The Mixed Message of Digital Citizenship

Whenever I hear the term “digital citizenship” I usually am skeptical. When we began using the term several years ago, it typically focused on keeping kids safe online. It was generally a scare tactic that told students that they should be wary of posting anything online because it’s forever. The assumption was kids will post inappropriate stuff. ¬†Recently the message has softened and most acknowledge kids are going to be posting online and so the message is about posting only the good stuff. These messages have some truth but like most things are nuanced and require more discussion than simple posters or mantras can provide. Jared Heidinger shared this video

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

There’s a lot here to discuss but the part that hit me was at the ¬†2:30 mark. My kids, who are teenagers and adults, often tell me how they get annoyed at many people’s facebook and instagram postings because they always refer to how awesome their life is.

“Reading a great book”
“My wonderful husband just made me the most delicious meal”
“Enjoying a glass of wine while viewing the beautiful sunset”

Updated content: This video says it well…… Read the rest

Communication and Community are Different

137526362_88b9b7b108_n As I talk with and work with schools and districts interested in using social media they often talk about their communication strategy and how they might use social media in a strategic way. My first reaction is you can’t.

The word “strategic” implies a tactical and deliberate approach. While that might be fine for communication before social media, it doesn’t work so well now. Communication strategies from a organizational perspective was traditionally about “getting the word out”, “keeping stakeholders informed” and these notions are essentially about broadcasting. I noticed a school district who recently purchased brand new signage for their schools to provide a consistent look and message regarding upcoming events. I have no idea the cost and am not suggesting it’s not an important part of the communication strategy but it once again points to an emphasis on broadcasting. These efforts certainly communicate, but they don’t really build community.

I recently had a conversation online with Darren Draper, Karl Fisch and others on the struggle schools and districts have in implementing social media. Darren summarized the conversation quite well. I think part of the issue is a fundamental dissonance between traditional communication strategies and the way social media … Read the rest

Connecting High School Teachers

I'm spending the day with teachers at Dakota Collegiate in Winnipeg. They've been doing some interesting work over the past couple of years and have asked me to come spend the day with time exploring their current and future practices. I'll be sharing a talk entitled, "Why Is Social Such a Big Deal?" I'm going to look at Social from a pedagogical, professional and community perpsective. 

With regards to social and professional, I asked twitter to fill out a simple form.  Feel free to add to it. Here is a map with the current particpants which is nearly 100. 

Here's the full list. If you're reading this you're likely pretty well connected. Perhaps you know some high school teachers who would appreciate having a look at various folks and some of the links they've shared to either their twitter accounts or classroom and professional sites. Even if you can this list by subject and find 1 or 2 new people to follow or watch, that would be useful.

Thank you to all those who took a moment to complete the survey. I hope you also can find a new connection or two. Read the rest

For Most, It’s Still a Giant Encyclopedia

I've used this slide more often than not during my presentations:










I was thinking it was time to retire it but then I read this article in the Globe and Mail. It's basically a story about a teacher who's asking her students to do some research without using the internet. What I will say is I like a teacher who's willing to try new things and wants her student's to experience new things as well. She says,

"I want them to understand what they are perhaps missing with technology."

Fair enough. But when I read statements like this, I think she's missing something too.

At this age, they get stuck on Wikipedia being the answer to everything and they forget that people can be a really great resource.

I agree. Which is why I refer back to that quote. So the exercise goes on to talk about how kids went to post offices, called their grandparents all to find answers that were at their fingertips. Again, an interesting experiment that might lead to some good conversations. I think more teachers should be doing social experiments like this. But even as you Read the rest

The Thin Line Between Beauty and Sadness

I just watched the documentary Butterflies.

The film documents the lives of 6 youtubers who have found community, fame and vocation on youtube. Although the film is 3  years old, it captures the current state of social networks and online communities quite well. As I watched I had this weird ebb and flow of emotions. When they discussed how they've found others who shared common interests, developed some lasting relationships and have found a place to spark creativity, it made me smile. I resonated with much of what they had experienced. I've advocated for these same types of environments and opportunities for others. At the same time as they discussed spending 6 hours a day on youtube, being obsessed with subscribers and views and wanting to be recognized by strangers, I felt sadness. 

While I wanted to like the experience of these folks and point to their journeys as models for students to consider, I just couldn't get past their intent and motive. A few of them began as genuinely and innocently creating content out of personal interest and creativity, it seemed to quickly move towards a desire to be famous and a focus on themselves. Yes, they had Read the rest