Closing Time: Summary of Learning

Here is my summary of learning video! I have included the script below for reference.

Hi, my name is Laura Fiddler and this is my EDTC 300 summary of learning. I decided to share my learnings through a comic strip I created using Canva, one of my favourite resources I became familiar with during EDTC 300. When I began this course, I knew very little about educational Twitter, blogging, Slack, and educational technology in general. While I would consider myself to be technologically literate, I had not yet adventured into the education realm of the internet. This course, delivered through distance, not only introduced me to this realm, but provided me with an in depth understanding of the potential it has to help me grow as an educator. 

The 3 major platforms we used during the course were Twitter, Slack, and WordPress. Twitter, as I mentioned in one of my first blog posts, was my primary source of Bachelor drama before I was shown the #edutwitter side of the platform. This class has broadened my horizons and shown me the amazing network of educators that are very active on Twitter. I now follow a number of educational accounts that share EdTech resources, words of encouragement, and overall, very enriching content. I also follow my classmates, all of which share great articles and retweet each other’s posts. As for Slack, I did not even know it existed before taking the class but it was an absolute life saver. Being able to ask our classmates questions and get an instant reply was so much better than having to email and expect a response in the next week or so. The final platform was our blogs. I have had a blog since my first year of university but during this class it underwent some serious upgrades. The aesthetic was improved by using the tips and tricks that we were given during our lectures. The content was enriched by responding to blog prompts, showing my learning project process, and by receiving comments from my classmates. The interactions among blogs were so much fun and I really enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts and learning project process throughout the course.  

One of the most profound topics we explored was the concept of one’s digital footprint. In today’s day and age, we learned that your digital footprint can make or break you. Your identity online is just as important as your identity face to face. We partook in a cyber sleuthing activity where we creeped a classmate’s digital identity and blogged about what we uncovered. Previously, I thought my digital footprint was flawless but my partner uncovered some photos that I would rather my future employers not see so I was able to remove them. When discussing this topic, we were reminded that once you post something, it can be seen by anyone which was quite sobering to hear. This course taught me to THINK before I post and consider whether it is something I want the world to see. 

The next thing I gained from this course is an overflowing EdTech tool box. As time goes by, technology becomes more and more prevalent in schools. As a teacher I need to be responsive to these changes and use technology to my advantage. EDTC 300 has given me more EdTech tools than I know what to do with! Whether they came from the spreadsheet provided by Katia, the constant sharing on Twitter, Slack, and WordPress by my peers, or simply from my own sleuthing, I have obtained a plethora of resources. This class also encouraged me to explore EdTech resources that I was unfamiliar with. Even outside of the class requirements, I found myself researching EdTech tools to try out in my classroom and creating far too many accounts. Some of my favourites that I discovered are Quizizz, Canva, Screencastify, and Anchor, to name a few. There are so many more that I intend on trying out in my classroom, like Flipgrid!

Another concept that we explored was how we are going to teach about the digital world in our classrooms. Being that it is 2021 and we use technology for nearly everything, this topic is more important than ever. We learned the power that one’s digital identity has and that our students need to be made aware of the benefits and risks of sharing their lives online. The internet is a great place to find communities you feel welcome in and meeting new people but we need to remind our students that each time they post, message, or comment, they are adding to their digital footprint and they need to determine whether that footprint if going to benefit or harm them now and in the future. We need to remember to do this is a way that doesn’t scare them away from using technology, but rather, how to use it appropriately. We also need to teach our students about the unrealistic identities people create online and to not buy into it or hold themselves to that unrealistic standard, like college athlete Madison Holleran did. Another unrealistic side of the internet is fake news. Our students need develop a built-in lie detector when it comes to analyzing sources of information, seeing as false information is so prevalent nowadays. This can be done be incorporating the NCTE’s 21st Century Literacies Framework into our curriculum. 

The final concept that I learned in this class that I would like to mention is digital citizenship. This course showed us the internet through the lens of online communities and how important it is to act appropriately as a member of these communities. This means always being conscious of Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship yourself and bringing these elements into your classrooms so that we can provide our students with the knowledge they need to be strong digital citizens.

To be honest, this course provided me with far more knowledge than I can describe in 4-6 minutes so this is definitely an overview. Overall, though, I feel as though my knowledge of educational technology as a whole has provided me with the confidence I need to enter the increasingly digital teaching profession. 

We’re All in This Together

One of my favourite aspects of EDTC 300 is the online community it fosters. Through networked professional learning, I felt as though I really got to know my classmates without ever meeting them face to face. In addition to this sense of community, I also felt like my learning and confidence surrounding EDTC in general was greatly enhanced by my peers. Being able to give, as well as receive, feedback and words of encouragement on a regular basis was extremely appreciated throughout the course. All networking occurred on three platforms: Our blogs, Twitter, and Slack. 

Blogs

I tried to read as many of my classmates’ blogs as possible each week. I loved seeing everyone’s learning project progress as well as their thoughts regarding the course content. While reading these blogs, I would pick 3-5 to comment on when I felt as though I could contribute to their learning in some type of way. This meant sharing resources, offering words of encouragement, or simply giving advice that I thought they would benefit from. Not only did I like commenting on my classmates’ blogs, but I also enjoyed reading the comments made on mine, making sure to take them into consideration when writing my next post. I also found myself frequently linking my classmates blogs when they had mentioned ideas that I decided to try out for myself and use in my blog.

Here are some of the most meaningful contributions I was able to make to my peers’ learning through blog comments and pingbacks: 

Twitter

Twitter was perhaps the most enjoyable platform to interact on as well as the one I was most active on. My account went from having 0 tweets, to 230 tweets. I liked being able to share articles that I found interesting or helpful as well as view the ones my classmates shared. I made sure to retweet my classmates’ tweets when I found them interesting and share my classmates’ blog posts to increase their reach. #Saskedchat was an amazing experience and I feel like I gained valuable insight into the teaching profession by reading the responses from other educators. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate in #Saskedchat any time other than the night we did it as a class seeing as it always happened at the same time as my EPSY 400 class. I intend on becoming more involved in various Ed Chats once I no longer have night classes.

Here are some of my most meaningful Twitter interactions:

Slack

Slack was an absolute life saver during this course. You could ask the group a question and a reply would be posted within the hour. It was a great alternative to email or having to awkwardly ask for someones snap or cell number in order to ask a question. Not only was it great to get such helpful replies from my peers, but I loved being able to assist them as well. I did my best to answer questions whenever possible, provide how-to screen recordings, share resources, or simply chat with my peers with the private message feature.

Here are some of my most valuable Slack contributions:

I also have EDTC 300 to thank for introducing me to RedLilyClayCo which is a small jewelry business ran by my classmate Haley Begrand!

Final Remarks

Though interactions were required in order to pass this course, it didn’t feel like an obligation. I was genuinely excited to see comments on my posts, retweets, and Slack threads. I loved being a part of the EDTC 300 community and even though we were learning through distance, I never felt alone. In addition to this sense of belonging, I was able to learn so much through networking and gained so many valuable understandings of what it means to be an educator in today’s day and age.

Farewell ASL…For Now

As my learning project comes to a close, I have done lots of reflecting on the process as a whole. Comparing my first post, where I was fumbling to sign the letters of the alphabet in ASL to now, where I can form sentences and have a plethora of conversational phrases internalized, highlights just how far I have come. As I mentioned in my first learning project post, having ASL in my toolkit is going to be such an asset if I have a student in my class who is deaf or hard of hearing. I now have the ability to make them feel included and appreciated within my classroom, something I would have been unable to do before. In addition to this, I find ASL to be a fascinating and beautiful language that I am proud to have an understanding of.

I have created a short video using iMovie to show my progress throughout the 8 weeks that I was learning ASL online (10 weeks total including introduction and conclusion posts). I feel as though this video not only shows my growth in terms of my ASL, but also my growth in regards to the EdTech I used.

Weekly Overview

Game Plan:

My first learning project post consisted of me setting out a game-plan as to how I was going to learn ASL through online sources. Here I set out a timeline of the components of ASL I wanted to move through and I mentioned some sources I planned on using. This included Signlanguage 101, The ASL App, and Youtube.

Week 1:

This week I learned the alphabet in ASL using the ASL App. It was quite a struggle considering I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. It was especially hard for me to manipulate my fingers to form certain signs such as D and F. Here I posted my first YouTube videos showing my progression throughout the week.

Resources used:

Week 2:

This week I worked on learning my numbers from 1 – 100 in ASL. This week was another challenging one for me as I was still very much a newbie to ASL and found it hard to form some of the numbers. I remember practicing heavily in order to perfect my signs, and it paid off! By the end of the week I was confidently signing my numbers from 1 – 100, which can be seen through the progressions I posted once again.

Resources used:

Week 3:

Ah, week 3, the week when my life changed…because I was introduced to Quizizz. As many of you know, I am a Quizizz fanatic. I didn’t know it was possible to fall in love with an EDTC resource but, here we are. I am very grateful for this learning project prompt because I now use this EDTC resource in my classroom constantly. I used it to test my abilities to sign common words in ASL which proved to be more challenging than learning the alphabet and numbers. This is one of my favourite, and most popular blog posts.

Resources used:

Week 4:

Week 4 had me getting pretty tired of the same old embedded progression videos, so I ventured over to one of my other EDTC loves, Canva, to create a new and improved video. I learned greetings in ASL during week 4 and they came pretty easily. I could really feel myself getting more confident and competent with my ASL during this week and I feel like that is shown in my video.

Resources used:

Week 5:

During week 5 I learned how to sign the Days of the Week, Happy Birthday, Manners, and Family Members. While mindlessly scrolling on TikTok one night, I came across an account where a guy named Slntwrld teaches ASL to his followers. So, I decided to follow his tutorials to acquire the signs listed above. I didn’t love using TikTok because you can’t rewind videos, you have to watch them through and wait for the part you were looking for to come up again. I also tried out Anchor to record my thoughts about my ASL journey.

Resources used:

Week 6:

During week 6, I experienced serious burnout. I had little to no motivation to do anything productive so I decided to do some reviewing of the common phrases I had previously learned. I once again used SignLanguage101’s video as my guide and created an interactive flyer using S’more. The flyer with moving pictures gave me big Harry Potter vibes. Loved it.

Resources used:

Week 7:

For week 7, I learned how to describe myself in ASL. I had never learned how to say any personalized phrases yet so this week I decided to try it out. I used an online ASL dictionary to put sentences together and I really enjoyed it. One challenge I faced was trying to determine which sign is the correct one to use, seeing as every resource seems to use a different hand motion to sign a word. I showcased my learnings using Animoto.

Resources used:

Week 8:

This was my final week of actual signing before I created the post you are reading right now. I went ahead and learned some more conversational ASL as I see it as one of the more valuable aspects of the language. I used a new YouTube channel and tried out the Animoto app to show my signs. I also used Anchor once again to share my thoughts about my learning project.

Resources used:

Resources and EdTech You Need to Try

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

My top 3 ASL resources are…*Drumroll please*…

  1. YouTube
  2. SignLanguage 101
  3. The ASL app

YouTube has every video you could ever need when learning ASL. You can easily pause, rewind, or jump forward which makes the process enjoyable and accessible. Signlanguage101 has a great program and always repeats the signs 3 times, which is great for beginners. Once you move past the beginner lessons, you have to pay for the more advanced ones, which would be a great investment if you were serious about learning ASL for an extended period of time. Finally, the ASL app. It is easy to navigate, great for beginners, and you can access it at anytime on the go.

My top 3 EdTech recommendations are…*Drumroll please*…

  1. Canva
  2. Anchor
  3. Quizizz

These are the three tools that I cannot live without. Canva is great for creating posters, logos, videos, and more. It is easy to use and allows you to create very aesthetic products with little effort. It also has so many templates, stickers, font, etc. available on the free version. Anchor is perhaps one of the most user friendly resources I have ever used. It allows you to create beautiful podcasts in minimal amounts of time. Finally, Quizizz. This is a great tool for increasing student engagement in the classroom, creating gamifed lessons, reviewing, or doing formative assessments.

Final Thoughts Towards Learning ASL Online

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Prior to taking this class, I would not have considered learning a new skill through exclusively online resources to be a possibility, and yet, here we are. I began the semester not having a clue how to sign a single letter and now I feel confident enough to have a conversation with someone in ASL. This goes to show the value that the internet holds if it is harnessed. I could not believe how many people offer ASL lessons through YouTube videos, apps, or programs for free.

Some things I enjoyed about learning ASL online was the fact that I was able to plan my lessons around my schedule. I did not have to go to school 3 nights a week, sit in a desk, and watch an instructor. I could practice when I was riding in a vehicle, while laying on the couch, or whenever I had free time really. I also enjoyed the fact that I could teach myself whatever I wanted. Like, I was able to spend less time on words and the alphabet and more time on conversational ASL and common phrases because they seemed most applicable.

The challenges I experienced when learning ASL online was making sure I didn’t forget to practice. Some weeks when I got really busy I’d forget to watch the videos I had said that I would and would find myself cramming at the end of the week. I also really struggled with the fact that there are many different variations of signs. I would practice and practice signing a phrase or a word and, when I would look at different resources, they would sign it differently. I suppose, in relation to this differentiation, that the number of resources can be slightly overwhelming and hard to navigate.

Overall through, my learning project was an outstanding learning experience and taught me a lot more than ASL. I was able to explore so many EdTech resources, learn about the potential the internet has for the independent teaching of a skill by viewing my own as well as my classmates’ blogs, and acquired the knowledge I needed to create enticing blog posts.

The Story of Dino and Kitty

Here you will find the short story of Dino and Kitty, made by yours truly using Scratch. Ultimately, it is a seemingly beautiful day until everything except Dino disappears and we find out that Kitty has flying abilities.

For the sake of my exploration, I found myself messing around and trying out different codes to see what happened. I started with the Kitty, making him glide around and say things that I recorded. I then decided to add Dino, so that Kitty was not alone. I went on to create a small conversation between the two of them. Then, I wanted to see what else I could do by adding a rainbow and changing the backgrounds and such. This got me to the blue sky and the disappearance of all Dino’s surroundings. Finally, just because I wanted to, I added in a flying Kitty with my own voice recordings and Dino’s ‘ahhh’.

Once I got the hang of coding on Scratch, it was actually quite fun playing around with the program. I enjoy how customizable it is and the fact that you can manipulate the program to do whatever you desire. The possibilities were truly endless. When I first began though, it was really frustrating. I would have characters disappearing or not doing what I wanted them to do and, since I was new to the program, it was harder for me to trouble shoot. I found myself clicking on the tutorials tab to get some help when I could not figure out what I was doing wrong. Thank goodness there was ample guidance for first time users. If used Scratch again personally, or with students, I would watch tutorials first and get a good understanding of how to navigate the program in order to minimize frustration.

Coding: Hit or Miss?

Overall, I think coding is a great skill to have, especially in today’s day and age. Technology is becoming more and more prevalent and therefore, coding is as well. We have so many young people going into fields such as computer sciences and engineering which both require individuals to code on a daily basis (though this coding is quite a bit more advanced than Scratch). The job opportunities in the tech industry are growing so if we can get students coding at a young age, they will be better prepared for their lives in the future.

In addition, coding is a great way to develop children’s problem solving and experimentation skills. When coding, it is inevitable that you run into a problem or something happens that you did not plan for. This requires that users go through their codes and determine what went wrong and what they need to change. In terms of experimentation, to begin any code you need to test out features to see what they do. You then need to add more and determine if you like the product, or if you want to go back and change it. This helps students work on moving out of their comfort zones with little to no repercussions.

ASL, Anchor, and Animoto

This post is going to be short and sweet as most of my thoughts and learnings for week 9 were recorded rather than typed. I decided to showcase my learning on two different creation platforms, all from the convenience of my phone. I recorded a podcast using Anchor and created another Animoto video through their app rather than the website which I used last week. The Anchor experience, as per usual, was seamless. You can read my thoughts on Anchor as a podcasting platform here. As for Animoto, after reading Shana’s post about her experience with the app, I decided to give it a try. I must say, the mobile experience was much more enjoyable than the desktop. It was easy to import videos from my camera roll, add text, and personalize each part of the video. It was also far less laggy than the desktop version. I love the finished product and will be using my Animoto app when I need to make short, aesthetic videos in the future.

Podcast

In my podcast I cover the following points:

  • The conversational ASL signs I learned this week
  • The use of the Learn How to Sign YouTube channel
  • The downsides to learning ASL online
  • The values of face to face ASL instruction
  • The importance of facial expressions and body language when signing
  • What the next week of my learning project is going to look like

Animoto…Take Two

I have created a quick Animoto video to show you the signs I learned this week. These are all going to be very useful when I get the chance to converse with someone in ASL!

Interact With Me!

Have you tried Animoto or Anchor? Do you like the mobile or desktop versions better?

The Fight Against Fake News

In today’s day and age, the internet is our primary source of information. We scroll through news apps, search engines, and social media platforms, taking in the information that appears on our screens. As John Spencer mentioned in this video, “With digital tools, it is easier than ever to create, edit, and publish your work to the world. But there’s a cost. Its also easier than ever to spread misinformation”. While there are a plethora of authentic and informative articles circulating the web, inaccurate and fabricated information is becoming more prevalent every day. This inevitably leads to the consuming of “fake news”, which quite literally means news that is fake. But the problem is not the fake news itself as there have always been people making up lies to support their beliefs. The problem is that people do not know how to determine whether something is fabricated or not and, therefore, they become uninformed and likely to reproduce the misinformation.

Photo by Joshua Miranda on Pexels.com

How to Teach Digital Literacy

Stopping the spread of fake news begins in the classroom. It is our job as educators to teach our students how to determine whether the information they are consuming is reliable or not. John Spencer uses the 5 C’s of Critical Consuming to stop the spread of misinformation with his students. These include checking the sources context, credibility, construction, corroboration, and compare. This is a good place to start when teaching students about evaluating information found online and it supports the NCTE framework element of “Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology”.

As mentioned by Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt, developing a built in bull s*** detector means going beyond simple checklists. We need to “help students develop investigative techniques”, “teach students to identify bias”, and “bring real -world fake news examples that we encounter everyday into the classroom”. The ability to evaluate sources needs to be developed at an early age and should be standard practice for our students as they become more dependent on technology. This notion of creating a built in lie detector in our students supports the NCTE framework element of “Design and share information for global communities that have a variety of purposes” because, for example, it forces them to automatically “critically analyze a variety of information from a variety of sources”.

The New York Times suggests we pose the following questions to our students: “What does the phrase “fake news” mean? When have you or someone you know fallen for or shared fake or inaccurate news of some kind? Why does it matter if we can’t tell real news from fake news?. These questions support the NCTE framework element “Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneously presented information”. Specifically because they encourage students to “analyze the credibility of information and its appropriateness in meeting their needs”. The New York Times has shared some valuable lessons here to help teach students about the dangers of fake news and how to determine when they are consuming it.

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Curriculum Connections

When it comes to connecting the previously mentioned teachings to the Saskatchewan Curriculum, one does not have to look far. For the sake of time, I am going to focus specifically on the Grade 6 Curriculum. USC6.7 states that students are to “assess how health promotions and advertising are targeted” which directly relates to determining whether a source is reliable or producing false information. CC6.1 requires that students create various visual, multimedia (including digital), oral, and written texts that explore identity, social responsibility, and efficacy. In order to produce texts such as these, students are likely to do research on the topics which requires them to determine what sources are providing them with reliable information. CR6.2 asks that students “select and use appropriate strategies to construct meaning before, during, and after viewing”. This skill, as well as digital literacy, can be developed through the critical viewing of information they encounter when they are online.

Interact with Me!

Have you found any good digital literacy resources? Drop them in the comments below!

Animoto and ASL

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Welcome back to another week of my learning project. Last Sunday I watched “A Quiet Place” with my family because it is one of my favourite movies of all time. I hadn’t watched it for quite a while and totally forgot that the family communicates using ASL. During my previous viewings, I likely didn’t pay much attention to the ASL and focussed more on the subtitles. This time though, I was watching their hand movements closely to 1. Try and decipher what they were saying and 2. To learn new signs. Seeing how fluent and fast their signs were made me feel like a bit of a noob but I was not deterred! Throughout the movie I was constantly looking up signs on my phone and trying to replicate their hand movements. During this repeated online searching, I came across SigningSavvy.com. It is an online ASL dictionary! I had never used a resource like this yet so I decided to use it this week to develop my ASL abilities.

Signing Savvy was very exciting for me because previously I have been following structured Youtube videos and lessons from apps, never creating my own sentences and phrases. Signing Savvy allowed me to explore new territory and learn how to sign specific words that I was interested in. All you do is simply type a sentence, word, or phrase into the search bar and all the signs you need will pop up and offer an embedded YouTube video to show you how to sign. That is one of my favourite things about teaching myself a skill online, I can teach myself whatever I want each week based on my interests. Often times when taking a more structured class, you are stuck learning about things that are have little to no interest to you. With online learning though, you are able to use your interest that week to direct you in your exploration.

One of the downsides to this resource and online learning in general is that there are a TON of ads. It seemed like every time I clicked on a word that I wanted to learn, there was at least a 10-15 second ad before it. This is the same with most Youtube videos, which are a key resource when learning ASL. It is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things but just something that you would not encounter if taking a class face to face. The other challenge with learning ASL online is that it seems like the way a word or phrase is signed depends on the instructor. I notice that most signs vary from resource to resource so it can be challenging at times trying to decide which one to learn and which sign is more accurate etc.

Animoto

After seeing my classmates Shana and Haley try out Animoto in past weeks, I decided to give it a go myself! I created a short video showing this weeks learnings using the platform. Something I enjoyed about Animoto is the fact that you can add copyright free music to your video right from the website. I also liked the word transitions and how clean the video looked once I was done. While I really like the finished product and a few of the features, the website itself was not flawless. I found Animoto to be very slow and jumpy as well as limited in templates and customization. If I were to create a video of this nature again, I would head back over to my one love: Canva.

Interact with Me!

Have you tried Animoto? What were your thoughts?

The Power of Digital Identity

This week I had the opportunity to cybersleuth my classmate Callen Boutin. I was looking forward to it because I would call my self an experienced social media user and sleuther for that matter. In high school, if my friends wanted to find an account or “creep” someone, they would come to me to do the investigating. After being on social media for a while, you learn a few tricks of the trade. Lol.

Social Media Accounts

When it came to “creeping” Callen’s accounts, I was fortunate enough to actually be following/friends with him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook seeing as we went to school together K – 12. If this wasn’t the case though, I would see if we have mutual friends or followers and then ask them to take screenshots of the account and send them to me. Regardless of which method I used to get insight into his social media, I would find very appropriate and professional photos like the ones shown below.

Google Search

If there are no mutuals on any platforms, I would then head over to google. When sleuthing I simply type in the individuals full name and see what comes up. For Callen, this search led me to his E-Portfolio, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and VSCO. The only website that was a reflag was VSCO seeing as this is a platform many people have gone to in the past to post provocative photos that they don’t feel they should post on their more public accounts. After scrolling through his photos though, there was nothing inappropriate in nature. I also usually look at Google Images associated with the name and see if there is anything inappropriate there. For Callen, this produced a grad photo, his Twitter profile picture, and some more images from when he was featured in his local newspaper.

A Critical Look at Digital Identity

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Thinking about the influence one’s digital identity has is both interesting and frightening. You can showcase your best self to the world through blogs and social media posts, something that was previously unavailable. In contrast though, the notion of “nothing is private once you post it online” can be daunting and holds our generation to an extremely high standard. In the past, you could take a picture using a camera and share that printed photo with whomever you pleased. If you decided one day that you no longer wanted that photo in circulation, you could literally destroy it and it would be gone. Now, this is not the case. You take a photo that seems like a good idea at one time in your life and it has the potential to be held against you for years to come. This forces our generation to be hyper-vigilant about what they post online, what they are tagged in, or what they comment on. While one could say that if you are intimidated by the hyper-connected nature of the internet and social media, then don’t use it. This is extremely unrealistic in today’s society considering social media and internet chatting is the most prevalent form of communication. Hence, why it is so important to educate the youth of today about how to appropriately and responsibly use the internet.

Photo by Ola Dapo on Pexels.com

Another aspect of digital identity that is of extreme interest to me is the notion that you can create a powerful illusion online as to who you are. For example, you could be an absolutely terrible human and make it seem as though you are a selfless philanthropist by posting photos that create this image in your audiences eyes. People could go their whole lives idolizing someone who has created a deceiving digital identity.

Similarly, you can use your digital identity to make it seem as though you are thriving when, in reality, you are far from it. While the stigma surrounding mental health is alleviating slightly, it is still a side of people that is often hidden from the digital world. We have the desire and feel a pressure to create a seemingly “perfect” life on social media which is usually unrealistic. In the case of Madison Holleran, her digital identity suggested that she was loving her first year of college and, as many others, presented an edited version of her life on social media. It became evident after Madison took her own life, that the images shared on her social media accounts were not an accurate representation of how she felt. The unrealistic image of one’s life that social media portrays is damaging in more ways than one. It creates the illusion that people are “thriving” and doing fine, when that isn’t always the case. Digital identity can also produce the image that someones life is perfect and that if your life doesn’t look like theirs, then there is something wrong with you.

Overall, the digital world and the identities that accompany it can be both beneficial or extremely damaging. It is important to be able to wade through the lies and deceptions and focus on the real, authentic side of the digital world.

Digital Citizenship

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In this post, I will refer to Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship frequently. The nine elements are as follows:

  1. Digital Access
  2. Digital Commerce
  3. Digital Communication and Collaboration 
  4. Digital Etiquette
  5. Digital Fluency
  6. Digital Health and Welfare
  7. Digital Law
  8. Digital Rights and Responsibility
  9. Digital Security and Privacy

Digital Citizenship in My Classroom

I recently had the topic of digital citizenship arise in my grade 6 classroom during one of our discussions. The students were reading about the internet, part of our messages unit, from an anthology published in 1998. As much of the content was extremely dated, we had a discussion about how much the internet has changed over the last 20 years. This discussion lead us to talking about how fast and widespread our messages travel, whether social justice, personal, or advertising etc. We talked about the fact that when your messages reach such a wide audience, we need to be conscious of what we are putting out there. Is what you are posting something you are okay with the world seeing now and in the future? If yes, then go ahead, but if not, then do not post it. I also encouraged my students to THINK before they post. Take a moment before you post or send anything and really think about the message it is sending and if that message is something you want the world to see. I made my stance on social networking very clear to my students: it is a great and powerful tool for connection and discovery but it must be used properly in order to reach its full potential. Had this discussion happened after I learned about Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship, I would have been able to incorporate them into this discussion easily. In fact, this whole unit about ‘Messages’ will offer a number of opportunities to incorporate the nine elements into my teachings and discussions with my students.

Curriculum Connections

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As far as connections between the Saskatchewan Curriculum and Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship go, there are many. As I am a Middle Years major, I am going to focus on the outcomes in the grade 6, 7, and 8 curriculums.

Grade 6

CR6.1 – a, c, d, f.

  • This outcome and the indicators listed relate to viewing and comprehending multimedia texts that address social responsibility. This includes recognizing key elements of multimedia texts, assessing and reviewing multimedia texts, as well as considering the impact of multimedia texts.

AR6.2 – d

  • This outcome and indicator state that students must reflect on the role of technology in learning and communicating.

DM6.8 – b, c, d

  • This outcome and the indicators mentioned teach effective decision making as well as the factors that influence personal standards.

Grade 7

CR7.4 – b, d, f, g, h

  • This outcome and the indicators listed mention that students should be able to critically view multimedia messages, identify the overall organization of ideas in e-text, and evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of multimedia texts.

CR7.5 – d, e, f, g, h, I, j, k

  • This outcome and the indicators mentioned teach students how to decode oral messages presented in the media. This includes things such as determining the literal and implied meanings, the structure of the presentation, and deducing which perspectives are not included.

Trista Kennett has created an outline for a grade 7 thematic unit called “Environmental and Technological Environment”, relating directly to digital citizenship. It can be found here!

Grade 8

CR8.4 – a, b, c, d, e, f, g (all outcomes)

  • This outcome and each of its indicators are probably the most explicitly related to digital citizenship. The outcome itself is: “View critically and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of visual and multimedia texts including videos, television broadcasts, informational presentations, dramatic presentations, websites, and news programs to locate and interpret key messages and details, to develop conclusions, opinions, and understanding, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the text“. Therefore each of the indicators listed directly related to digital citizenship.

CR8.1 – a, d, m

  • This outcome and the indicators listed teach students how to respond to a variety of texts (including multimedia) that address social responsibility. It includes identifying and describing techniques used in digital text as well as “produc[ing] response journals and use interactive websites such as web logs (“blogs” for short) that serve as journals”.

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Why do you think we should include digital citizenship teachings in our classrooms?

Signs of Exhaustion

Getting Real

I want to start this post by acknowledging how exhausted everyone is right now. Pandemics suck. Period. I am usually the type of person to power through the challenges I face and ignore how tired I am but this last week got me. I started my first full time teaching job in a grade 6 classroom, had parent teacher interviews on Tuesday and Thursday, and am taking four night classes. I am feeling depleted. Therefore, this week, instead of taking on a brand new set of signs, I decided to practice the common phrases I learned a few weeks ago and add a few new ones in.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The challenges of online learning have been real these past weeks. I have really struggled with setting time aside to practice my ASL skills. I know that going forward I need to explicitly pencil time into my day to work on my learning project. This may mean practicing during recess and lunch breaks at school and scheduling time on the weekends.

ASL in My Classroom

As previously mentioned, I started a full time job this past week. In order to build a welcoming classroom environment while working on our Dynamic Relationships unit in Social Studies, we have decided to each create a poster that says ‘welcome to our classroom’ in a different language. One of my students decided to do ASL which I thought was amazing! In the past I rarely saw ASL representations in schools so the fact that there is going to be a welcome message in this language was a delight to see.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

This Week’s ASL Developments

As I mentioned, I practiced some phrases that I already knew and also learned a few more! I once again used Sign Language 101’s videos, this one titled ‘Common Phrases in ASL’. Sign Language 101 has a large amount of free videos which are easy to follow. The instructor verbally says what they are signing then repeats the sign three times from three different angles. All the videos I am following are part of their level 1 course which is a great place for beginners to start.
I decided to document my new learnings this week using S’more! It is a website that allows you to make interactive flyers, something I had never tried before.

You can check out my flyer here.

Even though this week I didn’t take leaps and bounds in terms of my learnings, I still recognize how far I have come over the last 2 months. In my first blog post, I mentioned that I knew absolutely nothing about ASL besides the fact that it is American Sign Language. Now, I know the alphabet, numbers 1-100, common words and phrases, family members, manners and more! While there are challenges to online learning, it is also very rewarding. Documenting this learning process is amazing because I can see first hand the skills I have developed. I have also had a lot of fun seeing my classmates’ progress, especially Presley’s because she is also learning ASL for her learning project!

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