Activism or “Slacktivism” : A world of wannabe social leaders.

Activism in the Social Media Age imageImage courtesy of: Andrew Wilson

Welcome back to the hub #ECI831‘s!

The above comic sort of sum’s up my initial feelings on a lot of social media activism…but, I shouldn’t let myself get ahead of myself, first, what is social media activism?  Overall, it is using social media and the internet to get information out quickly and effectively and in this case, to spread a message or cause for the better good of a certain group.  I stumbled across an excellent PDF that does a great job summarizing a lot of these explanations, Digital-Activism-and-Non-Violent-Conflict, in this article, Edwards, Howard and Joyce say a digital activism campaign is “an organized public effort, making collective claims on a target authority, in which civic initiators or supporters use digital media.”   So if we know what social activism is, the opposite is social “slaktivism”.  Social slaktivism is, according to a wikipedia definition, “showing support for a cause but only truly being beneficial to the egos of people participating in this so-called activism.”  Otherwise known as armchair warriors or people who like or share aspects of social activism but don’t actually do anything past that in supporting or moving the cause forward.

Image result for social slacktivism

Image courtesy of: spiritofrebellion

Now that we have that formality out of the way, what does this actually mean in the society we live in today?  My wonder is, are the social activists actually making a difference in the real world or is it just loads and loads of attention and reach online?  Also, are there positives with just those things alone?  I’m tossed up on this idea because so far based on some of the campaigns I have seen, aside from awareness and getting people talking, what else are they doing?  I appreciate, respect and value the conversations that have come about with the hashtags such as #bringbackourgirls, #metoo, #blacklivesmatter, etc. but the problems that these campaigns are fighting for, are still enormous issues and it appears that so far, the hashtags aren’t solving them. The social issues that these online activist are taking on are big, they’re big and they’re important and I think these hashtags and conversations are incredibly important, unfortunately I think it’s not enough.

When we think back to Kony 2012 or The Ice Bucket Challenge for ASL research, both could be considered some of the first viral activist campaigns that generated millions of viewers and some social “uproar” however, it isn’t good enough anymore to have a one-hit-wonder, if we want real social and world change we need to focus on creating campaigns that have staying power.  If we want meaningful and worthwhile campaigns they need to be organized, have strong leadership and be able to use resources and people-power to their best and most efficient uses.  There is a term deemed, “mission creep” that more or less means that if a project is too broad and unfocused it won’t have said staying power and therefore is not relevant for a long enough time to be meaningful.  If goals can be small and achievable, or at least broken into smaller and more achievable pieces you have a much better chance of changing peoples mindsets long term and seeing goals met.  This week in class we spoke about the vagueness of the Kony campaign and how it was “a call to action” but it didn’t really say what the viewer was supposed to do, where they were suppose to do it and aside from bringing awareness and encouraging viewers to write to their leaders, it wasn’t specific and therefore not as effective as it could have been.

It was recently exposed that former head of The Regina Sexual Assault Center had been embezzling money to the tune of more than $700,000 and has now been charged and sentenced to 3 years in jail for taking the money from the non-profit.  The reason I bring this up, is the fact that it proves the immense power of good organization and proper leaders in bringing awareness and funding to non-profits and social change.  There are so many good movements and resources that still carry the potential for disaster – not only did this women take money from this particular non-profit, but she took money from all the men and women that visit and need the center, she took money from all the other sexual assault organizations that now will have people questioning their intentions, etc.  It is sad that we even have to have stories such as this one when speaking about all the good that non-profits and social movements intend to accomplish.

Overall in this area, I have to remain fairly wishy-washy.  I love the idea of social activism, I love the idea of the conversation and the wide spread audiences that you wouldn’t be able to reach in any other way, however, I worry that it’s not enough on it’s own.  We need to back and support the hashtags, the groups, the conversations with real, concrete support through money and rallies and action.

Next sticky situation…Is it possible to have constructive conversations about social justice online – in short terms, in my opinion, no.                                 GIF courtesy of! internet social media internet fight GIF

What is inevitable, is this meme…internet fights galore!  People have their opinions and they are especially not shy in sharing them when they have a computer screen to protect them.

noun

informal 1. a person who makes abusive or aggressive posts on the Internet, typically one who conceals their true identity.
It starts with someone coming up with their passion, their cause, their ideas and then sending them out into the big wild yonder known as the internet and when that’s done it’s up to the rest of the world to respond.  There are going to be supporters and people that share either the same views, or can share their view with respect and understanding…on the flipside, there are the internet trolls who will go on and intentionally cause arguments and unrest in a conversation, or even take it as far as harassment.  There are VERY few conversations around the topic of social justice posted online that you won’t find racism, sexism and just plan ignorance from people online.  I think these trolls that are taking over the internet and interjecting themselves into important conversations online are ruining the ability to have these conversations and make changes through open dialogue.  In Marley’s blog this week she mentions that she feels like she needs a bit of an action plan in place to start participating in social justice online and I couldn’t agree more…I usually am too emotionally drained from reading through comments and opinions online to offer my own or share what is near and dear to my heart.  I think I will take her words to heart and start by making small and achievable goals to start being a responsible voice online.
I will leave this week’s blog post on a quote from a popular television show that resonated with me this week.  The show is called American Horror Story : Cult and they are tackling some VERY current issues in this season with regards to politics, sexism and the overall manipulation of the United States right now.  The show is a little out there and at times can be very violent, sexual and disturbing – just as a disclaimer before you jump in if you haven’t seen it.  But there was a conversation between two characters about making changes, making their voices heard and leaving a legacy and one character says,  “So you’re going to write a book?” and the other character responds, “No I don’t have time for that shit…I’m just going to release something on social media.”   Truer words have never been spoken it seems at this point.
Thanks for taking the time to check out my post,
Dani ❤
“Educating the mind without educating the heart,
is no education at all.”
-Aristotle

 

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Let’s Get This Show on the Road.

Hello friends,

I’m moving ahead with my learning project and so far I have 17/24 permission slips back (here it is again if you want to peek it :University Class Media Release Note) meaning I have 17/24 kiddos ready to take over our Facebook page as Jr. Author’s and Photographer’s.  😀

Before we officially kick off the project I wanted to go over internet and computer safety with the whole class so we all were on the same page as far as how we need to conduct ourselves online!  I knew my class had varying degrees of experiences online so I was already aware that some would know exactly what I meant, and some wouldn’t have the slightest!  The varying degree of involvement with the online world happens at this age for many reasons – 1) kids sometimes just don’t have a lot of access to computers at home either because they don’t have the technology for money or personal beliefs, or their families limit the hours of screen time, 2) kid’s have only ever had access to sites that are strictly monitored and selected for them making it unnecessary to learn safety guidelines or 3) some are just online all the time with no guidelines or rules and just do as they please without regard for safety…therefore never learning them.  We started with a “Show what you know” on the board – I asked for help answering the following question..

“WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAFE ONLINE?”

Some of the responses were : “Not sharing information about yourself”, “Asking permission”, “Not going on things you don’t know”, “Being safe”, “Don’t talk to strangers”.  Those are kids who have spent time online and have even a little bit of an idea of what it means to be safe on a computer.  Some other responses were, “Hold the computer with two hands”, “Don’t run and hold a computer”, “Don’t colour on the computer screen because then you won’t be able to see what you’re doing”, “Shut the computer down properly”.  The children who provided those answers were still stuck in the “Computer safety” phase and had a harder time wrapping their head around the idea that we need are taking about safety once we are logged into our computers.  After this discussion we watched a video from the American website, Brainpop Jr. that specializes in short educational videos for kids on a variety of subject matter.  Brainpop uses fun, funny characters to explain concepts to kids that are sometimes hard to otherwise and they do so in an engaging and exciting way.  Brainpop Jr. is geared for primary, but there is also a Brainpop site geared towards middle years as well.  The yearly subscription is around $225 CAD but in my opinion, worth every cent.  With each video there are quizzes, activities, word work, art activities, etc.  The video I linked below is the one I showed my class around Learning About Internet Safety.  This video is among the free resources you can access on their site – check it out!

Once the video wrapped up, we spoke a little more about the idea together and then set off to create posters to advertise to others how we can be safe online!  Below are a few examples of the poster’s my little’s are working on:

Once we complete the posters I plan to shoot a short video of the kid’s sharing their ideas – keep your eyes peeled for that! 🙂

 

All in all, I’m excited at how this project is shaping up!  My kid’s are looking forward to it and feel like they had a hand in creating it which I think is so important in education.

Thanks again for reading,

Dani ❤

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

is no education at all”

-Aristotle

 

Doing it for the better good.

Hello #ECI831,

Social media gets a bad wrap – there are plethora of reasons why people feel like social media is bad for youMichael Kwan, a freelance technology writer from Vancouver has wrapped many of the reasons in one article!  There are obviously privacy and safety concerns, the psychological hardship that is caused by trying to live up to the portrayal of ones online self, constantly comparing yourself to the images of friends and acquaintances and, similarly to what we spoke about in class, social media creates an echo chamber effect.  The echo chamber effect is essentially the idea that we seek out information that promote our agendas and then we find narratives and people that support our views and don’t bother acknowledging other viewpoints and ideas – especially on social media.  Other pitfalls include social media being a distraction, showcasing a less than desirable side of ourselves that could potentially create a negative outcome in our professional lives, and then the potential damage to our relationships, feelings of social isolation caused by living in an online world and the teacher in me coming out, potential for poor grammar and laziness in writing.  One minute it’s all sunshine and roses, and then, “glimpse into the abyss” as this funny GIF illustrates.

davisbot funny fun party instagram GIF Now that all that negativity is out of the way (I am a realist in a lot of ways I think there is no denying the downsides) I want to take a minute of your time and doing a little celebrating! I was happy to see that a couple of my colleagues Joe and Marley  also decided to take some time and look at the incredible amount of good that come from the use of social media.  There is a lot of negative in this world so sometimes the soul needs to seek the positive!

FIRST:  Social media acts as instant communication and gives you the ability to spread whichever messages you choose!  Why not spread something positive? 🙂 It’s just as easy as something negative. You can tell about yourself, ask about others and stay full updated on your friends lives, or learn about someone new!  We have the ability to spread positivity this way.

Image result for instant communication

Image Credit: http://www.livechatagent.com/tag/channels/

SECOND: Social media helps build empathy as we post about the trials and tribulations of our lives and others whom we care about can post and offer help or support.  Part of the human condition is celebrating ups together, or sharing our downs together.  We can take comfort in knowing we aren’t alone as others have shared in our same life experiences.  As an educator I also would like to celebrate 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 there to support youth and adults in our province.  These outlets are widely shared on social media and therefore a huge positive that is offered.

Image result for empathy

Image Credit: http://www.aplaceformom.com/

THIRD: Social media gives us the opportunity to be in touch with the world and therefore build like minded communities!  I know I mentioned in the negative (not to dwell 😉 ) that the “like-mindedness” can turn into an echo chamber of close-mindedness, however, this idea also gives people hope that they are not alone, that there are people in the world that feel as they do and that they can relate to.  When you live in an isolated place, whether that’s by choice, or geographically you can feel disconnected and social media opens up a connected community even though you are not necessarily with the people you’re viewing.

Image result for social media

Image credit: https://softloom.com/tag/social-media/

In my classroom I use social media as a way to connect home and school – again, the personal, community connections that I mention above!  My classroom Facebook page offers my families a glimpse into their children’s learning and day at school.  My families can see their child engaging, spending time with friends and learning.  I also use my social media to engage parents into conversation with their child by posting a question or task each day for them to try together.  In my personal instance, social media has been an invaluable tool to help me connect what I do each day with what kiddos are doing at home.  Social media use for me is only a positive experience and I am so thankful for the opportunity to use it, and work with families that also utilize the technology.  Below are some examples of the pictures I would share on my page for my families to enjoy!

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing  Image may contain: 1 person, standing, child, outdoor and nature Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

I would like to leave this post with a quick video that does a nice job highlighting the positive effects, and the multitude of social media use in our communities and the world.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post,

Dani ❤

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle

 

 

 

Blast Off…with permission!

Hello friends,

I have made the decision to forge forward with the integration of a new technology into my classroom for my learning project!  I have given this a lot of thought as I already have a Facebook page well established in my room, but I think this is a great opportunity for myself as an educator to try something new and follow the lead of my students.  I always get wrapped up in the curriculum and feel bound by time and themes so I know this will help grow my pedagogy and make me a more responsive teacher.  My kiddos this year are intrigued with our Facebook, always asking me to snap photos and “put them on our page” so instead of that, why don’t they show me what is important to them and snap the photo’s themselves?

Each day we will have a new Facebook Author and Photographer who will share whatever they want from our day.  I will screen the information and add it to our page!  This project will give kiddos ownership in a safe way.  We will also focus on internet safety and digital citizenship throughout the project.  I have attached a permission slip  that I will send home tomorrow to my families – I have  asked that these slips come back on or before Friday so I can start our project on Monday! 🙂  This permission slip will cover sharing photos or videos on my blog with no names attached as well as sharing my final project with all of you in class.  I feel like this is both a legality and a courtesy to my families to ensure everyone feels safe participating.  Feel free to check it out, use it, modify it, etc.

University Class Media Release Note

GIF Credit: http://gph.is/Vx9m50   

Thanks for checking in,

Dani ❤

 

Youtube…defining a generation!

Hello again #eci831,

This was an interesting week of learning and exploring for me!  I was instantly intrigued when Alec gave the recommendation to watch the video “An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube” – I ended up watching the entire 55 minutes because I was so interested in the massive cultural shift when Youtube became “a thing”.  I’ve linked the video below if you want to check it out again, or for the first time.  It’s well worth the watch.

First I think teachers absolutely have a responsibly to help kids keep up with the rapidly changing environment they are growing up in.  It would be incredibly easy to be left behind and then you are at a deficit for new jobs, etc. as you grow up not to mention, it seems kids that are less technologically inclined are socially ostracized because they can’t keep up with the conversations of children who are more well versed in the digital age.  However, with those things being said, sometimes I feel like my initial reaction is similar to Marley’s in her initial reaction blog post about the negative impacts technology can have on kids – if you have a second, pop over to her blog and give it a read as it points out some of things that educators may forget in our haste to “keep up” or even get ahead.

One of the points that really stuck out to me in this video that directly related with this week’s theme of the moral imperative to teach kids in the digital age with all of the inevitable concerns that arise from doing so is, that there is an incredible amount of information that gets out using an outlet like Youtube in comparison to television.  If you view the video around the 40 second mark, the data is staggering.  I had some questions come up, is it good or bad? Too fast?  Is there enough accountability?  Enough structure?  Enough moderation?  Information, and new information at that, is coming at us (kids included) fast and furious!  Wesch says that (in 2008) 88% of the content on Youtube is new and original – that’s an overwhelming amount of unseen ideas!  This brings me back to one of my concerns, is there enough accountability and moderation to make this outlet a safe one for children in the classroom or at home?  Youtube does have policies and guidelines in place to help create a safe, inclusive environment for its users but is it enough?  As an educator I don’t think we can just blanket ban a site like Youtube even though there is absolutely content posted that would not be appropriate for our classes, again, it comes down to teaching kids to vet content and to be responsible and accountable for their actions.  This is one of my biggest concerns, but also on of the largest pieces that teachers need to focus on as part of the moral imperative to prepare children.

Wesch says in his lecture that Youtube creates new forms of community, gives a voice to those who may not have one otherwise and is linking people in ways we have never imagined but doing so in unpredictable ways.  He suggests that we may need to rethink things with regards to privacy, responsibility, governance, love, family, etc.  Children’s brains are not developed in the way that an adults brain is, making it virtually impossible to make decisions the way an adult would.  The chart below from the Center of the Developing Child at Harvard University shows the time that certain connections are made and overlap.  We need to keep this in mind when we are teaching children about internet safety or encouraging them to keep up with the times.  What might be understood and beneficial for an adult or adolescent, would not necessarily be appropriate for a younger child.  Although educators feel the pressure to prepare students for an uncertain future, it is also our moral obligation to keep them safe in the current conditions.

In the proliferation and pruning process, simpler neural connections form first, followed by more complex circuits. The timing is genetic, but early experiences determine whether the circuits are strong or weak. Source: C.A. Nelson (2000). Credit: Center on the Developing Child

Photo credit: https://developingchild.harvard.edu

Youtube invites the public into your most private places, it allows people to interact without the social anxieties of face to face interaction, it is talking to no one and talking to everyone at the same time.  We don’t have another platform like Youtube and the benefits are immense.  Children can be creative, be open, be adventurous but NEED to be safe.  I think what it comes down to, as I have said before, is that although parents and educators have concerns about growing up and participating in the digital word we need to first understand that children need to be involved in this world.  The digital world is not going anywhere, anytime soon.  Children need to be well versed and engage in a variety of online platforms BUT they need to do it safely.  They need to know how to distinguish between reality and the online world, real news and fake, harmful or hurtful content in comparison to helpful and accurate content, and they need to understand that different spaces lend themselves better to different content…what you might show your friends and laugh about, you might not show your Grandma.  So, have your concerns, have your hesitations but in my opinion, remember as educators that it is our responsibility to prepare kiddos for the future (as uncertain as it is) and part of that preparation is online.

 

Happy Learning,

Dani ❤

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle

Image result for knowledge is power memePhoto Credit: https://img.memecdn.com

Technology…what could possibly go wrong?!?

Hello #ECI831 buddies and beyond,

Thanks to social media and the internet, the world has truly become a small place in the best way!  We can share information quickly, stay connected with friends and family, access unbelievable amounts of amounts of knowledge and do it all from the comforts of our own homes, or literally in the palms of our hands.  Scary?  Yes.  Potential for disaster? Absolutely.  Opportunities for growth in ways the world has never seen before, heck yes!

I teach grade 2, 7 year old’s for those who have been out of grade 2 for a while…and the most important thing that my kiddos need to know as they branch out and start exploring the internet is how to be safe and smart.  Although many of my kids will not have their own social media accounts for a couple, few more years, the knowledge to stay safe when the time comes is incredibly important.  Mistakes happen when we lack the knowledge to do better, so starting kids on internet and social media safety at a young age, well before they start to live to regularly in the online world is integral.  In my opinion, one of the keys is using language and descriptions that kids understand and can relate to, even if they aren’t necessarily familiar with the topic of the internet or social media.  Using videos like the one below is a great place to start.

 

One absolutely crucial piece or skill that I feel both educators and students need to master in order to make “open” education meaningful and safe is teaching both parties to be good digital citizens…first, understanding what that means. There are 9 important areas to focus on in order to be responsible, efficient and productive members in the digital world.  In Coralee’s blog I found many points that got me thinking about the challenges that both adults and kids alike face with regards to social media and education, and then also the differences that these groups encounter.  We need to remember as adults that things that potentially seem like a little deal to us,  could be life shattering to our youth, such as a mean message being sent, an unflattering photo being posted online, etc.  I think it’s important to remember that a child’s brain is not developed in the same way as an adults and therefore consequences and cause/effect are not interpreted in the same way and can therefore not be dealt with the same way.

Image result for digital citizenship

Photo credit: http://www.fractuslearning.com

I loved the above chart I found on Coralee’s blog that breaks down 9 main elements regarding being responsible digital citizen and although many of them are geared towards adults, they can be changed to kid friendly language and shared with youth.  Like the fun graphic below.

Image result for digital citizenship

Photo credit: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2014/08/classroom-posters-and-resources-for.html 

Okay – so let’s get to the knitty gritty, what are the best and worst potential outcomes of using the “open world” to share student work?  Let’s get the worst out of the way first, this is a potential negative anytime you’re sharing online.  There is a chance that predators or internet trolls swing by and terrorize your work – for kids, this hard to understand and could affect self esteem in posting.  There is also the chance for the worst, worst case scenario’s of identity theft, illegal sharing of photo’s, illegal use of photo’s or being able to contact kids in an inappropriate way.  The world is a scary place and there are many risks associated with venturing into it.  For the best cases, kids get the chance to share their work on a global stage making it exciting and new, they get the opportunity to meet and interact with children from all over the world, they get to learn internet and social media safety and take ownership over their learning.  So many things to consider.

 

 

GIF Credit: http://gph.is/1hndn5C

Really what it comes down to is, is it worth it?  Is it worth it to allow kids the opportunity to share work on a global platform, to explore the internet or share on social media?  I think YES absolutely! Our world is changing by the second and I see the value in kids being taught to SAFELY keep up.  As mentioned, the work that goes into getting people ready to be online is the most important part – once this schema is established the fun can start in a safe way.  Kid’s can connect and learn to be more global minded people when they learn to sift through fake and real news,  contribute to the world positively and write and create with more than themselves in mind.  I am so amazed at the knowledge and light kids bring and they truly have an incredible amount to share.  At my grade level, permission and respect for the wishes of families are very important as well.   I would not under any circumstance post photo’s, video’s or even written work online in any capacity without a signed permission slip.  There are many, many reasons that families may choose to not have an online presence for their child and I feel as though if I have made my case as to why I want them to participate and the family still disagrees, than I should respect that.  Attached is a copy of the very detailed package I send home to my families with regards to my Classroom Facebook Page where I post pics, videos and updates from our day.  Feel free to check it out! 🙂  Facebook Parent Package (1)

Thanks for checking out my post. ❤

Dani

“Educating the mind without educating the heart, is no education at all”

-Aristotle

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.

To project A or project B, that is the question…

According to dictionary.com the definition of the word decision is, “a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration” and that is exactly where I find myself, in the midst of consideration.  On one hand, it is rare that I am awarded the opportunity to take the time to learn something new, something I am interested in and may not (lets be real, wouldn’t) have time to do without a nudge.  However, I already have a Facebook page set up for my classroom and could push myself to utilize this amazing tool in new and exciting ways.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.

If I were to choose the Learning Project option, my dream would be to learn French.  I know I’m not going to be hired as an interpreter by the government, but I would love to feel comfortable teaching French at the elementary level to my class!  I only ever explored the language in grade school, but am so envious of people who are bilingual.  I love language and respect the time and effort that goes into learning a language that is not your first.  Living in a country like Canada I feel this skill is one that I could put to good use and one that would benefit me in my personal life as well as my profession.  My goal would be to be able to speak and understand enough of the French language to carry on a short, slow moving conversation as well as be able to confidently teach short songs or basic units in French at the grade 2-4 level.  My plan to accomplish this mission, should I choose to accept it, would be to use a program called “Duolingo” on my phone for a practice session of 15-20 minutes a day as well as exploring other language websites and having “conversation/lessons” with my dear friend and French speaking colleague Elinor Adema.  Check out this fun intro to Duolingo below:

If I were to choose the technology integration route I would be restructuring a program I currently use in my grade 2 classroom at Lakeview School!  I already have a Facebook page up and running that I post to every night with photos, video, updates on what we did during the day and at least one question families can ask their kiddos around the table…or to help combat the age old conversation, “What did you do at school today?”, response, always, “nothing.”  Families have 100% choice in both how, or if their child is included on the page.  They can choose full participation, participation with video/pictures but no name or no participation at all.  In order to change things up for this assignment I’m considering giving the page over to my students!  Instead of being the author and photographer I would select a student a day to take pictures of what interested them, come up with questions and summarize the day.  They would then write the piece and I would post it.  It has always been a goal of mine to give the students the reigns, but life gets busy and I never seem to get it started in the year!  This is potentially the opportunity I need to explore this option in my classroom.  Below are a couple pictures from my Open House and Welcome Back BBQ to give you a feel for my room.  For privacy violation reasons, I cannot post a link to my Lakeview Facebook page, but if you’re interested in more info leave a comment, or email at danielle.hackel@rbe.sk.ca.

               

Thanks in advance for reading my post and for sending any suggestions my way!

Happy learning. ❤
Dani

“Educating the mind without educating the heart, is no education at all”

-Aristotle

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