What Does it Mean to be Literate?

When we discuss literacy we often think about reading and writing.  However,  there are other ways that we can be literate.  Common Sense Media states that media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.  We are all exposed to forms of media literacy, TV, internet, radio, newspapers, text messages, memes, videos, social media, video games, advertising.

Furthermore, we can view literacy as Christine quotes Couros and Hildebrandt in her video What are the New and Emerging Challenges of Literacy in a “Fake News” World?

“If we difine literacy as the ability to read (or interpret) the world around us, then digital literacy should not be thought of as requiring a separate set of skills. Rather, digital literacy adds a layer to traditional literacy, enabling us to read or interpret the connected reality we live.”

Media Smarts highlights its definition of media and digital literacies. Media Smarts believes that digital literacy involves enabling youth to participate in wise, safe and ethical ways.  Whereas, media literacy focuses on youth to be critically engaged consumers of media. Media Smarts has an interesting graphic that shows the blending of the two literacies together.

Rob highlights in his video New and Emerging Challenges in a Fake News World the differences between misinformation and disinformation.  Misinformation is inaccurate information that is spread intentionally or unintentionally. Whereas, disinformation is inaccurate information meant to mislead.  This is important for students to understand.  Society often is becoming duped to believe false information.

Common Sense Media provides some key questions to ask when teaching media literacy:

  • Who created this?
  • Why did they make it?
  • Who is the message for?
  • What techniques are being used to make this message credible or believable?
  • What details were left out, and why?
  • How did the message make you feel?

Rob shared an interesting photo found on First Draft News discussing the different types of Misinformation and Disinformation.  These different types of information we need to teach students to recognize. Students need to be wary of the types of information and know the skills to decipher some of these tricky situations.

In my colleague Nancy’s video, New Challenges of Literacy in a Fake News World she states, ” What you see in your feed is very likely different than the person next to you”.  Social media is set up to filter news based on AI.  Furthermore, Nancy highlights, social media companies will try to share relevant, engaging content to try to get as many impressions as possible such as likes, comments, and shares.

Due to the recent events that are occurring in our world (COVID-19), we must be practicing media literacy skills, modeling for our students (when we can). Dean Vendramin as part of his major project is highlighting the importance of these media literacy skills. Dean has created some fact-checking tools and a CRAP Navigation Information Sheet.  Dean highlights many of the different pieces and resources within his major project that supplement his major learning project.  These tools he highlights include Snopes, Polifactcheck, and CanadaFactCheck.

A few weeks ago Dean and I had a conversation around the importance of spotting fake news and how we teach students how to do this.  It is of the utmost importance that we are practicing and modeling these skills so that students can use these critical skills in society.

 *As I write this amid a Global Pandemic and a state of emergency over COVID-19.  I am fearful of the people who are spreading misinformation and disinformation over the virus.  This is not only harmful to the people who believe this content but also for those who take in the media, but for the surrounding people as well.  In the current state, Facebook and YouTube do not have the staff to keep up with the flagging and reporting of misinformation and disinformation and they are currently relying on AI to flag fake news.  Now it will fall on to the user to decipher what is true and what is false.

Major Project Update: Untimely Technology Difficulties

Hi Everyone,

If you have been following my digital project you will know that I have been working on creating an in-depth guide to three apps that I have been studying.  Seesaw, Wakelet, and TikTok.

Yesterday evening I had a conversation with Elizabeth Benno, a Digital Literacy Coach from Lovejoy ISD.  Elizabeth is a Seesaw Ambassador and she speaks all over Texas on how to integrate technology in the classroom.  I met Elizabeth in a Seesaw PD Session that she held in Austin, Texas in February 2020.  Now, due to some technical glitches on my behalf, I was unable to get the recording on the audio or the video from my conversation with Elizabeth so my blog post will have to do for this week’s major update.

Below summarizes some key points of our conversation that we had in our great discussion all around how to integrate Seesaw in the classroom.

How are teachers using Seesaw in the classroom?

Some of the ways that teachers are using Seesaw in the classroom is to provide a glimpse into what is going on in the student’s day.  Some teachers may just take a picture and post that picture to the student’s learning journal.  Some of the teachers that Elizabeth is working with also use Seesaw as a platform to support the Global Read Aloud Project.  Students are able to share their learning through their learning journals and it can be expanded to connect with other classrooms through Seesaw’s built-in blog.  In Lovejoy ISD, Elizabeth has stated that their goal for Seesaw is the following. “Teachers will have at least one form of evidence for each outcome, recorded and documented in Seesaw”.

  • Elizabeth has shared that teachers begin by using Seesaw to share the gems as to what is going on in the classroom.
  • Global read aloud
  • School District has a goal that every standard will have evidence in Seesaw.

2. How can we make connections with others using Seesaw?

Seesaw allows us to connect up to 10 family members to one student’s blog.  This is a powerful tool that we can use to extend the ability for our students to have an audience.  Elizabeth talked about how using Seesaw for Schools allowed administrators to the ability to comment on student work.  This allows for collaboration and relationship building within the school.

One of the highlights of Seesaw is the ability to use the classroom blog feature.  Seesaw blogs are a safe way to interact with and connect with other classes.  These are teacher moderated, can be set to public blogs or password-protected blogs.  Once a teacher signs up for blogs you can connect to other classrooms using Seesaw Blogs.  This is a powerful took that Elizabeth uses with the teachers she works with to connect with others for the Global Read Aloud Project.

3. How can teachers get started with Seesaw and What are Some Ideas to Dive Deeper with?

The starting place for teachers is to get them to highlight some of the great things that are happening in the classroom.  This could be as simple as taking pictures of the student’s work.  However, soon teachers need to relinquish this control and give students control over their own student portfolios.  Seesaw is most powerful when students take control of their work.

Elizabeth shared a great story and lesson around a Global Classroom Project that she initiated with a teacher in her school district in Texas, a teacher in Canada and a teacher in New Zealand.  In this experience, the students educated each other on their interests and parts of their culture. This project inspired students to educate each other on different games, sports teams, among many other differences.

4. What is the Difference between Seesaw for Schools and the Free Version of Seesaw?

Seesaw for Schools and Seesaw Plus allow you access to the skills portion students achieve.  The skills section is a great tool that allows educators to provide students with a mark on a 3-6 point scale.  Elizabeth highlighted that since Seesaw for Schools the digital portfolio follows the student from year to year.  The teacher could look in the past to view if a student struggled in a certain standard/outcome or indicator.  This is a great tool to see growth over the years, or to identify areas that students need assistance in.

Furthermore, students have access to drafts in Seesaw.  This allows students to save work in progress and finish it later.  This is a premium feature only available in Seesaw for Schools and Seesaw Plus.

Seesaw for Schools offers regional data storage options which were very important to my school division’s decision to purchase Seesaw for Schools. This means that data that is entered into Seesaw is held in Canada, rather than the United States. It is also integrated with our Student Information System (SIS).

5. How do you engage parents with Seesaw?

This starts early.  Have a Seesaw station at an open house or meet the teacher night early in the year, help parents get on Seesaw, learn about Seesaw.  By getting parents on board with Seesaw early in the school year provides the opportunity for parents to learn how Seesaw works.  Be sure to send home the highlights of your students as parents love to see what their children are doing at school.

Role of DigCit Today and in the Future

What Role Does Digital Citizenship Play in Education?

What role do schools and teachers play when it comes to teaching about digital citizenship? As we know it, schools and teachers need to play a role in developing and preparing students to become digital citizens.  In Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools, Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt state:

Supporting students at all grade levels and through all subjects to learn appropriate and responsible online behaviour through the integration of digital citizenship instruction will help ensure that children and youth in the digital age become responsible and principled digital citizens, capable of building and maintaining a positive digital footprint, respecting intellectual property boundaries and protecting their privacy online. Digital citizenship education is not intended to be a stand-alone unit, course or lesson, rather it is best learned and understood when taught in context through supported online practice and real-life examples and experiences.

– Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt

On March 3rd, we did an important activity to answer the question, what characteristics does a digital citizen have?  We were tasked with the job of choosing the age/grade of a student and then discussing digital citizenship characteristics that we thought would be important for that student to know at their specific age/grade.  We also looked at the supports, steps, and processes that would support the students and teachers in assisting them to reach those characteristics. This activity allowed us to realize how we can embed the important teachings and lessons of digital citizenship in our lessons. However, I also am beginning to really understand the broadness of the topic of digital citizenship.  On something so broad it can be overwhelming for teachers to comprehend and as a result could turn them off of teaching about digital citizenship.

Where do Teachers Start When Teaching Digital Citizenship?

If teachers are new to teaching about digital citizenship I believe that it is important that teachers reach out for support from others, or to look at how to incorporate curricula that are already created.  Some great resources that teachers can look into include:

  • Commonsense Media – This resource provides teachers with lessons at their grade level on topics that are suitable for what they need to know at that age.
  • Be Internet Awesome – A curriculum that teachers digital safety fundamentals, it is also paired with an interactive game called Interland.
  • Media Smarts – a Canadian non-profit for digital and media literacy.  Find lesson plans and resources related to digital and media literacy.

I believe that these resources provide opportunities for educators to determine what is important at certain age levels.   I believe that the difficulty in implementing digital citizenship will be integrating it into what classrooms are already covering.

What are Important Skills I Would Teach?

I believe that some of the important skills are used in Mike Ribble’s Framework, on the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship.  In addition, ISTE also provides student standards one of which highlights their goals for digital citizenship.  Much of my work as an Instructional Technology Consultant is framed around these standards.  The skills include:

  • Students manage their digital identities and recognize the permanence of their actions.
  • Engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behaviour when using technology.
  • Understanding and respect the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.
  • Manage personal data, and are aware of how the data is used to track their navigations online.

However,   Vicki Davis also known as the coolcatteacher on Twitter highlights her approach to Digital Citizenship.  She breaks it down into two categories, Proactive Knowledge and Experiential Knowledge. Proactive Knowledge Davis breaks down into the 9 Key Ps.  Proactive knowledge is the skills that we need to teach students to be knowledgeable about in navigating their online worlds.  However, students need the experiential knowledge experience to become effective digital citizens as talking is not enough.

The 9 Key Ps:

  1. Passwords
  2. Private Information
  3. Personal Information
  4. Photographs
  5. Property
  6. Permission
  7. Protection
  8. Professionalism
  9. Personal Brand

Vicki Davis highlights some of the activities for experiential learning, such as using websites such as Snopes, to allow students to become detectives and determine if the information is true, false, or a scam.  She also has students expose common scams and allows them to teach others to now fall for the common scams.

Daniel, and Brad and Shelby’s videos highlighted the importance of teaching students how to be media literate.  Daniel highlights 10 questions a media literate person should ask:

Shelby and Brad also highlight a tool when teaching students to become media literate.  Their tool is IMVAIN.  This tool also encourages students to question their sources of information.

Digital Citizenship of the Future

One of the articles shared by Amanda in my ECI832 class, Digital Citizenship is the New Citizenship, written by Nicole Krueger highlights, “Rather than just warning young people about online risks or trying to curtail their activities, educators are realizing the importance of helping students leverage the power of digital media to work toward social justice and equity”.  Furthermore, Krueger highlights that students are able to civically participate by voting online, signing petitions, and donating to a cause.

When addressing digital citizenship in the future I believe that it should be based on Joel Westheimer’s three types of citizens, personally responsible citizen, participatory citizen, and justice-orientated citizen.  Although Westheimer did not have a digital framework when he developed the definition.  The framework is just as relevant in the digital sense.  

Our goal as educators needs to stop separating citizenship and digital citizenship.  These terms are synonymous.  By separating the terms we encourage students to have two separate lives, digital life, and physical life.  Our role as educators is the infuse these terms together to promote students to use digital media in appropriate ways in all aspects of their lives.

Major Project Update: #Wakeletwave with Dean Vendramin

The past two weeks I have been working on adding to my major project.  Focusing my research around Seesaw and beginning my research with Wakelet.  Specifically, I looked at using some of my new-found knowledge of being a Seesaw Ambassador to find resources and content to add to the Overview page, and have been developing the Privacy and Terms of Service page.

Here is one of the interesting pieces of information that I had found within Seesaw’s privacy policy.  “Within the United States under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a teacher can act as a parent’s agent and provide consent on their behalf if the service is solely used in the educational context. To read more about this read COPPA and Schools.”  Although this does not directly apply to us in Canada.  I find it worrisome as teachers can provide consent on the parent’s behalf.

I also interviewed Dean this past week on how he uses and is using Wakelet in the classroom.  Check out our video interview or our podcast located below.

Some of the key takeaways from this video include the ways that Dean incorporates Wakelet into his classroom and his uses professionally.  The ability to curate resources from Twitter and save resources.  Using Wakelet as a way to store Current Events.  Students can use Wakelet as a way to supplement their work in class to highlight the resources that they have used to supplement their learning.  Students are able to work together and curate resources together.  This encourages collaboration among each other.  Wakelet also allows you to embed it with Flipgrid.  Dean also shares how he uses Wakelet as a monthly newsletter.   Be sure to check out our video to learn how to use Wakelet in the classroom.

Digital Identity, as a Teen, University Student and Educator

Last Tuesday our class participated in an exercise in which we had to do some cyber-sleuthing on some (may I say, unlucky) volunteers.  This is not the first time that I have done an activity like that as Katia Hildebrandt led us in a similar activity when I took ECMP355 in my undergrad at the U of R.  Nonetheless, this is an activity that I find interesting and frankly, kind of enjoyable.  It is always interesting to see what information you can find about someone on the internet.  Whether it be phone numbers, and addresses from the yellow pages, court records, places of employment, etc. It is fairly easy to track someone on their social media.  However, as I reflect on this I ask myself “How much information is there on me? What is my digital identity? How am I leaving a digital footprint?”

As I reflect upon my digital identity, I often think about the times when I got first got social media.  As a middle-schooler at the start of my Facebook endeavors, I now cringe at some of the embarrassing, pointless posts that were made.  This being said I believe that I have come a long way from those dark times of the beginning of Curtis’s social media days.  Let us dive into the olden days of when Curtis started to post on social media.   These posts consist of Curtis updating hockey scores, mundane news, levels of boredom, and various teenage complaints.  Thankfully, this is no more.

Luckily, I decided to learn more about social media from my peers, learning about what should be posted and what should NOT be posted on social media.  Having these experiences provides me the opportunity to use my social media as examples of things that “do not have a place on the internet”, or are classified as over sharing. What I needed was a lesson from Daniel Dion, he shares this excellent picture that would have benefitted me.

My digital identity began to shift when I was in high school.  I began to try to promote a positive digital identity.  When I Google myself I still see prominent images and articles that feature me and some of the volunteering I did when I was in high school.  At the time I was still unaware of how social media could negatively affect me in the future.  This is because as social media became more popular we did not have any education on it.  The only teaching that I got was, “If you wouldn’t say it to their face don’t say it online”.

As I began to shift into my time as an education student at the University of Regina, I began to understand the importance of my words and comments as a person who was immersed in digital spaces.  I did not see the overlap of how my digital world and my online world overlap. It was in these times I was able to become a deep critical thinker when I came to posting things online.  I began to clean-up my profile, and become more thoughtful of the posts that I was posting.

This did come with some hiccups.  A couple of experiences that I had gone through included a tweet that I had tweeted regarding an anti-LGBTQ, pro-life supporter being arrested.  The tweet was referenced by two far-right news sources, one of which called me a homofacist. Read more about this experience in a previous blog post Support for #LGBTQ and #DigitalIdentity.  This experience allowed me to reflect on how easy it is to find something on the internet that could potentially damage my reputation (doxxing).  As an educator, I believe that I am even more cautious as to what I am posting on social media. Arguments and political discussions I often used to participate in I have toned back, and refrain from adding in my personal opinions.

As I continue down my path as an educator focusing on technology experiences for students I recognize the importance of teaching students about social media. It is our job as educators to take the lead and become aware of the digital spaces that our students are exploring.  I have experienced situations where teachers and parents want to ban social media or devices from their students/children.  As Katia Hildebrandt and Alec Couros state in their Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools document:

“…students are often not learning to be safe and responsible Internet users at home, so schools and teachers must make sure that students are acquiring these skills in the classroom; otherwise we are putting young people at risk.”

Teachers can start to begin to navigate the topic around digital identity with students by using sites like Media Smarts, and Commonsense Media.  These websites feature numerous lessons, videos, and other resources that will guide students to become critical, responsible, social-justice orientated citizens. I try my best to follow the ISTE standards for educators.  One of which involved being a citizen to inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.

Have I made mistakes regarding my digital identity? Yes, I have.  However, since I know better, I do better.


Major Learning Project Update: Vlog #1

This will be a brief update as I am going to be taking you on a tour of some of the things that I have accomplished on my Major Learning Project.  The past month has been crazy, to say the least.  Texas for an edtech conference, wedding planning, dealing with a car accident, and the Major Digital Project! The majority of my time has been collecting information.   Through research, connecting with people on Twitter, and through connections that I have made at the TCEA conference, I was in Texas.

The past couple of weeks I have focused on organizing some interviews, and have dove into exploring Seesaw. I thought that it would be in my best interest to explore Seesaw by becoming a Seesaw Ambassador.  This 3-hour course breaks down Seesaw to all the levels.  I learned more about using Seesaw to reach a global audience through the Seesaw Blog.  I am excited to explore this option as if done properly could promote an abundance of Mike Ribble’s Digital Citizenship Elements.  I will be highlighting some of the key learning pieces through becoming a Seesaw Ambassador, and I will be showing how you can become a Seesaw Ambassador as well.

I have some big plans ahead that include some videos/podcasts, some educational TikTok plans, and some Wakelet collections to share.  Be sure to check out these TikTok Tips that I have highlighted in the video below!

Check out my vlog below to see what I have been up to with my Major Digital Project.

Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship, and a Critical Questions on TikTok

This far into my major project I have been compiling information on Wakelet, Seesaw, and TikTok.  Be sure to check out the continued progress of the work that I am compiling on my second website, Curtis Bourassa’s Edtech Reviews. Over the past couple of weeks, I have begun to branch out and approach teachers about each one of the apps that I am studying.  In addition, I have gone to PD sessions for some of the apps that I am studying and building off of the connections and resources that I have made. 

Last week we learned about Mike Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship.  These elements help provide a framework for me to use these apps in the educational setting.  I will be following Jennifer Casa-Todd’s format of how to implement these tools into Education from her book, SocialLEADia.  I will highlight how my tools can be used in accordance with Mike Ribble’s Nine Elements.  

  • Digital access 
  • Digital communication
  • Digital Law
  • Digital security
  • Digital commerce
  • Digital health and wellness
  • Digital literacy
  • Digital etiquette 
  • Digital rights and responsibilities 

These digital elements can apply to many online tools or apps. Using Ribble’s framework will “help direct questions and your teaching when practicing digital leadership”.


  • Connect with students and other classes from around the world, and create a global classroom (Digital Communication)
  • Recognize that not everyone has access to the technology, or that the access is not equal access. (Digital Access)
  • Even young students can learn how to use technology appropriately by commenting and responding thoughtfully in a controlled environment (Digital Etiquette)
  • Ask thoughtful and critical questions when are not sure of someone’s content of questions (Digital Communication)


  • Students have the ability to curate their own resources.  This could provide the opportunity for students to look at in-depth their resources.  To determine if their resources are credible and reliable. (Digital Literacy)
  • Students will have the ability to collaborate on resources together.  Or send resource lists to each other. (Digital Communication)
  • Students will use material ethically, including citing sources appropriately.  (Digital Rights and Responsibilities)


  • Provide content in a meaningful way, get students to determine the purpose of their content. (Digital Communication, Digital Etiquette) 
  • Look at in-depth terms of service agreements, and privacy policy.  What does this app track, how is it using my data? (Digital law, digital literacy, digital security)
  • Understand that anyone can see our post even if they are not following us.  (Digital Security)
  • Understand and set up guidelines for using TikTok, appropriate time and place, using (Digital health and wellness)
  • By using the digital wellbeing portion of the app users can limit screen time and restrictive content within TikTok. 
  • Understanding and reporting inappropriate use, or content on TikTok (Digital Rights and Responsibilities)

As educators, the connections above list some of the practices we would want our students to follow as a (digital) citizen in the above apps mentioned. When it comes to teaching students, as Jennifer Casa-Todd states, this is based on what we want students to know but we have to be explicit about what we are teaching. 

Major Project Update

Within my major digital project, I am spending a lot of time researching and exploring TikTok. I am struggling to find an appropriate way personally to rationalize TikTok used as an educational app. This is due to the questionable content that is found within the app. However, I also realize that the majority of middle year to high school students are users of TikTok.  Therefore it provides an opportunity for education and learning opportunities for TikTok. I have reached out to some teachers that are using TikTok in the classroom. On one of my early morning commutes to work, I decided to listen to The House of Edtech one of my educational podcasts focusing on edtech, the episode, TikTok for Teachers and #TikTokEDU. I then went on to look more in-depth on how these teachers are using TikTok in the classroom.  I ended up following Jeremy Rinkel, and reaching out regarding some future questions I have of using TikTok in education. 

Here are some other TikTok teachers/students to explore on TikTok. 

  • Brooke Pavek: A High School Senior Student who creates creative videos that could be directly linked to curricular outcomes in many areas.  Check out this TIME article showcasing some of Brooke’s creative work.
  • Brooke Rogers: a Middle School English teacher, who creates teacher content and student content. 
  • Jeremy Rinkel: A High School English Teacher, who creates content for students and teachers. 

After listening to the podcast what really stood out to me was that many of these teachers are not just creating content for their students, but they are trying to build relationships with students through TikTok.  What are your thoughts about teachers building relationships through social media such as TikTok? 

How can students provide meaningful content on Twitter such as Brooke Pavek?    Can teachers provide quality supplemental learning experiences such as the Instituteofhumananatomy, melscience, or chemteacherphil.  Can the learning objective be achieved in a different setting, such as Flipgrid, or a contained YouTube video?  Would students be as engaged in the content if it was not on TikTok?  I still have big questions regarding navigating TikTok in educational spaces as I believe this is still a grey area, filled with potential privacy issues with use in the classroom.

Let me know what you think about TikTok in the classroom.

Check out this great TikTok video by chemteacherphil:

@chemteacherphilWait for it… your patience will be rewarded. #chemistry #chemteacherphil #scienceismagic♬ Zero Gravity – Louie Zong


How Should Schools Change?

The culture of education in school has changed.  Even since I have left as a student in 2012.  I believe as I had stated in a previous blog post, “Learning and Unlearning”, teachers are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge.  Students have access to knowledge through the internet.  Educators must become facilitators of learning. Too often we see teachers that are stuck in their ways, that have used classroom content that is no longer relevant, or teachers may not keep up to the best teaching practice of today’s age.  These are problematic problems that are happening in our schools.  However, we must also be mindful of how the teaching has changed.  Are we providing opportunities and support for our teachers to take risks and to find relevant content? Are we focusing too much on the content of our teaching or the process of learning?  How can we move students from knowledgeable to knowledge-able?

As educators, we need to shift how we teach students from teaching content to teaching students how to learn.  The Landscape of Learning provides educators many different resources for how to introduce and teach the following skills.

  • Craft Meaningful questions
  • access and apply useful information from resources (information literacy)
  • How to think creatively and critically to solve problems
  • Reflection

Many teachers are still working on unlearning traditional practices such as daily homework, and lecture-based instruction.  For change, there needs to be buy-in from teachers.  Teachers need to be on-board and want to change.

I believe that teachers need to leverage technology as a vehicle for learning.  Many teachers are still using technology as a “one time experience”.  This does not provide opportunities for students to grow or continue their learning.  By using a framework such as the SAMR model and the ITSE standards for students and teachers it can provide teachers with direction to use technology appropriately for their learners.

Teachers are often reluctant to try new tools, or opportunities because they are afraid of failing.   We discussed the terms digital native and digital citizen in-depth in class, and the problematic nature of these terms.  As Leigh wrote about in her blog post, “Some People were born knowing how to use technology without needing to be taught and others do.” Furthermore, I believe this is problematic because many of our students do not have access to this technology outside of school.  These terms are also very superficial.  Many students are aware and understand technology, but they may not understand how the code works, or how the app interacts with our personal data.  We live in an era in which we can make connections that were never possible before.  We can connect students to each other, as educators, we can grow our practices by connecting through tools such as Twitter or by sharing Open Educational Resources (OERs) all which would have been difficult to accomplish in prior generations.

When I think of this question I think back to the traditional classroom. Students in rows, a teacher at the front, students quiet.  Yes, there still may be appropriate times for this to take place.  But effective learning studies have shown otherwise.   If we provide opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning such as “self-reported grades“, or provide learning opportunities such as the “jigsaw method” these teaching practices have shown that students will be more successful according to John Hattie.

In our curriculum, we have outcomes that refer to the content of what we are teaching students.  As a society, we need to take a step back and look at the skills that we are teaching students.  These goals are found in the front of our curriculum.  We want to teach our students to become lifelong learners, develop a sense of self, community, and place, and to be an engaged citizen.  If we follow Michael Wesch’s concept of knowledge-able we can put a focus on these bigger goals inside our curriculum. Combining these opportunities with the standards laid out by ISTE provides a framework that I try to follow as an educator.  How are you trying to improve your practice as an educator to more from knowledgeable to knowledge-able?



Mary Beth Hertz and the Discussion of Internet Privacy

This week we had the opportunity to hear from guest speaker Mary Beth Hertz.  Hertz is the writer of Digital and Media Literacy in the Age of the Internet: Practical Classroom Applications, which will be put onto my must read list.  Out of the many different topics that Mary Beth discussed with the class a few of the key points resonated with me most was the importance of teaching internet privacy, and sharing with students how the internet tracks their data.

Mary Beth discussed the importance of teaching students about the internet.  For example Mary Beth told us she teaches students what happens with our data, how our data is shared and what a cookie is.  As an instructional technology consultant my job is to support students and teachers with using technology for educational purposes.  The conversation around privacy really made me reflect to think about what I can do to better myself as a educator, in order to provide opportunities for myself to learn more about the privacy issues that are faced by educators and students.

In my journey to learn a little bit more about internet privacy I decided to look into what exactly is an internet cookie.  The following video by Concordia University provides a bit more insight to what a cookie can do and what it is used for. Have you ever wondered why ads for things that you just were looking at are popping up on your Facebook wall? Why are you seeing ads for relevant items on Twitter? The answer is cookies!

The video also provides some ideas as to how to increase our privacy as Canadians browsing the web.  I would strongly encourage you if you have 3 minutes to check this video out.

Mary Beth discussed the United States Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  COPPA requires parental consent for collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.  In Canada, we do not have a law like this.  It appears but is generally unclear on how COPPA affects Canada.  In the situation of YouTube.  Because YouTube is American based, and has American children as viewers, it is requiring all people regardless of location to follow COPPA. Last semester I noticed there was a difference in how I could upload my YouTube videos with a much larger emphasis put on whether or not my video was targeted towards children.  Little did I know, at the time this was due to COPPA being enacted by YouTube.

With the recent hype around smart devices such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa. It makes me question, how is Google using that data to market towards me? And if so how can Google/Amazon decipher children’s data from adults data? How can these smart devices be COPPA compliant?  These are questions that I do not know the answers about but I am interested in as I have these devices in my home.

According to an article by the Huffington Post, the Privacy Commissioner has issued guidelines that are similar to COPPA, but they are not enforceable by Canadian Law.  Further into my research I have found that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) of Canada completed a privacy sweep in 2015.

The OPC found that 62% of websites and apps they examined mentioned that they may disclose personal information to third parties.

From the Globe and Mail article provides some interesting facts from the OPC privacy sweep.

  • 1,494: Total number of apps and websites assessed in the global privacy sweep
  • 172: Popular apps and websites assessed in Canada
  • 62 per cent: Proportion of the websites and apps popular in Canada examined by the OPC that stated they might share users’ personal information with third parties
  • 29 per cent: Proportion of the sites and apps that sought parental consent before collecting children’s information
  • 13 per cent: Proportion of apps and sites that offered parents control over some privacy settings
  • 62 per cent: Websites and apps that included links – such as in ads or notices of contests – that, if clicked, could take kids to other sites with a variety of privacy policies

For those of you who are interested in teaching your students or educating your children on internet privacy, I have also found a variety of resources for teachers provided by the OPC that would be worthwhile to check out for teachers and parents.

Lastly, I believe as educators in Canada I believe as it currently stands we must do a lot more ourselves to educate ourselves on internet privacy.  Personally I need to be more responsible when it comes to signing up for websites, and services.  This begins with reading the privacy policy and the terms of use.  I believe that this is an important action to model for students.  It is clear that Canada needs to do more in protecting the privacy of children navigating the online spaces, and as educators we need to fill this void to educate children about internet privacy.

Digital Citizenship Major Project: An In-Depth App Analysis

For my major project I have decided will entail my personal journey into digital media both personally, and educationally.  In my current position it is an expectation that we are up and current on trending educational technology that is implemented into the classroom, as well as having an idea of the technology that our students are using on a daily basis.  I have decided that because this project fits well within the context of my position as an instructional technology consultant that it would be a great asset to share with my school division, and aid in the implementation of these apps for teachers in our division.  As an EdTech Leader we often look at the purpose of the apps, in addition to one of our main concerns with the implementation of new technology, privacy.  Some of the questions we have to look at include:

  • Where is the student information stored?
  • What happens if the company sells?
  • Do companies sell student data?
  • Are students being marketed towards?

The apps that I am going to look at include

  • TikTok (An app that is fairly new to me that could potentially has engaging potential for education),
  • Seesaw (A very popular app that is being used by many educators in ourschool division, I have some experience with Seesaw)
  • Wakelet (A fairly new app to me, but again have some experience but have seen limited use in the classroom)
  • and as Matteo is doing (time permitting a surprise app)

I am still trying to fabricate how I am going to present, and the information that I am going to gather.  There currently is a lot of educational websites that tackle investigations into these apps, such as Common Sense Media.  I want to make something different, while still providing the full review of the app. Currently I am hoping on housing these full reviews on a web creation site such as Adobe Spark Page in which I have played around briefly with, or with Adobe Dreamweaver, in which I have no experience with, but would tie in nicely with some of the coding experience I have taken in my last course.

My current ideas for providing my in-depth app analysis includes:

  • description
  • in-depth review
  • tutorials
  • privacy policy,
  • educational value
  • lessons
  • testimonies
  • podcasts
  • Alignment to the ISTE Standards (What our school division follows)

Where applicable I will encourage teachers I am working with to look at the use of apps in an educational setting or to use the apps within a personal setting, and get their feedback on using the applications.  I will possibly with school division permission, pilot the educational apps and provide testimonies of the classroom experiences.  These experiences will be documented not only on the website that will be created but as well as through Twitter.

Time permitting I will like to take a deep dive into how teachers are implementing these apps within the classroom, and hopefully step outside my comfort zone and produce some podcasts related to teachers who are implementing these programs in the classroom.  For podcasting I plan to use Anchor, this is a very user friendly app that I have used with students and will suit my needs perfectly for podcasting this semester.

I am excited to venture into this project as it will allow me to research and reflect on my learning as a educator, and as a EdTech leader for my school division.