This week in our ECI 832 class we looked at moral and ethical issues around technology and social media use. Being the nostalgic person I am, I can't help but wonder if all this tech is making our lives better or worse? For example, Google maps seems great to find a random location in a new city compared to the old paper maps and asking locals for directions, but we are losing some social interaction, our brains are less able to follow routes and our phones now track all our movements. With every convenience we seem to have a major trade off in off-loading thinking, giving up personal information, losing our brains abilities or wasting time. So the question I would like to discuss in this post is, is tech great or just a fancy way of providing our data to wealthy tech companies while we become less capable than our grandparents and ancestors?
Well I'm going to be completely honest on this post, I basically do not read, watch or listen to the news. I don't really know what it is about me, but I live in a tight bubble almost all the time. To give an example, in my Fall Uni class we did a current events portion of each class at the start and discussed mostly major Canadian happenings. I was not aware of a single event that we discussed in the whole semester, despite all my classmates seeming very knowledgeable of these latest events. My facebook feed is very tight, basically winter sports, canoeing groups, dogs, and friends posts. The odd friend shares a news story about the Ukraine Russian conflict, or fish farms, or hockey fights, but I never click on them. I believe this is why Twitter feels like standing in an aggressive hail storm to me. I really feel like most of what is being said is an inside joke that I am not in on, with some rude commentary following. I listen to podcasts, read many books (fiction and non-fiction), read a few select blogs, and watch the odd streaming show, but consume almost no current news except what is occurring in my community and what others are talking about. I read a few online articles regarding financial matters just to have some basic economic understandings for long term investment. Although this may seem abnormal, I might argue that this is likely how people functioned for the last 200'000 years of human evolution, and so it is the normal way to get news, from those around us. And so consuming endless online perspectives is very foreign to me, or maybe I am a very, very, critical thinker?
Well I am little late in posting this (Monday Eve) but had a very busy weekend of travel and coaching hockey. So this weeks' question of 'what does it mean to be literate today?' had me comparing the idea of sports, participating and understanding, to the idea of consuming media and information in a digital age, again participating and understanding. As some may remember my small town comparison to digital citizenship, I will now attempt to compare being literate in the digital and physical world to being literate in a sport or in sports. I'll use hockey in my metaphor as I am near the end of coaching for this season (my 22nd hockey team coached in 14 years).
Well to be honest, after growing up with computers, using them through my high school and university career, having seen the rise of social media through my young adulthood, and now seeing the evolution of smartphones, and very immersive social media such as Snapchat and TikTok as an experienced teacher and parent of two adolescents, I truly feel like the lessons of digital citizenship and media literacy are like the Abbot and Costello skit of "Who's on first" (linked above - I recommend watching before reading on if you don't know the famous skit). Nobody knows who is teaching what, when, how or who, so I guess the 3rd baseman 'I don't know' is going to be in charge of teaching media literacy this year in art class. Without a curriculum or division wide focus on teaching media literacy, I really feell like the learning of students varies with each teacher (or parent) and their experience, comfort, background knowledge and passion to teach digital citizenship and media literacy. As a teacher and parent, I am comfortable with technology and eager to have youth learn about their digital identities, impact, accuracy of information and mindset online. And so I teach this in my homeroom class and social studies and when possible. This is not easy without a focused course on the subject as the materail must be woven into existing (often outdated) curriculums strategically, which involves comfort with both subject curriculum and teaching digital literacy. It really should be a course taught to all students (Digital Citizenship 8??) and then a unit in many social or english curriculums throughout high school. As Dr. Couros said in class, then we could have new teachers being trained to focus on this as an important topic for future citizens, because if it not a curriculum class then it is not a focus of the university and thus many teachers in public schools. So not only is media literacy and digital citizenship not really taught, it doesn't really look like it is going to be taught much differently in the future at this point.
Well I am long overdue to provide an update on my Major Project! The good news is I was quite busy over the February break and before working on it, just no updates. As stated in earlier posts my idea was to really promote healthy digital well-being and awareness. In the initial stages I discussed the idea with staff at my school, select students, family, friends and had great comments from classmates on previous posts. Slowly the idea developed that I would like to inspire people to be their best on and offline selves using social media. I did a few hours of research about social activism, influencers and social media posting in general. I then started an Instagram page @ins.peer.ation and a TikTok channel under the same name, with a few posts spilling on to Facebook (as Instagram was automatically posting there as well, unbeknownst to me). If you are reading this I would love more followers, traffic and commentors to the project so please consider doing so!