Learning Summary

So the calendar says April but the weather still feels wintery.  Nonetheless, we made it to the end of the semester!

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This course as certainly been a stretch to what I am use to in academia. No research paper? No face to face class? How am I going to do this…?!  Turns out it has been great even though it look some getting use to.  I am guilty of being stuck with an old school view of formal education and it was time to see another way of learning.  Nothing like getting out of your comfort zone right?!

couch creativity GIF by SoulPancake

https://giphy.com/embed/5SwbpP1t2a2Fqvia GIPHY

Feel free to check out my learning summary here:




Fact or True Fact?

Guilty as charged.  I think it is safe to say I am always connected to some sort of social media or internet outlet.  I can’t think of a morning that didn’t start with a Twitter and Facebook stroll before getting out of bed.  I know this creates my own filter bubble that allows me to only see the news I want to see which I recognize can be quite skewed.   I can’t bring myself to follow uber conservative content creators such as Fox News.  But what does this say about my social media use? I am not always seeing the full picture, not allowing myself to read both sides of an argument (or having both sides nicely show up on my time line for me to easily have access too), and have self selected my own echo chamber.  Academically, I would never read only one side of an argument before submitting a paper or final assignment.  Professionally, I know there is always more than two ways or leading theories to implement and execute student programming, and I would eagerly seek out multiple perspectives.  But when it comes to person use, I can admit to be quite one sided.  Is it because its easier to only read the news articles I know I generally will be on board with? Likely.  Does that make me a well rounded and informed citizen? Unlikely.

The article The Challenge That is Bigger that Fake News was particularly interesting to me as it included college age students in the study.  It is not only children who need to learn the skill of critical evaluation and analysis, but college students that must have these skills reinforced on a regular basis.  It is not enough to assume “they’ve got it now.”  It seems quite popular for younger generations to get their news from social media sites, but then they must have the skills to evaluate the information being thrown their way. The example of college students having to find additional sources to back up  or disprove the article they were given as part of the study seems like it should be a requirement that all college level students should have. Yet this study shows only 6% of college students passed the assessment.  This should be an eye opener to many of us.

For myself, seeking out fake news strategies are similar to what my classmates have stated such as Jana or Jessica.  Some key takeways for myself are:

1) Is an author cited or just a news company?
2) Is it a company I have heard of before?
3) What is the link to the article?
4) Can I find other sources backing the same information?

Finally, what I really want to know is are there legislation around those who are caught posting fake news purposefully? If not, should there be? We have seen the effects fake news can have in elections and I think it is important those reporting fake news should really be penalized if caught.  Maybe we will touch on this topic this week!




Literacy in the digital world

When I think of digital or media literacy, I agree with Common Sense media’s definition that “media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.” It is a life skill to be able to question a source and ask a variety of questions such as:
-Who created the vlog/article/video etc?
-Who is the intended audience?
-What biases exist?
-What ideas are being ignored?
-What does the author want us to think after consuming their content?

Ensuring kids (and adults!) do not just take an authors “word for it” is key to learning.  I always suggest to my students to find a few resources that generally believe the same thing, and that it never hurts to read the flip side of an argument.  With the amount of content being created each day, this is not fool-proof, but it is a good start in building literacy skills.  Digital literacy has to be more than the ability to use technology, we more so need members of society who can critique, analyze, evaluate, and create new content.  The earlier children are introduced to digital literacy, even if it starts at a “learn to use” stage, the better.  It is unrealistic for the education system not to prepare children for the world that they live in. As most things in life, balance is key, but technology, digital learning, media literacy etc cannot be ignored or swept under the rug.

When Dr Curous posted the question this week “what makes someone fully literate?” my immediate thought is that no one is fully literate, ourselves included.  Learning is life long experience with no conclusion.  And digital literacy has proven to add a new element to literacy.

“There is no end to education.  It is not that you read a
book, pass an examination, and finish education.

The whole of life, from the moment you are born to
the moment you die is a process of learning.”

-J. Krishnamuiti

While I certainly agree with Dani’s summary of the different types of literacy, the adult educator in me wants to see continual learning opportunity for professionals, and society in general.  This could be in their world place or in community resource centres.  As an educator, I always try to convey to my students that I am continually learning as well.  Whether it is a new topic, a new skill, or keeping up to date on the research in student success theories.  Yes I have a undergraduate degree and 90% of a masters degree (sooo close!) but even then, my learning will not stop.  It will change forms to nonformal and informal learning, oppose to the formal model that often gets most of the credit, but learning will still occur.   I try to model to the the student’s the importance of not solely focusing on that next exam or project (although this is important too), but thinking about the ways you can use what you are learning today or in your future.  Literacy is the same.  This is a continue process and I know throughout the many (many!) years I have left before I retire, there is likely to be a shift again in the definition of literacy.  I just hope I am open to the idea of keeping up!

I look forward to building on the idea of digital literacy and fake news for this weeks class!


Whose job is it anyway?

Digital citizenship.  Or citizenship in the digital age.  Whose responsible for teaching this to children and what responsibilities are expected?

In an ideal situation, the responsibility should be shared between the school/teacher and parent.  If students are learning one ideal or notion in their formal education, but then seeing a different reality at home (informal learning), there could be confusion and cognitive dissonance.  I also don’t think it is fair to put everything on the school/teachers shoulders.  They are already teaching students math, science, reading, social studies, etc, things many parents truly are not the expect in teaching or modeling.  I know, acknowledge, and appreciate my future child(ren) are way better off to have certified teachers to lead them through these types of lessons that I can offer them!  Digital citizenship is certainly something many of today’s parents can can and should participate in.  Terry Heick’s article in Teach Thought defines digital citizenship as “the quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities.” I also found an interesting resource from the Federal Government to help parents teach digital citizenship to their children so I don’t think I am alone in thinking parents play an important role here and must take responsibility.

In my area of education, digital literacy and citizenship is just starting to creep into our programming more as one off sessions instead of across the curriculum.  This is a start but we are certainly behind the ball in regards to providing educational opportunities to discuss and reflect on digital literacy and citizenship.  See my post The education system’s own dinosaur for our somewhat slow moving processes in higher education.  I can see other student services units starting to engage with students on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook more and more.  Previously these platforms were used for pushing information or promoting events, but the more we can engage with students on these platforms the better for both the institution and the students.

Although I am not a certified teacher, Patrick’s Maze’s discussion on Tuesday really struck me as interesting and relevant outside of the K-12 system.  Are professionals always professionals? Can we ever take that hat off? Are professionals held to higher standards that the average citizen? Is that OK?

I understand that teachers have a contract that outlines these sort of answers (however vaguely that may be!) but what about other professionals? Police officers, nurses, doctors, politicians, etc? I think society holds many professions to higher standards.  I don’t know if it is right for me to think this way, but for police officers I do believe you are a police officer whether you are on duty or off.  Yet for teachers I am a bit more lenient.  Don’t ask me why, I haven’t figured it out yet.  But some jobs don’t really turn on and off as easily as we would like them to.  This means what we do in our personal life, digital life, at work, all mix into one.  I often have to remind myself that my students don’t think of me as Krisanne.  They seem me as an advisor or employee of the University.   I am lucky that my students are all adults (or treated as such legally once they apply to the institution, even if only 17 years old), but must acknowledge how they know me and what they see me representing.  Tonight some friends and I are headed to the USPORTS Final 8 Women’s Basketball game be held n the CKHS…nothing brings out school spirit like a U of R vs U of S battle for a spot in a national championship game.  I am bound to see students I know quite well and I think that is OK.  I can be engaged in the community, support the team, and be a proud alumni all at the same time.  If my situation allowed, I would likely even have an alcoholic beverage because I think it is OK for me to model a healthy relationship with alcohol (I won’t of course but in theory I think I would!).  I absolutely would not get drunk or even “a good buzz” at a school event but think my line is a bit more lenient than a teachers line may be. Or maybe I am hopelessly naive.
air bud basketball GIF

Are teachers held to an unreasonable standards? At times, absolutely.  But I don’t think that means teachers or any professionals should be allowed complete separation between work and home.  Of course, go out and have some fun! You’ve certainly earned it.  Alcohol use in professionals does not get me all wound up (and I guess we will see about marijuana use in a few months but I am thinking I will feel the same).  I’ve altely wondered if millenials see this differently than GenX or Baby Boomers, but I can’t seem to find any articles on this topic.  I’m willing to guess I am not alone here…anyone with me???  Where I do think it matters is if there are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc statements or actions coming from a professional who works with a diverse community and represents a diverse community.  I don’t think we can embrace diversity and respect for all at work, and go home and do the opposite.  Somethings should not be tolerated in a professional role but maybe we should ease up on some other areas? Teaching friends I would love to hear from you!
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Digital Citizenship and Share-nting

I am not a K-12 teacher.  I repeat, I am not a K-12 teacher.  Please keep this in mind when I tell this this next fact…

I was not previously familiar with Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship.

digital skills

Photo credit: @wef

In my work in post secondary education, I feel I am guilty of making the assumption my students “already know this stuff” and “don’t need to go through this yet again.”  However, Ribble’s nine elements remind me that some of the components especially digital literacy, digital etiquette, and digital health and wellness still have great effects today and in the future for university students.  And some components may change as they enter their post secondary education path.  Digital citizenship is not just for children.  Literacy, and digital literacy, are not static goals that can be completed and checked off.  You do not master literacy or digital literacy and are done learning in these areas.  These are life long skills that change as you grow, as you set new goals, and as the world changes.  Can a student use the technology in their back pocket to connect with leaders in their field of interest? Twitter has been invaluable to me in terms of connecting with other professionals across Canada and the USA who work in similar functional areas on their home campuses.  I can only see the unlimited value of the student interested in getting into veterinary school for example, to start to connect with vet med students, professors, and those working in the field to get a better sense of what the career path may be like, or what is required of one to get into vet med school.  I know there are other apps and websites that would be helpful as well such as LinkedIn.

What I find interesting is I am regularly asked about professional programs and admission requirements (ie Medical school) at different universities, and when I ask the student what research they have done themselves, the answer is often none.  I am happy to google with the student to look up different medical schools across the country and their entrance requirements, but it seems to me like that thought to do this themselves did not occur.  Technology is social and fun, but using technology as a learning tool seems to be forgotten.  This to me shows that digital citizenship is not a K-12 education system issue, but all educational systems responsibility.

The University has policies outlining appropriate behavior of how students, staff, and faculty should act before in person and online.  But is this information shared with students in a meaningful way? I am sure most of are skimming the Undergraduate Calendar to find this policy.  Within Student Affairs, it is our responsibility to ensure we are creating an environment which students can be successful in, and explaining digital etiquette should be included with this.  Cyberbullying is not unique to children and effects ones self esteem.  These are real issues our campuses are facing.  All in all, universities need to incorporate digital citizenship into their programming, as well as their curriculums .

How does this relate to my final project?

For my project I am looking at share-nting (use of social media and online mediums to share about your children), what is appropriate, and what the bigger factors may be that influence share-nting such as consent, privacy, and the piece I had not yet considered, modeling digital citizenship.  I think my long term intent is to model good digital citizenship (or just citizenship in general!).  Modeling this behaviour starts now.  I found an interesting post for parents about digital citizenship here that is a good starting point for me and my project.  In order for my to expect my child(ren) to be good citizens, I need to model this for them as my actions speak louder than my words.  For myself, I need to remember not to be scared of the internet, but be aware of its capabilities and limitations.  I need to learn more about (digital) citizenship so I can be a good (digital) citizen myself.  Specifically, when looking at share-nting, I am interested in the element of digital etiquette, digital rights and responsibilities, digital health and wellness, and digital security.


Photo credit: @10millionmiler



The education system’s own dinosaur

Universities are not known for the quick ability to adapt and change.  Are they capable of change? Yes of course.  But campuses are filled with bureaucracy, but that doesn’t seem be the only thing making change difficult on the post secondary system as a whole.

Texas Am College GIF by Texas A&M University


Change management is not always considered.  Universities are often large institutions.  We aren’t talking about a 5 staff start up trying to execute a change.  Communication during a change is key but communicating to a staff of 2000-2500 with diverse interests is complex.  As well, resistance should be addressed and discussed, not ignored.

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” – Bill Gates

Faculty are highly specialized in their area of interest.  Few are trained in teaching and education.  In the K-12 system in Saskatchewan, you must have a BEd to teach.  In higher education, faculty are highly specialized and trained in specific knowledge areas.  This is both a beautiful aspect of university, and a difficult concept with work with.  While education students is important to many, research is often a main focus.  Faculty members can earn tenure to support academic freedom and speak openly about their concerns.  This is unique to higher education as in many business centric organizations who can have a “get on board or leave” mentality.  Debate is welcome and a part of many universities culture.

What does this mean for higher education in the future?

There seems to be lots of perspectives on the future of universities.  Some think the Brick and Mortar of campus will be decline in the future.  Others think artificial intelligence will replace faculty and instructors.  Or in person lectures will no longer be offered.  Maybe MOOCS are the future of higher education.

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One of the biggest philosophical debate I have internally is “what is the purpose of higher education?”  Is the goal is create workforce ready employees? Or create critical thinkers who develop and research new ideas, science, and technology?  Are students consumers of higher education and should be treated as customers? Of course there is a privilege to expect a student to study for the sake of learning, and worry about a career later.  Tuition is skyrocketing across the country.  But we equally must be as concerned about becoming strictly industry driven.  Society should want people to think for themselves, evaluate information, and make informed choices, not solely people who can do task XYZ.

Will higher education change, or be replaced?

I am hopeful higher education will be change and communities will see its value to society.  But they must stop being the dinosaur of the system.  Yes, universities have been around a thousand or more years.  No, that doesn’t mean they have everything figured out.  Today, the system needs to meet students needs, not expect students to meet the institutions needs.  The way things have always been done will eventually be their tragic flaw.  Learning should be interdisciplinary and cross colleges and departments.  Assessment should be hands on and practical.  Experiential learning will become crucial as there is only so much one can learn in a classroom.  Universities should work together instead of in competition.  Embrace technology not only in online or distance based classes, but all courses.  Institutions should embed themselves in their community not sure to promote formal education opportunities but to support the common good, and use their internal knowledge to assist those in the community.  Higher education and the K-12 system need to work together as often as possible to support the future leaders, innovators, and thinkers.  Some of these things are already starting to happen but administrators will need to continue to value change to ensure there is a future.

Is this a lot of ask? Likely. Impossible? Not at all.

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A World of Dualism

29005831233_7089b45109 Katrinitsa Flickr via Compfight cc

From this weeks readings and assigned videos, the idea of dualism stands out.  We are either living life online or offline.  We are digital natives or digital immigrants.  We are visitors or residents (I admit this one allowed for a continuum which was good to see).  Generally, I don’t agree that humans fit into this box or that box.  People are changing, evolving, learning all the time.  People fit into one category today, another tomorrow, neither the next, and create our own category after that.  The philosophy of education I prescribe to is that humans are capable of change.

In “Do Digital Natives Exist?”, I have to agree with the presenter that judgements should not be made on one solely based on the year they were born.  Ones social class is going to play a large part in whether or not a person was raised around technology or not, and cannot be ignored.  From a critical standpoint, privilege and power have a place in whether or not someone is “naturally strong” in technology and digital literacy or not.   I work with students from all over the province and all over the globe, from various economic levels.  The level of digital competency they have upon entering university varies greatly.  Not to mention, different countries have different rules regarding internet access.  I would have to agree with this presenter that digital natives do not exist, but that the education system today and current point in time is building stronger digital literacy at an earlier age.

The idea of the attitude that a Millennial and Gen Z may have towards technology likely best explains the ease of uptake compared to their Gen Y and Baby Boomer counterparts.  Again, this is a generalization and cannot be taken as an absolute truth. To say that a member of Gen Y or a Baby Boomer will never be as tech literate as a Millennial or Gen Z, seems completely unfair.  Malcolm Knowles, a well known theorist of adult education, says that adults must be motivated to learn and see learning a new subject or task as relevant to them (see article here for reference).   What benefits do “digital immigrants” see for themselves personally in terms of learning to use technology as a resident instead of a visitor? Or in some cases, becoming a visitor instead of avoidance? Does society create space and opportunity for those not born in the digital age to learn digital literacy? Are there any innovative programs you know of aimed to help adults learn about technology and digital literacies?

One example I can think of is the Life Long Learning Centre and Centre of Continuing Education at the University of Regina offer computer and technology courses for seniors.  Do you know of anything else in your community aimed to help adults become digital visitors or digital residents?