I have to say I’m disappointed that this class has come to a close. Every week was so packed with learning and new opportunities. I will attempt to summarize some of the major themes that I really connected with over the course of this term. The first thing that really struck me was the Dave Cormier‘s talk on Connectivism and Rhizomatic Learning. After spending 7 years teaching using the curriculum document given to me by the Province of Sask. I realized after this session that networks and connections could be just as powerful as a well laid out curriculum. The ability to learn from others is so valuable and often we don’t seek out these opportunities enough. These topics led me into a realization that we need to be preparing students for a world of connected learning and networking. The jobs our students have may not even exist right now so it’s critical that we give them digital literacy and move them from “knowledgeable to knowledge-able” as Michael Wesch put it.
Looking at ways that students are using social media was also a huge eye opener for me. I have used a class twitter account for a few years now but social media in the classroom has always been a topic that I’ve tried to teach by being a positive role model. However, I never really have taken the next step of allowing students more control of how we share our learning. The tweets or posts are usually created with the class and sent out from all of us. The student blogs are also highly monitored and closed to outside viewing or comments. Although this means that I can control the safety and accessibility of the students, I now feel that using blogs and twitter in this way are very limiting and I started to question how to better use these tools. I also wanted to balance these tools as complimentary to learning and not distracting from learning. At times I feel as though when teachers pull up Instagram or Snapchat, we are invading student spaces to some degree although I believe it can be very engaging if used properly. These types of tools can be amazing when utilized with students to build community and network with others around the world.
The discussion then led into the safety of students online. Again this was a good reminder for me of the dangers that our students can find themselves in online. Some of the darker corners of the internet are places that I did not know existed. 4Chan, for example, was a website that I had never heard about and I realized that these are the places that some of our students are drawn. As educators promoting online activity to enhance learning, it behooves us to know where our students may find themselves online. Self-Trolling and the Pew study stats on Porn were also a huge wake-up call for me especially because I have at risk kids in my class. This discussion gave me a whole new perspective of what kinds of emotional trauma students may be going through. How to teach students to have safe online practices is something I definitely need to focus on in my own teaching.
Trolls. An interesting topic to say the least. I had very little understanding about trolls and who they are when I first started this class. I did not realize the lengths that people go to in order to disrupt people on line. I have not really had experiences with trolls as of yet but I feel more prepared to know how to handle situations such these. The degree to which woman are attacked and berated on line was also somewhat surprising to me. Maybe I’m a bit naive. I feel as though we have to do a better job educating students around this as we model how to behave with respect in online spaces.
I also very much enjoyed the sessions on the open education movement. The idea of knowledge not be owned by anyone is very appealing to me. I realize that knowledge means literal power for many people around the world but the sharing of knowledge is such a crucial part of the education piece. Having grown up in the Third World, I have seen the difference that an online course could make in someone’s daily life. It could mean the difference between death or survival. The story of Aaron Swartz as well as the work of Lessig and Shareski were very impactful in consideration of the reasons behind the proliferation of open education. Even the completion of my learning project would not have been possible if not for the open learning environment of Kahn Academy. These types of spaces allow people to learn from almost anywhere in the world. As teachers I believe that we need to be more open with resources in order for the profession to thrive. Teaching has been a profession in which young teachers do not survive because of burnout and lack of resources. How much would it benefit our new teachers if they had resources to access when they first started teaching. David Wiley’s ted talk was one of my favourite non-course assigned pieces that really highlighted what I was learning at the time.
In closing, I feel as though this course was a great introduction to the world of Social Media and open education. I feel as though I’ve gained a valuable new PLN, learned a lot about safety online, become an advocate for social media in the classroom, and learned how to create a solid digital identity. There is so much more to learn and I’m excited to continue blogging and documenting my learning in this field. The key will be to use this new knowledge to move students from knowledgeable to knowledge-able.
Here is the Interactive story I coded to showcase what I’ve learned during the course.