Notes from “The Social Media Portfolio: Using Technology to Promote Meta-cognitive Skill Development” at NWP’s Digital Is

The Social Media Portfolio: Using Technology to Promote Meta-cognitive Skill Development

At NWP’s Digital Is

Rafi Santo, Amana Kaskazi, and Shonell Richmond

  • Global Kids
    • 20 Years in existence and focusing on significant global issues
    • Issues: Local to global and global to local understanding
    • Leadership: Skills necessary to affect change
    • Technology: How does new media contribute to our mission of global citizenship; our mission to empower youth voice aligned well with the use of technology
    • Youth: We work with youth in a variety of contexts, both locally and from a distance through technologies and in virtual worlds
    • Afterschool: Need to overcome the stereotypes of afterschool technology programs that create “super geeks”; our students are not geeks, necessarily, but there is something much broader about how to use technology in these contexts
  • Media Masters
    • Goals for addressing the challenges to media literacy
      • Giving students the means and skills to produce media who otherwise might not be able
      • Discussing ethical issues surrounding digital media production and participation
      • Promote active student reflection on skill development
    • Creating a “digital transcript“creating a portfolio with Voice Thread
      • Examining media use (music, web, etc)
      • Visualization, negotiation, and other key themes
      • Recognize the skill, utilize the skill, and enact the skill (Do it, recognize it, talk about it)
    • Discussion
      • Specific example of Harry Potter reading to discuss copyright, appropriation, and “whole life learning”
      • What can the assessment tell us — about students’ change in media literacy skills, attitudes, and abilities?
      • How can an assessment like this work in school contexts (very qualitative, not quantitative)?
      • How can we connect this to other academic skills?
      • Student preparation for portfolios — having earned the badges, it was easier to identify the project that connected to the skill, but then we had to add a reflection to it, and that was more difficult
      • Extending the assessments into different contexts; using this portfolio with meta-cognitive elements for other purposes, such as college admissions
      • Helping make explicit for young people the ways in which we are asking them to think
      • Power of ownership and the ability to hear someone’s voice, as well as the commitment behind the voice
      • How does having a framework help make the portfolio more powerful?
      • Using writing to teach critical thinking in different content areas


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Notes from Danielle Nicole DeVoss’s Opening Keynote at NWP’s “Digital Is…”

Danielle Nicole DeVoss asks us to think about what digital was then and is now…

Digital is…

  • Networked — we compose in networked spaces
  • Collaborative — people are able to connect and create through these networks (LolCats)
  • Multimodal — typography, kinetic type, digital stories
  • Re-Mediated — taking a media object and recreating it so it moves across media; moving across text to audio to video (StarzBunnies)
  • Remixed — taking bits and pieces and parts of other media to create new messages and meaning
  • Policed — digital millennium copyright act; You Tube copyright issues (Fair Use)
  • (Requires) Critical thinking — because of the visuals (Harry Potter, Redbook)
  • (Can be) Democratic — Iran and Twitter, YouTube Debates

Writing is Digital — this is, as Elyse put it, our moment.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Reflections on EduCon 2.1

NOTE: This was written yesterday in the post-conference, pre-flight moments that I had on the train from downtown to the airport. Since my flight didn’t arrive in Lansing until about 1:30 AM last night, I was just now able to put the finishing touches on it. Hope it makes some sense…

Sunday, January 25, 2009

As I catch the train back to the airport, I have a few minutes to compose a quick reflection to EduCon. All in all, I found the weekend to be highly engaging, both in the “techie” sense of learning about some new digital writing tools and angles to think about teaching, especially copyright and assessment. Also, it was a great opportunity for professional networking, and I finally met many of the people I had only read or heard online.

Yet, I also leave in some ways slightly disappointed — not because of the conference itself, exactly, but because I am beginning to really wonder, deeply, about the work that we do as educators and why the changes we seem to clamor for are not happening. Big questions, I know, but ones raised at the conference, and ones I will write my way into thinking about below.

So, first a few points that I want to highlight.

First, a tool. Along with the professional conversations and connections that emerged — with many thanks to Bud — the one new tool that I picked up was TweetDeck. I have been on Twitter for a long time, finally syncing it up with my phone last fall. I understood the value that others found in using Twitter as a part of their personal learning networks, yet the interface that I had (as a sidebar in Flock) was still not useful for me in the sense that I could not really stay on top of tweets and really see what was going on. A number of people this weekend were using TweetDeck, and I downloaded it, finding it to have a clean and fun interface. It notifies me when new tweets come in (a feature I may have to turn off since I get email notifications already that sometimes drive me nuts). I am still not quite sure if and how I will introduce Twitter as a digital writing tool to my pre-service teachers this spring, but I can see it as a part of our writing project network this summer, so it is good to have this tool as an option.

The second point came from the session by Kristin Hokanson and Renee Hobbs about clearing up copyright confusion. Paul, Christina, and I talked on and off after this session about how we just didn’t understand fair use and how the idea of “transformation” both strengthens arguments for having students do compelling work with copyrighted material, but also makes us wonder what it means for something to be “transformative.” Still, there are a number of resources that I need to explore on the Media Education Lab website and think more about the implications of this, especially as I move to teach digital storytelling this spring. Also, check out TTT from a few weeks back as another entry point into this conversation.

The third point that came clear in a session today about assessment by Konrad Glogowski. Wow, he made assessment seem so straight forward. My take away from this session: We are never, ever going to be able to measure digital learning in a standardized assessment. I know that everyone is trying to figure this out, including the most recent attempt by Microsoft and others. And, I think that those types of tests can measure some particular 21st century/digital writing skills. Yet, he talked about the dispositions that students need to have for 21st century learning, and the ways that teachers need to reply to students in order to give them substantive feedback. Tests made to be taken on a computer and never seen by human eyes are just not going to measure these dispositions.

There were many other great sessions, and I am just going to have to look back over my notes to think about everything from them. But, for now, my final point comes from the combination of many speakers that we heard over the weekend, especially those on the panels. I begin this point by saying that all of these individuals are highly-accomplished in their fields, all deserve our respect, and I listened attentively to what they all had to say — from local school district officials to professors to consultants. They all made empassioned, although sometimes different, calls for innovation in education. Prakash Nair, for instance, has collected a number of them in his 30 Strategies booklet. Powerful to hear, useful to think about.

Yet, in all of these conversations, all of these ideas, I am still just not hearing that we are going to actually do something. Yes, the teachers at SLA, and others in other schools with pockets of innovation are doing things, and that is incredible given the odds that some people face. So, in the week of the most historic innauguration in our lifetimes, I am still sadly disappointed — and perhaps becoming a bit cynical — that anything is ever really going to change. Why? Because “the system” (with scare quotes intended, because it was called that throughout the weekend) is actually not failing. It does exactly what it was designed to do — segregate, relegate, castigate.

There are others who have captured this idea with more data to support their argument and eloquence to bring the point home. So, I know that what I am saying here is not new, or revolutionary, but this weekend I just felt the sharp pain of having little to no power to enact change, despite the rhetoric of change and good examples of pockets of innovation presented this weekend. Sorry, just had to vent a bit there.

But, I also vent in the context of my airplane reading of Don Tapscott’s latest book, Grown Up Digital. He makes a pretty compelling case that all those who bemoan the amount of screentime and lack of effective communication skills that this generation will have are wrong. Hurray to that. More importantly, after debunking the critics, he also makes it clear that business that are not adapting to the Net Generation are fading fast (for instance, he cites the corporate culture of Best Buy as one that has adapted to the Net Gen, and Circuit City as one that has not). In fact, the book has an entire chapter on education, ending with the chapter with descriptions of “2.0 Schools” in which individualized learning plans, laptops, and personal attention are the norm. The implied message is, of course, that other models of schooling will soon fade away. Perhaps… Perhaps not… But, certainly something to think about given all the conversations in which I have participated this weekend, especially the many led by SLA students as well as the studnets that Antonio Viva skyped into his session.

So, in terms of digital writing, and teaching digital writing, where does this weekend leave me? Well, along with making a new commitment to participate in Twitter and, as Bud says, “not dissappear,” I am also going to begin thinking about how to really get my pre-service teachers to write, learn, and collaborate with the tools that I introduce to them — blogs, wikis, and Google Docs — by engaging more with each other. Even though I have been using these tools for years, I am still not confident that I am enabling a writing community in the best way that I can. And the one key theme that I got from being at SLA, listening to the teachers and students at the conference, and the whole idea of EduCon was that we need to really see students for who they are and help them grow individually and as communities. The tools are just a part of that process.

With all this in mind, I now have to turn my attention back to more writing for the books, planning for class and my students’ midtier placements, and getting a writing project up and running. I look forward to continuing a most busy, and engaging, semester. Thanks EduCon and SLA — I appreciate the opportunity I had to learn with you this weekend, and those yet to come in the future.

Clearing Up Copyright Confusion Session

Copyright Confusion Session

Kristin Hokanson with Renee Hobbs

  • Exercising fair use demands an expanded conception of literacy that includes mass media, popular culture, and communication skills
  • Copyright confusion — the end has arrived with theĀ  Code of Best Practices for Fair Use
  • Purpose of copyright: to promote creativity, innovation, and the spread of knowledge — Article 1, Section 8 of the Contitution
    • Copyright was not designed to have forceful restrictions
  • How teachers coped
    • “I am going to do what I want”
    • “Close the door”
    • “Hyper-comply”
  • Problem — the educational use guidelines are still confusing
    • These are negotiations between media companies and educational groups
    • But, these “guidelines” are not the law — these documents give them the appearance of law, but they are not and the guidelines have a negative effect on education
  • Transformative use
  • Creative Commons looks at owner’s rights
    • Lessig’s idea — let’s give the owners some options
    • But, users still have rights under fair use, too
    • Think of Creative Commons as an owner right and fair use as a user right
  • TEACH Act and Digital Millenium Copyright Act have limited fair use
    • No teacher has ever been sued under fair use — but cease and desist letters are used to create fear and uncertainty
    • This is all the copyright holders can do — not really force you to take something down
  • Almost all parodies are protected under fair use
  • There are fair uses that are not transformative, too
    • Some can be illustrative, so long as it benefits society more than it harms the copyright holder
    • All fair use is based on informed opinion — did we make a good faith interpretation, especially for educational purposes
    • Fair use is an interpretation that we, as educators, are obligated to do under the law