EC&I 832, Major Project

Photosharing and Digital Citizenship

This is my second post this week regarding my major project.  We were asked to reflect on how our projects relate to one or more of the nine elements of digital citizenship.  My first post was about reflecting on where I was at in the process, of figuring out my direction and trying to answer the questions I had asked of myself when beginning my project.  This post is about reflecting on the past week’s question.

As I spoke of in my previous post, I am concentrating on photosharing apps and examining them from both a digital citizenship and a media or information literacy perspective.  When I look at Ribble’s Nine Elements, I can see my project relating to several of these.  In particular, I think the following elements will be especially relevant:

Digital Communication: Today’s digital communication options allow us the opportunity to keep in 

constant communication and collaborate with anyone at any time and in any location.  According to the Digital Citizenship Website, however, many users haven’t been taught how to make appropriate decisions when faced with so many options in the method and means in which they communicate with one another. I plan to look at the literacy skills needed to communicate skillfully using photosharing apps as well as whether these apps can be used in ways to help students communicate in a positive way online.

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Digital Etiquette:  Often, apps like Snapchat and Instagram are banned in classrooms because there is fear that there may not be rules or regulations that can govern their appropriate use. What about when students are not at school?  I think these types of photosharing/social media applications may allow us a platform to teach students digital etiquette – at least that is what I am trying to find out. Do they have educational value in this regard?

Digital Literacy: How students learn and comprehend in a digital society is important. I feel they are being called upon to access different literacy skills to make meaning of information – pictures, captions, open floodgates of facts and information… My project is examining if photosharing apps and communicating in a world of pictures and captions requires us to infer and make meaning in different ways.  Should educators be considering how they are approaching digital literacy skills?

As I was reading articles and watching videos about digital citizenship, I found many other connections to my project in addition to these three areas.  As I go further into my research and practice with these apps, I am sure I will continue to develop more and more connections to the elements digital citizenship.

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EC&I 832, Major Project

Digging in…

I am a few weeks into my social media immersion. I have been a regular Facebook and intermittent Twitter user for a long time, but now my footprint is definitely bigger. For my major project, I was initially looking at 4 apps, but I dropped Duolingo to focus exclusively on photosharing apps. I have been using Instagram, Snapchat, and to a lesser degree, PicCollage. A couple of weeks ago, I came up with some guiding questions, which I have listed below. These have been the focus of the research I have been doing, as well as what I keep in my mind when interacting with and learning the ins and outs of the apps.

DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP
1) What does research say about photosharing apps and their value in educating students about digital citizenship and helping them to become positive, contributing digital citizens?

2) What do my observations of how this type of media is used and what I can do while using it, tell me about its value in teaching digital citizenship? Does it have educational value or potential rigour?

3) What privacy and usage considerations/implications do these apps present to students and teachers?

MEDIA LITERACY
1) Any app, but particularly those that rely on visuals, chats and quick captions, potentially require a different set of literacy skills to allow students to communicate effectively and to make meaning of what they see. Is any of this media calling on students to comprehend or communicate in ways we do not traditionally teach? Should this impact or shift our literacy instruction given how widely these apps are used? In what ways?

I have been reading articles on media literacy in addition to making my own notes about what skills I feel I have been using to read and make meaning of others’ messages, as well as the thought processes I have been using before I make a post of my own. (Probably a lot more than any student ever does!!)  I also have been looking at some of the research done by Common Sense Media, Media Smarts and others with regard to digital citizenship and privacy.  In my next post, I will share some article links that I am finding most helpful.

I have a lot more to do – I still have more to explore with regard to pedagogy.  Right now, to be honest, I am swimming in a sea of information but hopefully, if I keep my eye on my guiding questions, I can bring it all together as I originally envisioned!  Stay tuned.


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EC&I 832

Not Entirely New – Preparing for Education of the Future

I am a “Gen X-er” – born in the 1970s, I have seen technology grow tremendously over the last 30+ years. As a teacher for 23 of those years, I have seen technology in the classroom change as well. The funny thing about the evolution of technology use in education, is that I have observed it as being much much slower than in society.  That is a generalization, of course.  Lots of teachers are fully immersed in technology and use it seamlessly as part of their instruction.  Other teachers, however, while they have their smartphones glued to their hands at recess or during lunch breaks, do not extend that use with students in their classrooms.  Why not?  Fear…lack of confidence…loss of control…?  The reasons might be different for each teacher who hasn’t moved beyond using computers or maybe a SMARTBoard, but what does that mean for students who may be preparing for a different looking future?


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In her blog post this week, Sapna said, “Students who will be entering the future workforce will need various skills such as collaboration, tech knowledge, critical thinking, ingenuity, problem-solving etc. and as educators it is our responsibility in getting them ready for the digital community and digital future.”  The NMC CoSN Horizon Report supports authentic learning experiences which empower students to think critically, collaborate, communicate and develop creative solutions.  I agree with both of these statements completely, but I don’t think most of these skills in and of themselves are anything new for an emerging digital world.  Let me explain.

If we look at best instructional and assessment practices- at least to where they have evolved already – those words and skills are not unfamiliar. I was just involved today and in the last month in providing PD on this very topic where we talked about engaging students in authentic learning and assessment, critical thinking and using deep thinking and transfer learning to allow for creative problem solving.  I am not sure we are doing all of these things that well yet, but they are part of our professional conversations about what our practice should look like.  I think those foundations of good educational practice will be just as important in the future, just as I feel literacy skills will continue to be of critical importance.  The shift we need to make is how we apply those skills and practice in a digital environment.

I don’t know what schools of the future will look like, nor jobs for that matter.  I imagine our connections will continue to be more digital in nature, but also more global. Those critical, deep thinking skills students need have to be taught using and experiencing technology – and not as an add-on, but rather, as the way “we do business”.  I am not sure how much longer those teachers I mentioned earlier can continue to opt-out. It can’t look one way in the classroom and another way outside the doors of the school.  Where is the transfer learning?

One final thought.  In her blog, Jaque spoke about educators as mentors for students with technology.  I like this idea, and I think this is the kind of mindshift some of us might need in order to make our classroom learning spaces authentic digital communities. In my work, I support teachers with literacy. We have a lot of conversations about strategies and teaching students to be metacognitive, so they can choose whatever strategies/methods that will work best for them, when they need them. Why can’t we do that with technology? We should mentor students in thinking metacognitively about apps, web tools and literacies for working with media. Let them use and choose what works best for them, when they need it.  This critical use of technology and ownership of learning is a step toward how we allow best educational practice to thrive in the changing world our students inhabit.


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EC&I 832

Do I Belong Here?

Our class readings this week offered a lot of varied perspectives of “life” in the digital world. Natives versus immigrants…visitors versus residents…the idea that average, everyday people are not only influencing, but changing and even inventing media.  And all of this overlaid with the idea that perhaps so much time spent online may actually be helping us to appreciate our lives when offline.  Hmmm… a lot to think about.

Like many others this week, I found myself pondering the issue of digital natives vs digital immigrants, if those exist.  Even Prensky has changed his original argument somewhat, the idea that those born later (after 1980) are naturally more adept at technology is something I have heard often by colleagues and others my age and older. According to Prensky in Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, the “accent” of those of us ‘older immigrants’ can be seen in our use of technology – we just don’t use it naturally.  I am not saying I agree with him, but besides my appearance, it is probably fairly obvious that I was not immersed in technology growing up. (I am loath to admit that I remember my family buying our first ever microwave and VCR…yes, I am that old.)  In my adult life, I have moments of utter technological competency, when I feel like anyone can ask me anything…and then I get a Snapchat account for this class and realize that sometimes I am a stranger to this digital country, roaming my way around, checking out the sights, but not really immersing myself in what it means to truly be a part of digital culture.


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I actually prefer David White’s continuum of digital visitors and residents.  I agree that students need to learn how to engage with technology and that it requires a set of literacies that must be learned.  The analogy that visitors (as Amy describes herself) use the web as a tool to complete a task  without leaving social traces, whereas a resident is present with other people online and does leave a social trace, makes sense to me and resonates.  I also agree that we may all find ourselves at various points on that continuum at one time or another.

As a teacher, I have had countless opportunities to observe students using technology as well as to teach them how to use it. What I was thinking about this week, however, is that I have had a social experiment in my own home on this topic for the past 19 years.  I have two children, ages 15 and almost 19. They are definitely more than competent when it comes to using technology – I would say they are in the middle of White’s continuum toward the residency side. They could be full residents, but they are cautious, careful digital citizens – maybe too cautious to fully immerse.  How did they get comfortable? They learned.  They sat on my lap playing Reader Rabbit Baby before they could really speak – their technological education has always been present at home.  School and community just made it stronger.  They have had teachers (mostly at home) along the way that have helped to guide them in using media and information.

I think regardless what label you want to put on our students, they have grown up in a world that doesn’t just involve technology, it is technology.  As I read in an article recently, we have to become their digital mentors not their monitors, which means we may have to start looking for at least temporary “residency” in this world.  As Henry Jenkins spoke of, many of our students are the average, everyday students that will be changing and inventing media in the future – we need to guide them.


Source: pixabay.com

EC&I 832, Major Project

Am I the last one?

Hello everyone.  My name is Regan and I am in my fifth Masters class in Curriculum and Instruction, so only about half way.  I have decided that I am going to switch to the thesis route, so this will be my last class before I begin that work…I can’t decide if that makes me a bit crazy or not!  This is my first online class, but I am not feeling that uncomfortable (so far) with the technology aspects of the course.  That may be “famous last words” as I get into some of these projects!  As I have been reading the blogs of my classmates, I think I might be in a bit of a different situation as I am not currently in the classroom.  I am a curriculum consultant, so I support teachers in the areas of libraries, literacy and social studies.

For the final project, it took me awhile to decide what to do.  I was pretty sure I wanted to do a personal journey into media, but which apps?  As Brooke said in her blog I am probably more of a consumer of social media than a contributor.

I have decided on two social media apps used commonly by students and two used “for school stuff”.  The two social media ones are Snapchat (which many are doing) and Instagram.  I think I may be one of the last people on planet earth who is not on either of these – especially Instagram!  I just don’t document my life in pictures usually, and my kids are old enough to have their own social media lives, so I don’t document theirs.  But…it is time!  When I told my daughters I was getting these accounts, they were thrilled!  They couldn’t wait to sign me up and start giving me tutorials!  I feel like I am so behind and that I may have slipped down the rabbit hole, folks!

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When it comes to Snapchat and Instagram, I am definitely going to look at the implications of how they are used – positively and negatively – including privacy concerns, bullying, sense of belonging, competition…  However, I also want to look at them from a media literacy perspective.  There are an entirely different set of literacy skills being used to communicate and comprehend the world using these two apps, and I would like to investigate that aspect as well.

The two educational-use apps are ones that I chose based on opinions I got when asking teenagers which apps they found most useful for doing their assignments and helping them with work.  There were quite a few – some really specific for particular subjects – but two that came up quite often were Duolingo (which surprised me) and PicCollage.  As a former Core French teacher for 15 years, Duolingo interests me, but most said they use PicCollage ALL the time for jazzing up assignments or for visual components of their work.  Does it have any educational merit, or is it just for show? I don’t have a classroom of students I can use apps with over the semester, so I needed to choose ones students (and I) would use independently.

Ok – time to jump in, get my feet wet and get this party started!


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EC&I 832

Getting Started

This blog, at least to start, will be the site of my thoughts and reflections for my Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy course, EC&I 832.  My teaching experience has been varied, including several years as a Teacher Librarian and Technology in Learning teacher.  It has been a few years since I was supporting teachers and students directly with technology, so I am really looking forward to the content of this class.

Teaching students to appropriately navigate and create within the digital world is our responsibility.  I know I will learn a lot from the course material, but also from my classmates.  I am all about collaboration! Let’s get started.