Month: November 2021

Blog #8 – Media Literacy

What is media literacy?

According to Julie Smith, media literacy is as simple as asking questions about the content we consume. It shouldn’t just be done in the classroom but should be a skill we all use every day. According to Trilling and Fadel, media literacy skills provide a platform for how to access, scan, assess, and construct content messages in a variety of forms (2009). They state that, for example, it takes a strong level of media literacy to pick the right format for a particular topic and get the necessary permission to reuse other people’s material (2009).

Why is it important?

Smith talks about how we are more interested in what we believe than what is true. The fact that we have access to so much information puts us in a situation of being informationally negligent. This means that there is so much material out there that it is almost impossible to determine what is real, meaningful, valid, or true. Unfortunately, when you present something as fact, there will always be people who disagree with your truth. Today, we have thousands of sources of information available to us. We can get our information from any source we want. As people, we like to be told that we are right and that we are smart. We rarely hear opinions we don’t agree with, and that is by choice.

Why is it dismissed?

Julie Smith spoke about the fact that most of the questions she receives from parents and schools are about how to get their children to stop using social media. There is an anxiety and protective sentiment around social media that didn’t exist in the 90s around television. Is it because it’s new to parents? Or is it because mainstream media sheds negative light on the digital world? Whatever the reason, Smith says, people are afraid and rather than try to learn more, they get rid of it all.

Why should you aim for varied views but the factual consensus in your PLN?

Having a network where you can connect with others in your field from around the world is invaluable. It helps to have the perspective of people outside your immediate circle. Objective voices who can provide you with rational advice when you need it most. Julie Smith says the advantage of social media is that you can block out those who don’t contribute positively to your network. You can select people who are optimistic and willing to share ideas.

I think it is very important to understand that our experiences allow us to believe what we want to believe. As a university student, I was trained to distinguish between credible and non-credible sources. I often have to remind myself that just because I am used to questioning the media’s interpretations of current affairs doesn’t mean others have the same instinct. Of course, the struggle for truth has been around longer than the Internet itself. However, the past year has shown us that just because we have access to certain information does not mean it is true or scientifically accurate.

Fake information about the pandemic has flooded my social media feeds, especially Facebook, for the past year and a half. I went through phases of trying to fight with these people about whether or not the vaccines were safe, or how the FDA approval process actually worked. I got really tired of seeing smart young people fall for false information. It seems that people start with a response and cherry pick information to fit their narrative. I see no follow up, no credible sources cited, no questions about the validity of the information that is being put out in the community. I usually don’t have a problem with what people put on their Facebook pages, but when it comes to spreading misinformation about a deadly virus, I have very little patience for such disregard for the truth.

I went through my Facebook connections and found some examples of what some consider to be fact, while the consensus is quite the opposite.

What happens when the consensus is no longer accepted by many people in the community? Whenever people are told they are wrong, they double down and push even harder.

Sources:

MILLER. (2021, June 6). EDCI 338—MEDIA LITERACY with JULIE SMITH. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57r3-aEnci0

Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2009). Chapter 4—Digital Literacy Skills. Jossey-Bass. https://learning.oreilly.com/library/view/21st-century-skills/9780470475386/fade_9780470475386_oeb_c04_r1.html

Blog #7 – Engagement Through Social Media

As I listened to the interview with Brad Baker, I realized that he was the principal of my sister’s school district. After I finished the interview, I called her to ask if she had any experience with him. I was not surprised to hear that she had nothing but positive things to say about what he was doing. She expressed her gratitude for all he has done for the district and told me all about the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Brad Baker. She told me about the personal sacrifices he made to create real change in the public school system. I was thrilled to learn that he would be moving to the Ministry of Education to continue to make waves in the education world.

Consider the equality that exists when all have the same platform to engage community dialogues

To put Brad Baker in the context of this course, we need to start by talking about his interview. As the first Indigenous teacher in the district, he has worked to implement Indigenous education programs in North Vancouver schools. How does social media fit into this? He spoke about how Indigenous communities are expressing themselves on online platforms and engaging in important discourses. This brings out voices that may not have been heard in the past. He goes on to say that a PLN is more than just connections, it is your support system. Within that system, they challenge each other and engage in respectful dialogue to create real progress.

According to Baker, it is important to allow Indigenous voices to be heard at a time when the mainstream media is highly politicized. Although the media’s function in society is to portray the concerns of all members of the community, traditional media channels tend to downplay the needs and demands of marginalized people, instead targeting content to the more dominant or popular groups (Bedeley et al., 2019). The news networks only tell what they want to tell. This makes it even more important to hear the real story, because when it is told by different voices, we lose some of its power. Controlling the message is also crucial. Social media, especially Twitter, allows people’s authentic voices to tell their real stories. If used appropriately, social media can help get messages across. They allow for the complexities of local nations to be shared in terms of education and culture. Through this, we also get rid of the idea that indigenous people have a traditional way of life and are disconnected from society.

The usefulness of social media and online spaces in education

We’ve heard about the improved teacher-student relationships and communication through social media, but their benefits to education don’t stop there. According to Wade (n.d.), there are many other benefits to using social media, such as sharing school news, holding online meetings, and helping with fundraising. Most schools have a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram feed to keep the community updated on any important information. School districts also share news on social platforms, which is very helpful in places where seasonal weather can cause school closures. In addition, Wade says communication is important and if it can be easily accomplished through social media, then why not do it? Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen the value of the internet in communication between students, teachers, and parents. Even though school is back in person, parent-teacher conferences are taking place online in many districts.

Tutoring services are another example of how useful online spaces can be. I have been a tutor for many years, and Zoom has changed the way I do things. I can work with remote students without having to compromise on the quality of our sessions together. I share my iPad screen and use it as a whiteboard, and students can share their screen with me so we can work directly on their class materials. Not to mention that all of their important assignments are now online, whether they use Teams or their school portal, they are accessible at all times. I think all of these changes will continue, and educational communities around the world will be forever affected by our sudden shift to online spaces due to the pandemic.

Sources:

Bedeley, R., Carbaugh, D., Chughtai, H., George, J., Gogan, J., Gordon, S., Grimshaw, E., Leidner, D., Myers, M., Ortiz, J., Wigdor, A., & Young, A. (2019). Giving Voice to the Voiceless: The Use of Digital Technologies by Marginalized Groups.

MILLER. (2021, June 10). Brad Baker  EDCI 338. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5z8iHxW2n4

Wade, L. (n.d.). How Social Media is Reshaping Today’s Education System. Center for Social Impact Communication. Retrieved from https://csic.georgetown.edu/magazine/social-media-reshaping-todays-education-system/

Blog #6 – Social Media as a Tool

Markiel Simpson is an activist in British Columbia who is pushing for the implementation of a Canadian Black History curriculum throughout the province. He talked about how he got started and simply said that he began by researching community members and organizing a meeting with organizers and different groups whose objectives turned out to align. Most of what he spoke to came from his own experiences. It is how these lived experiences become tangible in our communities, how we can be the experts of our own lived experiences and knowledge.

He referred to approaching Twitter as a science. You have to slowly earn your audience through engagement, figure out your niche and how your voice fits into the whole. He went on to say that it is when the voices of grassroots organizers are being heard by people in positions of power and are taken into account that we become stronger as a community. When asked if you can count on consistent engagement online, he said it really depends on the content, different things attract different people. 

The role of social media in advocacy was also discussed during the interview. Different corners of the internet (medical, political, etc.) offer different bases. However, it is important to get allies to amplify your messages in your niche. Creating a strong foundation allows your message to be carried further than ever before. Through social media, we have the opportunity to make connections that would not otherwise be possible.

Simpson then spoke about the importance to continue dialogue, identify the leaders in the community and amplify those voices. We can use social media to be better informed. There is more transparency for our politicians, we get to see another side of them. It also allows them to engage with the people in the public, the people they represent. He uses Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an example. She engages with people on many levels, using social media as her primary tool. She is able to hear the small voices in the community and use her platform to amplify important causes and conversations.

How does social media engage communications?

Engagement provides a great way to measure whether the content you create is echoing with your audience (Eckstein, n.d.). Social media posts that generate more active and thoughtful interactions will be more widely shared. It is important to remember what Markiel Simpson said about his experience with social media engagement. He commented that consistent engagement cannot be guaranteed because some people are drawn to certain topics while others disagree. For this reason, building a reliable base, connecting with key members of the community so that they can amplify your voice, is key. Finding your niche, your corner of the internet is important for spreading specific messages, especially when it comes to engagement. Creating a network of like-minded and unlike-minded individuals and groups allows for relevant discourse in the community.

How does social media challenge communications?

There will always be negativity online. Naturally, there will be disagreements and you will find that not everyone shares your point of view. However, as Simpson pointed out, it’s not about yelling at everyone and telling them they made a mistake. This is about trying to meet people where they are and building from there. Of course, progress doesn’t happen overnight either. The challenge is to be seen and heard among millions of others fighting for the same causes. That’s why it’s important to use social media platforms to facilitate engagement between influencers and grassroots organizers and community members. This allows the community as a whole to feel that it has a voice, and that its views are shared by many others.

Sources:

Eckstein, M. (n.d.). Social Media Engagement: Why It’s Important and How To Do It Well—The Buffer Blog. Buffer Library. Retrieved from https://buffer.com/library/social-media-engagement/

MILLER. (2021, June 1). EDCI – 338 MARKIEL SIMPSON. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsoDHGaXNNs

Blog #5 – Social Media in Practice

How do notable individuals use social media? / What are the benefits of being in the public eye and having a PLN?

It is difficult to separate personal and professional use of social networks, and anything you say online could and probably will be used against you. There are ways to protect your privacy and control who sees what content, but it is your obligation as the poster to be mindful (Sreenivasan, n.d). Like everything, social media changes all the time, so you have to keep evolving with it. The 2005 idea of the Internet is not relevant to today’s online norms, just like it will be different ten years from now. Everyone’s experience and level of success in using social media in their careers differ. It is more of an art than a science, and algorithms and technology are constantly changing (n.d.). Jody Vance talked about the benefits of having a reliable network of social media users. The main one being having access to people who already want to work with you. She says that having a network can actually help you weather the storms that inevitably come up in life like sudden unemployment.

Identify the risks and benefits of engaging with a public audience in a media space – what are the risks for a public figure or person in a position of trust (educator, lawyer, government official)?

The definition of a public figure is simply “a well-known person” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). In the globalized world of today, we have come to see that Internet stardom is more common than the “traditional” ideals of the celebrity like the Hollywood movie star we all grew up admiring. In addition, the academic community is undergoing an online shift, and much public attention is being paid to traditionally private roles in society. This change to an online environment has allowed for greater transparency in our communities, and yet there are downsides to this as well. Public exposure of any kind is risky. Students of my generation are increasingly encouraged to engage in online spaces to build professional relationships. This implies a certain loss of control: it only takes a few moments for someone to make a derogatory comment and post it, or to quickly dismiss your opinions in an online forum (Fullick, 2013). In many ways, having a wider audience is a mixed bag. It can lead to more of everything; while you are bound to receive sympathetic reviews and welcome nuanced discussions by expanding the readership, you also risk misinterpretation, criticism, and sometimes insults from a wider audience. We should be attentive to the ways in which this lesson is taught in exactly the same way – online and in the “public sphere,” as well as in the social and tangible spaces of academic departments and universities; both openly and informally and we should consider how the prevailing tropes of academia come to shape the actions of folks in these very spaces (2013).

How to best address negative replies and critiques reflective of your personal values and employer social media policy? / Building community with online tools provided by the employer can be limiting, what are the perceived restrictions and benefits?

It would be unreasonable to say that every person must follow the same moral code online. Since I am interested in education, I will talk about teachers utilizing social media in their personal lives. The Ontario College of Teachers has a page on how to maintain professionalism on social media. The College recognizes that online communication and social media create new avenues for expanding and enhancing education. However, the risk of unwanted mistakes increases with the number of forms of communication. They assert that honesty, trustworthiness, and moral action are epitomized by the ethical standard of integrity. To avoid facing criticism that reflects personal and employer values, teachers must remember to interact appropriately with students, understand privacy issues, act professionally, and, most importantly, ask themselves important questions before posting anything online. For example: would my peers or supervisors consider what I posted reasonable and professional? Or would I communicate this way in my community? Similarly, it is important in this situation to maintain the confidentiality of personal accounts to communicate with those closest to you while taking into account the values.

Delivering information in a connected society requires verifiable resources, how to build a PLN to rely on?

I took a sociology class a few years back and we talked about the concept of Bullshit. The dissemination of this “bullshit” by the media is the result of a state of affairs in which politicians no longer care about telling the truth, but only about “optics” – how a particular situation will be depicted in the media and the story that is built around it (Hirst, 2018). To illustrate a bullshitter, my professor used Donald Trump as an example. The term “bullshit” is useful because it covers more than just intentionally fabricated stories; it also applies to half-truths that are fed to journalists who are too lazy, under-resourced, or intellectually inadequate to question them (2018). As a member of the academic community, I am familiar with the concept of source verification. As members of the digital world, we need to learn how to become digitally literate, which means making sure we are consuming truthful and unbiased information. The problem with fake news is that it is advertised to those who already subscribe to these schools of thought. The algorithms used by both Facebook and Google have come under scrutiny because of this notion. Often, an online user is not even conscious that the information they see has been specifically chosen for them based on their browsing and social media history. The very essence of social media allows for the display of false information as truth (2018).  We cannot do much about the bias of our sources, we can only be mindful of their partiality and hope to counter it, if necessary, with other points of view.

Sources:

Fullick, M. (2013). The politics of the public eye. Impact of Social Sciences. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2013/03/26/the-politics-of-the-public-eye/

Hirst, M. (2018). Navigating Social Journalism: A Handbook for Media Literacy and Citizen Journalism (1st ed.). Routledge. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/10.4324/9781315401263

Maintaining Professionalism – Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media – Updated – Professional Advisory: Ontario College of Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.oct.ca/resources/advisories/use-of-electronic-communication-and-social-media

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Public figure. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/public%20figure

MILLER. (2021, June 6). Jody Vance—Media Voices. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-NnpQJdl0A

Sree Sreenivasan. (n.d.). How to Use Social Media in Your Career and Business. The New York Times. Retrieved November 2, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/guides/business/social-media-for-career-and-business

Blog #4 – How to Grow Your PLN

Growth through a PLN does not come from only reading, watching, and listening to the creations of others. It is important to also take time to reflect on the resources examined (for instance, by writing a blog) and to share your ideas so that people who are part of your network can learn from you and a dialog can take place.

I was recently listening to a podcast and the discussion of post-secondary education was brought forward. The hosts were debating the value of higher education and made a point that resonated with me. University is not necessarily about academics, but it is a place where people go to make connections, to grow their networks. According to this article by Bauer, “growth through a PLN does not come from only reading, watching, and listening to the creations of others,” (2010), it comes from an active community participation. They go further by saying it is also valuable to take the time to reflect on the information received (for example, by writing a blog) and to share your insights so that people in your network can potentially learn from you and a meaningful dialogue can take place.

I have recent experience building a PLN before creating a social media campaign. I am the assistant to my department chair, and we wanted to bring the Victoria Francophone community together for a back-to-school event on campus this past September. This really demonstrated the importance of a diverse and broad PLN, as it was much easier to get contacts through other connections we already may have had. We started by contacting the larger associations such as school districts and francophone societies in the lower mainland and on the island, asking them to share the news with their members. We created a survey so that guests could respond to the invitation to get an idea of how many people to expect. We also asked for their contact information so we could contact them for any future community events like this. After we had a good idea of who we wanted to contact, we began advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter groups already followed by community members. The student-run accounts were very helpful, as they already have a large following and can therefore get more people talking.

According to Mojo Media Labs, the first step to creating a social media campaign is understanding the goal of the campaign. Our goal was to bring the Francophone community back together after a long period of isolation. We wanted everyone to come and talk to each other in French, to create new connections with the major associations involved in the festivities. Then, the article suggests deciding how to promote the campaign. It was important that we have a poster with the information of the event while being nice to look at. This poster was plastered all over campus as well as on all the social media platforms mentioned above. It is said that advertising on social media is essential if you want people to see and interact with your content. The article emphasizes the importance of monitoring the public’s reaction to the campaign and keeping their suggestions in mind when making future adjustments.

It is very important to make as many connections as possible to ensure that as many people as possible are talking. People know other individuals whose connection might someday be useful. Because the event I organized was for a broader community, we had to adapt to using older modes of communication, like email and the good old-fashioned phone call. I found it helpful to use the survey because all the information I needed was in one place and I now have a long list of contacts for the next time I need it.

Sources:

8 Steps To Creating A Social Media Campaign That Gets Results. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mojomedialabs.com/blog/8-steps-to-creating-a-social-media-campaign-that-gets-results

Bauer, W. I. (2010). Your Personal Learning Network: Professional Development on Demand. Music Educators Journal, 97(2), 37–42. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40960201

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