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.

069f0019670e3e6a1d62c0f7279d8718

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

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

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

Week 2 – Quality Content

This week we were tasked at looking at the concept of digital citizenship, including Mike Ribble’s nine elements through our major project update.  Since the main goal for my major project is to guide students through the safe use of Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Flipgrid, I will focus on Ribble’s S3 Framework (Safe, Savvy and Social).

First, a quick update with my Instagram and TikTok highlights this week:

With each post I make on Instagram or TikTok, I try to imagine that I am a young user of the apps.  When I receive comments or direct messages, would these be appropriate considering the content I am posting?  Everything is fairly “lighthearted” with @callie.the.golden.pup, but I can’t help but think about the audience I am attracting. What if I flipped it and I was actually someone with inappropriate or dangerous intentions? I am attracting a young audience with my Instagram and TikTok accounts, so what if I used this as a way to lure my followers down a dangerous path?

This reminds me of some ‘Social Media Rules’ from MediaSmarts.ca :

  • I will only follow people I know personally.
  • I will always show an adult any message or post that makes me feel uncomfortable or threatened.
  • I will never share any personal information about myself, such as my age, where I live, and where I go to school.
  • I will keep my whereabouts to myself: I will turn off any location settings that tell people exactly where I am or where a photograph was taken.
  • I will never publish anything I wouldn’t want my parents, teachers, and grandparents to see, because photos can be shared widely, with anyone, in a matter of seconds.
  • When creating a password, I will make one up that is hard for someone else to guess but easy for me to remember. I will never reveal it to anyone (except my parents or a trusted adult) – not even my best friend.
  • I will always check my privacy settings and go over them with my parents.
  • I will practice the golden rule and always treat others as I would like to be treated. I will T.H.I.N.K. before I leave a comment or send a message: is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?
  • I will not upload or tag photos of other people without their permission.

By using these guidelines and thinking about digital citizenship from a responsible use policy compared to an acceptable use policy (Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools), we can encourage our students and children to protect themselves and others. This is considered the base of digital citizenship as ‘Safety’ in Ribble’s S3 Framework.

acceptable

Instagram: @callie.the.golden.pup

We had a slower week on Instagram in terms of new followers, comments and likes. I continue to post at least daily, but I am struggling with coming up with some original content. I read an article, Everything You Need to Know About Doggo Lingo to try an incorporate the terminology in my captions and comments.

This week I received three direct messages from the same follower. Each message contained a picture that I was able to view once before disappearing.  This made me feel very uncomfortable, because I was a little afraid of what kind of picture I would be opening, especially since I do not know this follower personally.  What if it was something gross? Luckily it was just a picture of the dog, but it made me stop and think about my own social media rules. With Instagram, there are direct message photo options: View Once, Allow Replay, Keep in Chat. Additionally, you can “unsend” an image or message if the receiver has not opened the message. What are the implications of these kind of functions?

Questions/Plans for next week:

  • Should I comment on other posts to increase engagement?
  • Experiment with different hashtags and take advantage of common trends (like throwback thursday #tbt)
  • How engaged do I want to be with other followers? I might experiment with my follower engagement (replying to comments, liking more posts) this week to see how this affects the number of followers and likes.

TikTok @callie.the.golden.pup

TikTok was blowing up with new likes, comments and followers this week.  Each time I check the app, I have at least 5 new followers. Overall my content was a hit or miss though- I haven’t quite figured out what my followers “want”.  One thing I have noticed is that if I spend a lot of time on a post with captions and choosing a trending audio clip, I generally receive more views.  But that is the hard part – trying to find the time to watch enough TikTok videos to find something interesting to do with my dog, Callie.  I also find the video editing function on the app to be very challenging to use – it is hard to sync up the video and audio.

Questions/Plans for next week:

  • Look at my followers to see a trend (so far, it appears to be very young girls) – what kinds of videos receive the most likes?
  • Look at some pet accounts that have thousands (or millions) of views and likes.  What makes these accounts different or special?
  • Research some tips and tricks for video editing on TikTok
  • Using this article as a guide to increase engagement, I will:
    • participate in the daily TikTok “challenges”
    • reply to comments
    • post 3 times a day (I have a feeling this will be impossible, but maybe I can try!)

Flipgrid

My “everything you need to know” guide is a work in progress and should be complete in the next week! Stay tuned. As a teaser – there are some significant privacy and data sharing concerns with this app. As a result (and due to my school division policy), I am rethinking about how/if I will continue to use the app with my students.

Snapchat

Nothing new to report, but Snapchat is up next on my list to complete an ‘everything you need to know’ guide.  Last week I explained that I would not be adding Snapchat to my experiential list, but that I would still complete and app overhaul.  Through conversations with my students, it seems like it is one of the most used communication and messaging app.

Plans for next week:

  • Post Flipgrid “everything you need to know” guide
  • Instagram
    • try to increase engagement with followers
  • TikTok
    • Participate in daily challenges, post more frequently, engage with followers
    • Learn more about video editing within the app
  • Snapchat
    • Begin research for my app overhaul

Thank you for reading!  If there is anything you would love to have in my app “everything you need to know” guides, please let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Week 1 – Building My Empire

I have two sisters (and two brothers) and we share funny memes and accounts through a group chat on Instagram on a daily basis.  We sometimes talk about how we spend too much time on our phones and this week we chatted about how we should unfollow accounts that make us feel anxious or unhappy.  At that moment, I realized I had hardly looked through my personal social media accounts because I was so focused on building my ‘Callie, the sweet and friendly Golden Retriever” empire.  Why is this relevant? Through my major project experiential journey of Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Flipgrid, I am quickly learning how time consuming these apps can be when you have specific goals in mind. Here is a little mini compilation of my top TikTok videos/Instagram experience this week (complete with a muted section at 1:00-1:21, due to a copyright claim):

And the nitty-gritty details of my progress this week:

Instagram: @callie.the.golden.pup

In my first major project post, I discussed my hesitation with using my personal life in a public account on both Instagram and TikTok.  So, I decided to use my dog, Callie as a prop and subject of my account. I followed these steps:

    1. Choose a username and make an account.
      • Apparently there are a lot of Golden Retrievers named Callie on Instagram, so I had to use some creative punctuation with the name
    2. Choose a profile picture and create a short bio
      • I briefly looked at different pet accounts, and lots of accounts included the date of birth of their animal and sometimes a flag for the country. I decided to against giving away my location and only added the D.O.B.
      • I chose a nice close up photo of Callie for the profile picture
    3. Make your first post
      • I made the first post before following any accounts – that way potential accounts would see my content if they decide to follow back. This is not based on any research, just my own idea
    4. Use relevant hashtags and format post in a particular style IMG_2344
      • I Googled: “top golden retriever hashtags instagram” and copied the list to my Notes app on my iPhone. **You can only use 30 hashtags per post
      • To create a post with multiple lines, I remember learning from my niece that if you write the caption in the Notes app and format it with dots and lines, the formatting will stay when you copy the caption to Instagram. Why? I have no idea. Maybe something to look into!
    5. Start following accounts and liking photos (I looked at a few of the different hashtags for inspiration).
    6. Continuing posting more content (at least daily), like a variety of posts and follow relevant (dog related) accounts.

Within the first week, I have 145 followers (and counting) and lots of weird interactions with other dog accounts. (Did you know there is a certain “dog” way to write on the Internet? ‘DoggoLingo‘- using words like ‘hooman’ instead of human and ‘doggo’ instead of dog. And some accounts ask if I want to be their ‘fwend’. Weird). With my early success of gaining followers, I read an article “How to make your dog Instagram famous” and learned about some of the ins and outs of the pet Instagram world.

Here are some interesting revelations and interactions on the Instagram with @callie.the.golden.pup.

  • Direct messages to be “fwends”
  • Requests to be brand ambassadors from pet companies
  • Direct messages to join “follow loops” to help other pet accounts gain more followers
  • ‘Suggested accounts’ to follow – as a result, some people from my personal life are following my pet account – which is a little awkward (especially when my siblings start making fun of me for having too much time on my hands).

As I continue my experiential assignment, I am starting to make a list of questions for my research overhaul of Instagram in a few weeks:

  • Privacy – what are the implications of becoming a ‘brand ambassador’? Do I really want to give my home address to a random company in exchange for free merchandise?
  • Direct messages – why? Do you need to be concerned about catfishing or luring?
  • What is the correlation between liking posts, following accounts and receiving more likes and follows?
  • How many posts per day for maximum engagement?
  • Best hashtags?

TikTok @callie.the.golden.pup

TikTok is a bit of uncharted territory for me, as I only started to use the app at the end of November 2019 as part of EC&I 831. Since then I have watched a lot of videos, and continued to follow trends through my nieces’ accounts.

    1. Choose a username and create an account
      • I used the same name as Instagram for continuity and to help with cross-promotion (if that is even a thing with Instagram and TikTok – something to explore)
    2. Profile picture and short bio
      • Again, same as Instagram to keep it simple
    3. Upload your first video
      • I have lots of dog videos on my phone from the last two years of Callie’s life, so I chose a funny audio clip that my nieces used a few times. I figured it must be current and trending.
      • Use hashtags, but most importantly the #foryou or #fyp – more on that later when I do my overhaul of TikTok.
    4. Watch the views, likes and follows come in
      • 500 views in the first two days! 35 likes and a few new follows
      • Different than Instagram, but it appears that views are more important than likes. I think.
    5. Watch lots and lots of videos
      • Part of your success on TikTok depends on staying on top of trends, which you can accomplish by watching hours of videos and adding certain audio clips to a “favourites” tab

Pretty easy! Until I uploaded my next few videos and received less than 100 views per video, sometimes less than 10 views! How is this even possible? I read a lot of articles trying to understand the TikTok algorithm , but it doesn’t make any sense to me or the Internet world. Then I uploaded a video that received almost 1300 views and over 230 likes! What made this video special? Is the content better? I am also noticing a lot of my new followers appear to be young girls (definitely under the recommended age to use the app).

A few questions to consider when I complete my TikTok overhaul:

  • Likes, follows, views – how does this affect engagement? Do I need to follow/like other accounts to receive more attention?
  • Safety/privacy concerns with a young follower base (it looks like a lot of young girls  are following my dog account on TikTok – but what if I was actually an online predator? These are the kind of questions running through my head on a daily basis).
  • How often do you need to post to maintain engagement? Do captions matter (I get a bigger response when I ask a question in my caption)?

Flipgrid

I decided to use Flipgrid with two Grade 7/8 classes at my school. Part of the reason I chose these classes is that one class used Flipgrid two years ago, so I thought they would be able to give me a few tips and tricks.

    1. Read the “Getting Started” post and Educator’s Guide to Flipgrid
    2. Create an educator profile (using my school division Google account)
    3. Create a “grid” – one for each Grade 7/8 class.
    4. Give students some time to explore the functions of Flipgrid before creating a topic.
      • I wanted students to be creative with filters, stickers, text, etc when creating their videos. This also gave me a chance to learn about possible issues with the app.

A few things I learned/questions about Flipgrid this week:

  • Some students showed me how to “add a sticky”, so that you can write out what you want to say when recording. This way you aren’t looking away from the camera while recording. The sticky disappears when you post the video.
  • How do you delete a video that you posted? It is not as intuitive as you think and requires a few steps.
  • Each video shows the number of views – does this make students feel uncomfortable? Is there a way to remove this setting?
  • Privacy/safety – the grid is only available to someone with the link, but how do you guarantee privacy? We talked about use stickers or emojis to cover student faces if they feel uncomfortable.
  • My division policy using Flipgrid – something I will discuss in more detail this week during my app overhaul.

Snapchat

After the first week of daily TikTok, Instagram and Flipgrid use, I realize that I need to adjust my goals for the major project. I don’t feel that Snapchat fits into an ‘experiential’ piece, as I have already used the app daily for over four years. That being said, I am still very curious about the safety, privacy and terms of service guidelines of Snapchat and will complete a research overhaul as planned. I will continue to use the app daily, although will not report on my use in the same way as TikTok, Instagram and Flipgrid. I also feel like there are not enough hours in the day to use all this social media effectively!

Plan for next week:

  • Complete the Flipgrid overhaul
  • Instagram
    • Do some research on how to receive more engagement on Instagram – better hashtags? Posting at certain times of day?
  • TikTok
    • Participate in trending challenges/hashtags – does this increase views/likes?
    • Try some of the tips from this article to get on the ‘For You Page’
  • Flipgrid
  • Snapchat
    • Continue my typical daily use (sending baby snaps and maintaining snapstreaks)

If you read this far, thank you! I have a lot of work I would like to complete with this project, especially when it comes to data privacy and safety.  My ultimate goal:

Guide students and children through the safe use of

Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Flipgrid

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Major Project: A Personal Journey into Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

@Catherine_Ready