Full. Stop.

And here we are, coming up on Christmas, at the end of a season long journey of discovery into the universe of social media. Yep, that’s exactly what happened. There actually has  been some discovery going on for me, and this is evidenced pretty clearly by my summary of learning last weekend. But let’s back up and see how I got there:

In the Beginning, there was Paranoia…

The journey began at the tail end of a crisp, end of September weekend. I was at my computer screen, toiling over my first blog post of the semester. First blog post ever, to be perfectly honest. It felt so incredibly unnatural experience, putting my thoughts online, that turned into the most natural experience in the world as I spent most of the post dwelling on my fears and distaste of social media. I paid special attention to my fixation on the pitfalls and dangers lurking with social media

And the Paranoia Continued…

I was allowed to further indulge in my preconceptions with my second week reflection. We spent a good portion of our lecture discussing some vivid examples of what can go wrong online, and I highlighted some examples, like this one, and touched on my own experience with my identity being compromised.

The Turning Worm…

It was at this point, a few weeks into the course, that a perceptible shift in my thinking can be observed. In my third reflection, while not abandoning my fears and preconceptions, I began to perceive that they were contributing to me being left behind. I remarked on how different learning is today in comparison to when I was a child (and that wasn’t THAT long ago). The amount of knowledge at our finger tips is astronomically bigger than ever before, and it’s only going to get greater. And social media is one of the tools our kids use to connect and learn. As an educator, my self-talk regarding social media was starting to change.

My fourth reflection continued to build on this theme, as I made deliberate efforts to internalize the positive aspects of social media.  I looked into some well known social media campaigns, like the ice bucket challenge, and found some incredible initiatives, like crisis mapping. None of these things especially surprised me, but I was putting effort into letting these examples sway my overall opinion of social media. Basically, I was trying to unclose my mind.

With Great Power comes Great Responsibility…

Ice Bucket Challenge!

 

At this point, the conversation in EC&I 831 turned towards digital citizenship. This was well timed, as I had already made a conscious and deliberate efforts to hold my negative attitudes at bay and not only consider the potential good of social media, but the inevitability of its presence in my life.

My fifth reflection discussed my own responsibility to teach digital citizenship to the students I support. I read some material that highlighted the pitfalls of relying on a “fear and avoidance” model of teaching digital citizenship, and this spoke to me on many levels. I instinctively knew, as a teacher, that this doesn’t work. But with social media, up until now, I have been disregarding this good practice, and this almost certainly was a by-product of my own personal fears of social media.

But I am the adult here, and I need to move beyond that. The thought also occurred that some of the very things that drive me away from social media are, maybe, things that people do because nobody was there to really teach them how to use social media responsibly.

The Wishful Demise of Textbooks…

My sixth reflection, and seventh, veered away a bit from my responsibility to teach digital citizenship, and moved towards grappling with open education. I pointed out how kids around the world, 617 million of them in fact, do not have access to quality education, despite being in school. I certainly wasn’t alone in perceiving injustice in mega industries thriving off of education, while so many are left out in the cold.

I had the chance to play and experiment with some OER resources, like Khan Academy, and discussed their potential to extend the reach of education. This was personally relevant, as the school I am employed with has had to make some prioritizing decisions around resources for education support, and this has included not paying for Mathletics. Khan Academy can fill in the void (and more) with no actual cost attached to it.

Khan Academy motto: “You can learn anything. For free. For everyone. Forever.” 

Detour…

Waze at work!

It was at this point in my journey that I felt confident enough to take a small detour and relate my experience with Waze. Waze is a social media approach to navigating, and I’ve quite enjoyed it. The data behind the app is not centrally built up, but built by the users. This leads to a pretty responsive map with live traffic data, and up to date information on road closures. It was fun being able to contribute myself, as I added Harbour Landing School to the map.

Winding Down…

As we started to near the finish line, we veered back towards talking about sharing, and the power of learning collaboratively in shared spaces. My seventh reflection discussed Steven Johnson’s notion of idea incubation, how our greatest ideas don’t actually come in flashes of genius, but rather take time to germinate and come to fruition. Along that vein, I related some stories of unexpected technological discoveries that stemmed far from their original design, like the development of the microwave.

I started to connect this personally to my own habits with regards to professional sharing, outlining the venues in which I am comfortable sharing (ed camps, with colleagues, basically anything face-to-face), and my lingering caution with sharing online (funny how everything seems to keep coming back to that).

Flipping the Grid

Flipgrid!

My final reflection was a last hurrah to experiment with some applications that harness social media for learning. I chose to play with Flipgrid, an app that lets student present learning in a fun and creative way. It allows for the teacher to pose a question by video, and lets students record answers by video as well. It was a pretty fun experience for the students who got to partake.

This was kind of a nice exclamation point on my reflection process for me. One more pointed reminder that, for the sceptic (me), that social media can be used to some great positive ends. They can be grand, like a massive charity drive, or more personal, like an application that supplements good teaching practice.

In the End

And so this led me to where I am now, trying to summarize my experience through video. EC&I has been a very positive experience for me. An experience that has impacted my practice in meaningful and, just as importantly, actionable ways. My attitudes on social media have certainly shifted towards a more moderate stance, and this is a stance that better fits with my clientele of students who are very much in tune with social media. My adventure with seesaw has, as stated in my summary video, been a game changer. It is something that I cannot imagine being without.

Thanks Alec!

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