It’s Been Touch-and-Go But TouchCast is Now a Go!


FINALLY! TouchCast has come to life in my app exploration.

If you remember from my earlier videos, TouchCast and I have quite the history. It all started when I had tried to implement the app to make my content catalyst presentation, and I had quickly found myself discouraged because:

a) I didn’t have a green screen at home.

b) I had downloaded 3 different apps as part of one app, and was so confused.

c) Once I did have a green background, my app still didn’t work!

d) I had finally given up and began to use Screencast-O-Matic for the same purpose that I had intended to use TouchCast.

To be quite honest, I am in the home stretch of my project. I’ve devoted more than the required amount of hours into app exploration, I’ve taken more from Evernote and Remind than I ever could have imagined, and I’ve even began to think about the final summary infographic that I wanted to present to “sum up” this project. But, knowing that I wasn’t successful in making this app come to life when I said I would was destroying me. I felt as though I wouldn’t have succeeded in my goals unless I finally brought this app to life. So, I made it my mission this week to make TouchCast work, no matter how many tries it took.

Here’s what my problem solving looked like:

  1. Maybe there was an update for the app that I didn’t have.
  2. Maybe I just wasn’t trying hard enough (I knew this wasn’t likely because I had literally wasted an entire day exploring this app in the early stages).
  3. Maybe I needed to try a different device (besides my iPad and my TWO iPhones I had the apps installed on).
  4. Maybe my green screen wasn’t set up properly?

When I got to work last night after being away for meetings, I got right to work. I set up a new green screen. I connected to my personal hotspot on my phone. I signed in to the app. I lined myself up with the camera, and….


Still nothing.

Frustrated, tired, and needing to focus on other priorities, I gave it a rest and almost accepted defeat. I was bothered by the ill fate of my re-try to the point that I lay awake in bed thinking about what the heck the problem could be. I watched another tutorial video, and still couldn’t figure out why using TouchCast had been such an epic fail.

When I got to work this morning, I checked my settings on my iPad, logged in to the school’s wifi, and opened the app. I put myself in front of the green screen, and VOILA! My face appeared as if it were in an newscast, just as I had selected for it to do. Then, as a talk show host! Then, on a map. IT WORKED!

Notice the subtle change? I had to log into the school’s wifi, which must have been the glitch the entire time. This totally makes sense since I had set up a green screen at my own house on the farm, and it didn’t work. Our poor wifi may have been the problem. Then, last night, I had tried to use a hotspot. No luck. Finally, I had access to be able to use this application, even if it was only going to be for a week and a half before I hand in my project.

If you remember from the early stages of my project, my main focus was to find ways to make my life as an administrator easier, and to increase communication. So, today, I toyed with the idea of using TouchCast as an announcement tool rather than relying solely on my voice over the intercom.

Now that I have this app up and running, not only have I solved my problem of the sense of incompleteness my final project would have had without fully being able to explore TouchCast, I’ve also solved my problem of not knowing which app to use for my Summary of Learning.

A great end to a frustrating journey with TouchCast!


A Day in the Life of Me… How I [Once] Read Information


Via Giphy

I was already feeling ashamed at the fact that I haven’t been doing the best job of reading the Terms and Conditions of apps prior to taking this class, and now, after this week’s content,  I’ve become absolutely embarrassed at my over-trusting relationship with information that is presented to me through Twitter, through credible news sources, and through infographics and videos shared by reputable agencies.


Via Giphy


This week’s content catalyst presentations and class content did an excellent job of opening my eyes to the world of Fake News we are currently immersed in, and Alec’s blog prompt for the week which asks us to consider our daily routine of “reading” news could not have come at a better time.

Today is the day I stop trusting everything that I read.

Before I get in to all of the ways my peers in this course convinced me to trust less in what I believe to be real news, let’s take a look at what the typical day looks like for me in terms of information gathering.

Prior to giving up Facebook, my day would typically start with waking up and scrolling through Facebook for information. This would include interesting “news” that my friends shared on their pages, or liked. Without this form of social media in my life, I’ve now turned to Twitter for my morning fix of information, which, according to what I learned in Carter’s content catalyst about the likelihood of fake news being shared on Twitter, I am now quite skeptical about.

Then, on my drive to work, I listen to our local radio station in order to keep up to date on current events and important news information occurring since I listened to the radio on the way home from work (usually less than 12 hours earlier). At work, I usually validate student information/news which I may be skeptical about by verifying it with another student or staff member, or, by reaching out and asking what I call the Good Old Google Machine for assistance.

Charts, infographics, live video on news sites, Tweets from famous people, government officials, or those of authority were never questionable sources of information in my eyes.

Until now.

Via Giphy 

My downright shock at the facts surrounding fake news (ironic statement, I know) made this week’s reading content, catalyst content videos, and this blog post one of the most insightful experiences that I’ve had in this course. Mostly because prior to this week’s content, to answer Alec’s question about what my routine looked like on a daily basis to in terms of verifying information: There wasn’t one. If I thought it was true, it was.

I want to mention something that Logan mentions in his content catalyst presentation, which completely problematizes the way I was screening information that I assumed was coming from credible sources. As Logan advises, when we are reading information, “if it reinforces what you believe, you need to be even more aware of the potential biases and misinformation present in the content” (Logan Petlak). Point well taken, Logan! It’s time I started questioning pieces of information that I, traditionally, would have been overly accepting of because of personal bias.

So, if I wasn’t taking the necessary steps in the past, what can I do now to ensure that what I am filling my brain with, and what I share on social media, is in fact real news? Well, it’s now clear that my own sense of information literacy needs some significant improvement. As Regan mentions in her content catalyst  presentation, “Information literacy is about critically examining information and sources, truth vs. fiction, fact vs. opinion…” and in addition to doing this, I also need to make sure that I am taking her advice in “developing a mindset that encourages us not to see what we see online at face value” (Regan Williams). The first way to develop this mindset is to be conscious that a change needs to occur, and believe me, after some of the scary facts shared this week, I am now aware!

As shared by Jaimie and Jocelyn this week, there are easy ways to spot fake news that can be helpful for people of all ages. The tips that I would take most seriously off of this list include checking my bias and reading beyond since in the past, I considered the source far too much!



As Stoffers mentions in his article titled “Fake news fools millions”, “Many hoax stories are obviously untrue, but some contain partial truths or distortions of fact that make the falsehoods harder to spot” (Stoffers, 2017) which is just another reason for each and every one of us to question the information that we see presented to us, especially by sources that we traditionally view as being credible.

I know, that after this week’s topic, I will certainly be more critical of the information presented to me before assuming that what I see is true.


Coming to Terms with Terms of Service: The Final Stages of My App Review

According to Business Insider, I am not the only one who is guilty of clicking the good old “agree” button on Terms of Service before reading it. In fact, according to a study published less than 6 months ago, of users who fall within my age range, “97% agre[e] to conditions before reading” (You’re not alone, no one reads terms of service agreements).

So, let’s get honest here. How many of us actually do read the fine print on the things we buy or sign up for on a regular basis? My guess is, even after reading this article, very few. We have become so accustomed to clicking the “I agree” button or box and moving on to explore what we venture to with technology, that we often forget that we may be agreeing to particular aspects of security, privacy, and data sharing that we didn’t even realize. As part of my review of Evernote, Snapchat, Touchcast and Remind for my final project, I’ve now had the opportunity to delve into the Terms and Conditions aspect of each of these applications to get a better understanding of what I was agreeing to, what I was potentially protected from, and what I could potentially be unknowingly sharing when using these on my phone. Man, was I in for an awakening!


I’ll admit, going through each of these four applications and reading the Terms and Conditions without a clear goal in mind wad daunting, boring, and seemed a little bit redundant. So, a few weeks ago I decided that it would benefit me a drastic amount more if I came up with a clear set of questions to guide my exploration of the Terms of each app. I decided that when exploring these facets, I would focus on:

  • Were the Terms and Conditions easily accessible online or on the app itself?
  • Was the language clear and easy to understand?
  • Were there any aspects of security or data sharing that I found surprising?
  • What, if anything, was being done to protect my data from being shared with others?
  • After reading the Terms and Conditions, did this change if I would continue to use the app or not?

So, I went to work. After several evenings of exploration of each of the 4 apps, here is what I found:


  1. I was able to find the Terms easily on the Snapchat website, and before I had even scrolled to the bottom of the page, a reminder that the website used cookies had appeared on the screen. I probably wouldn’t have even through about reading this thoroughly prior to examining these applications for this course. On the app, too, the Terms of Service and Privacy information are quite easy to access.

terms of service snapchat


2) The readability of the Terms is very clear, and actually a bit humorous. The language that is used is clear and anyone would be able to understand the legal terminology. What I liked best was the line, “if you don’t agree with them, then don’t use the Services” (Snapchat, Terms of Service). I also thought that it was interesting how Snapchat started first by indicating the “Rights” they grant users, then listed the “Rights” users grant them. This type of language indicates to me that the app’s expectations are about mutual responsibility.

3) I wasn’t necessarily surprised by any of the information shared in the Terms of Service or the Privacy sections. I liked how one of the first pieces of information that was shared clearly was the age restriction expectancy of 13 years. After hearing how many people lately have been complaining about the Snapchat changes, it was interesting to see that we’ve actually agreed to let them do that by signing the terms as the app clearly indicates that “Any software that we provide you may automatically download and install upgrades, updates, or other new features” (Snapchat, Terms of Service).

As Kyle shared earlier today on Twitter, Snapchat has created a feature called “For Your Eyes Only” which enables Snaps to be protected by a passcode to ensure that images meant for a specific person aren’t seen by anyone else. I found this feature particularly concerning for students, but since I chose to use this app as a personal app for myself and not for specific educational purposes, I chose not to focus too much on reviewing the potential dangers of this feature as it isn’t something I would use.

snapchat for yoru eyes


However, I have always been one of those teachers that has told students in the past that although their Snaps disappear on someone else’s screen within minutes, they are always viewable if they need to be later on. Now, I understand fully where this information was coming from as it clearly states that:

To the extent it’s necessary, when you appear in, create, upload, post, or send Public Content, you also grant Snap Inc., our affiliates, and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice, including in connection with commercial or sponsored content. (Snapchat, Terms of Service).

 In addition, Snapchat “may access, review, screen, and delete your content at any time and for any reason…” (Snapchat, Terms of Service). Upon review, I found it responsible that the fact that Snapchat creators  included insight into the notion that they “cannot-and do not-take responsibility for any content that others provide through the Services” which was a clear reminder that while we cannot control the actions of others, we are 100% responsible for our own.

4) When discussing the idea of digital citizenship, I think that the Terms and Conditions listed by Snapchat actually inform users of some etiquette and literacy surrounding the use of the app in sections 6. Respecting Other People’s Rights, 8. Safety, and 9.Your Account.

6 snapchat respecting people's rights



Snapchat makes it clear that the expectation is that users use the app in a responsible and respectful way, indicating that anything that I share as a user should, since people agreed to it, be used responsibly. When it comes to safety, I appreciated how Snapchat attempted to combat distracted driving by including their disclaimer that reminds us to “never Snap and drive. And never put yourself in harm’s way just to capture a Snap” (Snapchat, Terms of Service). They also make it very clear that there is a sense of accountability that comes with using the app, adding a sense of security in how  my privacy may be protected through the use of a strong password.

your account snapchat.png


Then, there’s the information that probably doesn’t need to be shared, but is such as the fact that Snapchat won’t be charged for your data usage, you will be, any disputes between Snapchat and users will first be attempted to be resolved mutually, then will move “through binding individual arbitration” and then of course, how to contact them.

The Privacy Policy itself was updated less than 3 weeks ago, which sat well with me knowing that changes are being made to the policy on an ongoing basis. This policy was a good reminder of the features of the app that we may take for granted such as the fact that our contacts are shared with the app by a click of a button, our device information is automatically shared with Snapchat, and after our “consent, we may also collect information about your precise location using methods that include GPS, wireless networks, cell towers, Wi-Fi access points, and other sensors, such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, and compasses” (Snapchat Privacy Policy). I found the language of how the information is used interesting, as each of the terms here makes it seem like the information is being used solely for our benefit to improve service. If a Snapchatter who is dissatisfied with service chooses to delete their account, their information is still saved for 30 days before Snapchat deletes it completely.

5) Reading the Terms and Conditions of Snapchat does not change how I viewed the app, and wouldn’t hinder me from using the app. If anything, it has further educated me about the safety features of using the app and the responsibilities that are clearly outlined for users. I would definitely share this information with students and parents if I were to use this app in an educational setting, but as outlined earlier in my project, this app was my “fun” app that I chose to review.


Immediately after opening the Terms and Services for this app, I noticed a huge difference in the overall “vibe” of what is expected of users who agree to the Terms associated with TouchCast.

1) The Terms were easily accessible on the website but you have to stay logged in to your actual account using the app to view the Terms on your phone. There is a clear end date for the Terms listed, and the large font/clear headings lay the information out in an organized format.

2) The biggest difference between the Terms for Touchcast and Snapchat, first off, is the type of language used. While I felt as though someone was actually talking to me when reading the Snapchat Terms, the Terms of Service and End User Agreement for TouchCast is quite a bit more official, defining specifics throughout, listing multiple links to other legal aspects, and including language that some readers may find overwhelming. One aspect of the Terms, though, was extremely clear: ”If you do not agree to any of these terms or the TouchCast Privacy Policy, you are not permitted to use the Service” (TouchCast, Terms of Service).

3) Were there any aspects of security or data sharing that I found surprising? Not really. TouchCast did remind users to check in frequently to make sure that none of the Terms had changed since the last time they were read. I did find it intriguing to learn that “Although TouchCast will not be liable for your losses caused by any unauthorized use of your Account, you may be liable for the losses of TouchCast or others due to such unauthorized use” (TouchCast, Terms of Service). Evidently, there are different Terms for accounts which are free (like the one I signed up for) and business accounts, the main difference being that “TouchCast retains the right to monetize Free Account users’ Content through advertising, eCommerce, content syndication or marketing, or any other means. COMMERCIAL USE IS NOT PERMITTED FOR FREE ACCOUNT USERS” (TouchCast, Terms of Service).

I will say that I learned a lot about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the controversy surrounding the Act itself. As stated in the article cited above, “Prior to the law’s passing, 50 of the country’s most prominent computer scientists and technology signed a letter to the U.S. congress warning that DMCA, as originally envisioned, would “imperil computer systems and networks throughout the United States, criminalize many current university courses . . . and severely disrupt a growing American industry in information security technology” (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). I found it responsible that TouchCast included aspects of the act in their own Terms as an indicator/reminder for those individuals who may not have been aware of the Act prior to reading the Terms of TouchCast.

4) In terms of privacy for my own data, I found that the language used with this app was geared more to what users owed TouchCast than what TouchCast would offer users in return in terms of security. However, information in the Terms of Service did include how:

Content is provided to you AS IS. You may access Content for your personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the Service, and solely for Streaming, and as permitted under this Agreement. “Streaming” means a contemporaneous digital transmission of the material by the Service via the Internet to a user operated Internet enabled device in such a manner that the data is intended for real-time viewing and not intended to be downloaded (either permanently or temporarily), copied, stored, or redistributed by the user (TouchCast, Terms of Service).

 Beyond knowing that the videos that I share are not “intended” to be downloaded by other users if I myself cannot take part in downloading, this was a facet of my data sharing that was protected, but as I stated earlier, not many other clear benefits or feelings of safety/security were evident in the Terms of Service, for me as a reader, anyway. The 7th section of the Terms, Free Account Users’ Content and Conduct did lay ground work for how all users should conduct themselves when using the app, but I still did not feel the mutual responsibility in the Terms of Service that I did when reading through what SnapChat promised users.

5)  Overall, this information didn’t really change my view of the app as I had already found it to be quite non-user-friendly in the first place. The way that the Terms are laid out and the formal nature of the language still puts this app on the bottom of my list in terms of interest out of all of the 4 apps I have chosen to review for this project. I will mention, however, as I did in one of my first posts about TouchCast, that the Educator’s Guide, although less about Terms of Service and more about assisting users, was a great asset of the application. Where Terms of Service may have fallen short in my eyes, the concise Educator’s Guide certainly made up for the shortfall.


This application was one that I was quite interested in in terms of learning more about the privacy side of the application. Unlike the other obvious apps like Snapchat and TouchCast where my face and voice were willingly being shared with the world, my voice to text feature on this app, and my personal reminders and calendar information were intended to be just that, personal.  As soon as I clicked on the “Privacy Overview” button at the bottom of the page, clear answers to the questions I had set out to answer about the Terms of the App were right before my eyes.

1) When scrolling to the bottom of the page online, users are given three options: Security, Legal, and Privacy. On the phone app, locating information about Terms looks a little bit different:

evernote terms

The actual Terms of Service could be located after hitting the “Legal” option on the website, and the app.

2) The language immediately reminded me of the information language of the Snapchat Terms, with the Terms themselves being set up in a Question and Answer format. I found this aspect extremely user friendly as one wouldn’t have to read through the entire document when searching for a specific answer. I especially liked how the Terms page first displayed changes and the “What’s New” tab, just in case you were already familiar with the expectations/legalities of the app and were looking for supplemental provisions.

3)  I wasn’t shocked by any of the Terms set forth by Evernote, but I was pleased by the reminders and the clear information presented. Mostly, I was happy to learn the following specific pieces of information:

a. Agreeing to the terms included agreeing to the “treatment of the text, images, and other data you choose to input, upload, or store in Evernote” (Evernote, Terms of Service). This immediately answered my question that I had about voice notes that were on the app.

b. I liked how Evernote made it clear that different types of contracts could occur between users, depending on the level of service that is paid for, and I especially liked how they outlined that if you are a part of both agreements, one of the agreements would take precedence over the other. This was something that I hadn’t actually thought of prior to reading this.

c. I also especially liked the step by step answer to the question: What Do I Have to do to Use the Evernote Service? The important part of the response, for me, was “You will be responsible for all activities that occur under your account, including activities of others to whom you have provided your Basic Subscriber Information” and “Evernote accounts should not be shared” (Evernote, Terms of Service).

4)  Evernote makes it very clear what happens with user Data:

evernote data


Data information can be found extremely easily by clicking on the Privacy tab on the bottom of the page, or, of course, reading through the entire Terms of Service section under the legal tab. A sense of security is felt just by the team noting:

We do not own your data. Putting notes and other content into Evernote does not change that content’s ownership or copyright status. If the data was yours to begin with, it remains yours after you put it in Evernote. Of course, if the data wasn’t yours to begin with, putting it in Evernote doesn’t make it yours. This is true of all of our products and services. (Evernote, Privacy Centre)

With this being said, they do admit to backing data up and that sometimes data will be shared over a network in order to protect it from being lost. In fact, as they boast, Evernote takes “many precautions to protect your data from accidental loss and theft. Everything you put into an Evernote synchronized notebook is stored in our secure data center with multiple redundant servers, storage devices and off-site backups” (Evernote, Privacy Centre). They also mention that exporting data, and getting data off of Evernote for good is your right, and they even give instructions on how to do this. I found this approach extremely respectful and inviting in terms of those who may be on the fence about using the app if they fear their data will be stored/used unsafely.

5) I would still absolutely continue to use this app after reading through the Terms of Service and Privacy Information. In fact, I am probably more prone to continue to use it knowing now how to properly export my information off of the application.


The Terms of Service for Remind are especially important to me as I continue to use this application with students, staff, and now parents of graduates. I was apt to pay even closer attention to the rules and legalities of this application when reviewing it.

1) The Terms and Conditions were very easy to find on both the website and the app, and within seconds of viewing them, I realized that I should have probably read these a little bit more carefully in the first place.

2) Was the language clear and easy to understand? Very. And the different tabs that were included were extremely useful in finding applicable information for any sort of question that users/readers may have had.

Remind terms of service


3) I was immediately taken aback by the first message on the Terms of Use page which was in all caps that immediately made me regret not reading the application Terms earlier in my use of it. The information shared made it very clear that all users of the app must be 18 years or older, or must ask their parents for permission when using the app. Although our students definitely sign a technology release, and all parents eventually found out that their child was using the app in my class, along with others, I never did actually explicitly get parent permission specifically for the Remind App, whoops! As I read further, I came across more information about COPPA and realized that, because I was not using the app with any students under the age of 13, I had a little bit less to worry about than I had initially feared.

As with all of the other Terms of Service that I had already explored, the information contained in the Remind App Terms was generally the same. They would not pay for data usage, responsible use was expected, and you were expected to register using proper, accurate information. I did like how there were different expectations for particpants, organizers, and organizations. I found this information insightful as I sit on both the participant side for this class, and the organizer side for student/staff Remind messages being sent out.

The “Consent to receive periodic messages” included important information about how “You agree to indemnify and hold Remind harmless for and against any and all claims, liabilities, damages (actual and consequential), losses and expenses (including attorneys’ fees) arising from or in any way related to your breach of the foregoing” which would be extremely important when we consider any legal issues pertaining to information arising through Remind use in a school setting.

Instructions on how to stop receiving messages, and the fact that by agreeing to the terms, we “agree you will abide by all copyright notices, trademark rules, information, and restrictions” when using the app were also clearly stated.

4) In terms of data protection and data sharing, Remind, too, included a section that clearly stated responsibilities for users, including how information was meant to be shared and accessed. As stated earlier, I was interested in knowing more about data storage and sharing as important, and confidential message sharing has ensued through the Remind app, so I was glad to learn that

Anything you post, upload, share, store or otherwise provide through the Services are, together with any related intellectual property rights, your “User Submissions.” You retain ownership of all of your User Submissions. In order to provide you with the Services, Remind needs to access and use your User Submissions in certain ways. You hereby grant Remind a nonexclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, sublicensable and transferable (only to a successor) right and license to use your User Submissions for any purpose related to providing and/or improving the Services (however, Remind will only share your personally identifiable information in accordance with Remind’s current Privacy Policy). (Remind, Terms of Use)

After reading through the Privacy Policy itself, information about iKeepSafe helped me understand the important measures that Remind is taking to ensure safety for users of all ages. Here, Remind makes it clear to users that they “cannot control the actions of anyone with whom you or any other Remind users may choose to share information. Therefore, we cannot and do not guarantee that Content you or any user posts on the Services will not be viewed by unauthorized persons” putting the onus on users to ensure that safe use of the app and information sharing is occurring” (Remind, Privacy Policy)

“As a user of remind, You acknowledge that all Content accessed by you while using Remind is at your own risk and you will be solely responsible for any resulting damage or loss” which is perhaps the most important data feature when considering the risks associated with using Remind for educational purposes.

5) After reading the Terms and Conditions, I am reminded to ensure that parents know that students are using the app for educational purposes, I am reminded to inform my staff members of the data sharing implications of the app, and I am also reminded to be sure to remove my students at the end of the semester to ensure that I am not breaching any safety or security measures as they will no longer be students in the school. Overall, reading the Terms and Conditions for this app has simply made me more aware and more conscious of being safe when communicating with students and staff, especially regarding content of urgent or sensitive nature. Of all the apps that I reviewed, the Terms of Service in relation to different groups (teacher, student and parent) was most comprehensive with the Remind app.


Although this aspect of my project may not have been the most exciting (I enjoyed actually using the apps much more than this part) I am glad that I took the time to delve into the Terms of Service and Privacy aspects of Snapchat, TouchCast, Evernote, and Remind. Accessibility when it comes to being able to find the Terms and Conditions after already clicking that we agree as users is an important aspect that app developers need to consider when organizing the layout of their applications, as not being able to find this information would certainly create a disconnect between what is expected of users, and what users expect of themselves. Identifying accessibility was a small, but important part of my app review. Doing this review also opened my eyes to the different language that can be used in terms and the power that welcoming, easy to understand language has for readers. Those Terms of Service for apps that included more user friendly language were easier to read through, and the content was easier to remember than the more wordy, more technically worded terms. By identifying what happens with the data I share on each app after I close the app, hit send, or export it, I now have a better understanding of the implications of my data sharing and the expectations that these applications have for me as a user in terms of keeping my data safe and secure. Overall, reading the Terms for each of the apps enhanced my understanding of the four applications that I chose to review, but thankfully, especially since I chose to do this part last, didn’t have a significant impact on my decision to continue using them in the future.


Although I initially felt overwhelmed in my approach to reviewing the Terms and Conditions of these four apps as one of the final stages of my project, coming at this aspect with a set of 5 clear questions helped me stay focused and tactful in reviewing these important features.

Now all that is left to do is to use each of the apps for one more week and come up with some final conclusions!



Digital Literacy, Creating Critical Thinkers


I absolutely love this video: What does it mean to be literate? My feelings toward it come directly from the fact that my definition of what it means to be “literate” has changed significantly since beginning this course. As an English teacher, I would have defended the notion that literacy is the ability to read, write, and comprehend. That was, until this course and the work of students in this course challenged my definition.



While a simple search for what it means to be literate still does reflect that literacy means being able to read and write, a new form of literacy, Digital or Media Literacy has emerged over the past decade, and is now an aspect of teaching and understanding that deserves significant attention. Being “literate” today involves so much more than being able to hold up a book and understand what the letters on the page say. Digital Literacy encompasses one’s ability to understand how to access information, how to critically analyze that information and how to apply those understandings to one’s own context.

As Tholman and Jones state, “Today, information about the world around us comes to us not only by words on a piece of paper but more and more through the powerful images and sounds of our multi-media culture” (Tholman and Jones, 2004).  Today, one’s comfort level in  “analyzing new information as it’s received, evaluating it against one’s prior knowledge, formulating a response and ultimately communicating to others your decision or point of view” is what it means to be digitally literate (Tholman and Jones, 2004).

With access to information being at our fingertips 24/7, part of being literate in today’s day and age also has to do with how we learn to, and how we teach students to comprehend the vast array of information that we have access to. Kundra notions that “For students to be digitally literate, they not only need to learn how to use technology, but to be critical of the information they gather”(Digital Literacy, What Does It Mean To You?). Luke, too, discusses how “the growth of various forms of media is un-ending and we are bombarded by media messages throughout the day” and because of this, we’ve learned through being digitally literate how to sort this information into pieces that are important and irrelevant, real and fake.


I strongly believe that increasing digital literacy will increase advocacy, creativity, and voice for generations to come. As Andrea Quijada discusses in her TedTalk, we live in a world where media literacy allows individuals to be better critical thinkers, giving them an increased ability to “deconstruct it and reconstruct it to highlight the untold story”. In Erin’s Powtoon from last week, she states, “Since media isn’t going away, and will continue to be a major player in our lives, it is vital that the citizens of the world today and in the future are able to see media for what it really is communicating and are able to make positive decisions based on this knowledge”. The way that we “read” information today is so much more complex, so much less forgiving than the way we used to read. Because of this, digital literacy allows so many empty spaces, so many unknowns to become known to us, creating a society that should, in theory, be more informed in their decision making than any society ever has been before us. As John F. Kennedy once said, “The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.”

knoweldge 1


In conclusion, being “literate” in anything, whether that be English, math, soccer, or media itself involves the ability to understand, be critical of, and apply said critical lens to the ever evolving  world around us. My hope for the future is that the increased knowledge and understanding that digital literacy offers us will allow for increased confidence in future generations when it comes to advocacy for, creativity in, and  critical analysis of both traditional and non-traditional knowledge and information sharing.


Creating My Bitmoji

As mentioned in my Final Project post regarding Snapchat from yesterday, part of my exploration of this app included creating my very first Bitmoji.

Please take a look at the video below to watch my journey!


What do you think of your Bitmoji? Is it a realistic representation of what you look like?


Snapchat: My Attraction to Distraction


The fourth and final app that is part of my final project, My Journey in Technology, is the one and only Snapchat. Although I have had this app for at least a year, I wanted to review this app as part of my project to find out a little bit more about the ins and outs of the application, and to take an opportunity to step away from the more serious side of reviewing applications, and have a little fun with the project.

Initially, I had considered the option of using Snapchat in my role as an administrator, and then decided against it for a myriad of reasons. First of all, although I already have quite a few of my staff on Snapchat, I didn’t want the sense of low stress, high hilarity I find on Snapchat with my colleagues to end. Second of all, I didn’t really want to be using Snapchat on a daily basis in front of my students the same way that I use Evernote, Twitter, and Remind. Personal preference was to review this app for fun, so that’s what I did.

Here is what I knew about the app going into the project:

  1. I knew, obviously, that the purpose of the app was to send pictures to one another that would eventually disappear.
  2. I knew how to change my story, how to view other people’s stories, and at the time, how to browse through other stories/information mostly on Buzzfeed.
  3. I knew that filters on Snapchat existed, but the only ones that would ever work for me were the black and white filter, the time filter, and the battery filter.
  4. When we first started the course, I knew what a Bitmoji was, but I didn’t have one or have any interest in making one.
  5. I knew that pretty much everyone around me knew more about Snapchat than me.

In the past three months, many things have changed on the app from when I first started using it including:

  1. The interface itself is different. When I first started using the app, stories looked different, and “discover” didn’t exist to the extent that it does today.
  2. One can now record longer video clips at a time to send to friends.
  3. Not only do Bitmoji’s flood my friends list, but the characters themselves have the ability to move, dance, and convey emotion on top of a photo that a friend has taken.

The biggest “aha” moments that I’ve had about the app have really changed the way that I feel about Snapchat and the way that I utilize the app in my personal life.

  1. The proper term for Snapchat streaks, according to the video posted below is “gamification”.  In my research into what Gamification actually is, I began to be quite critical about the idea of streaks. According to, “Gamification is the application of game elements and digital game design techniques to non-game problems, such as business and social impact challenges.” This explains why the act of “streaking” with a friend becomes so highly addictive.
  2. Snap Maps can do incredible things.  I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical about the idea of people, especially young people, being tracked using Snapmaps, but I’ve really come to appreciate the feature after reading about and experiencing different ways that the ability to share location has helped people. There are numerous stories about how Snapchat was able to save lives during Hurricane Irma, and similar other natural disasters.
  3. It is possible to save chats without screenshotting them. This feature is very convenient for me as I am part of a few group chats which I tend to open at the most inconvenient times. Even more important, is the fact that you can then delete the saved chats using the same method of holding the text down until “saved” or “unsaved” appear.
  4. Different interactive filters are constantly being added to Snapchat, and some of them, by businesses in order to attract business. 

Amidst my journey navigating through using the app more frequently in order to gain a better understanding of it, I’ve realized that there are three particular aspects of the app that don’t sit well with me no matter how engaged I become in using Snapchat. They include:

  1. The ridiculousness of public stories in the Discover section. For example, here’s what my Discover looks like tonight:

snapchat discover

My biggest problem with this feature is that, while watching the video “Snapchat Parent Guide” the host explains the purpose of public stories, saying that “companies…post to keep people up to date on whats going on and this is what students say that they like it the most because they can see what’s happening in the world and this, essentially is their news feed.” If this is what students, or anyone for that matter, sees and considers important in terms of what is happening in the world, I worry.

2. The step away from authentic, original, flawed photo sharing that used to exist with the use of Snapchat. With the addition of new filters daily, the amount of edited snaps that I receive in a day continues to multiply. And, I’m not talking about the hilarious filters like this:

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I’m talking about the filters that actually change the way that we look in order to make us look more perfect, less flawless, and increasingly fake. Take a look at this example:


You’ll note that my freckles, oily skin, and fuzzy eyebrow in the original, and a smaller neck, clearer skin, and nearly perfect eyebrows in the filtered image. For the sake of impressionable youth around the world, I really wish that filters that make the “real” us look worse than the filtered “us” would be removed. While there is nothing wrong with having fun with filters, I think that individuals find enough ways to compare themselves to others and feel feelings of low self confidence, and in my opinion, filters are supposed to be for enjoyment, not criticism.

With that being said, I do still really enjoy using the app. As I stated in an earlier post, when I began this last semester, I gave up Facebook as a means of wasting less time in my life. Since doing so, it’s been difficult to keep up the lives of my closest friends and family members, and Snapchat has allowed me to still get a taste of what is going on in the lives of those around me. I’ve realized over the last three months that my top 5 uses for Snapchat include:

  1. Groupchatting with my friends who don’t have iPhones. My closest group of girl friends consists of three women with iPhones, and one without which makes group messaging quite difficult. Snapchat allows me to communicate with all of them together in the same message.
  2. Sending ridiculous photos, throwbacks, or important information via picture to my brothers.
  3. Keeping up with what is going on with my niece and younger cousins. Updates on growth and development, scores of hockey games, and important milestones are definitely a highlight of my Snapchat use.
  4. Taking screenshots of my own snaps. I know that this sounds ridiculous, and I know that the Memories feature on Snapchat now allows for the same opportunity, but I like being able to look back on my snaps and know the purpose, the excitement, or the feeling behind why I sent something.  When looking through my screenshots in preparation for this post, images that illuminate how this aspect has been one of my favorites included images of my niece a year ago, a month before her first birthday, images of our yard last April 4th when we cut grass for the first time of the year, and images like this:

dogs.png5. Snapchat is my quick distraction. The fact that the purpose of the application is to send a quick photo with a short description allows for a quick brain break then I’m right back to being a full time employee and student!

Along the way, I’ve come across some videos that I think are worth sharing with parents, or watching oneself if Snapchat is something you are new to, something you want to know more about, or something you want to utilize to its full capacity. The top 5 videos I’ve found useful during this journey are:

  1. How to Use Snapchat. Even though the “I got my eye on you” caption pains me as an English teacher, this is a quick introduction to how to use the app in the most basic form.


2. Snapchat App Guide for Parents 2017.  For any parents who don’t have the app themselves or who may be questioning their children having the app, this video gives a basic commentary on the features of Snapchat and the main reasons youth may be so interested in engaging in using it.

3. How to Navigate Snapchat’s New Design was a tool I used myself in order to understand how to use some of the new features that I wasn’t necessarily comfortable experimenting with.

4. How Snapchat Will Transform Workplace Communication Skills. Although, as stated earlier, I haven’t been using this app in my profession, I was persuaded of the power of Snapchat in the workplace after watching this video.  With that being said, I think that my use of Remind, and my staff’s use of SeeSaw can certainly do the things that Jenkins mentions in the video. However, I was quite interested in the notion that the younger generation’s sense of urgency lends itself well to Snapchat being used as a means of communication at work.

5. How a Handful of Tech Companies Control Billions of Minds Everyday. Tristan Harris’ articulation of attention grabbing tactics used by social media sites allowed for an analysis of my own personal use of Snapchat. The “race for attention” that Harris talks about in the video is shown through gamification, as mentioned above. In addition, gamification is also illuminated through his explanation of how, for those who engage in Snapchat streaks, Snapchat “gave two people something they don’t want to lose…Think of the little blocks of time that schedules in kids minds.” For me, these blocks of time scheduled in my mind are when I wake up, when I have a few free seconds, and are far more frequent on weekends when I am curious to see what those around me are engaging in for entertainment. This TedTalk is definitely worth viewing when analyzing the power of social media and the mind.

My next steps in the analysis of this app for personal use include two aspects. 1) To delve into the Terms of Use, just as with the other three apps I am reviewing and 2) To finally take the plunge and create my own Bitmoji (fundamentally going against everything I have previously stood for on Snapchat).

We can’t grow if we don’t step outside of our comfort zones, can we?

Remind Me to Tell You My Biggest Regret with Remind


Remind, formerly known to many of us as Remind 101 is an app that I have known about for years, and only started using diligently this school year. When the opportunity to delve a little deeper into the aspects of this app that I wouldn’t even think of arose in this course, I knew that I had to choose this app to review. Thus, Remind is the 3rd of the 4 apps I chose for my final project.

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Image Credit:

Remind, most simply explained, is an app that reminds us that “School communication shouldn’t be so hard” and is one that has really, truly, has made communication as an administrator a lot easier these past few months. It allows for safe and secure delivery of short messages between an individual and another individual, or an individual and another group of individuals. In all cases, participants can message each other, or the full group, back and forth.

Initially, I had been using the app in my classroom before this class began to keep in touch with grades 11 and 12 students in my English classes. It offered a great way for me to be able to use the tool to send out group messages and instructions when I was away from class, a great way to remind students about deadlines and due dates, and a great way to message individual students if I needed to discuss something with them. Students responded well to the roll out of the app in my classroom, as they had actually used it for football, and for other classes with myself and other teachers as long as five years ago.

remind photo

It wasn’t until 8 weeks ago that I began using the app with my staff. Many of them had not heard of the app, but after the first few uses, it has become one of the most common ways that my staff members and I communicate. Especially in times of emergency.

So far, the top five things that I love about using this app as an administrator are as follows:

  • Remind only allows message sharing of 140 characters in each message as creators explain, “A standard SMS message is limited to 160 characters by cell phone carriers, and we use 20 of those characters to let people know who the message is from” ( The brief nature of the app allows me to cut to the chase, inform others of what I need to say, and get my point across clearly.
  • Office hour scheduling. The “Office Hours” feature of this app reminds students and staff when they send a message to me during an odd time that I may not respond right away. In the digital world we live in, it’s easy to forget that sometimes people may be away from their devices when we need to communicate with them.
  • Scheduled announcements. By far, my favorite feature is the scheduled announcements feature of this app. I am a bit of a worry wart when it comes to passing on reminders. When I was away in Cuba for the few days after February break, it was fantastic to be able to schedule a message to my staff about particular fundraiser reminder, or just a nice welcome back message after a week away since I wouldn’t be there in person on Monday.

remind photo 2

  • Users can receive messages either via text, or through the actual app. For those who may be less technologically inclined, the fact that the app is accessible to all makes communicating a lot easier.
  • Interactive responses. The thumbs up app is hands down the most efficient way of me knowing if a staff member has read and understand what I have sent. Especially when the message is of an urgent nature. No need to text a response, no reply email needed. A simple thumbs up means that I have communicated what I need to in an clear and effective manner.

I’ve just recently learned that there is a way of linking Remind to different aspects of teaching, such as Quizlet and Google Classroom which is the next feature of the app that I will delve into.


Before starting this project, I definitely underestimated the power of the app and what it could do for me as an administrator who is trying to stay on top of communicating things with my staff. Weeks like the one we just had, where circumstances beyond our control call for emergency communication between colleagues, the Remind app is a fast, easy, and secure way of communicating with others.


Stay tuned for my next few posts about the Terms and Conditions of the app, and the integration of other Apps into Remind!

Oh, I almost forgot!


My only regret about the Remind app is that I didn’t start using it as an administrator earlier. The trees I’ve killed and the lengthy emails I’ve sent can certainly attest to this…