Social media activism….is it worthwhile?

This week, we discussed the topic of social media activism and were asked to explain whether we think it can be meaningful and worthwhile. Personally, I have mixed feelings about it. In today’s digital world, social media has changed the way in which people communicate, obtain information, and are informed about current events taking place in our world. Moreover, social media has the power to spread information quickly and connect people with similar interests/world views.

So, when I think about whether social media activism is effective, I would like to say yes and no. Yes, because “we’re connected more by the internet than by a personal relationship or geography”. Activist rely on social media in order to connect, organize, and raise awareness in hopes to create a movement or affect change within our world. Social media sources such as Facebook and Twitter create platforms for activists to successfully spread their messages. Without the use of social media, it would be very difficult for activists to reach out to society. For instance, I once participated in the “Ice Bucket Challenge”. I was nominated by a Facebook friend to dump a bucket of ice cold water over my head and donate money in support to ALS. I was also encouraged to challenge more of my Facebook friends in hopes to raise even more money. I accepted this challenge and donated to the organization. However, how can we be sure the nominees participating in these challenges are responsible citizens and have actually contributed funds for research? Or, are they simply sharing to social media without the intent to financially support these organizations?

Then, I started to think about the idea of slacktivism and how it effects social media activism negatively. Tayler mentions in her blog how “It’s become very common to simply comment or share a post of a genuine cause and believe we are helping when in reality it is achieving nothing but a trending hashtag”. Well said, Tayler! I couldn’t agree with you more! Hashtags represent specific things on twitter, but they are not a movement. Typing a hashtag and then putting down your cell phone is not being productive. In Katia Hildebrant’s blog, she argues “I have a responsibility to use my privilege to speak out and use my network for more than just my own benefit or self-promotion; not doing so is a selfish act”. After reading this, I began to think about myself and the way I use social media. Clearly, there is much more I could be doing for society, rather than just scrolling my Facebook wall and Twitter feed. Perhaps I need to be more proactive about the many social inequities and justice issues that are currently taking place within our society and offer my support, as a participatory citizen.

As an educator, I am responsible for modelling the actions of a responsible citizen to my students. It is essential to provide my students with the opportunity to investigate examples of social inequities and justice issues, so they may learn how to be responsible participatory citizens. Moreover, by exploring examples of social media activism and social justice, students can examine the many ways in which they can reach out and contribute to society. On that note, what are some of the ways you could explore social media activism and social justice issues with your students? What sources would you use within your classroom?

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Blast off!

Since I made the decision to change my project idea, I have been very eager to start the process of cross-stitching! So, after watching a cross-stitch tutorial for beginner’s video on YouTube, I was able to figure out the basic materials I need in order to get organized before actually learning how to cross-stitch. I recently went to Michaels and was able to find the materials I needed, and much more! I must say, I was blown away by the variety of fabrics, needles, threads, pattern books and embroidery hoops! I could have looked around for hours!

Here are the basic materials I picked up:

  • Aida fabric (14 count)
  • Tapestry needle (size 22)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Scissors

After purchasing these materials, I realized that I was unable to purchase thread because I have not yet decided on a pattern!! I learned that there are a ton of thread colours available for cross-stitching and these threads are all colour coded! For instance, black thread is coded 310 and green thread is coded 701. At first, I was confused and didn’t understand why the thread colours were colour coded until I realized the threads are colour coded because they coincide with a specific pattern, similar to a map & legend. Therefore, I came back home with the 4 basic materials I purchased and began searching Google and Pinterest for some pattern ideas. Turns out, there are tons of patterns out there! Many patterns are available for purchase and many are free!! I briefly became overwhelmed as many of the patterns are clearly based upon experience level. Well, as a beginner I am looking for “beginner’s” pattern! So, the process of finding a pattern I feel capable of doing may take some time! After I have selected a pattern, I can purchase the appropriate thread colours I will be needing.

Although I am feeling somewhat nervous about getting started, I am still looking forward to this journey! Cross-stitching is a skill that may take a while for me to learn but I am ready to give it my best shot! So, wish me luck and stay tuned for some more progress!

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Project re-route!

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been debating the topic idea I had originally chosen for my major digital project. Initially, I had planned to design and implement an open classroom blog. As explained in my very first blog post in EC&I 831, I love to blog and for numerous reasons! Although I do not consider myself to be a professional blogger, I enjoy it and learn a lot from it. Blogging has always been an experience I’d love to share with my students. However, seeing as I am currently on maternity leave, many of the ideas I had planned for my open classroom blog will not follow through without the participation from administration, students and their parents.

Therefore, I have decided to change my major digital project idea and focus on a particular skill I’ve always wanted to learn, and that is Cross-Stitching. Cross-stitching is a form of sewing. Cross-stitching is a unique skill to learn because it involves concentration, numeracy, consistency and most importantly, patience! Why cross-stitch? Well, as a child I would watch my older sister sit on her couch and cross-stitch, sometimes for hours! I’d ask her why she liked cross-stitching because it looked super boring. She’d reply “I love to cross-stitch” and offer to teach me, if I wanted to learn. However, at that time I had no interest in sitting on my couch and staring at a piece of fabric while holding a sharp needle and some string! My sister is truly amazing at cross-stitching! Although she does not have much time for it anymore, she has made many beautiful pieces. Now, I regret not learning this skill and spending what could have been some great quality time together. But like they say, “it’s never too late” or “you’re never too old to learn a new skill”!

So, here it goes! I will start my major digital project by figuring out the materials I need to get started. Aside from my sister’s guidance, I will also rely on a variety of social media sources to help me throughout my journey and document my progress. I am looking forward to getting started on my project but I am also nervous as I have never considered myself to be very artsy. This is the first crafting skill I will have learned, let alone taught by myself through the use of social media! For my major digital project, I will create one (medium sized) cross-stitching pattern. Therefore, wish me luck as I set out to track down the materials I need in order to get started on my very first cross-stitching piece!

Thanks for stopping by!

Extra! Extra! Read All About it!

Back in the good old days, news information was mainly delivered in the form of paper, magazines, radio and television. Now, as to whether the information was false or accurate, it seemed easier to detect fake information when its delivery was simpler. For instance, tabloid magazines will often feature stories using a silly headline in a large font. They specifically do this in hopes to capture your attention and read the content found in the magazine. In my experience with browsing tabloid magazines, the “National Enquirer” and the “Star” often distribute exciting yet suspicious information/stories. Celebrities and breaking news are usually easy targets for conflict. Inaccurate information, conspiracies, lies or changes to a narrative are spread often but now a days it can be more challenging to detect fake news due to the growth of the internet and social media.

In today’s digital world, news information can be found everywhere. Sites such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook contains a ton of stories and informational content, which we can choose to accept as true. It can be very easy to get caught up in an interesting headline or two. However, we must be aware that online websites will intentionally try to pass themselves off as authentic when they’re not.

I must admit, I have been fooled more than once with believing fake news to be true and after realizing it is not, I feel pretty ridiculous. As we learned from last week’s class, fact checking is important, especially before sharing creditable/non-creditable information using social media sources. Although it can be difficult to spot fake news, here are five different practices to detect a non-creditable resource:

  • Look for Unusual URL’s
  • Dissect the Layout
  • Dig Deeper
  • Cross-check
  • Try a reverse image search

As an educator, it is important first and foremost that I understand how to detect non-creditable information before I can teach my students about how to detect it. But, if I am not confident in this process, how can I expect my students to be? Doing this requires both research and critical thinking. When identifying fake news, it is essential to discuss examples of creditable and non-creditable resources with our students. In Ryan’s blog, he states “Fake news doesn’t mean we need to panic, and distrust everything’. ‘It does however mean that we need to slow down and read’. ‘Not just read the title of the article, but read the article, and compare it to information that we already know’”. I completely agree with Ryan. By presenting students with the tools they need it will assist them in identifying trustworthy resources, but also teach them how to critically analyze digital literacy. As teachers, we need to model this process and offer our students practice so they may develop self-assurance in their abilities to identify fake news and information.

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Learning in the open…should we be concerned?

In today’s digital world, people have become dependent on technology. Both our personal and professional lives are dependent on technology because it has transformed the way we do things; the way we live, the way we obtain information, the way we communicate, the way we travel, the way we entertain, and the way we learn. In fact, technological advancements occur due to people’s demands and life-style changes. The specific needs, wants and knowledge of society are what drives technology to evolve. Moreover, the advancements of technology are driven by adaptive learning, even if knowledge is commoditized.  

It is apparent that the advancements of technology present both positive and negative effects. Positive, because technology has simplified the way we operate. Technology is convenient, saves time, increases productivity, simplifies communication, and improves education and health care. Negative, because technology can be distraction, eliminates the need for face-to-face interaction, and can contribute to the development of unhealthy habits; such as obesity, addiction, and tendonitis. Despite the positive and negative effects of technology, our world could not function without it.

For this week’s post, we were asked to share our biggest concerns for teaching in the digital (social media) age. Let me start off by saying that I am all for social media. Social media is used often within both my personal and professional life. Social media allows me to communicate with my family and friends, access news and information, and expand my professional development as an educator. As an experienced digital citizen, I am aware of the potential dangers that comes hand-in-hand with using social media. However, my biggest concern is that educators will shy away from using digital literacy within their teaching practices simply because they fear the potential risks involved while using social media, and that alone. As explained in my blog from last week, social media can be a productive and valuable teaching tool, if it is used appropriately and in a controlled environment. Thanh Hoang Nam Le, a fellow classmate of mine, expressed his thoughts in regards to open education and sharing students work online. He states, “Before engaging students to learn in the open, professors need to introduce students to an established media guidelines and policies that clarify the appropriate use of social media tools”. I could not agree more. In order for social media to be viewed as an effective teaching tool, it is the responsibility of the teacher to educate their students about digital citizenship, digital footprint, social media etiquette, and the specific purpose of the selected tool they intend to use. This educational process is concerning to me as potential online dangers can be avoided, only if the necessary preparation/precautions are taken before we encourage our students to learn in the open.

With technology being so convenient, it also makes me wonder about my profession. Should educators be concerned about their careers? Nowadays, anything you want to know about can be Googled or watched on YouTube. Are we expected to incorporate social media within our teaching practices? If so, how much time is expected? If we avoid it, are we doing a disservice to our students? Therefore, the big question is: what is the role of the teacher? Well, the truth is teachers do not need to feel intimidated by learning in the open because teachers offer a learning experience more essential than technology offers. Teachers offer personal connections and one-on-one learning experiences that “virtual learning simply cannot do”. Teachers teach students critical thinking skills and inspire students to be lifelong learners. Teachers also establish trust and special bonds that lead to special memories in the lives of students. So, with confidence, I can say “relax teacher friends”! Technology cannot replace us but rather assist us in our teaching practices! So, get out there and show our students how learning in the open can be fun and beneficial. But under the supervision of the teacher, of course!

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Share, connect and chat!

For this week’s blog post, we were asked to consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of using social media to showcase students work publicly. As you already know, there are a wide range of social media sources which can be used to display student work or to assist in learning. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and blogging are some of the most commonly used social media sources by teachers today.

For instance, teachers can create a Facebook Group Page, specifically designed for their classroom. On this page, teachers can showcase their students work, post assignments/reminders, control its group members and maintain steady contact with both students and parents. Instagram can showcase student work by offering a place to feature student art work. Twitter provides a place where students can access current information about the world and use the information they find for classroom discussions, activities, or projects. However, there are many more social media tools available that each serve a different purpose. Some teachers may note that social media, when it is used appropriately, can be a useful tool rather than a distraction.

If you do not have experience using social media as a teaching tool, here are some of the pros and cons involved:

Pros of using social media in the classroom:

  • Social media sites can increase student collaboration
  • Using social media in the classroom can encourage more participation
  • Social media sites can be useful for homework help
  • Share resources quickly when using social media in the classroom
  • Social media helps keep parents, teachers and students all on the same page

Cons of using social media in the classroom:

  • Social media can be a distraction in class if it is not used in a supervised/controlled setting
  • Improper use of social media in the classroom
  • Using social media in the classroom can detract from human interaction
  • Cyber bullying on social media websites
  • Posting inappropriate content on social media websites

With social media being an ingrained part of today’s society, it seems almost impossible to avoid it. So, before you make the decision to dismiss it, consider “learning in the open” to be a positive experience. Moreover, the many life lessons we can learn from using social media. As teachers, we have the ability to control the setting and the way we allow our students to use social media during class time. But if we expect our students to be responsible digital citizens while using social media, then we need to teach them how to be. Many of our students are unaware of the consequences associated with the inappropriate use of social media. Therefore, we need to educate them about internet safety and all that comes with it; such as the do’s and don’ts when sharing or posting information online. We must also model appropriate commenting skills and social media etiquette. Yes, social media can be used for enjoyment but these tools were also created for a reason. Therefore, introducing social media sources to your students while also demonstrating their specific purposes through a teacher-guided lesson is recommended. Remember, there are many social media platforms that have great educational potential. So, it is time to start exploring them and discover all the different ways they can showcase student work but also contribute to learning.

Thanks for stopping by!



I blog, so let’s all blog!

Hello everyone!

I would like to begin my first blog post for EC&I 831 by saying how excited I am to be a part of this course and to be working alongside all of you! Throughout this semester, I look forward to reading all of your blog posts and collaborating with you in the Zoom room!

For my major digital project, designing and implementing an open student blogging project has always been an interest of mine. Why? Well, since I began the blogging process last year through online courses with Alec and Katia, I have been able to demonstrate my learning in a productive and creative fashion. Blogging allows an outlet for me to express my thoughts and opinions about specific topics in a professional manner. It also provides an environment for me to explore, collaborate and learn from people who share the same profession as I do. I have never considered myself to be a confident public speaker and although I have been teaching for 8 years, I still feel uncomfortable with public speaking, more so in front of adults. However, blogging creates a comfortable setting where I am able to share information, in the form of writing. Blogging has also encouraged me to reach out and explore the digital world in many different ways, as well as utilize social media as an effective digital tool.

That being said, I would love to provide my students with the same positive learning experience, by designing and implementing an open student classroom blog. Although this is simply an idea at this point in time, I have created a basic outline of content which would need to be taught to the students before the actual blogging process could begin. Only after the following content is covered by the teacher, may we begin to navigate through the classroom blog site.  It is important the students are prepared and fully understand how to demonstrate responsible and accountable behaviour before posting or commenting online. The outline of content is as follows:

Step 1- Introduction to blogging.

  • What is a blog and what purpose does it serve?
  • Who can blog?
  • Why do we blog?

Step 2- The Do’s and Don’ts when sharing information online.

Step 3: Appropriate and responsible blogging (teacher-guided).

  • Quality vs Quantity
  • Sourcing of information
  • Review examples of appropriate and inappropriate blog posts/comments

As for the LMS I intend to use for the student classroom blog, I am unsure at this point in time. Although I blog often, I only have experience using WordPress. So, if any of you have any suggestions for possible blogging programs I can use, I’d love to hear from you! Also, please share your experiences while working with blogging programs! Within the near future, I plan to do some research using social media tools, such as Twitter and YouTube to assist me with the process of selecting a classroom blog site as well as setting it up.

For those of you who are new to the blogging experience, blogging can be beneficial for both teachers and students! And here’s why…blogging engages both students and parents, it serves as a form of student expression, reaches marginalized students who may be more comfortable writing than speaking, serves as a great classroom resource, aids in teacher and student relationships, and encourages self-directed study skills. It is important to note that blogging cannot replace the role of the teacher, but it can serve as a fun and engaging learning experience as well as teach our students how to be effective digital citizens and navigate the internet safely. I mean, let’s face it, we now live in a digital world and technology is advancing every day. So, we can choose to reject it or use it to our advantage, whichever way that may be.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!