This is my first attempt at creating a blog and I feel … well in all honesty I feel like I am sure many of my students feel when I am teaching a new concept… a little anxious, a lot of insecurity and hoping to “you know what” that I can catch on quickly. The difference here is that none of you witnessed the tantrum I threw because I made several errors trying to figure my way though the set up details! Imagine a grown woman ready to flip her desk over because the task seemed so overwhelming. The words of the social media memes that mock how easy things are supposed to be keep running through my head… Use wordpress they said… It’ll be easy they said. I managed to continue to breathe and make it this far so that is a success in my eyes.
In all honesty I was overwhelmed with all of the layout choices and ended up choosing the one that appealed to my organized side. Yes it is a “side”. It seems to be a weird illness that some of my colleagues can attest to. When we are at work we are the most meticulously organized people on Earth. We make year plans, day plans, short term goals, long term goals, and lists upon lists of things to accomplish but when we get home we are lucky if we can find two socks that match or remember when recycling day is.
The tutorial and walk through for WordPress led me through an activity to create an interesting “about” section. I was struck by the message that if you want to be “somebody” this section needs to be well written and developed. I found myself following along with the exercises and completing a “better” about section. It wasn’t until I sat back and critically looked at the message that was conveyed that I recognized what had happened. I bought into their idea that if I wanted to make this a successful blog (according to “them”, whoever that might be) I need to follow their recipe and share what they thought should be included. I must admit that the exercise allowed me to peel back the layers and be authentic but it also created a vulnerability that even though I sit behind a screen as I type I feel I must be cautious. Can one ever be completely authentic online and share our opinions, thoughts or ideas given our positions as an educator?
So why am I here? Media literacy and digital citizenship are concepts that I have just scratched the surface of in my life. I thought I was fairly technologically savvy but I quickly realized that I am just barely managing to tread water. Within an hour of the first class it became apparent I had just jumped into what felt like an endless abyss of hashtags, filters, blogs and loads of information. So much to learn but a deep breath in and I began to swim.
As I continued getting acquainted with digital media I was faced with what I call the “Conundrum of Conformity”. I moved forward keeping in mind that anything I write gets published in “cyberspace” to be shared with more people than I could ever imagine. This has me again questioning wanting to share my authentic ‘voice’ because I am very aware of remaining “professional” or what others deem as professional. This means that everything is in draft version with endless edits and re-reads and makes me acutely aware of my digital footprint. Second guessing everything I have on social media thus far, I did quick check back to my Facebook page after remembering what Professor Couros shared about images on the web and that many people can access them even when it is set to private. How many of them did I post without thinking about who would have access to them? I believe things are ‘okay’ with the albums there but it may be a task I have to revisit later on.
Setting up a professional Twitter account and joining the Google+ communities were an easier task for me. Utilizing them efficiently is another story. I have never been a big fan of Twitter, perhaps because it limits my verbal diarrhea and forces me to make my 140 character message very succinct. I am venturing out of my comfort zone to really see what it can do with it.
Over the past few days I have become very cognizant of how I interact with technology and what impact it has on me. Facebook is like my morning newspaper with Twitter a close second. I usually spend a few minutes scrolling through and pausing every now and then on stories of interest (mostly gossip in all honesty). Now I spend more than just a few minutes scrolling. I have made a conscious effort to be aware of what is going on in the world, our country and our city. I think about what the message is that I am receiving from these different forms, what is the message that may be hidden and how does this impact my life.
So what is Media Literacy and Digital Citizenship… It seems to be the experience of recognizing, understanding and interpreting the messages that are sent and received constantly through different forms of media and how those messages shape or influence me. Continuing to be a critical and creative thinker is imperative for me as a learner, educator and for my students as learners.