Filter Your Bubble

Filter Your Bubble

Oh my.

This week’s virtual visit from Pat Maze (thanks, by the way!) was really eye-opening. It is really scary to think just how under scrutiny teachers are. Teachers are really supposed to adhere to a strict set of  behaviours, both in public and privately.


It seems like the role of the teacher has not changed all that much: teachers are still seen as guardians of student virtue and innocence. The medium may have changed, but the message remains the same: teachers are in charge of protecting the future at all costs. This may mean at the cost of the teacher as a person.

In my current context, I am at a fairly diverse high school. This means I have everything from having to explain what Twitter is:

To having students explain what VSCO is (spoiler: it’s Instagram without the drama). There’s a wide-range of levels in regards to digital citizenship in this context. For the beginners, it’s mostly how to navigate safely. For those more used to using tech tools, it’s a matter nuance and advocacy. How to use their voice to make a difference now that they’re done being a passive consumer of technology.


In my vision, the idea of digital citizenship will be ubiquitous. Right now, as it stands, digital citizenship isn’t as widespread or as integrated into curriculum as it ought to be. Digital citizenship is a growing concern because of the availability of information and content online, but there is a disconnect between how to discern what is good and what is bad.

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As well, there is the issue of “filter bubbles” as seen in the TED talk video. Filter bubbles change the information you see, and sometimes to a drastic extent. I have discussed the concept of filter bubbles with classes and we experiment with searching terms that could change based on your search history (think political parties, particular news stories etc) and then searching that same thing in an incognito window or in DuckDuckGo. Students are shocked by the difference that eliminating a search history can make.

In conclusion, the demands on a teacher in regards to social knowledge online is expanding. Teachers must be hyper vigilant when working through their online identity and that of their students.

However, I think the gif below sums up teachers’ jobs perfectly: be vigilant but not afraid.

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Unplugging is not an option.

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As my time as a Master’s student draws to a close, I’m starting to reflect on the course my digital identity will take once I’m no longer in a weekly tech class where I get updated in the latest and greatest in edtech.

The concept of identity and being split was very nicely put in Jessica Moser’s blog about a teaching versus a private version of oneself online.


Digital identity, as a concept, has been at the core of the majority of the discussion this semester. Everything about digital citizenship falls back on the idea of digital identity. Digital identity is becoming – or has already become – an essential part of existing in a current environment.

While examining what I’ve accomplished so far, I took a look at the history of my blog. I realized I’ve got half of my Master’s on this blog. To have half of my degree in a place where I can access my thoughts on topics quickly and also see classmates’ reactions to my thoughts is really invaluable. It creates a sense of accomplishment in seeing how far I’ve come from the first time I ever blogged to now, when I’m an old hand at it.

This blog has become an inextricable part of my digital identity. When I google myself, it pops up right away:

kelsie lenihan    Google Search.png

But, you’ll notice that not only my picture pops up but a couple pictures of my kids from my blog. They’re part of my digital identity, whether they know it or have chosen to be or not.

This is something I have to deal with once I’m done this class: the conundrum of erasure versus legacy. Do I leave those entries up because they mean something to my journey of edtech or do I erase them because my children deserve to create their own digital identities as they grow?


I thought about deleting this blog and my Twitter (sorry, Alec!) after I was done this class because I don’t if I could faithfully continue with either with any regularity, but then, I googled myself again. If I deleted my blog and Twitter, what would remain of my digital identity? The first hit would be “Rate My Teachers” and nothing from me.

In order to have a say in how I’m viewed online, I need to have input.

This means keeping the blog and keeping Twitter. I want to be in control of my digital identity and this means I cannot opt out of being online.

As much as I’d like to sometimes.

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Choose to say no.


This week’s blog post is brought to you by the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship.

In examining my progress through my major project (which I explain here), I think the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship help me frame how I see my apps.

All three of my apps relate to the third element: digital communication.


The first app in regards to my professional use of communication is Google Classroom. I don’t know how I could teach without it now. It’d reduced my paper consumption by around 75% and increased the number of assignments I receive from students. There’s no excuses for losing paper and they can turn their assignment in from wherever they are.

The problem I have is that Google Classroom is also on my phone. I receive notifications whenever I post an assignment or a student turns an assignment in late. This means my phone goes off at a fairly regular basis the day after an essay is due. I’ll go into more detail about digital interruptions later in my post.


The second app for today is Remind:an app I’ve used for years. I really have enjoyed watching it evolve from a little start-up to the ubiquitous educational company they are now. When I first used Remind, I had to get an invitation because it had just come out of beta testing. It was also a challenge to convince my students to get on board. They were a little leery of texting with their teachers. We had to do a few trial runs before they believed that no, it’s not my phone number. No, I don’t see their phone number. No, they can’t reply (remember, this was at the very beginning!).

But get on board they did.

And I’ve used it every semester since.

I’ve been slowly adopting their “new” features, like replying, over the years. I tried out the reply just this year and I have really enjoyed how it has increased interaction between my students and myself. I’ve sent out reminders to my students and they can respond quickly if they have a question:


Although, this kind of instant communication can mean that students view me as being available for them 24/7. It’s a continual learning process in drawing firm boundaries between teacher-me and non-teacher-me.


This bleeds into another of the nine categories: Digital Health and Wellness. Being able to remove myself from social media and electronic forms of communication increase my personal sense of wellness. I even made a New Year’s resolution to stop using Facebook and Instagram (though I don’ t have any social media proof of it. It’s funny how something like this seems untrue unless I can prove it through a social media trail. Kind of a paradox: I want to avoid using social media but need to prove through social media that I’ve done it.)


I think this is where I agree with the critique of Dr Paul Gordon Brown (and Krisanne’s awesome video) in that I want a separate identity from the one I have online, mostly because the online identity I cultivate is me as a teacher. Being a teacher isn’t my whole self. It’s a portion of myself and it’s the self I choose to share online. I can understand Dr Brown’s argument, but I don’t agree with it.

The one thread I’ve noticed in my apps is the ability to have constant access to them, but it comes at a cost. I think the cost could be the elimination of the barrier between personal and professional and I think that could harm a teacher’s well being in the long run. Teaching is such an emotional job in itself that stepping away is necessary otherwise a teacher risks burning out.

These are all aspects of digital communication I will be examining in my final project (which is coming up faster than I thought!)

Do you have any experience stepping away – or not being able to step away – from apps you use in the classroom?


Shuffle to the Left

I feel Bob Dylan succinctly sums up how I feel about this week’s blog post. The lyrics for this song are poignant in that it’s a challenge to youth and those in power to examine their lives and adjust accordingly. It warns of a looming revolution that is closer than one may think.

A perfect way to describe education and technology today.


Schools have a responsibility to change, as I mentioned in a comment on Dani’s blog (who by the way appears to share the same sentiments about counterculture rock from the 1960s as me ;)) because schools were not designed to stagnate.

Educational research into our future learners seems to have reached a consensus regarding what teachers and administration needs to do to help our students. New skills in terms of what “productivity” or “collaboration” means need to be explored. As the 2020 Future Work Skills points out:

Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers
reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future.

And in the MacArthur Foundation White Paper What are the New Skills:

Access to [the] participatory culture functions as a new form of the hidden curriculum, shaping which youth will succeed and which will be left behind as they enter school and the workplace

This means that schools must shift and change in order to meet the needs of our new worldly learners. Schools need to change their pedagogical focus from a one-size-fits-all approach of students sitting in desks in a classroom at a specific time on a specific day to one that meets the needs of individual learners where they are. I think Wendy had some particularly cogent thoughts on this matter.


Additionally, Bree and Danielle’s Powtoons about 21st century learners emphasized the fact that our education system is in need of a revolution.

However Utopian my views on what I think education should be, I am a realist. I am well aware of all of the constraints placed on education, namely, money.


Everything comes with a price. And as education is a public enterprise, it needs to be set in a line of priorities. Taxpayer money is a precious resource that should be dispensed with with great care and due diligence.

And so we come to the title of my blog post: while I advocate for a revolution in education to overthrow the current system, I understand that our progress will be more akin to a shuffle.

A shuffle is still progress and a shuffle can be fun while we get to where we need to be.



Disclaimer: This has been a rough week and so this post isn’t going to be up to my usual sparkling standard. Next week will be better, promise.

Source (I’m a sucker for West Wing gifs

In terms of describing my orientation toward tech, I think I started out in the Utopian frame of mine. I thought that if everyone just had access, the world would be so much better.

And then I took tech classes and discovered just how nuanced my actual opinion ought to be.

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My belief system has evolved to reflect a more sociological point of view through social construction of technology. One of the main viewpoints that really strikes a chord with me is:

…the ways a technology is used cannot be understood without understanding how that technology is embedded in its social context. (source)

To me, technology is inextricably linked to our social context and there is no way to describe the rise of some technologies (think Twitter, Fitbits, What’sApp etc) without first trying to define our social context. Our societies gave these technologies a place to thrive by identifying a desire within society for some kind of communication with one another, whether is a competition-based communication or simply to know we’re not alone in this vast space.


I think all technologies developed of the eons have related to some kind of communication or desire to reach out: writing, the wheel, semaphores, telegraph, musical instruments. These all have the base of trying to connect with someone at some point whether it is physical (like going somewhere to talk to someone) or emotionally (playing a song that touches someone’s heart).

(One of my favourite pieces of music)

In further examining SCOT, their wiki has been invaluable. It’s a way to dig deeper into understanding the connection between technology and society. While it can easily seem overwhelming and completely non-applicable to daily life, it is an underpinning to how we teach.

All teaching is a form of communication. How we use technology shapes and forms our communication either for better or worse. By understanding how and why we communicate and how this impacts our society at large we have an opportunity to become better communicators for our students.

Anyone else like the SCOT school of thought?


Appy Hour!


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My name is Kelsie and if you’d like to know more about me, I’ve got some introduction posts here, here, and here. (TL;DR I’m an English teacher who loves puns) It’s interesting to me to look back and seeing how my blogging has evolved over the course of my master’s.

This is class NUMBER 10! So I’m REALLY excited to get things rolling!


The purpose of this post is to outline my major project for EC&I 832.

I’ve decided to look at the app project, as a personal and professional journey into social media and good digital citizenship.


The apps I’ve chosen to examine span both my personal life and my professional life and there is cross over. I’m interested to see how these apps impact my teaching, my students’ ability to communicate with me in off hours (whether or not I answer them is a different can of worms), and how I can integrate these more fully into my current practice.

I’m going to be looking at Google Classroom (because I’m lucky enough to have access to GAFE):

Screenshot of my current/next semester classes in Classroom

How I’m using Remind and if I can use it better:

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Screenshot of my classes for Remind

Finally, I’m also looking at Snapchat, which seems to be a popular choice. It’s easy to see why. Snapchat can be a very easy target in regards to promoting bullying, sexting, and any number of lesser desirable social media attributes.
But, I’d like to see if Snapchat has any redeeming qualities about it, what it does to protect its users’ privacy, and if there is a way to decrease incidences of bullying through monitoring.

My students assure me this is a pitiful score.

I’m looking forward to looking through all sorts of areas for these apps and I think it’s going to be a very practical exercise because I use these apps every day already.

Anyone else have experience with these apps?



Final Coding Adventure

Well, I did it.


I finished my calculator! I am so proud. It actually works and actually calculates what I asked it to.

This is a link to all of my videos I posted along my journey, or you can check out the list through my blog. (I’ve learned all kinds of ways to collect my information into one accessible place!)

If you don’t get a chance to watch all the videos (it’s ok, honest.), essentially what I’m trying to say is:

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In the playlist is a quick overview of some of the social media I used when learning to code:

I just barely scratch (ha! Scratch Jr!) the surface of the amount of information that exists about coding on social media platforms. I didn’t even look at Reddit or explore any forums on the video.

But, speaking of Reddit, this is what I found when I searched “python”:  search results   python.png

The top Python community has existed on Reddit for nine years! That’s ancient in terms of the internet!

Coding is everywhere. It’s hard to escape and seems to find me if I try and hide. As I mention in the above video, even the Google Doodle is trying to get me to code more often.

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Source (I made this gif!)

I cover a lot of my struggles in my Summary of Learning. It was really challenging because coding is so overwhelming. In the Social Media and Coding (brief) Overview, I called up over 4 BILLION results from looking up simply “how to code”. There are SO many resources out there about how to code and what the best language is for coding and what the best product is and how many jobs there are.

I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for the effort that goes into coding an app such as Instagram. Making a simple, barely there code calculator like I did was a monumental effort on my part. To code something which boasts 800 million users is frankly a wee bit mind-boggling.

In addition to all of the websites I used, I also played around with some iPhone and iPad apps. I reviewed Scratch Jr which is an iPad app. It was really cool!

I also looked at Hopscotch and made a game:

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The more “practical” apps of Code School and Solo Learn showed me more about the behind-the-scenes of the how to code, beyond the dropping methods in Hopscotch and Scratch Jr. Code School and Solo Learn were more difficult to learn and use because it was all modular based and not as flashy or pretty but were more utilitarian and got the job done.

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It was quite obvious the age groups the apps were geared for, simply by looking at the user interface or even the opening screens or the language used.

Coding to me is like one of my favourite analogies: ducks on ponds:

Sure they look really cute and calm from the top. Dive below the surface and you’ll see their little feet just paddling like crazy to stay afloat.

This is how I feel about coding: it seems all pretty and calm on top, but underneath there’s a mess of code and programmers just trying to stay on top of their syntax errors.


That sounds an awful lot like teaching, too. Hm. Maybe I have more in common with a programmer than I originally thought…

Till next time, keep on paddling!