Tag Archives: social media

A World of Feelings, Not Facts 7/10

In our online world, increasingly dominated by social media, feelings are more important than facts.

This is the assertion of Hossein Derakhshan, an idea that I first encountered on Screened Off: The Dangers of the Insular Web.

As an online teacher, I always considered video to be an excellent tool to engage learners.  But do we understand how this engagement impacts learning and thinking?

Streaming video was enabled with the spread of high-speed internet, and more often now, we consume this emotion-driven form of content over text.  This makes the Internet far more like watching television than reading a book or an article.

Increasingly,  our online time is spent inside apps, not on the open web.  According to Hossein Derakhshan, a blogger and writer based in Iran,

“Like TV it now increasingly entertains us, and even more so than television it amplifies our existing beliefs and habits. It makes us feel more than think, and it comforts more than challenges. The result is a deeply fragmented society, driven by emotions, and radicalized by lack of contact and challenge from outside. This is why Oxford Dictionaries designated “post-truth” as the word of 2016: an adjective “relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.””

Subject matter that we consume inside apps, like Facebook, entertains us.  Corporate owners design these spaces to keep us there, because the longer we stay, the more money they make.  Negativity does not encourage engagement, so we are presented with “feel good” content.

Instead of engaging in dialog around important social issues, and reading text, where “facts” can be challenged, more and more, we choose to spend our time in the comfort of our apps, accepting the diet of targeted, advertisement-driven mush, fed to us by the algorithm that controls our content.

Watching video (television) instead of reading text means that we become victims of those who have mastered this one-way, emotion driven form of media, and we become passive consumers of those who grab our attention instead of citizens engaged in discourse around facts.

How does this impact our understanding of our world?

derakhshan-on-tv-online
CBC Ideas Podcast: Screened Off: The Dangers of the Insular Web http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/screened-off-the-dangers-of-an-insular-web-1.3937638

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Featured image shared by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

All of the posts in this series can be found here:

3/10 – How the “smart phone” and mobile apps have changed the way we interact online

4/10 – Historical perspective – the co-created open web to corporately owned platforms

5/10 – Algorithms: What’s controlling what you see and read?

6/10 – Information Literacy: What will your lesson plan look like now?

8/10 – Popularity over Importance: Celebrity culture in a time of wicked world problems

9/10 – The Attention Economy

10/10 – Escape Your [Filter] Bubble

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina! 

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A caution about this post: I am a learner, not an expert.  

I have set out here to use my #10posts10days  (#10days10posts) challenge to explore this area that deeply interests me, in an open way that lets others see what I am learning.  If you know more than I do, please correct me if necessary, and share! If you have more questions, please post those in the comments too.  Let’s learn more together.

All of the posts in this series can be found here: You Live in a Bubble

 

Text vs. World Trumps

What’s an Education That’s Worth Having?

[In 2014, I wrote a post on technology and pedagogy that was recently circulated on Twitter.  It reminded me that it is time to update the thinking in that post.]

Simon Breakspear asked the question, “What is an Education That’s Worth Having?” at #uLead15 three months ago.  The answer is complex, and context driven, but, I think we have some ideas.

What's an Education Worth Having?

For me, in 2015, that education includes digital literacies.

We often hear educators say that technology is “just a tool”.  In some situations, this is true.  Technology can be a tool to help students learn traditional content.

But it isn’t true in all cases.  Technology is so much more than a tool. Because of technology, we can now exist in both physical and digital spaces.

The competencies required to thrive and succeed in digital spaces are different from those required to succeed in our physical world, and more and more, these two worlds are inseparable.

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Our children exist in digital space and physical space seamlessly, except, in some cases, in school (and, except for those children who still have no access to the internet or to devices).

The Future of the Principalship in Canada

A recent study of the role of Canadian Principals shows that cyberbullying and policy issues related to social media is the #2 concern across the country.

Why is this the case?

I think we have done a huge disservice to our children.  We’ve known for a very long time that kids can communicate, access photos and share online, but by prohibiting this behaviour in schools – by taking the stance that it is not okay to use devices in school – we have neglected to teach them the competencies required to be successful citizens in the online environment.

So who will teach them now?

Unless we truly believe that digital literacies are important and that the competencies required to be successful in the future must be taught in school, nothing will change.

We need to ensure that our education leaders have these competencies.

Teach and Learn for Diversity. Use Technology to Engage Student Leadership.

Use technology for creative learning and good citizenship

Full immersion in digital spaces is arguably the best way for people to develop these competencies (Doug Belshaw, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies) and to understand how best to develop them in others.  This requires the use of a number of devices (and reliable access to the internet). Deciding what device is best for what purpose is part of the learning.  It also requires time to immerse and try and play and network and learn.  Educators need these opportunities.

If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.

We can’t let our children continue to play online without the knowledge and skills to be safe, to be responsible, and to lead change in the digital environment.

The change begins by building confidence and competence in digital literacies with our education leaders.

 

Resources:

Doug Belshaw, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

Identifying, Scaffolding and Credentialling Skills in an Ever-Changing Digital Environment (Doug Belshaw)

Digital Literacies Wiki (Doug Belshaw)

Mozilla Web Literacy Map

Mozilla Web Literacy

Digital Literacy on #MNLead (June 28, 2015)

Tweets mentioning @simonbreakspear, #uLead15

On Twitter – #digilit

Tom Whitby: The Myth of Innovation in Education

Health and Wellbeing: The Importance of Digital Literacies (from JISC)

 

Simple Sharing and Organizing: Pinterest for Educators

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Image shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share-alike license by Monday’s Child.

 

We talk a lot about the importance of openly sharing and curating resources.

One pushback I often hear is, “I just don’t have time”.  I get that.  The job of an educator never ends.  There are always more opportunities to look for that next practice that we could adapt for a particular student need.  There is always one more possibility to try to help a learner move forward.

But what if we could organize our own resources, making them easier to access, and share with others all at the same time?  We could save time for ourselves and for our colleagues – and isn’t that one of the things technology is supposed to do for us anyway?

Earlier today I stumbled upon this fabulous “how-to” video for teachers to help them use Pinterest to organize and share resources.  It is worth your time to watch even if you are using PInterest already.  There are several helpful tips here.

(The video was posted on this blog for primary teachers. Check out the blog for even more tips on curating, organizing and sharing with colleagues.)

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At OSSEMOOC (@OSSEMOOC), we have collated a number of resources on how Pinterest can be used for educators, including for school and system leaders.  I have posted them below for your reference.

 

Here is a quick look at some resources for education leaders:

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Click the image for the link to the OSSEMOOC post: https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/pinterest-isnt-just-for-crafts-leading-learning-happens-there-too/

 

Here is a step-by-step text guide to connecting and sharing through Pinterest:

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Click on the image for a “how-to” text guide to get started using PInterest for Professional Learning:https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-10-pinterest-is-for-more-than-just-crafts-and-recipes/

 

Here is a screencast that walks you through the resources included in the above text instructions:

 

 

 

Pinterest as a form of curation (this post includes the above screencast and further resources):

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The screencast and further resources can be found by clicking on this image. https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/may-24-2015-curating-with-pinterest/

 

Do you need further help in getting started with Pinterest for Professional Learning? Fill out the form here, and OSSEMOOC will add it to the agenda for the 2015-2016 plan for learning.

Twitter is a Public Library!

Earlier today, I read a post on the importance of the language we use when we talk about education.  It  made me think about some of the listening I have done this year when I ask educators why they are not using social media for their professional learning.

At the OPC/CPCO/ADFO Symposium in November, many school leaders at my table told me that they had not really found any value in using Twitter until they heard George Couros talk about it.

In December, I was honoured to be asked to spend a few hours with the Lakehead Public Schools Inspire Program, leading a session for educators on the use of social media in the classroom.  While I loved working with teachers, I still felt I was not really hitting the mark in demonstrating the value of Twitter for professional learning.

Just before Christmas, I was asked to work with another group of educators who needed to learn more about how to use Twitter.  This time, I really thought about the language I was going to use.  I knew from my earlier experiences that I needed to demonstrate value in order to get my point across and have the educators own the learning.

I wondered if the words “Twitter” and “social media” had so many other connotations that it was turning people off the idea of using them professionally.  Language is deeply connected to attitudes and beliefs.  If social media is considered to be “unprofessional” or Twitter is known as a “waste of time”, it’s challenging to reverse that way of thinking

I happened to read a post by George Couros that compared You Tube to a library.

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 10.48.17 PMEducators value and understand libraries as places where you go to find information.  When you think about it, that is all Twitter really is – a place where you go to find information.

Just like in a library, we need the skills to find what we are looking for.

If we think of Twitter as just a huge stream of information being sent out from people all over the world all the time, the value comes in understanding how to search Twitter to find what you are looking for.

Since I had only a few minutes to try to demonstrate how Twitter could be of value, I focused on thinking of Twitter as a library that is available to everyone 24/7.  I demonstrated how to use Twitter without creating a personal account.  I did this to save time, but also to address many fears associated with social media and digital footprints.  We were using Twitter while remaining completely anonymous.

We used the Twitter search page, and we learned the difference between searching for any topic (such as “Thunder Bay”, and searching using a hashtag (such as #TBay).

I compared using hashtags to learning to use the card catalog in a library.  You need to learn specific skills to find the information you need, and learning what hashtags to search is a valuable way to find out what is happening.

We learned a number of different hashtags that would be helpful in their work in Ontario education, such as:

#onted

#onpoli

#fdk

#ontedleaders

#ossemooc

#cdned

Using language associated with something that is valued (“library”) instead of feared (“social media”), and focusing on using Twitter as an open resource (rather than moving directly to connected, participatory learning) allowed me to quickly demonstrate that social media had value to educators.

While I am committed to the importance of connected learning and sharing, we do have to meet learners where they are right now.  The strategy of comparing Twitter to something that was already valued and understood (a library) helped several educators see that social media can indeed be a valuable resource for professional learning.

 

 

 

Thoughts: Labour Day 2014

I wanted to tell a funny story on this Labour Day.

I will share this entertaining piece instead: Teachers Don’t Sleep on Labour Day by  @albertfong

I have plenty of my own crazy tales, of course, having spent nearly 30 years of Labour Days ignoring my family in spite of it being my daughter’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, a stressful time for my kids heading back to school…

Even though today is the first Labour Day in 25 years where nobody in our household is heading off to school, I don’t feel like being funny.  I have a very heavy heart as I think of the teachers in British Columbia and the conflict they are embroiled in.

I think of the passionate educators that do so much for students in B.C. – educators like Karen Lirenman,  David Truss, and Bryan Jackson.   How do I know what they are doing?  Because they share.

They openly invite everyone to see how they think, what they struggle with, how they learn, and what they are working on.  They do this through blogging, through Twitter (and other social media), and through face-to-face presentations throughout the year.

I know they love what they do, because they openly demonstrate this all year long.

As we once again see teachers as a political target, it is important to ask ourselves why this profession is so often attacked by politicians. Take a moment to read this very thought-provoking essay on the Future of Schooling in Canada by Stephen Murgatroyd.

Here is a short excerpt:

“Teachers need to “take back” their schools, supported by mindful school leaders, if they are not to become the new laboratories for corporate greed….

…The final challenge relates to the conditions of practice which teachers and school leaders face. There is a growing distortion around the importance of class size and composition – classes of 30-35 with up to six students with special needs are seen as “manageable” (they are not) with a single teacher and little if any access to other supports. Custodial services are seen as being only required before and after school – not during the school day, leaving teachers to clean up after sick children or some accident in the chemistry lab. We are neglecting the basic conditions in the name of economy. Attempts to challenge the creeping Fordism which such class sizes force on school systems are seen as “teacher whining”, yet parents and citizens should be appalled at some of the conditions under which we are asking teachers to produce the next generation of imagineers, artists, scientists, engineers and trades persons.”

 

If we really believe that our children are our greatest resource, and if we really believe that teaching is the most important profession for our future, then we need to tell our stories to the world.

“Teaching in isolation is no longer consistent with professionalism.”(Catherine Montreuil, August 2014).

This year, don’t just do great things for kids.

Tell your story.

Tell it loudly, and openly, and show the world what you do every day.

Show the world that every single day, teachers are making a positive difference in the lives of our children.

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Photo credit: venspired via Compfight cc

Who Are You Leaving Out?

 

Why would we want to exclude other educators from our professional learning network?

Stephen Katz, in his book Intentional Interruptions, discusses the problem of confirmation bias when it comes to professional learning.  It is our tendency to “only look for things that confirm rather than challenge our beliefs and practices“.

We need to make sure that we are not looking for our professional learning in echo chambers.  We need to find the people who will challenge our thinking.

When we hear, “Let’s build an online community so we can share our learning”, it sounds like a fantastic idea.  It is a fantastic idea.

But when designing how that community will work, ask who you want to exclude, because as soon as you put your sharing behind a password protected site, you are excluding other thinkers who might contribute to your conversation and challenge your thinking – exactly what professional learning needs to include.

It is easy to share your learning and thinking openly.

Consider, for example, the Inquiry-Based Learning Project in Ontario, and their conversations on Twitter under the #ontsshg hashtag.

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They have discussions, vote on topics, document their learning on a blog, and keep it in the open for anyone else to join in the conversation, make comments, search, read, and remix.

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While the conversations focus on Ontario topics, anyone is welcome to join, to share, to learn.

Similarly, Lakehead Public Schools chose to share their collaborative inquiry work with the world on an open blog rather than excluding readers who might learn from their work.

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Before choosing to participate in an online community that excludes learners, think about what you are able to share openly with other educators.

There is a need for protected spaces to share private information about student learning, but if your purpose is to share your own professional learning and to grow as an educator, why would you exclude others from the conversation?

Why not make your thinking and learning visible to all, and model that learning for our students?

 

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Related: Just Make It Public! by Mark W. Carbone:  http://blog.markwcarbone.ca/2014/08/05/just-make-it-public/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digging Into Curation

There is a vast amount of information online, and digging into it can sometimes feel too overwhelming to even begin.  Yet our students will need to be quite adept at this process as they navigate the new realities of a digitally-connected world.

What best practices do we need to model as leaders to ensure our students are gaining the skills they need to be able to find, organize, create, make meaning, and share?

Sue Waters tackles this questions.

This piece was originally posted on the #OSSEMOOC blog for the June “pic and post” event.

 

Digging Into Curation.

Digging Into the Networked Social Lives of Teens

While negotiating the lunch hour traffic yesterday, I caught a piece of a conversation on the radio and thought, “That person has read Danah Boyd’s book”.  As the conversation went on, I realized the speaker was Danah Boyd, and that she was a guest on the Ontario Today call-in program on CBC Radio.

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The program was about parents spying on and creeping their teens, but it turned into a conversation about much more.  Danah Boyd is such a fluent speaker on the topic of networked teens that she can turn any question into a learning moment.

Her key messages are important take-aways for parents and teachers of teens.

It takes a community to raise a child.  At one time we did that openly, in public spaces, but now much social activity has moved into online spaces.  It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look out for kids in the same way.

Surveillance is observation without intervention.

When parents and other adults discover inappropriate online activity, they need to take time to consider  whether an intervention is necessary, and what the intervention should be.

Behaviour on social media is reflective of other realities in teen’s lives.  Ask why kids are behaving that way. What is going on in their lives that is making them seek attention inappropriately?  What supports are needed?

Let’s ensure that our adult reactions to teen online behaviour are not based on our own lack of understanding, or our unfounded fears of online spaces.

Our interventions should enhance the abilities of young people to make good decisions, not take the decision-making process away from them.

The full Ontario Today podcast is available here: http://www.cbc.ca/ontariotoday/2014/05/29/when-keeping-an-eye-on-the-kids-becomes-spying/ or through itunes.

Danah Boyd’s book is available for free download here.

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Collaboration: We’ve Arrived!

** Update! We now know that Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) watched our video on the ISS!  How exciting for our students.  Commander Hadfield understands the importance of connections for learning.  His song with Ed Robertson is all about how the world is one place, all interconnected, and the video shows how this is so true.  Student teachers, learning from classrooms around the globe, sharing and connecting.  Chris Hadfield has made powerful connections with students across Canada and his influence is being felt by an entire generation.  Thanks Chris!

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Listen to a #NipRockArt student discuss the project with me, and Cathy Alex on @VoyageNorth CBC Radio 1: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/voyage-north-from-cbc-radio/id548330944

Also available here for now: http://www.cbc.ca/voyagenorth/2013/04/12/space-station-shout-out-for-nipigon-red-rock-hs/

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And back to the original post:

I am so excited tonight to see the finished collaboration my students were recently involved in.

After spending some time with our student teacher from the University of Regina, ECMP455 students wanted to connect all of the great classrooms they had been learning in around the world with a lipdub project.  I sent the idea out and I was thrilled to see two teachers at our school take it on.  They did a fabulous job, and we are excited to share the spotlight with “Daniel and the Atkins”, our Saskatchewan pre-service teacher and his beautiful daughters.

A special thanks goes out to Dean Shareski for coordinating the project and including us.

@colleenkr and her students at 3:12

@kimberniprock and her students at 3:55

Our student teacher, “Daniel and the Atkins” at 4:10

Our part in the chorus at 4:22