Final Project Summary

Sitting down to summarize and compose all of my learning has made me aware of a few things. First, I learned a lot! I was eager to take on this project but yet at times felt I was trying to go in too many directions. As I wrote about in my first update I had many questions which were leading me in many different directions. Add in all of the topics from our class each week which then led me down other paths, I now know it was not possible to do it all. Second, I learned a lot about myself. This was a semester like no other which presented many unique challenges. Looking back, I wish I would have blogged more about my progress in order to get feedback and responses from EC&I 832 community. I kept notes and information but waited as I felt there was still a lot of time left to work on putting things together. How wrong was I! However, I am happy with what I learned and I put my project together based on the initial questions I developed to guide my personal journey into media.

Here are the links to all of my previous posts that document my learning:

I started with really diving into the Procedures and Policies that exist within my school division. While I was aware the administrative procedures existed I will admit I had not read them all from start to finish. After reading through many, I pulled out the eight that specifically deal with technology and social media. It was interesting an informative to read the procedures my school division has developed. In particular Admin Procedure 118 – Online Communication and Interaction/Social Media. This speaks to many of the topics we discussed over the semester and the stance my school division takes:

  • 4.6 – Personal online interactions with students and parents, except those for instructional and or school related purposes, are not permitted.
  • Guideline – Staff/students are encouraged to maintain separate online accounts if they chose to maintain professional and personal online interactions.

Examining all of these procedures led me to a closer look at the procedures that are in place for using software, apps, and online services. While I knew about the approved/not approved apps I had never taken a close look at the list that exists. I know it can be discouraging for teachers to not be able to use an app or website they discover because it has not been approved. By taking the time to examine the criteria that is used and then looking at the terms of service and privacy policies it is clear why some would be denied. Prior to this class, I really had never taken the time to read a terms of service or privacy policy. While they can be difficult to get through, they hold very important information. Just because we see something has educational value is not enough to warrant giving away personal information for our students. It is reassuring to know that procedures and policies are in place to checking security and privacy. While this is done by individuals based out of the school division office, I believe that more teachers need to be aware of the approved/rejected list and why it exists. This became very apparent when we moved to online teaching. Many had never heard of it and began signing students up for accounts on all different types of websites.

After looking through all of the procedures and polices I used that lens as I looked at Wakelet, TikTok, and Seesaw. I was pleased to be introduced to Wakelet and found it useful in my own learning during this class. Currently Wakelet is not listed on my school division’s approved/not approved list. As mentioned in my review, students under 13 cannot have an account on Wakelet. Therefore, using it with classes in elementary school would require the teacher to create collections so that students could collaborate through the teachers account. Regardless of how it used, I see value and hope that it would be a site that my school division would approve. One of the questions that is required on the request form asks if a similar product is already approved and available for use in the Division. By looking at the list I feel the answer is no and therefore it fills a void that exists.

It was fun exploring TikTok. While I was not brave enough to make and post a video (but who knows what this staying a home will bring!) I did enjoy seeing all of the very creative people that are out there. While I can appreciate and see the value in creativity and creating videos I’m not sure that it would be an app that could easily be used. Based on privacy policies and the mature content that is easily accessible I don’t believe it would receive approval for use in my school division. As I stated in my review, aside from privacy issues, I feel that there are other products already approved and available for use in my division that would provide students with similar tools.

SeeSaw was the one I knew the most about. I left it to the end for that exact reason and therefore my exploration was cut short. While I was familiar with the functions of SeeSaw I had hoped to dig deeper into different uses. In particular, discussions with a teacher at my school who uses SeeSaw regularly with grades 7 and 8 for feedback and reflection. SeeSaw is typically used in the primary grades in my school division and I had hoped to spend some time looking into the similarities and differences with how it is used with older students. However, COVID-19 quickly halted my plans. While I couldn’t finish out my project how I had originally hoped to, I am definitely now immersed in SeeSaw with all of our online learning! New challenges are emerging and I am learning all kinds of things alongside the teachers who are using it. I plan on taking advantage of the tutorials and training SeeSaw has provided in order to be able to better support the teachers I work with.

So while this project did not fully come to completion, I learned a lot. One of the best pieces of advice Alec shared this semester that I really took to heart was, “compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to someone else today”. When I reflect back to where I was in January it is clear to me not only did I learn about content but also who I am as a digital learner. This class pushed me out of comfort zones I didn’t know I was in and really prepared me for all the Zoom meetings that have unexpectedly become part of my day to day life! I look forward to reading through everyone’s posts about their own final projects. I have learned so much from you all! Thank you EC&I 832.

Laurie

Review of SeeSaw

SeeSaw is an app currently supported and used in my school division. Teachers of kindergarten and grade one have access to a paid subscription while teachers in other grades can use the free version. I never had the opportunity to use Seesaw when I had my own classroom but have had access to it through an administrator’s account. I have not come across any teachers who do not like SeeSaw and have found that it is used in many different ways in order to suit the needs of the students and comfort level of the teacher.

What is the purpose? What does it provide the user?

SeeSaw is described as a platform for student engagement. Students can reflect, create, share, and collaborate by taking pictures, recording videos or sharing their work. Teachers can send out messages, share student work, create activities, respond and communicate with families. For parents, they have an immediate look into what their child is doing at school, share in their learning journey by viewing videos and documentation of learning, and have direct access to comment on their child’s account or directly to the teacher through the messaging feature. For all parties involved, an account becomes like an online portfolio for the school year. With the paid version, the contents shared can stay with the student from year to year. With the free version, the account does not roll over into the next year.

What are the educational uses?

SeeSaw was designed for student engagement. While the features I listed above all fit into educational use, the company identifies that SeeSaw can be used in a variety of ways which include:

  • Feedback and reflection – students share their work and then teachers and peers can comment in order to provide feedback, guidance and encouragement.
  • Assignments and Assessment – teachers can send out assignments and give direct private feedback to students.
  • Family Engagement – communicating with families and keep them up to date in real time as posts can be sent out as they happen during the day.

What do the terms of service and privacy guidelines mean?

The terms of service start out in a very unique way, “Seesaw’s mission is to create an environment where students can be their best. To accomplish this goal, it is essential that Seesaw is safe place for students to document their learning, and that parents and teachers are in complete control over how that information is shared”. While others often begin with legal jargon and legal terms, this terms of service feels like the company cares for you and the content that is shared. It goes on to share promises which include:

  • We never sell your data or student data.
  • We never advertise in Seesaw.
  • We don’t own the content you add to Seesaw.
  • Student work is private to the classroom by default.
  • We use the latest security industry best practices to protect you.
  • We are transparent about our practices and will notify you if things change.
  • We are compliant with FERPA, COPPA, GDPR, MFIPPA, and the Australian Privacy Act.

The privacy guidelines state that a teacher or school is required to gain parental consent prior to using Seesaw and even provides a sample consent form (although you would need to use the one created by your school division). While the opening statements in the privacy guidelines make promises to you about protection, SeeSaw does still collect the following data:

  • Account information – name, email, password, phone number, profile picture
  • Journal content – photos, drawing, files, notes, hyperlinks, comments on posts, and voice recordings
  • Messages – all messages sent and received
  • Activities – any activities created by the teacher
  • Activity Author Profiles – teachers who choose to publish activities to the Community Activity Library
  • Information from your Google Account or other Third-Party Sign-in Service
  • Log Data – your IP address, browser type, operating system, device information, and your mobile carrier

While that list is lengthy and similar to other apps, I feel that the way the policy is written is almost more reassuring. It goes on to say they only use the information they collect to provide the service to you. The information is used to:

  • Verify your identity and store your Journal Content, Activities, and Messages.
  • Provide teachers, schools, and family members with customer support.
  • Notify you about activity on and updates to your account or your child’s account.
  • Research, understand, and analyze trends of users to improve and develop new features for our products.
  • Promote enhancements to Seesaw relevant for teachers, families and schools.
  • Investigate, prevent, and detect activities on our service that we believe may violate the law or applicable regulations. We may, at the request of a school, investigate accounts to determine whether they comply with school policies.

It is important to note that users are given the option to withdraw their consent of personal information at any time.

Review of TikTok

TikTok was new to me, I had heard all about it but had not actually looked at it prior to this assignment. My first step was to ask my 17 year old about it and she laughed. In fact I think her words were, why do you want TikTok?!? I downloaded the app and began watching way too many hours of videos! I became familiar with the Renegade, I’m a Savage, all the challenges from fitness to dances to food, the Oh Na Na Na foot dance and the ever popular hand emoji challenge.

What is the purpose? What does it provide the user?

TikTok provides users with a platform to create, share, and view videos. The app allows you to shoot 15 second videos and then edit them with filters, music and special effects. With TikTok being one of the newer social media apps, it provides the user with familiarity from other popular apps. The filters which gained popularity in Snapchat and Instagram can be applied to your video to create special effects. When viewing a video you can show your appreciation by clicking a heart, similar to likes on Facebook and Instagram. Videos can be posted with a title or hashtags which help organize them in the way hashtags work on Twitter. There is also a comment feature similar to Facebook and Instagram. TikTok allows the user to view all videos that have been made public or you can customize the videos you see by following other users that are of interest. Comment and heart totals are displayed for each video. I believe this also provides the user with validation and the goal of going viral or having a top viewed video. There is also a duet feature which allows a user to react to a video by creating a split screen showing the original video and the person who is responding or reacting.

What are the educational uses?

It is very clear that TikTok fosters creativity. It has provided a platform for everyday people and celebrities to create and share pretty much whatever they want to a global audience. In terms of education, I was surprised to see the videos that provided factual information like doctors and nurses sharing some quick FYIs about different topics. However, with factual information shared I have seen just as much misinformation. As with anything, students need be critical viewers of the videos they are seeing. As for using TikTok in a classroom, I’m still undecided. I can see the possibilities of creating videos for assignments and projects however, I’m not convinced that there are not already other video apps that could produce similar results. Of course, those apps would not provide a student with the opportunity to share a video in the same way. I would have liked to do more investigating to see if I could find someone or see examples of how teachers have used TikTok with their students.

What do the terms of service and privacy guidelines mean?

The terms of service is lengthy and covers many topics which include intellectual property rights and content. It also states that anyone under the age of 18 needs consent of a parent or legal guardian and recommends that the terms have been reviewed and discussed. The privacy policy is why TikTok has received some bad press and countless warnings to parents to keep their children off of TikTok. In 2014 there was an app called Musical.ly which eventually was purchased by a Beijing based company in 2017. This company already owned TikTok and decided to merge the two apps in order to create one global platform. Just like any app, personal data is collected and stored. What makes TikTok more controversial is that their servers are located in the United States and in China.

There is a seperate link to a privacy policy for younger uses which was updated in January 2020. It begins by stating, “this Privacy Policy for Younger Users explains our information collection practices with respect to information provided by users under the age of 13 on the under-13 experience of the TikTok mobile application for users in the United States”. This separate policy was developed after TikTok received a $5.7 million fine for violating COPPA. The violation was based on accounts of an investigation that Musical.ly “had undisturbing practices, including collecting and exposing the location” of young children. Despite receiving thousands of complaints from parents, the company failed to comply with requests to delete information about underage children and held onto it longer than necessary”.

While the terms of service state users should be 18 and over, the privacy policy for younger users discusses under the age of 13, Common Sense Media has recommended the app is appropriate for 16 and older “due to its mature content and information settings”. TikTok is popular and students are going to be interested in watching videos or trying to make their own. With such a broad age range currently accessing TikTok, there definitely are videos that contain mature content. But rather than banning pre-teens from using it, TikTok has created a parental guide to assist parents in making accounts and viewing options “safer”. This includes instructions on how to change accounts from public to private, restrict duets (setting who can make them with you), enabling comment restrictions, reporting a comment, unfollowing a user, blocking a user, reporting physical danger, enabling restricted mode (which limits the content that is shown), and setting screen time limits.

Review of Wakelet

Prior to this class I had never heard of or used Wakelet. My first exposure to it was when Dean shared the Wakelet he created for his content catalyst. In our class discussion, many people spoke about how great it is and I was intrigued. As I was still looking for an app to look into, I was eager to see what Wakelet was all about.

When you click on About on Wakelet.com, they describe their mission as, “working to change the way people find, organize and share information. In a world of algorithmically-driven content, Wakelet puts people first, helping them organize and find the most relevant, authoritative and compelling content from across the web”.

What is the purpose? What does it provide the user?

Wakelet is a tool that allows you to save, organize, and share content. It provides the user with one place to curate articles, videos, images, tweets, and anything else you can find online. This is achieved by creating a collection. Collections that you create are private by default. This can be changed at any time to unlisted – only people with the link can see it or as public – everyone can see it. Watch the video below for more information on how to create a collection.

What are the educational uses?

As we teach students to navigate the internet and develop literacy skills such as synthesizing, analyzing, creating and collaborating I feel that Wakelet is a tool that can assist in developing those skills. While there are many possibilites for using using Wakelet in the classroom, I cannot speak directly to them as I did not have the opportunity to use it with students. I had hoped/planned on speaking to someone who has more direct experience with it than me but due to events of the past month it was not possible. Based on my own personal for my project and research on the content catalyst, I would love to use Wakelet with students. I see great potential at all different levels. From providing students with a teacher generated collection, to having students effectively research and develop their own collections, to collaborating with others to develop a collection. Wakelet promotes itself as a “powerful storytelling tool for teachers and students”. They have even developed an educators guide which is available to download from the For Educators section of their website.

What do the terms of service and privacy guidelines mean?

My use of Wakelet has made me a fan and I plan on continuing to use it and tell others about it. As I stated above, I see educational value and believe it would be a useful tool to use with students. Before taking this class that would have been where I stopped. I used it, I liked it and I see value in using it with students. However, that is not the only criteria that should be considered when deciding if it can be used with students. As I read further into the terms of service and privacy policy of Wakelet I discovered some interesting information. I found the terms of service and privacy policy easy to find and for the most part easy to read. While there is still technical legal terms, they have written it in a way that users will be able to understand. Maybe that is just my lens now as I was searching for specific information that prior to this I did not consider?

A summary of the terms of service is that by using Wakelet you are agreeing to all of their terms either as a registered user with an account or as a user without an account. Also simply stated, if you do not agree to the terms, don’t use Wakelet. As I read further I came across the question, can children use Wakelet? The answer: “of course, but Wakelet is not currently directed to children and we expect that use by children will only be done with the guidance, supervision and consent of their parents, guardians and/or authorized school officials”.

This statement led me into the privacy policy which begins with, “At Wakelet, the privacy of you and your students is very important to us. We do not sell any personal information to advertisers or third parties. We only share data with third parties when necessary to provide and improve the service”. Wakelet shares data with the following service providers: AWS, Redislabs, ElasticSearch, Cloudinary, Mixpanel, mailchimp, embed.ly, zendesk, Google Analytics, unbounce, pushwoosh, ANS, slack, and Loggly. The privacy policy also explains that some of the service providers are based out of the European Economic Area (EEA). It goes on to explain, “where we transfer your personal information outside of the EEA, we ensure a similar degree of protection is given to it”. So while Wakelet is not selling any personal information you provide when creating an account or from using their tool, they do share your information with other companies.

So what does this mean for using Wakelet with students? There is an entire section titled COPPA and Students which begins with “you must be over the age of 13 to be a Registered User of Wakelet”. The policy goes on to state that teachers can invite students under the age of 13 to contribute to their collections through the Collaboration feature. It suggests that students can create a nickname, only visible to their teacher and other contributors to the collection. When using the Collaboration feature in Wakelet, students are not required to provide their name, address or other contact information. This means that aside from what policy and procedures exist within your school division, Wakelet is stating that no one under the age of 13 should have an account. See the video below for more information on how to use the Collaboration feature.

Policies and Procedures

What are the Policies and Procedures That Exist in My School Division Around the Use of Technology?

Prominent issues (ethical, social, legal, safety) related to educational technology in K-12 school divisions require clear structures and guidelines be developed and communicated with all stakeholders. Policy and procedure development resulting in the formal position of a given school division and accessible to all maximizes the opportunities afforded by technology while minimizing inherent risks. Sound policies and procedures related to education technology also require frequent updating to address emerging issues.

The quote above appears on my school division’s education technology website. The division identified in 2015 that with new and emerging issues it was likely that existing policies and procedures would need to be enhanced or modified and in some cases new policies and procedures would need to be developed. Currently there are eight administrative procedures that directly address technology which include:

  • Computer Network and Internet
  • Use of Board Owned Technology
  • Password Construction and Protection
  • Online Communication and Interaction/Social Media
  • Information Security
  • Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy
  • Use of Student Owned Technology Devices
  • Copyright

The division has also developed a Responsible Use of Technology/Digital Citizenship Agreement for students. Within this document students need to agree to the responsible use conditions that fall under the headings of Respect and Protect Myself, Respect and Protect Others, Respect and Protect Intellectual Property, Personal Technology, Online Software, Application and Services. They must also agree to follow the expectations of the guidelines and conduct themselves as responsible digital citizens. It is expected that students in grades 4-12 sign the agreement annually. Parents also need to sign the agreement stating they have read it and support it.

What is the Policy/Guideline Development for Apps in My School Division?

The school division is required to ensure that all software applications on Division-owned devices are approved for use and are legally licensed. They have identified that “no software/apps/online services shall be purchased, installed, copied onto or used on Division-owned devices unless approval has been granted and the appropriate license(s) has been obtained”.

Before using a software/apps/online services, teachers should be referring to the approved list the division has complied. This list is available to all employees of the division and requires division credentials to access it. The list identifies hardware, software, web sites, and apps along with their status – approved, rejected or being processed, and any conditions that go along with it. Some conditions include a parental consent form specific to the app. A general list of baseline apps, services, and software is available for public viewing on the education technology website.

If a teacher would like to use an app not currently listed on the approved list for the division, they must fill in and submit a Request for Software/Apps/Online Services form. Once the request is received by the division it is funneled to the instructional coordinator for the area that the service/app or software was requested for.  The request is reviewed based on curriculum alignment, whether or not an existing service/app or program is already available in the division, privacy implications and cost.  Each submission is also reviewed by IT in terms of impact on the network, storage space on the device (iPads in particular), presence of in-app purchases and licensing. Privacy and security are primary concerns that are considered as well. This is evident in the questions that are asked on the form which include:

  • Does this product require the student to login or have an account/profile?
  • Does the student use their existing login or is a new one created?
  • Does the teacher create the account or does the student?
  • Does the teacher have the ability to reset the students’ passwords or only the student? Or both?
  • How long does this account remain active? Does this product collect personal information?
  • Is there an education related purpose for the collection of personal information?
  • Is any of the personal information collected of benefit to the student?

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.

Outline of Major Project

Where to begin? When looking at the options presented for the project, the personal journey into media piqued my interest right away. Having the opportunity to take a closer look at the apps our students are using in their personal lives as well as the apps we are using within schools is something I believe will be valuable. But why? What is the value in knowing more about these apps? In Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk Connected, But Alone she explained “little devices in our pockets are so psychologically powerful that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are”. This statement helped solidify my why. How much do I really know about the apps students are using everyday and the apps we are asking them to use in our schools? How are these apps changing who they are?

My plan is to examine these apps from an administrator’s perspective. In the past few years my school division has changed the policy around what apps are accessible on the school iPads. Students and teachers still ask why they cannot add a “really great app” because it is free. Why are “fun and free” often the only criteria people consider for what we want our students to use?

At this point I have many ideas and possible directions I can go with this project. I know I need to narrow things down and hope that as I begin to work through my ideas my direction will become more clear. I plan on examining Snapchat and TikTok and two educational apps (looking into the possibilities and will finalize the two very soon). Some questions I have to drive this investigation include:

  • What is the purpose of the app? What does it provide the user?
  • What is the potential and the pitfalls of the app?
  • What are the educational uses?
  • What do the terms of service and privacy guidelines mean?
  • What is the policy/guideline development for apps in my school division and why do these apps meet/not meet these requirements?
  • What is required in terms of parent communication/involvement when these apps are used at school?

My plan is to use these apps as much as possible to be able to get a true understanding. As I do not have my own classroom, I will also be working with my colleagues and speaking to students to hear their voices around the usage of these apps. I am really looking forward to this project and I am open to any suggestions or advice anyone might have!