Journey into Media App Review: Instagram

Instagram burst onto the scene in 2010.  It rapidly gained popularity and boasted 1 million registered users in the first 2 months.  It has since become one of the most used social media apps in the world with subscriber numbers rivaling those of Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.  It has since been purchased by Facebook in 2012.  It has become vastly popular with teens and continues to attract new users all the time.  The photo-sharing app allows users to post photos, apply various filters and even use geotags to organize and categorize their photos.  Photos can also be organized and tracked using hashtags which help users find and take part in common themes.  I signed up last year but did not use it as much as I thought I would.  Over the course of the past few months, I have been exploring the features of this app as well as conducting student interviews.  I have come to appreciate the simplicity of the app as compared to something like Facebook as it allows you to focus on photos as opposed to filtering through loads of comments and text.

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Features

The more recent addition of the ability to post short videos in a feature called stories has been a welcome addition and has been used widely by teens and adults alike.  In fact, over 250 million people use the feature daily.  The stories feature in itself has been one of the most successful additions to a social media app in recent years and functions much like Snapchat.  The feature allows you to build a story as a collection of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.  Along with adding filters to photos and video, there are a whole host of other options available as well.  Drawing or adding text to pictures or videos allows for some customization.  An algorithm dictates which avatars pop up first in your feed and you can scroll through their content from left to right.  Experts have hinted that other features such as geofilters, face filters, etc which are very popular right now may be added in the near future.

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Terms of Service 

In the exploration of the Terms of Service for this app, there are several important pieces of information that both students and teachers should keep in mind when considering the use of this app.  Firstly, students must be 13 years of age or older to use the app.  This is on par with most other social media apps in this category although it does not prevent children younger than 13 from using it.  There is also a strict policy against sexually explicit images, violence, hateful or pornographic photos.  The result of these actions could warrant further action taken by the company.  The other interesting term involves the responsibility of users for the content that appears on their account.  In essence, this means that even if someone borrowed your phone and posted inappropriate photos, you are the one responsible.  This is certainly an instance where digital literacy will come into play as students must be sure that precautions are taken with passwords, etc. The terms also state that “you must not defame, stalk, bully, abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate people or entities.”  This is important language for students to understand but unfortunately, there is at best little the company can do about these kinds of abuses.  Reporting them may shut down the account but people will always find a way back in.

Student Perspectives

When asked about Instagram students had this to say,

Mr. Braun: “Is Instagram an app that you use often?”

Student: “Instagram is the first app I open when I wake up in the morning”

Mr. Braun: “What do you enjoy about the app?”

Student: “It’s a great way to connect and meet new people.  I love using the explore feed”

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Mr. Braun: “Do you use the messenger part of the app to communicate with friends?”

Student: “I don’t do much commenting but I love sending and receiving photos/memes.  I think kids just like communicating through photos”

” I like finding relatable content while exploring Instagram and then sharing with my friends”

Mr. Braun: Do you find that there is often inappropriate content in the app?

Student: “There is always going to be inappropriate/racist/sexist content on Instagram.  You just have to be sure to ignore it because Instagram will show you more of what you like.”

Mr. Braun: Do you use a finsta or Spam account?

Student: “I use a spam (finsta) account for posting the majority of my content.  I have lower numbers of followers on my spam.  I use my main account for browsing content and my spam account is for posting and communicating with friends.”

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Concerns

As with any social media app or online platform, there will be those that abuse their privilege.  There is nothing inherently dangerous about the app itself.  It is attractive to teens because the app caters to mixed media communication which is how today’s youth interact with one another.  However, there are things to be aware of.  The first concern that I came across with the use of this app is that like, snapchat, the interface is designed to keep you scrolling and hitting that like button.  The powerful algorithm used to determine what shows up on your feed is designed with a purpose.  It will show you more of what you like and less of what you don’t like.  This could potentially lead to inappropriate videos/photos being shared with or by students.  Knowing how to have conversations with youth about how and why they share is crucial in addressing these concerns.  This parent guide to Instagram gives a good overview of potential risks and how to avoid them.  For instance, many students may not know that the default setting for sharing content is always public.  There are also tips and tricks included for reporting abuse and blocking users.  Another concern that is sometimes discussed alongside Instagram is its addictive nature.

Mental health concerns surrounding this app have been discussed for some time now but it is something to take into consideration when discussing social media with students.  Many students have reported feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, or depression associated with this app.  As stated in the article above, some experts suggest pop-ups which would warn users of overuse. The drive to continue to check your likes and shares for certain photos even sees some young people deleting photos that don’t receive many likes.  Some also draw attention to the fact that due to the filters and editing tools built into the app, it is a distortion of reality.  Others claim that the app causes a fear of missing out and that users struggle to be present in the moment.  However, in all of this, we have to remember as well that the technology is used by people!  Therefore, it is crucial that educators teach digital citizenship.

Overall Review

Instagram is a great way to connect with others and share important moments with friends and family.  In using the app over the past few months, I have come to appreciate the ways in which youth communicate through media.  I believe the app also has potential to be used to some extent in the classroom perhaps as a photo journal of what learning is occurring.  While it remains immensely important to have honest and open discussions about how and why we share using the app.  In considering the use of the app for a health/wellness intention, I believe that it could prove useful as a photo slideshow or journal of what students are doing in class.  It could also be used as a broadcast app for the teachers to demonstrate skills via video in order to have students practice.  However, due to it’s addictive and at times damaging nature, overall I give this app 3 out of 5 Luke Heads.

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A Day in the Life of a Media Consumer…

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.

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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.”

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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.

 

Literacy for the Digital Age

Being literate has always been a sign of progress, I sign of success.  It was seen for many years as a way to bring oneself to a higher level.  To be literate was to be above the illiterate.  To be educated.  To be free.  It opened a world that was closed to so many.  Being able to read meant that you could access services, learn new things, be connected to a wider world and share your thoughts with others in the form of text.  It has historically meant the difference between having jobs, wealth, status or being a second class citizen in many countries.

In more recent years, it could be argued that there is a similar technology divide that exists in society.  Certain skills are quickly becoming necessary to properly function in day to day life.  Having an email address and being able to access it is one example of a skill that is becoming increasingly necessary in today’s world.  So many important pieces of important information are stored an accessed online as well.  Things like banking, mortgages, subscriptions to services, media content etc are all using technology to provide an experience of ease to the consumer. 

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In comparison to traditional literacy which was usually considered reading and writing, the literacies of the 21st century look much different.  Many argue that learning to write in cursive handwriting is no longer a necessary skill, whereas checking email would be considered very necessary.  In terms of what we would consider necessary skills in today’s world, above are 13 literacies broken into broad categories that are touted as being for the digital age.  Interestingly, a category entitled traditional is still included.  It is crucial that these types of conversations continue to occur in order to flesh out those literacies that are needed in society.  Many would also site physical literacy and mathematical literacies as important tools in preparing for the world of tomorrow. In the following video, I outline the importance of Media/Digital Literacy.  I also highlighted the fact that being media literate is about more than just tools.  It is about thinking critically.

The more we can encourage students to think critically about the world around us, the more aware they will be of the varied nuances of digital messages.  In addition, as stated in this Media Smarts article, students must also be able to be smart consumers of products, recognize the role of media in culture, create media responsibly and recognize point of view.  In a changing and intense world, the biggest asset teachers have in media literacy education is parents.  As stated below, it is at home that kids will grapple with ideas and become independent thinkers.

 

 

 

 

What does Community have to do with Digital Citizenship?

Although much has been said about digital citizenship in education, what does it look like when it is truly introduced in a cross-curricular manner?  Although there is a great framework in place for Saskatchewan teachers as Krista and Kelsie pointed out in their recent video on the subject of digital citizenship, it is at times difficult to implement in a strategic and meaningful way.  In reflecting on the question of the educators’ role in digital citizenship, I realized several things.  First of all, digital citizenship has been largely focused on elementary students.  Due to the fact that high school students are ‘generally’ more mature  and have developed the technical skills to use technology, teachers and parents often  assume that they also know how to be responsible digital citizens online.  Secondly, I realized that in the 10 years that I have been teaching, digital citizenship education has almost exclusively been defined by the idea of digital safety.  The thought being that if we can at least keep kids safe while they are online, then we have done our jobs.  This is a strategy driven by fear and, as witnessed throughout history, the best laid plans driven by fear can have dire consequences.

Digital Citizenship education has to be about more than fear mongering and trying to keep kids from visiting certain websites online.  There several key aspects necessary for true digital citizens to emerge within a school.  To break things down I would like to examine 2 key questions.  Firstly,  What does digital citizenship mean?  Some common responses might be;

1. Being responsible and respectful to others in the community.

2. Caring about your community.

3. Being informed about the needs within your school and community.

4. Doing your best to make your community a better place.

It is clear that the common theme here is community.  The living, moving organisms that make up our physical and digital world.  The key to educating the future generation of digital citizens does not lie in strategies of protection but in community.  This is why schools with higher rates of belonging and connections with regard to school culture have fewer issues with social media and online bullying.  Understanding a school’s culture and climate are key aspects in enacting change in any fashion as pointed by Macneil in his study.    If a school has an existing culture and climate of positivity, community and engagement, good digital citizenship will follow.  It is crucial to understand that the digital world is simply a reflection of ourselves as human beings.  If positive school climate and culture foster community engagement and achievement, positive digital interactions will follow.  

A second important question to consider is this:

Why is digital citizenship important?

1. We need good digital citizens to make our school and community better for everyone.

2. It is our duty and obligation as digital citizens to do our part.

Just as we expect certain things of our administration, our teachers, and our students, we must have high expectations in our online interactions as well.  So often I find that students and many time teachers are unsure of what the expectations are for themselves.  What is considered acceptable to post online?  With whom may I have an interaction online?  How often should I be online?  How should I portray myself in online spaces?  In what forums may I speak out online about issues that matter to me?  These are questions that are not often discussed in schools perhaps.  The reality is that expectations for digital citizenship online need to be clearly defined in any school in order to foster caring and engaged digital citizens.  This is something I hope to address with our core teachers at my school in the near future.

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With the conditions of a positive school culture and digital expectations clearly defined, it becomes much more feasible to engage students in conversations around digital citizenship.  In many ways our Saskatchewan curriculum has many areas of crossover in which digital citizenship themes could be included.  If our province desires to be  a leader in this field, it will be important for schools to establish these expectations for students and staff.  As Quijada aptly pointed out in her TedTalk, themes like deconstructing media messages could be discussed in many different courses including Health Wellness, Psychology, Social Studies, or ELA.  Rob Williams points out that these ideas about media haven’t radically changed over time, we simply have more media content coming at us every day.  In his view, skepticism is the key to driving digital media education.  I believe this is an important piece of being a good digital citizen but it is somewhat simplistic.  As we learned through the discussion with Pat Maze this past week, there are often more grey areas than black and white.

On a more personal level, I need to be better about modelling what being a good community member of our school looks like.  I believe if every teacher commits to promoting a positive school culture and encouraging high expectations of digital citizenship, we will be on a steady path to where we want to be as a province.

Teaching digital citizenship should, in essence, be an offshoot of  what teachers are already doing all day, every day, anyway:  teaching kids to be good humans.

We are all in the business of raising up responsible and engaged citizens.  Keep encouraging students and modelling how to be the best they can be.  That is the role of teachers in digital citizenship education or as I prefer to think of it, Character Education!

 

Mirror Mirror on the Wall: What’s your Digital Reflection?

How do you define yourself?  Digital identity can be described as the digital representation of a physical entity.  This could be a person, an organization or even a school district for example.  In today’s world of new and emerging technologies, managing one’s identity online has become a crucial and necessary skill to have.  Some have argued that digital duality does not exist in the strict sense and that there is no true demarcation line between a digital self and a real-world self.  Others agree that digital identities are simply a reflection of what we choose to show in the mirror.  In other words, we can choose to reflect our true nature or, for some, the choice exists to portray a totally new persona online.  It has often been described as a footprint, a tattoo or a reflection but no matter the metaphor, it has become apparent that having an online presence is the way the world has moved.  As Dr. Alec Couros describes below, having control over our identity online is not always easy when we consider the apps, websites, and companies that house much of our data.  In essence, how do we allow students to experiment with their digital identities in a responsible way that fosters connection and collaboration?

One of the more profound ways to help students in this manner is through leading by example.  When I think back to when I first started building my digital identity, it probably was nothing more than a Facebook page and maybe a few images on a google search.  Now, however, there is a whole host of apps and websites that own my data.  Although this may not be troubling for some, the fact of the matter is that in examination of the terms of use of many of these apps we find that any data uploaded to these websites ceases to be our own property and can be reused without permission.  For most in today’s society, this makes little difference in their day to day lives.  However, in my opinion, it will become evident in the coming years that prudence with what is posted online will be a valuable skill.  In reading Jaque’s blog post on this topic it became clear that I am not the only one who has become more rigid in deciding what to share online.  It seems as though increasingly there is little to no filtering being done before photos are shared or live streams started.  In France there are even new regulations to discourage parents from sharing photos of their children without discretion.

As I have built my digital identity, I have moved away from the constant uploading of personal data and have started to manage who has access to my personal photos and information.  Certain platforms are used strictly for professional posts such as this blog, Twitter, and Youtube for example.  I have tried to curate a profile and identity that would reflect positively at all times on myself, my family, and my profession.  This is what is at the crux of the argument for more inclusion of digital citizenship lessons in schools.  The importance for the future of our students and our society con not be understated.

In examining digital identity, it is imperative that we understand that it is not simply about safeguarding kids against possible dangers online.  It has to be about more than that.  It’s important that students also realize that managing your digital identity is based in positive interactions online.  As Kristin Hicks states in her post,

“Teaching digital citizenship means embracing the reality that we’re all interconnected through the Internet, and that we therefore need to understand the responsibilities and risks that come with life online”

Many teachers in Saskatchewan are incorporating a classroom Twitter account into their everyday routines with students in order to reiterate the importance of and the knowledge to foster positive interactions online.  As Dani mentioned in her post, education is truly the key to ensuring students have the tools necessary to not only stay safe and protected online but to THRIVE online!  This means creating positive meaningful relationships with others.   Below is a great example of a 7/8 classroom here in Regina which uses Twitter to share learning and connect with other learners across the globe.

In reflecting on my own family, I hope to engage in meaningful and valuable conversations around digital identity with my own kids as they grow up.  I hope to continue using scrutiny when posting any pictures or video of my kids, knowing that this data is no longer my property or theirs.   I hope they grow up with teachers that teach and model appropriate use of technology to create positive connections with others.  As is stated in this article from the Atlantic, youth should have a moral responsibility to control their own digital footprint and sharenting has done much to circumvent this.  I hope my digital identity makes my kids proud and not embarrassed.  Finally, I hope that my kids rise to the challenge of creating and curating positive identities for themselves online.   The internet has the ability to bring out the best in people and also the worst in people and I hope for my kids it brings out the best.  Here are some tips for parents to help promote a positive digital identity with their kids via edmentum .  

  1. Only share personal information when necessary.
  2. Take advantage of Internet privacy settings.
  3. Remind your child to always think before typing.
  4. Manage online accounts and passwords closely

In the above video, kids share with their parents what they are really doing online.  As is stated in the video, this is the world our kids are growing up in.  Let’s be involved and learn together what it means to be a positive contributor to this online world.  Ultimately kids are always watching what we do so it is truly on our shoulders to model what this looks like for future generations.

Question to consider: In what ways do you already model positive digital behaviour for students or children?  Is it effective?

You’ve Reached Your Goal: Digital Citizenship in Health/Wellness

I have recently been exploring the idea of using technology in my Health and Wellness classes to promote a healthy lifestyle.  The idea is to explore apps that would allow integration of Health and Wellness concepts into class structure and into the students own personal lives.  The end goal being to evaluate these apps for their effectiveness.  I plan to evaluate tools that touch on the areas of evaluation, physical activity, health and safety, class management and goal setting to name a few.  I also wished to explore the link between Digital Citizenship and the promotion of wellness through the use of technology.  Mike Ribble identifies 9 elements of digital citizenship which can be viewed as norms for behavior with regard to technology use.  In this work Ribble describes these 9 elements as follows;

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In the exploration of these elements I was at first struck by the fact that my chosen area of study seemed to only touch on the area of digital health and wellness.  In many mays this is true however, it is somewhat simplistic to think that just because I am exploring health and wellness topics, I will not be implicating other elements.  Indeed it has been apparent in recent years that screen time among children and teens has risen drastically, often replacing physical activity and leading to increased levels of obesity according to Boone and Gordon.   However, after further examination, a focus on health and wellness in a digital age could provide opportunities for other elements to explored as well.  These could include but are not limited to; digital communication, digital etiquette,  digital security and digital literacy.  It is clear that that any inclusion of technology in any area of the curriculum must also offer a valid discussion of digital identity.  As Wesitheimer and Kahne discuss in their work, the examination of digital citizenship merits a closer look at what types of citizens we want students to be online.  Whether promoting personally responsible citizens, participatory citizens or justice oriented citizens, it is crucial to include discussion of digital identity and what implications health and wellness apps have for identity online.  The recent debacle with Strava and their heat map has proven that releasing fitness information to the world can have consequences.

Teaching students to be conscious of what fitness/health data is published for others to see is an exercise in digital security.   Students’ health information and data should be carefully considered when being shared.  In addition, many of these apps contain social media features and the ability to contact and connect with others.  These exchanges of information between peers and also between companies constitutes the same need for digital etiquette in regards to the publication of information.  It’s clear that any examination or inclusion of wellness/fitness apps must also provide for students an open discussion around identity questions and privacy rights.  As Talitha Williams points out in the following TEDTalk, data generated from Health/Fitness apps can have a tremendous impact on our general health.  However, the elements of etiquette, communication, security, and literacy are all valid parts of this ongoing discussion.

As Homayoun discusses in her article, the dangers of getting caught in a feedback loop mean that teenagers are not always cognizant of what they should or should not be posting online.  In many ways wellness and mindfulness apps would offer a sharp contrast to the constant need to post and share new content.  Many new apps like SmilingMind are geared toward helping teens and adults find balance in their lives via a serious of meditation and calming reminders.  The temptation with fitness apps is very similar to other social media apps in that many are based on comparisons with others, thereby increasing the need to outperform others.  As is notable with the current rise in sales of wearable technology, the more we compare ourselves with what others are posting, the more we are motivated to continue to post our athletic achievements online as well.

  As I continue to explore the world of health/wellness apps, it will be crucial to, as Costa and Tores state,

“establish a reputable digital identity which students can looks up to and follow as example.”

In closing I believe that this project touches most significantly on the elements of security, health and wellness, communication, etiquette and communication.  It is in each of these areas that proper use of technology to enhance physical and mental health must be modelled.  Topics of identity and and presentation of self online should be explored in detail and students should be encouraged to live “non-linear lives” as Brown puts it.  As far as next steps are concerned for the project.   I will be finalizing the suite of apps to explore and beginning to use them myself as well as introducing them to my students.  A series of videos/blogposts will allow me to evaluate the apps and their perceived effectiveness in the area of health/wellness.

 

 

 

Gazing into the Future of Education

How do you prepare someone for something you can’t understand? Is it even possible?  The recent discussion in educational technology circles has centered on the fact that we do not know what the world will be like in even 5-10 years.  With the exponential increase in technological advancement, it is doubtful that the students graduating from our high schools or universities in 10 years will have any of the necessary skills to find employment or succeed if we continue to educate them for the 20th century.  It has been argued that instead of teaching a specific set of facts or knowledge, it will be increasingly important to focus on skills.  In his paper,  Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, Henry Jenkins argues that there are new skills that will be of utmost importance for the next generation.  These are what he claims are the building blocks for successful education in for the future.

Play — the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem-solving
Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery
Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes
Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
Multitasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities
Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal
Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
Transmedia Navigation — the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms.

Looking through this list it is perhaps glaringly obvious but, few if any of the outcomes of our current Saskatchewan Curriculum look even remotely like this.  It is interesting to consider the changes that have already occurred in our educational system over the last 50 years.  It’s true that we have seen the emergence of educational technologies that could not have been imagined 50 years ago.  From the internet to handheld devices, educational apps and realtime feedback, there is now a myriad of tools at the disposal of the 21st century educator.  However, there exists in our classrooms a resistance to the change in structure that has existed since the industrial revolution.  Other than a few forward thinkers, we still, for the most part, educate children in desks placed in rows with the teacher at the front of the classroom.  But what could education look like?

Robyn Shulman in her article on digital citizenship, discuses the fact that our students have a vast knowledge of the use and navigation of tools and online spaces but very little idea about how to “leverage technology for best outcomes.”  I tend to agree that the students of today’s generation have enormous potential at their fingertips but perhaps have not been given the tools to promote their digital wellness.  It will be ever more crucial in the coming years to expand our understanding of health and wellness to include digital hygiene as well.  As Alisa Sklar states,

Digital hygiene teaches so much more than just safe, responsible use of digital tools. A parent who sits down together with their child to Google how to configure Instagram privacy settings is also modelling critical thinking, research techniques, discussing context, and involving their child.

Parents and teachers alike must be confident in addressing digital concerns with students and youth if we are to give them a firm hold in a digital future.  Brittany raised a good point about the parallel between the current idea of citizenship in a real world context in comparison with the digital world.  Allowing students to learn and exhibit the same rights and responsibilities in both realms will be key in assuring that these youth become engaged, critical thinkers in online spaces.  Not only as passive consumers but as active participants who defend and advocate for the rights of others.

In addition, it has been suggested that the need for formal educational institutions may one day be no longer.  As Danielle pointed out in her recent post, this idea tends to make educators slightly uncomfortable.  Not only because it could mean the end of our jobs but also because as teachers, we have seen the value of critical thinking and face to face interaction that happens when students/teachers are engaged in the learning process.  On the other hand, as Jocelyn pointed out in her post,  the potential of tools like Google Classroom to help students move beyond a physical set of classroom walls is astounding.  In remote areas this is happening already with school divisions such as SunWest  right here in Saskatchewan.  In many ways the disintegration of physical classrooms spaces is already happening.  As teachers and students look ahead to the further convergence of education and technology, we must be prepared to look at what future students will appreciate in their learning environments.  It’s hard for me to believe that teachers will ever be taken completely out of the equation, however, educational landscapes are changing and will continue to do so.  So, here are some tips for teachers from actual students.

1. Make it about ME 🙇

2. Let’s DO things 👩‍🔬

3. Don’t ditch me in an online course 💻

4. Be my coach 👩‍🏫

5. Teach me relevant skills 🙇‍

6. Foster a growth mindset 📈