Evolution of Connections
How is the way your students communicate with their friends similar to the way you connected with your friends when you were a child/teenager? And as an adult?
My students communicate with their friends over messaging apps like Messenger, Kakaotalk, Wechat, Snapchat. It’s almost always through texting or sharing images.
Students share their Insta stories or youtube content. When I was younger I shared mixed tapes or passed notes during class with my friends. We used the phone a lot. We could use the phone only at certain times.
What did you used to think about students and social media? What do you think now?
I thought students and social media were distracting while in school and unsafe outside of school. I’m concerned that students don’t know the dangers of social media because creepy people can be very insidious and parents don’t realize how easy is it to gain the trust of a teenager.
In the article, Like, Flirt, Ghost: A Journey Into The Social Media Lives of Teens (Wired), teens follow rules of using social media but have a hard time describing how they know what they are and they change. Some of the interviewed teens said their parents follow them on social media but they can’t like content or make comments without prior approval.
Young people and social media are a concern. I read in the article, And everyone saw it. from The Screen Age Series (Washington Post), that a lawyer indicated that in these circumstances (sharing of personal photos) teens can’t be tried as adults, that another option has be made. I agree with this. Teens also need to be explicitly taught appropriate expectations when using social media. There should also be consequences from the school community like restorative justice approaches and building empathy with others. How was this boy held accountable? How was it okay that the boy was still allowed to attend the same school as the girls that he victimized?
I wonder when are these other options going to be made? The tech has progressed so quickly that the laws and enforcement are left behind. Girls get the worst of social media and humanity and the laws to protect them? Usually lagging, not enough, or non-existent.
How do you use social media in your classroom?
I’m trying Kidblog in my classes. I want students to practice meaningful sharing by making connections from their lives to the lesson topic. I’m encouraging students to comment on peer posts. We even made class meaningful blog post rubrics together. Kidblog is a secure way for students to share their blog posts.
I’m also playing scavenger hunts, sharing spot the difference pictures, and using word searches as fun mini warm ups on G Hangouts or Meets. If a student finds all 10 differences in a spot the difference activity, I make sure to give a shout out. How many times a day is someone telling the student: “You’re awesome!”, “Wow, you found all 10, you are amazing!”. I try to get them in a confident, lighter place before diving into content.
It’s fun and simple, a bit like what the article, Teen Girls Flip the Negative Script on Social Media (NPR) talks about. The girls make comments or start online campaigns to increase confidence and to build each other up, which I think is so important, especially during this pandemic. They also use social media to bring attention to unfair or sexist policies in order to promote change.
How do students learn to communicate in digital spaces in your class?
I’m at a 1:1 school so students are taught online expectations from the beginning of the year. They learn about netiquette and the school’s responsible use policy. These lessons are usually provided during a 20min advisory class. They are reviewed in these advisory classes throughout the year.
The students in grade 6 must also take a tech elective. They learn more about online expectations like: how to cite images and articles, how to recognize a fake website, and what to add to their gmail signature.
The biggest change has been learning to communicate during a conference call. Things like mute your mic, have a plain background, wear a clean t-shirt, don’t eat food, respond to a person if they ask you a question, etc. aren’t always intuitive. These things need to be made into a procedure as soon as a conference call is started. Also, muting other social media notifications is a must!
How have the recent school closures (because of the global pandemic) changed the way that you and your students are using social media?
I use Hangouts and Meet with my students whereas we didn’t use these before. Hangouts was actually unavailable to use before virtual learning.
I make use of emojis a lot more now to convey emotion (do you know the emoji keyboard? It’s amazing!). I even include them in student emails because I think it’s clearer to them in a picture form to show them what I’m thinking.
I also use GIFS in my grade level team Hangout. It quickly shows how I feel or what I think of a conversation or idea.
From the video, Are You Literally What You Post? (Video, PBS Idea Channel), I think? I understand some of what the narrator is saying. I do enjoy using reaction GIFS. They make me laugh and can be novel or unexpected. If I message my friend, and I use a GIF from a sitcom scene that we used to watch, it’s not only a GIF of how I’m doing but it is also a way to share a fond memory. It is a quick way to connect and share!
I enjoyed his comparison between Facebook and using your own pictures/images compared to using images outside of Facebook where many people use other media/images to describe their personality or ‘me in real life’.
I find my students actually using emojis to block their faces while they record videos in Flipgrid. It’s 99% of them. It’s a bit strange to me, it’s their face, why not show it? I know it’s them! Also, when I ask them to record a presentation, I always get a handful asking “Do I need to show my face?”.
Maybe this idea of using other media/images to describe ourselves is too popular. Do my students have an identity complex? Are they too self conscious? What do your students do when they are told to record themselves?