Social media – Who is influencing who?

Bahhh… social media.

It’s the monster we love to hate. Yet it also is a vehicle to keep us connected with loved ones beyond our household, particularly highlighted by the pandemic and/or if you’re an ex-pat.

For those of us who grew up learning to navigate it on our own, perhaps some of the consequences were direr. Although, we also know what life was like before these devices, too. For me, I’ve made plenty of blunders as learning experiences, have learnt that being overly positive is “the way”, and know that whenever I’m not in the “Green Zone” of my emotional regulation, I should always wait 24 hours before responding, if at all.

Finding balance

In terms of balance, I also make clear and cognisant choices; otherwise, I end up in a rabbit hole.

My biggest choice is that I only allow Twitter on my phone as the only endless scrolling Social Media app. All others are a distraction for me for time better spent that will actually improve my well-being (e.g. going on a bike ride with my son, playing tennis, having a swim, going out for lunch as a family).

I allow myself 20 minutes on a weekend to have a quick notification check on Facebook (on my laptop), but even that is unnecessary as I find it still sucks me into endless scrolling.

Most of my non-F2F connections are done via Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. I have a fortnightly video chat with my parents in Canada (along with some Messenging back and forth) and that is more than enough time for proper catchup – well, at least for me.

Another big one for me is no work email/apps on my phone. The most pivotal and mindful decision I ever made. Important news gets to me, but it is rare that I ever need to be bothered in non-work hours.

As a family, we stick to a no-screens at the table policy (whether we’re home or dining out) and my son has a device contract that he, my wife and I all had a say in. He is eight.

If I had it my way, there’d be no WiFi or phone use in my bedroom, but I can’t win all battles I guess.

Okay, that’s me personally. And I’m, “old”.

Yet it is this Generation (… that rules the nation) 

Kudos if you know the reference.

Luckily (or unluckily), these kiddos today are digital natives. By that, I mean they already have a generation (or two) ahead of them that made plenty of blunders navigating the waters, and are able to offer some words of wisdom, provide resources, and even write a book or two.

They even have some documentaries to “Netflix and chill” to on the subject.

Therefore, especially as educators, we have a grave responsibility to help them navigate these waters.

This leads us nicely into our COETAIL Course 2 – ISTE Educator Standard Indicator of the Week – Citizenship 3a – which is about not only creating positive digital citizens engaging in online communities but empowering digital leaders within those spaces.

A contextual example to share

One way simple way (of many) that I foster a positive community online is through TAG feedback. We use it as an alternative to “Two stars and a wish”, and use it often in class. However, to take it a step further, we connect to multiple Seesaw Blogs around our school and offer TAG feedback once a week on other people’s work. We rotate whose class it is each week, and the feedback is reciprocated. The kids love having an audience beyond their four walls, and they love getting positive and constructive feedback that drives their learning forward.

To take it a step further, I’d love to connect to some PYP Upper Primary Seesaw blogs globally that are interested in doing something similar.

Not sure where to start? No problem!

Here are some of my favourite, “Go-To” educator resources:

Some adult reading to challenge your thinking / perspective …

Must-read book for educators:

Amazing (Free) Professional Development

And Finally – The kids’ perspectives

Going further, COETAIL also inspired us to have a conversation with our kiddos on the topic.

Without any front-loading, I asked my class to help me out with a survey for this course. I told them it was optional, anonymous, and just to answer as honestly as possible. They are ten years old.

Which of the above are most important to you? e.g. Text message

  • Almost unanimously “Face to face”

I did ask them what challenges they face when connecting with their friends, but most responses were about laggy internet. They mentioned they solved this by restarting their device or trying again later.

In sum, I’m pretty happy with the results. I feel like my kids are and were pretty candid, so it does bring a smile to my face that kids prefer real connections over chatting within Roblox.

I also think the pandemic does and has illuminated the importance of face-to-face connections. The “lockdown” provocation really helped all humans appreciate how hardwired we are to be social creatures.

How about you? Please do share…

  • Has any of the above got you wondering about anything more in-depth on this topic?
  • What are your social media habits?
  • Would you say that you are a role model for positive digital citizenship? Has it always been this way? Have any stories to share?
  • How do you foster a positive online community in your classroom?
  • What has you worried about those you teach and/or parent on this topic?
  • Would you say that your school does this well? Are there just pockets of excellence or is this topic widely practiced?
  • Do you teach PYP upper primary and use Seesaw Blogs? Would you like to connect for some reciprocated TAG feedback as suggested above?

Respecting the Remix

As we begin COETAIL 13 – Course 2, we kick off with a week of respecting the remix. In other words, understanding that we’re all inspired by others and that copying is a true and well a good thing, as long as we make it our own and give credit where we were inspired from.

This aligns nicely with the ISTE for Educators Citizen standard indicator 3c.

Kirby Ferguson’s, “Everything is a Remix Remastered“, was by far the most entertaining and well-crafted resource of the week. I loved his cinema style, humour (the “I’m sorry about Colonialism” genre), detail to a variety of media, and his use of persuasive repetition in threes to get his message across…

Copy. Transform. Create.

Ferguson’s message reminded me of one of my favourite John Spencer videos about, “Why Consuming is Necessary for  Creating“, where Spencer elucidates a similar persuasive three combo – Critical consumption of media (i.e. knowledge gathering; “geeking out”); finding one’s Inspiration; followed by the Creative work.

The Wisdom of Mitch Resnick

I’ve plugged the book before, and it won’t be the last time. Every educator must read, “Lifelong Kindergarten” by Mitch Resnick. A beautiful quote within the book’s, “Top ten tips for learners” section is number 6 – “It’s okay to copy stuff (to give you an idea).” Resnick posits that copying is a two-way street,

“You should feel free to build on the work of others, but you should be open to others building on your work, too.”

Resnick is also the creator of Scratch, a widely popular and free computational thinking application in which children can make their own games and more, either from “Scratch” or by remixing the work of others. The platform makes “remixing” and giving credit to the original author super simple, too!

Resnick lives and breathes all the wisdom that Seymour Papert passed on to him. Resnick has said that all of his major projects have been inspired by the work of Papert (If you click no other link, I implore you to take 5 minutes to watch this one). Papert himself “remixed” Piaget’s ideas and wisdom to create his own theory of learning – Constructionism.

And now, some provocations from COETAIL…


How can you inform your students and peers about the importance of respecting the intellectual property of others?

Simple – model it in action and talk about why. Here’s a video I made for my ISTE Certification on the subject, which I use with my kids at the start of the year.

Also, I know my audience. Every photo I use is either from PhotosForClass or another attribution-friendly source.

Do you see this as an issue in your school?

It would be very naive of me to say that it wasn’t, although I’d say most members of my team, and a select few of my other colleagues do feel passionate about this.

How do we teach copyright in countries where international copyright law is not clearly defined or followed?

Again – – modelling, advocacy, informing and educating.  Just because people do it, doesn’t make it right.  You could kick off the discussion with a nice story like Ellen Javernick’s, “What if everyone did that?“.

What is our obligation as educators?

If we don’t teach it — who will?!!!

What are your thoughts?

  • How do you un-demonize the word “copying”, all the while teaching your learners to respect and pay tribute to the work of others?
  • What could you do better in terms of the way you model this ISTE Citizen standard indicator for your learners?
  • Do you have any contextual examples or ideas you wish to share?