Learning summary (this means I’m done!)

Wow!  What a whirlwind semester – and I can’t believe we are already at the end.

I’ve been working on this summary for a while now- it was one of my classmates who brought SWAY to my attention in the Google+ community, and I knew the second I checked it out that it was a platform I was going to try for the summary.  I really liked the ease of use- the design elements were really neat because I felt like I didn’t have to play too much to make it ‘look’ nice.

I also like that this platform searches for images with Creative commons for you!

I will also note here, that upon my reflection of the class, I probably would have been better off starting with EC&I 831 and progressing to EC&I 832, instead of doing it the other way around…but hopefully doing it this was will help me to grow my technology lens even more!

Without further adieu, my learning summary:




Social structures and a teacher’s ‘job’

This week, I needed to consider my responsibility as an educator to teach/model digital citizenship in schools, and how I should approach it.

The institution where I work, has been established by those in power (white, able bodied, Christian, English-speaking, males) and their values. As a matter of fact, the society that I live and function in, is completely dominated by those values, and it is my job, as an educator, to perpetuate those structures and values everyday- or quietly work to change it.  Many have been ‘fighting’ for reform and transformation- but often fall short of making systemic change, it takes time, and there’s a lot of backlash for those who choose to work against the grain.  It is with  Ken Robinson, one of those people in power that I found an idea of changing education from a linear/fast food approach to an ‘agricultural’ that is more organic, we need to prepare students (through the right conditions) to have them develop their own paths which I think nicely accommodates how we should approach digital citizenship as well.  We need to stop trying to work in a system that tries to make students conform, and instead give them the working tools to make appropriate choices for themselves.

While considering an educational transformation, I came across this article Digital Citizenship in a K-12 world: It takes a village  which brings into view, that it has to be a community undertaking.  It implores the question who belongs to the village that will teach our children about digital citizenship.  Which brings me back to earlier posts written by Rochelle and Jeremy questioning the role of parents in teaching digital citizenship – and how to incorporate them into setting the examples for their children in conjunction with teachers, and everyone else who contributes to children’s learning.  Additionally noted, is that media specialists (read: Librarians), administrators, technology professionals, and even students can make up parts of the village.  How can I work to incorporate all of these members in order to teach digital citizenship?

As I consider myself as a parent, and how far my understanding of digital citizenship has been evolved- I wonder how can we expect parents to be part of the village if they have little to no understanding?  What needs to be done to ensure they have an understanding so they can participate in teaching the ‘village’- and has it become my duty to teach parents along side their children?

In my space, in the Library- it’s imperative that I am working with students and teachers to be teaching Digital Citizenship.  That is the wonder and flexibility of my role in the space that I’m in.  I am involving myself in direct teaching of digital citizenship lessons with students, I am having discussions with teachers when I see them integrating technology for the sake of integrating technology, and how we can better utilize the tools we have to contribute to meaningful and authentic learning for our students.  I’m also fortunate in my role, that I have had the time to interact with the curriculum and find spaces to align curriculum with Digital Citizenship, and through Health, Social Studies, and Language Arts in order to better legitimize the need to teach these skills and take up valuable class time.

In the second article Digital Citizenship – Addressing Appropriate Behaviour the discussions surrounds the ISTE’s (NETS), and Mike Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship and the negative examples that can be set by adults (teachers/parents/etc) through their use of technology.  I have to try and be aware of my digital footprint, as well as my in person interaction with technology around my students.  One way I can work to help enhance parent’s knowledge of Digital Citizenship is to put ‘tips’ in our monthly newsletter, and perhaps ‘dusting off’ my inactive Resource Centre page would be a good way to get parents informed.

So to recap:

Transforming to teach DC

I am turning to this talk by Rita Pierson to summarize how I feel about teaching students using the ‘village’ philosophy.  Students need to be given the tools to find the way to succeed – and they need a village backing them, and EVERY kid needs a champion!

I’m sorry, Google owns you now.

I started this week by reading an interesting article by Mark Rogowsky which explains how Google has the right to scan your emails etc., and will apparently use what they find to persecute you, providing you are guilty of viewing/sending child pornography.  Awesome!  I wonder if they can work to get drug lords and gangs brought up on charges next…but wait.

I was discussing this article with my husband, and he made the statement that using the internet is a privilege not a right, and if you don’t like it you shouldn’t use it.  It was that statement that had me questioning- is it a privilege?  Should we just be content thinking “this is just how it is?”

Next, I watched an interesting documentary on Netflix called Terms and Conditions May Apply (watch the trailer), and I was blown away to discover just how much of our information is being mined, and sold to the highest bidder. Why are we as online users, mindlessly accepting these personal infringements as ok?

I know that reading and keeping up with ‘terms and conditions’ is difficult and time consuming – but why are we so quick to relinquish our rights and freedoms to use the web?

I also spent time this week watching (and re-watching) an incredible documentary about Aaron Swartz, someone I had never heard of until this week.  From what I have read and watched, Swartz was a savant in many ways -he was someone who could understand the complexities of the web, and coding; while simultaneously understanding the social inequalities that exist and in fact working tirelessly to fight the way those inequalities are being perpetuated on the web.

As I continued in my reading and viewing this week, I found myself considering Tim Berners-Lee and the creation of the World Wide Web.  After all, when Berners-Lee ‘invented’ the internet, he easily could have sold the idea to the highest bidder and become quite rich- leaving the rest of us with a mess to sort out (I’m sure) with smaller ‘webs’ that you would likely have to pay for access to, etc.  Just how different would our internet experience be, if Berners-Lee had capitalized on it?

So now, I am left considering, if the internet was started on such a ‘free-ing’, ‘equal’ notion- how are we currently in such a space that we are being surveillanced, and ‘type-casted’ by our clicks?  How are we legally accountable for the things that no one reads – or may not understand?  How has our internet become a place of restrictions and inequalities, and why exactly are we standing idly by?

Does our Constitution Act fall short of protecting us online- solely because of the ‘Terms and Conditions’?  Are we in such a ‘new’ space online, that our Charter of Rights and Freedoms hasn’t caught up to the evolution of where we ‘live’ our lives?

Richard Foot (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia

The documentaries and links are primarily from the United States, so we’re probably prone to believing Canada is better off.  That’s not really the case.  Our government (well, the previous government) put forth a bill (which is now a law) known as C-51.  This law opens up the opportunity to ‘watch’ Canadians in an online capacity, and it also has the potential to ‘limit’ our freedom of speech.  It’s happening here folks, we need to be questioning, and we need to stop being complacent with organizations telling us they are entitled to control our online spaces, there needs to be boundaries negotiated that are adhered to- just as we have norms ‘in real life’.

I find myself questioning why these spaces are considered different and in need of negotiating?  We wouldn’t let the mail carrier rifle through our letters before delivering them, so why is this accepted online?

In Canada, there are organizations such as OpenMedia which focus on access, expression and privacy on the internet, they have many online campaigns and coalitions to support them in asserting Canadians rights online.

After all of my considerations this week, I am questioning why these organizations are on the fringe, and not the norm?  If we don’t start asking these questions, where does the line get drawn?


How do we learn, what role does technology play, and who benefits from it?

From Bandura theories of social learning to Illich’s interest in redesigning education, it’s important to understand the concepts, as well as to see how they could possibly be linked to our current way of learning and teaching in a technology fertile time.

Looking at Bandura’s theory, and understanding that students/children often do as they observe is something that fits well with the idea of digital citizenship – and something that fellow classmates, such as Rochelle have been considering recently.

When parents are unaware of the choices they are making and modelling online, do we open children up to making poor digital choices?

Fun with Babies Part 1


If we are considering Illich’s perspective on education, and the perspective that education should be self-directed based upon personal likes and skills, amongst a group of peers, and combine that with Bandura’s idea that children (people) learn through the modelling of others (peers).  It becomes easy to consider that technology could truly be a space to expand and refine the way we are teaching our students, and open an avenue to more effectively reach all of our learners.

created by @asingh2 via picmonkey
created by @asingh2 via picmonkey

Although I can see former theories being adapted to account for and include technology, George Siemens developed a new theory known as connectivism, which came at a time that included technology connections to learning in his theory.

While I understand how a new theory developing might seem more apt because of the new technologies – I wonder if this theory can be applied to all- given the inequalities that can exist with the access to technology.  I’m not debating that technology is valuable and in fact imperative to stay ‘current’ and prevent knowledge inefficiencies, what I am questioning, is how we an enact this theory on a whole when many don’t have access to these devices which would be imperative in implementation?  Does that not create a larger social divide?

We can counter-act some of the imbalance with the introduction of things such as Open-Education courses. While the model is becoming more popular, they are still few and far between compared to ‘paid for’ classes.  Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) are also another free way to learn online; however there are still barriers for some which could limit or prevent their ability to attend.  Additionally, when one participates in an open course, while a valuable learning space – does the learning just benefit the individual who chooses to participate? Or, are they in fact ‘gaining educational value’ beyond their knowledge base (read: are there monetary gains associated with those who gain knowledge through an open course)?

How can we best meet the educational needs of our students, in a way that is fair for all?

Do original thoughts exist?

Having the chance to further explore the concept of ‘remixing’ this week was intriguing for me, as I’ve often struggled with writing research papers, and being told not to put quotations all over the place because when I re-word someones thoughts, they are my ‘scholarly’ thoughts and interpretations.  I’ve repeatedly wondered how much of my schema can possibly be my own.  I mean, when you consider people who intersect with my identity (female, teacher, mom, wife, reader, gym-goer, etc) have been around making things work, and improving(?) upon them for many years.  As someone who strongly relates to a social constructivist perspective, it seems far more likely that I may see any idea someone has and either work to make it my own, or work to improve upon what I have already seen or interacted with.

License: CC0 Public Domain  via pixabay
License: CC0 Public Domain via pixabay

I think it is for this reason, when I stumbled upon Everything is a Remix by Kirby Ferguson I understood what he was trying to get at.  It makes sense to me, that we don’t really have ‘originality’ in the sense that it’s all brand-new.  I would argue that it is, in fact being built upon and modified.  I really enjoyed the video below and believe it’s worthwhile to watch, it is almost 40 minutes however, so if you’re not willing to spend your time there – check out his much shorter Tedtalk. 

While I can appreciate that copyright was developed to ‘give credit where credit is due’ (read: pay for the product/ideas).  If we can appreciate the fact that ideas may in fact be building upon the ideas of others – who deserves the payment? Are we in fact ‘stealing’ if we are modifying and ‘making it our own’?

When we participate in an online space, where it is easy to be exposed to many ideas, remixes, and ‘inventions’, what is the fairest way to determine who ‘owns’ which ideas?  In some sense it is easier I suppose, if you take someones song or video and use it- it’s not your own. What about when I create a video online using software, the ideas I’m putting in that video are coming from somewhere, but I’ve placed them in my own array – so is that now solely my intellectual property?

I much prefer to be on the copyleft side of things.  Let me use your creativity and ideas and pieces, to realize my creative ideas and pieces.  Let’s build upon each other, and share with one another!  Creative commons helps with this, and I believe it is making the ‘online spaces’ easier to be creative in.

Just this week, I was able to share a really cool resource with my children and my staff, called Incredibox, where they get to ‘create’ beats using a resource someone else has created.  However, examining copyrights this week, has caused me to question the different apps and platforms I have personally been using to ‘create’ different elements for my final project.  Have I become the ‘owner’ of the content I have created – or does it ‘belong’ to the creator of the platform (yet another reason that reading terms & conditions are important)!  Equally important – is to consider if I want to be an ‘owner’ of the resources I have created- and how to work to ensure that I am sharing the things I create online.

License: CC0 Public Domain via pixabay
License: CC0 Public Domain via pixabay

What if we all lived our ‘public’ lives like Miley?

Miley Cyrus has used her online profiles as well as her ‘public’ star power to transform her image, and create something which is always ‘talked’, tweeted about, or shared.  She has rocketed to ‘stardom’ by creating an ‘imperfect’ digital footprint.  I would argue that she does things exclusively to be talked about and to appear as ‘edgy’.

When tasked with this weeks assignment, I did some digging and some reading, and came across an article by Madison Ganda which really spoke to me (probably in part because she referenced more than a few cool sociologist ideas including Cooley’s looking glass self, Goffman’s presentation of self, Skinner’s behaviourism, among many others that were new to me.)

Madison’s quantitative study was taking a closer look into the users of Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram and the idea of performing oneself online, and how our posts and status updates can potentially work to ‘encourage’ the online self that we are sharing.  Within this study are plenty of opportunities to discuss many different ideals such as Benedict Anderson’s theory of  imagined communities- the idea that we imagine our selves to be a part of ‘communities’ we wish to participate in, when there is not in fact a physical space to participate in the community, as it is imagined.  With this thinking in place, it is easy to ‘see’ people joining ‘online communities’ and gaining a ‘sense of belonging’ that people often yearn for.  Social media communities ‘fill the void’ for those who wish to garner more ‘social cred‘.  This is easily created in a space where, in Miley’s case, a picture can get you thousands of likes, additional followers, or millions of views.

We need to consider, when our ‘friend’ list balloons, what is the purpose of the account?  Who is seeing our snippets?  As danah boyd elicits – are our online profiles a public or private sphere?  Is there such a thing as living a private life while online?

While the following video is a mash up that’s been done of Miley, (and has many highly inappropriate things in it), it also showcases someone who lives a very public/social life, and perhaps it also alludes to her struggle to regain some ‘private space’.

If we examine Miley a little closer, we can appreciate that she has lived in a very ‘public’ space from a very young age.  If we consider that, while looking at the increasing number of our children who are being placed in the public sphere before they are able to choose for themselves to do so, I question if we are in fact preparing our children for a life of ‘Miley’?  Not in the famous sort of way, but perhaps in a way that we may be giving our babies access to a digital world they don’t know how to maneuver, and so we set them up to live their private lives in public spaces.

How do we determine what is developmentally appropriate for our kids? How do we ensure that they understand that the fragments they experience online is not nearly the sum of the whole?  And how do we share this information information in a timely, age appropriate matter in order to prevent ‘the grass is greener’ complexes in our children- that may ultimately lead to depression and/or suicide?

What if we look in the mirror- and don’t recognize the person we see on social media?

In a world filled with ‘selfies’ and happy appearances- where do we find reality?  Where do we find the ‘high crime rates’ and violence/oppression of women?  How do we determine the increased demands which are placed on those posting all of the happy, perfect pictures?

Madison Holleran was a successful young athlete and student, who posted many happy pictures in her online profiles; Madison Holleran was also a student who moved away from home and was trying to balance all of the pressures of college life and athleticism, and who ultimately committed suicide.

The Newyork Times says that Holleran is not alone.  With stark statistics to back up their claims, and among the increased expectations and pressures young people face, perfect profiles are cited as one of the causes.  People are ‘peering’ into other peoples lives (at least the lives they choose to show) and feeling inferior, not as successful, not as happy, and nothing to explain how or why the other people are ‘happier’.

Charles Cooley’s “looking glass self” theory helps us to understand that people understand who they are and the ‘type’ of successful they are, based on what others think of them.

The way ‘others’ see ‘us’ has greatly changed now that we have social media.  We have the ability to put on a facade.  We can take the pictures that are ‘just right’ for the world to see.  As Amy Scuka shared in her blog last week, it’s really discouraging to think that while as critically thinking adults, we see people’s SM pictures as ‘part’ of the whole picture and not necessarily reality- it can certainly appear as reality to those who may not critically consider it.  Additionally, as @jstewiestewie discusses in her blog last week, we can create a ‘bubble’ of communities and the people that we follow online may work to justify our thoughts and ideals.  However, I have to wonder- what happens when we surround ourselves with these ideals – and begin comparing ourselves to the ‘perfect picture’ that is socially laid out for us?

License: CC0 Public Domain
License: CC0 Public Domain

Perhaps even more disturbing (for me), is Jason Millar’s uncovering  of Facebook’s manipulation of news feeds.  I believed that I was seeing all of the posts my friends were making- not that an algorithm dictates what I see!  To have it taken one step further, and to understand that Facebook manipulated feeds to include more positive/negative posts to determine the emotional response.  What kind of effect might that have on the those who may not question the information as it is presented to them? Additionally- how do we stop perpetuating the negative stories we are privy to online?

We can bring this all back to the public/private spheres, when we consider – where is the distinction between the two spaces when we are ‘living’ our lives online more and more.  What is our role in teaching this distinction?  We need to make clear when we are discussing being ‘good digital citizens’ and only posting the ‘good’ pictures,  that we also take time to discuss the implications of people’s appearances on SM if they are posting those ‘good’ pictures which can be very staged.

How do we help our children to read between the digital lines?