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Posts Tagged ‘social media

Spoiler alert: In order to make a point, I need to reveal events in episode 2 of the latest season of Black Mirror on Netflix.

The episode is titled Smithereens and features an ex-teacher who kidnaps an underling who works at a social media company of the same name.

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Some viewers of the episode might wonder if real world entities like Facebook have as much reach as Smithereens. These viewers need only find out about data analytics and how Facebook has been used to influence political outcomes.

So it is not surprising to assume that the episode is about blaming social ills on technological affordances. After all the series creator, Charlie Brooker, has showcased this tendency over five seasons in Netflix.

This might be the first episode where the victim, the ex-teacher, blames himself for getting distracted while driving and causing two deaths. The guilt weights heavily and he resorts to kidnapping the Smithereens employee in order to speak directly to its CEO.

It takes two hands to clap: A greedy company to design an engaging app and an ill-disciplined user to use it regardless of context and circumstances. No one has a gun to our heads to make us watch videos while we cross the road.

The social media company holds it hand up waiting for us to complete the clap, but clapping is not appropriate in every circumstance. It does not take much to put our hand down and move the screen away from our eyes for a while.

Yesterday the topic de jour was our Prime Minister (PM) feeling faint as he delivered his annual National Day Rally (#ndrsg).

Like many others, I was relieved to learn that our PM was right as rain after a rest and check up.

However, before that I observed how quickly rumours spread. I was able to compare what happened on YouTube ‘live’ chat, WhatsApp, and Twitter.

I did not appreciate the low resolution Flash-based video stream at TODAYonline, so I headed to YouTube instead (no URLs as these are short-lived). The chat there, if you can call it that, was largely infantile. Single-worded texts like “clap” and “fap” and the occasional ad were common enough for me to collapse the scrolling chat area.

WhatsApp was no better. I heard from people who propagated the rumour that PM had suffered a stroke while on stage. There was no attempt to verify. It was as if there was a contest to see who could hurl the juiciest head of lettuce to the front.

I checked Twitter and found an “expert” offering his diagnosis.

I cannot speculate if this was rumour agent zero, but this did not stop the tweeter from being a speculative couch doctor.

With the exception of a few cruel tweets, most of the other tweets were questions like “What happened?” and expressions of concern.

My contribution was simply this:

This reminded me again of Jon Stewart’s advice on his final show: If you smell something, say something. I also thought of Howard Rheingold’s “crap detection”.

Speaking of Twitter, the Grammar Nazi in me could not help but notice this tweet.

I have mentioned before how writing copy is vital, particularly in short form. “Faint” is not the same as “feint”. Saying “it was a feint” is to imply that PM was pretending to feel unwell.

I give the tweeter the benefit of the doubt and suggest that is not what she meant. But if you mean something, say it right.

The immediacy of social media does not mean that we have to immediately say something. The adage goes: Better to be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.

In the age of ubiquitous information, perhaps the saying could be: Better to be thought an idiot than to tap away and broadcast for all to see.

Social service meets social media-based learning

I am putting the finishing touches on the keynote that I deliver this week.

To create an interactive seminar — I am told it is called a masterclass — I have asked participants to complete an online poll (Google Form), install a QR code reader on their phones, suggest ideas in an AnswerGarden, and watch a YouTube video. They need to do this before we meet.

During the keynote, I will get the audience to participate in a TodaysMeet backchannel, another AnswerGarden, and a Padlet exit ticket Google Form quiz. They have the option of getting to these resources and my Google Slides via their QR code readers. I will also share some data from the poll and AnswerGarden to help them visualise their learning.

In terms of content, I aim to help participants uncover just two things: 1) three core 21st century competencies (unlearning, relearning, and learning), and 2) using social media to create personal learning networks (PLNs).

I believe that the core focus and PLNs will help the social service sector overcome problems like a lack of resources (by using what they already have) and addressing a diversity of learning needs (by connecting with communities).

I spent a small part of last Friday reading all of the contributions and comments at one of the NIE confessions on Facebook. It was probably the most popular of the three I could find.

I walked away from the experience with three observations.

The first two were pointed out by participants of the confessions page. First, the use of English was much better than other confessions sites. Second, the page was not as popular as other confessions pages. Both these observations are understandable when you consider the demographics of NIE.

The third thing I noticed was the self-policing that happened in that NIE confessions page. This is a good sign of the power of expression being balanced by social responsibility.

Most administrators and policymakers fear social media because they do not understand it. I hope that they now understand that good things can come going with the flow and even embracing it. Good things like greater transparency, brutal honestly, and professional responsibility.

Food For Thought, Covent Garden, London by Kake Pugh, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Kake Pugh 

Last week’s finds provided some really good food for thought.

Humanizing Our Organizations Through Social Media was a great reminder on why institutes of higher learning should leverage on Facebook and Twitter.

Higher Ed and the Monastic Space provided a perspective on how to better use the face-to-face time in classes.

Measuring what you contribute rather than what you collect, my favourite of the lot, provided some concrete examples of so-called alternative assessments. I think they should be mainstream assessments as they are relevant now.

So as not to get mentally fat, I plan on acting on what I consumed!

Online Colleges has a teacher’s guide on social media.

That is all it is, a guide. It should not be a scaffold that then becomes a crutch. Anything descriptive must not be interpreted as prescriptive.


Ask instructional designers what a SME is and they will tell you it stands for Subject Matter Expert.

Today there is another SME, social media educators, that we need more desperately than content experts.

I came to this simple conclusion after yesterday’s #edsg chat on Twitter. While anyone is free to contribute to #edsg [live tweets], we have focused chats every Tuesday, 8-9pm, Singapore time [example: archived chat on unprofessional development].

Based on the profiles of the participants, we have a nice mix of teachers, teacher-parents, parents, and a few non-Singaporean educators, I do not know how many lurkers there are.

Yesterday we discussed how we might manage underaged access to social media. Why? The legal age for a Facebook account is 13, but Primary School teachers on #edsg, mainstream Twitter, their blogs, or Facebook have shared anecdotally that many of their underaged students have FB accounts.

The parents or parent-teachers in #edsg seemed to agree with the age limit and preferred that kids developed face-to-face social skills first. My argument with that is 1) socialization is socialization (no matter what the medium), 2) it should start as soon as you start teaching and modelling values, and 3) we need to prepare kids for today and tomorrow, not yesterday.

As a parent myself, I have discussed with my soon to be 8-year-old if he would like to be on Facebook. He has decided that he does not need it now. I did not make that decision for him.

However, he is on several online gaming social networks designed for kids. Networks like Woogi World offer parent accounts for monitoring. It is wonderful to see him make connections so quickly and to see him apply what he has learnt about cyberwellness from an online programme initiated by his school (credit to @tucksoon for this!).

I suggested at #edsg that there should be a social media education programme for parents and policymakers. I even went so far as to say these could be parent service components and parent engagement courses.

@emmalinesports had a great suggestion:

But she also cautioned that reality bites:

But this should not stop any educator who has his or her radar up. If you know a tsunami is coming, you take preparatory steps. You do not just twiddle your thumbs, pretend it is not coming, or barricade yourself.

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