Project Update

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.


9 thoughts on “Project Update

  1. christinapatt13 February 23, 2020 / 6:12 pm

    Hello Laurie! Glad you had a relaxing break, you deserve it!
    I am glad to see we are looking into some similar apps. I am curious to see what you find out about approved and rejected apps within our division and the reasons behind them.
    I agree with what you say about Seesaw and the contact it allows with families. In our collaboration room we made a point to all be on the same page for our own mental health regarding communication. We send a note in our September newsletters that state we only check Seesaw in the morning and if they have any concerns throughout the day to call the office. We had teachers answering in the middle of the night which is not at all healthy for them. Also, if parents get used to being able to communicate all the time, they will expect it the next year with the next teacher.
    Good luck with your journey! 🙂


    • Laurie February 25, 2020 / 4:11 pm

      I am hoping I can find the answers I am looking for in regards to the apps. A clear cut answer has not been as easy to come by as I thought it would but I will keep digging!


  2. haubdain February 24, 2020 / 9:38 pm

    I agree about knowing how apps get approved or denied to have a sense of what school division’s deem educational. I look forward to reading what you find.
    As for SeeSaw, I think that an option to set a time frame for chats is ideal, however, I do feel that teachers can also do this by not replying to parents on their off-hours. There needs to be some discipline on the teacher’s part because we can’t always rely on the apps themselves to help monitor these things. I know I have simply emailed a teacher when it was convenient for me (to get it off my plate of things to do so I don’t forget), but I don’t expect a response until they are back at work. Once you reply back during your “off-hours” it opens the door to further communication when you don’t want it, just like Christina mentioned.
    As for Wakelet, I was introduced to this last year during Alec’s EC&I831 course and have recently introduced it to my daughter to organize information for her Heritage Fair Project. She loves how easy it is to use and has even shown other students its value. It just takes one person to help share good resources!


    • Laurie February 25, 2020 / 4:10 pm

      I completely agree with your comment about not relying on apps to monitor everything we do. I know teachers I work with struggle to find the right balance between being available and setting limits. Glad to hear your daughter also sees the value with Wakelet and can share it with others!


  3. curtisbourassa February 25, 2020 / 12:50 pm

    Hi Laurie! We are looking into all the same apps, which is pretty cool. Have you looked into the digital wellbeing portion of TikTok? In addition, there is a channel called TikTok Tips which promotes Digital Health and Wellbeing. Check it out!

    Also, did you know that there is a Wakelet Chrome extension that makes saving articles, tweets, videos, etc super easy? I recommend checking it out as it is a slick addition to Wakelet!

    I recommend that you take a look at becoming a Seesaw Ambassador, I believe this course helped me understand all the different moving pieces to Seesaw.

    Great post.


    • Laurie February 25, 2020 / 4:05 pm

      Hi Curtis, thanks so much for the suggestions. I will definitely look into all of them. Very much appreciated!


  4. shelbymackey February 25, 2020 / 9:10 pm

    Hi Laurie! I am looking forward to seeing more of your project as it develops. I am also interested to see why the division has decided against certain apps! I agree with you that a simple approved or rejected slogan is too simplistic and it would be interesting to know the criteria they use. How you hoping to make this part of your project as well?
    Great post!


  5. Trevor Kerr February 28, 2020 / 3:10 pm

    Laurie, the beaches of Maui sound amazing. I’m glad you were able to spend some time to be with your family.

    I’m very curious as to what applications and why they haven’t been approved for use in your school division (I understand you might not be allowed to share this info…).

    I use Seesaw in my grade 5/6 class and I love it. I would definitely use this in a grade 7/8 class if I was teaching at that level. In terms of the chat/messaging feature, I can totally understand teachers feeling overwhelmed with the constant communication from parents. In saying that, I would argue that it’s very similar to parents sending an email at any point. As I had this exact same feeling earlier this school year, I decided to make a change in what I was doing. I turned off all of the push notifications to my phone from Seesaw and my school email account. This has actually allowed me to unwind and relax when I am not at work. I think this is crucial in the overall well-being of teachers. If I need to, I can open up Seesaw or my email to see what messages I am getting from parents on Seesaw.

    Overall, I think the positives definitely outweigh the negatives when using Seesaw in education. I’d be happy to chat with you if you have any questions about Seesaw.


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