Who Are You?

Who's behind the mask?

Image source: Behind the Mask by Chris Martin Sudios, CC BY 2.0

I recently read an article on the CTV website about a study that shows strong correlations between liking something on Facebook and a myriad of personal demographic information including racial identity and political affiliation. Google personalizes results so that we are liable to get caught in our own filter bubble. Our engagement in social media and social networks helps us define our identity, but it also shapes our identity. When you do a search about yourself in Google, the results you find are who you are, or at least dimensions of who you are. The danger of identity in the online world is that it is difficult to authentically and honestly represent yourself. On the flip side, it is challenging to get the complete picture of who a person is. Yet we feel that we know someone after having interacted with him online. However, the snapshots that we get when we interact with someone online or learn about them through search are just that, snapshots. If you engage in the online world, recognize the challenge that you have to represent yourself. Get out of your close knit, comfortable space sometimes to allow other dimensions of your personality to show. Acknowledge the difficulties of getting to know someone online. Be careful not to fill in details from your own imaginations/expectations.

Friday Tech – August 31, 2012

Parent Perspectives on Facebook and Social Media

We did an activity using DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats to explore the use of social networks, particularly Facebook at our school. Parents went around to six different stations to share their thoughts. Below is a summary of our conversation and next steps.

Opportunities

Participants seemed to be familiar with Facebook and many value it as an opportunity to maintain communication with friends all over the world and make connections with others. Some parents think that unblocking facebook allows us to make use of the teachable moments that come up during Facebook use. Many parents see the value of facebook for research and knowledge sharing, for establishing new connections with people of common interests, and for maintaining connections with friends in real life who live far away. Parents see that Facebook can be used for collaboration, for presentation to diverse audiences, and for re-connecting (e.g. with alumni).

Challenges/Questions

One parent noted that Facebook is mostly used for gossip amongst young people. Some parents are worried that Facebooks is a waste of time and that students develop a false sense of privacy. A parent noted that children quickly learn how to circumvent monitoring, e.g. through the use of aliases, by deleting history, etc. Many parents are curious about how social networks can actually be used for learning and would like to see examples of this. Parents expressed concerns over privacy, both from “friends” in Facebook and in terms of how Facebook use their data. Concerns were also shared about cyberbullying, and how kids may present themselves on Facebook, as well as how others may present them, particularly through tagging and multimedia uploads. Parents would like to know how to regulate Facebook use and how to help their children maintain their privacy. This lead to a discussion of the role of parents in monitoring the use of social networks by their children. Parents were generally interested in knowing the protocols and expectations in other families.

Next Steps

We’re going to continue the conversation. I am currently planning another session for the end of September. This session will focus on Facebook and allow an opportunity for conversation around the challenges and questions that parents shared.

Amazing Statistics

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English Language Arts

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  • Spelling City – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id538407602?mt=8

Math/Science

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  • Creatures of Light – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/creatures-of-light/id528261564?mt=8
  • Science 360 – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/science360-for-ipad/id439928181?mt=8

Books

  • I Can Do it Too http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id337806688?mt=8
  • Colonel Toothpaste – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id475009446?mt=8

Arts

  • Piano Summer Games – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id540759434?mt=8
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Creativity

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Games

  • iMimic says – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/imimic-says-80s-vintage-electronic/id412842007?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

For young children

  • Colors that Luli Loves – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id530124212?mt=8

For Parents

  • Artkive – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/artkive/id549980508?mt=8
  • Art My Kid Made – http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/art-my-kid-made/id541789120?mt=8

Links to Explore

  • Fotobabble talking photos – http://www.fotobabble.com/
  • Mathtrain Kids teaching Kids – http://mathtrain.tv/
  • Youth Voices – http://youthvoices.net/
  • Top 100 powerful women – http://www.forbes.com/power-women/list/
  • Do something impossible – http://impossiblehq.com/manifesto
  • Flashmob Beethoven – https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kbJcQYVtZMo#!

When Learning Goes Social

A few months ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that he was going to close his account. I promptly messaged him to ask why, as this is the only way that I keep in touch with him. He responded that it is a complete waste of time and that he spends too much time on Facebook when he could be doing other more worthwhile things. I get his point. I even think that there are good reasons to not be on Facebook. However, I use Facebook and post on it regularly although I don’t spend much time on the actual site or in the app. My twitter account posts to Facebook, and my blogs post to Facebook, so I appear more active “on” Facebook than I actually am. I learn things on Facebook all the time. Sure, I comment on pictures that my friends post and engage in discussions about lifestyle or other mundane topics. However, I’m also part of a personal computer club group, I follow a workout blog, I discuss the use of social media in schools with other colleagues, I read news stories of interests that my friends share in their feeds, I get recipe suggestions from friends, etc.

Social isn’t the antithesis of learning. In fact, learning is a very social activity. When I post an observation, an article, a video, etc. on Facebook, I’m hoping for dialogue, for conversation, for co-creation of understanding with my “friends”. The process of engagement, having friends support me and challenge me strengthens my own understanding of situations and concepts. I propose a paradigm shift, a mental shift where social networks and social media become part of learning, integrated into learning. They’re not illicit activities that people only do to waste time. Sure, one can waste a lot of time online but what if we removed the artificial disconnect between social and learning? What if we start creating environments and opportunities for social to be learning. I think that that would be a step in the right direction rather than continuing to support the current tensions between social media/networks and learning.