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Posts Tagged ‘media

For me reading some Facebook (FB) group posts is like feeding a morbid habit of watching train wrecks.

I can see them coming because they are guaranteed. The conversations (if they can be called that) are unpleasant, but I plow through anyway. Why? All for the single pearl in the mud trampled by swine.
 

 
By comparing what I do and read in FB and Twitter, I realise that the issue is granular control. I can choose who I follow on Twitter. I can only choose which groups I join in FB.

I can even block people in Twitter so that I curate the right kind of followers. This is not the same as muting people on FB as the control is finer and deeper in Twitter.

It is strange that the more verbose FB provides less granularity of control while the shorter form Twitter provides more. This starts to make sense if you buy in to this description: FB is where you hang out with family or friends. Twitter is where you learn from strangers. It makes sense to have locks on your front door, but not on the ones inside.

But this is where the description falls apart. FB groups are full of strangers who have a lot to say with very little sense. You need only examine any FB interest group with the lens of granularity to realise how this leads to breadth instead of depth.

By breadth I mean the reach that large FB groups have in transmitting information. By lack of depth I mean unsubstantiated rumour, baseless information, or knowledge built on weak foundations.


Twitter is not immune from these, of course. But you can choose who to follow and you can even choose who follows you. You can go for quality, not just quantity, and by doing so choose depth over breadth. As you reputation grows over time, you might develop reach and breadth.

Developing depth over breadth is a more responsible approach. I wonder if this is modelled and taught in digital and media literacy modules. If this is not, then learners just go with the flow of popularity contests that favour breadth over depth.

After watching this CNN video, I distilled some thoughts on what modern literacy — digital and media — might build on.

Some background: A news “anchor”, Laura Ingraham, used Twitter to attack a school shooting survivor and spokesperson, David Hogg. Ingraham mocked Hogg for not being rejected by four universities so far despite having a 4.2 GPA. Hogg went on the offensive on Twitter and several companies withdrew their advertisements from Ingraham’s show.


Video source

Some modern literacy foundations from this case might include:

  • Learning current skills and emergent practices from the learner.
  • Being “savvy” as defined by what you KNOW and DO, not just who you ARE or WHO you know.
  • Freedom of speech is not freedom from responsibility.
  • We are entitled to your own opinions, but not our own facts.

I have no doubt that such foundations are part of some digital and media literacies programmes. But this case is a compelling one because it involves the two people that need it most — the student/child and the teacher/adult.

I wrote the title of today’s reflection in the spirit of Jack Neo’s “Money No Enough” movies.

There seemed to be a theme of sorts in my RSS feeds and tweet streams of late. It was about media literacy.

I highlighted a Crash Course series on media literacy a few weeks ago. The first episode is now out on YouTube.


Video source

Another recent resource is The Promises, Challenges, and Futures of Media Literacy by Data & Society.

Despite these (and other) resources on media literacy, I remained unconvinced on the local efforts to nurture media literate learners. I could not articulate exactly why until two resources distilled some wisdoms.

The first is the fact that media literacy programmes seem to focus on “fake news”. A shiny object might be a catalyst, but it does not make the entire system.

Superficially, such a focus tends to deal with sociopolitical information and misinformation. While important, doing this might not shine enough light on misinformation in the realms of schooling and education.

Diving deeper, the focus on fake news, even if it includes misinformation in educational resources, is an emphasis on the negative. Media literacy is also about what is positive online, e.g., active and meaningful collaboration, individual or collective expression, and open and generous sharing.

What follows is a resource that promotes critical thinking about media literacy.


Video source

danah boyd (yes, her name is spelt that way in lowercase letters) is an expert in this field. boyd admitted she had no concrete answer for an effective of media literacy programme. She did, however, suggest why current ones were not effective: People like to follow their gut more than they like to follow their mind. This statement cuts through ivory tower, top-down designs of standalone “media literacy” units in schools because it emphasises how value systems dictate behaviour.

Media literacy programmes are “no enough” if they focus on skills (e.g, how to create a livestream) or even social norms and expectations (e.g., do not say online what you would not say to someone in front of you). They need to be more broadly defined to include attitudes and belief systems. This is what makes media literacy so challenging.

Media literacy cannot be taught like an academic subject. It is not bound by a course or classroom walls. It is about participating over multiple platforms and a myriad of channels in each platform. The learning is in the actual doing, not in the practical theorising.

To leave a better planet for our kids, we need to leave better kids for our planet.

Singapore’s efforts in media literacy by schools seems to be one of protecting the learner-consumer instead of empowering the learner-producer.

Efforts to teach students how to check facts and sources that they consume are “no enough”. As students create, they also need to understand a big word — epistemology. They need to question the nature of knowledge, how it is constructed, and how their belief systems shape what gets constructed. In doing this, they need to learn to be better people.

The article and the video have helped me distill what I think is lacking in our media literacy efforts. The same kids were are trying to nurture as wise consumers will eventually need to be savvy producers of content. If we do not want them to be producers of fake news or other questionable content, we need to focus on empowering them to produce based on sound belief systems.

Local social media lit up last week after a performer from Henry Park Primary School showed the middle finger on national TV.

The aftermath was no different. As expected, the boy was given a talking to and he was remorseful.

The Twitter reaction thread was easy enough to analyse. For simplicity, the reactions fell into three main camps: Tweets that lauded the boy as a “national hero”, people who blamed anyone or anything other than the child, and all other reactions, e.g., leave the child alone.

These are the types of responses that give Twitter and other social media platforms a bad name. This is a pity given how educators worldwide have embraced Twitter as a medium for connecting and unPD.

Such blasé and negative responses were common even before Trump’s tweets became the new normal. Why?

There is the usually cited reason of facelessness. Online there is no one to literally look in the eye and subsequently face judgement. This encourages the mild to become be bold, and the already bold to troll.

There is a brutal honesty to such tweets because social niceties are sacrificed in favour of raw reaction. What people might not realise is that being on social media requires even more social awareness and skills in a faceless environment.

If conversations like these were conducted in-person, we might label them moronic. Our faces and reactions serve as mirrors so that discussants can gauge their own behaviour. Perhaps, somewhat ironically, the lack of physical presence holds up a mirror bigger and clearer about our lack of social nous.

In February, I shared this resource on Twitter:

Even though there were good ideas there about educators leveraging on Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, the tweet not a complete endorsement.

Here are some considerations to prevent a blind plunge into those social media depths.

Why not Facebook?
Some people like to say that Facebook is a place to hang out with friends while Twitter is where you learn from relative strangers. Based on anecdotes, I also suspect that some people prefer to separate their personal social media platform from the professional learning one (if they even have the latter).

Facebook and Twitter seem to have different socially-mediated uses. If you receive an invite from someone on Facebook, you are obliged to take it. If you are followed on Twitter, you are not obliged to follow back (not nowadays anyway).

With Facebook, you cannot choose your family; with Twitter you can curate your “friends”. This might be why Twitter seems more closely associated with educator personal learning networks (PLNs) than Facebook.

There are many more reasons not to use Facebook. I will not go into how Facebook has abused user trust and helped spread fake news, but I share links to resources I have curated.

Why not LinkedIn?
It is not the go-to for youth. In a few past keynotes, I emphasised how LinkedIn was one of the least mobile of the big social platforms.

For example, a 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal illustrated comScore data:

LinkedIn is desktop-bound.

LinkedIn was very much a desktop-dominant tool. After being bought by Microsoft in 2016, the platform might be more mobile. However, it has not escaped the stigma of being an older worker’s tool.

This mobile vs desktop distinction is important. Mobile is already dominant and its mindset of use is different. Think about the obvious: On-the-go, small but contextual consumption, and interstitial learning.

Consider the less obvious too, i.e, learning from non-traditional experts like people younger than you and outside your professional interests. It is LinkedIn and not necessarily linked out. Having a mobile mindset enables the latter.

Why not Pinterest?
Ah, Pinterest, the platform that, according to this Pew study, rivals both LinkedIn and Twitter among adults, but has a heavy gender bias.

Pinterest might have had respectable numbers among adults, but interest has waned among teens. These are the same teens that will take their unpinned preferences and behaviours to adulthood.

The platform’s strength is photos, but while these might paint a thousand words, they are not necessarily accompanied by a thousand distilled, reflective, critical, or otherwise necessary actual words. The written word may be subjective, but pictures are even more open to interpretation.

So what then?
My reflection might seem like a put down of the three platforms. I did not write it with that intent.

I see it this way: If you are going to invest in a home or vehicle, you will want to know what is good and bad about it. While being encouraging and positive puts smiles on faces, I do not want you to be a grinning idiot (I mean that in the kindest way).

Be informed, stay informed. Then make up your own mind.

My own mind is continually using and evaluating tweeting and blogging for sharing and reflecting. Twitter is my short-form tool of choice while WordPress fills in the blanks with long-form space. I have been in Twitter since 2007 and this blog since 2008. I attribute my staying power to the affordances — technical, social, and pedagogical — of these social media platforms.

Every now and then I get requests to be interviewed, to write an article, or to have something I wrote be part of someone else’s site.

I say no almost all the time and I explain why based on the context of the request. But there is one reason that is common to all requests: I do not want to be manipulated into pushing someone else’s agenda.

Everyone has an agenda, even if they say they do not. Having an agenda is fine if you are honest about it and if you have your heart in the right place.

Quotes taken from what I say or write might get decontextualised. An opinion piece that I write might get edited until its original message gets diluted or warped.

These are probably why some politicians who are interviewed by the press also post their speeches or thoughts on platforms like Facebook. Better to hear from the horse’s mouth.
 

 
The sad thing is that not all do this. Instead of allowing people to thinking critically and make their own decisions based on source material, the sources and the press conspire to leave it up to the press to publish selectively.

What is our excuse in the realms of schooling and education?

Is the source material unavailable?

Is the source material available, but not accessible?

Is the source material available and accessible, but not understandable?

If we say yes to any of these questions, why is this the case and what are we doing about it?

In the wider world, people can take control of the information they generate. They create, share, and discuss, largely on social media.

If the goal of schooling and education is to prepare kids for the wider world, then why are we not allowing and insisting that students create, share, and discuss more openly?

I am working on a keynote address to illustrate the importance of taking advantage of social media for lifelong learning by social workers.

I learn with social media every day. But I had to ask myself if I had taught or mentored with social media. I have, both groups and individuals.

I am regarded by some as #edsg’s Yoda. That could mean that I am considered old, green, and wrinkled. It could also mean I dispense wisdoms in ways that cause foreheads to look like Yoda.

When I was head of an outfit at the National Institute of Education, I mentored my staff as they sensed and shared with Twitter, Diigo, and wikis (Google Sites).

Several years ago, I mentored someone I had never met using Facebook. I provided dissertation advice and reviews.

I also mentor individuals over Twitter DM. One of those DM sessions will evolve to a ‘live’ Google Hangout session with a group that wants to explore flipped learning.
 

 
A cursory scan of edu-Twitter will reveal that I am not the only one doing this. Remote teaching and mentoring not only increases reach, it is also more customisable and personalisable. It is no wonder that it is in-demand and on-demand.

We live in interesting times. I would like to see this cottage industry of remote mentoring grow to be a significant force in personalised education. That way I can add Remote Mentor to my CV without sounding pretentious.


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