I was hoping to be a little further ahead in my project than I am – my excuse is the 10 days I just spent on the beaches of Maui. Totally worth it! I used that time to recharge, relax and took a break from my phone and computer to be present with family.
I have made progress though. I started my looking at my school division’s policy and procedures for approving software, apps, and online services. I have easily accessed the list of approved and not approved and the application process to request approval. While this is pretty straight forward, I am digging deeper into the why. What criteria is used to determine if something is approved or not approved and why? I feel the why question is very important and not often understood by teachers wanting to use an new app. Simply looking at a list of approved and not approved which is compiled in a chart with words such as approved and rejected does not give enough information. If a teacher is really wanting to use an app because they see educational value just hearing no can be difficult to accept. There is clearly a reason for apps and online services being rejected by our division and I trust the decisions that are being made. However, I want to know more and see how those decisions support digital citizenship.
As I have been examining policy and procedure within my school division I have also been exploring some apps. Tik Tok was brand new to me and has become quite a time sucker. It is so easy to watch just one more video! I was surprised at how many videos I saw with older people in it, not just teens. Also the amount of professionals – police officers, doctors, nurses, teachers was something I was not expecting to see. My verdict is still out on what I fully think about Tik Tok and I still need to fully examine the terms of service and how they relate to my school division’s policies. I also plan to look at Tik Tok with a lens of Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship. I’m not sure that I see the educational value of Tik Tok but I am keeping an open mind.
I have also decided to look into Wakelet. It was recommended in class and was something I have never heard of before. I started using it to organize articles and sites I have come across and I am very pleased with its features. Prior to using Wakelet I would either bookmark a site (which resulted in a very lengthy bookmark list) or copy and paste a site into a word document. Both seemed archaic yet I never explored to find a better way. I have to continue to use Wakelet and dig deeper into its possibilities and terms of service.
The last app I am looking into is SeeSaw. This app is approved in my division and utilized by many teachers. I do see the majority of use in kindergarten to grade three. Teachers in kindergarten and grade 1 have access to the paid version of SeeSaw in division which provides them with more features than the free version. I do know that after grade three, not many teachers use SeeSaw. However, there is a grade seven/eight teacher in my school that uses it daily. I plan on having an in-depth conversation with him and his students to see what their thoughts are about it. While SeeSaw is approved it does create some significant challenges for teachers. The biggest complaint I hear is that the chat feature allows teachers to be accessible all the time. I have heard of parents messaging late at night asking if it is library day tomorrow or messaging during class time wanting to know how their child is feeling. The chat feature is a slippery slope – teachers like the convenience of being able to message parents quickly however it has also created instant and constant access to teachers. While I see an easy fix to this – simply shut off the chat feature, it is not one teachers want to do. I also question if this is how SeeSaw should be used? I need to dig deeper into the features and purpose and how that fits with my division’s vision for Seesaw.
While I have many questions which are leading me in many different directions I still need to figure the best way of putting this all together. I am hoping that as I continue to explore I will be able to make it all fit together.