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Greetings ECI 832 bloggers, I’m going to bypass the introductions but if you’d like to know about my thoughts on distance education, EdTech, or social media, that might help you get to understand my philosophies of digital education a little bit better!

I have been really torn over what I should do for my project. Like, Katie, I feel well-versed in the educational app industry that investing my time analyzing some of them or new ones may not be as rewarding as either pursuing a social media activism project or creating a digital literacy resource. I think either of these would improve my capacity for change.

Motivations directing my learning

In the past several years, I have found myself at a loss on my personal social media platforms, specifically Facebook and Instagram. Individuals whom I have spent a variety of stages of my life with, share posts and like pages that either incite division between people, or are factually inaccurate. The specific catalyst to consider this challenge as a project was the sharing of an anti-vaccination video that made claims that had no evidence or validity to their claims (my critique of this video isn’t to disparage critically looking at vaccinations or any medicines at all, mind you, but rather to challenge inaccuracies and our roles in perpetuating them when able). In discussing this with my students, I still noticed the need to approaching it from all sides, and giving each narrative the opportunity to share with dignity. This empathy rarely occurs in social media.

I value the difference of opinion and belief that exists among my friends, yet struggle to simply remain silent when, as an educator, I would feel obligated to address inequities or educate the uninformed when able. However, this presents the paradox of living the life of an educator in a classroom, promoting inclusion, empathy and reflective thought, yet practice the avoidance of “opinion” online and in social interactions among peers.  When considering the neutral-stance some (not all) educators must take on social media as they represent their divisions, schools, families and themselves, it also serves as a reminder to be aware of the wording and permanence of what is shared online, which is good, but it drives the narrative of: “you can educate your students, but beware should you take it to wear what you say never disappears”. I think we have to be digitally literate educators to model these behaviours online for our peers in addition to our students. This “moral imperative to share” needs to occur as educators when we have the means to educate beyond our classrooms.

So, how should this look then? What maximizes the capacity for change and education as it pertains to digital literacy? I was divided between creating activism posts (in vlog format) to share with my peers starring myself (which could double as classroom resources), and creating a senior science digital literacy resource to circulate for my fellow high school science teachers. I approach them as separate below, but it’s important to note that the end game may have some overlap!

Activism Posts: Promoting Empathetic Objectivity in Vlog Format or as a Senior Science Digital Literacy Resource

How I imagine the personal vlogs would look is very similar to that of the vlogbrothers. Attempting to educate others on being objective and empathetic (#empatheticobjectivity) when approaching certain scientifically-rooted “debates” on social media. The specific intention would be to promote mutual understandings, knowledge and therefore progress on issues that people otherwise remain divided on. I find John Green does a great job presenting alternative views (example below) on certain issues while providing evidence-based explanations, and would hope to emulate this with the intention of my videos also getting shares on my social media.

Here is an example I created for my biology courses in the distance learning course also with Alec.

I figured that this sharing would function as activism in my peer groups. I considered activism projects like this alongside my students, however, I want to try this within my social circle rather than having them potentially compromise their own social groups. That being said, I may involve them in the process I pursue by inviting them to observe and critique my comments and postings. If I were to continue these types of videos, but perhaps scale back and revolve around the Broad Areas of Learning in Saskatchewan Senior Science, I would need to identify certain mindsets to approach the vlogging – note that many of these revolve around the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship, with a specific focus on digital (and scientific) literacy. The main ideas that have been productive in the classroom when approaching discussions, is empathy and objectivity.

Then I considered the barriers if I were to simply go with vlogging, rather than a digital literacy resource:

  • How do I know peers that I think would benefit from the posting would actually watch it (tagging them in them would be too specific?
  • Resources: do I have enough time, digital recording tools and software to actually create something of acceptable quality.
  • If videos like this already exist, why not just share those?

The reality is, I probably wouldn’t be able to change the first two barriers in the foreseeable future, and the third barrier or consideration could be a positive short-term solution with less input of time required, and more transparency if this was an accumulation of resources educators in a variety of different contexts (not just the one I am apart of). Therefore the necessity or broader creation of the digital literacy resource for a content area in which I have a background, science, would appear to achieve a similar goal of empathetic objectivity. That would allow me to determine a definitive outline for potential videos in the future, were I to secure more resources, or begin promoting these ideals among other educators in our province. If that were successful, this may translate to an increased personal learning network that would increase my sharing-base in the future.


Critiques, thoughts?

Let me know!