Personal journey into Zoom

Although video conferencing applications such as Zoom and Webex are not considered social media apps, they played a major role in the last few weeks in maintaining the social connection between people.  Since people have experimented with these tools, I do believe this will have a fundamental impact on how we will be engaged in life after the COVID-19 crisis is over. These apps will be part of our daily lives and will be a major tool of digital citizens.

Zoom has been widely used across the globe due to COVID-19. Most universities are using it to transfer their Face to Face classes to Virtual/Remote learning, including the University of Regina. My team at work has been involved in this transition. We had to offer Zoom drop-in sessions to answer any questions or help with any technical issues for the first time users. Therefore, I have been playing with it a lot for the past two weeks. I thought to explore it a bit deeper as part of my personal journey.

My experience of using it in my work encouraged me to offer my help to create and manage zoom accounts for the Arabic weekend community school that my kids attend, which include training teachers and creating manuals for teachers, parents and students. Zoom is keeping us connected in these rough times.  Zoom enables the social network and allows us to maintain “social distancing.”

After the first weekend, the feedback from the teachers made me make some adjustments to the settings.

  1. All teachers requested to have mute upon entry option enabled to avoid sudden interruptions
  2. We noticed that when a teacher shares her PDF, whiteboard, or worksheet, younger children will annotate on the shared screen and start to make a mess. Students were curious to find more about this new method of teaching and began to explore every option in the app. I had to turn off the ability for participants to annotate a shared screen by the host.
  3. My kids brought my attention that students, especially from the younger age groups, would start to privately chat with their friends during classes. I had to disable the private chatting as well.

Among the many resources available online, I would like to focus on a couple of the somewhat hidden options that were useful to have in our drop-in support at work, as well as some useful settings that helped the Arabic community school to run smoothly. I will include some resources that I found online that speak to the privacy and security that came up lately with the heavy usage of Zoom around the world.

Once we started the drop-in support sessions, we figured that there are a couple of options that we need that can make our life easier and facilitate our mission to explain how to best use Zoom. The most important one for us was to share the Zoom window interface. By default, Zoom windows and toolbar aren’t included when we share screen. We found it very useful when we explain how Zoom works, for example. To do that, you have to enable an option in zoom.us and the Zoom desktop app. I created a Google doc with detailed instructions on how to turn this option

The other useful setting was to set up a co-host, according to the Zoom website “You can be signed in to Zoom on one computer, one tablet, and one phone at a time. If you sign in to an additional device while logged into another device of the same type, you will be logged out automatically on the first device.” 

For example, I was able to pre-assign each one of the ID team at U of R  as an alternative host to all support meetings. In this case, each one of us can log in with their personal accounts as usual. When he/she logs in, they automatically are assigned a co-host role. Once the host leaves the meeting, an alternative host gets the hosting privileges; this is based on the order of alternative hosts. This made us not worry about breakouts in virtual room availability if the host had to leave the meeting.

On the other hand, setting up a zoom room for each class in the Arabic community weekend school was a different experience. I ended up creating one room for each class (6 rooms in total). Each room has a unique meeting link that doesn’t change. This made the life of the students (and their parents) much easier. Teachers with no prior experience were able to grasp the concepts very quickly and classes in the school were not interrupted.

However, like everything with technology, the extensive usage of Zoom showed some privacy and security concerns. Zoombombing is a well-known terminology that is currently used to describe “unwanted intrusion of an individual in a video conference call, causing disruption.” according to Wikipedia. I found many useful tips on how to minimize this issue. For example,

Some useful resources:

Digital literacy

Growing up in the 80 and early 90, I always heard something along the lines of “the definition of illiteracy has changed; it is now who does not know how to use a computer that is illiterate.” This implied that the general definition of literacy before then was the ability to read and write and do some basic math.

The UNESCO defines literacy as the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts.”

Within the scope of our course, I believe that the concept of “digital literacy” is very important. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) takes this a step further by defining digital literacy to include ethical and social practices in different aspects of engaging with a society (work, shopping, voting, etc). (Canadian students are among the most wired across the globe) ISTE has defined six standards for digital literacy, including: “creativity and innovation; communication and collaboration; research and information fluency; critical thinking, problem-solving and decision making; digital citizenship; and technology operations and concepts.”  These can be seen in the picture below.

Digital Literacy model
Source: MediaSmart

Digital literacy includes Technological and information literacy. On the one hand, technology literacy refers to a person’s ability to understand and use technological tools relevant to different areas of life. It focuses on how to educate the use of technological tools, such as word processors, Internet browsers, messaging, email, presentation and graphic and video conferencing software are fundamental tools. Recently social media technology tools are added to the list as it is used more and more for many “engagements” with the society on a daily basis. It is believed now that today’s kids are much more social online as opposed to kid nerds of the 1980 and 1990.

On the other hand, Information Literacy involves teaching people the skills to efficiently find, effectively understand, critically assess and accurately use information. This is not a simple skill to be acquired as the amount of data that humanity generates doubles at a very fast pace. This implies the ability to understand the benefits, limits and cost of the vast amount of informational resources available on the Internet. In fact, this is a fundamental tenet for independent life long learning. The government of BC defined a framework for information literacy that lays out expectations of ICT integration in the curriculum for different k-12 grades. For higher education, the American library association has defined the framework.

I was delighted to quickly skim through a survey of 4000 k-12 Canadian teachers , conducted by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation that found that:

1- “Teachers feel that it is very important to teach digital literacy skills and are generally confident in their ability to do ss”

2- “The vast majority of teachers and students have and use networked devices in the classroom”

3. “Teachers would like more support and autonomy in using networked technologies in the classroom”

4. “The personal devices that students are least often permitted to bring to class are also the ones they are most likely to use when allowed”

5. “Teachers are using networked devices in their classrooms to deliver content to students and to empower their students to create content.” The following infographic summarizes some teachers’ experiences in networked technology in the classroom.

Source: Mediasmart

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning recently also identified other types of literacy (that could be the subject of a few other blogs), such as visual literacy, statistical literacy (which is very important as everybody is talking about Big Data), media literacy, ecological literacy and health literacy (which is a very hot topic these days). (I wrote this blog while most Canadians are home working due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus).

Social media Journey through Remote teaching and COVID-19

In this blog, I will share with you some resources on ‘remote education.” I collected these because of the developments with the COVID-19 pandemic. I would say this new situation and circumstances have evolved my relationship with social media entirely. Instead of just browsing the social media for simpler random and pretty many useless things,

I started to appreciate the wisdom of the crowds on social media. Initially, I was planning to give an update on my social media journey using Snapchat last week.

The COVID -19 pandemic fear and emergency measures here in Saskatchewan started to become very serious on  Friday, March 13, a day after the announcement of the first Coronavirus in Saskatoon. UofR announced all classes will be suspended for four days and will be back again in a remote mode of delivery on March 20. My department, along with many other departments at the University, started to act fast and plan for this huge transition.

I opened up my laptop and started Tweetdeck. The first column, #COVID19, second #saskhealth, third #remotelearning, fourth #remoteteaching and each one of these hashtags will lead me to another and another. The wisdom of the crowds on those hashtags led me to find a lot of useful information about the virus. I started to understand what it is. I watched many shared videos, PDFS, infographics, Google docs and many more. I jumped between social media apps that day the longest time in my life, from 7 pm to 4 am.

The first bits of information I looked for was personal. I was a bit nervous and worried about my kids. I went home and started to browse Google about how dangerous this virus is and how I can protect my family, myself and everyone around me. I kept thinking about how the situation would be over the coming few months.

I knew there is a big possibility that University will close and move to remote learning (many universities and schools in Ontario and the US have already). Will schools close as well? If yes, for how long? How I prepare my house and my kids for this? Millions of questions with no answers. I began to browse social media for resources, I quickly got some, but I kept on looking for more and more. Here are some excellent starting points for the parents/ teachers among us.

Over the weekend, I kept getting notifications from my work email to start preparing for the emergency situation and to figure out a task force and workflow for moving classes online.

Sunday night, I started to look for information and resources from other institutions on Twitter. It became my way to go if I am seeking more information. I was impressed and shocked by the massive amount of resources that are shared online. Then I remembered an email from a colleague mentioning that she found a resource on a group on Facebook.

I am not a big fan of Facebook but thought I should go and explore. I joined three instructional Designer groups that are very informative. I loved it, people share their resources, ideas, discussing methods and instructions, and more. Here are some examples

Again, and many more… Oh, social media is so useful that in a few minutes, one can get a few pointers to great resources that were created and filtered by the wise crowd.

I got a task at work to write instructions on how to upload content (using file, URL, media and labels) to URcourse. We have some excellent guidelines already that we use. It is a task that shouldn’t take a long and pretty straight forward. I couldn’t finish it during the regular work hours as it was so busy, and we were trying to complete other tasks.

I went home thinking I have to finish this tonight. I wrote the instructions then I thought maybe I should recheck Twitter and Facebook to check how other universities wrote their instructions. Here is a sample of what I found

So even for this basic and straightforward set of instructions, I was able to find tons of resources that showed me different styles of writing and diverse methods and strategies for writing the same set of information.

Should I say I converted? Will this be the first of many to come (self-motivated) journey through social media. I can’t know for sure, all that I know now is that social media has helped me significantly over the last week. I really appreciate the amount of support, care and innovation between all of us in this hard time. I felt everyone is trying to do their best to go over this hardship all the time altogether. I am curious to see research or a comparison of social media effects during the COVID-19 epidemic, and the lack of it during Spanish flu that happened almost 100 years ago and killed 50 Million people (World War 1 is estimated to have caused around 6-10 million deaths). Not only on raising awareness among the world population but also on the long term effect on economy, governments, education and relationships.

Digital Citizenship for University students

For this week’s blog, I would like to take the Portrait of a Digital Citizenship activity we took in class and try to discuss and develop it for university students.

Mary Beth, in her presentation to our class a few weeks ago, mentioned that she teaches how the Internet works for her high school students. She also said that educating kids about how the Internet (and technology in general) works is essential for digital literacy. The job done in digital citizenship for K–12 students can be a very important first step towards digital literacy.  I see this must be followed by further steps for students in higher education as well for the following reasons: (Please note, I work as an assistant instructional designer for a university-level curriculum and this is where most of my experience is.)

  • There is a continuous evolution of Digital tools; the Internet of Things, social media networks, virtual and augmented reality are just a few examples. Students need to continue learning about these tools as they evolve because they play a profound role in how we will engage with our societies in the future.
  • While the requirements and responsibilities of university students are higher, stereotypes like university students “are a tech generation,” “always-on social media,” and “addicted to technology” provide the wrong impression about students’ capabilities. But, do students really have the digital citizenship skills required for the 21 Century? Most students do not know much about cyber-security and many other crucial basic knowledge that is necessary when working with the above digital tools on a deeper scale.

I think educators should teach digital citizenship and literacy for their students (and possibly for themselves) at different grade levels and in many types of courses. According to Jenae Cohn, an academic technology specialist at Stanford University, “Students coming into college have increasingly diverse ranges of experiences with navigating different sets of digital environments.” Cohn likes to use the term “digital fluencies” which she defines as the spectrum between “the ability to use technology” and “the ability to critique it.” To illustrate the difference, Cohn explains it as the difference between just opening an Internet browser and understanding the intricacies of web browsing or assessing the design behind it. I suggest that university students are required to have such deep knowledge.

The Quebec Ministry of Education and Higher Education has defined a Digital Competency Framework. Below I will try to discuss some of these competencies, and I will give some examples of how this can be implemented in courses across the higher ed curriculum.

A fundamental competency for university students is to learn critical thinking (which is one of the top skills required for the future workplace). Critical thinking is so fundamental to allow students to solve complex problems and create worthy content. Students need to learn digital tools that will help them innovate, connect ideas and integrate information and content. Students need to learn how to analyze the content they explore online and to filter out “fake news.” Which what Krysta is trying to incorporate into her Social classrooms. Besides, students should have a basic understanding of copyright and licensing issues to protect their own digitally created content and protect others’ content.

Creative problem solving requires collaborative work through digital conversations (for example, video/ twitter) with colleagues from around the globe, which mandates some awareness of cultural diversity. Students should learn how to monitor and evaluate their online activities. That is, students need to learn how to craft and manage their online reputation– the bits of pieces of information they leave behind (pictures, presentations, comments, or status updates).

The above environment relies heavily on communication on the Internet. It is very fundamental for students to be aware of the code of conduct and of standard behaviours that allow such interactions. This stipulates basic knowledge on how to protect 1) devices (phone, tablets, and laptops) through teaching them about the basics of computer security and 2) personal data and privacy through teaching students how their digital identities can be collected or tracked and possibly provide some basic understanding of “terms of service.”

There are many other attempts to identify such competencies, one particular one I liked Bryn Mawr Digital Competencies Framework by Bryn Mawr College. I only hope this motivates further discussion of defining the details.

Do I have a digital identity?

digital identity is a computerized dataset that represents facets of a person’s social, civil, or national identities typically generated through our online actions, relationships, etc. This includes usernames and passwords, online search activities, birth date, social security, and purchasing history, Likes, posts, reposts, and shares on social networks, even wifi passwords (eduroam). Daina and Allison explained in their video that “digital identity is composed of several factors that are dependent on what we value and how we interact with the environment, and it can change over time.”  

Image result for digital identity
“Digital Identity Mapping” flickr photo by fredcavazza shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

When I looked up my name on different platforms, I couldn’t find a lot about myself. My public digital identity started with the first class I took with Alec. However, I am always hesitant to share my family photos, personal information or even my location. I assume the worst when thinking of sharing these kinds of personal information as I think they will be used out of their context by third parties organizations or hackers. I started to think, does this mean I don’t have a digital identity? And the answer was, of course, I have one.

I do online shopping all the time. Facebook knows exactly what products I am searching for and give me recommendations the next time I log in. I search the Internet every day for different things. I have an online medical record with eHealth Saskatchewan, an online bank account and numerous other online accounts. I was most impressed and happy by the purchase history tracking provided by the PC optimum card. The app of The Real Canadian Superstore remembers my shopping history (I use their reward card). These are the kind of information that I am ok to share on the Internet as it helps optimize my daily routine. Information about all these activities is the traces I leave behind every time I use the Internet, which can make my life easier next time I do them. Cookies offer some convenience by saving my browsing history, which saves my time logging in or re-entering my personal information.

It seems that, in the future, there will be much more reliance on digital identity for simplifying government services. More than 60+ governments have started using digital identity as part of their eGovernment initiatives. In Estonia, the use of digital identities reduced queues in hospitals by 33% and saved the equivalent of one working week for all of the working population. In fact, Germany will have an eID for all of its citizens in 2020; yes, all 61 million German Citizens will have a national electronic identity card. Germany has developed the technological infrastructure (and legal frameworks) that have been developed.

In addition, digital identities allow access to services from across the Internet through different mobile devices. Examples of eGov services include managing health records of citizens such as what is happening with Sask Government eHealth, and Sask Government PowerSchool.   Another eGov service would consist of eVoting which may increase the percentage of people being able to participate in elections, this enables more democracy.

Different people have different concerns about digital identity. Many more people have concerns about privacy or giving the government more control, data breaches at various companies and governmental agencies and many other reasons. Therefore, educating our self and our kids about digital identity and the value it brings to us helps mitigate these concerns. Although it seems the only viable option, having control over our digital identity isn’t always an easy process. Below are some of the recommendations I found online from different resources on how to protect our digital identity

  • Use strong and unique passwords on each of your online accounts
  • Make sure you’re on a secure network or using a VPN, a virtual private network, when banking, shopping, or making other online transactions. Public wifi is free? They can gather your usage and sell it to data brokers. Other public and free services (possibly of the future such as Elon Musk’s satellite-based Internet or google fibre to the home Internet) are probably free because they collect your data.
  • Don’t share your login credentials with others
  • Limit the use of social media. How many social media platforms are you using? Maybe one should start by pausing/ delete one of your social media today.
  • Turn off your device/ location tracking. Many apps on your phone keep track of your movement for various reasons.
  • The more the apps you have on your phone, the more the organizations collect data about you.
  • Maybe use privacy-focused technologies (such as DuckDuckGo for search and Firefox for web browsing).

 

Instagram terms of use

Time for a new update! My last blog post was an overview of Instagram.   Here, I will focus more on Instagram’s terms of use statements.

Privacy policies of social media apps are typically stated in their terms of use statements.  These statements typically contain statements and agreements permitting social media apps to store, use and possibly share data on users.  Users are typically required to agree to these terms of use before using the services of social media apps.

In the following infographic,  I try to summarize a few key points of statements of terms of use for Instagram and how they affect a digital citizen.


One major concern about privacy agreements is their length and complexity. This makes a very large percentage of people, including myself, not reading them at all. Check the question below from Trevor Kerr on Twitter, with 13 replies confirming people do not read terms of use statements. I also found the following funny picture trying to compare the length of the terms of use of different new technologies. Instagram is longest!!
Continue reading “Instagram terms of use”

Instagram

Instagram, Social Media, Symbol, Communication, Icon

For my major project of the course, I choose to provide comments on my personal journey of using social media apps as part of me being transformed into a digital citizen. I choose in this blog to provide some in-depth introduction to Instagram.

I am not a social media user. I had Instagram on my mobile a long time ago. It is my habit of downloading every app my kids mention, so I get a sense of how it looks like.  I used Instagram several times over the past two weeks. It is a user-friendly and straightforward app.

What is Instagram?

According to the App store: “Instagram from Facebook, Bringing you closer to the people and things you love. Connect with friends, share what you’re up to, or see what’s new from others all over the world. Explore our community where you can feel free to be yourself and share everything from your daily moments to life’s highlights.”

  • Instagram is the number 1 app in the Photos & Video category
  • It has a rating of 4.7 based on 1.4 million reviews (Wow, that is a lot of reviews!!!)
  • We are in version # 127

Statistics

  • According to Cindy Liu, a senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer.com, “Instagram Is the Fastest-Growing Social Media Platform in Canada.”
  • According to CIRA, Instagram is the third most popular social media network in Canada after Facebook and LinkedIn.

There are many reasons why Children/teens love Instagram? Quoting my kids:

  • Can communicate with friends and family without a phone number (only a small percentage of Canadian kids who have a phone also have a phone subscription)
  • Can share posts and receive likes, comments and more.
  • Can see other people’s posts like your favourite team, favourite sports player and more.
  • Can enter giveaways to earn prizes.
  • Can create and post your own stories and customize it
  • Can be updated of everything happening around the world
  • Can learn various tips and tricks

How you communicate and use Instagram?

Main features on Instagram include:

Home button:

  • I can browse and explore posts from those I follow. I can watch their stories by clicking on their photos above the post. Also, from the top, I can check all of the new stories from people I follow.
  • I can like, share or comment on posts
  • I can bookmark posts and organize them in folders like Pinterest

DM(Direct Messaging): I can send messages privately to people I follow. However, anyone can send me a message (after approving them) even if my account is private. The DM works like Facetime or Messenger. I can use it as a chat tool or make video calls.

Creating Stories: This feature alone has been a very famous addition to some of the social media apps. I can create and post stories by clicking on the camera icon at the top left corner of the app. Instagram works like Snapchat on this part. The story you create only lasts for 24 hours then disappears. I can make the story stay longer than the 24 hours by highlighting it. The limit time of a single story is 15 sec. I can create multiple 15-sec segments to create a lengthy story or use IGTV

IGTV: It can be used to create longer videos. Anyone have full access to IGTV’s content. No parental controls at all and lots of adult content,  which is  quite problematic from parents’ point of view.

Discovery: It allows me to search for videos, posts or photos on Instagram by clicking on the magnification lens. I can see posts from people even if I am not following them.

I find Instagram entertaining and addictive. I kind of understand now why it is so popular among students. Here are a few observations after using it frequently for two weeks.

  • Since I signed up for Instagram, I decided to follow only family and friends. However, I was drawn to follow more people each time I am checking it until I found myself following 120 people [now 318 :-)) as per the picture]. With so much posts, I discovered that I don’t see posts from my family and friends’ as much as before. I couldn’t keep up with all these posts from influencers, fashionistas, chefs, and news outlets. I had to create another account after only two weeks of frequent usage. I created another account to follow things I am interested in and kept my original one for family and friends. I found my daughter did something similar and created what she calls “a spam account” jointly with her best friend.  The definition is worrying me but I am happy I know about it now. This will give me a chance to talk to my daughter on how to protect herself.
  • Instagram is designed to keep you scrolling and scrolling with no clear end. I found this quite distracting and addictive, to say the least (let alone how much time kids spend on it)
  • Hashtags are a very powerful searching method on Instagram. The problem is Instagram is quite visual not like Twitter, so you can expect to see all sorts of visuals when you search for something. This is quite worrying for me as a parent, and I am not sure how to filter these images.
  • Instagram Is now hiding likes counter, which I find a good move to make users focus more on the content and quality of the post, not how many likes the post got.

For my next post, I will focus more on Instagram’s privacy and terms of use and how.

Major project Update

Alec asked us to provide an update of our major project, thinking specifically about how my project relates to one or more elements of digital citizenship. 

With this substantial global penetration of social media and its significant impact on all aspects of our life ( Personal, educational and professional), there is a need for a framework to teach Digital Citizenship to our kids has become essential and crucial.  The nine elements of digital citizenship by Mike Ribble are a great framework and guideline to know what does it mean to be a digital citizen? Common Sense Education describes digital citizenship simply as “the responsible use of technology to learn, create, and participate.” Mike Ribble says that “digital citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students for a society full of technology.” It basically defines how we use technology to engage with our community. Use technology to communicate at work, to buy/ sell online and to participate in online debates to discuss societal/global issues.   Therefore, when thinking of my major project, the following three elements of the nine elements came to my mind:

Social Media, Social, Media, Www, Icons, Icon Communication: This can be defined as “the electronic exchange of information.” Social media has become the primary form of communication among today’s generation. Digital citizens need to learn how to: 

  • Exchange information properly
  • Make appropriate decisions when communicating through social media apps. 
  • Raise the awareness of what to share and how to share it, 
  • Don’t share personal information or direct messages people you don’t know.
  • Know that when they delete a message or a photo, it doesn’t mean that it has been erased forever and that it can still be stored somewhere in the cloud. 
  • Protect themselves from cyberbullying and learn not to bully others. 

Media Literacy, Technology, Digital Citizenship, Candy Fluency/ Literacy: According to Mike Ribble, “it is the process of understanding technology and its use. The better educated or “digitally fluent” students are, the more likely they are to make the right decisions online, like supporting others instead of making negative comments. Digital literacy includes the discussion of media literacy and the ability to discern good information from poor, such as “fake news” from real news.”  Therefore, I am planning to provide information on how to use each app I am reviewing, highlight the main features and elements, how to use the app to our advantage and how to determine the accuracy of the information we access through these apps to make wise choices. With some apps like Instagram, I think I can reflect on the Digital Commerce element.  These are all essential skills that students must be equipped with to be able to compete and live in today’s culture. 

Digital commerce is growing significantly to the point it affects the regular retail industry. Ribble defined this element as “the electronic buying and selling of goods and focuses on the tools and safeguards in place to assist those buying, selling, banking, or using money in any way in the digital space. Career and technical education use the tools of technology to show students the path for their futureMaking a well-informed purchasing decision online is very important these days.  Tips on how to purchase online, what type of payment should we use? How to protect our paying method information? Choose who to buy from? Are all fundamental skills that our students, even adult, should be aware of and learn. 

The updated version of the nine elements of digital citizenship emphasized three guiding principals Safe, Savvy and Social (or S3). I would like to focus on the Safe (Protect yourself.Protect others) part of S3 on my major project by understanding our rules and responsibility while using each app. Read and analyze the terms of use and privacy policy. Moreover, learn how to protect our personal information and data online. 

With all these guidelines and frameworks in mind, I feel like my social media journey will be kind of exploring how to best use each app and how to be a good digital citizen while using it. I am excited as I am starting to look at apps with a different lens than before. I am confident I will learn a lot along my journey. 

“Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool, it is a way to prepare students for a society full of technology.”

Dr. Mike Ribble

Future of Education

In the last class, we discussed the generational, cultural, and societal changes that may happen ahead. 

Generally speaking, “change” is expected in generational characteristics, in job market requirements and in technology and its adoption. Looking at generation Z for example, who has access to the internet and technology since day one “all technology all the time”.  They spend a lot of their daily time on social media. They are used to “On-demand” “Personalized experience” on different aspects of their life. like using Youtube, Netflix to search for what they want to watch. 

 I agree with Adam, the need for technological skills is a necessity for our students to be able to compete in the future. In fact, this is not just about students but the entire generation.   This is due, in part, to the expected 4th industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) and its adoption of the Internet of Things. (other factors include globalization for example) This wave of industrialization will bring even more data-oriented automation that surpasses that brought by the 3rd industrial revolution.   According to the article, “The fourth industrial revolution” “Some advances are ahead of others. Mobile internet and cloud technology are already impacting the way we work. Artificial intelligence, 3D printing and advanced materials are still in their early stages of use, but the pace of change will be fast” In addition, In the 2020 Future Work Skills “Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future.” 

No one can really know the limits of the change that will be caused to our lives. 

  For example,  “65 percent of children entering school today may end up in jobs that have not yet been invented [according to the World Economic Forum the Future of Jobs report” The skills required for such jobs are not known yet, we can make some predictions, but no one knows for sure. This raises a lot of questions about our educational system and how it can keep up with these changes. 

 

Considering these characteristics and  the 2020 Future Work Skills six drivers of change

Expected Societal Characteristic Skills required
Rise of smart machines and systems:  Workplace automation nudges human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks Sense-Making

Noval and Adaptive Thinking

Social intelligence

 

Computational world:  Massive increases in sensors and processing power make the world a programmable system 4- New media ecology: New communication tools require new media literacies beyond text Computational thinking

Design Mindset

Cognitive load management

Superstructed organizations:  Social technologies drive new forms of production and value creation Design Mindset

Cross-cultural competence

New-Media Literacy

Cognitive load management

Virtual Collaboration

New media ecology Computational thinking

New-Media Literacy

Cognitive load management

Extreme longevity:  Increasing global lifespans change the nature of careers and learning New-Media Literacy
globally connected world:  Increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organizational operations New-Media Literacy

Virtual Collaboration

Social intelligence

Noval and Adaptive Thinking

 

Accordingly, educational systems have to change to keep up with these rapid changes (and Transit into Education 4.0).  Educators are on a mission to implement innovative pedagogical approaches to teach their students so they can get the most out of their learning experience.  Some suggestions include

  1. From an early age, students must learn to actively engage with the material through critical analysis and fundamental questioning of existing norms and systems.
  2. Creating learning ecosystems that are personalized and self-paced; accessible and inclusive; problem-based and collaborative; and lifelong- and student-driven can help 
  3. Teaching methods that emphasize cultural awareness and diversity
  4. Technology design and programming  

I think teachers are trying their best to keep up with these constant changes. My kids are already using different types of technology tools in class (Seesaw, Google Classroom, and Kahoot) are some examples. Many of the assignments that my high school daughter gets are project- and research-based requiring lots of problems solving and critical thinking skills conducted by a group of students.

However, there are some cases when teachers aren’t capable to keep up with the students’  interests and characteristics. They still rely on passive learning and memorization. Especially, when there is a big generational gap. To be honest this doesn’t happen often. I think the fact that millennial is starting to get in the workforce is minimizing this gap already.  However, the change has to happen in a faster base in the future as “Change won’t wait for us”. and, as Krysta C mentioned: “If education can’t keep up, then just like every other organization, it won’t survive”

Cypersecurity risks for students

Last week, we had  Mary Beth, author of “Digital Media and Literacy in the Age of the Internet,” as a guest speaker in class. Mary’s presentation was very informative.  Mary touched a lot of hot and interesting topics in her talk. She covered topics like how the Internet works, FOMO, COPPA Act, Cybersecurity, and digital literacy. I like how Adam summarize it all by an excellent title: “Digital Literacy for Dummies.”

Our kids use internet-based technology all the time.   Such technology is part of our life, not only in education but also in politics, socializing, marketing and news source.  As Mary mentioned in her presentation, “there is no edtech any more, it is only an ed.”  Educating kids about how the Internet (and Technology in general) works is very important for digital literacy.

Mary visually explained having a basic knowledge of this allows students to understand privacy, security issues and help them understand how the internet is a global community. Students need to understand how to use technology safely and wisely. It can be a bumpy road if we don’t use it responsibly. We have to make them aware of what is out there and how to protect themselves. 

There is no ‘real world’ and ‘digital world'” flickr photo by OllieBray shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

 

Mary focused on cyber safety and security and how we can teach it to our kids. This is a huge concern for everyone. As adults, we give up our data without even noticing. How many of us read terms of use of the software/ apps we use on a daily basis?  Who reads the policies of websites? For example, we all heard of telephone tax scammers and how they were targeting elderly and new immigrants because they aren’t aware of tax laws in Canada. Imagine, then, how much kids’ privacy is exposed with the extensive use of social media apps and software.

There are other means to collect more and more data personalized data.  Audrey Watters, dug deep into this and explained how schools, for example, collect enrollment data, attendance data, graduation data, disciplinary data, standardized test data as it is one of today’s mandate. But as she stated, “There is, however, little evidence that collecting more data improves teaching or learning. Nevertheless, education technology continues to insist that its software and algorithms can identify students who are struggling – academically or emotionally.

Imagine that some schools even collect and use students’ biometric data to solve cheating issues. The schools use software and algorithms to eliminate the need for human oversight in online exams. Audrey Watters, provides many other cases that she explained in her article.  “Education Technology and Data Insecurity,” 

Data collecting and selling is all over the place. Alec shared a website last week called “We sell your Data.” The website is trying to raise awareness of this enormous issue of collecting data from users. The main message is Be smart about who you choose to give your data.”  Mary told us how she got rid of her Alexa, knowing how it can be a spy in her house, along with the smart TV can eavesdropping on our private conversations as per the article Matteo shared with us.  I actually suspect that the Google Mini at our home spies on us and listens to our discussion!!! Or else how did they know how to provide me with very relevant recommendations on my YouTube timeline??

Having appropriate policies to control the shared data is another crucial aspect. Mary mentioned COPPA law and how it is a good framework especially with students younger than 13 years. I agree with Amanda on the importance of the role of school and educators in teaching students how to behave online and how to think critically and ask themselves questions like; who will access their data? How will data be collected? Where will this data be stored? Will their data be shared with another 3rd party? What data should be provided, and what should not? Mary also stressed on teaching them how to validate the information by using Google reverse image search or checking different websites to source the information and seek the truth.  Eventually, they will be able to make the right choices while creating their digital citizenship.

Mary’s presentation motivated me to talk to my kids more about Cybersafety and security and how to make good choices online. We watched, the movie Searching! It provides a good story of what can happen to our kids online.