Media Literacy: We Need it Now More Than Ever

#ECI832

It’s hard to explain the emotions and thoughts that we are all experiencing right now. It has been an overwhelming time for all of us to say the least. During a time of uncertainty, there are many news outlets and platforms that are filling our social media feeds and minds. Even though it’s easy to get caught up in reading everything that comes our way, like I find myself doing in a time like now, it’s important to listen, watch, and read with a critical lens and an open heart.

Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

As we venture through this unfamiliar time of crisis and confusion, there is no better time to prioritize the skills and actions that surround media literacy. You are probably wondering, what does media literacy even entail and why is it important? Before we break down media literacy, it’s important to understand literacy, which is “the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world.” Even though the outcome of literacy is to read, write, and speak, there are still many skills and elements that come into play before that happens. When you think about the act of reading, you not only need to decode the words, but you also need to comprehend what you’re reading. On top of that, early level readers have basic skills, but as you advance with reading, you develop deeper level thinking skills, such as understanding themes, recognizing biases, or analyzing the text.

Similar to the skills of literacy, “media literacy”, which falls under the category of information literacy, involves many different elements and components. According to Common Sense Media, media literacy is “the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.” When we see an image, article, or video online, there are different ways we can try to understand the message it is trying to portray. Common Sense Media gives a list of essential questions that kids can ask when they view various types of media:

  • Who created this?
  • Why did they make it?
  • Who is the message for?
  • What techniques are being used to make this message credible or believable?
  • What details were left out, and why?
  • How did the message make you feel?
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These questions will help students reflect on important details about the media they take in and will help them analyze biases that might be present. Most of the time, kids will be viewing these images, articles, or videos on their devices and will be using “digital literacy” skills to sift through media. The term digital literacy “specifically applies to media from the internet, smartphones, video games, and other nontraditional sources”, stated by Common Sense Media. Shelby reminds us that “it is greatly important to be literate online, especially with all the misinformation and the dangers that it presents.” Since students are most likely to be using social media to get their news and information, “our job to teach digital literacy to students is more important than ever” as Catherine says.

In an earlier blog post, I talk about the strategies that educators can use in order to teach students how to sift through information online so that they can critically take in media. I talk about:

  • Taking Note of the Digital Exposure and Experience in the Lives of our Students: Understand that “each student will have a different level of knowledge when using online tools and social media platforms”, so that we can teach them media literacy skills at their level.
  • Teaching Bias: This is important because “it’s not about teaching students right or wrong, it’s about giving them the skills they need in order to make an informed decision for themselves.”
  • Fact Checking & Reading Laterally: We need to check the source and validate the information with other tools, websites, and avenues.

I recently found another great way to help students learn more about navigating the internet during this trying time. John Green, who partnered with MediaWise, has put out various videos to help us “evaluate the information you read online.” They have put out a series of videos that teach us how to:

  • “Examine information using the same skills and questions as fact-checkers”
  • “Read laterally to learn more about the authority and perspective of sources”
  • “Evaluate different types of evidence, from videos to infographics”
  • “Understand how search engines and social media feeds work”

These critical thinking skills that exhibit media literacy are so valuable in the world we currently live in. It’s crucial that we follow the right steps when we take in information or news at this time so that we can think logically and respond appropriately. As we journey through these rocky waters together, let’s also not forget the importance of empathy and reflection. Through this time of unpredictability, let us use our online skills for good to remind us that we are in this together.

-Amanda

(Digital) Citizenship… It’s More Than What You Think

#ECI832

Digital Citizenship.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

What is it? Is it important? How do we teach it?

Those are questions that are often asked by teachers and administrators who are unaware of the topic or don’t see the value in it. So let’s start by breaking it down.

According to dictionary.com, a digital citizen is “a person who develops the skills and knowledge to effectively use the Internet and other digital technology, especially in order to participate responsibly in social and civic activities.”

There is some truth to this, but there has to be more to it.

If we want to truly understand what it means to be a digital citizen, we need to understand citizenship. Being a good citizen goes even further than being a responsible member of our world. Being a positive citizen means living with purpose and giving back to the world we live in. So just as we intend to teach our students how to be active, contributing, and caring citizens in our world, the same goes for the online world. It’s important to note that “digital citizenship requires the same integrity, respect and care for others as real world citizenship”, as Andrew Kovalcin says.

As teachers, it’s our responsibility to authentically integrate digital citizenship into the curriculum in a positive way. It’s about developing active and caring citizens in our classrooms who want to make change online. Trevor makes a good point when he says that “students must be taught that the digital world is actually the real world, there is no difference. Therefore, their actions, behaviours, and words online should resemble the person they are when not using technology.”

Along with integrating positive citizenship into our classrooms, we need to develop critical thinkers as well. The article, “How Finland Starts its Fight Against Fake News in Primary Schools”, talks about the success that Finland has had when teaching students the skills of “thinking critically, fact-checking, interpreting and evaluating all the information you receive.” They focus on integrating these skills among every subject area so that it becomes second nature to them. It’s important to recognize that even though students might seem tech-savvy, or are looked at as “digital natives”, they still need to be taught these critical thinking skills because these characteristics are developed over time, and are not automatic.

So how do we, as educators, teach our students to be digital citizens? First of all, we need to remember that “digital citizenship education is not intended to be a stand-alone unit, course or lesson, rather it is best learned and under- stood when taught in context through supported online practice and real-life examples and experiences”, according to Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Policy Planning Guide.

When it comes to teaching our students to be thriving digital citizens, ISTE says that it is more about the “do’s” rather than the “don’ts”. They say “it’s about being active citizens who see possibilities instead of problems and opportunities instead of risks as they curate a positive and effective digital footprint.” They also come up with a list of attributes that make up a positive digital citizen.

ISTE’s 5 Competencies of Digital Citizenship is a list that every teacher can focus on when raising digital citizens in their classrooms.

Along with teaching students the 5 Competencies of a Digital Citizen, it’s important that we encourage our students to be motivated citizens online. In a previous blog post, I talk about the importance of raising digital leaders in a digital age who feel empowered to use tools online for good. I bring up a quote by George Couros who says that students need to learn how to be digital leaders who use “the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.”

As we progress in a digital age, we as educators need to progress in our practices. We need to be aware of the value and importance of raising online citizens who are critical thinkers and world changers…

…because after all “educators can no longer ignore their roles in helping students to develop as digital citizens; schools must respond to the changing needs of our learners in order to prepare them for our rapidly changing world” (Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Policy Planning Guide).

As I say in the video I created about what it means to be a (digital) citizen:

While it’s important that a digital citizen knows how to be safe and responsible online, we need to remember that we can’t stop there. Let’s encourage digital citizens who want to lead and inspire.

I am a (digital) citizen. Are you?

Establishing a Thriving (Digital) Identity

#ECI832
Arifranklin via ourpangea

When I think back to my first years on the Internet, it consisted of writing on Facebook walls, creating Piczo websites, and having scheduled chats on MSN Messenger. During those early days of online connection, there wasn’t a lot of guidance or instruction because it was new for everyone. My parents and teachers didn’t bring it up in conversation or teach me about online ethics because it seemed harmless at the time. Over the years, the Internet has evolved into what it is now… a beautiful way for people to connect and create, but with a bit of a darker side than the “good ol’ days”. When I first started using social media, my online identity was separate from my “real” identity. It took time and effort to connect to the internet, log into my social media accounts, and navigate the internet. Now that technology has evolved, we have access to the online world at any waking moment… so is my digital identity still separate?

Before we get into the discussion of whether there is a difference between our real identity and digital identity, it’s important to know what a digital identity even entails. Our digital identities “include how we present ourselves and interact in digital spaces” as stated in “Research Writing Rewired: Lessons That Ground Students’ Digital Learning” by Dawn Reed and Troy Hicks. They also explain how our digital footprints “speak to this identity as we leave tracks that give information about ourselves in online spaces.” Our actions and words have have significant contributions to our online identity, so doesn’t that mean our online identity and our offline identity go hand in hand?

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

According to ISTE, “as our digital connections and interactions grow, the lines between our education and personal lives, our career and private activities, become blurred.”

Our physical lives are intertwined with our online lives now more than ever, so it’s time that we equip not only ourselves with the positive tools to thrive in this digital world, but also our students. In order for us to do that, we as teachers need to be aware of what kind of digital footprint we are leaving behind. In a recent blog post, Shelby mentions that “leading by example and setting expectations for students is the real way to get them to listen and think about what they are doing online.” She says that instead of living a “perfect” digital identity, it’s more important to live a real digital identity “showcasing that we are indeed human too, making mistakes and also having lots of different opinions, talents, and interests beyond just being teachers.”

So how can we model, lead, and teach our students to have a thriving digital identity that isn’t so separate from their everyday lives? We can teach them how to maintain positive citizenship, whether it’s online or offline, and better yet, we can encourage active leadership within them.

Here are some important ways that we ourselves can have a positive identity online and offline to make the world a better place, and in turn, teach our students to do the same.

Create and Cultivate Community

Just like our personal and professional lives can only function through human connection and relationship, our online lives need the same. There are many social media platforms that we use for connecting with others, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. We can use these tools to maintain positive connections with friends, family, and my personal learning network. Yes, these platforms can be used negatively, but that is why we need to instil digital citizenship within our students. If we do this, they will understand the benefits of having an online community and take pride in it. We have incredible opportunities to meet others, gain friendships, make connections, and build up a community through the social media and the internet.

Look at the Bright Side

It’s important that we learn the art of positivity in our day to day lives- and that includes the internet too. Using our words to uplift and encourage others online can make a positive ripple effect for the people around us. Teaching students how to bring positivity to the internet can outweigh the negativity. When we model this type of citizenship and leadership online, people start to see the good that the internet can bring.

Think Critically, Act Confidently

Critical thinking is an important skill for us to have when we face new experiences and challenges in our lives. It’s especially important now as we navigate this world of “fake news” and fake profiles. It’s valuable and crucial to think before you share, that you analyze new information, to always check the source, stay aware of your security, and the list goes on. However, instead of instilling fear in ourselves and our students, let’s give them the confidence they need to address these topics with problem solving skills so that they are aware instead of scared.

Show You Care & Don’t Forget to Share

In order to build a thriving digital identity, it’s important that you do something instead of erasing your digital footprint completely. This goes much further than scrolling through social media and making a few comments here and there. A thriving digital identity means contributing to the online world around you by using social media and the internet for good. Let’s remember to model a thriving digital identity in our own lives so that our students are then inspired to become active, contributing members of the online world who leave a positive digital footprint that also points towards a better future.

Thriving (Digital) Identities

As you can see, there are a lot of different elements that make up a digital identity. However, it’s valuable to note that our digital identity is also just a part of our identity. What we do online is still a part of our real world and is still in our everyday lives. So as we keep moving forward from our MSN Messenger days, let’s use the means of community, positivity, and contribution to model and create identities that are thriving both online and offline.

-Amanda

The Podcast Playback: The “9 Elements of Digital Citizenship” Edition

#ECI832, Major Learning Project

In my journey to finding my own voice through podcasting, I have been fortunate enough to gain knowledge and inspiration from the voices of many others. I have stumbled upon so many rich and engaging podcasts that highlight important topics, issues, and themes in education. As I have listened to other podcasts and speakers talk about Digital Citizenship, I am gaining valuable tools and information for my own Major Project Podcast quest.

My original goal in this project was to “build my knowledge of Digital CitizenshipDigital Literacy, and Educational Technology by researching, connecting with experts, podcasting, and reflecting through blog posts.”… and I am doing just that!

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

This week, I did a lot of listening to gain knowledge and research for my project… and by a lot, I mean, I had my headphones in at every possible moment. I thought I would share some of my findings with you, especially because Catherine said she would like some EdTech podcast recommendations. I wanted to provide you with a resource that you can refer to for learning more about Digital Citizenship in the most convenient way possible- by listening!

I decided to round up my favourite episodes that follow the theme of Mike Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship– an all encompassing way to look at technology and digital use. Keep in mind, there are SO many great episodes out there, I could have picked many more under each category! If you enjoy this “Podcast Playback”, I might have to come out with a Part 2 of this series. You can access each podcast by clicking on the title link or by clicking the Social Links under each category. Enjoy!

1. Digital Access: “the equitable distribution of technology and online resources”

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The 10 Minute Teacher Podcast

2. Digital Commerce: “the electronic buying and selling of goods and focuses on the tools and safeguards in place to assist those buying, selling, banking, or using money in any way of the digital space.”

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IRL with Manoush Zomorodi

This podcast episode is all about online shopping and privacy. It made me more aware of why my favourite online stores know just exactly what I am interested in buying. Is Amazon tracking you? Are online companies taking your data? Listen to find out more about the “hidden costs of shopping, online and off.”

3. Digital Communication and Collaboration “the electronic exchange of information. All users need to define how they will share their thoughts so that others understand the message.”

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The EdTech Take Out

This podcast episode is all about communication in regards to students, parents, and teachers. The early part of the episode is more about #EdTech resources, but if you start at 12:50, you will hear more about the first theme in the 4 C’s– Communication. The second episode is all about setting students up for success when encouraging collaboration in the classroom. Don’t miss the other episodes about the 4’Cs: Critical Thinking, and Cultivating Creativity. The hosts of this podcast are engaging and knowledgeable, which makes for an easy and likeable listen.

4. Digital Etiquette “electronic standards of conduct or procedures and has to do with the process of thinking about others when using digital devices.”

Image result for convos with vendi55 podcast
Convos with vendi55

This podcast is not only informative, but also enjoyable to listen to with it’s interview-style format. Dean, the host, and Jennifer-Casa-Todd, author of Social Leadia, talk about how Digital Citizenship and Etiquette goes beyond doing good and bad things on the internet. Listen and find out more about how Jennifer Casa-Todd uses social media in the classroom to model Digital Leadership and Social Leadia. You can also check out her podcast, Social Leadia, on Apple Podcasts and voiced.ca!

5. Digital Fluency– “the discussion of media literacy and the ability to discern good information from poor, such as “fake news” from real news.”

Image result for teaching tolerance the mind online
Teaching Tolerance: The Mind Online

I was very impressed with this well done podcast! In this episode, Katy Byron, from MediaWise, not only talks about the importance of teaching students how to identify what is real and fake on the internet, but she also gives us some ideas on how we go about doing this. They also shared an initiative that they are doing to help students decipher if something is real or fake. They are encouraging students to use the hashtag #IsThisLegit, which informs MediaWise so that they can help them search for the source. This episode ends with behavioural scientist, Gordon Pennycook, who is from Regina, SK, explaining why people have a tendency to believe things that aren’t always true.

6. Digital Health and Welfare “the physical and psychological well-being in a digital world.”

Image result for life kit podcast
NPR Life Kit: Parenting

I was excited to listen to this podcast because it comes from a different perspective than what I am used to- parenting. Instead of telling us all the things not to do with technology, it actually talks about the advantages of using screen time in a positive way. They even have a blog post about it that you can easily refer to. There is also a second episode in this series called, “The Darker Side of Screen Time”, which I was apprehensive to listen to because I thought it would portray technology in only negative ways. However, this episode is very beneficial to listen to, especially if you’re a parent! They talk about the importance of modelling behaviour instead of policing behaviour. They give multiple “take-aways” that you can apply to your own life. These high quality podcast episodes have thoughtful content and thought-provoking research-backed information.

7. Digital Law “the electronic responsibility for actions and deeds and has to do with the creation of rules and policy that address issues related to the online world.”

Image result for the cult of pedagogy podcast
The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast

There are many aspects to Digital Law, but something that stands out is plagiarism and copyright laws. In this episode, Jennifer Gonzalez describes 5 exercises that teach students about plagiarism in a non-threatening, preventative way. She reminds us that we need to “explicitly teach these skills and we need to do it more than once if we want good results.” Along with this episode, there are countless other Cult of Pedagogy Podcast episodes that are full of valuable information and exciting ideas to use in your classroom.

8. Digital Rights and Responsibility “helping students understand that when they are provided opportunities, such as the access to the Internet and use of online products, they need to be diligent in helping others as well, such as informing adults of potential problems.”

EdTech Endeavours

This podcast is all about recognizing what the rights and responsibilities of Digital Citizenship are, but moving much further than that. In this episode, Graham Brace and I discuss practical tools and teachable lessons for instilling Digital Leadership in your students so that they are motivated to do more. As digital leaders, we have online rights that come with not only responsibility, but with amazing opportunity.

9. Digital Security and Privacy “the electronic precautions to guarantee safety.”

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IRL with Manoush Zomorodi

This podcast, suggested to me by Nancy, is a great way to learn all about security, privacy, and policies of the internet. This episode talks about “how companies collect, use, and share your personal data.” Are you interested in learning more about online privacy? Are you concerned about how your information and data are being used online? If you want to learn more about Digital Security and Privacy, this episode is for you!

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The 10 Minute Teacher Podcast

Podcast: The 10 Minute Teacher Podcast: 5 Things About Effective Digital Citizenship You Need to Know

One more you can add to your list is a podcast interview with Mike Ribble, the digital citizenship expert himself. In this short, yet informative podcast, Ribble talks about “five important things every educator should know about Digital Citizenship.”

As you can see, there are many different podcasts to choose from online! The important thing is that you find one that interests, inspires, and engages you. It’s also important to share what you learn with others. I hope that you find these podcast recommendations helpful in your digital journey. Feel free to comment any of your “take-aways” from each of these episodes.

In Conversation with Stephen Hurley

…and if you are curious how my podcasting journey began, you can listen to my full interview on voiced.ca with Stephen Hurley, where I talk about my teaching career, my Master’s journey, and my podcast adventure.

Happy listening!

-Amanda

Growth and Goals: A Look into my Podcast Progress

#ECI832

Sometimes when you have an idea or inspiration, you expect things to move quickly. You think that the ball will get rolling immediately and just take off. However, sometimes, reality sets in and you realize that some ideas take longer to come into fruition.

That’s the case with my podcast project.

Do I have big goals for my project? Yes. Do I need to adjust those goals? Possibly… but right now I am going to come to the conclusion that good things take hard work. I have come to realize that this project will take a lot of effort, planning, and discipline, even if it’s something I am passionate about.

Even though I have a long way to go before I perfect my podcasting skills, connect with more guests, and actually reach an audience, I have had a lot of breakthrough that I can celebrate. I have also learned a lot of important details when it comes to podcasting. So before I get too discouraged about what I haven’t done, let’s take some time to celebrate what I have done.

Small Victories:

When doing my initial podcast research, I took my Google Form survey to Twitter. In the midst of collecting information, I received a tweet from Stephen Hurley, Founder and Chief Catalyst of voicEd Radio.

Through that initial tweet, we were able to connect on Zencastr to talk about some of the work I am doing with my Masters, and more specifically, the podcast project. From there, he asked me to be a part of his podcast, which is coming up soon! I am looking forward to practicing and learning more about the art of podcasting by actually being a guest on one.

Image result for voicEd"
VoicEd.ca via Soundcloud

Along with making Twitter connections, I have also made another connection with an amazing EdTech educator who is an expert in student blogging. She has agreed to be on an upcoming episode of my podcast! Can you guess who it might be? Stay tuned to find out!

I am amazed at the power of the internet. It has allowed me to make some very important connections with other people who can help me in this podcast journey!

Growth:

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Teach Me, Teacher via PodBean

I have learned a lot so far in this process. I have picked up a lot of good tips by listening to educational podcasts. The most recent one that I’ve listened to is “Teach Me, Teacher”, which is a podcast for educators. It has been helpful to listen to good quality podcasts and listen to what works in an interview setting. There are some critical take-aways that I want to share with you if you ever want to start a podcast of your own. Here is what you need in your podcast start-up:

  • A Purpose
    • When you have a specific goal and purpose for your podcast, then you have direction for where you can go. It’s hard to follow along with a podcast that has too wide of a topic or doesn’t have a specific theme.
  • Good Quality
    • Make sure you have a good quality microphone that you can hook up to your computer. This has helped me in my initial phone calls with my guests and will make it easier for my audience to listen to. It’s also important to have quality content and guests who are knowledgeable about the podcast topic.
  • Authenticity
    • There is nothing more refreshing than listening to a podcast with people who are willing to share their experience and are truly their authentic selves.
  • Engagement
    • Every good podcast that I have listened to has an engaging introduction and catchy characteristics. Music, humour, and catch-phrases… every element is important when listening to a podcast!

Goals

Moving forward, I will continue to organize, plan, and prepare for upcoming episodes and interviews. I have a few items on my to-do list that need to get done before I record my first podcast:

IRL via Planeta
  • Connect: I have a few people to connect with this week. I have an interview with Stephen Hurley and I will connect with my first podcast guest. I also want to reach out to another EdTech educator who can be a guest on my podcast.

So my questions for you are…

Do you have any requests or do you know of anyone who could be a guest on my podcast? Are there any podcasts about education or Digital Citizenship that I should be listening to? Can you guess who my next podcast guest is? You can give me some answers by clicking “continue” in the Crowd Signal survey or by answering in the comments below!

Until then, I will try to remember to enjoy the process, celebrate my accomplishments, and stay focused on the future.

-Amanda

Breaking Down the Barriers of the Generational Divide

#ECI832

Our world has, without a doubt, changed and developed over the years and will continue to do so. Society has progressed in the ways we relate and communicate with each other, largely due to the role that technology has played in it all. Throughout the shift that has happened because of technology, various groups have been defined, such as the Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen X and Gen Z. Before we dive deeper into this generational divide, let’s take a look at what these groups entail.

Barclays breaks it down like this:

Baby Boomers: Also known as Boomers

  • Born between 1945-1960
  • Attitude Toward Technology: Early information technology adaptors
  • Communication Media: Telephone
  • Communication Preference: Face-to-face ideally, but telephone or email if required

Generation X: Also known as Gen X

  • Born between 1961-1980
  • Attitude Toward Technology: Digital Immigrants
  • Communication Media: Email and text message
  • Communication Preference: Text message or email

Generation Y: Also known as Millennials

  • Born between 1981-1995
  • Attitude Toward Technology: Digital Natives
  • Communication Media: Tablet or smart phone
  • Communication Preference: Online and mobile (text messaging)

Generation Z: Also known as Gen Z/ iGen

  • Born after 1995
  • Attitude Toward Technology: “Technoholics”
  • Communication Media: Handheld Communication Devices
  • Communication Preference: Facetime

After reading and researching more about the “generational gap” in the above categories, I thought long and hard about the negative connotations that can take place with these stereotypes and labels. Yes, each generation has different characteristics, abilities, and developments, but there has to be a common ground between each group.

Melanie Curtin has a valid point when she says: “generational breakdowns are never an exact science; it’s not like a 27-year-old and 42-year-old are so different that they can’t understand one another.”

What stereotypes are hindering us from finding a common ground? What judgments are standing in the way of working towards a better future and society together, despite a generational divide? Recently, a lot of the pre-conceived judgements are towards the Gen Z generation. So as educators, how do we break down the labels and assumptions so that we can start focusing on the positives that our current generation brings to our world and our future? Let’s take a look at two of the big misconceptions about Generation Z and discuss how we, as educators, can encourage this generation to use technology to their full potential.

Misconceptions

Misconception: Digital Natives (someone who was raised in a digital, media-saturated world)

Some would call them “Digital Natives” or “Technoholics” because they have grown up with technology all around them, but this can be a dangerous term. “No one is born a native speaker of digital in the same way that no one is born a native speaker of any language”, Alec reminds us. From a teaching perspective, if we just assume that our students know something, it can be detrimental in their learning process. The same goes for technology. If we assume that students all have the same amount of experience and knowledge of technology, then we are not equipping or preparing them to use the tools that they use most often. As I mention in my previous blog post, “each student will have a different level of knowledge when using online tools and social media platforms”. This means that we need to teach everyone not only how to use technology tools in a positive way, but to authentically use technology in order to enrich their lives and the lives of people around them.

In order to do this, we need to teach students about the 4 C’s of the 21st Century skills within our use of technology. The 4’Cs, according to Applied Educational Systems, are:

  • Critical thinking (all about solving problems)
  • Creativity (teaches students to think outside the box)
  • Collaboration (shows students how to work together to achieve a common goal)
  • Communication (lets students learn how to best convey their ideas)

Cultivating a classroom environment around the 4 C’s also gives students the chance to become “knowledge-able” instead of just knowledgable. Michael Wesch says that being “knowledge-able” means, “knowing how to find (information), sort it, analyze it, criticize it.” Leigh makes an important point when she says, “in order for students to be successful in today’s world, they need to know how to think, ask questions, and develop their own understanding of concepts.” Are we, as educators, being proactive with our use of technology in the classroom and giving students the opportunity to learn the crucial skills needed in helping them becoming “knowledge-able”?

If we are willing to meet students where they are at and help them grow to learn the valuable skills and opportunities that technology has, then we will promote a community of online learners who thrive in the digital world. Adam reminds us that “our world is constantly becoming more and more technology driven and we need to be able to equip our students with the skills they will need to navigate that world in a healthy manner.”

Misconception: Narcissistic

Another common misconception about Gen Z is that they are a narcissistic generation- entitled and self-promoting. Sure, they could look that way from the outside with their constant need for likes on social media and long lasting Snap Chat streaks. However, Brooke Lea Foster tells us, “these traits are simply hallmarks of early adulthood—it’s often the first time people are putting themselves out there… overconfidence is how people muscle through the big changes.”

Haven’t you been there?

Haven’t you felt the need for affirmation and reassurance at some point in your life? For Gen Z, it just might look a little different with the involvement of technology and social media. It’s important that we remember that Gen Z is navigating this world through a different lens. We were there too, but just in a different way.

As educators, we need to give students the chance to connect through social media and use it as a positive outlet. We need to teach students how to demonstrate leadership online and prepare them for what they will encounter instead of writing this generation off and calling it hopeless. Once we recognize their potential and positive place in this world, then maybe our society will stop viewing them as narcissistic.

We need to prepare them for our future and give them the skills they need to better their lives online, which is outlined well in the Oxford School District “Portrait of a Graduate”. Teaching them skills so that they can be:

  • Effective Communicators
  • Culturally Aware
  • Ethical
  • Critical Thinkers
  • Creative Thinkers
  • Resilient
  • Personally Responsible
  • Active Citizens

Online and Offline.

Often when people consider Gen Z as narcissistic, they also view them as lacking social skills. Are social skills only deemed proper if they are done offline? I would argue that social skills online are necessary for students to learn in order to be successful in the digital world. According to Christopher Mims, “Gen Z doesn’t distinguish between online and IRL (In Real Life)” anymore. Social skills are not isolated to “face-to-face” conversations. Instead of assuming that students need to put their phones away in order to be “present”, why can’t we teach them how to flourish online when they are posting on social media and communicating with others? Instead of calling this generation “addicted” to their phones, why can’t we see them as needing connection, just like you and me? In a recent presentation, Mary Beth Hertz said that, “teens aren’t addicted to social media, they are addicted to each other.” Just like everyone else, they want to have connection and relationship. Let’s utilize the online tools and platforms that Gen Z uses in order to engage them in positive online connections and relationships.

It is our role as educators to throw off the label of “narcissistic” and “self-absorbed” and encourage students with the opportunities they have online using digital citizenship and the 4 C’s.

How to Move Forward

So is it possible to change our educational system and society in order to engage our current generation and break down the divides with other generations? Yes. Where do we start? In the classroom and in our homes.

As educators and parents, we need to build up our generation and give them confidence in their digital day-to-day lives rather than deem them as unteachable because they are already “digital natives” or that they are “narcissistic.”

Grace Birnstengel states it perfectly in her article called, “Boomer Blaming, Finger Pointing and the Generational Divide”, “Regardless of whether the generational divide is real or a construct, fair or unfair, there are real dangers when generalizing about any cultural subset and assigning ultimate blame.”

Instead of building up walls between each generation to further the generational divide, let’s work together to break down the barriers and find common ground to build a society that thrives, connects, and relates.

-Amanda

Raising Digital Leaders in a Digital World

#ECI832

We live in a digital age with more opportunity than ever. We have online identities and communities that follow us through our lives, creating life-long digital footprints. For a lot of people, there is less done offline than online, especially with social media. So if we are now living in a society that spends most of their time, communication, and resources online, then as educators, isn’t it our role to be teaching students how to navigate this complex, digital world? According to Mary Beth Hertz, author of “Digital Media and Literacy in the Age of the Internet”, it’s crucial that we “challenge their critical thinking and research skills, and to spark discussions about their own experiences consuming media.”

I had the privilege of listening to Mary Beth speak last week during an online class. She shared the importance of teaching students how to think critically when using social media or taking in news online. However, like she says in her book, teachers are “often unprepared for the complexities of these challenges or might not be sure how to engage their students safely or responsibly.” As educators, it’s important that we teach students how to use the tools and online platforms instead of taking them away. If we take away the digital tools, rather than strategically and authentically use them in our classrooms and lessons, then we are not preparing them for the world they are a part of. We need to raise “digital leaders” in a digital age who feel equipped to use “the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others”, like George Couros says.

Fortunately, Mary Beth gave some practical examples for educators when teaching students strategies for sifting through information online. If you want to learn more about the following topics, as well as lessons surrounding privacy concerns, copyright laws, social media, and strategies for sourcing information, she goes into more detail in her latest book, which she talks about on the Safer Social Media podcast. After hearing her speak last week, here are some strategies that stood out to me that would be beneficial for educators to be aware of in the classroom:

Taking Note of the Digital Exposure and Experience in the Lives of our Students

Each student will come into your classroom with different stages of digital experience, knowledge, or exposure. It’s important to understand Digital Equity. According to ISTE, it’s “about making sure students have equal access to technology like devices, software and the internet, and that they have trained educators to help them navigate those tools.” Mary Beth talked about how our younger generation is learning about technology in different forms, and how this affects their experience in the classroom. She referred to an article, that defines 3 groups of young people and their relationship with technology. According to the article, students fall into these 3 categories:

  • Digital Orphans: they “have grown up with a great deal of tech access — but very little guidance”, which causes them to shy away from face-to-face interaction and they usually lack valuable social skills.
  • Digital Exiles: “they’ve been raised with minimal technology” because “their parents’ goal has been to limit their children’s access in order to delay their entry into the digital world until their teens.” This usually causes conflict because “they may struggle with finding a balanced approach to technology.”
  • Digital Heirs: these students “have impressive tech skills, thanks largely to their parents and teachers.” However, even though they have experience and knowledge, this could cause them to “face challenges in dealing with their less knowledgeable peers so they’ll need a little charm and flexibility to get along.”

I would argue that another sub category falls into Digital Exiles- low income students who don’t have access to technology in their homes. This is important to recognize among these groups because as teachers, we need to be aware of how much technology our students have access to. If you want to learn more about the Digital Divide, Common Sense Media put out a fact sheet about “Exploring the Digital Divide.”

All of these categories are important to understand because each student will have a different level of knowledge when using online tools and social media platforms. If we as teachers are aware that they all come from different backgrounds, then we can meet them where they are at and teach them how to move forward as digital leaders.

Teaching Bias

Another important skill that we need to teach our students is understanding and recognizing biases. In Mary Beth’s presentation, she said “if it makes you feel some type of way, it has a bias. If you feel emotion or if you feel like the author is trying to influence the way you feel- it has a bias.”

Using websites like All Sides, a site that claims to give news articles from each perspective, helps students stay away from media bias. It’s not about teaching students right or wrong, it’s about giving them the skills they need in order to make an informed decision for themselves.

Fact Checking

It’s also important that students know how to “fact check” information. However, in order for students to know how to do that, they need to be critical thinkers. In Laurie’s blog post, she reminds us of the “importance we have as educators and parents to teach our students how to be critical thinkers.” Mary Beth talked about the skill of critical thinking by “Reading Laterally”– “looking at what other sites and resources say about the source at which they are looking.” Sarah Ross says that “in this day and age in order to be media literate we need to be aware of the content we are consuming and whether or not it is reliable.” Sarah brings up some valuable questions we can ask ourselves, and ask our students, when we look up information or resources:

  • “Do I check multiple sources when searching for answers online? Or do I click the top results and blindly trust them based on popularity?”
  • “When I see news articles on my social media do I habitually click and trust their stance or sources?”
  • “Am I quick to trust the sites of articles sent to me by trusted people rather then checking the source for myself?”

Along with these great discussion starters, there are a lot of resources that you can bring into your classroom to teach students about checking the source. Common Sense Education has practical lessons, such as “Hoaxes and Fakes”, which help students “avoid being fooled by fake videos and other information online.” There are other fact-checking sites that you can teach students to use, which can be found on PressBooks.

Another great tool that Mary Beth talked about in her presentation, as well as in her blog post “Teaching Kids How to Validate Information on Social Media”, is a reverse image search. Fact-checking words or information is easy with the use of Google, but what do you do when you have an image? You can follow these simple steps!

It’s important that students know how to use critical thinking strategies to check their sources and information when they use social media, see pictures, or watch videos online. Mary Beth reminds us that We need to include analysis of social media posts, and tips and tricks for validating information on social media just as we do for traditional websites.

Student Leaders in a Digital Age

There’s no doubt about it- we need to teach our students how to be digitally literate, just as much as other forms of literacy. Mary Beth’s presentation not only taught me important strategies and skills to do so, but also inspired me to bring these strategies into my classroom.

Are you ready to lead your students into the journey of digital literacy and digital media? Do you have positive strategies or success stories from your classroom experience?

Let’s do the important work of teaching students to be critical thinkers, technology experts, and digital leaders- together.

Research, Reflect, Repeat: A Podcast in the Making

#ECI832

The start of a new project… it’s exciting, nerve-wracking, and motivating all at the same time. It’s exhilarating to think of the goals that can be accomplished, the knowledge that can be gained, and the tasks that can be completed. It can also feel overwhelming to think of the work that lies ahead. Those are all of thoughts I’ve been having when I think of my new learning project.

The task: develop a curriculum-supported Digital Citizenship/Literacy resource.

It seems achievable, yet daunting. How do I create a resource for other educators that is actually beneficial and relatable? A resource that doesn’t just end up in another “read later” pile. A resource that doesn’t cause more work, but instead, enriches someone’s classroom or conversation.

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

I started thinking of how I like to learn, gain professional development, and access resources. Yes, I love to attend conferences and seminars, but it costs money. Yes, I own interesting books that can help me in my career and classroom, but it takes time. Yes, I want to spend more time meeting and planning with others, but it takes energy. How can I learn without adding extra stress to my schedule and already busy professional and personal life? I can listen.

I can listen and learn when I’m driving home from work. I can listen when I’m on my lunch break. I can listen when I’m exercising. I can listen when I’m cooking or cleaning. There are so many opportunities to listen. So, how do I create resource that benefits other educators and meets them where they are at? I will create a professional development podcast for other people to listen to, because we all have time and energy to do that.

My experience with podcasting is limited, however, I tested out a few platforms last semester and even started up a podcast myself. I have two podcast episodes under my belt and I’m excited to add more to my repertoire! If you are interested in seeing my work so far, you can search EdTech Endeavours: The Podcast on Anchor or any podcast streaming service. You can also listen to it on Apple Podcasts here.

Since podcasting is something I started, but didn’t quite master, I want to expand my experience and fine-tune the skill. It takes a lot of effort and time to record, edit, and produce, which is why I want to become more familiar with the podcasting platforms and the editing programs.

Along with recording podcasts, I will also compile my research and findings into blog posts. I want to reflect on what I learn and find other resources about the topic to share with others. Up until this point, I have only listened to a few podcasts here and there, mostly for personal enjoyment. However, I recently put out a survey with Google Forms to gather more information about podcasts, and more specifically, educational podcasts. The data was not only interesting, but very helpful! Here are some things I found out:

The majority of people (62.5%) listen to podcasts through Apple Podcasts. Less people use Spotify, Pocket Casts, and Anchor.

The majority of people prefer 20-30 minute podcasts. Only 10% would rather 45 minutes- 1 hour long episodes.

When people were asked what they look for in a podcast, these were some of the recurring themes:

  • Quality research
  • Good sound quality, audio levels, music, and editing
  • Recurring segments
  • Conversations vs interviews (with no more than 2 people)
  • Suggested resources and “take-aways”
  • Humor
  • Meaningful content rather than irrelevant banter
  • Minimal ads
  • Interesting and knowledgeable guests
  • Structure with some flexibility
  • Audience engagement

With all of that research in mind, along with my own personal planning and organizing, I came up with a proposal for my project- an outline of where I am at now, where I am headed, and where I want to end up.

Here’s the breakdown of my Podcast Project:

The Goal:

  • Build my knowledge of Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, and Educational Technology by researching, connecting with experts, podcasting, and reflecting through blog posts. I want to become more digitally fluent throughout the process and expand my skills in blogging and podcasting. In turn, I hope to help other educators understand Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy in an authentic, relevant way so that they can use the information in their professional and personal lives.

The Materials and Tools

  • The Equipment
    • I already purchased a mic last semester (the Yeti Nano) and so far, I am pleased with the sound! All I need to purchase is a Pop Filter for the mic so that the sound is clear and the background noise is limited. I am currently looking at getting this one from Amazon.
    • I have a MacBook Pro computer that the mic can connect to for recording.
  • Editing and Recording
    • I will use Garage Band for editing all of my podcasts and for recording any interviews that are face-to-face. I am familiar with the software, but I still want to become more proficient with it. I have heard that if I use Garage Band for editing the podcast rather than using the tools on the host site, there is more freedom because I own all of my own material. I am also going to look into using Zoom for long distance recordings and then detach the audio into a file that can be edited. I have heard that Zencastr, a podcast host site, is great for recording long-distance interviews, so I will look into it as well.
  • The Platforms
    • For my past podcasts, I used Anchor as my hosting site. I plan on continuing with this platform because it is user friendly and it automatically transfers the episodes to Apple Podcasts and Spotify, along with many more platforms. I use Apple Podcasts myself, and according to my podcast survey, the majority of people do as well. When I tweet out my podcast episodes, I will use the link to direct people to Apple Podcasts.

The Weekly Plan

Image result for digital literacy
  • Research/ Connect/ Plan
    • I plan on recording at least 4 podcast episodes from now until the end of March. It takes a lot of planning, organizing, and researching to produce a podcast, so I would rather have “quality” over “quantity”. During the “off” weeks, I will search for and line up experts to interview, research information based on my topic for the podcast, and come up with questions for the episode. I want to connect with experts that know a lot about Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy and have conversations with them.
  • Record/ Edit/ Summarize
    • During the week that I record the podcast, my plan is to record, edit, and produce. I will also synthesize my learning through a blog post. I plan on using my blog post entries as a way to gather my thoughts, relay any new insights, and summarize what was talked about on the episode.

The End Product

  • Podcast
    • I want to have at least 4 podcast episodes that can be used as professional development resources for other teachers to listen to. I want to be more comfortable with my podcasting abilities and hopefully continue on with the skill after the project is done.
  • Blog
    • During the last couple weeks of my major project, I plan on compiling all of my podcasts and posts into an organized section on my blog through categories and menus. I plan on creating a curriculum-supported document that people can download from my blog. I will also create a list of resources and links that are easily accessible for educators and that relate to the topics covered during my Major Learning Project. Essentially, I want to have a “Primary Educator Starter Kit for Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy”.

My Homework

  • Listening
  • Connecting
    • I will use Twitter to connect with educators who are familiar with and are passionate about Digital Citizenship and Digital Literacy. I’ll organize meetings and dates to record once I have an idea of who would be interested in speaking.
  • Planning
    • It’s important that I have quality topics and themes for my podcasts. I will use the Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship for reference when I am planning my podcast episodes. Once I have the topics for the podcasts, I’ll brainstorm questions that I can ask the experts on the episodes.

My questions for you are:

  1. Should my podcasts specifically be for K-5 teachers who are interested in Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, and EdTech, or should I keep it more general and tailor it toward all elementary-based teachers?
  2. What are some topics or content that you want to see covered?
  3. Do you know of any experts that would be great to interview? Is there an educator you are dying to hear from?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

It appears as if I have a long road of research, planning, organizing, and learning ahead of me. A road of making mistakes, celebrating successes, and inspiring others. I’m looking forward to diving into this new journey of podcasting and I hope you’re along for the ride too!

-Amanda

The EdTech Endeavour Continues

#ECI832

A new year is upon us and with the new year comes another opportunity to learn and grow in my EdTech skills. Online learning has quickly become my favourite way to gain knowledge. It’s accessible, cost effective, and not to mention convenient… considering I can stay at home when it’s minus forty-five outside. The benefits of taking online classes are endless, especially because they “give students the opportunity to plan study time around the rest of their day, instead of the other way around” according to OED’s list of advantages to taking online courses. Since I am taking a Master’s Certificate in Educational Technology and Media with the University of Regina, I have many online classes ahead of me, and for that, I am grateful.

The class I am taking this semester, #ECI832, focuses on Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy. I have some knowledge about Digital Citizenship, but Media Literacy is brand new to me. I am not only looking forward to learning more about these topics through presentations and articles, but also through conversations and blog posts from my fellow #ECI832 classmates- my new learning community. That brings us to another advantage of online learning… the connections we are able to make with others. I love having the chance to read, comment, and discuss important EdTech topics through out the week with the people in my class through blogging and Twitter. They encourage me, challenge me, and motivate me.

I feel relieved that I am not on this journey alone. I am glad that there are people (virtually) beside me who are dedicated to learning online and are willing to share their learning experiences with me in an authentic and honest way. So thank you in advance, #ECI832, for your willingness to share, connect, and inspire in our upcoming endeavour. Let’s do this!

P.S. For those of you who are new here, you can check out how this blog came to be with my very first blog post last semester.

-Amanda