Without meaning to, I have fallen into a routine of adding in different videos to help ease the readers into the blog. Full disclosure, I have taken this idea from The Athletic (a sports app) that gives out report cards after every hockey game of the ever-testing Toronto Maple Leafs. Each report is given a specific video or set of music to accompany the overview of the game.
This week I felt old. Now, I am only 32 and one of the younger ones at my school. I have three older sisters, an older brother, several older brother/sister- in laws, and my parents are in their 70’s. But reading through the rules of Snapchat, Instagram, and other apps I had not heard of I felt old. In listening to the descriptions, I started to wonder what the next wave will think when we talk about using emails or texting full words to people, as opposed to just texting emotions or expressing ideas through memes. I think the reality lies somewhere between feeling like it is the last march of the Ents, where the younger generation is frustrated with how long it takes to express an idea…
to people starting to use emojis in their speech…
How do we encourage and enable our students to be part of the participatory culture?
This is the main idea for me from this week. I am thinking of participatory culture not just in school but also outside of it. It is clear that the younger generation are able to understand certain rules about how to behave online and what is expected of them. This set of rules seems to be played out no matter where the students are located, though these ideas do have a very American-centric view. Yet the mere existence of how they are to interact online, the social acceptance of ghosting, or nuances of the differences between smiley face and smiley face with heart emojis indicate a depth of social interaction that can be harness for how students should behave online.
I think we need to use this understanding as a basis for explaining how students are to behave online, both inside and outside of class. There may be alarm bells ringing that too much technology is harmful, but that view does not always line up with the research. As Denworth summarizes at the end: “First, most of what happens online is mirrored offline. Second, effects really do depend on the user; benefits are conferred on some whereas risks are exacerbated for others, such as children who already suffer from mental health problems”.
It is in the classroom where we can try to mitigate the risks students face when they go online. Helping them to understand the potential risks online and the problems that can arise when you get too addicted to something.
What do the students say?
My school uses a Social-Emotional Wellbeing curriculum called Second Step to work through various problems or social issues that might arise for students with units such as Mindsets & Goals or Managing Relations & Social Conflict. Our most recent lesson featured a discussion around a fictitious situation where an argument between two lab partners escalated because one friend texted another about the argument she was having and this text was then shared. The students quickly grasped the problem that sharing the text was not okay because more people became involved. The way they talked about the situation was similar to asking a Grade 12 calculus student to do some basic long division….why do I have to do this when I already know the answer?
Now, that is not to say the students are always best at managing emotions and interacting with each other. But, rather their understanding of online social etiquette seemed far advanced for what was being offered
at the grade level we are working at.
When I think back to how I interacted with my friends in Grade 6-8, it was on the playground that you made plans to hang out. We were always excited to talk to each other in the morning to catch up on whatever TV show or sports event we watched at home. The lack of availability to communicate outside of school made us appreciate that chance even more at school. But with students now able to talk online, they seem less appreciative of talking at school. Too often I feel that students are having a limited conversation when they are talking through text next to each other.
The challenges we are all facing now has shown the value in online learning and interaction. I do not think online learning should ever replace face-to-face learning for all the social interactions that happen in the classroom and the benefits of having something physical in your hands when you are learning. But, we need to be aware of how to adapt our learning to incorporate more online learning and interaction. At my school, students create a Digital Portfolio using Google Sites starting in Grade 6 where they upload course work throughout the year, which is then used as reference points during parent teacher conferences.
I have used Flipgrid in the classroom to have my EAL students practice their speaking at home. Having videos as a point of reference for areas of improvement and as reference for that improvement is very beneficial. However, the students insist that the videos be moderated so their classmates do not see them, which reduces the benefit of using a program like Flipgrid. I think one of the issues is that the students are a bit embarrassed by watching themselves. But, in reading through the various rules of social interaction I think I could do a better job clearly outlining how students are to respond and comment to each other. Perhaps the setting of clear rules would help ease any fears.
Where does this leave me?
Compared to previous posts and readings, I am less confident at the end than I was at the beginning. I think having a further understanding of how students, and youth, use social media and online platforms will be an area requiring more attention. Further, I think this is something that will have to happen more and more as I get older but the technology will always be new. I remember being told to watch out for certain behaviours, like eating Tidepods, because of a trend on Tiktok ( I think it was Tiktok). That was my first understanding of the impact of social media on students. Clearly, I still have a lot to learn. But I can change…