Rebecca Black, “Friday,” and your students’ digital footprint

Posted on Tue, May 21, 2013 @ 08:05 AM

digital footprintWhen 13-year-old Rebecca Black’s parents handed ARK Music Factory a $4,000 check to have them cut a single and create an accompanying music video for their daughter, they couldn’t possibly have imagined what would happen.  

Four months after “Friday” was recorded, filmed and posted to YouTube it went viral, receiving 166 million views and 3.2 million “dislikes.” Not long after, comedians like Jimmy Fallon and Steven Colbert lampooned the “so-bad-it’s-good” single and critics unanimously echoed that “Friday” was “the worst song ever written.” The derision must have stung, but it was only further exasperated by bullying at school, ominous phone calls and emails containing death threats.

Browse YouTube and you’ll see hundreds of thousands of videos and songs far worse (“worse” is relative, of course) than Rebecca Black’s. Few of them will ever be noticed; few will ever receive 166 million views and twice as many “dislikes”; few of them will be remembered a decade later and come up in conversation at a cocktail party.

This 13-year-old did absolutely nothing wrong—and as cliché as it is to say it, she was truly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nonetheless, odds are that “Friday” is going tag along with Black this Friday, the Friday after next and the one ten years after that. Time will tell.

What does this have to do with our students?
Although Rebecca Black’s experience may be a bit of a hyperbolic way to segue into a conversation about our students’ digital footprint, her experience does give them reason to reflect on the marks they leave behind when they post pictures, comments and videos on the Internet.

Everything we do online leaves a trail; it may wind and evolve as we age, but it will always point back to us. Colleges and universities are increasingly reviewing this footprint when they decide who is going to be receiving a letter of acceptance. Employers, too, are beginning to conduct informal digital background checks on applicants before offering them a position. Showing up for the interview is the second impression, not the first. And thanks to our digital footprint, personas begin to take shape the moment our parents post photos of us as newborns.

A discussion that truly unpacks the impact of our digital footprint deserves a book. We simply wish to get the conversation started so that you can continue it with your students. If you’re looking for a way to get started, we recommend checking out a five-minute, TED-Talks episode featuring Juan Enriquez. In it, Enriquez uses insights from Greek and Latin American mythology to make sense of the surprisingly permanent effects of digital sharing on our personal privacy.

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Topics: Educational Technology, Educational Technology Master's Degree, Educational Technology Programs, Instructional Technology Graduate Programs, Technology in the Classroom, classroom technology, Online Education, digital footprint, Rebecca Black

If you could write a haiku to a Martian, what would it say?

Posted on Tue, May 07, 2013 @ 09:05 AM

MAVEN MarsWe just found out that NASA is calling all Earthlings to submit their names, along with a three-line haiku, to the Going to Mars with Maven contest. If you need a little incentive to get your submission in by July 1, try this on for size: The three most popular submissions will actually be written to a DVD and sent to Mars onboard the MAVEN spacecraft!

There is one caveat: Those who submit must be 18 or older. The good news is that teachers are allowed to submit on behalf of their students.

We think this is a great way to get students excited about science, space, space travel and writing. It’s also a creative way to help students make a personal connection to the MAVEN mission, which is scheduled for launch in November.

To learn more about the Going to Mars with Maven contest, or to view current entries, stop by their website by clicking here. You can also watch a video about the MAVEN mission below.


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Topics: Educational Technology, Educational Technology Master's Degree, Educational Technology Programs, Instructional Technology Graduate Programs, writing strategies, writing skills, Online Education, Master's in Educational Technology Online

Public Speaking, Death and Twitter in the Classroom

Posted on Wed, Aug 08, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

Fear of Public SpeakingI began one of our first blogs with an analogy. I’ll have you know that I’m about to recycle it and darn it, I’m not going to feel bad about it either:

How many times have you said something about public speaking or your reluctance to give speeches and had someone come right back with the threadbare cliché about how “one study” found that “the average person fears public speaking more than death?

Who conducted this study, exactly?

Regardless of whether or not this “study”/cliché can be validated, it is true that most of us—especially our students—have an aversion to public speaking.

Some might argue that students should learn to confront their fears by being forced to speak up in class. That’s a worthy conversationone that I’d like to take up in subsequent blogs—but not one we are going to take up in this article.

As an alternative to forcing students to talk, using Twitter in the classroom is one way—not necessarily the only or the best way—for every student, both bold and shy, to participate equally. As you’ll see, the benefits of using Twitter in the classroom go far beyond satiating our students’ fear of public speaking.

If you have considered using Twitter in the classroom, here are 5 ideas to get you started:

  1. Use Twitter as a Steady Stream of Calendar Updates: Just picture all the times you go home, are washing the dishes, and think, "I sure hope they remember that Project X is due tomorrow..." Now you can send a Tweet in the same time it takes to think the thought, and all of your students will be reminded. Magic.

  2. Engage Students in Discussions. Whether you encourage the use of Twitter inside the classroom or not, there are all kinds of ways to incorporate Tweet-based discussions.  Make "Tweeting one discussion question and one discussion reply" a homework assignment; then use the following class day to discuss the questions and comments.  You may be surprised to hear from some little birds who have never made a classroom peep. You can have students write their questions in class and have TAs Tweet them later. Whatever way you decide to use it, a Twitter-based discussion format can help level the participation playing field.

  3. Use Twitter to Connect to Real Life.  Tweet news feeds, links to YouTube videos, or even your own pictures or thoughts regarding real life objects or events that are related to your current classroom lesson(s). Students love interactive learning. Your Tweets will keep them in the intellectual loop or introduce them to new and exciting concepts you might not have had time for in the classroom.

  4. Keep Parents Connected.  Using Twitter in the Classroom can also be a 2-for-1. Parents can follow the Twitter stream and will feel connected and engaged. Plus, they are much more likely to be on your side when it comes to missing assignments or "forgotten" test days.

  5. Build a Progressive Something. Imagine your students voluntarily engaging in school work over the weekend. Start a poem or a math equation. Input one fact about a historical person or setting. Anyone following the feed can only add one line, step, or fact and watch it build.  It's good practice for everyone!

I’d like to end by raising a question: I’ve heard more than a few teachers argue against classroom technology like Twitter and Student Response Systems. These teachers argue that this type of technology caves to our students’ insecurities and fails to prepare them to navigate the give-and-take of “real” conversation. I’d like to hear your thoughts. Is there any truth to this?

At Marygrove College, we provide educators, teachers, professionals and administrators with the knowledge and practical ability to keep up with an ever expanding array of technology. The classroom is rapidly changing—we want to help you stay current. If you are interested in successfully integrating educational technology into your school or classroom, learn more about Marygrove College’s Master of Education Technology Online.

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Topics: Educational Technology, Educational Technology Master's Degree, Educational Technology Programs, Instructional Technology Graduate Programs, Best Apps for Educators, student engagement, Online Education, Successful Schools, Master's in Educational Technology Online

Online Classrooms Have Benefits You May Not Have Considered

Posted on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 @ 17:06 PM

View of a microphone on a stand facing an audience

To quote the famous and long tired Sunday Times research study about how the average person fears public speaking more than death is tempting—but let’s face it, the cliché is about as threadbare as your great aunt’s Victorian settee.

Suggesting that 41 percent of the population—or 75 percent, depending on your “scholarly” dotcom source—would take death over public speaking sounds fishy. What is safe to say is that there are a lot of brilliant ideas out there, but we’ll never hear a good chunk of them because the people with the ideas loathe speaking in public.

“Get to the point,” you say?
Here’s the point: In the traditional classroom, students enter a tangible space. Ideas are exchanged and grappled with, which requires public discourse. This has worked for many students for hundreds of years. But for others, the thought of piping up during a classroom discussion means the possibility that they could be “wrong,” or “stupid,” or unable to fully articulate their ideas.

As a result, the most talkative students clamor on while the coy, and often the most insightful, students hide in the back.

It’s not for everyone, but the e learning classroom does work better for some students. Sure, it helps working students and parents, but sticking with the public-speaking theme, online classrooms push students—all of them—to share themselves. They must engage with their professor and peers; they’re just doing it in a different way.

Here are a few more reasons why we think that online classrooms work:

  • Provides a Forum for Open Questioning
    It’s true, professors who teach in online classrooms don’t have traditional office hours. Not a problem though. Despite the fact that many students have questions or are confused about course materials, many of them, for one reason or another, do not take advantage of the professor’s office hours. As a result, neither party—the confused student and the bored instructor—benefits. In an online class, students can submit questions and the instructor can, regardless of where s/he is at, answer them without being tied to the office. An added bonus is that the entire class gets to read the student’s questions and the professor’s answers.
  • Provides Structure with Flexibility
    The e Learning classroom allows students to complete their work or access course documents whenever and wherever. In most cases, the course schedule and content are planned and made accessible throughout the semester. Although students do have to adhere to deadlines, they are free to work ahead if their schedule allows.
  • Defies Borders and Geography
    Virtual online learning allows students who live in areas where there are limited possibilities to pursue higher education regardless of where they reside. Online classrooms also give students the chance to interact with a more diverse student body.
  • Promotes Mindful Reflection
    Online classrooms
    give students an advantage that those in the brick and mortar classroom don’t always have: The luxury of time. In a traditional classroom, discussion takes place in one set block of time, which means that both students and teachers must respond to the content one another “off the cuff.” Online students, however, have the time and space to grapple with these ideas and respond to them with tact and measure. This model discourages impulsive thinking and instead promotes mindful reflection, allowing students to fully digest their thoughts before sharing them with the group.

If you’re ready to find out more about learning in an e learning classroom, consider Marygrove College’s offering of online graduate programs: Educational Technology; Educational Leadership; Human Resource Management and Modern Language Translation Certificates.

You should also know that as of March 26, Marygrove College is reducing tuition rates for these online graduate programs by 19 percent! The decision was made in an effort to address students’ concerns across the U.S. about the rising cost of higher education. This is one step—amongst a few others—that the college is taking to ensure that a Marygrove education is an achievable, financially-sustainable investment. 

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Topics: student engagement, Online Education

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