Faculty meetings are the bane of a teacher’s existence. It doesn’t matter whether the meeting is held in a large, airy room or in a small, cozy room. Snacks or no snacks, anything that a teacher is asked to do after a long day can tax an already overtaxed group of individuals. One particular meeting in 2008 featured a video clip, A Vision of K-12 Students Today. What was meant to inspire us to consider how to engage students in greater technology use, drew blank expressions from some and quizzical looks from others. What was this all about, we wondered? Nice idea, but how do we accomplish incorporating technology with relatively little technology on hand to use? for many,technology meant hardware, and our reservoir was rather dry. I left the meeting feeling frustrated over what I perceived as yet another possible mandate with little or no training and tools.
This video clip has aired over a million times. When I look carefully at the the signs that the students are holding, I realize that in order to be prepared for this new generation, I would need to change my visitor status to that of digital resident.” Of all of the signs on the white marker boards, the only one that I engaged in with regularity is email. I was a part of that 76% of the teachers who never used text messaging, instant messaging, blogs or even knew what the word “wiki” meant. Podcasts were as foreign to me as the use of technology to create something mathematical. I had hundreds of dollars of manipulatives and games in my room to engage students. Unfortunately, I didn’t even approach the 14% of teachers identified as asking students to create something new with technology. I was a member of the 63% of teachers who never did! How can a teacher, who is not of member of this community of practice, envision students who think, create, analyze and apply what they have learned using technology?
Fast forward twelve months. I have moved beyond email; I navigate the web with greater confidence. I record and share what I am reading through Goodreads and have learned that the new email system, Gaggle, contains a blog component. (But…I still don’t read blogs or write them myself…not good!) My students are teaching me about IM language when they respond to a question by placing, “IDK” in the blank. They chat less frequently about Myspace and more about Facebook. They joke about the videos that fellow students have posted to Youtube The chatter that surrounds Youtube reflects music video and silly clips. Beyond these encounters, I am a basics babe who has moved to a new grade and has changed curriculum. I have relatively little experience with it and absolutely no physical resources. When I look back at the video clip about a new vision of the K-12 learner, what I find missing from the whiteboards that the student’s are holding up is “Youtube.”
My transition from using the Discovery Channel’s “United Streaming“programs, to an almost total dependence on Youtube was seamless. I had ten months of curriculum to learn in four months as we worked in semesters, rather than a full year. It was either sink or swim and this basics babe had found a new BFF. As with any friendship, there is a period of adjustment where each begins to learn about the other. What I learned very quickly, is that Youtube is considered evil and that teachers needed to formally request a password to use it. In James Bond fashion, I memorized what was written on the paper, swallowed the code and shared it with absolutely no one. There’s always a catch….after a given time period my friendship with YT would close and need to be reopened with the password. So much for a natural transition between each class.
When Michael Wesch talks about how people game the system to get more views, it’s easy to understand the paranoia that ensues with the use of Youtube. Several teacher friends have communicated to me that although they are now allowed to use YT without a passcode, they must do so after signing a waiver. This waiver makes the teacher accountable for video content shown in the classroom. Good teachers carefully screen videos before using them for instruction. I had no idea prior to seeing Wesch’s An anthropological introduction to Youtube that the thumbnail image associated with the video, may in fact have nothing to do with the content, but rather is designed to attract viewers. Teachers would automatically discriminate against such videos based on the thumbnail!
The New York Times reports that “Educators are giving YouTube-long dismissed as storehouse of whimsical, time-wasting and occasionally distasteful videos-another look.” Google, the parent company of YT, unveiled a Youtube for Schools program, which offers schools the ability to select video content with the knowledge that profane comments and inappropriate links have been scrubbed from the pages. The Google in Education site is a wealth of resources for teachers and parents, yet it is not visible when selecting the “even more” tab at the top of the Google screen. Teachers that I queried through my Facebook messenger were unaware of this component of Google.
Wesch’s contention that everyone is an independent producer on Youtube provides the education system with a valid reason for teaching digital citizenship. Many videographers play with the concept of identity. When characters, such as the one’s in the clip, state that viewers don’t always know what is real on here (sic) and what isn’t, users should employ digital citizenship skills. While Jack’s multiple characters are hilarious, they could spark an interesting conversation between parents, students and educators about what is real and what is a lie. The second lesson in the Understanding You Tube and Digital Citizenship curriculum, Detecting Lies, addresses statements made in Wesch’s ethnography about understanding what is real. Students engage in activities where social media sites are analyzed as we did in a class earlier in the semester. Of the three examples provided, one is no longer available. The alien podcast might be interesting for older students who are enthralled with government conspiracies,ghost hunting and December 20, 2012. Unfortunately neither make as poignant a statement as the Martin Luther King, Jr. site explored in class.
My Youtube playlist, Digital Citizenship, contains 15 videos and is certainly not inclusive of what’s available for parents and teachers to use when discussing how to engage social media for learning. (There are 327 videos identified as Digital Citizenship for Students.)
Here is a sampling of the videos on this playlist-
- Elementary Viewers-One aspect explores how young people live in the moment and are unaware of how their digital footprint follows them as they transition from playful engagement (i.e. the Flicker image of the boy with the pencils stuffed up his nose) to digital resident.
- Middle SchoolViewers– Students will enjoy this cute video created by an iPad2 and netbook learning community. The members share how they use digital devices instead of banning them! Yes, a little music for you, Mel!)
- High School Students-This is a really cool example of how a television station engaged students in the San Francisco, CA with Twitter prompts called “Do Now!”
- Adult Learners-EduOnAir: A Panel of Educators, “Digital Literacy and Citizenship” is Google’s first on-air Google+Hangout! It also identifies the Google in Education site mentioned above.
While I no longer work in a public education system with students, I still maintain a community of teacher friends. These friends are encircled by an even larger number of adult friends who recognize the importance of digital literacy, yet often lack the resources to help them in parenting their children.