Evidence: Academic Paper (Sept 21, 2014)

OLTD 506 Learning Outcome addressed:

Develop understanding of:

  • functional contexts and restraints
  • employment considerations
  • privacy tensions
  • BC legal context
  • school policies and procedures
  • professional ethics

Analyze the BC educational context for social media use

Reflection to Support Evidence:

Social media is a means for society to communicate with each other. For my first major assignment in OLTD 506, I examined how I might use social media within the boundaries of digital footprints and professionalism, privacy, social justice and safety. The evidence piece, my summary academic paper, was built using a series of blogs I wrote as I progressed through my learning of each boundary.

While researching for this paper, I was able to solidify my understanding of what social media really was. Initially, I had seen social media as simply a tool, but I came to understand that social media is broader than that; it is a combination of content, community and digital tools. While I understood the importance of managing my own digital footprint, I was not familiar with the requirements under the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and my responsibility to ensure that I inform my students (even as adults) of potential risks to their privacy. In addition, choosing to use social media as a learning tool means that I must ensure all students have equal learning opportunities, regardless of whether or not they can afford the tools or access to the Internet.

Understanding issues around social media, such as functional restraints, privacy and policies and procedures, is important as an online educator. Policies and procedures may vary from one school district or post-secondary institution to another, and educators must be aware of their applicable policies when implementing social media in the classroom. Some social media tools may not be allowed or approved for use in certain educational institutions based on their privacy policies. As education professionals, we are held to a code of ethics that requires we protect our students privacy and safety. As I develop more online content for my blended courses, I will ensure that I choose tools that minimize risk to student’s privacy and that I am meeting my obligations under FIPPA and my institution’s policies and procedures.

Stewart_Charlene_oltd506_BoundariesPaper edited

Evidence: Resource Package containing suggestions for activities, consent forms and assessment of privacy risks for the mindmapping tool ‘Coggle’ (Oct 14, 2014)

OLTD 506 Learning Outcome addressed:

Develop emergent expertise with at least one social media tool for education.

  • Develop 2-3 developmentally appropriate activities for tool
  • Develop ‘useable’ permission form for tool use in BC K-12 school
  • Create content for student and parental training to address tool use and management of risks; or create incident response chart
  • Share resources with the field

Reflection to Support Evidence:

For the second major assignment in OLTD 506, I created a Resource Package for the digital mind mapping tool ‘Coggle’. This resource package was intended to supply instructors with enough information about the tool so that if they wished they could use it in their classroom with minimal extra research. The Resource Package provided:

  • three possible activities using Coggle
  • an analysis of relevant VIU policies regarding student conduct, technology use and privacy and how these policies may influence how the tool is used by students as a classroom tool
  • a student consent and user agreement form outlining identifiable privacy risks of the tool
  • a completed Planning and Tool Risk Assessment Worksheet (created by OLTD 506 instructor, Julia Hengstler)

Creating this resource package helped me realize how important it is to be aware of what policies should guide my assessment of a social media or other cloud tool. As I teach at a post-secondary institution, my guiding policies were somewhat different than those of my cohort that teach in the K-12 system, but the underlying principles are the same. It is important to ensure all students have a safe learning environment where their privacy is protected. I now understand what information is necessary to share with parents (or in my case the students themselves) prior to asking them to use a tool. The Planning & Tool Risk Assessment Worksheet prompted me to discover information about my chosen cloud tool that I had never before considered investigating. Understanding where to find cloud tools privacy policies, what personal information is collected and where it is stored, and whether privacy settings can be adjusted are all important pieces of information that can help determine whether or not a tool is appropriate for my students.

Social media tools can be ‘flashy’, trying to entice users with various bells and whistles. As an online or blended teacher, it is important to develop appropriate activities for any tool you wish to use, rather than let the tool guide how it will be used in an educational setting. If the tool does not fit the activity or learning outcome you wish to achieve, then a new tool must be chosen. When using social media tools, teachers must ensure that the parents (or adult students) have been informed of privacy risks and have given their consent. Knowing how to create a useable permission form for use in your classroom, as well as being able to share that resource with other educators, whether within your own school or your larger personal learning network, helps contribute to a socially responsible teaching community.

Coggle Resource Package Submission

Social media connects individuals to massive quantities of information, and through social networks we are exposed to more personal things than ever in history (boyd, 2012). There are risks associated with participating in a digital environment, including becoming a target or participant in cyberbullying, predation, revenge porn, sexting or grooming. These risks can create a panic, or ‘technopanic’, that is supported by a natural survival instinct combined with poor comparative risk analysis skills (Thierer, 2012). One factor that contributes to technopanic is a generational difference, where parents and policymakers (older adults) dread changes to cultural or privacy-related norms and experience anxiety about the influence of social change on youth (Thierer, 2012). Adults tend to fondly remember their past; seeing events as more positive than they actually were, and are often fearful of change (Thierer, 2012). boyd (2012) points out that we learn how to be fearful based on experience, and thanks to the interconnectivity of social media, we hear fearful ideas from people we trust which adds to our own fear.

As an adult education instructor, I may have been lulled into a false sense of security in terms of risks to my students. After all, as adults they should be able to make rational, informed decisions about risks to privacy and personal safety on their own. However, many of my students are returning to school after a long absence, and have not had the opportunity to use technology in an educational setting. They are not necessarily aware of the safety and privacy concerns that exist when using certain tools, and may not have the confidence to report inappropriate behaviour or use of a technology. As their instructor, I need to ensure that all students, regardless of their previous educational or technological background, are guided in their decision making when participating in a digital community.



boyd, d. (2012). Webstock ’12: danah boyd – Culture of Fear + Attention Economy = ?!?! [Video file]. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/38139635

Thierer, A. (2012, March 4). The Six Things that Drive “Technopanics”. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamthierer/2012/03/04/the-six-things-that-drive-technopanics/

The world’s population is becoming increasingly connected digitally, with more and more users sharing content with others in their social networks (Wikipedia, 2014). But what happens when content that seemed funny or appropriate at the time reappears later in life and affects someone in a negative way? Digital footprints, the aggregation of all your digital activities in all the digital environments you navigate (Hengstler, 2012), are permanent. There are no ‘do-overs’ or ‘take-backs’ in a digital world. Unlike a game of telephone, where the message is passed on but stays within the confines of the group that is playing, messages that are sent into a digital environment can be rapidly copied and passed on to many others outside of the original network. A digital footprint is created through a combination of voluntary posting of content (e.g., blogs, photos), passive collection of data (e.g., cookies or browser history) and second-hand data, where your data has been deliberately shared to others beyond what you intended (Hengstler, 2011).

As an educator, I am held to a high standard of behaviour, both on and off duty (Teacher Regulation Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2013). While I do maintain a FaceBook profile, I am extremely aware that what I post is no longer under my control once it enters the digital world. This knowledge has prevented me on many occasions to refrain from contributing to a conversation with my social groups. As pointed out by Hengstler (2010), those of us entering the digital environment in our 30’s and 40’s had entered mature adulthood and were capable of making mature, rational decisions regarding posting content. As an educator I am expected to lead by example. It is my responsibility to help my students, regardless of age, understand how to manage their digital footprint.


Hengstler, J. (2010). “Fleas in a bottle? Will social networking stymie personal development of youth?” Blog post on http://jhengstler.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/fleas-in-a-bottle-will-social-networking-stymie-personal-development-of-youth/

Hengstler, J. (2011). Managing your digital footprint: Ostriches v. Eagles. In S. Hirtz & K. Kelly (Eds.), Education for a Digital World 2.0 (2nd ed.) (Vol. 1, Part One: Emerging technologies and practices). Open School/Crown Publications: Queen’s Printer for British Columbia, Canada. http://www.viu.ca/education/faculty_publications/hengstler/EducationforDigitalWorld2.0_1_jh89.pdf

Hengstler, J. (April 2012). “Digital professionalism and digital footprints”. Document prepared for training session with Vancouver Island University’s Administrative Assistants, April 2012. Social Media Digital Footprints 2013_v3.pdf

Teacher Regulation Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2013). Standards for education, competence, and professional conduct of educators in BC. http://www.bcteacherregulation.ca/Standards/StandardsDevelopment.aspx

Wikipedia. (2014). Social networking service. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_networking_service

I have limited experience and understanding of social media, mainly interacting with small communities on Facebook, but avoiding more global connections through platforms such as Twitter. I have not seen the value of social media as an educational tool. However, after reading through 506 D2L content and visiting some of the external readings, I have expanded my understanding of social media. I was particularly drawn to a description of social media presented by Ahlqvist, Bäck, Halonen, and Heinonen (2008), who describe social media as an interaction of content, communities and networks and Web 2.0 (Figure 1).

social media triangleFigure 1. Social media triangle.

My participation in social media has been mainly through text. However, I now realize that user-generated content in social media includes not only text (e.g. opinions or blog posts), but also images (e.g., photos or art), audio (e.g., user-created music or podcasts) or video (e.g., vlogs) (Rapid Learning Life, 2010). Content on its own is very static, and as Ahlqvist et al. (2008) point out, the ‘social’ part of social media implies interacting with others that share a common interest, and this is the purpose of a community or network. A community of like-minded individuals can interact and share content if they have access to each other through Web 2.0 tools designed to foster these relationships. Social networks are often web-based and allow users to create connections with others and share content across these connections (Wikipedia, 2014). Without the technology available via Web 2.0 (e.g. networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter), people and content could not meet to the same extent, sharing, exchanging and commenting in virtual communities (Ahlqvist et al., 2008). As I learn more about using social media in the classroom, I need to consider the tools my students might use, the content they will share or create and what types of communities they might become part of.


Ahlqvist, T., Bäck, A., Halonen, M., and Heinonen, S. (2008). Social Media Roadmaps: Exploring the futures triggered by social media. (VTT Tiedotteita – Research Notes 2454). Retrieved from Digital Agenda for Europe website http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/futurium/en/content/social-media-roadmaps-exploring-futures-triggered-social-media

Rapid Learning Life. (2010, July 31). What is Social Media? In Simple English. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ8J3IHhn8A

Wikipedia. (2014). Social networking service. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_networking_service