Sharing Online: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This week we focused on sharing online and whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Just like almost everything else in life there is a good side a bad side and even an ugly side. When we talk about sharing online we have to consider so many different ways that we share. We can share personal information, work related information, information about out kids and information about our students. Just like Roxanne mentions, no matter what we are sharing, we always need to think about who is seeing the information and what will the effects of that share be? I will attempt to look at all sides and share my thoughts on all of this.

The Good

Screen Shot of my Facebook Account

Screen Shot of my Facebook Account

There are many ways that sharing online can be positive. I’ll start with sharing our personal lives online. For me personally I have decided to share most of my personal information on Facebook because I have my privacy set highest on that account. I also have a limited number of friends and family on the account having only 204 people on my friends list (many of which are family). Although I have always been cautious of who I add online this number used to be closer to 500. I would say that at least once a year I go back over my friends list and delete people I don’t feel as connected to anymore. I don’t want to share information about my life or my kids life with people who I consider to only be acquaintances. In order to decide who I keep online I ask myself if I saw that person in the mall from a distance would I make the effort to go and talk to them. If the answer is no I delete them, if it’s yes I keep them. This is my way of keeping myself comfortable with the information I am sharing with my Facebook community.

Amy discusses sharing information about her kids and mentions that she is mindful of what she is posting and I am the same way. Even though I feel like it’s my close family and friends on my friend list I am always wondering if my kids will want to see this in the future. I also ask myself is this something my family and friends would appreciate or find nice to see? If it’s a rant, or me complaining about something I refrain from posting because I’m sure people don’t want to see that. I like the ability to share milestones, celebrations and pictures with family and friends who aren’t able to see my kids on a regular basis as well. In my life this is a big positive for social media. While I like to share, I tried to avoid being a “sharent“.

In our classrooms sharing can be an awesome way to keep parents in the know, communicate with students and share our classroom activities and student progress. Kathy Cassidy from Moose Jaw, Sk shares how student blogging has helped her students in the classroom. When students share online it can make them more accountable and they may produce better work. Teachers are able to share resources with other teachers and collaborate to make better resources. We talked a lot about not reinventing the wheel and this is a great way for teachers to work together. There are a lot of different benefits of sharing student work online. I think it’s a great way for students to share work beyond the four walls of their classroom. I also like that when students share with a larger audience they feel their work has a bigger impact. When they receive valuable comment from others it gives even more meaning to their work.

The Bad

While there are definite positives to sharing online, there are also negatives. As parents we can choose what we want to share about our kids, but we need to think about the long term digital footprints we are creating for our children. Sharenting can be a bad thing when we are sharing information that our children may be embarrassed by when they see it later. By sharing information about our kids we are creating their digital footprint. Do we have the right to create their online identity for them before they have any control over it? It is easy for us to post about our frustrations as parents thinking that we are only exposing information about our own lives when in fact we are exposing our children as well. We need to remember that digital footprints are like tattoos.  When posting online about your students keep this video in mind.

The Peel School District provides some social media guidelines that I think are important in preventing the bad from taking over. One guideline that stood out for me was the professional boundaries. I know teachers who are friends with students on Facebook and I have never been too sure about that. I think that it could be very easy for conversations or posts to become unprofessional or though of as so. Social media does allow us to connect with one another but we need to make sure that our connections with students are professional. In these guidelines it also suggests when to share student work. The bad side of sharing student work could be that students aren’t happy with the product once it is shared and that will be on the internet forever.

The Ugly

Sometimes information we share can go from bad to ugly. This was the case with Amanda Todd, a young girl who took her own life after a shared photo of her lead to extreme bullying. There are many similar cases in which information shared on social media results in such negative things. Sharing publicly could also leave you more susceptible to identity fraud as is the case with Alec who has been dealing with the issue for a few years now.

What Do We Do?

So, what do we do? How do we ensure that our sharing online is a positive thing? We all need to be aware of our digital footprint and the digital footprint we are creating for others when we share. We need to teach students that anytime something is shared online it’s there forever. We need to take care of our digital footprint and be proactive about it because if we aren’t, then someone else will.  We need to be mindful of what we are sharing and consider the lasting effects it will have. We also need to encourage people to share and have an online presence that is positive. I think a lot of people are afraid to share because we are worried about putting ourselves out there and worried about who will see it. The more we put ourselves out there and establish an online identity, the easier it will be to control it and prevent bad things from happening. The most important thing is to start teaching this from a very young age. Our students and children are growing up in a world where devices are used daily. They need to know what is appropriate and what is not and how to create a positive online identity.

Italian 101: New School Requires Old School

I feel like I have so much to talk about when it comes to my learning project. This weeks focus will be on my experience using Twitter, Instagram, blogs and Facebook to connect with others in order to learn Italian. I am also going to talk about my progress with Duolingo (which is still my go to app). The last thing I will talk about is how new school learning requires old school methods. I have included a few videos reviewing the accounts I follow. They are quite long and not very polished unfortunately (it wasn’t a good day for vlogging in my life but I had  been trying to get these videos done since last Thursday so I just wanted to get them finished finally).

Twitter

I started following a variety of accounts on Twitter. I have found that of the accounts I follow very few seem to be very helpful in learning the language. I have attempted to tweet a few times in Italian but most of the time I need to use a translator to help me form a complete sentence.

A tweet to classmate Elizabeth who is also learning Italian

A tweet to classmate Elizabeth who is also learning Italian

I feel as though I am on the right track with using Twitter to learn a language but I need to find more accounts that are useful to follow. I took the advice from my feedback by Katia and decided to create a list on Twitter of the people I follow to learn Italian. It will be much easier to locate and focus my learning on Twitter now.

My learning Italian Twitter list

My learning Italian Twitter list

In the following video I take you through some of the Twitter accounts I have recently followed and give you a brief overview of each. Some of them are much better than others and I will continue to follow them after this class, but at the end of class I will go back and delete some of the accounts that I have found are less useful.

Instagram

I have found a few accounts to follow on Instagram and also created an Instagram account that I tried to use to share some of my learning. I say tried to use because I haven’t really kept up with it. I found that I wasn’t able to attract any followers and because of that I quickly lost interest. It is something that I should reconsider however because I think that a photo blog or flash card type posts are a great way to learn.  I have actually also had trouble locating my account to share on here. My account name is AshleyLearnsItalian and it was created as a second account on my phone. I have taken a few screenshots to share so that you can see what I had done.

I have also reviewed all of the accounts I have followed. I would love to find more to follow and will keep an eye out for more accounts that I can learn from.

Blogs and Facebook

Through my blog I was able to connect with Stephanie who had commented on my blog. She was able to suggest a Facebook page for me to follow – I’mpariamo l’italiano. Unfortunately I found the page to be beyond my current level of understanding but maybe someday I will be able to use the site. Stephanie also recommended iTalki which I had heard of before but after having her recommend it I am making it a goal to use it before the end of class. I of course started following Stephanie’s blog and have found it quite nice to read and learn from. I also started following the Conversational Italian blog through the @travelitalian1 twitter account. Here is my review of Facebook and the blogs I follow.

Duolingo

I have decided the reason I keep going back to Duolingo is because it is just like a game. It makes learning a little more fun. But I have also discovered that because it is like a game I often don’t focus as much as I should when I am using it preventing me from actually absorbing the material at times. I am wondering if it has become a way for me to procrastinate or kill some time yet still learn something.  I have also added the Italian keyboard to my phone to help me with spelling Italian words when using Duolingo. Check out this video on my progress and experience this past week using Duolingo.

New School Requires Old School

This whole time I have been so focused on using online tools to learn that I have assumed I would be able to learn a language without writing anything down. I know I said in an earlier post that one of my goals was to write down words that I was having trouble remembering but I never stuck to that (it seems to be a reoccurring theme for me…setting goals only to forget about them). The problem is that learning is tough, especially online independent learning. There are so many goals I could set and so many different things that I can be working on that would be helpful. The trouble is knowing which goals I should continue to work on or which methods will help me the most. I was emailed a few articles that have some tips for learning a language on your own and although I am using technology to learn online, that doesn’t mean I give up traditional ways of learning completely. For example, when trying to memorize words it is useful to write the words down on a flashcard.  It’s also important to organize your time, make it fun and stay focused.  And if all else fails guess or make up the words you are looking for. You just might surprise yourself.

I am happy to say that my scores on my reflection rubric for this week have improved since last week so I obviously feel like I am making progress.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 10.01.29 PM

Italian 101: Social Media and the World Wide Web

I don’t have much to discuss this week as I haven’t tried out any new methods for learning Italian. But I did want to write so I can reflect on the last week and how I did with meeting my goals. Here are my goals from last week.

  1. Practice using Babbel or Mango at least once a day completing a minimum of two lessons per day. This should help me gain some speaking confidence and learn some useful things as well. I want to try stay away from Duolingo for a lot of the reasons that Vanessa discusses.
  2. Look for a Facebook group to join.
  3. Check out the pen pal exchange group I came across on Twitter to see how it works.

I practiced daily with Babbel, but didn’t use Mango because I didn’t have the app on my phone. I finally downloaded it so will use it from time to time from now on. I didn’t do more than one lesson most days and that’s because the lessons took me longer to complete than I had originally thought. I wish I could devote an hour each day to practice, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day so I have to make do with what I can fit in throughout the day. I also managed to work with Duolingo on an almost daily basis even though I said I would avoid it (I just can’t seem to escape it haha!). I think what keeps brining me back to Duolingo is the simplicity and the repetition. When I work with Duolingo my confidence seems to be higher and I feel like I actually know some Italian even though I still just know words.

I did look for a Facebook group to join and joined it but nothing has been posted since February 13th, so it’s not a very active group. I will keep an eye out for posts and see how it goes, if it doesn’t pick up then I will try find another group to join. It seems that there aren’t many groups that would be worthwhile to join but I could be wrong. After searching on Facebook I decided to try and expand my PLN on Twitter and Instagram. Here’s a list of the people I am following on each platform:

Twitter: @MargieMiklas@travelitalian1@ItalyMagazine@italianvocvoc@italian_easy@ItalianLearn@Turismoromaweb@LucreziaOd

Instagram: lucreziaoddone, italianwordoftheday, italian_teacher

I didn’t look into the pen pal exchange group either. I guess it’s because I still don’t feel confident enough to be a pen pal and communicate without the help of my resources. I suppose that any conversation will be better than nothing even if it is with the help of resources. My goal is to have a conversation by March 7th, so that gives me next week to attempt to connect with someone.

I was catching up with the forum/chat I was part of on Dulingo and I found some great websites that can help me learn some Italian. I plan to spend some time on these sites this next week while using instagram and twitter as well. I will continue to use Duolingo, Babbel and Mango when I can. I will be travelling this next week so as long as the kids can stay entertained or sleep on the plane I will have a few hours to practice.

The sites I was introduced to are: The Italian Experiment and Italy Magazine. I also found online radio stations that I can listen to and News in Slow Italian. I’ll try to find some time to work with these as well.

After reading Amy’s blog I thought I would try to list some of the words I know in Italian. The blue is my original spelling and the red is the corrected version. I have a lot of learning to do with word endings…does it end in e, i, o, a?? It all depends on the context so it can be tricky. I have some work to do with the spelling, but hopefully if I do this more often I will get better at it.

IMG_8133

 

I should also mention that I tried to do a placement test for Duolingo and Mango and didn’t place any differently than I did at the start of the class which is a HUGE disappointment. But I know that I am learning. With some more practice on Mango I should be able to place further than Unit 1 Chapter 1 and as for Duolingo my fluency is up from 9% to 16% so I am making progress.

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Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 9.57.17 PM

Italian 101: It’s a Roller Coaster

Life is full of setbacks. I am going to be brutally honest here. There was nothing out of the ordinary or drastic this week that happened to me (unlike Genna…who by the way is still rocking her major project!), I just didn’t make an effort to find the time to work on my learning project. I usually try to do a lesson or two before I go to bed each night, but this past week I couldn’t really be bothered. It got to a point where Duolingo sent me a notification to my phone that said it looked like their reminders to practice weren’t working so they would stop sending them. This was after three days of not practicing and to be honest it felt like a relief that those notifications weren’t going to be sent anymore. I wasn’t going to write a reflection this week because I didn’t have the best week and didn’t accomplish a whole heck of a lot. This past week has certainly been a low in my learning project. But I thought that it’s important to reflect on weeks like this especially so that I can learn from them and improve. I don’t have any particular reason for my lack of effort and motivation this past week, but here are a few things that I can say have probably affected it:

  1. I am having trouble feeling like my learning has a purpose. I don’t have any real reason for wanting to learn Italian other than the fact that I have travelled there and would love to go back. With no plans to go back in the near future it makes it more difficult to stay motivated to learn the language.
  2. I feel as though I continue to learn words as opposed to the actual language. Using Duolingo allows me to practice a lot of words, but they are just that…words. Sometimes the sentences I practice are practical and sometimes they are not. For example, these sentences aren’t really practical.
    Screenshot from Duolingo

    Screenshot from Duolingo

    Kitchen Bowl

    Screenshot from Duolingo

    This sentence seems a little more practical but it still doesn’t make me feel like I am learning useful aspects of the language. I guess anything is better than nothing though.

    Screenshot from Duolingo

    Screenshot from Duolingo

  3. I am having trouble retaining the information I am learning and I think it is because I need to practice speaking more. In order to practice speaking more one of two things needs to happen 1) I need to connect with people who also speak Italian. 2) I need to use the tools I have found that focus more on the speaking as opposed to reading and writing. I have tried to find people to connect with on Twitter but have been unsuccessful. I may try find a group on Facebook to join (hopefully there is one out there). I need to use Babbel and Mango way more than Duolingo to practice the practical parts of the language as well as the speaking.
  4. As a follow up to 3, I know of places that I can reach out to such as forums and discussion groups on Duolingo, but I don’t feel confident enough with my speaking to use them.
  5. I feel as though my learning is hard to gauge. It isn’t tangible like knitting or sewing. I can do some placement tests to see where I sit but I don’t know how accurate they are.

My goals for the next week.

  1. Practice using Babbel or Mango at least once a day completing a minimum of two lessons per day. This should help me gain some speaking confidence and learn some useful things as well. I want to try stay away from Duolingo for a lot of the reasons that Vanessa discusses.
  2. Look for a Facebook group to join.
  3. Check out the pen pal exchange group I came across on Twitter to see how it works.
    Screenshot of Twitter

    Screenshot of Twitter

    4. Take the placement test on Babbel, Mango and Duolingo at the end of the week to see if I have improved since the start of my project. I will use this as a midterm assessment to see where I am at.

Here is my self-assessment on my project this past week.

Reflection Feb 9-16 Screenshot

Reflection Feb 9-18 Screenshot

So now that I have my bad week out of my system, I hope it is only upwards from here. I think I lost some motivation because I felt like I wasn’t gaining any ground for the amount of work that I had been putting in. I need to remind myself just like Kristina that it is all about the process and this whole online learning thing is new to me. More important than the learning itself is the reflecting aspect of this.  If my Italian language skills don’t grow a whole lot by the end of the semester my growth in terms of how to approach learning something online certainly will.

I thought I would finish off by sharing a few clips from a Friends. Sometimes I feel like this is me trying to learn Italian haha.

This one especially makes me think of my experience with the voice recognition software. I often feel like what I am saying sounds different than what it should sound like, but I get it correct. Other times I feel like I am CERTAIN I am saying it correctly but it tells me I am wrong. Guess I need to work on some of the pronunciations more.

 

See Ya Later Facebook

Over the years we have seen social media apps/platforms come and go. I’m sure some of you remember things like ICQ, MSN Messenger, Myspace and even Napster. If you have never heard of those or never had a chance to use them you make me feel old. Those names are associated with some of the earliest forms of modern day social media. Social media dates back further than ICQ and MSN as you can see in this infographic of the evolution of social media. 

Infographic by Simplify360

Infographic by Simplify360

In recent years we have seen young people leaving Facebook and heading towards Snapchat and Instagram. It is no longer considered cool to be on Facebook. Why you might ask? Well according to teenagers they don’t want to use Facebook as often because “old people” use it. Teenagers dread the day when parents add them on Facebook. Most teenagers agree that Facebook is used to keep in touch with their older relatives. I think that keeping in touch is much different than updating older relatives on their daily lives and what is happening at this very minute. That is where Instagram and Snapchat come in.

If you are unfamiliar with Snapchat check out this guide for parents and teachers to help you understand it a little more. To see what draws teenagers to Snapchat check out this interview with a 13 year old girl describing how to use Snapchat and why she likes it so much. I believe teenagers love to connect with their friends. When I was young I was constantly on the phone with my friends talking about boys, gossiping, being silly and just “hanging out”. The worst part about that was your parents picking up the other phone and maybe catching some of the conversation you didn’t want

Photo Credit: melissaellos via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: melissaellos via Compfight cc

hear. Or having to answer a call waiting, or having to say good bye because your parents needed the phone. Any chance I got though I was on the phone. When MSN came along I was often on MSN doing the same things I did while I was on the phone but the best part was I could chat with multiple people at a time. Sometimes on the phone I could connect with two friends at once by using a three-way call. The technology I used back then was different, but I was still using it to connect and share with friends. I was using it to socialize.

The difference today is that teenagers are able to connect with more people and in different ways than we were able to. They can be silly by sending Snapchats. They can share pictures and videos using Snapchat or Instagram from vacation so their friends can see how their trip is. It’s easier to share pictures and videos on the go than to come back from vacation and have to explain everything to your friends right? Like Heather said in her blog, it is about immediacy. Teenagers love the instant connections.

I mentioned earlier why kids are leaving social networks and a lot of it has to do with older people using the network that young people are leaving. It makes sense right. When I had to talk on the phone with my friends, if my mom came into my room I would stop talking. If I was in the basement talking and she came down I would take the conversation elsewhere (as long as I had a cordless phone). It’s the same reason kids are leaving social networks their parents are joining. My question is what will happen to things like Instagram and Snapchat? I am not a huge fan of Snapchat and don’t use it that often so I can’t see my Mom or Grandma using it. I have already had my Mom join Instagram and feel like my Grandma would too if I didn’t share my Instagram pictures to Facebook so she can see them. If older people continue to join Instagram will younger people start to leave it too?

I have seen a change in the way my friends use Facebook over the past few years. It is on a rare occasion that people update statuses. Some share their own videos and pictures. Most share articles or memes. I find that a lot of people use Facebook to “creep”. I have found that I use Facebook mostly to connect with my relatives and share pictures of my kids so they can keep updated on how my family is doing. I sometimes update statuses and but hardly ever update pictures of myself. My profile has been taken over by my kids. I have recently found that I am annoyed at the advertisements and was especially annoyed during the Canadian election last fall when it became a platform for people to share news articles and updates on the political parties. I joined Facebook  to connect with friends and family and lately it seems it has gotten away from that.

After reading Luke’s blog and watching the #being13 documentary I do think that with the increase in social media comes the increase need to teach children about digital citizenship. We know that students will be using social media and we know that it can sometimes lead to problems so how can we prevent problems from occurring. There are some great resources available from Common Sense Media and Edutopia on teaching Digital Citizenship. We need to remember that it’s never too early to teach about Digital Citizenship but it can quickly become too late.

What do you think the future of social media looks like? Will Facebook be phased out? What will happen to Instagram and Snapchat if older people start to use it? How has your social media use changed over the years?