In this week’s “Technology Innovation in Education” class, my peers and I had the privilege of hearing founder of the “Mediated Reality” organization and “Erase Bullying” movement Jesse Miller speak to us about what we should be aware of in the classroom as future teachers. It was very powerful and thought-provoking. There is definitely much more to think about in regards to good teaching practices to keep in mind when using the Internet and social media inside and outside the classroom, for professional or personal use. I really loved how he gave us time to ask our own questions, and I feel I learned a lot from the questions my peers asked him as well.
Jesse talked to us for almost two hours and while I would love to write a blog post giving all of my thoughts and reflections of what he said, I don’t want you, dear readers, to be spending two hours reading my blog post.
So here are my main take-aways from his talk:
Be aware of bias and target audience in different articles that talk about children’s use technology and/or social media
This came out with some of the articles Jesse showed us that clearly used very inflammatory language to scare parents about their children’s use of social media to persuade parents to not let their children use social media until ‘they are older’. However, Jesse encouraged my class and I to consider the fact that each child is different in regards to their maturity and interests, and some children may be able to handle having their own social media account for the purposes of promoting their work or in certain circumstances like that. The issue of whether children should or should not be able to use social media until they are a certain age is almost too black-and-white of a question.
The Interconnectedness of Social Media Platforms
We were reminded that if we have given social media platforms – such as Facebook – access to our email addresses and phone numbers, that means that they are all connected and it may be possible to find out all these pieces of information by just knowing a piece of information about you. This is where it is important to consider what kind of content you may be putting on your public social media profile and who you are portraying yourself as on social media, as well as what sort of contact information to give future employers in a school, co-workers, and students’ parents (see the points below).
To Exercise Caution When Using Social Media for Personal Reasons
The picture of you drunk at a bar? Probably not the best thing to post when considering that a principal of a school you are applying to work at may see it as (s)he browses your social media to perform a background check as they review your application. We were even encouraged to look through our social media platforms now, and consider the images and videos we may have on there right now that we may need to speak for in an interview with a principal one day. Another thing Jesse explained to us was that there is always the potential of a friend or follower on social media to repost a less-than-lovely photo they have of you for as a throwback that may negatively reflect on your profile to a future employer, so really the permanence of a deletion of a image or post you make on social media is really in the hands of your friends or followers on the platform, as they are the ones who have the power to save and re-share that information at any given point.
The Use of Personal Vs Professional Social Media Accounts and Contact Information
Speaking of followers/friends on social media platforms, it is important to note that we learned that we should be keeping our personal social media and contact accounts separate from our professional social media and contact accounts (ie carefully consider all the staff at the school you work at follow you on Instagram). This could just make things easier later on for you, and not always feel you are under the scrutiny of your coworkers in everything that you may post. It could also save undue stress with pictures or posts being misinterpreted. What I am NOT saying is to go crazy on your personal social media accounts and try to hide this from your coworkers (because you can’t really hide anything on social media), but just to be aware of the implications of blending your personal accounts with your professional ones if something were to go awry. I don’t know about you, readers, but I am now considering following Jesse’s advice and investing in a professional phone and phone number for my future co-workers, school employers, and students’ parents to reach me at to keep the boundaries as clear as possible between my personal and professional profiles.
Consider Your Audiences
Jesse mentioned that we as teachers will have “three potential critical audiences”, one of them being our future students. It is the slightly scary reality that my students will be watching what I do, and if I slip up I could be the newest star for their iPhone-created meme that may be shared around the school. The spreading of news by word of mouth has evolved to also be spreading of news by word of thumbs on a screen.
Another audience we were reminded of while we use our future school’s wifi is the IT technicians on staff at the school, who at any point may see who is using the network and for what purposes and for how long. I feel that knowing this will hold me accountable for what purposes and how often I will use a school’s wifi while not teaching for my personal use (ie checking emails, social media, etc).
Moral of the Story:
Just be aware and cognizant of the footprint you leave on social media, whether you are to be a future teacher or not.
I’m very grateful that Jesse Miller came in and spoke to my class about what we need to be aware of in regards to our use of technology in our future classrooms. I will definitely be keeping his words in mind each time I post on my social media accounts.