My Personal journey into media: Snapchat, Instagram and Google Classroom.

 

Final blog entry

As educators, it is imperative that we have an understanding of apps, the digital world and the programs that our students / teachers are currently using.

For my personal journey into media, I investigated 3 apps. One educational app: Google Classroom and two Social media apps: Snapchat and Instagram.

Young people in the high school area use these social media apps on a regular basis in the school, in the classroom and during their daily social lives. It was very interesting to hear my students voices, their opinions, and thoughts on these educational and social media apps. Some enjoyed social media apps as a way to socialize with their friends and some found social media apps to be time consuming.  What surprised me the most was when it came to looking at educational apps. Student preferred using apps like Google classroom for the  reason that they felt way more comfortable having access to school work at they fingertips via their cell phones. Comments made were that it is really easy, organized and it’s nice to have access to assignments digitally instead of paper based. My students only complaint, they wish that teachers would just stick with one education app, not a whole ton of others at the same time.

 

More and more educators today have been using education apps like Google Classroom and Remind. Due to this current trend, more and more students have become accustomed and are asked to use these apps during their high school careers.

Review of educational and social media apps

Snapchat

Description, usage and analysis of the app

While reviewing the website of Snapchat, it claims to let its users have easy access to socialize with friends, to share and view Live Stories from around the world, and to explore news in the Discover section. Its basis moto is that life’s more fun when you live in the moment!

Snapchat is an image messaging app that can be accessed through smart phones.  Its main feature is that any message, pictures and videos can be only available a short time before they become inaccessible which encourages natural interaction among its users.

Although Snapchat was originally mainly focused on being private for sharing, it has now changed to varied different sharing tasks. Such as being able to share images, short videos, create caricatures, live video messaging and you can now create Bitmoji avatars. (I love my avatar by the way!)

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Something that was total new to me was that how people can create their own filters and it can now show your location on the world map.

Did you know there is Snapchat lingo? When having asked my students about the Snapchat lingo here is what I took from it:

For example:

The Snapcode: This code allows your friends to use a Snapcode. I guess this codes makes adding friends easier.  From what I understand, it’s similar to a QR code.

The Score: That is the number next to a person’s handle in the Snapchat. It’s the number of snaps that a person has sent. The higher your score, the more you likely use Snapchat.

The Snapstreak: This is an emoji next to a Snapchat name….which means they are on a Snapchat streak if you are constantly snapping.

The Trophy case: Did you know you can earn trophies with Snap chat? I didn’t! I guess this encourages the interaction between users.

Terms of service

-Snapchat’s terms of service has been revised for non-American citizens since September 26th of 2017.

-In order to use Snapchat, all users must accepts the Terms and Privacy policy before they are allowed to use the app.

-No one under 13 is allowed to create an account or use Snapchat. (This was a surprise to me….as I have seen younger users use Snapchat!)

-Users cannot copy, distribute, sell, or lease any part of our Snapchat’s Services.

Privacy implications

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-Snapchat can use anyone’s image and videos. They do this to improve their services in order to create better ones.

-Snapchat does not take any responsibility. What you share on Snapchat is your responsibility.

-Snapchat encourages you to read their privacy policy. (Nothing is private.)

-They encourage you not to post irresponsibly and to respect others rights. Which means they “discourage” bullying and harassment.

Educational value

It’s hard to believe that Snapchat may have some educational value…but it’s true. (Sigh!)  For instance teachers can use Snapchat for the following purposes:

  • Teachers can use the Snapchat stories for the classroom reminders. Similar to the Remind app, teachers can use this section for reminders of homework, upcoming school events and even show mini lessons.
  • Using Snapchat for classroom discussions. Teachers could example post a topic for a class discussion. The students could ponder this discussion topic and share via Snapchat or later on in the classroom.
  • You can allow students to follow your Snapchat. That does not mean, you have to follow them back. Snapchat allows users to make that decision. (Which is nice because I do not want to see what my students are posting during their personal lives.)
  • Use the 1-20 second Snaps to your story This will keep your Snapchat story all day. You will also be able to see who has viewed your snaps.
  • Using the Snapchat app to make learning fun / engaging: Let your students see your fun side (of course in a professional but fun way.) You can use pictures, speech bubbles etc. to help make the learning process more engaging.

 snapchat teacher

Digital Citizenship concerns and comments

Snapchat “discourages” bad behavior, though they do not take responsibility should it happen.  The DC Education in Saskatchewan Schools would be a beneficial guide in the situation of Snapchat. Teachers could “model” positive Snapchat behavior and have frank discussions about what is acceptable and not acceptable on Snapchat. As well as at the same time, encourage positive DC with students in and outside the classroom.

Instagram

Description, usage and analysis of the app

Instagram is (for myself) and for some of my students a popular social media app. Comparable to Twitter and Facebook, it is mainly used for sharing videos and pictures on a prolife account and news feed. The users of Instagram can share their pictures / videos privately and or publicly with their pre-approved followers. Instagram allows you to have a private or a public profile account which is quite nice if you want to remain completely private from others.

While reviewing this social media app, students mainly like to use this app for the following:  to take a photograph, to filter the photograph, to add an interesting / funny caption and then share the photo with their followers.

For the past couple of years, Instagram has followed suit similar to Snapchat where it has used the features of video on Instagram stories.  This stories summarize a student’s activities during a day and then the story disappears after 24 hours.

When I made discussions with my students about the possible negatives of Instagram, female students expressed feelings of anxiety when using the app. For instance, my female student users post self-images of themselves on Instagram.  They expressed insecurities and anxiety over their feelings of negative body imaging on Instagram. Either from their followers (friends) or movie stars that they followed. This concerns me as I do not want our students / my daughter having anxiety about self-image. Body image over an app on social media.

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Terms of service

-Users of Instagram must be 13 years of age.

-Instagram encourages its users not to use others accounts without others permission.

-The app like Snapchat “discourages” bullying and harassment of others.

-Explains to the users that they own their images and videos, though that Instagram has the right to sell their images (without payment to the user) and videos to others as they wish.

-Your personal information: including your address, friends, pictures, locations you visit, your personal messages on Instagram…pretty much anything that you do and share on Instagram , can be shared from Instagram at any time with companies. (CRAZY!!!)

Privacy implications

Like Snapchat and other social media aps, Instagram users can connect through others via private messages and comments. This can be dangerous if a student is not on a private setting. For instance, if users are on a public setting on Instagram, this leaves them open to potential bullying and harassment for others and strangers.

Because Instagram is mainly focused on the sharing of images, students / children could access inappropriate images and also possibly share inappropriate images of themselves.

Students also have the option to not share their location with others.

Instagram users can change their account to a private setting. Users can also decline or approve their followers which is similar to Snapchat. Students that I had spoken to expressed they they were content that they had control over negative comments by blocking other users from making comments on their Instagram posts.

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Educational value

In the past I have played with Instagram in the classroom. It can easily be used (with caution) for the following educational purposes.

1) Show-off Student Work. Take pictures of student novel projects which would be accessible (only) to families and to the community.

2) Capture classroom memories: Take memorable pictures / memories, celebrations of learnings from your classroom on a “classroom” / private Instagram account.

3) Use Instagram for curriculum based / research / classroom projects. Students could research using Instagram / create Instagram boards / posters to display learning and research.

4) Create a lesson via Instagram :Students could follow a lesson, novel study, science experiment, language lesson via images on Instagram.

Digital Citizenship concerns and comments

Similar to Snapchat Instagram “discourages” bad behavior, though they do not take responsibility should it happen.  The DC Education in Saskatchewan Schools would be a beneficial guide in the situation of Snapchat. Teachers could “model” positive Instagram behavior, use this app for celebrations of learning with students. Teachers and students could also continue to have discussions on acceptable usage via Instagram.  This will in end encourage positive DC with students in and outside the classroom with this social media / educational app.

Google Classroom

Description, usage, and analysis of the app

Google Classroom is a free app that was made from the Google name for the school systems. Their apps was to aid teachers and students share educational documents amongst each other. Google lives in our schools either via Google, Google slides and now more and more educators are using Google Classroom.

I began to use Google Classroom last year and this year, it has been a big part of my teaching practices. I truly appreciated the many benefits that this app is having with my students and also within the teaching dynamic between myself and my students.

I find that students can be organized with their assignments while using this application. Students are alaos taking ownership of lost or missied assignments. For instance, a student loses his / her assignment. The student can now simply have direct access to the assignment at any time of the day via the Google Classroom.

I have also noticed that students are quick to hand in assignment submissions because of the reminders on Google Classroom. There are also concerns (from my students) when they see the LATE in red when an assignment has not been submitted on time. Due to this LATE feature, students are taking initiative to hand in their assignments on time. Especially if I give an assignment to be due at midnight instead of at the end of the class period.

I find that the Google Classroom sets a nice tone for the classroom and the way its organized meaning that the students know what to expect and if ever they forgot, they may check the Google classroom to re-find and look at notes and previous assignments.

I truly love Google Classroom as do other teachers in my school. Though do the students truly love it? Is it fair that I have students hand in assignments via Google Classroom? Is it a positive teaching practice to print assignments for student but to also display the assignment on Google classroom in case a student loses them?

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The positives of Google Classroom from students:

-The class is organized and sectioned off nicely.

-It can be accessed anywhere with WIFI / internet. For instance a student is away or sick they still have access to what they missed at any time.

-Students expressed that they look for daily announcements…they said they appreciated this routine.

-Students expressed they like the collaboration component of the app. Any student / group can collaborate on a document for a project or assignment.

-Students shared that (after some practice with Google Classroom) it became easy to submit assignments. They also enjoyed receiving feedback on assignments once they were returned via Google classroom.

-Less paper in the classroom means great for the environment.

The negatives of Google classroom from students:

-The set-up of Google Classroom is a long process.

-If the internet is down, students’ are unable to do the work assigned, unless it is on print already.

-Students have confessed to copying / plagiarizing other students past assignments via Google Classrooms and Google documents.

-Students expressed: “Why must every class have a Google Classroom”

Educational value

-Again many educators love this app for the reason that it organizes a classroom.

-Students and parents shared frustrations that their child is always needing to access the internet / their mobile device for school work.

-There are of course positives and negatives effects (seen above) on teaching and learning with Google Classroom.

-What is the reality and perception and the impacts on education when we use Google Classroom in the classroom setting with our students?  Not everything has to be technology based “all the time” in the classroom.

Terms of service and privacy implications

Google does not “clearly” provide a complete breakdown of what is takes / collects from students in terms if service and privacy policy.

Google Classroom states that they do not technically use student profiles when students use GAFE (Google Apps for Education) services. Though if a student logged on to You Tube (a popular site for teens) then Google would observe the data….from what I could find.

Students and teachers are technically being “studied” and observed on what they are going with Google and Google Classroom.

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Digital Citizenship concerns and comments

Google Classroom and Google are essentially a money making machine. Google has branded itself in man schools within my division with Google Classroom, Google Chromes books, Google Slides and of course You Tube.

When thinking about Digital Citizenship, educators, schools and the community need to be questioning policies, terms and services from big companies like Google on what information that they are using from students/ teacher to increase their brand and market.

Furthermore, Google Classroom similar to the social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram, if used properly, can encourage positive online behavior.  The DC Education in Saskatchewan Schools would be a beneficial guide for the promotion of Google Classroom. Teachers again could “model” positive online behavior, use this app to organize the classroom and promote more learning with students. Teachers and students could also continue to have discussions on acceptable usage via Google Classroom.  This will in end encourage positive DC with students in and outside the classroom with this educational app.

Final words on my personal journey into media

I really appreciated this course this semester and learned so much from Dr. Alec Couros and my fellow classmates.  Digital Citizenship is not simply a black and white scenario. Technology changes at fast speeds and with it comes challenges. And as technology continues to grow, more and more educators and students continue to use varied educational and social media apps. If used correctly and in a positive manner, technology creates an engaging and authentic learning environment. We cannot fear technology as it is something that is simply not going to disappear. What we can do as educators, is to educate ourselves about the importance of DC, to integrate DC meaningfully in the classroom and to help our students become positive digital citizens.

Thanks for an amazing semester and a send off to my final grad class!

Krista

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