Friday Night Dinner – My Generational Divide Focus Group

Every Friday night, my family gathers for a big family dinner planned and executed by my mother. We call it “Friday Night Dinner” and it is something everyone looks forward to after a long week of work and school. I get to reconnect with my brothers and sisters and all the cousins run around and play. After dinner, we sit around our big dinner table and have conversations that usually bring out our generational divides (My parents, the 5 kids [siblings and myself], our partners and 7 grandkids).

In short, we have our very own ‘generational divide’ focus group that meets weekly to discuss the latest issues and trends in our world.  Generational stereotypes? Yup, we cover all those and more.c4552553a55501a39ae09446e1d519ce There are “OK, boomer” comments from the Gen Z’s, the Gen X’s calling the Millenials lazy (read my classmate Matteo’s post) and the phone-addicted Gen Z’s being anti-social in the corner. The Gen Alphas are usually in their own world, so there is still hope, right?

Although many sources use different birth years to determine your generation, I like this image below (from 2015), as it highlights and pokes fun at some of the typical opinions and experiences of each generation.   a-generation-gaps-bruce-feirstein-vf

During our class discussion, I wondered if being focused on generation gaps was something more prevalent today. But Dr. Couros showed us a few different magazine covers over the last 40 years, each one condemning the next generation as being lazy, entitled, etc. It appears that a common concern is that the next generation is “doomed” unless we do something about it. With an understanding of the gaps that exist between each generation, we can consider how these divides affect the world we are preparing our students for in the future.

What kind of world?

Gone are the days of sending students on prescribed educational paths that will result in 30-year careers in one industry.  Teachers are often told we are teaching students for jobs that do not even exist. In fact, “in many industries and countries, some of the most in-demand jobs didn’t even exist five or 10 years ago — and the pace of change will only accelerate” and since it is impossible to know what the future holds,  “the key to molding job-ready graduates is to teach students how to live — and learn — at the intersections” (Iste.com).

POG-illustration-500pxThese “intersections” are areas that interdisciplinary learning can take place and we can prepare our students by using models like ‘Portrait of a Graduate’.  Many organizations have created their own ‘portrait’, but here is an explanation by the Oxford School District based in Oxford, MS.  As educators, we have the task of preparing our students for the future by developing skills and a mindset to take on the challenges in their future world.  The world we are preparing our students for is constantly changing, so I think it is important that we focusing on developing relationships with our students, which will allow us to curate their passions and help students find their spark.

Do schools need to change?

The article “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” describes new skills that need to be taught to students that build on traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills currently taught in the classroom. These include:

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“Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century” (p. 4)

In some ways, schools are already taking on these skills by incorporating the 4 C’s of 21st Century skills as described by my classmate Amanda in her post this week. Amanda explains that, “Cultivating a classroom environment around the 4 C’s also gives students the chance to become “knowledge-able” instead of just knowledgeable”.

Another classmate, Christina, explains that our schools need to change because our culture is changing and “We need to keep up with how the digital world is evolving or we will have students thrown into a world with no skills how to navigate it.”  As educators in a 21st century world, we have a responsibility to keep up with these changes as life long learners.  We can do this by participating in professional development, or taking relevant courses like EC&I 832!

(As a side note – consider reflecting on how you used technology in your first year as a teacher and compare it with the present day. The SAMR model is one way to consider our technology use and how it is evolving.)

I also think it is important to change how we frame digital citizenship conversations with our students.  This includes moving from a cyber safety or fear/avoidance based model to our current model that emphasizes actions a responsible citizen should take.  Last week, I created a video “What does it mean to be a (digital) citizen”, and I think it highlights the shift schools need to take with digital citizenship in schools.

What does citizenship look like in the future?

In the research for the video above, I found a lot of information about moving from a ‘personally responsible’ idea of digital citizenship and to consider using Westheimer’s framework of what it means to be a citizen.  This includes looking at the benefits of participatory and justice-oriented citizens online.

Kinds_of_Citizen

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. I love this visual from Sylvia Duckworth and Jennifer Casa Todd.  We have the opportunity to inspire our students to find passion, influence others and make positive change!

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Returning to my ‘Friday Night Dinner’ discussion at the beginning of the post, I am curious if we can shift our family conversation to look at the positives each generation has to offer.  The Millenials are pretty good digital citizens, but it is the grandkids that will make all the difference.  Everyday I learn something new from young people as they become digital leaders to promote positive change in our world.  Even though the current passions might be the ‘Renegade’ dance, there is no denying their commitment and dedication.  As educators, parents and adults in the lives of young people, we have the chance to cultivate these passions and help promote the wave of the future: digital leadership.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

An evening with Mary Beth Hertz

This week during our EC&I 832 Zoom session, we had an excellent presentation and conversation with Mary Beth Hertz, author of “Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet” and current high school art/technology teacher.

We shouldn’t be teaching kids to be afraid of social media, or that technology is bad for them. We should treat these tools like any influence in their life and help them manage the responsibilities connected to these tools effectively and ethically.Mary Beth Hertz

There were many takeaways from our conversation, but for the purpose of this post I will focus on my top three:

  1. Learning how the Internet works
  2. Validating what our children/students are doing online
  3. Understanding bias

1. Learning how the Internet works

Hertz explained that part of her high school technology course begins with teaching and learning about how the Internet works – from IP addresses, Wi-Fi, and cookies.  This discussion made me realize I vaguely know what is going on, but not enough to explain it to my students.  Hertz believes it is important for students to understand how their devices connect to the outside world, as well as privacy and safety with the devices. For example, what are the concerns with using the free Wi-Fi in a coffee shop vs your password protected Wi-Fi in your home? What are the safety concerns with being connected to an Alexa or Google Home? Hertz explains that part of being literate in a digital world is understanding the implications of technology, even if you don’t understand the functionality. 

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via GIPHY

Takeaway? We (as educators) need a basic understanding of the Internet to guide our students in a digital world!

2. Validating what are children/students are doing online

In a discussion of some popular apps like Snapchat and TikTok, we highlighted the obsessions or unhealthy communities young people find online.  Hertz focused on the idea that kids are not necessarily addicted to social media, but instead addicted to each other.  We also talked about Manoush Zomoradi, who dedicates an entire episode of her podcast, ‘Note to Self’ about the pressures of maintaining Snapstreaks. I encourage you to listen to the relatively short episode to understand the phenomenon (especially if you are obsessed with streaks, like myself! Going on Day 1038 with my niece…)

That being said, Hertz believes it is possible to teach young people self-regulation and reflection when it comes to technology use.  Another comment she made was that preparing our students to use their time wisely used to be a technology teacher’s job – but now everyone needs to be involved. How to use technology responsibly (and further discussions of digital citizenship) need to be included every time we use technology in the classroom or with our children.  Hertz explains that we should understand that there is value in what they are doing online, and we can validate this by acknowledging the digital divide among our students. Amanda and Daina provide excellent descriptions of Digital Equity and that young people fall into three categories when it comes to technology use.  They are described in an article shared by Hertz as Digital Orphans, Digital Exiles and Digital Heirs.

Takeaway? We need to build relationships with our students so we can understand and appreciate what they are doing online.

3. Understanding bias

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Hertz described bias in a way that was very easy to understand and I immediately started using it with my students this week.  If you are reading something (like “news”), and it makes you feel a certain way (an emotion), then you likely have bias as the author is trying to influence how you feel.  She also explained that bias is very difficult to teach because nothing is just news anymore and articles often lack context.  There is so much media bias and fake news online, how do we teach it as educators?  One suggestion from Hertz was to use AllSides.com, a website dedicated to providing balanced news.  We also need to look at where these biases originate, like from parents as inherited preferences (especially related to politics) or in our own cognitive biases that influence decisions.  This discussion lead towards the importance of fact checking and how ‘Reading Laterally’  helps our students fall out of the trap of not trusting anything.  We need to be a little be skeptical when we read online, but we can help our students by giving them the tools to understand how to avoid being fooled online  and how to make sense of bias.

Takeaway? We need to help our students understand bias and how it influences what we read online. 

As an arts education teacher, I have started talking about digital citizenship and how we use technology with students, even if it feels unrelated to arts ed.  Mary Beth Hertz helped me realize that if you are using technology with students, these conversations about technology need to take place.  It is not only the classroom teacher or the parents’ job – we all have a part in shaping mindful technology users and responsible digital citizens.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

EC&I 831 – Summary of Learning

My final summary of learning for EC&I 831: Social Media and Open Education:

In my summary of learning, I wanted to capture everything I have learned over the last few months. I thought it would be fun to incorporate the top 5 social media apps that we discussed in the course and challenge myself to use or understand the apps.

  • Snapchat (user for the last 3 years)
  • TikTok (user for 1 week)
  • Instagram (user for the last 8 years)
  • YouTube (user for 12 years – my first upload was July 2007!)
  • VSCO (user for 5 years, but only recently understanding the VSCO Girl concept)

I hope the brief social media interludes in the video highlight some of the obsessions and common uses of the apps. I will say one thing – if you have not downloaded TikTok, be careful. I fell into a deep, dark hole of videos for over 2 hours…you’ve been warned!

Secondly, I originally wanted to include Rick Mercer style rants addressing the main issues and topics in EC&I 831. I quickly realized that it is impossible to film in the “rant” style as a solo videographer with a selfie-stick and an iPhone. In the video, I discuss the topics that resonated with me the most:

Lastly, I tried to incorporate all my editing skills acquired over the last couple months with WeVideo, like video overlaying.

I hope you enjoy the video!

@Catherine_Ready

P.S. Thank you to my sister and brother-in-law for letting me use their business, Assiniboia Gallery to record the video. No baby or dog distractions!