Final Recap: A Personal Journey into Media

My major project for EC&I 832 followed my personal journey into media and an exploration of three apps: InstagramTikTok and Flipgrid. My project was split into two main sections:

  • Overhaul and analysis of each app
  • Practical educational use of Flipgrid and pet account/personal use of TikTok and Instagram

Here are my app overhauls:

And my recap posts throughout the project:

Throughout the project, I created recap videos highlighting my dog,  @callie.the.golden.pup and our experience on TikTok and Instagram. To watch the progress from week 1, you can check out my YouTube playlist. Here is the final recap video:

A few reflections about the project and each app:

I originally planned to include Snapchat in my exploration, but as the semester progressed (and COVID-19, etc), I had to make some changes.  I use Snapchat personally, but do not feel like it is a tool I will ever use in an educational setting (except for discussing digital citizenship and safe app use).

Flipgrid:

I am really glad I took the time to learn more about this app and complete an overhaul of learning about the safety and privacy features.  This is a tool I have already used with students as we start online learning during the COVID-19 school closures.  I love the ability to build a virtual community among students, which is something we are missing right now.  A proud moment – I posted a “Be Creative” challenge for students to share something creative. One student shared that they were learning an instrument, another student replied with a question about recommendations for how to learn the instrument, and the first student replied with their recommendations! Flipgrid says “empower every voice”, and I feel like it does exactly that!

TikTok:

Using this app highlighted a lot of concerns about young people (especially under the required age of 13) using the app.  My dog account was a lot of fun to use to try and understand how TikTok works (especially the algorithm – still a mystery).  Many of the comments on my videos came from accounts that appeared to be little girls (based on the information provided in their profiles), which made me realize how important it is for guardians to be aware of the content their children are consuming.  What if @callie.the.golden.pup was actually a cover for a child predator and used to lure children? Using the app with students would likely never be supported by a school division due to privacy and safety concerns, but it is full of relevant pop culture content to engage students and learn about digital leadership/citizenship.  It could also be used as a tool to explore how social media can be used to promote positive social activism!

Instagram:

Instagram is a great platform for many different types of users – personal, professional, businesses, organizations, public figures, brands and has a large hashtag base supporting global movements.  There are many privacy controls that can be activated to ensure a safe user experience, but it is important to remember that it owned by Facebook – all your information is shared between the apps (especially for advertising).  I enjoyed posting photos of my dog Callie on my @callie.the.golden.pup account and learned more about engaging with followers and the importance of posting quality content.  From an educational standpoint, it might be useful to create a school account as there is such a large user base (you go where the kids/parents already are).  That being said, I think better tools with stronger privacy settings, like SeeSaw, already exist.

What’s next?

My biggest take-away from this project is to learn lots about an app (privacy, safety, data collection) and how to use it before working with students.  Sometimes I just try an app out and then leave it – that was my experience with Flipgrid in previous years.  But when I actually took the time to learn about how to get the most out of the app, the experience was so much more meaningful.  I can think of a lot of different apps that educators are trying out or continuing to use during the COVID-19 school closures.  I think it is important to take a little bit of time to understand the safety and privacy implications and learn how to use an app before rolling it out.  This will make for a better experience for everyone involved!

Will I continue my @callie.the.golden.pup accounts? Maybe! If anything, I have created a nice collection of photos and videos to remember our cute puppy during this time.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

TikTok: Everything You Need to Know

Make Your Day.

Real People. Real Videos.

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What is the purpose of the app/intended audience?

TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and inspire joy. – TikTok.com

TikTok is a free social media app that allows you to create, watch and share videos on a mobile device.  It used to be known as musical.ly in the United States but was re-branded in August 2018 as TikTok.  The app focuses on sharing user-generated videos, often lip-synching to popular songs, user created audio clips, dances or just funny meme-related content.  The videos are grouped by hashtags which usually correspond to challenges or memes.

TikTok is intended for users age 13 and over and is given a strict 12+ age app store rating due to mature content.  Any user under 18 needs parental approval, although there is a separate section of the app for kids to access only clean, curated videos.

How to use the app

  1. Using a mobile device, download the app (Android or iOs) and create an account.  Click here for my experience creating an account for @callie.the.golden.pup
    • You can make the account private to approve or deny followers
  2. Enjoy other account videos on the #foryoupage #fyp. After liking or commenting on videos and following different accounts, TikTok will create a feed of videos that you might like on your #foryoupage.  This page is personalized to every TikTok user based on how you use and interact with the app. There is also a separate feed for users that you follow.
  3. Create and edit your own videos. This article gives a great step-by-step guide to using the TikTok video creation tool.
  4. Duet with other users – your video will be placed beside another user video (that you choose) to be watched simultaneously
  5. Participate in a challenge – on the TikTok Discover page, you can view trending accounts and videos with current #challenges.  Users can create a video following a similar format as other videos in the challenge and share the hashtag on their post. Here is an example of the #papertowelchallenge that @callie.the.golden.pup participated in (and it currently has over 15k views!)

Terms of Use, Privacy, Safety and Data Collection

TikTok’s mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy. We are building a global community where users can create and share authentically, discover the world around them, and connect with others across the globe. We are also committed to keeping this community safe. Our Community Guidelines reflect our values and define a common code of conduct on our platform. These guidelines also allow our community to help maintain a safe shared space. – Community Guidelines, TikTok.com

TikTok clearly outlines the type of material permitted on their platform and commits to removing content that violates these guidelines or even banning/suspending accounts.  These types of activities include:

  • Dangerous individuals and organizations (terrorism, hate groups, trafficking)
  • Illegal activities (criminal activities, sale/use of weapons, drugs, frauds and scams)
  • Violent and graphic content (human and animals)
  • Suicide, self-harm and dangerous acts
  • Hate speech (attacks on protected group, slurs, hateful ideology)
  • Harassment and bullying
  • Adult nudity and sexual activities (including pornography)
  • Minor safety (underage delinquent behaviour, child abuse, grooming, sexualization of minors, nudity and exploitation of minors)
  • Integrity and authenticity (spam, impersonation, misleading information, intellectual property)

Terms of Service

Intellectual Property RightsTikTok does not allow posting, sharing, or sending any content that violates or infringes someone else’s copyrights, trademarks or other intellectual property rights.

TikTok Content“NO RIGHTS ARE LICENSED WITH RESPECT TO SOUND RECORDINGS AND THE MUSICAL WORKS EMBODIED THEREIN THAT ARE MADE AVAILABLE FROM OR THROUGH THE SERVICE.”

User-Generated Content – In a very lengthy description, the short version is that by submitting user-generated content, you grant TikTok the rights to the content. Anything you post on TikTok is then owned by TikTok, and it can be used however the company wants.

Privacy Policy/Information Collected

Types of data collected and used:

  • Data collected from the user (profile information like username, date of birth, e-mail address and/or phone number).
  • User content and behavioural information (example – the language you choose, types of challenges you participate in).
  • Information from third parties (business partners like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google; advertising networks).
  • Technical data (type of device, IP address, time zone, browsing history of content on TikTok).
  • Location data (you have the option of turning off location data in your mobile settings).
  • Find others and invite friends (you can choose to connect your phone contact list or Facebook friend list).
  • Cookies (first and third party cookies) – you can delete cookies, but they are used to improve your experience on the app
    • essential cookies (for secure login)
    • performance cookies (for analytics – TikTok uses Google Analytics)
    • functionality cookies (to remember settings you have applied)
    • targeting or advertising (marketing and analytics)
    • social media (to link to other social media accounts)
    • use of ‘pixels’ (Facebook Pixels)

TikTok has been criticized by the media for safety and security flaws (particularly in the United States), often linked to the Chinese app’s parent company, ByteDance:

Potential Educational Value

Using the TikTok app in the classroom has many implications and I would not recommend it due to the significant privacy and safety concerns.  That being said, it is an excellent way to discuss digital citizenship and online safety with our students, as many students either use the app or are aware of the viral capabilities of the app.  IMG_3155There is the #edutok  hashtag that shares informational and sometimes educational videos (my niece told me she learned how to do a math problem on TikTok!) and many organizations use the app to spread accurate information.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, any video with the hashtag #corona, #coronavirus, #covid19, #covid, etc has a disclaimer on the bottom of the video to encourage users to seek out accurate information.  For example, the World Health Organization created an account to share timely information relating to the pandemic.  TikTok also has a “TikTok for Good” section to “inspire and encourage a new generation to have a positive impact on the planet and those around them”.

Teachers could also use viral TikTok challenges to engage students without actually using the app (for example, the Grade 5 theme for Saskatchewan Arts Education is ‘Pop Culture’ – so we learned the Renegade Dance as class!).

Overall

TikTok is extremely popular among teens and tweens, with a surge in the Millennial demographic during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Although there are parent controls and family safety mode to help use TikTok safely with kids, Common Sense Media explains that this often takes the fun out of the app for kids.  As a result, many users will provide fake birth date information to gain full access of the app.  This leads to mature content (be aware of sexualized content on TikTok).

Common Sense Media also created the “Parents’ Ultimate Guide to TikTok”, and you can find many similar guides produced by news outlets and organizations with a simple Google search (“parents’ guide to tiktok“).  The general consensus is that you need to monitor your child’s app use and be aware of the content they are consuming and creating.

For the 18+ crowd, it is another app to add to your social media list to follow entertaining and (maybe) sometimes informative content.  Participating in challenges and creating content is a great way to pass the time during the social distancing measures of COVID-19, and if anything, you will find something to laugh at while scrolling through the app.  Just be aware of the type of information you provide when you sign up and make a decision about how ‘connected’ you want to be with the app.

Pros

  • Free, fun, creative video creation and social media app that allows for hours of entertainment.
  • Privacy and safety options for families to protect the content children consume.
  • Global community of users participating in challenges creates a very ‘social’ atmosphere.
  • There are many editing tools directly within the app, so you do not require any additional equipment to make videos.

Cons

  • Privacy concerns with how data is collected and used.
  • Users waive any moral rights to user generated content.
  • It can be addicting! (My first introduction to TikTok sent me down a rabbit hole of videos for many hours). The short videos play automatically with a scroll style feed.
  • Users can provide fake birth date information, so children can use the app freely, including commenting or sending private messages and watching mature content.
  • Inappropriate content (sexualized dances, mature song lyrics, harassment tool).
  • Some users strive to become “TikTok Famous” like Charli D’Amelio, but for what purpose?

In my experience, TikTok is a fun app to scroll through meme-like material and create pointless videos.  I was recently caught up in the hype when my #papertowelchallenge @callie.the.golden.pup video (from earlier in this post) received constant likes, comments, views and more followers to the account each day (and continues to a month after posting the video!). I admit, I am still excited to open the app to see how many notifications I have received (usually around 100) each day and I am perplexed with why this video is receiving so much attention. From this experience, I understand the addicting nature of the app and why young people continue to post videos – always searching for that “one video” that will be a hit.  I think using and understanding the app has allowed me to provide relevant educational content regarding social media with my students and help shape the way I teach digital citizenship.  Go where the people are! The people are on TikTok.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Moral and Ethical Issues of #edtech

In our recent class discussions about educational technology, we looked at the ethical and moral issues of integrating ed tech and social media in our teaching:

As many people know, teachers in Saskatchewan returned to work (from home) to prepare supplemental learning opportunities for students as a result of school closures.  With the whirlwind of information surrounding types of educational tools to use and the best ways to deliver content, a lot of people are concerned about student safety, privacy and how to share educational resources with students and teachers.  With our current teaching situation (remote learning), I would like to discuss a few ethical and moral issues of delivering education online:

  • fair dealing regarding educational resources; and
  • consent, privacy and boundaries when using online educational and social media tools;
  • the best way to help students who lack access to technology or have other barriers (like language with EAL families)

As we head into a “new” (for many) remote learning world, we must be mindful of privacy, copyright and fair dealing regarding educational resources.  While it might be easy to take a picture of a book and post it online, we cannot forget about privacy and copyright requirements.  My classmate Laurie used her video to explore the idea that with ease of access to materials online, our students need to learn how to use, obtain and share online.  One example was using websites like Creative Commons so students can safely use materials that are free to share, use and/or remix.  Other examples include:

Not only do students need to understand these tools, but educators need to be aware of how we share educational resources while providing supplemental learning opportunities.  It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind/stress of planning for remote learning to have a bit of a “whatever, who cares” attitude towards copyright.  Conversations and discussions in our class this week helped reinforce our moral and ethical duty as educators to provide tools and learning that are safe and fair.

This leads me to the next idea surrounding student privacy and consent while using educational tools and social media with students.  In the article, Ethics of Teaching with Social Media, the authors describe four ethical issues when using social media with students:

  • Consent (respectful ways to gain permission from people)
  • Confidentiality (make sure we care about our students’ privacy – will conversations be strictly in a classroom context?)
  • Boundaries (established between public/private and personal/professional lives)
  • Recognizing and responding to illicit activity (teach digital citizen and fair dealing with materials online)

These issues help frame our educator context when incorporating social media with our students.  In a pre-COVID-19 world, this may have included school Twitter pages or Seesaw accounts with outlined expectations and explicit privacy guidelines (like signing a media release form or apps that have been approved by your school division).  In our current teaching situation, we now have to consider how we may engage with students, perhaps through Zoom video conferencing or Google Hangouts.  You must understand you are engaging with students outside of school, in their own homes and on their own devices. But there are ways to makes these platforms safer, for example:

Finally, if it wasn’t evident prior to COVID-19, access to technology outside of school is even more prevalent. My classmate Curtis explored issues like the digital divide in his content catalyst video this week. The Nelson Norman Group highlights 3 Stages of the Digital Divide:

  1. Economic Divide: affordability of tech
  2. Usability Divide: challenge and complications of using tech
  3. Empowerment Divide: participation inequality

This research is from 2006, so I think one of the biggest gaps to add to technology use today is access to reliable broadband Internet coverage.  The National Broadband Internet Service Availability Map shows the gaps in coverage across Canada and an article from 2019 “The Human Right to Free Internet Access” explains that Internet access should not be a luxury.  Educators need to be mindful of the kind of access our students and families have to educational tools, especially with our current teaching situations amid school closures.  I have heard examples from my colleagues about students coming to sit outside our school  after hours to access Wi-Fi so they can use social media.  In our current social distancing world, the Wi-Fi has been shut off to discourage gatherings near the school – how does this affect our students who do not have reliable internet access?

Last week I attended a webinar led by Common Sense Education, to learn more about the best ways to help our students who lack access to technology. 

EUidP-YXYAALqn_ In the supplemental learning plan outlined by my division, students and families will need Internet access and a computer or smart device.  I think it is an unfair assumption that this will be the case for every family and then you also have to consider that there may be multiple students in one household.  In the webinar, attendees highlighted issues like poor (or no) Internet service in rural areas and language barriers that make it difficult to communicate the learning plan.

One suggested tool was “TalkingPoints“, a web and mobile app that allows families to receive information in their home language.  Like many educational tools, it is currently offering free resources during the COVID-19 school closures.  My only hesitation in using the app is that it might be difficult to register families.  How do we communicate when a family has limited technology and language barriers about a “cool new app!”?  I wish I could sit down with a family in real life and walk them through registering, but we do not have that luxury right now.

My biggest takeaway from the webinar was that in order to help our students and underserved families, we need to communicate and check on their well-being. takeaway

While I think we are doing a great job at trying to communicate regularly, I am not sure if we are getting the right information to these families because of the language barriers.  Furthermore, providing critical resources, like access to technology, is what our families need to participate in online supplemental learning.  Does this mean lending division-owned technology to families? What are the risks and implications of this model? And then how do we ensure the families have access to Wi-Fi? Or does it mean printing off booklets for students to pick up and do at home? But how is that an effective learning opportunity?

These questions provide a snapshot of some of the struggles students and families have with online learning during the COVID-19 school closures.  I really worry about losing connections with these families if they are not able to participate in the supplemental learning and the students want to be part of the experience.  When we are are physically at school with access to technology, there are many ways to engage these families and students.  Beyond the school walls and in an unprecedented situation like COVID-19 closures, we have to be very creative and sensitive to the needs of our families.  Connection and communication will be the most important part of this experience.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Instagram: Everything You Need To Know

insta

We bring you closer to the people and things you love

 

What is the purpose of the app/intended audience?

Instagram is a free social media app to share videos, photos and messages.  The app allows users to follow accounts of their friends, public figures, businesses, organizations and more.  Instagram is one of the Facebook Products after being acquired by Facebook in 2012.

How to use the app

Signing up/Getting Started

Note – The minimum age to have an account is 13 years old. There is the option to have a private (you must approve followers) or public (anyone can view your content) account.

Sharing Photos and Videos

  • You have the option of choosing a photo from your device camera roll or taking a photo directly within the app. You can upload up to 10 photos or video clips between 3 and 60 seconds long.
  • When you select a photo/video you can crop/trim, rotate, straighten and/or add filters/effects to the photo/video.  The filter option allows the user to create a specific “look” with one touch, compared the the effect option which requires to the user to manually adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, etc.
  • Before you share, you can add a caption and attach your location data to an image. Hashtags are frequently used to connect with similar content and users.

Note –  You have the ability to edit your caption after posting, share to other networks (you can connect your Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts) and tag other users in your post.

Exploring Photos and Video

  • ‘Search and Explore’ photos and videos are chosen for each user based on the types of accounts you follow or posts you like.
  • Choose to follow public and private accounts (private will require you to ‘request access’) and specific hashtags.

Note – Some accounts can choose to restrict their content to people over a certain age (ex.  alcohol accounts). Based on the information you provide Instagram (or Facebook), the app will determine if you are able to view the restricted content.

Direct Messages (DMs)

  • Instagram Direct allows you to send private messages to one or more people. The message can include your own photos and videos or posts/stories you see in your feed.
  • Sending disappearing photos/videos – the option to ‘View Once’, ‘Allow Replay’ or ‘Keep in Chat’.
  • ‘Unsend a Message’ – you can delete a message before a user opens the message
  • Send messages to people you do not follow, but they will have to approve the message request before it enters their mailbox.

Note – Instagram has a ‘Report’ feature to flag any abusive or inappropriate messages that are sent to a user.

Stories

  • Stories are photos or videos with the option to add effects, captions, filters and stickers.
  • Upload a video/photo or record directly within the story feature.
  • Stories appear on your profile for 24 hours before they disappear, but you have the option of ‘Highlighting’ or ‘Archiving’ a story for future viewing.
  • See which accounts have watched your story..
  • Record “Live” video to connect with followers in real time.
  • Tag and mention other accounts in your story, which allows users to share a story within their own profile.

Note – Instagram has many controls and options to limit who can see/share your stories. In particular, there is a ‘Close Friends’ feature which allows you to select a sub-group from your followers.

Feed

  • Photos and videos from the accounts you follow are displayed in the feed, with the accounts that ‘Instagram thinks you care about most’ at the top of the feed.
  • Suggested posts and accounts relevant to the people and hashtags you follow will be displayed.
  • Double tap the post or tap the heart icon to like a post.
  • Mute posts/stories of accounts you still want to follow, but do not want to see their content within your feed.

IGTV

  • Upload videos in MP4 file format (15 minutes from a mobile device, 60 minutes maximum from the web).
  • A short excerpt of the video (maximum 60 seconds) will appear on a user’s profile, and then the view can chose to watch the full length video on IGTV.

Terms of Use, Privacy, Safety and Data Collection

All content must follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines:

We want Instagram to continue to be an authentic and safe place for inspiration and expression. Help us foster this community. Post only your own photos and videos and always follow the law. Respect everyone on Instagram, don’t spam people or post nudity.

  • Share only photos and videos that you’ve taken or have the right to share.
  • Post photos and videos that are appropriate for a diverse audience.
  • Foster meaningful and genuine interactions.
  • Follow the law.
  • Respect other members of the Instagram community.
  • Maintain our supportive environment by not glorifying self-injury.

Here is the TL;DR version of Instagram’s Terms of Use:

  • Offering personalized opportunities to create, connect, communicate, discover, and share 
    • Instagram “builds systems” (algorithms) to try and understand who/what you care about and uses this information to create a unique user experience.
  • Fostering a positive, inclusive, and safe environment.
    • Teams and systems exist to combat abuse, violations of terms and deceptive behaviour. Instagram may share information about misues with other Facebook Companies or law enforcement.
  • Developing and using technologies that help us consistently serve our growing community.
    • A big part of Instagram is using “cutting-edge technologies” to help personalize and protect users. This includes artificial intelligence (AR), machine learning and automated technologies.
  • Providing consistent and seamless experiences across other Facebook Company Products.
    • Instagram is part of Facebook, so it shares technology systems, insights and information about you to provide “safe and more secure” services.
  • Ensuring a stable global infrastructure for our Service.
    • Data is stored and transferred in systems around the world (meaning, outside of your country of residence).
  • Connecting you with brands, products, and services in ways you care about.
    • Data from Instagram (or other Facebook products) and third-party partners is used to show ads, offers and other sponsored content.
  • Research and innovation.
    • Instagram uses information you provide to study the “Service” and collaborate with others to make the “Service” better.

Instagram clearly explains that to use their service, you agree to the “collecting and using” information requirement. This is outlined in the Instagram Data Policy. (A reminder that information shared on Instagram is also used to support other Facebook products).

Information collected:

  • Information and content YOU provide (in or about the content, like metadata – location of a photo or the date a file was created)
  • Things you see through features like the camera (so masks and filters can be suggested)
  • Networks and connections (the accounts and hashtags your follow) and if you choose to upload, sync or import it from a device (such as an address book or call log or SMS log history), to help you find people you may know.
  • Usage – the types of content you view or engage with, features used, time, frequency and duration of activities.
  • Information from others, like when they share or comment on a photo of you or send a message to you.

Device Information

  • Attributes (information, operating system, hardware, etc); signals (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi access); device settings (GPS location); Network and connections (mobile operator, timezone, nearby devices); Cookie data (including cookie IDs and settings).

Instagram Cookies Policy

Cookies are used to improve your overall app experience. A few key points:
  • Instagram or advertising partners will use cookies to deliver ads relevant to your interests.
  • This information may be shared with organizations outside of Instagram.
  • First (belong to Instagram) and third-party cookies are used (placed on your device by business partners for advertising products to you elsewhere on the Internet.

How is the information used?

  • Provide, personalize and improve our Products.
    • To offer content/advertisements you may be interested in and topics you want to follow.
    • Connects information across all Facebook products (example, Facebook might suggest a group to follow based on the people you follow on Instagram).
    • Location information (current location, where you live, where you travel, businesses and people you are near). Collected from ‘precise device location’ (if you allow Instagram to collect it), IP addresses and information from other Facebook products (like events or check-ins on Facebook).
    • Face recognition (read about how they use face recognition technology) and how to control it in Facebook Settings. It is currently only used on Facebook, but if it is introduced on Instagram, they claim to “let you know first”.
    • Ads and other sponsored content – all based on information collected and supplied by you.
  • Promote safety, integrity and security.
    • The information you provide is used to verify accounts and activity, harmful experiences, detect and prevent spam.
    • The company even uses AI to detect when someone needs help.

How is the information shared?

  • People and accounts you share and communicate with
    • You chose the audience (public or private accounts) and the information that is available to all public (like usernames, profile bio).
  • Content others share or reshare about you
    • Be aware of what you are sharing with others, because even if you have a private account, your followers could download, screenshot or reshare your content on or off Instagram.
    • Your comments on other posts are visible to those account followers
    • If you are uncomfortable with what others have shared, you can report the content.
  • Apps, websites, and third-party integrations on or using our Products.
    • Facebook uses a lot of third-party integrations (like games), but the policy makes it clear that it will not share your Instagram information with third-party apps that you use on Facebook.
  • Important note from the policy: “We are in the process of restricting developers’ data access even further to help prevent abuse. For example, we will remove developers’ access to your Facebook and Instagram data if you haven’t used their app in 3 months, and we are changing Login, so that in the next version, we will reduce the data that an app can request without app review to include only name, Instagram username and bio, profile photo and email address. Requesting any other data will require our approval.”
  • Third-Party Partners
    • Types include: analytic services, advertisers, vendors, researchers, law enforcement or legal requests.

Managing or deleting data

  • You have the ability to access, rectify, port and erase your data in your Instagram Settings.
  • Data is stored until it is ” no longer necessary to provide our services and Facebook Products, or until your account is deleted – whichever comes first.”
  • When you delete your account, Instagram deletes all your posts. You have the option of deactivating your account if you want to temporarily stop using Instagram.

Potential Educational Value

Instagram is very relevant and current among younger generations. This Instagram Demographics analysis shows who uses Instagram in the USA:

  • Ages 18–24: 75%
  • Ages 25–29: 57%
  • Ages 30–49: 47%
  • Ages 50–64: 23%
  • Ages 65+: 8%

Furthermore, “According to Piper Jaffray’s 2019 Taking Stock With Teens consumer insights survey, 85% of teens say Instagram is their preferred social network (followed shortly by Snapchat). This is a massive jump from 2017 when a mere 24% said they preferred the site.”

With these stats in mind, it is fair to say that Instagram is a very popular social media app.  If you want to use Instagram for educational purposes, you do not need to attract your students (middle years students and higher) to use the app – they are probably already using it.  Also, many parents may have an account and might prefer to see classroom updates on Instagram compared to a separate school app.

This article suggest ways to use Instagram in education, always highlighting the importance of following your school division social media policy.  With a private class account, you could share student work or capture class memories.

Overall

While I like the idea of using Instagram with schools (mostly because it is an easy way to connect with a large audience that already uses the app), I think there are better educational apps for this purpose (like SeeSaw).  Instagram is a fun tool to talk about with students and way to explore digital leadership when using social media.

Pros

  • Very simple and user friendly interface with a focus on photo and video media.
  • Many creative options like filters, stickers and text options. Even though it is a “photo and video” sharing app, the post captions are a place for users to express themselves through text.
  • Wide user base (personal, businesses, public figures, organizations, pets, journalism – the options are endless). Verified accounts make it easy for users to find public figures, celebrities or brands they want to follow.
  • Professional Accounts can access business features and insights to grow their business (including paid “promoted” posts).
  • Easy integration to share posts on Facebook account, since Instagram is owned by Facebook, BUT…

Cons

  • Instagram is a ‘Facebook Product’, therefore all your information is also shared with Facebook. Similarly, the information you provide Facebook affects your Instagram experience. While the cross-platform idea is designed to make your social media experience very personal, your data is being shared in many different places. Bottom line – make sure you understand that Facebook owns Instagram.
  • The educational opportunities are limited. This is not an educational social media app (like Flipgrid), but rather a tool that could be used for educational purposes (more of a “create your own” educational experience).
  • There is no “consent” option for parents if educators want to share images of students on Instagram. Schools/divisions would be responsible for developing their own policy regarding the use of social media (similar to a media release that allows school photos on a Twitter account).

I am a big fan of Instagram and it is my preferred social media app.  I like that I can follow a wide range accounts (from personal friends, large organizations, public figures, pets, and more) all in one place.  I also follow funny meme accounts that I can share in direct messages (DMs) with close friends and create/share posts and stories of my personal experiences like travel.  I keep a private account and only accept follow requests from people I know personally and routinely adjust which accounts I follow to keep my feed more interesting.  All that being said, I do not think I will be using Instagram as an educational tool any time soon.  I think it is a great way to discuss social media and digital citizenship with students, but I am not convinced that it would enhance our educational experience.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Weeks 5, 6 & 7 – Changing my approach

Over the last few weeks, I have re-evaluated my major project goals. I decided to make the shift to focus only on Flipgrid, Instagram and TikTok and removed Snapchat from my list.  Thinking about quality over quantity, I decided to narrow my exploration to three apps and think about potential educational opportunities with my students.  With Snapchat, while I am curious about the privacy policy and terms of service, I am not convinced that it is worth exploring for classroom use.

Big news – I finally completed my Flipgrid app overhaul.  This was a long process since the app was completely brand new to me (other than using it a few times in my EC&I Ed Tech courses).  Enjoy!

flipgridcard-student

Flipgrid: Everything You Need To Know

Flipgrid

My plans to use Flipgrid with students fell short with the announcement of schools closing this week.  Luckily I started up a few prompts with my students before this happened, so I am hoping I can continue using the tool if/when we start working with students again.  Three things I tried with my students:

  1. I had to be away unexpectedly, so for my sub plan I posted the link to our Flipgrid in Google Classroom with instructions for students to complete! Super easy to plan and I felt confident that I was leaving a high quality assignment for my students.
  2. I asked students to try and explore all the capabilities of video editing with Flipgrid. This included using stickers/emojis to cover their face and to use text and captions.  I tried to compare it to Instagram stories – where some people post stories with lots of text instead of only audio (because often views don’t want to listen to a story on full volume in public).  I found that my students were more engaged working on the technical aspects of Flipgrid.
  3. Using the Disco Library – so many great ideas and options to filter by grade and subject area.  Some of my favourites come from “Wonderopolis”. Check it out!

Here is my Week 5&6&7 Instagram/TikTok recap with @callie.the.golden.pup:

Instagram: @callie.the.golden.pup

One of my goals over the last few weeks was to post daily to see if it increased engagement. Unfortunately my posts were less frequent and I think it affected my overall engagement. For example, my average photo likes are down and I even noticed that I lost 2 followers! (I have since regained new ones, but still!)  It made me realize how number of likes and followers correlates with how I feel about the account.  When I am getting lots of attention, I want to post more.  It’s a weird cycle and I am sure that many young people today feel the same way.  That being said, I did notice more comments on my posts this round and I enjoyed engaging with my followers.

Next step was looking into the brand ambassador opportunity with Akioka Pets.  I receive comments like the pictures below every few posts, always from a different account:

I was all set to sign up, then I thought I would do a little cross research (aka, Googling) to learn more about what it means to be a brand ambassador. scamsWhen I started typing “akioka…”, one of the suggestions was “akioka pets ambassador reddit”. I learned all about the “too good to be true” scam with Akioka Pets on Instagram.  How it works:

  • comments from other pet ambassadors to “sign up”
  • to become an ambassador, you need to purchase products and “sponsor” the products on your feed (you receive a 50% discount on products and your followers receive a 25% discount)
  • General consensus is the products are WAY overpriced (even with the discount) – many of the same products are available on other sites for less

After another search “akioka pet ambassador legit”, I read this post which gives a almost an exact recount of my experience with the company on Instagram!  I will stick to buying Callie new toys and treats from some local establishments instead.  Giving a company my payment information in return for more followers is way too risky.

TikTok @callie.the.golden.pup

I had more success with TikTok compared to my last update and I felt inspired to try a new challenge.  In this article by the ‘Social Media Examiner’, I learned how using TikTok challenges can boost business (or in my case, engagement).  One day last week, I quickly stopped home at lunch and put together the ‘paper towel challenge‘ with Callie.  Not my best work, but it took about 3 minutes to prepare and record. Here is the 10 second video if you did not watch my recap above:

IMG_3155And this is where TikTok confuses me. Every time I access the app, I have between 60-100 notifications of comments, likes and new followers.  All because of the paper towel challenge video.  It baffles me! At the time of this post (March 21, 2020, around  9:00 pm CST) – I have 5700+ views, 1502 likes, 122 comments on the paper towel video alone (and counting!).  Also, I have gained over 500 new followers since the video.  What makes this video special and continue to rack up views more than ten days after posting? Is it because I ask a question, which engages the followers? Is it because I used a relevant TikTok challenge?

Another cool thing I saw this week was that any post that included a #corona or #covid19 hashtag had a disclaimer at the bottom: “Consult your local health authorities for the latest on COVID-19”. And the World Health Organization (WHO) created a TikTok account to spread accurate information!

Plans for next week:

  • Begin TikTok and Instagram app overhauls
  • Switch to a ‘Professional Account‘ on Instagram to use metrics to have a better understanding of post engagement and insights
  • Final push for creating lots of content with both apps!

I have to admit that I felt like I lost a bit of my enthusiasm and drive for this project amidst everything going on in our world right now.  But after getting back and engaging in this project, I realized it is the PERFECT distraction from the 24-hour news cycle of doom and gloom.  Stay informed, but don’t let it take over all the good things in your life 🙂

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Literacy in the 21st Century

This week in EC&I 832, we were asked to consider what it means to be literate today.  First, I looked at a few different definitions of literacy:

“Literacy has always been a collection of communicative and sociocultural practices shared among communities. As society and technology change, so does literacy.” – NCTE “Literacy in a Digital Age”

“Digital and media literacy is an expanded conceptualization of literacy.” Renee Hobbs, EdD Interview

“Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society” (UNESCO, 2004; 2017). UNESCO Defining Literacy

The following is an excerpt from a conversation with a few grades 3 students this week:

Me: “What is literacy?”

Student 1: “Like our literacy time? It’s when we do Daily 5.”

Student 2: “It’s when we practice reading and writing.”

Me: “Do you know what it means to be literate?” 

Student 3: “I think it means we know how to read?”

Student 2: “Yeah, my mom says I have to learn how to read if I want to get a job one day.”

Quite simply, these students have a decent understanding of literacy – learning how to “identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts”, and understand that it is important so they can “participate fully in their community and wider society” (UNESCO).  Learn to read and write so you can get a job one day.  If only it was that easy!

Before digital citizenship, there was just citizenship, and before digital literacy, there was just literacy.  As the world evolves, so does our teaching and learning around literacy.  The NCTE updated the definition of literacy in a digital age in November 2019 in response to the “continued evolution of curriculum, assessment, and teaching practice”.  Furthermore, Renee Hobbs, EdD explains that there are “five inter-related competencies that are now needed to participate in contemporary culture”:

  • Access: understanding how to access information in a digital space
  • Analysis: ability to identity author, purpose, point of view, evaluate credibility
  • Create: be able to brainstorm and generate ideas to create messages with media tools
  • Collaborate: with create, the ability to work together to create messages
  • Reflect & Take Action: ability to apply ethical judgement and social responsibility to online situations
13-literacies
“The world demands that a literate person possess and intentionally apply a wide range of skills, competencies, and dispositions.” NCTE

To be a well-rounded individual in today’s world, Kathy Schrock identified 13 literacies that should be taught across content areas. Her post gives a great overview of all the different resources educators can use to teach the literacies.  A note – the post is routinely updated, and the last update was January 8, 2020 (at the time this post was published).  Here is a link to a slideshow with definitions of all the literacies.

As I think about what it means to literate in a digital world, I consider my ability to interpret, criticize, understand, analyze and create through media and information literacy.  Like many of my classmates (and really, the entire world), I have been glued to social media during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.  While one might feel anxious and worried about all the fear mongering and misinformation online, I have been practicing my media and information literacy skills.  Before I compose or retweet a tweet, I read laterally and incorporate a few tools to spot real vs fake news.

CRAAP
Screen capture from our EC&I 832 class with Dr. Couros on March 10, 2020

One tool we discussed in our EC&I 832 class was using the CRAAP test to evaluate sources. Dr. Couros highlighted a few of the potential issues with the tool, but it is a starting point for teaching students how to evaluate information.  I think it is important for educators to explain that there is no one tool that is the “be-all-end-all” for evaluating sources online.  The practice of discussing how to evaluate information and media is the first step in changing the future of how news and information is shared online.

Like many of my classmates, Shelby shares how the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to discuss digital literacy and the dangers of misinformation.  Daniel describes the constant questions from students and says, “I’ve come to the conclusion that rather than answering their questions, I should be investing in their literacy skills [and] helping them develop sound information gathering and research skills.”

For example, with my students, we talked about reading laterally and using accurate news sources.  With COVID-19, the information is changing at a rapid pace, so an article from even a few days ago may no longer be relevant.  I think a lot of the panic and hysteria arises when people continue to post and re-post things like “a doctor friend of mine said this:….”.  While the information may be relevant, what is their authority or credentials?  How does it make you feel when you read the post?  Do you feel confident that this information is accurate before sharing?

Let’s be honest. This week has been long for teachers – with uncertainty regarding Sanctions, and the fear and anger regarding schools staying open or closing amid COVID-19.  It is impossible to not talk about what is going on – this is an unprecedented event in our history.  With the mass consumption of information and news taking place online, our job to teach digital literacy to students is more important than ever.

So, what does it mean to be literate today? Going back to Renee Hobbs, EdD, we need to find a way to “connect the dots between accessanalyzecreatereflect and take action“.  This means both in the digital sphere and offline in a way that is socially and ethically responsible.  For example, how are you going to take action during COVID-19?  My goal is to use my digital literacy skills to share accurate information and avoid fear mongering during this panicked time.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

 

 

 

 

 

#DigCit in Schools

Go to Twitter and search #digcit. You will find interesting discussions and credible accounts to follow regarding digital citizenship. You will also find many educators and accounts sharing information about digital citizenship, for example:

This is an important topic for all educators, regardless of subject area. This week in EC&I 832 we were asked to reflect on the role teachers and schools have in educating students about digital citizenship, our current practices and how to address digital citizenship in the future.

In November 2013, the Saskatchewan Government released the Saskatchewan Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying. The action plan included six recommendations, including: Support Students to Develop Responsible and Appropriate Online Behaviour.

recommendation
Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools (2015), Preface

 

 

In response to these recommendations, the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools was created to assist schools and teachers.  The guide was intended to respond to the following action:

proposed action
Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools (2015), Preface

Similar to the Saskatchewan, other provinces have created digital citizenship guides and resources to support teachers and schools. A few examples:

With all of these resources available, it is easy to see that policy makers and schools divisions believe that providing digital citizenship resources is important.  There are many suggestions and recommendations for providing instruction to students in our schools, but there is no plan to hold teachers accountable to incorporate these teachings.  So what should be the role of teachers and schools in educating students about digital citizenship?

School and Teacher Role

Using resources and supports made available to school divisions, I think it is important for teachers to model responsible behaviour when using digital tools.  Stand alone “digital citizenship” units may have been useful in the past, but at this point in our digital world it is necessary to follow digital citizenship guidelines in all teaching and interactions.  Using various guides and resources mentioned earlier, teachers must begin to close the gap between teaching citizenship vs digital citizenship.

For example, in the article “Turning Students into Good Digital Citizens“, Helen L. Chen explains that skills to navigate the web and social media are, “no replacement for the very basic foundational skills of critical thinking, written and oral communication, and, increasingly, flexibility, teamwork, and the ability to adapt to new working environments and collaborate with people from a wide range of backgrounds”.  Knowledge and experience using digital tools must be paired teaching students how to be good citizens.  I wrote about what it means to be a digital citizen earlier in the course:

  • “At this point, digital citizenship and citizenship are intertwined as life does not exist without the Internet anymore. As educators, it is more than managing a digital footprint, but rather acting ethically online with knowledge and empathy and making the transition towards ‘Digital Leadership’ as described by George Couros.”

Most importantly, I think schools should be able to teach students how to think critically, be aware of safety online and be a responsible participant.  Mark Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship is an excellent guide for teachers to think about and incorporate digital citizenship across curriculum.

CDEINZ2UgAE0x_6

In short, I think the responsibility of educating students about digital citizenship can take place when teachers and schools are provided support, resources and most importantly, time.  Teachers need time to learn about digital citizenship through professional development opportunities before they can teach their students.

Current Practice

Every school I have worked in during my six year career (six different schools – life of an arts education specialist) has had a different dynamic when it comes to technology in the school.  This is affected by the changing tools supported by my division over the last six years (for example, introduction of Chromebooks, iPads, Google Suite and other approved apps), as well as the level of engagement from administration and down to staff and students.  Using the SAMR Model, technology was often seen as a substitution tool at the beginning. The overhead projector was replaced with the digital projector or using computers to type up written work instead of a neat handwritten copy.

samr_r2

I moved into a new build school in 2017, complete with beautiful interactive projectors.  We received “training” on these projectors which included a 30-minute presentation on how to connect your computer to the projector (by someone from the company).  I am not kidding – these very expensive projectors with lots of capabilities quickly turned into a very expensive data projector.  It was not until after I did my own research (watching YouTube videos) and then attending another training session that I was able to make full use of the projectors. But, I recently returned from maternity leave to the same school with a huge staff change this year, and unfortunately many projectors are not being used to their full capabilities again.

While that story is not related to teaching digital citizenship in our schools, I think it shows the importance that teachers and schools need to prioritize and commit to learning how to use digital tools effectively and responsibly.  In my current school, without digging very deep, the only guidelines I can think of are a Media Release form (provided by my division) and “cellphone jails” with the senior students.  That being said, I am one of the arts education specialists, so it is possible all the grade alike PLCs have their own digital citizenship practices in place and I am not aware.  My thought is that if I am using technology with students, digital citizenship conversations and teaching need to take place.

BUT, before I started taking educational technology courses at the U of R in 2018, the term digital citizenship was not part of my vocabulary or teaching.  I have always had a keen interest in using tech with students and considered myself to be “tech savvy” and current with social media.  But I had no idea about my role and responsibilities as a teacher to create well-rounded digital citizens.  I bet there are many teachers today who feel the same as I did two years ago.  How do we change this?

Digital Citizenship in Schools – The Future

During our class this week, we participated in a discussion to determine key characteristics of digital citizens at various ages.  Two of the questions looked at ways to support teachers and schools and anticipated challenges.  Something that stood out to me was the lack of professional development for teachers.  Sure, policy guides and resources are great, but they are only effective is teachers are given an opportunity to understand how to use them.  And while there are many optional PD sessions available (Digital Citizenship PD offered by the STF), it still requires the teacher to find the information about the sessions and time to attend.

My classmate Shelby explains that the importance of educating students on media literacy and shares a definition from CommonSense Media: media literacy is the “ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending”.  Teaching media literacy includes helping students learn to think critically, be smart consumers of products and information, recognize point of view and create media responsibly.  These skills are relevant in many subject areas and are an important part of the digital citizenship puzzle.

What if our school division identified digital citizenship as a focus area (similar to numeracy, literacy, early years and FNIM instruction)?  Then every school would be required to create a school-wide goal that aligns with the school division goals.  Individual teacher professional goals could then relate an align with the goals.  School-wide and community engagement would result through various initiatives (instead of a Literacy or Numeracy night, we could host Digital Citizenship Night).  With a little extra push from school divisions to include digital citizenship as part of all curriculum with students, I think we would start to see a trickle-down effect, especially if we involve families.  If we begin to speak a common language regarding digital citizenship/leadership with staff, students and families, then we will be moving in the right direction to prepare our students for the future.

ribble quote
Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools (2015), p.5

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

The Evolution of my Digital Identity

This week in EC&I 832, we were tasked with reflecting on the idea of digital identity and how our past, present and future practices relate to our own digital identity. I will explore:

  • the concept of digital identity;
  • my evolving digital identity from the past, present and future; and
  • practices related to my students’ and daughter’s digital identities

What is digital identity?

Daina and Allison presented their video in class this week sharing an excellent overview of digital identity, first looking at the concept of identity followed by digital identity.  In the video, they shared Nora Lizenberg’s definition that “a digital identity is the representation through a set of features of the identity of an individual that is used in some processes of interaction with others in distributed networks for recognition of the individual.”

That is a lot to take in, so here is my break down of the definition:

  • “digital identity” (who and how we are represented online)
  • “representation through a set of features” (features of online apps, like profile pictures, bios, etc)
  • “used in some processes of interaction with others in distributed networks” (maybe through comments and posts on social media sites)

A few more definitions:

    • “A person’s digital identity is an amalgamation of any and all attributes and information available online that can bind a persona to a physical person”.  (Forbes.com)
    • “A digital identity is always unique in the context of a digital service, but does
      not necessarily need to uniquely identify the subject in all contexts. In other words, accessing a digital service may not mean that the subject’s real-life identity is known”. (NIST)

Overall, my understanding is that your digital identity begins with what you share about yourself online and information that is available to the public online. The challenge:

Untitled
Common Sense Education

A Brief History of My Digital Identity:

Before 2007:

It is the year 2000 and I am using my family computer, complete with dial-up Internet. I have patiently waited for my brother to get off ICQ so I could login to MSN Messenger.  I am using the Hotmail e-mail I created with my dad (cutie_cat2000).  First, I use Yahoo Search to look for meaningful song lyrics to add to my display name, then I patiently wait for my friends to appear online. I usually stay “offline” until someone important signs in, and the chatting begins.  This ritual took place a few times a week and it was the beginning of life online.

  • Digital identity so far: cutie_cat2000 e-mail address (I’m cute [haha], Cat as a nickname [although I was never called Cat] and it’s the year 2000)

Throughout the rest of elementary and high school, I explored various social media sites like Hi5 (remember when you could see who viewed your photos?), MySpace (top friend drama!) and Facebook (Grade 12 year, 2006-07).  I wish I could remember a way to login to some of my old accounts, or to view the Geocities websites I made in the early days of my Internet journey.  A few things I do remember are that I only shared a few very carefully selected photos on my profiles.  Prior to about 2006, my digital footprint existed, but I can’t find any history of it today.

Enter Facebook. The beginning of the end.  Multiple photo albums from single day events.  Any picture is fair game – the more unflattering, the better.  It was almost a game to tag friends in unfortunate photos before they had a change to review the tags, leaving a trace of our activities online forever.

  • Digital identity in high school: hundreds of photos shared on Facebook, daily status updates of mundane life details and personal information in my bio like: full name, birthdate, location, school, job, relationship status, religious views, political views, favourite music, TV and movies, etc
  • Quantity of posts over quality. No real “theme” or personal brand

University years, 2007-2013

I continued to use Facebook (it was a BIG deal in University) by sharing photos, comments and posts that usually had no purpose.  One thing I remember with Facebook posts – I moved to Montreal for my undergrad, and I found that comments from my Saskatchewan friends often included bad language.  I always deleted comments that made me feel uncomfortable or did not align with my values.

I also started using Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn during this period.  I even purchased domain names in my name as a way to protect my digital identity.  But I can honestly say that I didn’t really understand why I was doing it except that I might want it one day.

  • Digital identity in University: becoming more aware of how my personal social media reflects who I am, therefore trying to control the type of posts and photos on my personal pages
  • Using the same username across all sites as a way to create a personal brand (not sure why I did this, but someone probably told me it was a good idea.) After a digital cyber-sleuthing activity we completed in class this week, I probably would not do that again. Same username makes it very easy to find you online.

Transition period – 2014 – present

This time period of my life represents when I started working as a private piano teacher in Regina, school teacher with Regina Public Schools, followed by lots of travel and major life events (getting married, having our first child).  As I developed my personal music lesson business, I became more aware of my digital identity online. I wanted to control the narrative and make sure that if potential clients ‘Googled’ me, they would be impressed with my accomplishments and feel confident in my abilities as a music teacher.  I was trying to attract business, so I did a few things to “clean up” my digital footprint.

Digital identity in my professional life:

  • Utilize LinkedIn profile and make connections in the community and arts industry
  • Focus Twitter account on tweets related to music education and arts in our community. I wanted to appear as an active member of the Regina community.
  • Create catherinereadymusic.com to attract students and provide information (I tried to direct all my social media posts about teaching piano directly to my website)
  • Clean up Facebook photos albums, tagged photos and posts on my timeline (I hid most of my albums, made sure my profile was very private and was careful with what I posted online. I always asked myself, “would a parent hire me to teach their child if they saw this?”)

Luckily these efforts were not wasted, as they led into my career as a teacher with Regina Public Schools.  I wanted potential human resource professionals to be impressed if they Googled my name, so I check out my name frequently online.  Fortunately,  “Catherine Ready” brings up websites and photos that I have selected or given permission to post online.

Present – Future

Over the last couple of years, I have been more selective with the photos and information I post online.  While I consider myself someone who shares online, I try not ‘spam’ my friends and family with daily content (except for Snapchat – send baby and dog photos to a few family members).  As a family, my husband and I made a few rules and guidelines to follow when posting about our daughter. Mostly, we try to share happier moments and avoid naked baby photos.  As my classmate Leigh mentions in her post about Digital Identity, I try to make use of the ISTE STEP approach when posting online.

screen-shot-2020-02-29-at-8.37.52-am
“Building and Keeping a Positive Digital Identity” -ISTE

As I look towards the future with my family and students, I reflect on the different types of online identities. These types should consider security, privacy and anonymity and include:

  1. Open – shared through all platforms
  2. Avoidance – avoid all online activities and social media
  3. Audience – use different social media platforms for different purposes
  4. Content – carefully considered and curated content
  5. Compartmentalization – different identities on different platforms

My types:

  • Past (early years) – OPEN user, sharing freely and exploring social media
  • Past (University years) – AUDIENCE user – lots of different platforms for different reasons
  • Present (Professional years) – AUDIENCE user, shifting to a CONTENT user. For example – Instagram is for curated photos and closer friends, Facebook is to share with teacher friends and family, Twitter is for professional life (no personal life)
  • Future – I am beginning to see a shift towards a COMPARTMENTALIZATION user, especially as I consider how I want my daughter’s identity to grow online.

One thing I have learned throughout my educational technology courses with Dr. Alec Couros is that we need to stay on top of the frequent changes to our digital world.  Learning about privacy policies and terms of use agreements in my major project reminds me that we have control of what we post online and the information we share with companies and apps.

Returning to the question posed by Common Sense Media: How can I cultivate my digital identity in ways that are responsible and empowering?  In the ISTE White Paper, “Building and Keeping a Positive Digital Identity” (2015) , five essential questions are presented to think about when building a digital identity:

  1. What information am I sharing
  2. How secure is it?
  3. Whom am I sharing it with?
  4. What am I leaving behind?
  5. What are my rights?

Furthermore, these questions can help “kick-start meaningful conversations about online behavior, help students understand the broader impact that online identity can have in their daily lives, and provide a foundation of understanding for adopting appropriate online practices” (ISTE, 2015).  On Twitter, a few classmates (Amanda, Leigh, Shelby and Nancy) had a great discussion about encouraging a positive online presence.

The general consensus is that parents and teachers need to be part of the conversation to help young people build positive digital identities and encourage responsible interactions online.  By working with younger generations, we can empower our students and children to make choices that enhance their digital identity.

IMG_3054

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Flipgrid: Everything You Need To Know

Using Flipgrid isn’t about recording videos…it’s about learning. Learning that is social, personal, can happen anywhere and anytime, about making connections.  It’s deep exploration, and promotes that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner. – Flipgrid Educator’s Guide

flipgridcard-student

 

“Flipgrid is the leading video discussion platform for millions of PreK to PhD educators, students, and families around the world. Flipgrid promotes fun and social learning by giving every student an equal and amplified voice on the Topics you define!” – Flipgrid.com

Flipgrid is owned by Microsoft and is a FREE app available to use on all platforms: iOS, Android and web.

What is the purpose of the app? Intended audience?

Flipgrid is simple – the leader (usually a teacher) shares a topic question or idea and students reply to the topic through a short video response. Then the teacher and students can watch each other’s video responses and reply with a video.  The main idea is that all students have an equal platform to share their voice and interact with their peers. A social and emotional learning experience for all!

How to use the app

Instead of providing a step-by-step guide of how to use the app, I will provide you with links to all the resources you will need.  The first place to stop is the ‘Getting Started‘ page, which will give you simple steps to sign up and start creating. A simple description:

  • Step 1: Create a Grid (for your class or learning community)
  • Step 2: Add Topics (to the grid)
  • Step 3: Share your Grid (with your students) and collect videos (Responses) from your students. Students can view and Reply to each other’s Responses

Throughout the process there are many prompts and suggested links if you need assistance.  Flipgrid does an excellent job of anticipating trouble areas and will lead you in the right direction. A great by-product of Flipgrid is the engaged and supportive educator community on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  The Flipgrid team has created a culture of educators that are excited to share their experiences and classroom use and are encouraged by three Flipgrid Educator Innovation Leads.  If you have any questions or are looking for suggestions for using the app, Twitter is a great place to get immediate feedback.

Information to support app use is available on an easy-to-use resource page with links to the Flipgrid Help Centre, a Flipgrid Educator Guide E-Book, the Flipgrid Help Centre, Live Flipgrid PD, Resource Centre, and #StudentVoiceAmbassadors.

Flipgrid is a family of passionate educators sharing ideas and inspiration and having a whole lot of fun along the way. Take a moment and meet some of the educators in this vibrant community! – Flipgrid.com

Some cool features:

  • Spark – if a student provides a really great response to a topic, Grid Owners (teachers) can ‘spark’ the response to create a new topic for students to pivot.
  • Vibes – teachers can provide custom feedback that will be visible for all to see.
  • Feedback – teachers can provide private written or video feedback.
  • Feature responses – teacher can click a ‘star’ icon to bring a student response to the top of the list.
  • Disco Library – nearly 10,000 Flipgrid topic ideas to add to your Grids (including the #FlipgridWeekly30 as the currently trending topics). Teachers can also add their own topics to the Disco Library.
  • Sharing  – share Grids using a specific flip code or QR code.
  • Immersive Reader – Flipgrid uses Microsoft’s Immersive Reader tool (reading text aloud, change text size, font, colour, visual focus tool, break down words into syllables, picture dictionary).
  • GridPals – connect with classrooms around the world.
  • Mixtapes – compile student responses into one compilation video
  • Guest Mode – share certain topics with families, experts and others.  The topic responses can be view-only or allow recorded responses

Terms of Use, Privacy, Safety and Data Collection

In my research, I came across a very comprehensive review of Flipgrid.  Please head over to the the Flipgrid Common Sense Education Review for everything need to know about the app. Additionally, Common Sense provides a Flipgrid Privacy Report.

Through my own research, I will highlight a few areas of importance and concern with the app.

Safety – The privacy policy explains that “Grid Owners” control content, not Flipgrid. Grid Owners have the option of password-protecting and moderating their Grid. The Grid Owner controls what is public and moderates content and interactions. Potential red flag – users (or parents of users) put their trust in the Grid Owner to use the content appropriately and maintain privacy.

Privacy – Grid Owner (usually a teacher) information is collected when an account is created (first name, last name, email address, password, instruction type and country). Cookies are used on Flipgrid as well as any third parties sites that are visited by users.  Flipgrid does not sell user personal information to third parties or use personal information for advertising purposes.  Additionally, Flipgrid does not use personal information to track and target advertising for users on third party websites. Potential red flag – if students post personal information in their video responses, the information could be visible and stored on Flipgrid.  

Security – No discussion of encryption in the privacy policy. In the event of a security breach, Flipgrid will notify affected individuals as required by law.

Compliance – Grid Owners are responsible for monitoring content for other users (students). By enrolling students enrolled under 13 (in the USA) and 16 (everywhere else), the privacy policy explains that teachers must collect consent forms from parents (which is required by COPPA in the USA). Potential red flag – there is no collection of consent forms by Flipgrid, so teachers can easily use the app without parental consent.

Additional Red Flags

  • Changes to policies are effective immediately and continued use of the app means you have provided consent
  • Personally identifiable information is collected and personal information of children under 13 is collected online 13. It is unclear what type of date is excluded from the collection
  • Data is shared with third parties for analytics and product improvement
  • Links to third-party websites may not be school appropriate
  • Unclear is owners retain ownership of their data and videos
  • Two-factor authentication is not provided
  • Students could potentially interact with untrusted users
  • Personal information (like names) could be shared publicly
  • No ‘report’ feature in case of cyber bullying or abuse
  • Students can still use the app even if parental consent is not collected – there is no way to track the consent collection.

Potential Educational Value

Flipgrid is a very interactive and engaging app that gives students a chance to participate in networked learning opportunities.  The relatively simple interface allows students to provide quick responses to simple questions or more detailed and edited videos in reflection to a chosen topic.  The platform provides a space for all students to share their ideas and facilitates discussions through video responses.  With a committed teacher willing to learn how to use all the features of the app, a school division that supports use of the app and parents that provide consent, Flipgrid has the potential to be a fun learning experiences for students.

Overall

Pros

  • A very engaged educator community allows this app to thrive with networking opportunities.  It truly brings the “social” aspect to “social media”.
  • Extremely thorough help centre, resource guides and assistance available through a variety of tools (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
  • Students can be creative with videos by adding text, special effects, filters, stickers, and more.
  • The goal is to ‘amplify the student voice’  and there are many ways for students to be creative and empowered to share a message.  The ‘grid’ provides an even playing field for all students.
  • Grid Owners (usually a teacher) have control of the content (including hiding responses, downloading videos, compiling student responses into a ‘mix tape’, and deleting responses).
  • Grid Owners can provide student feedback (using a rubric with custom or basic feedback or a private video response).

Cons

  • Safety-wise, there is no way to make a grid completely private. This means that anyone who gets hold of the grid link can view student videos. (Example – if you enable Guest Mode, you will be provided with a link. Anyone with the link can view the videos in that topic without a password or other security feature).
  • There are so many features and possibilities with the app, it is overwhelming. It takes a lot of digging and learning to use the app to it’s full capacity. It would be most beneficial after consistent app use with students
  • Grid Pals allow student videos to be shared with potentially untrusted users.
  • The ‘fun’ aspects of the app can sometimes distract students away from the topic or purpose of a particular grid.
  • Students can use the app even without parental consent (which is a requirement in the terms of use).

If you are curious about using Flipgrid with your students, I have a few suggestions. First, check with your school division to see if it is an approved app, join the educator communities , participate in Live Flipgrid PD and read the Flipgrid Educator Guide E-Book.  I think Flipgrid can be a really fun and engaging tool with students, but it is best used if educators know how to take full advantage of the app.  The Flipgrid team is continuously improving the app, open to feedback and always available for questions through the three Flipgrid Educator Innovation Leads.  Even if you do not end up using the app with your students, take advantage of the vibrant educator community.  The positivity and excitement is contagious!

Weeks 3 & 4 – Short Attention Span

The last two weeks have been a little slow in my social media world, and I tried to understand why.  I feel like I have lost my initial excitement with the TikTok and Instagram accounts for my dog, Callie.  Upon reflection, I think it is because my post engagement has slowed down a lot and I am having trouble coming up with new content.  Creating relevant content requires time to go through both Instagram and TikTok to see what is trending, and it is a massive time suck!  I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to create the kind of content needed to “go viral” on TikTok.  But more importantly, I think it is a reflection of the short attention span of the social media generation.  Something that was cool a week ago is old news.

Example – I learned how to do the TikTok Renegade dance with my nieces over the February break and excitedly told my students about it this week. Meh. Cool. “TikTok is kind of boring” – a grade 7 student. WHAT?! “Yeah, now old people are using it”.  Okay, then. I wonder how long it will take for Charli D’Amelio to fall from TikTok fame (she currently has 30 million followers and over 1.6 billion likes – as of February 25, 2020) with this kind of attitude. Is this why apps like Vine failed? The short attention span of the Gen Y, Z and Alpha generations?

With that preamble, here is my TikTok and Instagram recap:

Instagram: @callie.the.golden.pup

image1The biggest change I made this week is I have started to tag different accounts in my photos. For example, I had a photo of Callie with a Kong dog toy, and I tagged the Kong company. They liked my photo back! I was hoping they might repost the photo to get more attention, but no such luck.  I also received a few more “brand ambassador” requests, but I am still unsure about giving out my home address.  One company, Akioka Pets, has an entire process to becoming part of their social media team.

Questions/Plans for next week:

  • Look into brand ambassador opportunities with Akioka Pets
  • Research the best accounts to tag in your photos for high engagement
  • Post daily!

 

TikTok @callie.the.golden.pup

I was a bit of a fail on TikTok this week – mostly because I was out of town and had to rely on videos on my phone to create videos. This sort of worked, but it was a challenge to come up with something original. Last week I had the plan of posting three times a day (not even possible – I would have to quit my job and spend all day making TikToks) and replying to comments (also did not do, but definitely possible).

Questions/Plans for next week:

  • Post! I am having some serious creator block when it comes to TikTok lately. I think this is related to not watching enough videos for inspiration.
  • Watch videos for inspiration

Flipgrid and Snapchat

I am currently working on my overhauls of these apps. Yes, still working on them. I am almost done the Flipgrid review (even though I said I would post it this week! Oops), but I really want to create a quality resource for fellow educators.

One interesting thought – in all the research I have done so far with privacy and sharing social media posts, I am very careful about the photos I post online lately. I recently went on a holiday with my sister and her family, and I made sure to always get permission from both my nieces and nephews as well as my sister before posting online. I am starting to see a change in my own social media habits – practice what you preach!

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready