Remixing The Art of Storytelling

For sale: baby shoes, never worn. 

The following six words have been attributed to Ernest Hemingway and his concept of flash fiction by telling a story with the minimum amount of words possible.

Hemmingway may have changed the game with his six-word novel, showcasing his art of storytelling but, Hemmingway never had access to emojis. Could you imagine the vividness?  What if we remix Hemmingway’s initial challenge and state the question “Can you tell a story using only 6 emojis?” Let’s think about that one…. could you?  I bet you can. I bet you’ve semi-accidentally accomplished this in the past without thinking much about it.  Similar to how video killed the radio star, the emoji along with memes, vlogs, vines, and video uploads have nearly obliterated text and completely remixed the art of storytelling. 

I proposed this emoji questions to my Kindergarten students when they were tasked with explaining their holiday adventures using only emojis.  Can you tell a story using only emojis??

What resulted were very detailed and thorough recounts that were not only fun for others to decipher but engaging and exciting for my students to create.  From the perspective of a Kindergartner, visuals allow for more depth and enhance their stories sevenfold.  The act of choosing their emojis also made for a fun and level playing field where both ESL students and native English speakers could fully express themselves.  It was here when I realized how much of the world is moving in the same direction, towards embracing visuals. From hieroglyphics to emojis; we’ve circumvented all the way back around.   🙂

If you’ve needed more proof that the world is moving towards visuals just look at Facebook’s  1 billion dollar purchase of Instagram. They know that this generation is becoming increasingly interested in producing its own visual content. With the likes of social media, mobile devices, photos, and videos the entire landscape has changed and we have completely remixed the way we consume (and produce stories.) And it’s not just a trend, there is a biological factor that lies deep within our love for visuals.  We’re are much more wired for visuals than we are oral storytelling or print on a page. David Jakes touches on this a bit in his opening paragraph of this blog post titled “Towards a Framework for Visual Literacy Learning.” when he makes the internet analogy of “a dial-up connection from the ear to the brain and broadband from the eye to the brain.” David also came up with awesome ideas of using other mediums such as Google Earth,  DNATube and or StartYourTube.com and to incorporate visual literacy.

The ability to navigate and create on more than one platform is exactly what our students are now doing in this new remix culture. The meme is a great example of this as is video blogging. Nobody wants to be a Hollywood movie star anyone. Ask anyone under the age of 15 and they’ll tell you.  They all want to be a Youtuber. Many of them already are. Video Blogging has been so successful that Youtube has installed a Creators Academy which teaches the basics of editing, sharing and thumbnailing.


Modern Versatility & Shareability with Filmora

Before becoming a teacher, my original university major was in Mass Media and Telecommunications, so it goes without saying that I have found feeling for creating and editing video content.  Although I started my video editing venture with the traditional analog AB roll, that has long been ruled obsolete. Looking back now it seems like such an archaic way to create a piece of work. Once you’ve spent hours creating it, don’t even think about sharing it with others unless you bring your VHS tape to their house and politely ask to use their VCR.  

Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panasonic_AJ-D350_20020110.jpg

Flash forward some 15  years later and now it’s easier than ever to produce a film.  So much so that some have even been shot and edited solely on their smartphones.  These days loads of people gravitate towards iMovie, however, for the past three years, I’ve been using a software called Wondershare Filmora.   Far from the AB roll I began on, this iMovie alternative is inexpensive, open sourced, and extremely easy to use. The fact that it works on Windows, Mac, & mobile devices make it already more versatile than iMovie. Filmora has many other advantages over iMovie. So much so that about a year back, I presented this Google Slide during a Speed Geeking session at my previous school.  Have a look! 

I’ve have used videos in which I’ve created from Filmora in the classroom on multiple occasions. Whether it is for reflection, assessments, or simply to celebrate and document learning,  the use of videos have always been a cornerstone of my teaching practice.  This one, which has already been shared on Youtube,  was a way for me to document our EY inquiry into making paper.


The other video below was shown at a Primary School assembly. Its purpose was to emphasize the concept of perspective by showcasing what it “a day in the life” of an early years student looks like. 


The Timelapse video below showcases an example of some of the large ongoing projects that my preschoolers took on during our inquiry into outdoor learning spaces.


My most recent video was created earlier this week.  Its purpose was to celebrate Multi-cultural Day and the diversity of my Kindergarten students at UWC Thailand. 

I plan to upload this video onto SeeSaw to show parents and use it as a reflection piece to show students once they return from mid-term break.

No matter the purpose, images, and videos to me have always felt like the most authentic mediums for showcasing and representing student learning. It’s great for assessments, reflections, and provocations. When the controls are handed over to the students, creativity, student voice, and a plethora of digital skills ensue.


Final Wonderings

With all of the excellent and innovating ways teachers are using videos in the classroom,  with the likes of Flipgrid, SeeSaw, Bookcreator & Youtube,  I’m curious to know what ways you embed and promote the use videos to enhance learning in your classroom?

Also, are you on team iMovie or do you have another personal favorite when it comes to video editing software?

The Internet is…

an information superhighway

a web

a network

a global system

a verb

a platform

Whatever term you choose to associate it with, there’s no denying the internet has changed the way we communicate, behave, and learn.

John Stewart, Comedian-writer and former host of the daily show,  once proclaimed that  “The internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.”

It wasn’t until reading  Jeff’s Utech’s book, Reach, where I realized the symbiotic relationship between the user and the web or, in John Stewart’s case the notes and the note takers.  The more you work it, the more it works for you. Take Twitter for example, in an instance, you can throw out a question or idea to your PLN and receive global perspectives feeding back to you instantaneously. Social media, although quite prominent, isn’t the be all and end of the internet but, it has certainly changed the landscape. How about others like Yelp, Uber, or Amazon. All of these sites/apps depend on a user-generated rating based system in order to operate effectively. The ability we have as a global contributor, wielding that kind of power and influence is a massive responsibility that we’re not even fully aware of.  In fact, many of us daily do more than just participate with the web on a daily basis. Perhaps, are you going on holiday soon? How many of you have already checked the reviews on Trip Advisor before you booking that hotel or tour? If you are beyond the participatory stage of the web perhaps you’ve even contributed by writing a review, discussing your approval or loathing of a certain establishment. Either way, once you move into the role of active contributor you shape the overall user experience for everyone, better or worse.  

The truth is the internet is just made up of our collective consciousness, resources, and information. It’s our involvement and our role in the equation that makes work. It takes both creators and consumers to keep the net thriving. This was evident nearly a decade ago when on December 13, 2006, Time Magazine named its person of the year “You”. http://img.timeinc.net/time/magazine/archive/covers/2006/1101061225_400.jpg

Now think about how much more relevant that nomination seems after a decade of social media, interactive sites and the rise of mobile devices, personalizing and customizing our individual online experience. Keep in mind that there is no moderator overseeing all. Where we go as a global society so goes the internet. It’s also part of our role to keep it kind, factual, and productive.  An often overlooked part of our role, that seems to be reflective our current times. Speaking of being reflective, let’s have a look back at what one minute on the internet in 2017 looks like.


The Internet is… an opportunity for change 

The video, Extracurricular Empowerment, showcases how powerful of a change agent the internet can. Martha and people all over the world like her understand how to harness and leverage this power and make it work for them. For every Martha, there are hundreds of other students that have one way or another found their voice and audience on the web.  It’s not out of the question for today’s digital natives to want to aspire to be Youtubers. After all,  Hollywood movie stars are so 2016, and the allure of influences of megastars like Casey Neistat and Fun for Louis make it look cool and easy. 

Here are11 of the biggest web changes in the last 11 years.

These days it’s easier than ever to start producing content, attract an audience and then continue the cycle while watching your subscriber count grow. Our students know this? Do we as teachers know that they know this? Do we allow for them to flourish under these conditions? How does your school react to and cater to students as digital change agents?  Do they tighten up the parameters like initial reaction of Martha’s school board or let them harness the opportunity?   Here are twenty-five other ways to leverage the power of the internet and start creating!


The Internet is…. a level playing field.

Not only does the internet level the playing field, It gives us the ball and expects us to run with it. Martha Payne did exactly that. How will you empower your students to do so?  How do you build good skills for our students to turn into children like Martha? 

The truth is we still don’t know the full magnitude of the internet’s untapped potential. Eric Schmidt from Google stated, “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”


Final Wonderings: The internet will be….?

Will the internet continue to remain a level playing field or will more and more countries follow suit by enacting their own “Great Fire Wall” If you’re from the USA, you’re probably wondering what the future entails with the looming FCC regulations. We’ve seen massive changes within the internet since that Time magazine cover, what’s next?  What will the internet be in 20 years, 50 years?  How do you prepare your students for what’s next or as Schmidt’s said “the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”..? 

Professionally Navigating Social Media

What do you know about your own digital footprint?”

“Have you ever reflected on the imprints you left behind?

These are the questions that we need to be asking both students and teachers.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a digital native or not, the physical realm and the digital realm have become so interwoven that everyone these days has a digital footprint. Technology and the radical social changes that come attached to it have completely changed our everyday lives. Social media and technology, whether you like it or not, have completely changed the way we interact with each other. The smartphone has replaced the camera. Cloud-based storage has replaced photo albums. You may not realize it but, you definitely have some left some sort imprint out there on the web. Don’t believe me, just have a look at this outrageous snippet from Business Insider  


That’s right. An estimated 120 billion photos will be taken in 2017 and a mere 10 % of them will be taken by a digital camera. 89.7% will be taken by a device that is most likely linked to social media. That’s a lot of potential uploads.  Keep in mind that this is just data pertaining to photos, it does not even account for the rest of one’s digital footprint such as emails, texts, forums, etc.

We’ve have agreed to trade-off our personal privacy and information for convenience, comfort, and entertainment. That die has already been cast. What we now must do now is self-reflect on the type of imprints we as educators have left behind and help others understand the importance and impact of their footprints from here on out.


A Professional Presence

In 2017 a  digital presence will certainly help aid you in attaining a job. Understand, however, that if left uncheck and uncared for it can at the same time lead to your future endeavors. An article from the Irish Independent, titled, Why your digital footprint could ruin your career, isn’t intended to be a scare tactic. It’s more of a wake-up call, bringing to light the awareness of the shifting guidelines revolving around our privacy our, digital choices, and real-life repercussions.

I know that I’ve gotten many interviews and at least one job partly because of my professional digital footprint. The interview mentioned looking at the contents of my professional teaching blog and my twitter. 
The following infographic below provides an interesting look into how recruiters use social networks to screen candidates.

In my last blog, I linked an article that focused on cleaning up your digital footprint.  Perhaps for teachers unsure of there’s, this would be a good place to start in order to develop and maintain one’s professional presence.


A Healthy Dose of Digital Awareness

 

Student’s should be taught about cyber ethics and netiquette from an early age just like they are taught about diet and well-being. I currently do it with my Kindergarten students.  I think it’s important that we look at maintaining personal protection and privacy the same way we look after our physical selves.  It is this mindset that parents, students, and teachers need to adopt. It’s essential that teachers maintain a healthy dose of digital safety awareness. It’s equally important for our students to fully understand the complexities of today’s digital age and how choosing to create a negative or unhealthy web persona could potentially jeopardize their future. More modeling from the top down, (admin to teachers, parents to students and even student to student), will help us all instill this paradigm shift into our own teaching and learning journeys, in and outside of the classroom.

Some teachers might view the digital realm and the physical world as two separate entities, but to the children and students who have grown up as digital natives, it’s all one.  The line between our personal self and our social media/ avatars is so strong that, Elon Musk claimed that we’re already cyborgs. Have a look at his entire chat from the 2016 Code Conference below


Final Wondering: With Great Power comes great (global) responsibility…

In that same video clip from the 2016 Code Conference, Elon Musk also mentioned that “We have more power than the president of the united states had 20 years ago.”  Is it not our civic duty to educate and encourage the next generation of web users?   Would it be wise to embedding #digcit classes into the curriculum like social & emotional learning, our essential agreements, and other approaches to learning?  Afterall, we need to teach students to become good citizens first and foremost. How many of you have thought about tieing it into the Global Goals for sustainable development?? If our goal as teachers is to make sure we leave the future of the world in the hands of good human beings then we need to start holding our digital footprint into the same high esteem as we hold our carbon footprint.  My final visual aid is from a Twitter chat last week, summing up my thoughts on weaving the real and digital world together with the same moral fabric. 

Connect Safely

In this brave new digital world, where nearly anything can be instantly accessed, what can you do to ensure you are connecting safely and protecting your privacy?

Here are just a few things you can do about it.

  1. Think Before You Post
  2. Be Aware that on the Internet, “Free” Still Comes with a Price
  3. Clean up your Digital Footprint 
  4. Seek out Resources and Continue to Educate Yourself

Speaking of resources, the following playlist, titled Protect, was created by @teachwatts and centers around privacy and internet safety.

Have a look, below.


Adopting the Mindset & Maintaining Personal Protection

In addition to students and teachers maintain a healthy level of digital safety awareness it’s important for the parents to fully understand the complexities of today’s digital age. After flipping through the COETAIL Course 2 Flipboard, I came across two articles that unraveled misconceptions and myths about internet safety, particularly on social media. The first article, What Social Media and the selfie Generation did to my teenage daughter,  written by Candice Curry, provides the perspective of a concerned parent who comes to realize some of the benefits of sharing, once one assumes positive intent. The article, as well as the mother’s change in attitude towards social media, is surmised with this phrase, “These are good kids doing their best to navigate through a world that has instant access to everything and every event the moment it happens.”  

She’s right, too.

I honestly couldn’t imagine what it must be like growing up as an impressionable teenager with the looming presence of social media around 24/7.

 The second article breaks down myths about kids internet safety and once again showcases that the positives outweigh the negatives, once one is educated enough to take the proper precautions. Once teachers and parents are educated than the misconceptions can start to unravel.  Changing one’s attitude about students on social media is just the beginning, and dare I say only half the battle.  Once the perception is changed the level of awareness towards one online safety should be reviewed and scrutinized often. 

What I mean is that maintaining personal protection is a mindset and teachers need to adopt, model, and instill this paradigm shift into their own teaching and learning within their classroom.  Parents do too. This communal effort that brings about positive consistency, knowledge, and strategies, will help our children as they navigate their own digital journey. The following ISTE standard for educators lays it out in a clear and concise way, while at the same time promoting the critical thinking skills needed in order to embrace the mindset of digital safety and security.

 

3b. Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency. 

We must remember that this mindset, like technology, will grow, change and require constant upkeep.  As potential digital threats such as hacking, phishing, identity theft, and ransomware continue to evolve, so should our critical thinking skills and level of awareness. One might feel overwhelmed by this notion but if we continue to share and look out for each other like the article about Social Media describes, then we will be about to protect each other from the potential pitfalls out there on the web. We should assume positive intent and take a communal approach to being vigilant and looking out for another so that we are educated and equipped to step confidently and connect safely in the digital world.

 


Final Wonderings
With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility

 Is self-selecting into Big Data unavoidable? The article from the Guardian, When Data gets creepy, is heavy albeit a must-read for those wondering about the responsibility, or lack thereof, that internet companies have with the handling of our personal information.  When it comes to maintaining that healthy awareness of one’s privacy and responsible use, we must not lose focus on those who create the “Terms and Conditions” in which we self-select into.  How do we as educators seek transparency from these big data companies so that we can ensure that they too act ethically,  responsibly, and follow their own acceptable use policies? 

 

@NicholasKGarvin