Course 3 Reflection

For the final course 3 project I chose to reflect on my digital story.  I picked this project as I found it the most challenging and it made me really think about the purpose and my audiences.

Edit one…

I started with three Google slideshows, found all the media that I wanted to use and started to upload it to iMovie.  Thinking that I would be finished in a few minutes I started to drag the content of each slide into the project bar – easy right? No! I ran into my first problem.  I was halfway through this process when I realised that I was already up to 17+ minutes.  I watch what I had dutifully dragged in and it was rubbish, disjointed and boring.  I had to go back to the drawing board.  At this point I decided to consult with my Grade 1 class, as after all this digital story was to document the journey of our lessons and final artworks.  We picked a few pictures they they felt were key to their learning and their favourite YouTube clips.  I went back to iMovie and gave it a second go.  This time I had their suggestions and choices in mind.

Edit two!

OK I was getting closer. I listened to a few TED talks (The Evolution of Digital Story Telling, The Power of Digital Story Telling, and Digital Story Telling, changing people, perceptions and lives) and thought about the purpose of this digital story.  What did I really want it to say? I wanted it to be a talking point for my students, to help them explain to their parents what we have been learning in out Unit on line and colour. It was at this point I had to think about the transition between the images, looking at the flow of the story. Emily Bailin’s opening on where people are from really made me think about this.  When you ask someone where they are from they tell you a place, when I asked the kids what we have been learning they tell me ART, Paul Klee, Colours… But few went in-depth.  They didn’t explain where we had been on our journey.

Edit three.

My 18 editors asked to see the ‘MOVIE’, these 7 year olds are harsh critics!  I was too long, and apparently, movies have more music and people speaking in them.  I went back to iMovie and asked myself if this told a complete story.  The kids were right, it did need some music, it also needed more talking – well slides with text (I don’t have the tone for a voice over!).  I took several images out, I cut one of the youtube clips and I started to add the ‘bells and whistles’.  I was struggling to think about how I could combine images.  I made use of the different options in iMovie, looking at ‘Picture in Picture’, background and titles.  Further to this I downloaded copyright free music from the YouTube creator studio (I searched for Happy) and started to combine these effect to make the move less ‘boring’.  I ensured that I had continuity when it came to colours and fonts – trying to bring the eclectic mixture of medias together.

It really does take a long time to make a movie, to tell a digital story, to make sure that you get the point across.  I am not sure that the time it took me really is a viable option for my lessons.  I struggled to stick to 5 minutes, I really have a new found appreciation for the You Tube videos that I watch now. Sharing my process with my students has sparked their interest in making movies and our next project is to recreate the Sesame Street video about the 3 primary colour (I’m sorry if that song is rattling around your head over and over again – I know the Homeroom teachers love me a little less for it!).  When I have completed that video with my students I will share it in a blog.

The three slideshows I started with:

My final iMovie (allow there are still a few things that I would like to improve)

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The Story of Our Unit

How can we share our learning with our parents? How can we tell the story of our unit?

Arts night at school is fast approaching and my Grade 1 and 2 Visual Arts classes are putting together a gallery walk – but how can we make it more interesting and how can we ensure that parents understand the journey we have made.  In addition to this, we need to think about the smooth transition from art gallery to musical ensemble.

Working through this module and exploring digital story telling gave me the perfect idea – create a story detailing the lessons that we have explored and create a movie to share with the parents.  I started on the journey with the students…

We talked about what parents would need to see and the students wanted their parents to view their two favourite Youtube Clips on Line and Colour.  I thought about a ‘Mash Up’ of the lessons and read over the article in the NY Times.  This worked well and the slides that I used with the class acted as a storyboard – we all know that get stories start with a great storyboard! Well that’s what I tell my design class!  This video will be playing in the classroom – but it will not be the focus of the gallery walk.  It will play on a loop and the students can direct their parents to it and talk about the lessons that we covered on line and colour.  I thought that this would be a really nice way to get the students to engage their parents in the lessons in Unit 1.

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In addition to the story of our lessons we decided to recreate the Sesame Street video ‘3 primary colours‘.  This held this blog up, and actually I have written it without completing the video – so look out for my little cherubs singing and dancing to the three primary colours, they are really looking forward to using the green screen – I am looking forward to seeing their reaction to the finished article.  It is hoped that this final video will be used as the segue from Visual Art to Music.

As for digital storytelling, will it help me to communicate more effectively with my students, I’m not sure it will.  In fact perhaps it will encourage that digital disconnect?  I can make everything, add music, make it engaging, I can even add a voice over – all great!  These are fantastic skills to have within my teaching tool kit – but it means that I can stand back, I don’t need to be there – I will digitally disconnect with my students.  With that said – I will use it but within particular contexts, not within my teaching – one-to-one contact with my students.  It will be great to use digital story telling as a way to document our learning journey or as a tool to use within my Haiku Learning page.  Having a good understanding of iMovie can also be passed on to my students, in the hope that they can begin to express theirselves through digital storytelling. Jim Jorstad talks about the stories we have to tell and the possibilities of digital disconnects in his TEDx talk,

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InfoGraphics – Prep or Procrastination?

Infographic and their use in my teaching… Do they have a place? Another wasted use of my prep time or a key teaching resource?
Megan Jaegerman’s use of colour to highlight the the key aspects of the key point of the graphic in tandem with short sentences have the most impact on the viewer.  Her work for the New York times is highly revered and demonstrates the thought process and the work that goes into making graphics simple, yet impactful.  This related back to the article on ‘Presentation Zen’ where there is a clear distinction between simple and simplistic.  This has influenced my presentation making and how I can still introduce visuals to my teaching without having to use a slideshow.  Here I have taken a slide show that I created for a Grade 2 Visual Arts lesson and I have turned it into an Infographic.  I searched for an appropriate Infographic to use with this class however there was some much I wanted to change to make is accessible to my class that I felt engaging with the process of actually creating one would serve several purposes, to inform my understanding of Infographics and their creation, I could start to apply my reading and new understanding of visual literacy and it would ensure that my presentation was specifically aimed at my class.
I took my understanding of Jaegerman’s use of colour and applied it to the use of the background colour, specifically, I looked at each section and added dots to the section that detailed why Aboriginal Art used dots, I hoped that it would add impact to the slide as the follow up lesson requires the students to create a piece of art using dots.  I felt that the overall result looked far more professional that the slide show.  The infographic also seem to be a much better use of space, images and text.

In addition to taking Presentation Zen and the work of Jaegerman in to consideration I used some of the principles of a ‘Clear and Readable Presentations from Reid Wilson.  It is amazing how much thought and purpose you can apply to creating what would at first appear to be a fairly simple presentation, and how this ensures that you give your visuals the maximum impact.

As a side note, through my reading about the uses of visual literacy in the classroom I read a fair bit about the use of visual note taking, ‘Sketchnotes‘.  As a doodler and someone who finds it difficult to concentrate in meetings for a long time I love this idea.  I also thought that I would share this video and website with our Students Support Department as I can see a lot of potential uses in with a multitude of different learning styles.  This YouTube video sums it up perfectly.

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So…. are infographics useful in my teaching prep?  I think I ‘m a convert!


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See – Think – Feel

Teaching visual arts there is an inexplicable connection between the subject the need to use visual imagery in my lessons.  With this in mind, on e must explore the kind of imagery that should be used and its specific purpose.  The current unit in grade 1 is the concept of shape.  We have been talking about how shapes can be grouped.  It is clear that he students have an understanding of how shapes can be ‘normal’ and how they can be ‘messy’ – two excellent ways one student explained regular and irregular shapes. In addition to this the terms geometric and organic were introduced.  This was a much harder concept for the students to grasp.  I created the following slideshow to use with the class.

I shared the first 14 slides with the students and this sparked some excellent discussion about the different ways shapes have been used.The slideshow sparked some great discussion and gave the students some excellent examples of how artists use shape in real life.

“Visual literacy is defined as the ability to interpret images as well as to generate images for communicating ideas and concepts”. (Stokes, 2002)

In addition to merely talking about what they could see and the use of shape I felt that it was important for the students to think about how images made them feel and and what it made them think about.  I focused on one particular image I found using Flickr.  I posed questions about the image to the students and this one simple images sparked a lot of discussion, especially the question, ‘Would you have this picture in your house, explain why?’.  It was hoped that this visible thinking routine would begin the students down the path to becoming visually literate, a concept described as someone who can:

  • Interpret, understand and appreciate the meaning of visual messages;
  • Communicate more effectively by applying the basic principles and concepts of visual design;
  • Produce visual messages using computers and other technologies; and
  • Use visual thinking to conceptualise solutions to problems

Taken from

This is the activity the students carried out:

Images such as this Mondrian allow the students to read the images without the influence of people or clearly distinguishable objects.  Students could make up any story that they wanted to about this regular shapes in this image.  It also allow the students to practice using the vocabulary that we have been learning in class in the previous units.  The next steps for this series of lesson plan will be for the students to recreate a Mondrian on the computer.  I would like to use some of the concepts of “The power of the visual: Learning from Down Under promotion videos” from Presentation Zen.  I will be interesting to give the students a template divided into sections and encourage the students to fill different area of the screen with shapes and colours, will the grade 1 pictures have more tension or drama if colour and shapes are concentrated in the ‘outer third’ of the picture.  I’ll post some pictures later and let you decide.

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Past – Present – Perfect?

Simple, but not simplistic

As a technology coordinator I give a lot of presentations.  I think that people always expect my presentations to be cutting edge with a fancy slideshow – they aren’t… (sorry). My presentations are often simplistic and to the point.  I want the focus to be the skill or information that I want to get across.  This generally means that I need the screen to demonstrate, this means that any slideshow is likely to get switched off.  In fact, for a while in the past I specifically did not use a slideshows.  It was after a seminar at the BETT conference in London.  I watched the whole seminar, watching the screen intently – mesmerised.  What was the seminar about? No idea, not a clue.  It was the first time I had ever seen the use of Prezi!  It took me the whole presentation to try to figure out how it was made.  It was engaging and well made, fantastic if the presenter was trying to sell Prezi – they had the use and understanding of the software down to a ‘T’, terrible as they were trying to demo some other software and make sales.  Were there any questions at the end of the presentation? Yes – what software did you use to make the slideshow? The room signed a breath of relief and left – no doubt to download Prezi!!  It was at this point that I realised that the time I was spending on making my presentations look amazingly fancy, was time I could have been spending on making the content of my presentation better.  Perhaps the time has come to readdress my stance (or dislike for slideshows where people flash up a metric ton of images and writing and talk at the same time) and look at some recent presentations moving them from simplistic to simple.  Garr Reynolds talked about this 4 yrs before my Prezi epiphany (an epiphany that I am sure was responsible for a great deal of motion sickness in my classrooms).  He talked about the distinction between a simple presentation and a simplistic one.

Simplicity is often used as a means to greater clarity. However, simplicity can also be viewed as a consequence. A consequence, that is, of our careful efforts to craft a story and create supporting visuals that focus on our audience’s needs in a clear and meaningful way. Ok, simplicity is great you say, but how simple? What is the formula for simplicity?

Based on Reynolds ideas on Presentation Zen I took a presentation that I made for a conference: ‘Creating Connections 2017: Social and Emotional Support for Multicultural/International Children in Japan’ and made some subtle changes to it.  The first set of slides are plain and to the point.  I try not to distract from my message and so I often set out to use black and white, or one or two background colours, with simple images.  The images are taken from the Noun Project, my favourite place to find icons for a variety of purposes at the moment.  As I work with children from a multitude of cultures and nationalities I find that their clean and clear images do not clutter the page, or distract from the text.  The Noun project have a great tagline too,

Creating, sharing and celebrating the world’s visual language.

On reflection when reading through the 6 presentation principles as detailed by Reynolds, I definitely do not have too much “powerpoint design’ in these slide, however this makes the slides look a little boring or as if they were complied at the last minute.  I do believe that each of the images that I have selected do tell the story of the presentation.  When thinking about the information to include and exclude I had to really think about the audience and the time I had to get my point across.  I picked out several key ideas and used these to support the information I gathered from discussion with students about social media and their experiences. Overall, the slideshow was rather simplistic and didn’t seem to project the image of young people and their engagement with social media.

I considered several different themes and backgrounds, How to make your Google Presentations Shine, from Shake Up Learning  was extremely helpful in directing me towards some new and more professional themes.  I decided on this notebook theme as it was visually more appealing and reminded me of a student’s notebook.  I kept the text and the images that same as they really worked for me.

After some research and interesting reading on design and death by powerpoint I may be persuaded to put more effort and thought into the design of each slide. I don’t think that I an ready for animations and transitions, but is anyone?

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Looking – Seeing – Analysing 

“We must teach communication comprehensively, in all its forms. Today we work with the written or spoken word as the primary form of communication. But we also need to understand the importance of graphics, music, and cinema, which are just as powerful and in some ways more deeply intertwined with young people’s culture. We live and work in a visually sophisticated world, so we must be sophisticated in using all the forms of communication, not just the written word.”


Isn’t it amazing how we are all so visually simulated in our everyday life?  Perhaps it is more frightening how much our students and children are visually over stimulated…  But is this a bad thing – we seem to think it is in many ways.  I was told as a kid that I would get square eyes watching too much TV or spending too much time in front of a screen.
But what is visual literacy? Why is it important? Why do we need to teach it?


Brian Kennedy explains that Visual literacy is “the ability to construct meaning from images.  It’s not a skill; it uses skills as a toolbox.  It is a form of critical thinking that enhanced your intellectual capacity.”  “Visual literacy is multi-modal, it’s multi disciplinary, it’s interdisciplinary and it’s collaborative.” It is a universal language.  In addition to this, “we read non-text 60,000 times fast than we can read text’  If this is the case, then how can we ensure that children are really looking, ‘Slow looking’?


Looking, seeing , analysing do we do this things?  This is why we need to teach visual literacy to our over stimulated, multitasking students.  Teach them stop multitasking and just look, see things, ask questions and analyse them.


As a teacher is is clear that we must start with our own practices. That being the case I started to think about the visual media that I use.  My test website that I use with students, my Haiku pages and my COETAIL blog.  What would I do to make them visually more appealing, how can I make people stop, look, see and analyse – ask questions, think about what I am writing.
I found this youtube video somewhat helpful, although the presenters are a little irritating.
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I like the acronym C.R.A.P., it must be the middle school child in me! What follows is a couple of different screenshots of site/pages I have created and a critique of each using C = Contrast, R = Repetition, A = Alignment & P = Proximity.  I have also provided a short justification of the initial choices and purpose of the page.

Old ‘New Staff’ Page


One internal page:

This site was design for new teachers to our school and Japan.  It was a place to find information and somewhere leaving staff could post sale items.  The original colour scheme was selected to to compliment our school colours – although I must say that I am not a huge fan of green.
Contrast – There is very little contrast here. Nothing really stands out, particularly the left hand menu.  It actually looks very dated.
Repetition – There is some repetition of colour although there is a misuse of ‘underline’ in the title.  All the links are underlined and the same colour but the title is not a hyperlink – this could lead to confusion or people thinking that the link is broken.  A header and footer in the same colour would also help to indicate that the page has come to an end and the text in-between would have been framed.  Each page has the same layout, colour and font maintaining some repetition and, hopefully, connecting green with NIS.
Alignment – The page has a lot of initial information scattered around. Placing this information in columns would help to break it down into more manageable chucks, placing equal importance on each section,  helping the viewer to navigate the page more easily.  A the moment I would wonder what to click on first.
Proximity – The placement of the ‘for sale’ image and text suggest that they are related and that without reading the text you might fins out more information about for sale items.  The other image seems a bit random and is very close the Tips of Japan, perhaps a better image would have something to specifically do with Japan.
Overall, now I look at this site I wonder what I was thinking and would certainly redo in fro future reference.

New ‘New Staff’ Page


One internal page:

Here we have the new ‘new staff’ page.  Brighter and a little easier to navigate.  Considering the principles of C.R.A.P. I hope that you agree!

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Final Project 2 – RUA’s and How They Keep Us Safe Online

We may have been great fools to develop the post office, to invent the newspaper and the railway; but the harm is done – it will be our children who will see it; we have created a Frankenstein monster at whom our simplicity can only gape.” 

Henry James, late 1890s (Thank goodness Henry James never seen Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram!)

Unit 2 is closing for me, all be it a little late and I have really enjoyed working through this unit. I have got lost in the resources and have really found some excellent websites and articles that have made me think and really reflect on how I use technology personally and professionally.  I have looked at my facebook posts, created a new twitter account and sharpened the focus of each social media tool I use.  I was inspired by all the students who are taking action in the world through the uses of technology and my eyes were opened to a new wave of innovators who aren’t innovating in their world, they are just using the tools that we have given them.  They are digital citizens and it is so natural for them, born into a world where you couldn’t be anything else.  When writing my blog on Digital tattoos Abbi Sandweiss made an interesting comment,

“Hello Sylvia! I think this is my first post on your blog. I was really interested by your title and as I read on further I really began to make the connection between “digital footprint” and “digital tattoo.” Honestly, I hadn’t ever thought of it as a digital tattoo, but that really does make a better picture for me in knowing that what you post online is there for good – it’s not easy to remove. I think that this would really help my students to understand the importance of why we teach digital citizenship. Many of them have a really difficult time making the connection that when you post something online, it is there for good and can be really hard to “delete.” I really liked your idea of having a class do a unit on “Social Media Fails.” I always laugh at all of the post on the “Pinterest Fails” and would be interested to see the work that your class came up with, if you don’t mind sharing it.

I am knew to the blogging experience, but am definitely realizing that I need to keep it professional. I wonder do my coworkers do the same? How can I help them to realize the importance of digital tattoos? This will be something I continue to teach and help others (and myself) learn throughout the years. Keep sharing your great ideas – I would love to use some of them! Thank you 🙂”

This prompted me to start thinking about how we can share the idea of digital tattoos with our students and staff, and so an invitation was extended to Abbi and a series of lesson centred around an RUA were developed.  It was great working with Abbi and we both had a similar destination in mind – Google docs and the chat facility (plus FaceBook Messenger) were great tools to use in the collaborative process.  This You Tube video sums up our collaboration (thanks to Abbie for finding this!):

Understanding Digital Citizenship in schools begins with a Responsible User Agreement, setting out the expectations for the uses of technology.  I know we spend a long time working on developing RUAs, getting the wording right, finding examples from other schools, other educators and adapting it to our needs.  When we are happy with these foundation documents we merrily send them off to parents and students asking them to read over them and sign them.  They are handed back in and ‘filed’.  Job done right?  I think not…

As an IB school it is always important to make connections and recognise the importance of technology and its use in our everyday life,

“In this constantly evolving digital age, ICT is progressively becoming a ubiquitous part of a learner’s life at school and beyond: for learning, working, innovating, creating, responding, problem-solving, problem posing, socialising and playing. Students inhabit a world saturated with information, images and sound. Inevitably, students’ immersion in this world continually leads them to explore creative and innovative uses of emerging technologies beyond their basic functional applications, discovering new ways of engaging with content meaningfully, and participating fully in today’s world.” IBO, 2011

Based on this my school adopted a RUA that developed by a groups of fellow COETAIL students.  It was framed by the Learner Profile Attributes and fitted in very well with our school ethos. That coupled with the Common Sense Education units on Digital Citizenship and several Visible thinking routines We had the beginning of a series of lesson plans to explore our RUA.  The RUA needs to be made real, the students have to connect what is written in this document with their real ‘online’ life.  Therefore, after a series of lessons exploring digital citizenship the summative task will be for the students to select one or two of the points in the RUA and create a presentation for their peers, it would be great if these could been shown at assembly.  Students can use any medium, poster, video, animation or slide show.

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Empower – Inspire – Impact

The title of this blog is a play on my schools tagline “Inquire – Inspire – Impact”

But why did I change it?  I’m talking about Technology and young people, I really don’t think we need to encourage them to Inquire – they are definitely doing this independently!  But what we do need to do is Empower our students.  Empower and inspire them to be bold and impact the world around them through the medium of technology.  As Scot McLeod, in his TEDxDeMoines talk, put it “How do we take the extra-curricular and turn it into the curricular?” How do we harness the inquiry happening everyday? How do we turn 72 hours of video being uploaded to Youtube every minute into learning in the classroom? (Erickson, 2012) Or maybe the question should be:

“How do we get out of the way and let them be amazing?” (McLeod, 2013)

On the subject of empowerment, I love the article ‘Instead of an AUP, How about an EUP?‘  Why are we always telling students no? Ok the AUP (RUA – MYP & DP NIS 2016) we use in school is fairly positive, however there is the clause ‘ If you do not follow the above agreements, you may lose the right to use technology at NIS’  What if we just said yes? ‘Be empowered. Do awesome things. Share with us your ideas and what you can do. Amaze us.’ (McLeod, 2014).  McLeod writes a short article – but read the comments after, there is an excellent debate and naturally educators want their students to be empowered online, they want them to have an impact, they want them to inspire others.

It’s here I think about Martha and her blog.  I think not just about the awe inspiring parents who encouraged her and impact she has had on a global community, but on her school and the way they handled the media interest.  They told her ‘no’, ‘you must stop’.  I wonder how they feel about this now?  I wonder how they are empowering students to use technology – I guess (hope) they have done a 360 turn and all student’s now have a blog in their school! (Search the net, unsuccessfully, to find a press release from the school).  Here’s Martha’s story…

We continually want students to write, write essays, write reflections, write a blog and perhaps these are some of the reasons we are inhibiting their amazingness? In ‘20 Things I learned‘ (2010) they cite these ‘astounding Statistics’:

  • Images and photos now make up 65% of the information on a typical web page, in terms of bytes per page.
  • 35 hours of video are uploaded to you Tube every minute of the day. (That’s like Hollywood releasing 130,000 new full length movies every week.

Look at the figures for Youtube uploads! There are two years between these articles being published and the figures have more than doubled.  Today, 2017, the number of hours of video uploaded to Youtube every minute stands at 300!



And we are asking students to write!

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Empowering students also means standing back and allowing them to falter, the have that moment of ‘Why did I do that’.  We know that students learn more for trial and error improvement than anything else, inquiring, figuring it out for themselves. So why should technology be any different.  We should be encouraging students to ask ‘what happens if I press this?’  ‘Teaching children to fail’ is an excellent article for parents and educators.


What we need to do is teach ‘Digital Intelligence (DQ)‘, arm students with the skills they need to stay safe online and manage their own online world.  This way they can make their own judgements and use digital commons sense to stay safe.  It will give them the freedom to move forward, to inquire, to inspire and to impact the world and use technology to make a positive impact on their world.

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Google Digital Citizenship and Safety Course – A Review

This blog will look at the Google’s Digital Citizenship and Safety Course, reflecting on it’s strengths and weaknesses.  It will also consider where responsibly lies for teaching these important skills to students.


An interesting video that I would use with students in parts.  It gave a lot of information straight away and I would like to look at it in small chunks, pausing the video to have a discussion with my students.  In addition to this, the questions posed at the beginning of the unit would be very good starters for a lesson.  I thought that the quiz was pointless – I can’t see how it added to my understanding.

Overall this unit, was rather basic.  I think it might be a good starting point for staff training to give context to a discussion of creating passwords.  I believe that this training could have explored the idea of changing passwords frequently and how you can use a password manager, especially as this was in the quiz at the end.


I like the idea of ‘setting boundaries’ around the use of mobile devices – this is very good advice and comes right at the end of the video.  I would be excellent to use the questions at the beginning of the unit as a survey – the results might be frightening!

I believe that students and adults take mobile phone security far more seriously than any other kind.  Some of the advice is rather generic and, again, basic.  Setting pass codes is becoming a thing of the past with facial recognition and finger print technology, I wonder if they will review this unit in light of that?.  It is, however, still important to ensure that the codes you use are hard to crack, as these codes are often and back up.  Mobile security connects strongly with Unit 2, as one need to have strong passwords for accounts etc.

Within this unit, I felt that it would have been beneficial to talk about keychains and how credit card and account information is stored and what you can do to secure this information, especially when you can take your phone to several websites, purchase goods and fill nothing in as autofill will do it all after you type in your first name.  I wasn’t 100% sure how the whole unit connected to the initial questions on social media…


I think that this is the most important Unit in this series.

These questions are extremely valuable a deserve to stand alone as discussion points in any good Professional Development on Technology use in the classroom:

  • How important is finding reliable information for your job as an educator? And how important is finding reliable information for your students to do their schoolwork?
  • Where do your students first hear about world events?
  • What makes them trust what they read on a website?
  • As a teacher, do you think your students know how to find reliable information online?

It is extremely important that students are constantly questioning what they are reading and look for validity, a very challenging task online.  I felt that this unit was left short. Introducing the rule of thumb that 3 sources are a minimum, works well – especially with personal blogs and when it is difficult to identify who has written the information presented.

As an educator is is always good to introduce the concept of reliability and validity early on, I deliver course to grades 4 and 5 on this topic.  These is especially important at this stage to ready the grade 5 students for their exhibition project.  I have found that looking at websites that are completely fake and asking questions about them is a really fun way to explore the topic of validity –  it is clear that many of the student believe that just because an adult has picked the sources they are reliable.  I particularly like the website on ‘Dehydrated water’ and teach ICT have a list of some good resources.

It is also good to point out to students that they should use their own knowledge and common sense to assess sources – does it seem reliable?  This video is an excellent example (be sure to show them the making of the video to):

Unit 5

Overall, this is a good unit. I think that it is short and to the point.  It covers all the basics and I really like the idea that they should check URLs and find contact information on official sites.  I always suggest that if an email looks false then copy and paste the information into google, as often others will have reported the email as a scam.


All of the units are a good starting point to work with students and staff on internet safety.  I found all of the questions to be great discussion starters and I would love to investigate some of them in more depth.  Internet safety has shifted in recent year and we must continually have conversations with our students about how they can stay safe online.  It is everyones responsibility to ensure students are safe online, just as we would in the real world!  There is a massive need for study skills to include understanding about validity and reliability of sources and this would fit extremely well into any curriculum, but it would be particularly relevant in Individuals and Societies and English literature courses.

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Brave? Foolish? Private?

Online privacy is something that people take very seriously.  Reflecting on a previous post ‘Footprints – Tattoos – CVs‘, it is clear why people want to look after their privacy – especially teachers!

How would you feel being open to the world? Open to the whole world and sundry?  Is life becoming closer to the TV show Black Mirror, where life is based on approval ratings?  Every interaction is public and rated?

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This is the world that our students are living in.  They are living a very public life and want approval, but why should be teach them to be private – should be be teaching them to be private or should we teach them to be smart about how they share their data?  I’d definitely say the latter.  We are living in an open society and we need to be smart about being public.  Privacy might be dying!  I was really taken aback when I went to Learning2 Asia and signed up for a workshop on rebranding teaching.  I clearly did not read the blurb carefully, or perhaps I did and made my self believe that it was something else!  This workshop was not about rebranding your teaching, but it was about rebranding yourself as a teacher.

A very interesting idea in a world of online privacy being forced sown our throats.  Our first task was to google a partner – someone who we had never met before.  We had a questionnaire to fill in but could only use the information about the person that we had found online.  What a horrifying prospect, I immediately started to sweat (as did the rest of the room).  What would this person find out about – I knew all about privacy settings, didn’t I?  Well yes it turned out I wasn’t too bad.  However, I couldn’t find anything out about my partner.  She had no online presence – now her privacy settings but have been more secure than homeland security or she didn’t have one.  The latter was the case.  What what did this say about her?  The only information I could find about her was from her school website, she was the librarian.  A librarian who never used social media, who didn’t use computers? Who was frightened about being found? All these judgements were starting to cloud my interaction with this perfectly lovely and experienced professional.  Is this what happens when an employer can’t find out information about you because you’ve jacked up the privacy settings to number 11 – they start jumping to conclusions?

In addition to this revelation, the presenter proceeded to tell us that she used no privacy settings whatsoever, none, nothing… The room gasped. My gut reaction was to say well I’m not doing that… But wait what about the activity that we had just carried out?  Our presenter, Tosca Killoran, lived her online life out in the open and she still had a job, is a very successful professional.  Google her, there are no secrets.  You access everything she has online.  Brave or foolish? I’ve no idea!  She believes in teaching people to harness the power of the internet and use it well.

Privacy has it’s place but we know that our students are living their lives openly online.  Lets make sure we understand its potential and its pitfalls.  She has several online guide for parents and teachers encouraging them not to just tell kids to turn the privacy level up.  These are valuable resources:

All great stuff, but what are the negative effects of sharing everything online?  ‘Social Cooling‘ could become very real, very soon and I’m not sure how comfortable I am with living my life in the public eye online.  Have I switched off the privacy settings in my facebook, instagam or any other social media account? No, I don’t think I am ready yet, although I do have open ‘professional’ Twitter account – maybe I’ll be as brave as Tosca one day….

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