Who I Am Today Isn’t Who I Was, And Isn’t Who I’ll Be…

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If someone were to ask you the three traits that define you as a human being, what would your response be? It’s a loaded question, isn’t it? Do you mean, what defines me as a teacher? As a sister? As a wife? Or, all around? While the true definition of what makes us, “us” is certainly complex, for those of us who grew up in a time where social media was absent, our “identity” was seen as something seemingly less complex and assumptive and as something that was a whole lot more private.

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Everyone can remember the excitement of visiting one of your friend’s houses for the first time. Particularly, getting to see what types of toys they played with, what color their room was painted, and what posters they chose to hang on the wall. I remember thinking that I could tell a lot about my friends’ siblings by walking by their bedrooms and seeing what was hanging on their walls or the type of music that could be heard blaring behind their door. Then, how we chose to express ourselves was in the comfort of our own homes, or through the accessories we would wear out in public. What our friends saw in the comfort of our own homes helped reveal our true aspirations, hobbies, and style. Oh, how the times have changed.

 

I’ve reiterated Sklar’s comments in previous posts and in my initial vlog for this class as well, but I’ll say it again: Digital Identity is the new identity. And, as Kelsie and Krista’s vlog this week reminds us, “students have continuous access to technology” which means that their identity is constantly being expressed in the things that they do, say, like, tweet, and share online. As Amy and Anne shared in their reading  related to their assignment this week, “Outside school, children are engaging with these media, not as technologies but as cultural forms” (Buckingham, p. 22). The way that we express our own personal identity has evolved into an acceptable cultural norm that we can’t turn off. We are no longer required to attend the private spaces of our peers in order to get a sense of who they really are.

While I certainly admire the advancement of information sharing and access to continued connection with friends and colleagues all over the world, who we “are” online can sometimes cause overly assumptive and dangerous thoughts about us, even if accidentally. Because our identities are revealed through games we play, the things we “like” and the apps we use, it is far more plausible that those who view a particular “moment” or image of us may jump to conclusions about us far faster than they would have ten years ago.

With such easy access to technology, it’s almost effortless to be able to take a new photo, put up a new status, or tweet out a new idea, putting these pieces of our identity higher on the viewing list (literally) than our previous expression of identity which could have been shared with the world mere seconds before. If I compare this to my earlier notion of expression of self in relation to the bedroom décor analogy, this would be like inviting a friend over to our house, showing them the poster on our wall in our room, then changing it right in front of them. Our sense of identity seems less permanent today, even though in reality, what we share is actually more permanent online than it was offline.

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This class has helped me reflect on the importance of my digital identity and the power of digital identity as an educator and an administrator. Wendy said it perfectly in her vlog for this week when she said, “we need to as educators, engage with digital technology the same way our students are already doing.” I can’t possibly teach about digital identity if I don’t take the time to engage in creating a positive digital presence for myself. When I think of the future of my own digital identity, I know that the climate I create with my online presence will only be as influential as I allow it to be.

When I think of the future of our students’ digital identities, it really reiterates what we’ve discussed in regards to digital citizenship and the importance of teaching students how and what to express about themselves in regards to their digital identities. With the fast-paced nature of technology, the constant uploading, retweeting, snap story changing culture we live in today, there is a definite pressure for individuals to continue to update their identity. Who we are now is not who we were in yesterday’s story. While this notion is certainly true to an extent, I do believe that this added pressure to divulge, update, and transform our digital identity can put stress on youth unlike the type of stress that most of us felt growing up without social media.

I know we can’t go back to that time, and frankly, I wouldn’t want to. But, there has to be a way that we can slow things down a little bit and remind those around us that it’s okay to continue to create who we want to be as individuals even when others aren’t watching and that it’s okay to just be. 

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The Element of Efficiency

work smarter not harder

 

While continuing to explore the Snapchat, Evernote, Touchcast, and Remind apps as part of my final project, I’ve encountered roadblocks, successes, and a whole lot of information overload. Alec’s suggestion to pinpoint which of Ribble’s 9 Themes of Digital Citizenship are most applicable to my personal project was exactly the guide I needed right now in order to stay on track, focus on my goals for the project, and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

As I stated earlier, this project is meant to focus on two apps which are more geared towards personal use, and two apps geared more towards professional use. In my review of these four applications, I will focus most on:

  • Digital Literacy: My main goal is to participate more actively in technology that I hadn’t fully exposed myself to prior to the project in an effort to become more efficient. I dont just want to use it, I want to understand how and why to use it to make best use of my time.  (And, I guess, keep up with the times). Ribble notes that “learners must be taught how to learn in a digital society” and in understanding these apps better, I am hoping that I will be able to do so.
  • Digital Communication: As a busy administrator, a farm wife, a full time student, a coach, and a runner, I will benefit significantly from finding ways to increase the effectiveness of my communication with my staff. With instructional time being so precious, cutting down on interruptions during the day to relay information is important. With so many events being on the go, it’s easy for information to slip all of our minds, and increasing my digital communication will only, in turn, increase my efficacy as an administrator.

While the exploration of Snapchat will certainly get my Spidey senses going in terms of Digital Etiquette and Digital Law, these aspects of Ribble’s 9 Elements are not as much of a focus for my personal project.

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At the end of the day, I want to do more with less and be able to utilize technology in a confident, efficient, and integrative way.

The Future of Citizenship

 

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If someone were to have asked one of my grandparents 30 years ago what citizenship in the year 2018 would look like, I’m quite certain that they never would have been able to predict our current reality. They never would have predicted our ability to donate money to people we don’t know through a fundraising website, monitor our houses and community through instant video on our cell phones, or use Snapmaps in an app to pinpoint the location of someone who may be in danger, or someone we are supposed to meet up with for a date.  While we have adapted to the technologies, the norms, and the ever changing opportunities around us, what has become clear is that although we are living as citizens in our current reality, much will need to be done to prepare ourselves and the younger generation for what citizenship looks like in the future.

Bree and Danielle’s very creative presentation (part 1 and part 2) along with Kyla’s very informative explanation of digital citizenship are a great reminder that while we are working hard as adults and educators to prepare students for the digital world in 2018, it is difficult to consider where we even start in terms of preparing them to be digital citizens in 10, 20, or even 30 years. I’ve decided that there are five distinct points which I consider crucial in preparing future citizens, knowing full well that the unpredictable list of things needed in order to prepare digital citizens for the future is far more exhaustive.

  • Increase technological opportunities for students in schools. At this point, many of us assume that all students have access to technology at school, and if we don’t assume that, many of us assume that if they can’t get it at school, they’re getting it at home. However, this isn’t necessarily true, especially for families who may not be able to afford a computer or the internet, or who do not prioritize technology the same way that many of us have come to. Increasing technological opportunities for students and integrating digital citizenship into curricula (which, awesomely enough, is beginning to happen) allows for better preparation for all future citizens, not just those coming from more affluent communities or particular families.
  • Accept the fact that the way we “used to learn” isn’t the way we will be learning in the future. Oblivion is perhaps the most detrimental trait one can possess when considering the future digital citizens. We have already witnessed a shift from pen and paper to online classrooms. We’ve experienced the change from essay writing to vlogging. We’ve gotten away from a one-size-fits-all mentality while educating students and realized that student choice, creativity, and investment in education is what allows students to flourish. Despite how we feel about how the current generation learns best, it’s the truth, and we can’t change it. Holding on to past ideals about what education looks, sounds, and feels like is not a helpful way to prepare future digital citizens.
  • Prepare for more accountability and less dictation in the workplace. A CEO of a large banking branch in our province spoke in one of my courses last semester, and while describing what working for his company looks like, he said something very interesting. He said that he doesn’t care when his executive employees work, and he doesn’t care where they work. All he cares about is that they get the work done. This, I strongly believe, is going to be the norm for future generations. In order to prepare citizens for the workplace, increasing accountability in terms of setting goals and expectations and allowing individuals to meet those goals in a space and during a time of day they prefer will offer insight into how many companies are currently structuring their workplaces.
  • Don’t assume that everything (I mean the face to face things like dating, conversing, and playing games) in the future will be reliant on technology, assuming so only validates the time that is currently spent prioritizing online interaction. Can we please, please, remind future generations what it feels like to interact with someone for the first time in a face to face conversation? Or how awesome and awkward it can be locking eyes with someone? By continuing to celebrate face to face interactions by practicing what Sklar called “digital etiquette” I have confidence that future generations will prioritize face to face communication and find a balance between it and technological interaction. Like any skill, this takes practice! The next time you’re out for dinner, do what Sinek suggested and have only one person take their phone. Make a rule when you sit down with your family for dinner that the first person to even touch their phone has to do dishes. Do something, anything, today to discourage technology from taking away from face to face human interaction.
  • Continue to communicate the fact that an online presence is just as powerful as an offline presence. That words spoken online can be just as hurtful as those spoken offline, and that, just as is true in real time, 3D life, every action has a consequence.

Will these five things alone prepare individuals to be enough? Not a chance. It would be absurd to think that we even have the capacity as individuals to predict what perfect citizens will need to know in the next 10, 20, or 30 years. However, it’s paramount that while we may not be able to predict the future, we use our current practices as digital citizens to help prepare the next generation for school, work, and life. Perhaps even more important than the above-mentioned tips is this:

  • Figure out what the heck Bitcoin actually is. Then teach everyone (including me) about it.

 

From Proud to Embarrassed- My Confusion in Unplugging

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This week’s readings have taken me on an incredible journey of self awareness regarding my own personal views about technology, the relationship professionals have with technology usage and the “truths” we profess through technology. But, most notably, this week’s readings and conversations have lead me to the realization that my recent “unplugging” from social media is something that I should be more embarrassed about than proud of.

This week’s discussion about being visitors and residents, and immigrants and natives to technology really put into perspective a belief that I wring true about our professional and personal lives. While I have often felt as though I am a resident and a native to technology in my personal life, I think that as professionals, we often feel as though we are visitors, and immigrants to the online world. That is to say that, for some of us, posting in our professional roles is new, it feels strange, and isn’t something that we feel as though we have experience or even merit in doing. We may even seek assistance from other professionals around us to try to gauge certain norms, to learn from their successes or mistakes, or even just to take a peek at what may be socially acceptable, funny, or intriguing to those around us. While some may argue that a true professional’s speech, attitudes, and opinions online shouldn’t differ in the professional roles that they play, the reality is that they do.

As a sister to all males and a farm wife, I may find it incredibly funny to watch a video of an avoidable injury while skateboarding, or have an inkling to press the “like” button on a vulgar post which protests the government increasing farm fuel tax. At school, though,  I would be the first one to preach about safety, especially when it involves head injuries, and would most definitely not commend students who think that someone getting hurt in real life would be funny. Ask my high school students and they would tell you: one of my main mantras about responding to any sort of public protest or disagreement is to make sure that they know their facts, and consider both sides of the argument before they offer their opinion. However, as a professional, I often find that I am more cautious to voice my own opinion, and more aware of the “mirror” that exists when I press send or post, or tweet, a concept of self awareness which Wesch refers to at length.

It’s as though the use of technology as professionals isn’t the freeing, creative, spontaneous activity that it is for ourselves individually, or that we often want it to be for students. It is as though we are forced to maintain our visitor status and sometimes remain immigrants in sharing our interests if we don’t feel as though they align with our personal opinions. But what is most shocking, is that, at the end of the day, I’m okay with this! I’ve come to learn that as professionals, students look up to us in more ways than we can imagine. Part of digital citizenship is about teaching digital etiquette, digital hygiene, and digital behaviors that model the type of online activity we want our students to exhibit.

Last month, I got rid of Facebook. I was tired of being addicted to looking at people who I didn’t even talk to in real life. I was tired of comparing my busy lifestyle to others, and comparing myself in general to others. I was also tired of wasting time! When I disabled my account, I was beyond proud. My friends and family were shocked, and this made me even more proud to have given up the activity that had become my addiction. After reading Wesch’s article, “Youtube and You” I realized just how sad it truly is that I was proud of this.

Social media usage is a choice. Before I had disabled my account, I had initially fallen into the trap of believing that techno-utopianism existed, and that while I was on Facebook, I was happier. Even worse, I had later consciously convinced myself that without it, I could be happier. Isn’t this sad? Happiness should not be determined by our involvement or disengagement with technology, and certainly should not be evaluated by one’s use or banning of an app!

The reality is this: maintaining a professional identity online is not a hindrance. Giving up an app is not an accomplishment. The use or non-use of technologies may be a part of our everyday lives, but they aren’t the only part of our everyday lives. There is nothing stopping me from going home and watching a hilarious, inappropriate video and laughing uncontrollably with my brothers. This doesn’t make me a bad teacher. There is nothing wrong with voicing concerns about changes in policy or government that impact my household directly. This does not make me a protester. There is, though, something wrong with the fact that I’ve forgotten these things.

Have we become so reliant on social media technologies that we have lost sight of the fact that using them constantly is optional?

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Good Blogs “POP”

When I look at some of the blogs in this class, it’s clear to me that my blog and the presence of my page could use some serious work. It’s boring! No one wants people visiting their site and skipping the content because the page itself isn’t attractive.

While the real inspiration for spicing things up on my page came from looking at Danielle’s blog and Krisanne’s Blog pages, being that I am quite new to using WordPress to it’s full potential, I had to do a little bit more digging in order to find out just how to navigate altering my page itself.

Me being me, I wanted to find something that was quick and easy to watch, like a short video in order to understand how to enhance the display of my blog quickly and easily. I decided to watch the video below, and several videos by this author of several WordPress videos.

What I found was that I still don’t know enough about writing code, or enough about the site to navigate enhancing the cosmetic feel of my blog by watching videos, so I took a different avenue and began to research basic ideas about what makes attractive blogs.

One site suggested that blogging often and blogging about real life experiences is what makes a blog most attractive. Copypress’s most useful suggestions were about focus and images.

At the end of the day, I decided that I needed to prioritize enhancing specific aspects of my blog in order to get a start.

  1. Color- One of the easiest ways to attract people is to catch their eye.
  2. Images- After looking at the other blogs in the class, it was clear that mine was lacking images, in particular, a background image.
  3. “Stuff”- It took me a while to figure out how, but I was able to add my Twitter feed information, and I’m working on enhancing my contact information page.
  4. More posts- while this aspect will be a work in progress, it’s clear that the most attractive thing about reading blog posts is having new information to read!

I want people to feel excited about reading about my journey, so, let the work begin!

 

 

 

Final Project: Personal Journey into Media

 

This week, I’ve had a chance to reflect and piece together my plans for my final project in this course. Through reading google plus comments and ideas, through my exploration of some amazing ECI832 blogs, and through identifying what I really want to get out of this project, I’ve been able to formalize a plan.

Like Kyle, I’ve decided to distinguish between two different categories of apps to review.

  • Apps that I will use personally, that could potentially spill into my practice
  • Apps geared towards my professional practice as an educator and administrator.

As I mentioned in my last post regarding this project, I already planned to do a full review of Touchcast, an app that I plan to incorporate into enhancing my communication with my staff. But in addition, I have chosen to review the following: Snapchat (this is quite new to me), Remind (I am somewhat using this already, but not to its full potential, and not with my staff), Evernote (I know literally nothing about this app).

I’m very much a spatial learner, so to clarify where my project is heading:

APPS UNDER REVIEW
DESCRIPTION/
ANALYSIS
IMPLICATIONS FOR PERSONAL USE
IMPLICATIONS FOR PROFESSIONAL USE
LIKELYHOOD THAT I WILL CONTINUE TO USE THIS APP
PERSONAL
Snapchat
Evernote
PROFESSIONAL
Touchcast
Remind

I plan to record my journey in several ways, including through vlogging about my findings along the way, writing on my blog to document my journey, and using one of the apps within this analysis, Evernote, to keep on track. For those of us who work full time, coach, and are trying to manage one or more classes, we can attest to the fact that procrastination on a large assignment like this one would be a huge regret in the long run.

Timeline: I plan to engage in the apps for a 60 day period before delving into my analysis, but of course, I’ll be documenting the journey along the way.

My overall goal for this project, beyond completing the assignment, is to really take the time to find applications that will make my life easier and make the most efficient use of my time. After all, isn’t that the most precious of all of our assets?

Starting is always the hardest part…

I’ve been thinking a lot about my future journey in EC&I 832, and have decided that I want to make this course matter more than I have ever made a course matter before.

What I have the power to do by enhancing my use technology is twofold. I’ve realized that while increasing communication to the people around me and being able to offer more to others in terms of my presence, my expertise, and my availability are all amazing feats, perhaps the most amazing opportunity that this journey is going to afford me is the fact that I can better myself and offer myself opportunities to grow and connect and engage more than ever before.

Today is the day that I begin my personal journey into media in search of at least three technological tools that I can use in my administrative practice to better serve my staff, my students, and my community. My goal is that by the end of the semester, I will have gained competence and confidence in using a minimum of three educational apps (weekly) in order to increase communication for others and with others.

Getting started truly is the hardest part, but like they say, what’s worth the prize is worth the fight!