When we were presented with the task of cataloging our daily internet use, I got a little worried about a true reflection of my time spent online on a daily basis. I wasn’t sure what this might reveal about me but in a way I also was excited to reflect on how I was using my time online. I am of the opinion that time is a valuable thing and therefore, the time I spend online has to have meaning or it does not have value. In a world of 3 preschool aged kids, my time online is limited at best. My day typically starts out with breakfast and the news. I prefer to use apps like BBC, Reuters , The Economist etc. These give my a brief view of top stories from around the world. In other words, one of my main strategies for making sense of media and avoiding fake news is making sure that sources are reputable.
After that I’m off to work where I primarily use media in my classroom for teaching purposes. Apps like Youtube, Brainpop, mentimeter and Kahoot offer opportunities to review material, stimulate discussion and summarize new learning. I also use apps like remind to let my students know about upcoming events or announcements. Lately, I have been using Sworkit with my Wellness 10 class. The App is one of a suite of three I have chosen to focus on for my final project including Remind, and Instagram. As I present information to students and have them synthesize information using various forms of media, I try to remind myself of a few key questions and concepts that I highlighted in my resent vlog.
It’s important that we share and model this with students as well because as we have seen in recent years with the rise in misinformation and fake news, it is not always easy to tell the difference. Students and teachers have a great opportunity to engage in conversation around the use of apps in the classroom, where messages are coming from, and why they are being sent. It’s so important for students to have a critical eye and ear on the world around them in order to help them make sense of the world. Using and teaching technology in the classroom does present constant challenges as Lindsay Mattison points out in her blogpost. Issues such as confidentiality, cyberbullying, ethics and plagiarism, to name few, need to be a part of regular classroom conversations. As Mattison rightly points out, clear and concise expectations are key to any learning environment and the online world is no different. Looking at how to choose reputable news sources is also an important piece of the media literacy puzzle.
As the day wears on I take every effort to use teachable moments to reinforce key points and information that is necessary to get kids thinking about what they use, share and create online. However, another big area I am beginning to navigate is the use of online spaces by my own children. Although they are still quite young, they are already at this age being affected by messages they hear all around them. Whether it’s the Paw Patrol who’s on a roll or hearing the lyrics to a Selena Gomez echoing from the kids’ bedroom because they heard it in Walmart, media is everywhere. I have come to realize that my use of, and relation to media is tied inextricably to my own personal values. Our experiences ultimately determine how we interpret these messages so we must first seek to understand ourselves. As I watch my kids interact with different forms of media after school, I am struck by the fact that they have much less life experiences and therefore are drawn to types of media that are geared toward their emotions and interests. They need guidance as they interpret what they consume.
Safety concerns for younger online users are becoming more and more important and as I consider how to teach my own kids to view and evaluate media content, the risks must also be counted. As Krista mentioned in her recent blog post, marketing geared towards youth in media is becoming harder to deconstruct. Schools have begun using social media monitoring software in some cases to intervene before it’s too late. As stated in a recent CBC news story ,
“You can’t argue with the importance of keeping our students and staff safe,”
As I sit with my kids and play on the tablet, watch tv, or listen to music, I think about how to start conversations with them about what they are consuming. I also need to be better about fact checking and deciphering media for myself. Even as I write this blogpost, I wonder who might be reading it and how they will interpret it. In summation, Jana said it well in her recent post when she stated
“We must move past traditional methods of teaching and learning – memorizing facts, regurgitating information, and giving answers that we (adults) want to hear – and instead, challenge our students to become independent, critical thinkers.”
Media literacy skills continue to be vitally important not only for ourselves but also for the next generation. In a world where truth is relative and everyone can publish their point of view for millions to read, scepticism is more important than ever.