Final Summary of Learning

This post was written in conjunction with Heather Dales as our Final Summary of Learning for our EC&I 831 Social Media and Open Education grad class. It is also posted on Heather’s blog.

Week 1: Introduction  

An online class, we’ve never taken one before. How will it all work and how will we communicate.

Zoom – every week we will all log into Zoom and have a video conferencing class. The classes are recorded if we need to go back and watch.

Twitter – we post things of interest to the class via Twitter with the class hashtag #eci831

Google+ – our class has its own Google+ space where we can post questions and share important articles and information.

Blog Hub - all our assignments are written through our blogs. Everyone's 
blogposts will be found in the blog hub so we can go to one place to view 
classmate’s work. 

Week 2: Preparing for Networked Learning

Photo Credit: Snapshots from

Twitter is an excellent resource for building your personal learning network. It is a great way to connect with other teaching professionals and see what they are doing in their classrooms. Twitter provides an endless amount of interesting and relevant articles. Hashtags allow you to search more specific topics to fit your current needs.

Photo Credit: Snapshots from

Twitter chats provide a substantial amount of learning, sharing of ideas, and rich conversations in a small amount of time. To begin with they are quite overwhelming and fast paced, but it does become easier to keep up.

Week 3: Learning/Knowledge in a Connected Age (Part 1)

Traditionally in schools knowledge is held by the teacher at the front of the room and that knowledge is bestowed upon students for them to become knowledgeable. This is known as the Cartesian view of learning.cartesian Michael Wesch believes students today need to be knowledge-able. Being knowledge-able is more than memorization, it is a practice. Students need to be presented with real world problems. They need to collaborate, not only with classmates, but also beyond the walls of the classroom, using the technological tools of the present to interact with others, possibly all over the world. Students need to have                               Photo credit                               critical thinking skills, but they also need to go beyond critical thinking. They need to realize that they can find meaning, but they can make meaning as well. They can move from a consumer to a participator. Our understanding of content is socially constructed by conversations and interactions we have with that content. In snap 2the social view of learning the mantra is “We participate, therefore we are.  In order to master a field of knowledge, one must go beyond learning about the subject, they must learn to be a full participant in the field. Teachers need to try and prepare students not for the test at the end of the semester, but for the test of the world.

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Week 4: Learning/Knowledge in a Connected Age (Part 2)

Connectivism is a theory of learning that explains how the internet and its associated technologies have created new opportunities for people to learn and share across the World Wide Web and among themselves. By using technology and the ability to make connections as learning activities, we move learning into the digital age. It isn’t possible to experience everything on our own and acquire the learning that goes with those experiences.

“Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people (undated).” (Karen Stephenson)

We can gain so much knowledge through the networks we build. Networks are built through email, wikis, online discussion forums, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), YouTube, Google doc sharing, etc. Expertise can be distributed across your network and we can use our devices like phones and tablets to aid in this. Connectivism also legitimizes knowledge, not just Western/elite knowledge. It is less about the knowledge itself and more about how we find it. The connections between people transforms knowledge into learning.

Attention Literacy

How we focus and pay attention has changed. We need to be aware of what we are paying attention to and have our students be conscious of what they are giving their attention to. It is important to be critical consumers, not only of the information we come across, but of the people we add to our personal learning networks. It is critical that we can distinguish what is good information on the internet and why is crap. We need to be able to know what we are looking for, search for it properly, sort through and curate that information. With so much information on the web, we need to decide what is worth consuming.
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Complicated vs. Complex

Dave Cormier says we need to learn to confront complex problems that don’t have clear solutions.

Complicated Problems Complex Problems
  1. More difficult to measure
  2. Sometimes more than one possible solution
  3. Require subject matter expertise
  4. Abundance makes this dangerous, but still easier

     ie: video games, building a      plane, lab procedure

  • there is a verifiable step-by-step procedure
  1. Not directly measurable
  2. Does not have a solution
  3. Can only work on part of the problem
  4. Abundance collapses this if we’re not careful

     ie: raising children, climate change

  • There is no step-by-step instructions, headway is often made by trial and error

Education needs to use the rhizome model instead of the tree model. Knowledge cannot just be held within the teacher and they share only a controlled amount onto their students. Just because they’ve been given the content, does not mean they have learned. We want our students to be more like the rhizome – capable of growing and spreading out on their own and able to take their own path. We need to break our current curriculum and assessment models for more open models in order for this to happen.

Week 5: Blogs, RSS, Microblogging, & Social Curation

It is possible to use blogging as an effective writing tool in the classroom.

Benefits of Blogging:

  • Students found they were more motivated to write. Students  feeling a sense of ownership/pride in their Learning and their production of Knowledge. This would help in the development for students to  desire to be a lifelong learner.
  • Students were writing for an audience, not just their teacher, and this improved their writing. Studies have found that communicating to an audience forces people to pay more attention and learn more.
  • Blogging in the classroom is an excellent way for students to see the progress they have made. Parents can also see the progress their child is making
  • Students can learn from each other
  • Students can learn through a variety of sources and from people all over the world.
  • Students’ learning is two-fold: Learning about topic but also learning digital literacy and technological skills
  • Students learn how to collaborate and are starting to build their own personal learning networks
  • Student’s get to participate in a global community. This allows connections to happen and more and deeper learning to take place.

As a society “we compose some 3.6 trillion words every day on email and social media — the equivalent of 36 million books.” All of this writing and sharing of ideas, good and bad, has changed the way we think. We live and think in public and this is increasing the rate at which new ideas are created and how global knowledge is advancing.

Digital Content Curation: there are many apps available to help organize the vast amount of information available on the internet. These online tools aid in filing and organizing resources for later use. Content curation is not only important for teachers but it is a valuable skill that students also need to learn. Being able to quickly and critically evaluate a range of information sources and effectively organize them is a critical skill for research.

info literacy meme

Students should be taught information literacy. The internet can be very fast paced and overwhelming. In this flurry of information, teachers and students need to spend time evaluating information found on the web for relevance, accuracy, or authority (Dihydrogen Monoxide, Cell Phone Radiation Pops Popcorn). To help slow down the web somewhat and block out some of the “noise” of the internet is the slow web. Applications of the slow web – Pocket, Feedly, Tweetdeck, and Hootsuite.

As teachers we need to embrace new literacies such as blogging, and social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Teachers should also be open to others types of sharing by embracing students’ passion for new media such as remixes and mashups, new forms of storytelling (ie: storify), sweet spotand using multimedia to document their learning. We, as teachers, also have the opportunity to connect to classrooms all around the world using things like Mystery Skype, Global Read Aloud, and Book Creator. In the 21st century it is easier than ever to thin the walls of the classroom and use the tools of the web to connect globally. This social age marks the birth of connections and networks, however,                  Photo credit: asingh2
with all this social networking it is important to bring in the human aspect and find the “sweet spot” between pedagogy, technology and humanity. 

Week 6: Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr

Kids are Leaving Social Networks
Many kids are leaving Facebook and other social networks for more intimate spaces; they are sharing with only their closest of friends. They are now into messaging apps, especially ones that delete sent messages like Snapchat. The demographic of people using Facebook has changed. As older people start using, the young don’t want to anymore. Teenagers and college students don’t want their parents or grandparents knowing their every move. Young people are increasingly aware of their digital footprint and how it may affect them in the future. By sharing only to close friends in messaging apps, the possibility of something coming back to haunt you is diminished.facebook meme

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The downside to our youth leaving social media is they aren’t exposed to important social justice or political ideas. When you only share with your closest friends, the possibility of new ideas entering your network is greatly reduced. It may also lead youth to consume narrow, one-sided news, further reducing any introduction to ideas that challenge their current beliefs.

Using Social Media in the Classroom
It is okay to use social media in the classroom. We need to teach students digital citizenship, because whether we incorporate social media into our lessons or not, students are using it. There are also platforms like Fakebook that reduce any potential risks associated with sharing on the web. Vicky Davis believes that in order to be a 21st century teacher, you need to be using social media in your classroom. It is another tool that can be used to make your classroom more engaging, fun, and culturally diverse. However, teachers run the risk of making social media uncool and then the lesson you thought was super engaging, is no longer.

Week 7: The Best (?) of the Rest

Anonymous Social Media

Some social media sites/apps like Reddit, 4chan, and Yik Yak are anonymous and a few don’t even require a login name. While anonymity can be a good thing; it can function as a safe place where people can discuss interests and curiosities that they normally wouldn’t if they had to attach their name, it often can lead to a volatile environment. Participants can say and do virtually anything they want with little thought of accountability.

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Posts even disappear on some sites. These sites are often viewed in a negative light. 4chan is responsible for celebgate and gamergate. Yik Yak has been linked to threats, pranks, and cyberbullying. Reddit finds teens posting pictures of themselves to be ripped apart by other users. Sometimes the awful things that are posted about a teen are done by the teen themselves. Although these sites seem all bad, they have a positive side too. 4chan is a “hotbed of creativity and dialogue” and it often produces many memes and funny cat pics. Yik Yak is also used by students for sharing questions about homework and can let teachers see the general morale of the of the students and if there is any suicide talk so interventions can be put in place. Self-trolling teens on Reddit may get noticed and the support they weren’t able to ask for. Sites and apps like these make it imperative that digital citizenship is taught in schools.


Memes are a contemporary form of communication that spread quickly and can mutate in the process. They are discrete packages of culture. They are an example of participatory culture because public can contribute to and produce them. Memes have become a major part of contemporary digital culture. Three reasons for using memes in your classroom: engagement, information literacy, and critical understanding of current world events. They can also be used to combat racism (successful black man meme). Memes are fun and students like them, but more than that, creating a meme is challenging and requires higher order thinking.Some memes are just jokes, but others are more complex and tell a deeper story, even if they are disguised as jokes. Students can learn to be aware of this complexity and the possible lessons that could be learned through it.

The Internet and Sex Ed

Ontario’s sex ed curriculum was updated for the first time since 1998. The change came about because the age of puberty is dropping and there are new issues that need to be discussed with students. Gender identity, same sex marriage, correct names for body parts, consent, and pleasure are some of the changes to the curriculum. Many of the changes have to do with students being a part of the digital age like the dangers of sexting and viewing pornographic websites or ads. There is also inclusion of the LGBT2 which will educate the dominant heteronormative community and help to prevent isolating, othering, and ostracizing of the LGBT2 community.

Week 8: The Open Education Movement


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Open education is a global movement that has the goal of bringing quality and up-to-date education to all teachers and students all over the world. Through the use of the internet top notch learning material is put on the web for all to access, share, and customize to fit their needs. Unlike textbooks, material can be easily updated, so there is no need to pay for the latest edition. The potential of open education is hindered by restrictive copyright laws and incompatible technologies. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that is working to eliminate these barriers. There mission is to develop, support and steward legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. They have a vision that sees the full potential of the internet realized. This includes universal access to research and education. With everyone having the freedom to access resources, people are allowed to fully participate in their culture by doing mashups and remixes or by accessing academic journals to learn from the elite in their fields. Instead of putting a price on intellectual property, we should be sharing and letting others build on, adapt, and improve upon ideas. This will change us from a read only back into a read-write culture, where a new era of development, growth, productivity is possible.

Week 9: Identity, Reputation, & Social Capital

Our digital footprint tells a story about us. From our Facebook status updates and pics to tweets to pins saved on Pinterest. They all give a window into who we are, what we are interested in, and what our thoughts and beliefs are.

When you google yourself, do you like what you see? Are you aware that the things you post on social media could be affecting other people’s opinion of you or whether or not a potential employer gives you an interview? Social media can be a great tool to market yourself and potentially gain employment  if the employer likes what they see. Should we, from a very young age, be encouraging students to use social media, but to be mindful of what they are posting and what it says about them, as Anthony Perotta does, explained in the article Forget the resumé: Online profiles the tool of young job seekers?” He encourages students to “brand” themselves with professional looking social media accounts and to show that they are active and engaged citizens. What happens when a contact, potential mate or employer comes across something they don’t like. Are they critically examining the post/update/picture/etc. to see what the context and intent of the artefact was, was it a one time thing or a pattern, when was the artefact posted, and if they made a similar mistake, would they want it to be forgiven or overlooked? Perhaps an individual was a victim of cybervigilantism or their website’s domain has been redirected. It is important to be aware of digital identity, but if we are so worried about how our online presence could affect us, our social media activity will be nothing more than the mainstream and will keep people from discussing non-dominant ideas that could promote social change.  

online reputation

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Facebook, and other social media sites affect who we are, not just as an individuals, but as a society. We are especially vulnerable to the narratives that we circulate, and with social media, those narratives circulate a whole lot faster and reach a wider range of people. We (society) start enacting these narratives, particularly the ones surrounding our fears, aspirations, and repressions. Social media “is the stage upon which the battle over dominant cultural narratives is played out” says Bonnie Stewart in her post “What Your New Year’s Facebook Posts Really Mean.” Those narratives are most likely of the dominant normative. This is why hashtag activism is important even though speaking out on social media can be potentially risky, in more ways than one.

Managing one’s online reputation is at the forefront of many people’s minds. People are asking themselves: how should I set my privacy settings, who do I want to see these updates, should I delete this comment, should I be sharing this information? People, especially young people aged 18-29, are being much more vigilant than in the past. This creates an online presence of promotion for oneself. However, this is the way young people need to be thinking, because as previously discussed, online reputation matters.  

Stewart says that social media shows our day-to-day archive of who we are trying to become. However, if we are continually influenced by the circulating narratives and the increased notion that we must be constantly monitoring our online presence, does our digital footprint really tell the full story of who we are?

Week 10: Privacy, Corporatization, & Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality & Digital Divides

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. Facebook’s project violates net neutrality as it is offering free access to only part of the Internet. They hope that when users get a taste of the Internet they will want more and buy a data plan. Many will be unable to afford a data plan so they will be stuck on the second tier Internet service creating a digital divide between those will full access and those with partial access.

The Federal Communications Commission’s new policies could see an end to net neutrality and will most certainly have a detrimental effect on education. At present, there are rules preventing Internet service providers from showing any preferential treatment. That means that all sites on the web are accessible to anyone, no matter what you’re searching for. The new rules will allow service providers to charge content providers for better access for their users essentially creating a tiered internet. Most schools cannot afford to pay for better access. Schools, teachers, and students rely heavily on the internet and this will create a digital divide.  “A faster web for some isn’t an equal web for all, and the rules that favor Internet service providers jeopardize the web’s ability to serve as a platform for free speech and innovation.”


A terrorist’s iPhone could be used to collect important information but it is locked, should Apple unlock it? Creating a master key to unlock phones could open a large can of worms. Programmers at Apple are only one step ahead of hackers, if they got ahold of the ‘master key’ it could put all our banking, credit card, and personal information at risk.

Low income families have fewer digital privacy rights. The often cannot afford phones and desktops that have more security features and using public wi-fi also puts security at risk. They must give up more information in order to receive government benefits and are unable to stand up for their privacy for fear of police violence. Users of Facebook’s project also risk their security and privacy as it doesn’t use the Internet’s standard security protocol.

privacy meme

Photo Credit: I’veBeenMugged

Many children and teens believe that their privacy is compromised by parents posting photos and videos of them on the Internet. The Internet is forever and those photos and videos could come back to haunt them. A recent study showed that many 10 to 17 year-olds are quite concerned about how their parents are sharing their life online. Parents often share in order to find solutions for picky eater or potty training woes, and children benefit from that sharing. Children, however, want to be in control of their digital identities as one’s digital footprint is becoming increasingly important. A possible solution, ask your child’s permission before posting to social media.

Week 11: Trolls, Bullies, Racists, & Misogynists


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Social media makes it very easy to share information with a wide audience. This is great, in most cases. However, there are those who have a problem when an opinion is posted that they don’t agree with, especially if the one posting is of a non-dominant race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, etc. In fact, “harassment of women online is at risk of becoming ‘an established norm in our digital society,’” with almost half of women reporting they have experienced some form of abuse or harassment online. Men, not surprisingly, face much less harassment. It seems that the online (modern) world is simply replicating what has existed in our society for hundreds of years. The only difference now, with the internet, is the reach of the trolls, cyberbullies, racists, and misogynists has extended. When someone is able to post comments from an anonymous or fake account there is no need to be accountable. Online harassment includes but may not be limited to: unwanted contact, trolling, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, doxing, revenge porn, and threats of physical violence, rape, and death.  

Week 12: Online Activism

als meme

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Slacktivism is when people support good causes or events by doing something, usually online, that requires little time or effort. Slacktivism activities include signing an online petition, sharing a news article, or wearing a T-shirt to raise awareness. Although there are those that disagree, slacktivists do play an important role in activism. Campaigns like #blacklivesmatter and #FightFor15 were organized through social media. Not only was awareness gained but the people that social media can connect made the campaigns more successful. Not everyone who ‘shared’ or ‘liked’ these campaigns took to the streets to protest,  but they were instrumental in spreading the word. Social media is a powerful thing and one of its strengths is reaching a wide audience in a very short time frame. Live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope are able to make someone sitting on their couch feel like they are part of the action. This technology has the ability to move viewers from just watching to doing. A study found that people who are involved in online movements are more likely to participate in real life, on the ground activism. There are those that feel that slacktivism doesn’t accomplish anything. While donating time and money are necessary for activism, not everyone has the time and resources to share, especially when there are so many worthy causes out there.

As you can see, we’ve learned a lot. Check out our Final Summary of Learning Creative Video




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