Open Education. Open Doors.

Open access.
Open resources.
Open textbooks.
Open Education…. Opens Doors
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The concept of open education is powerful one. It allows for everyone to access a wealth of information anywhere, at any time, for free. Education and knowledge is at the tip of our fingers should we chose to utilize it. As I consider how “Open” open education is, the opportunities are endless for those who are literate, and can access readings, or videos online through technology. This however is not everyone but it certainly opens the doors of opportunity for many people all around the globe.

My brother, like many people, take advantage of the many free courses offered by universities online. It’s so great to be able to develop our interests and passions so easily using technology.  I have never explored the endless topics delivered by Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) available until this week’s class readings and it left me nearly speechless. WOW! “MOOCs provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and deliver quality educational experiences at scale” (mooc.org)  There is literally a course for any interest or passion from architecture to earth sciences, including everything in between – electronics, medicine, law – you name it!

 

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“The MOOC is an indicator of how important it is for people to connect with each other as part of their learning experience. And what I hope it’s doing also is validating informal learning and changing what we think life long learning is about.” -Amy Collier (Directory of Digital Learning Initiatives at Stanford University).
The idea of remixing content has become to intertwined within today’s culture. You can literally find a remix of anything! Growing up I constantly searched for “mash-ups” of my favorite songs – taking two or more different things and turning them into something new. Imagine your favorite song mashed with your other favorite song – genius! But what are the repercussions of this remix culture. Is a remix considered copying.  Dean Shareski’s opening keynote for the 2010 K-12 online conference is built around the fact that education is built on sharing. Prior to the internet sharing outside the walls of your own school was difficult to do unless you presented at a conference or staff meeting or shared a resource you made with a friend. Today is a different world in terms of sharing information. I agree with Dean that some teachers are very protective of their work, but the more one is open to collaboration the more we learn and grow and the stronger the outcome.  Dean says “We all seek recognition for our contributions but the moment we focus on protecting our work, we are in some ways the antithesis of a teacher.”

As teachers, when considering whether or not to share in these open spaces, Dean challenges us to embrace a culture of sharing and consider the following questions:

  • Is this an obligation?
  • Does my institution see value in sharing?
  • How will it help my students?

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In the video Everything is a Remix Remastered Kirby Ferguson claims…

We can make our novel ideas more accessible, more understandable and perhaps more impactful by copying familiar elements. We can make familiar ideas more fresh, exciting and surprising by extensively remixing from diverse sources. If you can create that perfect hybrid of the new and the old the results and be explosive.

 

Open education has transformed the way we seek information, collaborate with others and learn. The days of purchasing textbooks of out of date information is thankfully behind us. The amount of free information, resources and collective learning, sharing and collaboration is endless and has completely changed formal and informal learning.

Open Ed – It’s a thumbs up!

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Until next time!
Ms. C

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Digital Citizen Or Just Citizens?

Vicki Davis’ blog titled What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship introduced me to Anne Collier and her perspective on dropping the word “digital” from digital citizenship. Don’t you love technology – with each article I read, I’m instantly connected to other recommended readings and arguments. Anne really got me thinking this week about what it means to be a digital citizen. Anne argues that we should drop the word digital because what we are really teaching is citizenship – “The skills and knowledge that students need to navigate the world today”. 

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Reflecting on my learning project, implementing Twitter in the classroom and attempting to “do digital citizenship teaching justice” by really focusing into this year. In past years we have discussed digital citizenship and as we use technology I address different things such as passwords, privacy, personal information on a need to know basis as things came up. This year, I want to teach this consistently on a weekly basis, being proactive about it and dig deeper. It seems silly that I waited until I had a lesson that applied to the topic of digital citizenship when the information is likely just as, if not more valuable to students  “right now” as they are going home from school and using technology in a variety of ways anyway. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but sometimes the pressure of the amount of content I’m required to teach becomes overwhelming and content like digital citizenship has been taught in inconsistent bits and pieces.
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My Top Resource Findings of the Week!
1. Need Help Now

2. Media Smarts: How Cyber-Savy Are You Quiz?

3.13 Apps/Games for Internet Safety Awareness

 

 

 

#Change the Story
This week I found a great recourse called Need Help Now which offers support to teens who have been negatively impacted by self-peer exploitation. This was a very insightful site that offers tons of resources, support, and information. The #ChangeTheStory campaign is about empowering teens to take control of their own narrative and how their story is being told.

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Since my learning project has sparked so many conversation about social media use in our classroom it was only fitting to run with it for Halloween! I teamed up with my intern Jessica and our EA Andrea to be Social Butterflies.

For the upcoming week I will continue to teach digital citizenship lessons – wrapping up “The Key to Key Words” and begin to share about how to show respect other people’s work.

The school days fly by and I haven’t always been consistent with my classroom Tweets but I continue to make progress each week in my teaching, having deeper conversations, finding new resources or interesting articles about digital citizenship and taking notice of how other teachers are using Twitter in the classroom.

Over and Out!
Tayler

Information Overload & Project Progress

I will admit, with every article I read I feel fairly overwhelmed at this point. There are so many avenues to share and connect with not only parents, other classrooms, authors -you name it – that it is impossible to predict where this project will take us. I’m a little OCD and am very clearly a type A planner so not having a solid road map is a bit terrifying. I do look forward to exploring with my kiddo’s and evolve as a teacher in the digital age. Perhaps now that I’ve moved up to grade 4/5 this project takes on more meaning as the percentage of students who do use social media after school increases significantly. During a conversation with my class today we did a quick poll of the social media apps my students are using and nearly all hands went up for apps like Instagram and Snapchat – Facebook wasn’t far behind.

apps pic for blogI was a pretty shocked. I expected a few hands to go up but not every hand. I quickly can see my Twitter learning project to branch off into another teaching area – implementing a digital citizenship curriculum alongside our use of Twitter within the classroom. The two go hand in hand and make complete sense – although I didn’t expect my project to take me in this direction initially.

Right now I’m battling the pressure (and slight intimidation) of how many amazing ways there are to bring Twitter in the Classroom, yet I want it to be authentic and connect to our learning at the same time. It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves but I want my students to clearly understand what Twitter is, it’s purpose, how to use it – essentially spread the word about everything I have learned up until this point.

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Accomplishments Update:

  • We “toured” Twitter together as a class
  • Learning Twitter Terminology  – retweet, hashtags (and their purpose) etc.
  • Followed other classrooms and people who will add to our learning experience.
  • Shared our favorite learning moments to our families – ongoing
  • Taught lessons on Private and Personal Information, The Power of Words and Rings of Responsibilities 
  • Introduced our “Classroom Twitter Feed” – A practice tweet station on the white board where students can develop tweets. As a class we revisit them and edit and necessary and tweet them out on the projector.
  • Connected with other SK Classrooms

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Here is a picture of our “Practice” Twitter Feed. Clearly we need to develop our use of hashtags and punctuation – but one step at a time…

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I’ve been using my personal Twitter account to seek advice about my project.

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Essential Questions Explored:

  • What kinds of responsibilities does a good digital citizen have?
  • How can you protect yourself from online identity theft? What should you do when someone uses mean or scary language on the internet.

    Next Week:

  • Continue with Digital Citizenship Lessons
    • The Key to Key Words – Which keywords will give you the best search results
    • Whose is it Anyway? – How can I show respect for people’s work
  • Establish a routine to do the Tweet of the Day
  • Continue to explore ways to use Twitter
  • Continue to explore digital citizenship resources

 

Social Justice in the Online World

Social activism or social slacktivism?

The burning question this week (drum roll please)…

Can online social activism be meaning and worthwhile? 

I think the short answer is yes! Of course. There are meaningful examples of social activism online however I do feel this can quickly become overshadowed by social slacktivism which is becoming more and more visible on my own social feeds now that I’m more aware of armchair activism and tuning in.

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Image via Google Definition

Take the #bringbackourgirls movement for example. Maclean’s article “The Problem with Slacktivism” argues the #BringBackOurGirls campaign is the” latest disgrace from slacktivists, those who support good causes by doing very little, and achieving even less.

A slacktivist is someone who believes it is more important to be seen to heImage result for bring back our girlslp than to actually help.”  It’s become very common to simply comment or share a post of a genuine cause and believe we are helping when in reality it is achieving nothing but a trending hashtag. Is tweeting out a particular hashtag really going to help the cause? The Maclean’s article makes the point that if people really wanted to help, they would simply donate instead of pinning a pink ribbon to their jacket, or not shaving their face in the month of November, claiming “These things are not the talismans of empathetic supporters. They are proof that you care more about yourself than
Image via mirror                                    the cause.”
This leads me to question how many people draw attention to themselves during the Movember campaign or the Ice Bucket Challenge actually fail to donate to the cause, while gaining the positive attention they are looking for.

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Image via @ROSAPRINCEUK

To counteract this, I do believe in many of these causes that go viral and explode on social media draw an impressive amount of attention and awareness, and as a result of the buzz generate more donations than they perhaps would have without the use of social media and doesn’t that account for something?

And then there is opposite side of the spectrum – people who demonstrate fear of judgement for sharing their opinion on hot topic issues and social justice causes. This is something many teachers can relate to in the fear of judgement from parents and most often their employer. Katia Hildebrant makes a compelling argument on her blog post that  “In Online Spaces, Silent Speaks as Loudly as Words”

What message do we send when we say nothing at all?  Katia explains “If we are online, as educators, and we remain silent about issues of social justice, if we tweet only about educational resources and not about the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in Canada, or about the burning of Black churches in the southern United States, we are sending a clear message: These issues are not important.”

Katia’s argument made rethink my own use of social media and social justice issues. Although I visit my social media feeds often to check the news and occasionally share special events to stay connected to friends and family, I seldom use it as a tool for social activism.  Could I be doing more? Clearly the answers is yes.  Although I will sometimes share a post outlining a cause I believe in, I very rarely involve myself in political posts and discussions. But why? Was I worried about whether people would disagree or judge? I’m not sure – I think partially yes. There is an aspect of fear of judgement. I haven’t made the choice to use social media in this way.Image result for don't speak monkey I could relate to blogger Debs post Why I’m Scared to Express my Opinion Online who commented on the “barrage” of tweet replies a friend received after voicing her opinion online. Although I’ve never experienced this barrage, I often choose not to comment to avoid it. She speaks about avoiding the Twitter drama, which is something I feel holds me back from posting my opinion. I don’t want to get caught up in an online battle and it seems as though people love getting into these heated online debates that really aren’t my personality or style. Do I need to become braver? Do these online battles of opinion make a difference?

Katia’s post made me consider my privilege, along with the responsibilities I have as an educator to model active digital citizenship online. In our second reading from Katia’s blog posts titled “What Kind of Digital Citizen?” was an informative read for me, particularly reading into  Joel Westheimer’s framework about “Kinds of Citizens”. as I immediately thought of my learning project which combines social media use in the classroom using a classroom Twitter account and implementing a digital citizenship curriculum.  I do believe we have a responsibility to teach students how to be responsible citizens and move them along the continuum of being a “Personally Responsible Citizen” who volunteers to someone who advocates organizes, and seeks answers to areas of injustice.


Image via Westheimer’Article as cited by Katia Hildebrandt

Right now, my project is focused on issues such as “The Power of Words” online and more basic, yet still important, aspects of technology use. I think it’s important to remember that students don’t have to stay in this “box” of general citizenship and to think outside the box in terms of also teaching more justice driven citizens.  I think I model digital citizenship but in terms of social activism in an online space, I’m not sure I’m there yet and to be honest I’m not exactly sure how to model this well.

Parting Thoughts & questions
I believe all teachers should share responsibility as educators to provide experiences for students to explore issues of injustice and ways we can help both online and offline. This should happen across all grades so once these students have a foundation of citizenship they can continue to build on this and push outside the box of a personally responsible citizen towards becoming “Justice Oriented”  leaders in the community. This is an exciting prospect and I would like to see some examples of how classrooms and teachers are doing this.

Do you keep your opinions to yourself or are you an open book online?

How do you model social activism in the digital world? 

Social Media for Change?

Now I’m not one to be a Debbie Downer, however I feel as though my last post focused on the negative issues surrounding social media. I addressed a lot of my concerns regarding social media in the classroom including issues of privacy, and cyber safety just to name a few. But overall, I’m much more drawn to the positive aspects social media has to offer. This week, I chose to counteract the negative and dig into the positive aspects of social media and how it can be used in  ways – and in some cases make a very positive impact on our world! There’s pro’s and con’s to everything and just as social media is capable of doing a lot of damage when not careful, it is also capable of helping those in need and spreading a whole lot of love, happiness and positive vibes.  Today – let’s focus on the GOOD!

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Response to Natural Disasters

Not only does social media provide immediate information when it comes to natural disasters but it significantly contributes to disaster relief – anything from raising money to locating survivors.

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Image via Trendhunter

Heather Lessen  explains the use of digital responders during disasster response. She states “Digital responders can immediately log on when news breaks about a natural disaster or human-created catastrophe. Individuals and teams are activated based on skill sets of volunteer and technical communities. These digital responders use their time and technical skills, as well as their personal networks in an attempt to help mitigate information overload for formal humanitarian aid in the field. These digital humanitarians will help close the gap in worldwide disaster response.”  Aside from the importance of digital responders, think of how quickly word can spread about world disasters today compared to 30 years ago.

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Image via Trendhunter

Healthcare and Public Health

Social media has helped many people suffering from the same condition seek support, ask questions, and connect with others experiencing the same condition. Yes, there is a flip side to this as we all have friends who rapidly self diagnose using Web MD and convince themselves that they only have days to live. There is of course the positive side which allows instantaneous information to medical information at the quick of a button. “28% of health-related conversations on Facebook are supporting health-related causes, followed by 27% of people commenting about health experiences or updates.” (source: Infographics Archive). Don’t even get me started on the positive aspects of fitness and healthy lifestyle apps! Amazing!

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Image via National Prevention Information Network

Check out this link here for “24 Outstanding Statistics and Figures On How Social Media Has Impacted the Health Care Industry”. Interesting read!

Platform for Change

Remember the ice bucket challenge? This phenomenon was likely the most obvious but impressive example of how social media can make a positive impact! “More than 17 million people [in 2014] uploaded their challenge videos to Facebook … watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times. It is now an annual event to raise awareness and funds to find treatments and a cure. By the end of September 2014, ALSA had received an incredible $115 million from IBC donators—in less than 60 days. This represented an increase of over 3,500% in funds raised over the same two-month period in 2013, equal to 375% of its annual revenue for the previous fiscal year. It consisted mostly of small donations (but with some ranging up to $200,000) and came from over 3 million donors, over 2/3 of whom were new. According to ALSA, more than $220 million was ” (CPAJournal). Don’t forget the hours of entertainment in blooper and Celebrity Ice Bucket Challenges videos.

Building Empathy

I really enjoyed reaBell-Lets-Talk-003-001blogpic.jpgding Dani’s post about many other positive aspects to social media. On her most recent blog post, she “celebrates and acknowledge the amazing work of organizations like Kids Help Phone or Bell Let’s Talk for opening the conversations about how important self care, understanding and empathy are, and for being Image via The Brock Press                  there to support youth and adults in our province.”                                                                      Social media widely contributes to the awareness of                                                                    these support for teens.
It seems as though everything has it’s pro’s and con’s and social media is no different. However, it did feel good to read about such great, powerful things happening around the world thanks to something that often gets a bad rap such as social media outlets. I think social media can have the power to transform many situations and the possibilities are difficult to imagine!

What are some of your favorite examples of social media being used for positive change?

Teaching in the Digital Age


Hey there teachers, parents, students – people of the digital age! What an interesting time to take on the role of teacher – parent – or student because our world is advancing at such high speeds that one’s experiences today are hard to relate to even 10 years ago and I can only imagine it will also be wildly different even jut 10 years from now. We can’t look model the way we teach, parent or learn based exactly on our own childhoods or educational experiences in the exact same ways because the context in which we learn, play and experience life  has changed so much. This brings up some concerns about teaching in the digital age.

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It is almost an overwhelming question:
How do you teach children to succeed in a rapidly changing world and an uncertain future?

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When I think about this loaded question, I begin to think more and more about the importance of teaching transferable skills and can be adapted and applied to a wide variety of tasks and skills. In the Ted Talk titled “Knowledge is Obsolete, So Now What?, Michael Wesch claimed that “64% of school children will have jobs that don’t exist today”. Wow! It’s hard to even process that. It’s impossible to even know what kinds of careers we are meant to be preparing our children for if the chances are more favorable that they will have a job that doesn’t even exist, than a job we know of today. One of the biggest take away’s from Michael’s Ted Talk was when he said…

“Teach the application of knowledge, rather than knowledge itself.”

Most of my childhood education was spent studying and memorizing meaningless facts or pieces of information that I forget today. Although I feel there has been a shift away from this style of teaching, there are still students everywhere learning “google-able” facts.

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Image via Madan Neelapu

Should we be teaching information that can be answers by a simple google search?
blog pic 5Personally, if students are googling most of their information, I think it should almost be a requirement to teach students how to find accurate sources of information online and how to tell whether a source if fact or fiction. Many of my students, like many, are quick to believe everything they read online. Teaching how to filter through sources of information to find a reliable news source is in my opinion a critical step in helping children succeed in the digital age.

In Amy ‘s most recent blog post, she addresses the concern of student motivation with the advancement on technology. Amy’s question “How can we as educators have students motivated to learn and apply information when it is at their finger tips?” really got me thinking. My students are often so drawn to technology, but I wonder if living in a time where we have unlimited access to information has impacted our ability to think critically about the information our students’ read.

How can we engage students in technology while promoting critical thinking in the process?

A second concern I have with educating children in the digital age is cyberbullying. Although technology can open the door for extended socialization and can make some students more comfortable to voice their opinion behind the “shield” of their phone or computer, it can also open the door for negative interactions to happen more freely. It shouldn’t be up to young students to navigate these issues alone. Having these discussions at home and school are really important. Mary Hertz, author of Edtopia’s article titled “How to Teach Cyber Safety to Younger Elementary Students” states “With children spending time online at younger and younger ages, it’s vital we explicitly teach young children how to protect themselves online.”  I can remember learning about talking to strangers as a young student, however, now we are having the same conversations about privacy and stranger danger in the online world.
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As part of my learning project which involves using Twitter in the classroom, I’m using the K-12 Common Sense K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum to overcome many of my concerns with cyber safety. If you haven’t checked out the Common Sense Digital Citizenship Curriculum, I highly suggest you do as it is a very well laid out, easy to use curriculum complete with specific lessons and units for every grade level!

The curriculum is designed to empower students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world. From lesson plans, videos, student interactives, and assessments, to professional learning and family outreach materials, our turnkey Curriculum provides schools with everything they need to take a whole-community approach to digital citizenship”

What are you’re main concerns with teaching in the digital age & how do you plan to overcome these challenges?

2 First Days of School & a Learning Project: Follow the Journey @cameronscorner1

This has been a very unique start to the school year and it all began the day my school gained a teacher halfway through the month of September. What does this really mean? Well all of our kids re-shuffled grades – including myself. I went from teaching a group of 3/4 students to a new group of 4/5 students and experienced 2 “First Day of School’s” in one school year. I’ve taught grade 4/5 before so I wasn’t too thrown off by the sudden grade change, however I am feeling a tad bit behind in my teaching and where I would have hoped to be at the beginning of the October in terms of classroom routines, teaching content, and of course my learning project which involves my students & bringing Twitter into the classroom.  The positive side is this minor set-back in time has allowed me to explore Twitter behind the scenes apart from my classroom and begin to read – read – read!

Welcome to our classroom at the new Connaught Community School!
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The end of September was spent establishing routines (again) with my new group of kiddos , attending the internship seminar and getting to know my new students learning styles areading picnd personalities. Since this was a hectic 2 weeks in the classroom I spent my learning project time focused on setting up our classroom Twitter account, researching the “Do’s and Don’t’s” of using Twitter in the classroom, collecting parent permission for social media use,  exploring how to use Twitter in general, informing parents of my intentions of using Twitter in the classroom.  along with brushing up on issues of student privacy.

I have a rarely used personal Twitter account from my bachelor degree days – so the basics were a much needed review but were fairly straight forward. What bring me anxiety was reading the hundreds of ways to use Twitter. Ah! Where do I even begin??

So to wrap my head around it – I browsed the many possibilities Twitter has to offer and decided to focus on my own classroom Twitter and get my feet wet by sharing our learning. Currently to get started, I’ve Tweeted out the first few updates and will slowly transition to a point where students will take over the responsibility of sharing and creating tweets.

I have also explored Alec’s recommended documents with suggestions of educators to follow, education related hashtags and the tips and tricks demonstrated within class.
Learning the Basics!
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Photo via edudemic

Inform & Connect with Families
I came across an educator online from Windsor, ON by the name of Kristen Wideen. Mrs. Wideen’s blog provided a very helpful starting point for me and it’s definitely worth a visit!  I also adapted her Parent Letter, as seen below, as my own starting point for a letter. I pulled key points and adapted her letter to fit my own situation. I took her advice regarding following only other educators – not necessarily following parents back as I hadn’t considered the repercussions of others personal twitter content popping into our classroom news feed.

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I really enjoyed reading about other teachers mistakes using Twitter and what they learned in hopes to avoid any trouble and start rolling with my project smoothly. For example, Kristen identified the following rather helpful “mistakes” which you can explore in further detail here.

#1 Classroom Twitter Mistake
The Teacher creates and publishes the tweets.

*Rule # 1 and already an Oops in my project 

#2 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Jumping right in without laying the ground work first.

#3 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Leaving the parents out of the loop

#4 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Keeping the Class Twitter Account Locked Down

These common mistakes were a great starting point to lock down areas of focus during the first two weeks. My priority has been connecting to families, following educational accounts, and sharing our learning. Basically – jumping into it and building upon my learning each week. From here I would like to continue to explore issues of students privacy and check out how other classrooms are using Twitter within the classroom.

Now time for my shameless plug – follow our classroom on Twitter @cameronscorner1 🙂

Wish me luck!
Ms. Cameron