Major Project: A Personal Journey into Media

My major project for EC&I 832 will follow my personal journey into media and an exploration of four apps: Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and Flipgrid. I am a daily user of Snapchat and Instagram, recently discovered TikTok for “research” last semester in EC&I 831 and started using Flipgrid this week with students as an educational tool. Last semester in EC&I 831, I wrote a post that explains my love-hate relationship with social media and my final summary of learning also explores some of the pros and cons of social media in short interlude videos (fast-forward through the face-to-camera speaking parts- see time codes below).

SNAPCHAT: 0:10 | TIKTOK: 1:34 | INSTAGRAM: 3:03

As an arts education specialist, some of the themes we focus on in Grades 5-8 include Pop Culture, Identity, Place and Social Issues. These themes have relevant connections to social media and I have had a lot of conversations with students about apps and how they are used in their personal and (sometimes) educational lives. My biggest concern is the lack of information students have regarding privacy and safe use of the apps as well as misinformation about how data is stored and shared.

For example, a student explained to me that the FBI receives and analyzes every single Snap you send, so nothing is private. And the cops read all your DMs on Instagram. Hmmm.

Although I am a fairly certain these statements are incorrect, it made me realize that I do not really know anything about the privacy and safety of our data with these apps. If I want to help my students safely navigate a digital world, I think it is my responsibility as an educator to have a basic understanding of these social media app Terms of Service and privacy implications. But as a personal, everyday user of the apps, it is imperative that I understand what is happening to the photos and information I share on a daily basis.

My major project plan will include a detailed overhaul of everything and anything about the apps: exploring and understanding the app platform, Terms of Service, privacy agreements, access to information from a legal standpoint, data storage and sharing, types of users and usage and the potential educational value. I will also embark on a personal experiential journey of the apps in a way that is typical of common users (and also different from how I already use Instagram and Snapchat). Although Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok do not appear to be educational tools, I want to see if there is a way to use these apps in an educational setting. I plan to use Flipgrid with my students over the next couple of months and learn alongside them, as sometimes I find they are the best teachers when it comes to new technology! I plan to use 8-10 weeks for the project, beginning during Week 3 (January 21) and completing my research before Week 12 (March 31) to allow adequate time to summarize my findings. I will take 2-3 weeks per app for the detailed overhaul and continue ongoing experimental use throughout the project. My draft plan:

DatesAppExperiential Plan
Week 3 (Jan. 21)
Week 4 (Jan. 28)
Week 5 (Feb. 4)
Flipgrid-Use with students for a current unit plan (“Social media activism” and “activist art”)
-Engage in some PD through the app developers and explore some of the feedback possibilities
-Connect with other teachers who have used the app
Week 6 (Feb. 11)
Week 7 (Feb. 25)
Snapchat?? Any ideas? I already use this daily with my family (mostly for Snaps of my baby)
-I rarely use the ‘story’ option, so maybe I could start using it? And make it interesting and worth watching?
Week 8 (Mar. 3)
Week 9 (Mar. 10)
Instagram-Move away from my current use (sharing photos of my daily life with a private account, mostly baby photos)
-Create an open account specifically for my dog, Callie (yes, I will be one of “those” people)
-Connect with users using specific hashtags
Week 10 (Mar. 17)
Week 11 (Mar. 24)
Week 12 (Mar. 31)
TikTok-To get the full “experience”, I think I need an open account
-I feel weird posting videos of myself or family, so I am also going to create an account specifically for my dog, Callie (pet accounts/videos are also a thing on TikTok- also, sorry in advance, Callie)
-Follow trends and create videos. How many likes can I receive? How can I increase engagement?

My plan will likely evolve over the semester, but I would really appreciate any feedback about how I should try ‘experiencing’ these apps, especially ones that I already use on a daily basis. I am excited to have a better understanding of how these apps gather and use our data and to help guide our students through our evolving digital world.

Thanks for reading!


10 thoughts on “Major Project: A Personal Journey into Media

  1. As a first time ECI student in Alec’s class, your post was so helpful in helping me think in terms of organizing my project timeline. I already want to go back to the drawing board and rework some of my ideas/timeline! I love the idea of starting a separate Instagram/Snap Chat/Tik Tok account. I agree- I was feeling weird about using my personal life as well! I’ve signed up for a Flipgrid PD session on February 7 ( Join the party!

    In terms of your question regarding Snap Chat, possibly continue using it as you always do, but post more frequently using the story option? Or compare which gets more views: stories vs posts (if there is a way to check the amount of views)? Maybe you could start posting stories of your dog on Snap Chat and Instagram and compare the amount of likes or views/types of comments on each social media outlet? Lots to think about!

    Thanks for sharing! Great start!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comments! Since it is such a big project, I really want to make sure I have concrete weekly progress to use at the end of the semester.

      I signed up for the Flipgrid session you suggested- thanks for the tip! I’m sure my major will change throughout the semester- it already feels a little ambitious.


  2. What no VSCO haha Your summary of learning was/is awesome. Love your plan of attack to review the apps and the way you plan to use these tools. Good luck on your journey … maybe you’ll hit it big and become an ‘influencer’. Wonder how some of your younger students get past the age restrictions on some of these (parents help or fake account or lie about age). Looking forward to following and journey from your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the ideas to look at age restrictions. This seems to be a big one among students (“you just have to lie about your age!”). I did a bit of research about how to become viral on Instagram/TikTok- I don’t think there are enough hours in the day to make that happen. But it will be an interesting experiment. Thanks for the comments!


  3. This is such a great run down of your project! It looks like you put a lot of planning into what you’re going to do. I really like how you laid out the schedule. How did you import that chart into your blog? As for Snap Chat, I have always found the “For You” section underneath the stories quite interesting. I have heard from some parents and articles that a lot of them are inappropriate for young kids… which can be controversial because kids are the ones using the app. I’d be interested to see what you find with the public stories and if there are any benefits to them! I am excited to read about your findings and also apply your information to my own social media journey. Good luck!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I started using the block editor with WordPress (not sure if I love it yet), and there is an option to insert a table (under formatting options). I started looking at the “For You” section on Snapchat- how random! Thanks for the idea- I will incorporate that into my daily use. Also something to read more about in my research on the Snapchat platform.


  4. I love the idea of your project, especially using your dog as the “guinea pig” for your exploration. I am equally as unsure about the apps you are exploring so I am interested in learning through your progress and hope to be able to help you along the way with suggestions (I have none at this time but see that you have already received a ton).


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