Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolve to Promote Truth

Photo courtesy photos-public-domain.com
OK educators. It's time to put the skills you have to work with ALL of the people in your lives, not just the ones you call your students. This may also include yourselves.

It's time to promote self-restraint. And critical thinking. And research skills.

It's time to be OK with gently correcting even the adults in your life.

Why this call to action? Because I firmly believe that until we can promote the idea that ALL of us, regardless of age, are responsible for conducting ourselves wisely online, convincing our young people to be responsible digital citizens will be an uphill, frustrating, and in the long run a losing battle.

An area where I believe we can easily make an impact is in the area of promoting the truth. Stated another way, let's resolve to

  • Not pass along information without doing some quick fact checking. 
    • If you don't have time to fact check, just don't pass the info along.
  • Let people know when they are sharing incorrect information and ask them to delete and post a correction.
  • In the process, teach others how to do their own quick fact checking.

An Example of How to Promote Truth

Following through on a resolution to promote truth is not all that difficult. Here is a scenario which played out for me earlier this fall:
  • A friend posted an address on Facebook where people could send cards to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C.
  • Thinking it was a good idea, but wanting to be sure it would truly work, I went to my favorite rumor checking website, snopes.com, and searched for Walter Reed cards for soldiers and quickly found that the address shared by my friend would not work.
  • I then posted a comment on my friend's Facebook post, sharing that the information was inaccurate and that Snopes is a good place to check on these types of things before sharing. Then, I gently suggested she might want to take it down and let the person who shared it with her know as well. (She did take it down!)
That's how easy it was. Instead of clicking Share without thought, I took about five extra minutes to confirm that what was being said was true. Hopefully, anyone else who saw this play out will  hesitate the next time they are about to share information and take a moment to check.

Develop Your Suspicion Muscle

One thing we all need to do is become more suspicious of the things we read online, especially the ones that are "feel good" (like sending Christmas cards to soldiers) or "cries for help" (like missing children alerts). Often these tales started out true. Many missing children posts began as truth. A lost stuffed animal's journey began as truth, but I continue to see the picture of the "missing" lion popping up on Facebook, even though the story has already had its happy ending.

Here are some of the types of posts that almost immediately make me pause and verify before sharing:
  • Reports of the death of anyone famous
  • Requests to help find missing people
  • Photographs circulating during and after disasters (Just look at all the pics supposedly related to Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. Anyone ever heard of Photoshop?)
  • Any report of a scandal
  • Stories/photographs that support a specific political point of view. (Even the views I agree with. Especially those! Why would I want to damage a cause I believe in by spreading falsehoods?)
It is hard to categorize everything that gives me pause, which nowadays is almost anything. But whenever I experience a mental "Hmmm..." alert after seeing something online, especially when social media is the first place I see it, I
  • Head to Google where I specifically look for news references if it is a current event topic. And I try to find verification on two or more sites.
  • And/Or I go to snopes.com if it seems to be something that might have been around for a while.
Whether I verify the information or not, if I choose to correct or reshare, I always include a link to a reliable source with the information. Again, hoping to model appropriate sharing for my online connections.

I Hate to Say it, but We Need to Trust Less

In the digital age, it is too easy to spread inaccurate information. Many of us who remember getting information pre-Internet have not made the mental transition from the days of print media and the days when news came to us only through networks on television. We trusted that what we read and heard from journalists had been verified. Frankly, many people, regardless of their age, are just gullible, assuming if it's online, it's true.

Today, anyone is capable of being a "journalist," of sharing the latest "news." People with zero journalistic training from your high school friend on Facebook to a social media specialist hired by a news or pseudo-news organization. Some of those specialists prioritize getting visits to their site and shares of their information far above sharing accurately. So it benefits us and those in our circles if we treat the information we encounter with healthy suspicion, and verify before we share.

Who's With Me?

As I write this, one year is ending and another is beginning. But no matter when you are reading it, I hope you will join me in a resolution to promote truth

I would love it if you would share in the comments below your thoughts on this topic, ways you verify information which finds you online, or information you shared a correction on because you found it to be false. It will be encouraging to know we have partners in the truth crusade! :-)

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Monday, December 30, 2013

EdTechSandyK's Top 5 Posts of 2013

Graphic Used With Permission
On January 1st this year, I took time to look over the top five posts on my blog from 2012. It was interesting to see which posts received the most hits, as I assume "most hits" = "resonated the most with readers." Because this was a helpful exercise for me at the end of 2012 / start of 2013, I thought I'd give it another go as 2013 ticks away its final hours and 2014 looms on the horizon.

So, I bring you (insert dramatic drum roll) the top five most visited (and hopefully read!) posts on my blog from 2013 as tracked by Blogger:

  1. How to Decode a Tweet, 1/7/13 - I originally wrote this post and created the graphic for it because I needed it for a Twitter for Professional Development workshop that I was going to be co-leading the next month. I had used someone else's similar post in previous workshops, but Twitter had changed its layout enough that I felt an update was prudent. Little did I know this would become my most popular post of the year! I also learned a lesson from this post: If you go to the trouble to customize a graphic, put your name on it somewhere. I've seen the graphic passed around and re-used in numerous places over the last year without any credit or link to the original post provided.

  2. iPad Basic Training for Teachers, 8/30/13 - After spending a spring and summer immersed in designing training for my school district's "iPads for Teachers" initiative, I thought it would be beneficial if I shared our process and online materials. I was right! In addition to receiving the second highest number of visitors on my blog, this post also generated requests for permission to link to the materials. In looking back over this post, I now realize that it is almost 2014, and we still need to get the materials updated to iOS 7 information. I could be discouraged by that, but instead, I'm going to look at it as job security and a chance to further practice my video tutorial making skills!

  3. 10 Killer iPad Projects Students Will Love, 6/24/13 - This post is comprised of notes I took at an ISTE 2013 concurrent session. So, no original work for me, but a chance to further spread the great ideas and resources which Holly Dornak and Jessica Dyer of Lamar CISD took time to share with us at the conference.

  4. My Favorite Videos for Describing Educators' Professional Use of Twitter, 10/20/13 - I talk about Twitter. A lot! And I am interested in others' experiences with learning via this microblogging tool. As a result, I am constantly saving resources that I can turn to when it is time to create a presentation or just shoot a link to someone to say, "Hey, this is what I'm trying to tell you about." After seeing a wonderful new video in October created by teacher and edtech graduate student Victoria Olson, I was inspired to compose a post mentioning some of my all time favorite Twitter explanation videos. The idea obviously appealed to the online audience, propelling this late-in-the-year post to the fourth most visited on my blog.

  5. Your Facebook Privacy is YOUR Responsibility, Not Your Friends'..., 1/13/13 - Although I tried really hard to tone it down a bit, as I reread this post I can sense the frustration I was feeling when I wrote it. As an advocate for digital citizenship for people of all ages, I admit to becoming easily irritated by the inaccurate information that is constantly propagated online, and my patience in this area continues to erode. When I hit certain levels of frustration, they often get worked out in a blog post. Hopefully, between my moments of venting, some true enlightenment results for anyone who takes time to read. I'm soothed by the fact that this made my top five most-read list for 2013.

Another year has sped by. (They really do go faster each year!) As I look back on 2013, I see an iPad and social media focus in my top five posts. Much like 2012. Mobile learning and online connection continue to dominate my thoughts and the interests of my readers. Will 2014 bring any significant changes? I look forward to finding out with you!

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Excited to Join the Digital Citizenship Chat Team in 2014! #digcit

Digital citizenship is a topic that has become increasingly important in recent years as young people and adults alike negotiate what it means to be a participant in the largely public and searchable online world. Hardly a day goes by where we don't hear a story in the news about someone making a misstep in the digital realm that translates into consequences for them and those around them. These issues span a spectrum including cyberbullyinglack of professionalism leading to job loss, and online posts leading to indictment and incarceration.

What we don't hear enough about are the positive aspects of engaging online. Sharing ideas in areas of interest or expertise through blogging, creating a portfolio of our best work to show off to colleges and  prospective employers, and coming together to raise awareness of a cause are just a few of the ways people of any age can leave a positive impression of themselves as citizens online.

Digital citizenship has been a huge interest of mine for several years now because I think we can never discuss it enough or continue to grapple with topics related to our online conduct. Which is why I'm excited to have been invited to become part of the Digital Citizenship Chat team! On the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, you can find #Digcit chat on Twitter.

I was going to take time here to tell you all about it, but one of the advantages of being on a team is no one has to do all of the work alone. Below is a Smore digital poster designed by one of our team members to tell you all about the first 2014 chat taking place January 8th at 8 Eastern / 7 Central as well as introduce you to all of the team members. I hope to see you at one or more of the #Digcit chats in 2014!

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Shining a Light on Our PLNs

Photo by smjbk Used Under a Creative Commons License
On December 4th, I was tagged by Carrie Ross and Kristy Vincent. Then, I was tagged today by Joel Adkins and Carl Hooker. What started out as a Sunshine Award  has now become an opportunity for edubloggers to share a little about themselves and learn a bit about other members of their networks beyond just the professional side that most of us educators stick to when blogging. So, after four tags, I think it's probably my turn to participate!

Wondering what the heck I'm talking about? Read the rules below...

Here are the rules:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.  They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated.  (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
Step one was completed in the opening paragraph. So here goes step two...

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. I was adopted as an infant; my mom was 48 and my dad was 47 when they brought me home.
  2. I don't hate smokers, but I hate smoking. Both of my parents died 13 years ago within five months of each other due to complications of emphysema/COPD. They were life-long smokers except for the last four/five years of their lives.
  3. I've read through the entire Bible - Genesis to Revelation - twice.
  4. I can't imagine being retired; I don't know what I will do with myself!
  5. I love to sing but I've never had any formal lessons or training. If I had to do it all over again I would have taken choir in school instead of band so my instrument would always be with me (although I loved being in band in middle and high school!).
  6. I think I'm good at organizing other people, but I stink at organizing myself.
  7. I like to two-step, but I haven't been out dancing in a long time.
  8. My first major experience with educational technology was in the Summer of 1990 when I helped set up the first computers in professors' offices at the university where I was a sophomore and taught them things like how to turn the computers on and launch programs. Little did I know what I would one day be doing for a living!
  9. I've climbed down the back side of Enchanted Rock in Llano, Texas, without any ropes or safety gear and tennis shoes that had almost no tread. Spur of the moment decision. Not smart. Very scary and it's only by God's grace that I lived to tell about it.
  10. I love dogs. A lot.
  11. I first believed in Christ as my savior at the age of 11.

Answers to the Questions from the Bloggers Who Nominated Me

OK, since I have nominations from four folks, I'm going to take a trick from Carl's book and answer a few questions from each of them. Except Carrie, who forgot to list 11 questions!

  1. Why did you start blogging? (Kristy) I started my blog at the same time that I started my master's degree in 2009, thinking I'd blog about what I was learning. Around the same time, though, I also got involved in this thing called Twitter, and I quickly found lots more topics to blog about beyond my formal studies. 
  2. If you could possess only one piece of hardware, what would it be? (Kristy) A touch-screen laptop that switches between tablet/app and fully-functioning computer mode with a standard keyboard. It would also have to have smart phone functionality since I wouldn't be allowed to have a smart phone any more.
  3. What was your favorite lesson to teach in the classroom? (Kristy) One that sticks with me was called The Atoms Family. It was a story for teaching the parts of an atom that I found in a science teaching magazine in the mid 90's. I took on the personas of Nerdy Nelda Neutron (0 personality), Perky Patty Proton (a very positive personality), and Enraged Elliot Electron (negative personality and likes to race in circles) and taught the parts of the atom to my sixth graders. They pretty much thought I had lost it when I ran circles around the room as Elliot! It was beyond fun. I just did a Google search and the lesson is still out there!
  4. If education wasn't an option in any form, what would you be instead? (Kristy) A talk radio host.
  5. What was the title of the last book you read for fun? (Joel) 11/22/63
  6. What was the hardest lesson you learned? (Joel) Change is inevitable, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Even if you don't make changes yourself, the world around you does not stay stationary.
  7. What is your favorite movie of all time? (Joel) I have three, each for different reasons, so I can't break the tie. They are, in no particular order: Air Force One, Shadowlands, and Amazing Grace.
  8. What's your proudest moment? (Carl) My proudest moment was graduating from college. I had a smile on my face that would not go away for anything that day. It was the first time I felt a sense of accomplishment for a body of work and also deeply moving to see how proud my parents were of me.
  9. Have you ever cried at a YouTube video? If so, which one? (Carl) Umm, you mean which ones, right? I am a softie for kids and animals. This video about an abandoned dog rescue really got me.
  10. How do you explain your job to people? (Carl) I tell them I help teachers learn more about using technology in teaching so they can teach students more about technology. It's so much more complex than that, but that's a pretty good summary for a casual chat.
  11. What's the biggest prize/money you've ever won? (Carl) Well, at my high-school's after prom party, I won a diamond and ruby ring. Not sure of its value, though. I won $500 playing bingo once, too.

11 Bloggers I Want to Know More About

11 Questions For the Bloggers I Want to Know More About

I'm going to go with several of the questions I decided to answer above. Mostly because I enjoyed answering them! But I do have a few originals, too.

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What was/is your favorite lesson to teach in the classroom?
  3. If education wasn't an option in any form, what would you be instead?
  4. What was the hardest lesson you learned?
  5. What is your proudest moment?
  6. How do you explain your job to people?
  7. If you could send a message back to yourself 20 years ago, what would it say?
  8. If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing about the public education system, what would it be and why?
  9. If you could visit any event in recorded history, what event would you pick and why?
  10. What is the title and author of the last book you read for fun?
  11. What is your favorite movie?

This was fun and took longer than I thought it would. It also broke a blog writing drought for me. Thanks, Carrie, Kristy, Joel, and Carl!

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.