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!
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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. When 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.
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:
And 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 🙂
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
“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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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:
The 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
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!
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?
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.
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?
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 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
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.
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
try to increase engagement with followers
Participate in daily challenges, post more frequently, engage with followers
Learn more about video editing within the app
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.
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:
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:
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
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
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
Use relevant hashtags and format post in a particular style
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!
Start following accounts and liking photos (I looked at a few of the different hashtags for inspiration).
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.
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?
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.
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)
Profile picture and short bio
Again, same as Instagram to keep it simple
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.
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.
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)?
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.
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.
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
Do some research on how to receive more engagement on Instagram – better hashtags? Posting at certain times of day?
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’
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:
Learning how the Internet works
Validating what our children/students are doing online
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.
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
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.
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).
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:
Week 3 (Jan. 21) Week 4 (Jan. 28) Week 5 (Feb. 4)
-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)
?? 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)
-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
-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.
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.
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:
For the purpose of our class, we discussed activism through social media and were asked to consider the following questions:
Can online social activism be meaningful and worthwhile? Is is possible to have productive conversations about social justice online? What is our responsibility as educators to model active citizenship online?
What is social media activism?
“Social media activism is essentially using the platform of an online forum to lead or support a cause. It’s activism behind a screen.” (The Journal – Queen’s University)
“Bringing change or awareness about a cause through the use of social media, by posting or sharing ones thought about a particular event or issue.” (Life of Anna)
These definitions are very basic, but “social media activism” is somewhat self-explanatory – it is activism using social media. It could be liking or sharing a post on Facebook or using a hashtag in online posts to bring awareness to a particular issue. If you use social media, you have probably viewed or participated in hashtag activism:
You may have added a filter to your Facebook profile picture to temporarily support a cause. Or clicked the retweet button to raise awareness while drinking your morning coffee. The question we must ask ourselves is if social media activism is meaningful and worthwhile and looking at the positive and negatives is one way to explore the answer.
Pros of Social Media Activism
“Successful maneuvering of social media platforms creates significant changes in society through the impact of an individual who cultivates awareness and makes knowledge accessible to millions.” Human Rights Education Research Outreach
Allow marginalized groups to express their views freely
Using the power of networks, “online activism allows activists to organize events with high levels of engagement, focus and network strength” (The Conversation). The ability to share, like and retweet instantly allows movements and causes to gain traction very quickly and draw in a large audience. For example, when a tragic events occur, vigils are planned, shared and attended in a short time frame, all thanks to social media. Larger events are organized in locations all over the world through hashtags and social media posts.
Finally, the good, badly and ugly part of the Internet is that you can post and support whatever you want at any time. A positive example is that people all over the world can be part of Pride festivals, even if they are unable to attend in person.
“One of the greatest things about social media is the platform it can give to otherwise isolated and marginalized people. Entire communities have developed and grown together over social media, and this has exponentially strengthened many activism campaigns. Social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter allow people to organize events and communicate on a medium that is accessible to anybody who has an email address, internet, and some kind of connectable device. This vastly increases potential audience size, and ultimately increases the possible effect that these campaigns can have on policies, politics, and everyday life.” The Power of Social Media in Modern Activism
Cons of Social Media Activism
“The ease with which current social movements form often fails to signal an organizing capacity powerful enough to threaten those in authority.” Zeynep Tufekci
Unfortunately, social media activism has drawbacks:
A 2014 Maclean’s article explains that a “slacktivist is someone who believes it is more important to be seen to help than to actually help. He will wear a T-shirt to raise awareness. She will wear a wristband to demonstrate support, sign a petition to add her voice, share a video to spread the message, even pour a bucket of ice over her head.” All of this takes place instead of offering time or money which could truly help a cause.
My classmate Brooke dives into a deep discussion of #slacktivism and a few articles that explain and criticize the movement. She included this image (shared in class by Dr. Couros) that highlights the problem with #slacktivism.
“If our desire for social change extends beyond the resolution of a single issue, we need to close our laptops, turn off our phones, and spend time in the presence of others.” – The Walrus
With the ease of liking and sharing posts or adding a hashtag, it is inevitable that the wrong information will be passed along. #FakeNews is a perfect example of deliberately sharing misinformation, which was particularly problematic during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. #Kony2012 is another example of a movement that exploded on social media without really understanding the true facts. Social media activism has the potential to raise awareness, spread a message quickly and help grow a movement. But it is important to not disregard the power of slow-growing, face-to-face, grassroots organization. Wael Ghonim (an Internet activist that helped organize the social media campaign during the #ArabSpring) discusses challenges facing social media today and how it can be used to promote real change:
Is it possible to have conversations of social justice online?
Before we can have conversations about social justice online, I think it is important to discuss the concept of a digital citizen and to understand three different ideas of citizenship as discussed by Westheimer and Kahne in the article, “What Kind of Citizen“.
Participatory – actively participates
Personally Responsible – acts responsibly in their community
“digital citizenship asks us to consider how we act as members of a network of people that includes both our next-door neighbours and individuals on the other side of the planet and requires an awareness of the ways in which technology mediates our participation in this network.”
With this knowledge, we are able to explore the possibilities of using social media to talk about social justice issues online. Below, I have shared Brooke’s (she made some excellent points in her post this week!) example of how each type of citizen may participate, using the food bank as an example:
The participatory citizen might create an online fundraiser, like a GoFundMe page, where people can donate to the food bank and use their social media page to highlight some of the issues related to perceived injustices regarding food security. They may also decide to volunteer at the food bank.
The justice-oriented citizen might use their social media page to share potentially controversial articles, and viewpoints which spark discussion about the root causes of food security, inviting others to join the discussion and organizing followers to contribute to participating in working towards social change in online and offline spaces.
The conversations about social justice can happen online, but they are more effective when they are rooted in offline organizational efforts. Another point is that online discussions should take place with the intent to promote change or raise awareness, rather than use the post for personal gratification (for example, getting lots of likes or shares). But how do we teach our students to use social media to have meaningful conversations about social justice issues online?
As educators teaching students who only know a world with social media, we should:
Teach students how to use social media for positive change
In Spring 2018, I participated in a joint Regina Public Schools/Regina Catholic Schools project called #YQRActivistArt. The project involved bringing the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra to Regina with an opportunity for our students to see the group perform live. To participate in the project, you had to commit to producing an art project in response to a social issue. Through planning and collaboration with other classes, our students chose social issues they wanted to explore and created an art piece to raise awareness about the issue. Every school did something different, and my students presented their projects in a school wide gallery opening:
The reason I share this story is because of the importance of teaching activism in schools. My students were engaged, motivated and excited to spread awareness and it allowed us to have conversations about meaningful and worthwhile ways to share information about different social issues. The guide, “Facilitating Activist Education” explains by teaching about activism, students may become “engaged citizen-activists – people who see themselves as capable of affecting positive change for social and ecological justice”.
By starting with offline activism experiences for our students, we can then move online with confidence.
Hildebrandt explains that by participating in social media activism, we take a few things for granted, like access to educational tools, computers and the Internet. With this privilege, she adds that “we have a responsibility to risk our privilege to give voice to social inequities and injustices. We have a responsibility to risk our privilege to give voice to those who have no privilege to risk.” Furthermore, as educators we have the responsibility to teach our students about this privilege. Wasting our time with #slacktivism is not an option because we have the power and ability to promote real change with our access to edtech tools and social media to support these efforts.
Finally, Yes Magazine shares four tips for using social media activism:
Take advantage of interactive activism opportunities in online communities
Make sure your activism is accessible and inclusive
Remember that small steps are critical to getting the work
Share the work that other activists are doing
To engage our students, we need to provide relevant tools and information to “speak their language” (using social media and edtech). Through conversations of digital citizenship and offline activism, we have the ability (and responsibility) to mold the next generation as informed and compassionate citizens who care about social justice issues. Let’s use social media to make the conversation relevant for our youth.
“Social media activism is great for so many reasons: It is more widely accessible, it gets conversations started, it sustains momentum, and it helps empower people who may have never thought of themselves as activists.” – Yes Magazine
I would consider myself an ‘early-adopter’ of technology, especially with the Internet and social media. As a millennial (born between 1981 and 1996), I grew up in a time when using the Internet was a new way of life as I learned alongside new developments. E-mailing, peer-to-peer music sharing websites (like Napster and Limewire) and instant messaging (MSN Messenger) were all part of my elementary school years. I remember coming home from school, connecting to the dial-up internet (who can forget that connection sound?) and beginning a series of online chats with my friends over MSN. This was the beginning of my social media ritual that would continue and evolve over the next 20 years.
Since I was figuring out these sites at the same time (or before) my parents, they didn’t have a lot of control or understanding of what I was doing on the Internet. An example: Yahoo Chat Rooms. One of my best friends growing up has a brother (who now makes his living creating video games like this one) who was very computer savvy. He helped us create Yahoo accounts so we could join large Yahoo chat rooms with strangers from all over the world. We even figured out how to participate in audio chat, usually with adults. Keep in mind we were young – in grades 4 and 5. All of this took place with our parents oblivious to what we were doing and before conversations about cyber safety existed. Did we tell them where we lived? Did we give out other identifying info? I don’t remember and I shudder to think of the potential dangers we could have encountered. Long story short, if there was something new on the Internet, we tried it.
Fast forward through high school (Hi5, MySpace and eventually Facebook) and I began to see the negative or bullying effects of social media. Does anyone remember the “Top Friends” feature on MySpace?
Then you add in the “relationship status” feature on Facebook…sigh. It wasn’t all terrible though, as it was a really cool way to connect with people from around the world. In grade 12 I went on a school trip to Europe, and our group joined with another group from a small school in southern California. A decade later, I am still connected with some people from this trip and we keep in touch sharing photos of our growing families and professional endeavours. Heading to university, I was able to join ‘Class of 2011’ groups on Facebook and ‘meet’ other students before starting classes. This was extremely helpful to discuss everything from textbooks to the first social gatherings of the semester.
I have spent the last decade exploring successful and failed social media including Google +, YouTube, Skype, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vine, Weebly/Blogger/Wordpress, Tumblr and Snapchat. Some have held my interest longer than others as I feel they add value to my life. Other apps are cool ideas, and should be really successful, but they don’t seem to have the same staying power as more popular apps (like TikTok or Vine [in it’s prime]). For example, I used the app “Mazu” with my younger nieces, and I thought it was a really positive experience. It was created to help teach digital citizenship and the positive power of social media. But then they just stopped using it one day. (Possibly a reflection on the short attention spans of this new generation?)
I am now at the point with social media that I feel “too old” to learn about some new networks, like TikTok. All I know about TikTok is my nieces and nephews had it for about 5 minutes and became WAY too obsessed that my sister (their mother) made them delete the app. As an arts education teacher, I feel like TikTok could be useful for ‘research’ and to reach my students, because we could learn some of the dance crazes like “The Git Up” or “Hey Julie”, but that’s why I use YouTube.
Even dating apps like Tinder and Bumble came after I met my husband, so although I understand the ‘swipe right/left’, it is something I will never experience in my social media journey.
When I consider how social media has affected my personal and professional life, I have a lot of positives but a growing list of negatives. Here is an example:
Snapchat: The only way that I communicate with my 16-year old niece. We have a great relationship and tell each other everything, but if it’s not face-to-face, it’s through Snapchat. According to my niece, it is the only way she communicates with her friends (not through texting or other messaging). Why? Because the chats are not saved unless you want to save them and also through snapstreaks. The stress of snapstreaks is something I know all too well, as I send and receive a picture of the wall every day to my niece to maintain our streak. We have been doing this for 910 days. NINE-HUNDRED AND TEN DAYS. I even have a reminder in my phone – “Snap!!!!! Streak!!!!”. What is the point of this?! It actually causes stress in my life because I am afraid of losing the streak and how it would affect our relationship. Before I gave birth to my baby, I gave my niece my Snapchat login info so she could maintain the streak when I went into labour (turns out my baby came quick and we didn’t have to worry about losing the streak). Is this the world we live in now? I was about to give birth, but one of my concerns was maintaining the streak as I felt like it is part of my relationship with my niece. That being said, I still do it every single day with no end in sight. (Insert shoulder shrug emoji here).
On a positive note, social media allows me to share milestones, travel and important events with friends and family. I can stay connected with people wherever they are in the world and maintain important relationships. In my professional life, I used Twitter, a personal website and LinkedIn to create a following that led to a full teaching studio of piano students within a few weeks. These positive networking experiences helped me grow and maintain my business. I also enjoy using Twitter to connect with other educators and sharing what we are doing in the classroom. LinkedIn has allowed me to interact with people in other industries that share common activities (like same universities and volunteer commitments).
But with these positives, there are also negatives like #fomo and feeling left out when not included in social activities. I think this is something that is an even bigger issue with our students and something I look forward to exploring further in this course. Also, as a new mom, I have spent A LOT of time on my phone perusing Facebook and Instagram while holding a sleeping baby. It is hard not to compare your baby to other babies and get wrapped up in the “Instagram vs. Reality” world. And then there are sponsored posts/ads (are they listening to our conversations??) that make me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Finally, as a teacher, I find that I get a lot of student follow/friend requests that I must decline. This is not necessarily a negative, but it does require having a conversation about privacy with my students.
In a recent conversation with my sister (mother of 4 of my nieces and nephews), I said “I hate the internet! I hate social media!”. I could see how it was affecting my sister and her kids and the daily struggles she is having with them and access to social media. She wondered if she should unplug the wi-fi? Move to a deserted island? How can we turn this around? What has to change to make it a positive part of our daily lives? What can teachers do to help our students navigate the constantly changing world of social media?
On that note, I have to go take a blurry picture of my face or the wall and write the letter ‘S’ to maintain a daily ritual.