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Summary of Learning

10 Apr

Here is my summary of learning for EC&I 832!

 

 

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More Media Needed

24 Mar

This week we are asked to blog about what an average day looks like for us in terms of reading and making sense of information, media, and the world around us. We are also asked to explore/reflect on our own personal strategies for analyzing and validating information.

I have to say this prompt has been one that I’ve struggled with. Dare I admit that my average day does not include reading a newspaper, watching television news, or even listening to the radio?

via GIPHY

I know, I know… I should be more concerned with being an informed citizen and with the happenings in the world around me. But to be honest, news media outlets have never captured my attention. I don’t usually listen to radio, I hardly ever watch TV (especially cable TV), and I had been fairly dormant on non-social media internet use. I’ve relied on staff room chatter with co-workers, conversations with friends, and Facebook largely for updating me on big news stories. Once I hear of something that interests, or concerns me, I do investigate on my own, to not only help me make more sense of the information, but also to confirm and legitimize what I have been told. Although I know it seems naive of me to wait for others to maybe spark a conversation or to share an article on Facebook, I don’t feel that I naively interpret, believe, or analyze information.

I use Facebook everyday for a variety of reasons, so as a site I visit multiple times a day, it is the place I most often see information being shared. I have recently began using Twitter daily again (thanks to this class!), so this is another avenue in which I am consuming media information most frequently. As I read this week, it is alarming to discover that fake news spreads faster and further on social media sites like Twitter, than any truth does. Soroush Vosoughi, who was one of the researchers in this MIT study of fake news, developed an algorithm for identifying facts and fiction in tweets. Whether the author was verified and the language used were important aspects – and when I think about my own personal strategies for deciphering fact from fiction, these are vital for me.

Often on Facebook, I see people sharing or liking posts for contests or to win giftcards that just don’t seem right. Sorry everyone, but I don’t think Costco is going to give you a giftcard just for sharing this post. When I look and see how many shares/comments these posts have, I often shake my head. If you actually look at the author of the post, you can easily see that it is not really a large corporation like Costco’s Facebook page. Although, for someone who is not media literate, this could definitely be one of many scams that could trick them.

costco-facebook-page.png

Image found HERE

A big downside to the amount of time I spend on getting information from Facebook or Twitter is that I get very frustrated with political posts, rants, comments, etc. There has obviously been a ton of controversy over politics and fake news – especially with Donald Trump and the U.S.A, and Justin Trudeau has even been a hot social media topic. Linking back to digital health and wellness – like I always do ;), these are the types of posts and things on social media that make my experience negative, whether it is what people are sharing or ignorantly commenting, so I do tend to try and ignore or avoid all political conversation on social media. This sometimes makes it difficult for me to stay up to date on political news, and can become overwhelming when I do want to find truth in this information.

Jocelyn and Jaimie shared some great information about fake news in their vlog. I especially liked the image they included about how to spot fake news. As I was reading/watching, I realized that these are all strategies I use myself.

how to spot fake news

Image found HERE

I also learned about sites that can help you (and students) validate information such as: Snopes, Politifact, and FactCheck. I have never used these sites before, but I will definitely use these in the future if I am questioning if something is true or false.

Writing this post and reflecting on my intake of media has made me set a goal for myself moving forward. I want to expand beyond the ways I am currently reading information on a daily basis. Rather than just happening to come across something on Facebook or from my coworkers, I am wanting to seek out information. I have created a column on my Tweetdeck to follow the Regina Leaderpost, CBC, CTV news and Global news, to better inform me of what is happening immediately around me. (I wasn’t following any of these before). If you have any other suggestions for what media outlets I should follow that would be appreciated!

 

Well-being Literacy

19 Mar

 

This week we are asked to respond on what it means to be literate today? In considering what is means to be “fully” literate, right away I began thinking about the most obvious forms of literacy in terms of being able to read and write, and also the literacies I specifically teach every day;  physical literacy and numeracy (aka mathematical literacy). I have an understanding, and passion for these areas, but I had never really considered media literacy before. Thanks to my awesome classmates, and their vlogs this week, I now feel I have a better grasp of what digital and media literacy are, (sometimes used interchangeably – sometimes not – which can be a bit confusing), and how important they are in developing literate individuals.

In Dani’s vlog about media literacy she had this wonderful graphic from ResourcEd, which breaks down digital literacy, and she also talked about six deep learning skills from this site: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, citizenship, character and communication.

digital-literacy-diagram

Image found HERE

Luke’s vlog was also very informative and he references an article from the Center for Media Literacy and explores 5 key questions that our students need to understand and be able to apply as critical consumers of media.

  1. Who created this message?
  2. What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
  3. How might different people understand this message differently from me?
  4. What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in — or omitted from — this message?
  5. Why is this message being sent?              (Thoman & Jolls, 2004)

The author’s of the article Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Jolls, reference a report created by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning Skills, and I couldn’t agree more!

“People need to know more than core subjects. They need to know how to use their knowledge and skills – by thinking critically, applying knowledge to new situations, analyzing information, comprehending new ideas, communicating, collaborating, solving problems, making decisions.. (they) need to become lifelong learners, updating their knowledge and skills continually and independently.”

(Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2003). A Report and Mile Guide for 21st Century Skills)

Andrea Quijada’s TED talk on media literacy talked about the importance of being able to decode text and subtext presented to us in media, and the untold stories that exist.

 

I also really liked this article from Common Sense Education, which breaks down media literacy very succinctly, and they list how the following helps kids in terms of media literacy.

  • Learning to think critically
  • Become a smart consumer of products and information
  • Recognizing point of view
  • Create media responsibly
  • Identify the role of media in our culture
  • Understand the author’s goal

(Common Sense Education)

When I think about what it means for someone to be fully literate, I think it is important to consider one’s well-being. I think the interconnectedness of the various forms literacy takes on, is similar to the connection of the dimensions of wellness. If our physical well-being is suffering, it will ultimately have an effect on our mental well-being. We have to seek to balance our wellness wheel, and improve our well-being in every area for our wellness to be optimized. I think the same could be said for literacy. If one area of our literacy – say physical – is not developed, I do not think we are fully literate, nor is our overall literacy optimized. The connection between our physical health and our mental health is undeniable, and this affects how we are learning with and using our bodies and minds.

I like to think Well-being Literacy could be the all-encompassing word to describe what is means to be fully literate. Our bodies and minds optimized and balanced in all areas of literacy and wellness.

We need to teach kids to be saavy at interacting in all ways

19 Mar

This week, we have been asked to reflect upon what our role as teachers/school do we play in educating our students on digital citizenship. As others have blogged about, including Jana, and in reading Dennis Pierce,  I do agree with the need for Digital Citizenship to be weaved throughout the K-12 curriculum. Students need exposure early on, as they will be exposed to many technologies, social networks, and begin forming their digital identity from a young age. I worry though with this approach, that it will often be ‘left out’ due to time, or some teachers will put more or less emphasis on incorporating digital citizenship into their classrooms depending on their own personal comfort, understanding, and opinion. It needs to become a priority in education from our government, (which then will be a priority of school divisions), and supporting curriculum documents/updates will need to be made. There is already a great policy guide surrounding digital citizenship in education for Saskatchewan that I have referenced before, however I have never seen this document outside of this class, which leads me to believe it is not being used by schools.

I also believe we need to make it a priority to educate our educators on digital citizenship before we can put the responsibility on them. There are so many conflicting views towards using technology in our classrooms often to completely banning phones. I recently read this article shared by classmates on Twitter regarding a school in Saskatchewan that has a no cell phone policy in place that is working wonderful in the eyes of those teachers and students involved. In the short team, I do not doubt that student distraction is minimized, and thus interaction and attention is up. But in the long term, I think banning cellphones misses the mark hugely on preparing students for life in a connected world.

If we do not teach students to work through distractions, I do not know how they will manage distractions on their own. I personally feel we need to teach students appropriate use of their phones, and by completely banning them, we (our students) are stripped of this opportunity, and it is assumed our students will get this digital citizenship education elsewhere. Where elsewhere is, I am not sure. I compare teaching abstinence is the only way in terms of sex ed, instead of teaching appropriate behaviors and safe practices to prepare them for that aspect of life. Responding to a message, listening to music, or even checking an app while working independently is appropriate in my classroom. I have many students who work a significant amount of hours outside of school, and I do not think it is inappropriate for them to ask to step out and take a call, and deal with a situation in 2 minutes, and get back to work. I would say this is rather responsible. I know many teachers who would not be okay with this. I am not sure what would get everyone on the same page aside from specific policies or curriculum in place.

There is also different opinions on what is considered appropriate behavior regarding digital etiquette. Some people are completely offended by someone looking at their phone when they are say out for coffee, and supposed to be completely engaged in face-to-face conversation. For others, this isn’t rude at all, but rather no different than checking one’s watch might have been years ago. How these behaviors are interpreted is important to consider, and I think this plays into what I see as frustration from a lot of teachers, or just adults in general when interacting with kids. Our kids are so used to having these devices with them every moment, that checking your phone mid class, or mid conversation doesn’t feel inappropriate to them.

I think its important to not only realize ourselves, but to teach our kids that different behaviors regarding our digital etiquette can be viewed differently depending on our audience. I would compare this to being taught to only speak when spoken to by our elders. Not every elder holds this view, and you have to learn to interact appropriately in various settings. This is the same when it comes to digital citizenship. We have to teach our kids how this can vary – and will vary – from different workplaces, to individual classrooms, to social settings. On a first date? Checking your phone could be perceived as uninterested. Out for supper with your friends? Checking your phone in a break in conversation can be appropriate. It all depends! We need to teach kids to be saavy at interacting in all ways.

I personally would like to see a locally developed course on Digital Citizenship at the high school level. I think Digital Citizenship 30L would be a great chance for students to learn more about all 9 elements of digital citizenship, and reflect closer on their own personal use of technology, social media, and the continuation of developing their digital identities as they continue to post secondary, or the “real” world of work. Having students interact and connect to the community and beyond in positive contexts, would give them a greater understanding of the reach and impact of the online world, and the power of social media movements. It makes me think about how we are learning in EC&I 832! Blogging, vlogging, and exploring topics such as fake news, catfishing, cyberbullying, (and everything to come!) will undoubtedly build media literacy skills students will use for the rest of their lives.

Citizenship in general looks different now than it did before. The digital world is such a part of our kids interactions, friendships, and learning (academic and otherwise), so we must adapt how we are teaching students how to be good citizens in 2018 and beyond. Not to say that being a “good person” is different at the root of what that means, but the tree growing from that root is much different than it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago. I loved what Luke had said in his blog post about it being a community based approach, and ultimately character education. As Luke says “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.” (Braun, 2018)

It is important for parents to teach digital citizenship at home, but as educators we can’t count on that in the same way we can’t count on sex education or personal finance being taught at home. More and more traction is being gained to teach Personal Finance in schools – there is now a Personal Finance 30L offered in most schools in Regina – and I think the same can follow suit with Digital Citizenship. As much as a stand-alone course is a pipe dream, I think is is a perfect compliment to the digital citizenship teachers, schools, and ultimately communities need to incorporate, model, and build upon in every class, at every grade.

 

Will the real Katie Rosenkranz please stand up…

6 Mar

Digital identity is an important aspect of digital literacy, and often seen as a separate part or extension of identity strictly related to our online persona. After exploration of various articles, my own vlog creation, and viewing other classmates vlogs and blog posts, I feel this needs to shift from being viewed as a part of who we are, but rather to a more holistic approach. Online, “in real life”, professionally, personally, who we are is just that…who we are.

via GIPHY

 

The main article my classmate/”in real life” best friend Jana, based our vlog on was by Cristina Costa and Ricardo Torres titled “To be or not to be, the importance of digital identity in a networked society.”   What I really appreciated about this article was the breakdown of aspects of digital identity into dichotomies, which made the large over arching topic of digital identity easier to relate to and reflect on.

  1. Open vs. Closed – What is public for the world to see about you? What is private?
  2. Single vs. Multiple –Do you have separate personal and professional accounts?
  3. Genuine vs. Fake – Is the persona you use online true to who you are?

In this blog post, I want to reflect my own digital identity and these dichotomies, as well as the impact this will have on the students I teach.

Although these dichotomies are presented separately in the article, they are undoubtedly intertwined in the presentation and reputation (see our vlog for a sweet T-Swift duet.. for real), of ourselves online. I got Facebook when I was in grade 12, and it’s popularity continued to rise as I went through my undergraduate degree. I remember being quite literally terrified by my education professors that my students, colleagues, and future employers would find my profile and I would ultimately never get a job because there would be some party picture of me tagged to ruin my life. My security settings needed to be top notch (open vs. closed), I needed to go by a different name (genuine vs. fake), and I better not ever be seen drinking a beer in a photo. I locked down my profile, changed my name to Katie Nicole (my middle name), and removed almost all options to be tagged without my approval first.

This is not to say anything I had been posting was inappropriate, but from my early use of Facebook, as a young soon to be educator, I was definitely hyper aware of  what I was sharing. As much as I don’t think these scare tactics were the best method, I consider myself lucky to have been “older” when I first started using Facebook. I think back to all the photos my friends and I took in elementary school with our disposable cameras, waiting an hour for my pictures to get developed at Wal-Mart, and the genuine silliness that went along with being a pre-teen. I am happy to say those photos are stored safely in a box in my storage room, only seeing the light of day for embarrassing slideshows at friends’ weddings or the odd throwback Thursday.

image1

Speaking of embarassing photos…

I even remember my first ECMP 355 class with Alec, and being hesitant to create a Twitter account that was open. Anyone could see this? I had been trained to view public as bad as a future teacher. I would have followers/follow people I didn’t know personally? The whole thing weirded me out. It took me a while that class to get comfortable using Twitter, and I won’t lie I created a separate “personal” twitter account once the class was done. It has taken me 6 years of teaching and many more of maturity for me to really become comfortable with who I am, digitally. (And in more ways probably). I am a teacher –every moment of every day and I am also a human. I share things that are important to my life, with people who are important to me. In researching about personal vs. private, I came across this article. These words rang true to me and my beliefs:

If you would not want your professional connections to see what you post in your personal social media feeds, it might be time to reflect on why you post the kinds of information on any feed at all. The truth is that, no matter how tight your privacy settings, anything you post online is potentially discoverable by anyone. – Kerry Gallagher

Our students today, don’t have this choice at all. For a lot of them, and for our future students, Facebook has been around since their birth. Their parents have been sharing those cute chubby roll leg photos and buck teeth moments with their friends, family, and ultimately the entire digital world, starting their digital footprint, and beginning to build their digital identity for them. Some parents purchase domain names for their kids, or even create Facebook or Instagram profiles. Is this being pro-active in building their digital identity, or is this an issue? Sharenting is a hot topic, as is the potential of kids having the right to remove online content about them when they become adults. I think it could be fair for kids to remove things they did not post, but I think this becomes murky water when kids are allowed to remove “stupid” or hurtful things they may have posted themselves and just to use the excuse that they were young. The above linked article touches on this issue of “whitewashing” which I feel will become more relevant in the years to come if this legislation goes through.

What I do know, is that we need to teach kids to be mindful of what they are posting, to who, and how they are building their digital identity – and there is no time to wait for this to begin in schools. Students are spending more and more time online, and thus more and more of who they are, and who they are becoming as young adults, and ultimately people, is being influenced by the online world. For me, I started to build my digital identity as a young adult and educator, and my digital identity has grown to reflect who I truly am. For our students, their entire identity is growing and being shaped day by day in every interaction they make whether online or offline, and I am not so sure that is different anymore.

Generation Mental Health

5 Feb

In this week’s EC&I 832 class, part of our discussion centered around generational changes/differences we have witnessed between Generation X, Y (Millenials), and Z, and we also predicted some trends or characteristics we may see in the emerging Generation Alpha.

After exploring some our readings for the week, which consisted of: 2020 Future Work Skills9 Things that Will Shape the Future of Education, What is the Future of Education, and reading the different skills and abilities for students we should focus on building, and how the landscape of education itself and it’s delivery will change and considering our blog prompts, I couldn’t help but get stuck on

Do schools really need to change? If so, in what ways?

I do feel schools need to change. And I am not just talking about how we need to expand from teaching in the same ways, between the same four walls, within the same traditional framework that had been followed for years. I am talking about the way we address, educate, promote and support a very critical issue affecting an alarming number our students – mental health.

mental health

Photo Credit: simmons.kevin4208 Flickr via Compfight cc

I think there is a substantially large gap in where we are at currently, and where the future education trends and future work skills are placing our students. Undoubtedly, we will face many barriers on the road to best educating the alpha generation, but I strongly feel the biggest barrier we will face – and what we so desperately need to address in our education systems right now is mental health.

The reality of student mental health in Saskatchewan schools will shock you

The article above was in the Regina Leader Post this week, and I can’t say I am surprised by the data is presents, as this is the reality I live and teach in. This past week most of us probably noticed a lot of buzz around Bell Let’s Talk day which was on January 31st. Just as it’s name suggests, I love the amount of conversation that was generated on social media around supporting mental health. (Side note: this conversation needs to continue though, one day is simply not enough). This speaks to the positive power and influence social media can generate, and I love to see this aspect of social media positively affecting mental health, when so much of what we are hearing is how technology or smartphones are the cuplrit in this growing mental health ‘epidemic‘ affecting our kids and ultimately affecting our schools.

One of the things that is exciting yes, but scares me a lot when we look at future trends for education is the possibility for diverse time and place, which could greatly affect the physical role of teachers and brick and mortar schools themselves. Relationships matter. Thanks to my classmate Brittany Frick for reminding me of this awesome TEDTalk by Rita Pierson about the importance of relationships, and that every kid needs a champion. (If you haven’t watched it, I suggest you do!!)

Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like. – Rita Pierson

I think as teachers we have a very real and important opportunity to improve our student’s mental health (even in just a small capacity) with the relationships we build with them, the way we interact with them, and most importantly the way we make them feel each and every day they step foot in our classrooms. It worries me – or more so makes me sad, to think that in the future I may not have the same ability to brighten a child’s day – or have them brighten mine – when we are in a room together.

Not only do schools need to look at how they are supporting students (or even teachers) who are already suffering from mental health issues, but I also think it is important that we are teaching kids more about their mental health, and the continuum they will move along, regardless of if they are diagnosed with a specific mental health illness or not. Like our physical health, we all have our mental health to take care of. Some classes lend themselves nicely to explicitly talk about mental health such as Wellness 10, but I think these conversations need to be happening in school curriculum much earlier. Curriculum or policy changes take a lot of time, but there are things we can do in our schools now to shift focus towards improving mental health. (<–Read this for 5 ways)

Mental Health Literacy just like Digital Literacy, is often a murky area that is left untouched by curriculum or schools. I think the growing connection between mental health and how connected our students are is not something we can ignore. A piece of the puzzle in the mental health picture will be for student to understand their digital health and wellness and how this is turn can affect their mental health.

Education has to focus on improving mental health and providing digital citizenship education  for our students if we want to prepare Generation Alpha to have any of these future skills.

 

Techno Balance-ism

29 Jan

Techno Determinism, Techno Utopianism, Techo Dystopianism, and Techno Progressivism.How about Techno Balance-ism?

These differing ideologies or views of how technology is impacting our world – for both the good and bad, were the topic of our third #eci832 class with Dr. Alec Couros. Although I had never heard of the ‘formal’ names or definitions for these ideologies, I found myself relating to aspects of each one, and recalling times when I have felt technology is wonderful, downright horrible, or our biggest driver for the change we need to actively seek in our world today.

(If you’re lost with what I’m talking about, check out this quick read for some key points on technology utopia vs. dystopia)

The bottom line is that technology drives us, and our world. I have been thinking and reading a lot about digital health and wellness for my major project, and looking at the potential impacts of technology, social media, and ultimately the internet on our physical and mental health. I have realized a lot of the articles I have been reading have been from more of a techno dystopian point of view, highlighting all of the negative impacts of technology, for example on the teenage brain.

It seems that there are more and more people taking internet addictions seriously, and whether it be video games, Netflix, or posting selfies, a.k.a Selfitis, we are told as parents and educators we should be worried about our kids usage. But really, as we discussed in class, we have always been afraid of the impact of the newest and latest technology since long before millennials were born.  The telegraph, the radio, the television, walk-mans– all of these technological advances brought their fair share of fear and criticism for what they were doing to our children and our lives. Change is hard, and changing the way we communicate, do business, socialize, and share information through digital tools has been a change that we have been forced to accept, but not necessarily embrace.

Flickr via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: pixelphoto.eu                                    Photo Credit: 2pxSolidBlack
radio  tv        walkman                                             Photo Credit: wuestenigel

It was after class that Alec tweeted this article, by Zachary Karabell (seriously read it!) which re-iterated many of the anxieties we have faced throughout history from Socrates worrying writing would affect the ability to memorize, telephones causing people to no longer visit friends in person, television affecting our sleep, and video games causing aggressive behavior. This scrutiny has now landed on smartphones, and increasingly we see research linking (or trying to link) things like depression, rising cyber-bullying, and higher suicide rates to teens and their usage. What the article does point out though, is that we simply do not have enough data yet simply due to time, nor have there been any controlled study groups that could truly accurately measure these statistics in comparison to pre-smart phone days.

“No matter what we think we know now, we simply don’t know what the long-term effects of smartphones are or will be, any more than generations past could glean the effects of all of those earlier technologies on moods, relationships, and cognitive development.”          -Zachary Karabell

We really do not know what the long-term effects of smart phones and other social technology will be on our current generation of kids. I don’t think we should get into a panic about all the negative correlations and conclusions being drawn, and completely write off technology and ban it from our schools, but we do have a responsibility to our kids, students, and ourselves to think critically about what this technology and increased usage is doing to our health. If you are having a hard time sleeping at night, or waking up feeling exhausted, you might be told to try less screen time in the evenings. Less screen time in the evenings doesn’t mean the powerful lesson your teacher has created at school in which you use your device should be thrown out. It doesn’t mean that the picture your aunt posted from her vacation on Facebook is keeping you awake. The reason you’re not sleeping at night could be completely unrelated to the technology you are using. It just seems so easy to blame technology for our woes. Any maybe technology is the reason for some of our woes. There is still so much we need to learn.

“Information is not like drugs or alcohol; its effects are neither simple nor straightforward. As a society, we still don’t strike the right balance between risk and reward for those substances. It will be a long time before we fully grapple with the pros and cons of smartphone technology.” -Zachary Karabell

There are infinitely good things technology can do to improve our lives, and in the same breath, just as many ways it can be used to do harm. Is there a balance we can seek to find? Is finding humanity in tech – as Alec mentioned and explores – a key way we can begin to wrestle with this idea? Finding balance is a life long struggle in anything we do – home life vs. work life, healthy food vs. junk food, and now online vs.  offline? (Check out Jana’s latest blog post and this article by Nathan Jurgenson for more on that). But it is more clear than ever that that struggle needs our attention.

“Finding balance has never been a human strong suit, but it has never been more needed.” -Zachary Karabell

via GIPHY (Mostly because I love dogs)