It took me a while to sort out what I wanted to do for my summary of learning and I soon discovered that it was not an easy task to condense everything into a short video. However, I did it! Digital learning is about continuous learning so even as I started to collect my thoughts about what I wanted to share, I found myself reading articles and watching videos on what tools would best meet my needs. I learned about the presentation concept of Pecha-Kucha, how I might use it with PowerPoint, and then found a useful video explaining all the nuts and bolts of editing my narration, converting files, and uploading the video to my YouTube channel. I knew some of these processes already, but a quick refresher was helpful. In this video, it also taught me about Audacity, which I’m excited to use in the future as a simple audio editing too.
EC & I 831 pushed me out of my comfort zone both technically and pedagogically as an educator. I hope this summary video captures some of my experiences and where I hope to go in the future. Thank you everyone for such a great learning environment to interact in.
I recall the wave of French flags that Facebook users laid over their profile photos this year and my thought process around deciding not to follow suit although many of my FB pals had done so. When I first starting reading about the story my reaction was that this was a simple way to demonstrate support and compassion for a country and city suffering from a senseless attack. I was about to change my profile and follow suit, but then I start reading more posts (not from anyone I actually knew) and discovered that doing so was actually controversial.
What could be controversial at first glance? As I read on I found that those not changing their profile agreed that is was senseless tragedy as well, but did not feel this was the best way to address the tragedy. There were various reasons for and against, but the one post that stood out for me the most was by a person that wanted the whole event minimized in any form of media. Their argument was that the support was appreciated, yet they did not want a media outpouring to give the terrorists any extension of “fame”. For me, at this time, the argument made a great deal of sense. We’ve used a similar arguments before to avoid glorifying murderers and rapists. So I did not change by FB profile.
At the time I had no idea that this topic is part of the whole slacktivist debate. After reading though the articles from this past week and considering some of the activism projects in the digital world, I’m still a bit uncertain about whether slacktivism is a good or bad thing. This graph gives a quick overview of what would be considered slacktivism vs activism, but after reading more about this topic, I do not feel one is necessarily more effective or better than the other.
Both Branstetter and Rosmarin talk about the common critiques of slacktivists being shallow and just appearing to be socially conscious when more could be done with real action. This could be in the form of donations or other active on the ground work. However, Branstetter argues that slacktivism is actually dead as millennial actually use the digital world to equip themselves to protest both digitally and by foot while Rosmarin points out that slacktivism does create awareness while cynics of slacktivists will actually encourage these better informed individuals to make better choices and at some point take action.
So when I consider slacktivism in this light, it is neither good or bad. It is important to consider what you share and like along with why you do so. It should not be about being appearing to be socially conscious or raising something contentious for the sake of shock value, but engaging in digital activity that has meaning to you. Groetzinger notes that slacktivism in larger networked numbers provides support to those actually on the ground and that those actively engaged in digital activism are more likely to become involved in real life. Therefore, slacktivism can be a mechanism for individuals to learn about and become better informed before making a conscious decision about their on foot involvement.
The key here though is actively engaged. Slacktivism cannot be about signing every petition that floats across your screen or shouting out comments for shock value. It must be a way to learn about injustices and challenges (both locally and globally) and find out how you could actively engage digitally and if you are compelled and able to do so on foot as well. Slacktivism, as many would argue creates much greater awareness than ever before so individuals and as a collective we can influence positive change. This video gives a simple overview of how such awareness through the digital world is actually a modern form of activism. We can make better choices and informed decisions by engaging online in meaningful ways and find ways to influence change without necessarily going to traditional activism methods (although there is still a place for that too).
This debate is far from over, but more than anything is has allowed me to think more consciously about what I post or engage in online. I was already doing it thinking back to the flag example, but now this whole concept of online activism has made me start to consider what I have maybe commented, liked or shared without considering the full message behind that story and what activist message I am sending. Digital activism is creating self-awareness and understanding what messages you support by sharing. I do not know that I will ever be as dedicated as Martha Payne, but her work is proof that digital campaigns such as hers can be very effective in informing and advocating for change, which is by definition activism.
I often wonder about the negativity presented about the digital age and social media and question if this stems from a lack of education or pure disregard for human decency. Those that choose to post such malicious attacks on others must know this is wrong and must know that it is in a very public forum that compounds the impact over traditional face to face right? Maybe they do, maybe they do not. I think some do get caught up in this negative hype, not fully understanding the impact of their actions, while others are intentional. But, what can we do to educate ourselves and others about online harassment and trolling so that we may take a more proactive approach?
We have recognized that digital communication, access to information, and online sharing is only going to grow and is quickly becoming a part of our culture, our daily interactions, and learning. So, we cannot stick our heads in the sand, but instead figure out how to maximize positive discussions and online learning. We must educate ourselves and encourage others to do the same.
As I watched this week’s videos and went through the readings, I was saddened by the rampant rates at which women are outwardly attacked and harassed online, simply for being female and expressing their opinion or writing online. Although no one is immune to harassment and online trolling, the rate at which women are attacked is staggering and reveals how far we have yet to go to address things such as sexism and racism. John Oliver’s spoof on an AOL advertisement of the outrageous things individuals do and say on the internet look so ridiculous and unacceptable by larger society as we would never accept the same actions face to face.
It seems so ridiculous that by removing face to face and by creation of anonymity of online profiles, individuals feel they can act in ways that would not be tolerated in other settings. Matt Rozsa points out:
Online anonymity is only an asset when it’s used to comfort and protect individuals who wish to express opinions in a psychologically “safe” environment
Yet, online anonymity has become the refuge for trolls seeking to intimidate and harass among other things. For those finding themselves attached by both individuals that do identify themselves when they make such vicious posts and those that hide behind their sad fake profiles, there are laws to address their inappropriate actions. The Government of Canada’s website outlines the consequences of actions such as cyberbullying, revenge porn, threats, and harassment to name just a few. PREVNet explores the ramifications of criminal law on cyber crimes and what is being done in varying provinces to address this growing problem.
However, there are many criticisms of the current laws claiming that the digital age and the problems associated with it have moved faster than lawmakers and that current laws fall short of actually working. As Jake Kivanc’s article points out, Bill C-13, which addresses revenge porn and other criminal harassment laws are great, but fall short of addressing digital harassment. The courts have found it difficult to determine if cyberbullying is an actual threat, therefore fitting as a criminal offence under the harassment law. Critics argue that new legislation is needed in a timely manner to clearly define cyberbullying and that it can be done without infringing on freedom of speech.
However, Kivanc’s notes that Bill C-13 and public school campaigns against cyberbullying have taken priority over any initiative to draft better laws for digital harassment and cyberbullying. So in the meantime, we should be as proactive in taking advantage of educating ourselves and those around us how to protect against such malicious acts. The RCMP, Government of Canada, PREVNet, and the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime all provide educational information to understanding our current laws, what the impact of cyberbullying and harassment are, and provide resources to avoid being a victim or how to support working through such challenges. Further, Matt Rozsa says:
we can start by creating a culture that shames individuals who cross the bounds of decency. We can start by stating the obvious: It is never appropriate to use slurs, metaphors, graphic negative imagery, or any other kind of language that plays on someone’s gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. Not only is such language inappropriate regardless of one’s passion on a given subject, but any valid arguments that existed independently of such rhetoric should have been initially presented without it. Once a poster crosses this line, they should lose all credibility. Similarly, it is never acceptable to dox, harass, post nude pictures, or in any other way violate someone’s privacy due to disagreement with their opinions. While most people would probably agree with this in theory, far too many are willing to access and distribute this humiliating (and often illegal) content. Instead of simply viewing stories of doxing, slut-shaming, and other forms of online intimidation as an unfortunate by-product of the digital age, we should boycott all sites that publish these materials.
While we wait for Canadian laws to catch up to the digital age of online bullying and harassment, we can educate ourselves and those around us, we can learn how to support victims of trolling, and we can minimize such foul work by not giving it any recognition or legitimacy. This perhaps is what rings most true for me as I consider many of the news forums online that I would love to participate in, but most of the discussions I find is derogatory and so off topic that I do not bother. Since when can we not discuss a news story without making it personal and attacking one another with such disregard for one another? Let’s start creating rich, challenging debate versus narrow and derogatory banter about nothing and ignore the trolls at work.
It seems eons ago that when you wanted to make a call, you found a payphone and dropped in some change, when you needed a photocopy, you inserted a quarter, and if you wanted to used the hotel business centre you put in coins or swiped your credit card to access the internet. But, times have changed, I can do all of these things and more from my own portable device. But, is the coin or credit card reader soon to be installed again, but on our own devices to control who accesses what? Pay per use?
This week I have read about the digital divide and network neutrality, which paints a challenging picture for public policy makers, small internet start-ups, and individuals that are trying to ensure the internet and the digital world are equally accessible and secure for all users. Portable devices are so sophisticated that we can do everything we would do at home from a landline via WiFi or through our cellular data package while on the go. This has opened up the internet and the digital world to many that could not have otherwise afforded more expensive home devices and home hard-wired ISP fees. Portable devices can operate on a data package, but even these costs can be reduced by accessing free WiFi. Our digital world has become more accessible to many in developing countries and lower socio-economic classes while becoming portable for all.
There are a few issues that concern me as I read about the digital divide. With wireless and wired infrastructure being maxed out with our increased downloading and uploading, are mega corporations and a few monopolizing
ISPs going to limit what content is accessible and by whom while charging large fees to the consumer? Are changes to FCC rules favouring Facebook, Netflix, Google, and others that can afford the “fast lane” over smaller start-ups and educational institutions trying to provide open source education? Are we essentially installing the loathed coin or credit card reader on our own devices again so those who can afford can access the full network while others are limited to dial-up and basic cable (or peasant vision if you remember the analog TV towers of rural areas)?
It seems like we have come so far by developing sophisticated wireless devices that allow us to transport our work and communication needs wherever we go along with making such devices more affordable, which has translated into more equitable access to the internet. Wired connections have also improved over the years along with virtually being able to find a free WiFi connection wherever you go. Now that exponential access is being seen as a strain to the infrastructure, the FCC and corporations are posing pay per use solutions rather than improving and developing the infrastructure for all users. Sounds like another private solution to a public problem. Cade Metz is right, altruistic rhetoric of private corporations claims these changes are in the interest of pubic good, but are really profit driven.
Although published in 2000, this study by Statistics Canada provides Canadian data and some interesting graphics on the digital divide based on income. Further, PEW Research provides telling data on white, Hispanic, and black populations and the digital divide in the United States and smart phone and internet usage across the globe. This article makes correlations to income, age, and level of education.
The data makes it apparent that the digital divide is alive and well. In a democratic society that champions equitable opportunity for all, then we must consider how to maintain equitable access to the digital world of the internet. If networked learning and open education are the future, then putting limits via user fees on access only serve to defeat the original purpose of opening opportunities to all. As Sarah Wandy points out, we often take the internet and the work done to maintain neutrality and prevent digital divide. How can we as individuals continue to support these efforts and advocate against the negative controls of corporations that seek to line their pockets and narrow the open access of the digital world?
This week’s course readings did not sock me. For once, I was not surprised or dismayed at what I was reading or viewing about the digital world. Many times I have heard stories about employers searching prospective employees online. However, what I did do is make a connection between these articles and my students’ blogging efforts.
Blogging is a great medium for digital learning and networking, but is also a social media platform. However, it is much different from the more closed and simplistic tools that teens use such as texting and SnapChat. What I discovered is that some students do not recognize that their blogs should not use the same writing style or simple content as a text or snap to a friend would. It is about writing in a creative and engaging way (like SnapChat can be), but more academic, just as they would for their ELA class persuasive essay or personal reflection. Check out my recent project post for more on this topic and my classroom blog post that I created to help guide my students over the coming week as they discover what blogging should look like from a teaching/ learning perspective.
Our students need to understand that they have to go beyond social media activity that is “clean” or not of a bullying nature, to really developing a profile of who they want to be seen as. Therefore, they must recognize how different digital tools are used for different purposes and impact their digital footprint in different ways. A goofy text or SnapChat with the current lingo that teens use is not going to be widely read, but their blogs might.
Blogs are a great way to develop a healthy digital footprint, which takes a long time to build. Blogs can provide enduring presence and are much more detailed than an old-fashioned resume, therefore as educators we have to make sure students learn how to blog. The article Blogging is the New Resume explains how blogging can become the resume that individuals will need in the future, but that this process takes time. Even if the paper resume is not quite dead, students need to be aware that their online presence much match the paper version employers are looking as noted in tip #10 of 12 resume tips by Jeff Weaver.
Our students need to be aware that what they blog can actually begin building a positive and enduring footprint could let to a job or entrance into a post-secondary institution down the road. Blogging is a key way to help build their online resume, but other social media profiles like Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube should also be considered in the same light. As Madden and Smith of PEW Research point out, reputation and social media are clearly linked. There are not longer closed doors to our lives so we must carefully self-monitor ourselves. This is a skill that we need to teach our students and practice ourselves. Although I have searched for my online presence before, this article motivated me to do it again and dig a bit deeper into the search to see if I could uncover not only more about me, but things that I would not want online. Self-monitoring is not just searching online, but considering how that information impacts our lives and how we can control what is posted by ourselves and others. So as my students continue to blog, I’m certainly thinking about how self-monitoring is another critical skill that they need to be taught and need to practice to curate the digital footprint AKA the new resume that they want to have.
I challenge you….Google yourself again- but this time with reputational management in mind- dig a bit deep in your search and then think about how you might change privacy settings, de-friend certain individuals, ask others to remove certain photos, actively create positive postings such as blogs, etc. It is you footprint so take control of it.
The internet and the digital age- remixing, open educational resources, open access journals, and creative commons licensing. As I read and watched the videos for this week, I couldn’t help but think that the open education movement is the 21st Century’s version of the advancement of the printing press. We are at another technological crossroad that is just as controversial, yet exciting. Imagine, the Church as the keepers of knowledge with monks scribing manuscripts page by page. The printing press made writing accessible to the masses and took away the power of the Church to control what was written, how it was interpreted, and shared. The printing press made the written word available to all people
Today we talk about the digital age set in motion by the internet and the challenges of information kept by public institutions- government, universities, courts, scholars- being accessible to the public. Pubic records and scholarly debate and research is limited to individuals of the right credentials or for those that can afford to access them. There have always been criticisms of the government and private corporations controlling information allowing conspiracy theories to thrive. However, much of the information that individuals in the digital age seek is not of national security or to delve into the personal records of one another. It is about accessing and sharing public information that can help to inform society and build our collective creativity as ideas are expressed, challenged, and collaborated on in an open forum. It is about the masses having an opportunity to participate in a literature driven culture, like the printing press advanced, but in digital form.
Larry Lessig sums up this new literature culture as he has coined a read/write culture versus the past of read-only. Read-only, he describes as much more passive where we absorb content created for us. I draw parallels again to the days of monks writing manuscripts and the Church controlling what individuals could read. Lessig’s read/write culture is one of much greater engagement as we move beyond passively consuming to responding to the literature at our fingertips. We are able to share, challenge, build upon others’ work, and remix as we write ourselves. This is how we make meaning and allow creativity. By reading, writing, and re-writing, we are no longer passive consumers of information.
The digital age, like the printing press has brought information to the masses and created an economy of sharing. However, with a read/write culture there are challenges to the traditional way that information has been institutionally created and kept. Lessig argues that an economy of sharing is challenged by archaic copyright structure because it hinders creativity. The internet is designed to network and share, and traditional copyright laws do not align with this.
Creative Commons (Lessig is one of the Founders) is an alternative to traditional copyright laws that encourages sharing while allowing authors to create the level of copyright or openness that they wish to protect their work. Lessig argues that more free (more open) and less free (less open) copyright can work hand in hand to realize the economic competition- competition of creativity. Creative Commons allows anyone to become part of the read/write culture.
However, there are other challenges this new culture of learning faces as much of the scholarly thinking and research is still denied from the open platform. Danah Boyd offers solutions of how to put pressure on publishers and academic institutions to provide increased access including boycotting academic journals that are not open access. Amy Scuka notes that with a bit of searching there are open source educational materials that teachers may also access. Even some universities are now publishing their materials unfettered for anyone to interact with online.
Publically funded institutions and academic research journals are still largely limited to those that can afford to attend or pay for subscriptions. The social activist work of Aaron Swartz reminds us the challenges we still need to resolve as the digital world promotes open access to public information and using that information to network in ways that allows all individuals to contribute to improving our world through a read/write culture.
The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, is a compelling documentary that challenges our thinking about access to public information and how we might not be in a parallel situation to when the Church relinquished its control to the printing press. Copyright laws, government, corporations, and academic institutions are still dominate control over much public information. Swartz’ and Lessig advocacy for a remix culture and one of open sharing challenges us to reinvent the printing press of the digital age.
We must ban, block and filter to protect kids from the evils of the internet and social media. Our daily activities and interactions are infiltrated by digital technology and we cannot stop it, therefore we have to block it out. Wrong! Although, there are reasons to ban, block and filter, we must also educate students and our own children about using the internet and social media constructively and provide them with the skills to respond to the negative pressures they will be exposed to. It is not good enough to outlaw the tools.
All of these articles paint a rather bleak picture of social media and using the internet, but what is clear in all of them is that technology pervades our lives so we must figure out how to ensure our children make smart choices as they engage with social media. For example, the Ontario health education curriculum seeks to teach students how to cope when they access things such as pornography because it is recognized that no amount of filtering will prevent all content from being seen and that youth will inadvertently come in contact with such materials at some point depending on the security of their computer or phone. Parents and teachers cannot oversee every moment a kid is connected, therefore teaching them how to react is more proactive.
Joel Westheimer talks about the positive uses for social media and technology noting that banning one specific app or technology that seems to be at the head of the current problem is futile:
“We all know this is a game of whack-a-mole. Does it make sense to block one app? I mean, there will be 10 more where they were.”
Westheimer notes that schools must teach students how to interact with one another in healthy ways while Dan Misener, technology columnist for the CBC advocates for parents to also engage with their kids in healthy ways by trying out the technology themselves and using that as a way to open conversations about how to use the technology in a healthy way. Dawson’s article interviews Nancy Jo Sales who offers some sage advice for parents:
“I never lost my sense of what it is to be a teenager, I’m not sure why,” Sales says. “Some of these things are painful. One thing that’s important to do as a parent is remember what it felt like and tap into that. They’re just coming of age, they’re experiencing these things for the first time. There needs to be a great deal of compassion when you try to put yourselves in their shoes. I try and think, ‘She’s telling me this story, and how would I feel if this were happening to me?’ So instead of coming at it from a point of judgment or alarm [as a parent], I try to get rid of the fear of what you’re hearing and just listen.”
Sale’s argues that kids are less able to make eye contact and communicate effectively face to face because of the amount of time spent plugged in. Therefore, it is easier to do nasty things to one another when the face to face element is removed. Further, Carey notes the easy of being able to create fake or pseudonym accounts to post from to attack others or self-trolling. This makes it difficult for parents and teachers to hold those responsible accountable or to get help to those that are self-harming.
Teenagers do not necessarily like all of the negative things that happen to them and their friends, but they are compelled into using social media as it has become a key part of how society interacts and much more a part of teen culture. Sales noted of a girl she interviewed:
“I spoke to girls who said, ‘social media is destroying our lives,’ ” Sales says. “ ‘But we can’t go off it, because then we’d have no life.’ There’s this whole perception that [teenage girls] love social media, but in many ways they hate it. But they don’t stop, because that’s where teen culture is happening.”
We cannot prevent teen culture no more than we can effectively ban social media, which have become inextricably linked together. Therefore, as parents and teachers, we have to learn how to use social media in a healthy way and model that behaviour for children and teenagers, while also having open conversations with them and providing them with tools to address the negative aspects that come with the interactions of a digital world. Banning, blocking and filtering is only a temporary solution, while building healthy relationships and teaching kids how to interact face to face and with social media will prepare them for when something sneaks by the filter or the next new technology challenges us. Kids will be plugged in, so parents and teachers must also.