Tag Archives: Social Media

COETAIL Course Five

Digital Footprint and Social Media

When considering how our students are building their digital footprints, the most obvious place to look is at social media. Sure, at AES we require our kids to have blogs devoted to academic persuits. These serve more like e-portfolios, though there is certainly room for them to grow into something a little more authentic, or ideally, a blend of both. But these school blogs are really controlled by the teachers in many ways. Most of our students do not post unless there is an assignment to do so. Meanwhile, kids all over the world are posting freely on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter.

The goals of this first advisory lesson are:

  1. Introduce/remind kids of the digital footprint
  2. To see where kids are posting
  3. To make students aware of what can be seen by others (privacy settings)

Our advisory times are 20 minutes, so these are quick shots. My tendency is to try and cram too much into a session and I have some concern that this might be the case here. The lesson starts with a short video from Common Sense Media introducing the concept of the digital footprint. A guided discussion and a survey follow the video. The power of the survey is the live results that will be school wide even though each advisory will only be 10 students. I do that that begins to touch on the transformative use as it allows for discussion of valuable data across the entire 8th grade while still maintaining the integrity  and small group closeness of the advisories that have been nurtured all year.

After discussing the results, the last part of the lesson shows students how to view their Facebook profile from the eyes of a stranger. In other words, it shows what the public can see of their profile. I really wanted to create lessons that were engaging and real – what matters to these students. I think the interactive nature of this lesson accomplishes that. And even though I am a little worried about the time, I don’t think the amount of new information is too much. The presentation with a link to the survey, guide, and discussion question is below.

When I presented this to the 8th grade team, they were all very receptive. They were especially excited about the real time results of the google form that immediately graphs the results, making the data easier to analyze. As will all tech, I am sure there will be some hiccups. I plan to meet with members of the team to garner feedback after the lesson. This lesson also lays groundwork for moving into discussion about how to treat other with respect online. Those are the next lessons I am developing and hoping to run in the coming weeks.

It is a start and I am eager to see the results of this first attempt.

Course Three

The Story of Power

For the final project for the visual literacy class, we were tasked with creating a digital story. This should have come easy to me, but a great idea seemed to elude me. My class already does digital stories, though I want to improve some things when teaching them this skill next year. I wanted to create a worthwhile project that I could actually use; this is easier than it sounds with an already packed curriculum. Inspiration finally hit and I think I have created something worthwhile.

Task Sheet

Digital Story Treatment and Outline

COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

Protecting Students Without Fencing Them In

Image from Flickr user woodleywonderworks

When I first started the readings for this section of the course I thought I had it figured out. Cyber bullying in schools is an obvious issue, I thought. The readings showed something different though.

The Pew survey results show that kids are in fact being bullied online, but it is not really any more widespread than bullying that is happening in person. This was somewhat surprising to me. In my personal experience and from the readings, it is much easier to be bold through a computer. I see “internet tough guys” all the time when I am online. Does this translate into more bullying online? What should educators do about these issues?

It seems quite apparent that both parents and schools must take an active role in help kids understand cyber-safety. This is illuminated by the Pew study regarding teen internet use, and there are several important lessons to be learned.

  • According to the survey, almost half the teens online said they lied about their age in order to join a website. This is an oft overlooked problem that I face as a middle school teacher. As our school moves to iPads next year, the COPPA 13 y/o agreement will be a major issue that we will need to solve. This affects many tools that we use – Prezi, iTunes, Glogster, etc.
  • One third of teens have shared their password with a friend. Do we file this one under the “mistakes you half to make in life” column? It seems that no matter how much teachers or parents or friends repeat the dangers of an issue like this, it takes getting burned for someone to actually learn.

One of the most interesting items I found was regarding who teens learned about online safety from and who they ultimately turned to when faced with an issue. Seventy percent of teens learned about cyber safety from teachers (eighty-six percent from parents), but when it came time to seek advice, only three percent sought out a teacher. Fifty-three percent went to peers while thirty-six percent turned to parents.

OK, a blow to the ego maybe, but not entirely shocking. So does this mean that we are wasting out time? Of course not. Schools play an essential role in preparing students to give sound advice. When it actually happens, a teacher might not be the one to give direct help, but the kid who is in that position needs to have the skills and knowledge to help their friend. And isn’t that the business we are in anyway. We are trying to prepare kids to make good decisions and provide sound council in these situations.

Who’s job is it to teach these skills?

Lectures by uncool old people like me aren’t going to make teens who are engaged in dramas think twice about what they’re doing. And, for that matter, using the term “bullying” is also not going to help at all either. We need interventions that focus on building empathy, identifying escalation, and techniques for stopping the cycles of abuse.

The Dana Boyd quote from above comes from an article on “cyber-bullying”. When it comes to thinking about how to teach online saftey, I think she nails it. Can I also add, we shouldn’t call it “cyber-safey”, as I have several times throughout this post. We are teaching kids about solving problems and making good decisions. I do think thereexplicit discussion about these issues has to occur, but I would agree with her when she says, “technology is not radically changing what’s happening; it’s simply making what’s happening far more visible.”

As technology changes, teachers must face the issues our kids are dealing with head on. We cannot pretend they do not exist. Banning Facebook and Twitter is not an option; we must teach students how to responsibly use these tools and how to troubleshoot when problems arise.

COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

The Line Is Moving

I have a personal blog. In this blog I often post pictures of friends without their consent. Some of them might never know that these images were posted online. I guess this puts me on the liberal side of the online privacy line. The problem for the people on the other side of the line, and perhaps me, is that the line is moving.

This article from The Rebel Yell was written in 2009, and already some of the wonderings from the article are begging to show up today. The author wonders, for instance, what we will do when companies start changing user agreement. Sound familiar?

I suppose this is what happens when every phone is a camera and every picture you take is instantly uploaded, like with Instagram, Google+, Hipstamatic, not to mention taking the time to post it to Twitter or Facebook. We want privacy, but we also want to share our lives.

This becomes more true as families spread further across the globe. For expats, online sharing is incredibly important for maintaining relationships. But this shouldn’t mean that we have to share everything with everybody.

That is why social sites are getting smarter. Google+ has circles that allows you to choose who you share with. And even cooler, you can make it to where people you share it with cannot share further. This eliminates some of the problems that occur when you are friends with someone online who is friends with someone else who you might not want to have access to your pictures.

Managing what you put out there is the easy part. The more difficult piece comes when you have to be concerned about what others are putting out about you. And that is where education comes in.

As the world changes, we have to adapt to those changes. We have to be aware of our actions when we are in public places. We also have to educate our students about how to navigate the waters of online privacy. We are not going backwards. Kids, and adults and me for that matter, are not going to give up their phones, their online connections, their social networks. We just have to prepare them how to share what with who, a lesson my parents and teachers taught me long ago. The wisdom is the same, the application is what is changing.


COETAIL Course Two -EDC 601

Saving Face, Digitally

When I think about managing my digital footprint, it all seems like common sense. Don’t put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want your employer or future employer to see seems like a pretty good rule. But that view is a little simplistic. Take the case of Rick Santorum, who should be out of elected office because of the things he has said, not because of a websites attempt to make his name synonymous with, er, lets say poop. We must now be aware of what other post and what can be linked back to up. Somethings as simple as a joke with a twitter @mention could come back to haunt you.

Katie Lewis at youturn.com put together a rather complete guide to managing your who you are digitally. One of the most interesting ideas about managing your online presence is that we have to make sure we post more good than bad. I’ve been teaching Animal Farm with my 8th graders, and I can’t help but think we have to all get in touch with our inner  Squealer to manage our image.

That view is probably a little dark though. I think that people, myself included, are a little squeamish about the idea of shaping how people see you online because it seems fake. Disingenuous. My view on this is evolving though. Don’t we shape how we present ourselves in person? Of course we do! The difference is that what is online is there to be seen by all, so we can’t put on different faces like we can in real life. I certainly act much differently in front of my students than I do with my colleagues, friends or family. And it always takes me time to warm up to people and show the looser side of my character until I have a certain level of trust.

Interestingly there was an article going around Facebook this week, What teachers really want to tell parents. Even though I might agree with some of what was written in this article, I wouldn’t want it linked back to me for fear that some parent my stumble across it, read only the title, and make a snap judgement.

The other side of the coin here is that managing your online presence can actually help you land a job. As more schools press onward with technology, a teacher with no online presence could find themselves in a less than stellar position. Conversely, look no further than COETAIL instructor extraordinaire, Dana Watts, who secured employment at AES on the strength of her digital portfolio.

Finally, since we are educators, we need to think beyond ourselves to how we can help students make wise choices about their online lives. Of course, we cannot make decisions for our kids; they are going to make mistakes. But we can try to limit those mistakes by making them aware of how the image they portray online will stay with them. I read a story last week about a big-time football recruit who had scholarship offers from Michigan and Notre Dame pulled because of offense remarks he wrote on Twitter. Sharing these types of stories is important to help students understand the consequences of what is said online.

I know more than one adult who have said “Thank the Lord there was no Facebook or Twitter when I was growing up.” At least as kids we could burn our embarrassing pictures; now you have to flood your digital profile with better representations.

All images mine.