to learn through exchanging ideas via Social Media? It’s true that in a classroom sometimes we need to have a lecture style lesson happened but two way communication is much more valuable as a learning opportunity by giving a voice to each student.

Robbins – Bell highlights that when using Social Media is important that educators remember that we are not the gatekeepers of knowledge. Our role as educators is critical:

  • We need to teach students to learn in an “information economy”. This means we need to teach him that access to information is there right and their responsibility. We also have to give them the skills and tools that they need in order to look it up and analyze the information.
  • We need to teach students the importance of contributing to community. They are global citizens connected through  media.
  • We need to be able to relate to our students as co-creators. We need to shift from the mindset of doing this because I said so and become the guys to shave their own paths.
  • We need to ensure that they have the skills to interpret the information that there discovering and offer them a place to bring back their learning and share with the group.
  • Social media in the classroom offers us an opportunity to report activities throughout the day.

On the flip side of all of this do we want our students to be constantly “connected” or should school provide a place to spend time ‘offline’? or is this just the thinking of an educator who they themselves do not use a lot of social media and are uncomfortable?

Don Goble strongly advocates using social media in the classroom. ives us something to think about as he advocates social media in the classroom.

 Students communicate, research, collaborate, create and publish with or without parents or educators”. So doesn’t it make sense that we would want to use social media in the classroom to capitalize on this learning? When we feel a conflict with the new technology we are feeling a conflict with how we view education and knowledge and how we gain education.

I have shied away from using social media in the classroom but have started the journey with my students. The more I read and see examples of how others are embracing blogging, twitter and other forums with students and parents, the more encouraged I am to try it in my classroom. Today we posted our first classroom story in the news feed on our ClassDojo and they were so proud. Small steps right?


Posted by on October 6, 2015 in EC&I832


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Personal Engagement with Media

I had a myriad of thoughts this week about being connected and my engagement with media. When I took inventory of the technology in my life I realize that I have access to media wherever I am. The tablet, desk top computer (yes I still have one!), iPad and my cell phone. I often joke about going to “crush candy”, which has become code for using the washroom in our house, with my cell phone in hand away I go. It is something I find has become natural for many people. Several conversations this week opened my eyes to the fact that many people sleep with their phones close to the bed and if they are having difficulty sleeping they will grab their phones and peruse social media.This is not necessarily a good thing. As Dana Smith indicated in her blog “Suppression of melatonin then has the opposite effects, increasing alertness and arousal, and even altering REM sleep patterns when you finally do nod off.” So being constantly connected is convenient but can be detrimental to your health. It makes me wonder how many of our students are experiencing difficulties because of poor sleep connected to device use.
Where is your phone when you sleep?phonesleep
In a recent story in the USA on Sleep & Technology people who use technology before bed are likely to struggle with getting to sleep and this is becoming more and more connected to “Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can increase the risk for heart attacks, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and strokes.” There is also an increased frequency in people texting and emailing while still “asleep”. I haven’t experienced this yet… or at least not that I remember.
It begs the question can we be too connected?
When we look at Nathan Jurgenson’s article The IRL Fetish he points out that we have the capability to be ‘connected’ everywhere but is it too much and causing a disconnect from the real world? Michael Poh would say yes. He points out that now a days we do not call people on the phone but text instead.
How many of us don’t even have a land line any more?
He believes that we have created an “overdependence to using the online amenities to carry out our social biddings”. We use emoticons to communicate emotion and give our text some type of “tone”. We connect through social media and in chat rooms replacing the need for face to face contact.

“While eating, defecating, or resting in our beds, we are rubbing on our glowing rectangles, seemingly lost within the infostream.” –Nathan Jurgenson

With the constant connection to media readily at your fingertips how do we help students (as well as ourselves) to learn to responsibly balance online and offline worlds?

I appreciated Ashley’s blog about Life Beyond Our Devices as it related to what I was trying to say this week. I was especially struck by the question “Has technology become an obligation as opposed to a luxury?” I used to enjoy scrolling mindlessly through a news feed but now I evaluating every interaction I have with media to figure out if this is something that is productive and helping me or just consuming my time.

As a final thought I was captivated by the video about Prensky’s “Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants” theory but spent most of my time looking at David White’s alternative view of this. The continuum of “visitor and resident” really helped me understand the way that I engage with media. I delved deeper into mapping out my personal engagement with media. I spend most of my time as a resident on Facebook with limited people in my professional realm there. I rarely use other forms of media for personal reasons as a resident which explains the learning curve I am on with this class. I didn’t include my blog on the map as I am hoping to shift it from the far left over to the far right.

My Engagement Map

I would encourage you to do the mapping activity your self and with your students. It has certainly helped me gain perspective of where I am in my digital identity.


Posted by on October 4, 2015 in EC&I832


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