Transcript: #24 From Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership – Jennifer Casa-Todd

Ti-Fen (1m 21s):

From Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership Jennifer she’s passionate about showing teachers and students how they can use technology and social media to make the world a better place. Now lets enjoy our conversation with amazing Jennifer hello Jennifer will come to our show.

Jennifer (1m 45s):

Hello and thank you so much for having me.

Ti-Fen (1m 49s):

So Jennifer you have ample knowledge, ink, social media in the K-12 context. What is the story behind that you decided to dedicate your life in this area?

Jennifer (2m 3s):

Well, I had a sudden realization and there were many things that happened at, at that time in my life. The first of which being that I had a job interview, my daughter was asked, what social media are you on? And what will I learn about you if I go there? And it really prompted me to think critically about the way in which I myself was using social media in the context of teaching and learning and connecting with others. But that I had spent very little time mentoring my own daughter around the use of social media so that she could answer that question effectively.

Jennifer (2m 43s):

And then by extension, I thought about the ways in which we constantly tell our students or what not to do on social media, but I really didn’t help equip them to answer that question either. And so I began to think about that a great aye, then met a or gotten to know a George Corose a little bit better. And he was talking about the idea of digital leadership as using the vast reach of technology and social media to improve the lives and wellbeing in circumstances of others. And that really radically changed the way I started to look at things. And as a result, it, it sort of forced me into the trajectory that I now find myself.

Jennifer (3m 29s):

So I was seeking out students who were using social media positively and began to found spine. So many of them and recognize that there was always either a caring adult mentor or even sometimes a student mentor in their lives that allowed them to use social media differently. And so I continue to challenge the idea that social media doesn’t have a place in education because it’s so as you just said, so ubiquitous for students in our world right now

Ti-Fen (4m 1s):

For educators who have a really negative impression on social media for our kids. How do you think that as educators, you rethink social media in your education?

Jennifer (4m 16s):

Well, certainly there are lots of negative aspects to social media. That’s the absolute reality, right? But if we are going to educate our students to graduate with the still skills that they need to function in our world to not use social media is doing our kids have great, a great disservice. So first of all, I think we need to understand that social media does play a role in our lives and we have to teach knowing that it does for me, I think it’s about not just harping on what students can’t do. I advocate for class social media accounts in the power of a class social media account is that you could very much engage in digital citizenship lessons in context, but you could also model for students how to use social media positively all while staying within the confines of our, of the law.

Jennifer (5m 16s):

Because as we know that students under the age of 13, shouldn’t be on those platforms anyway, even though they are in great, great, great numbers, right? So I always talk to teachers about, you know, where is it that your students are primarily and what about creating a social media class account where students can participate in posting. But if you could have those conversations about notifications or blocking somebody or, you know, lets use our social media account to make a positive difference in someone’s life today. Right? So you can do all of that in context through a class social media account.

Ti-Fen (5m 58s):

That’s right. So I’m really so Jennifer you mentioned that by law, like Kids can not use social media under their 13.  It it  only in Canada or that other

Jennifer (6m 11s):

It’s mostly, I think it’s a regulatory law in place. There are lots of like there’s FERPA and COPPA. These are a regulatory laws that talk about privacy of young people. But most social media accounts have 13, not, not as a magical number because suddenly when you’re 13, you’ll know how to navigate it well, but just in terms of being able to regulate the, the age of students who are on the platform, most of the big ones, your Snapchat, your, your Snapchat, your Twitter, your Facebook, your Instagram, those all have 13 as a And even Tik have 13 as the age of 18.

Ti-Fen (7m 2s):

Yeah. I think when you register, when you sign out, they will ask you your date of birth and then they will see if they, they were like, let you choose or not. Right?

Jennifer (7m 14s):

Yeah, absolutely. And in my experience, students or kids lie about their age so they can get into platforms, right. And even in that conversation is really important. So you’re not allowed to be on these platforms cause we’re not, you are not 13, but I asked the teacher we’ll have a class account so that we’re abiding by the law, but that you can learn how some of this use is being used and certainly communication with parents around. Why might you have a social media account? You have these students who are, there’s an incredible chasm between students who use it well and who don’t. There’s an incredible chasm between parents who sort of model and, and stay involved in their students’ social media accounts and those who don’t.

Jennifer (7m 58s):

So we have this, this whole group, this whole generation of kids who really are playing in these spaces by themselves. And, and I think that’s a real concern. And in some teachers might say, well, clearly there’s no place. I mean, we have enough to do in teaching and learning without engaging in social media. But then you hear things like, you know, 96% of high school students can’t tell the difference between a credible news article and one that has sponsored content. And when you recognize that students consume much, if not all of their news from social media outlets, then you wonder, well, where does that media literacy come in?

Jennifer (8m 43s):

And then if parents aren’t engaging in these conversations at home and teachers are not engaging in these conversations at school where, you know, what’s happening here and And, you know, given so many of the circumstances in which we find ourselves today, I think that we really need to re re-emphasize what it is or how it is that we’re teaching using social media and how we’re looking at media literacy in our classes too.

Ti-Fen (9m 12s):

And before we dive deeper into Digital leadership, I do want  to touch on digital citizenship so for you, like what is digital citizenship?.

Jennifer (9m 24s):

So for the most part, we define digital citizenship as using technology in responsible ways, you know, being appropriate and being safe. And thankfully some of that has changed since I began this work, but for the most part, we still confine our digital Citizenship ideas and lessons around what not to do, keep your password safe, you know, don’t cyber bullied, those kinds of things, all very, very important, like I said, but certainly important in the context of using some of the skills. And so mostly, unfortunately our approach has been, don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do this.

Jennifer (10m 9s):

That hasn’t been about how are we using this? What are the nuances of this? And how can we, how can we change it for the better one?

Ti-Fen (10m 19s):

The way a teacher can teach Digital citizenship in their classroom.

Jennifer (10m 24s):

So there are lots of really effective resources out there for digital citizenship per se. So common sense, media has an incredible program and common sense. Media is great because they’ve sort of moved away from not entirely, but they have, they’ve moved away from the, no, don’t do this to, you know, what are ways in which you can connect with others and positive and meaningful ways. If you’re a younger students, a B internet, awesome by Google is an effective resource as well. Again, it focuses very much on, you know, safe passwords and not cyber bullying, et cetera, but it is both of those resources are incredible ways to start, but like anything Digital Citizenship is not a checklist.

Jennifer (11m 13s):

Okay. At the beginning of the year, I, you know, I taught this, there you go check. Right? The, the true impact and power is when you engage in ongoing conversations about how social media impacts the way in which we communicate with others, the way in which we consume our news, the things that we create, the, the way, the time that we spend, like certainly an aspect of digital citizenship is, you know, that, that balance piece, right? So the time that we spend online, you know, taking a look at that,

Ti-Fen (11m 46s):

For example, if a teacher light, they would use some, ah, digital tools in the classroom. And when the students are engaging, they can just like bring up, Oh, by the way, we have to be my foe for all the words, et cetera. Right. Is not. And, and in this conversation, is a way keep happening in the classroom. And it’s not like just like one time and I’m turning it off. You just like keep reminding our students, what are the goop behaviors, the digital world.

Jennifer (12m 22s):

Yes, exactly. One of the tools that I use ’em and I can share it with you to add to your notes is the media triangle. And so for me, just having, you know, a digital citizenship lessons at the beginning of the year, without on an ongoing conversation, as you say about media literacy. So how are we ha how is media constructed? And in, in what ways can we impact or, or create messages. But these are really, really, really important. Having kids understand that there are there’s the media texts, and then there’s an audience in terms of how people receive it, as well as a production value.

Jennifer (13m 6s):

So, you know, a Snapchat is going to a post is going to be very different from an Instagram post is going to be different from a blog is going to be different than a journal article. So understanding the way media works and engaging in these ongoing conversations about how they work and then creating media techs for an audience, or are also really, really important ways that we can start to move Way from just those digital citizenship lessons that tell us to meet online <inaudible>

Ti-Fen (13m 51s):

Digital leadership is the fast reach of technology and social media to improve the life circumstances and wellbeing of others and Jennifer for you. What is digital leadership specifically about and why do you think we should not only be a digital Citizenship also digital leadership?

Jennifer (14m 13s):

So I began with that working definition. And so much of my work in social media is around George corrosives definition. But more recently, I just finished my master’s in curriculum and technology with a focus on social media and education. And I took a deep dive into a program at the time it was called the Ontario educational Student Chat. Now it’s called the Global Education Student Chat we’ve morphed it. And I looked at the student’s within that program. And the way it works is we have students who decide on topics and then they create a, a monthly topic and a Twitter chat, which alongside of that is a YouTube Chat.

Jennifer (14m 57s):

So the students, the student leaders essentially are talking about topics that are important to other students. They are using YouTube live, they are using a whole bunch of other digital tools to create graphics. We co-construct norms of behavior. So one of the things that we talk about is how you may disagree with someone’s opinion, but you don’t disagree with the person. So we have to be very careful about how we use our words when we’re talking to one another. And so in doing this deep dive for my master’s project, I started to recognize that the students who were sometimes leaders in person really became leaders in online spaces.

Jennifer (15m 42s):

And, and what did I see them doing? I saw that they were using their online voices to network and participate in and create communities and inspire change. So digital leadership is really the ability to use technology, especially social media, to develop a model, a positive digital identity. That’s what I saw in the students when I was doing my research. And it was amazing to me to see the extent to which the us Teachers, but also other students within the leadership team, mentor one another.

Jennifer (16m 23s):

And, and really, really these students by the end of even one year of being together in the Chat with this ongoing mentorship, we’re using social media very, very differently than, than other students. And so to me, that’s the ideal that we help model for our students so that they can use social media to develop a positive digital identity, understand audience, use their voices for change, use their voices to connect with others. And that, that, that study, it was, it was so powerful because it share, it showed me that I was in, I was going to the right direction.

Jennifer (17m 6s):

So all of the literature review, all of the, all of the things that I had researched really did reinvigorate the need for this work and the importance of a shift for us in education.

Ti-Fen (17m 23s):

From your book. You mentioned how to make this transition is by finding a passion and start influencing Arthur’s to make a positive change. So could you give as an example of how you nurture digital leadership in your own class?

Jennifer (17m 42s):

Well, so I am a teacher Librarian, so I don’t have my own classroom per se. I did teach summer school. And so, so many of these ideas when we talked to students about their online identity, right? What are the conversations, having conversations and explicit lessons around their online identity modeling for students, even in the clubs and the councils that I, that I monitor, you know, having, Student having conversations about what your creating and what your putting out there, and what impact do you want it to have? You know, these are all really important things that, again, we, whenever it’s possible in the context of our class or our club or our committee, but also certainly as I continue to be an adult mentor for the Global Education Student Chat.

Jennifer (18m 33s):

And I feel like that’s such an incredible opportunity for students all over the world to be able to have to jump in on this conversation, to see other students in acting as digital leaders, to be able to respond and a very different way than what they might be used to. Because so many of our students used social media for entertainment. I would, I would argue so many of our adults do too. So in continuing to work with the Global Education Student Chat team, I feel like, you know, this is a good segue for any students, you know, K-12, I guess most of our students are from grade four to grade 12, to be able to come in and recognize that there was so much more they could be doing online.

Ti-Fen (19m 23s):

Got it. So Jennifer, if a teacher  comes to you and says that, Hey, I really want to create a lesson plan that to digital leadership, how would you guide them to do this lesson plan?

Jennifer (19m 45s):

So as much as I would love to say this, you know, step number one, is this a step number two? Is this step number three? Is this, I think it’s a little bit more complex than that. I think that what, what we need, what you need to do is you need to talk to students first and foremost, about the way in which they use media and the impact that it has on them. And then secondly, there’s a really good a lesson I use with my high school students in the Google Digital applied skills, and it talks about their online identity. And so I use that as a basis for talking about your digital footprint and your online identity.

Jennifer (20m 26s):

And then from there we talk about what are the weight, how is it that you’re using social media right now? And then asking that question, what social media are you on? And what will I learn about you? If I go there and having a sense with students or having conversations, and then engaging in activities around how could you use your online presence positively for your future? And you’d be amazed when you engage in those conversations and in the high school, that there are some students who will share while I have a blog and I have this website, I have this business ’cause, we, we, we don’t often listened to how students are using media in their own lives.

Jennifer (21m 12s):

So, so I would say it’s not a great when with younger students, it’s begin a class, social media account, seek out opportunities to connect with parents and other classes, and then to use your social media presence together, to engage in questions like, you know, who are the kinds of people that we should follow and how, when people look at our account, what do they, what do we want them to know about us? Right. So, so to have an online presence together as a class for younger students, but then as we get older to really sort of reemphasize, how are you using social media?

Jennifer (21m 56s):

How might you use it for your future? How might you use it to create a positive influence and really, really engaging in conversations with kids and dialogue? So your listening and, and, but also doing positively so that they have a mentor, or they have, they have someone who is doing things that they may be, are not used to seeing. Does that make sense?

Ti-Fen (22m 23s):

Yes. And that’s great. So basically they are three bullet points that I, I heard, like the first one is to talk to see you, then How like, what’s the impact in social media? And the, for the second one would be, what is the digital identity for then? And the third one is how could they use these platform to introduce a positive impact, like using blogs or a website for the business, et cetera. And so Jennifer, and I have seen, there is a keyword, a brow the next, like who, for younger students, who should they connect with, who she is a follow.

Ti-Fen (23m 9s):

So in your book, I think there’s a chapter talking about connection, which is very interesting. We know like most social media is to try to do the connection with people without boundaries and any tips that the teacher can connect with you then with me, no meaningful projects or a PPO to facilitate ditto. Leadership

Jennifer (23m 34s):

For sure. So the first bit of advice I would offer would be to leverage your own networks. I know on Twitter, I’ve created a list of international educators. So I want my students who may be from a very homogeneous group. You know, they know everyone in their own community. I want those students to connect with other classes in the world who might have a different perspective than them. And so one of the, you know, with the global read aloud, I know this is the last year for the global read aloud, but you actually don’t even need a global read aloud. You just need to be able to connect with leverage your own network, to connect with another grade to Teacher.

Jennifer (24m 17s):

Some are in the world and say, Hey, would you be willing to read the story? And could we, our two classes talk about it? You know, and maybe the connection begins on social media, you know, because it’s one of your own connections, but then you can take it to Flipgrid or you can take it to Google docs, you know, and then bring it back to social media. So students also recognize that social media has a place, but that sometimes ongoing conversations need to happen in different platforms, right? That’s an important lesson for kids. And, and another lesson that comes through for that is that you could use social media to connect with people and ideas that are different than your own, because I think that’s really important in our world today.

Jennifer (25m 4s):

The other thing I would suggest, so that was first to leverage your own connections in order to, to meet people from other places and using my Twitter list is a great idea. I’m Adam Hill, the person he’s a Teacher from Singapore with whom I facilitated an empowered Digital leaders course where starting a new cohort in the fall at the end of October. But one of the things he did was he created a list of his Student questions. They were engaging in an inquiry. And so he just created a spreadsheet and the student I want to learn more about, and then the students build out what they wanted to learn more about.

Jennifer (25m 47s):

And then he had a column for anyone online, again, leveraging his own social media network who had expertise in that area to be able to help mentor that student, because we are kidding ourselves. If we think that we’re the only experts, right? So to show students that you could use social media to connect with experts around the world, such a powerful thing. So, so you, you leverage connections in your in-person communities, but also in your online communities and directly respond to what the students are thinking about.

Jennifer (26m 29s):

The digital human library is another really great place to find experts to connect with. That’s something that my friendly castle created many years ago that I do highlight in social media, but it’s just being creative about how we can use social media platforms to reach out to experts. Certainly with COVID. I was amazed at the number of artists, the number of museums and zoos, and you name it that started to create programs, virtual programs for us to learn, right. Connecting with some of those, you know, those communities, those organizations, so that you could bring them into the classroom and then students can see, Oh my goodness, like Facebook live is a tool that’s being used by, you know, the children’s museum.

Jennifer (27m 24s):

And I’m learning so much the aquarium. I can’t remember the name of the aquarium. Oh, but they had a program regularly. I don’t know if they still do that anymore, where they were teaching us about sharks and jellyfish. So, so just being open to the fact that learning doesn’t necessarily need to come from our textbooks, but that there is a whole world of learning out there. Is that we just need to speak out on social media is one way in which we can connect our students to that a lot around the middle

Ti-Fen (28m 16s):

To remind students when, after we can now with some experts And or influential people. So I’m curious is like, how do we, how do they, how do these people mentor the students? Are you folks working with them for the mentorship program or, or even just like when they follow , this kind of the mentor is happening there organically?

Jennifer (28m 46s):

Well, I think have, and so with Global ed Student, Chat, we’re actually, we meet monthly with the students. So we’re, we’re, we’re engaged in, you know, what should we do? What should our questions be like? You know, how would someone interpret this? Right? So that’s our role. That’s my role as an adult mentor in Global ed Student Chat. But as a teacher, I am a mentor. Like if you look at Albert Bandura is a theory of observational Leadership students pay attention to the role models. So again, if they see their Teacher, you know, always picking up their phone and being online, or, you know, interrupting everything in order to take a picture of, to put it on their Twitter accounts that sends, ah, you know, a, a very interesting message to kids where as if they see their teacher saying, we only check our class social media account once in a while, or it’s Friday, let’s reach to someone and make a positive difference, you know, send out a quotation, you know, why we do this weekly?

Jennifer (29m 48s):

One of the things that I found fascinating when I was starting to look at teachers who had class accounts and in particular, one of my former students, Robert <inaudible>, who I mentioned in the book quite a bit, his mentorship. So they have a class account, their students are engaged in communities. So they have a public relations committee. He’s not in the classroom anymore now, unfortunately, but he had a classroom, a community. He had a public relations committee rather who created the class blog and who posted to social media. It was fascinating. And it was a grade six class when those students were 13 and creating their own accounts, those accounts very much resembled what they had seen, Mr.

Jennifer (30m 33s):

Conone do with his own account. Right. So we cannot underestimate the power that we have to impact our students. And, and that’s just frightening. And, you know, in some ways that’s so, you know, ah, you know, the, the impact that we have as teachers can sometimes feel like an incredible responsibility, but it’s true, right? Our students watch what we do and they, they learn so much from us, not just in terms of the content we teach, but the things that we, that, that, that we have, the things that we help them experience and the, the actions that we take in our classrooms.

Jennifer (31m 14s):

So I would argue that were all, we can all be media mentors for our students, depending on how we approach the topic of social media and education.

Ti-Fen (31m 27s):

Great. So gear every teacher’s around the world, you are the role model that was for your students. Jennifer, and let’s go to our random questions part. So what are the one or two books that have influenced your thinking? Well, in the past few years,

Jennifer (31m 53s):

So with regards to this topic in particular, I would say a participatory culture and a network to era by Henry Jenkins and Dana Boyd and <inaudible>, and it’s complicated by Dana Boyd. But more recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how sometimes social media could be almost an echo chamber, right? So depending on who you follow, or you have the same ideas, you know, the same new stories you think that everyone in the world has the same ideas that you do. And so I’ve been a reading, a book called a blind spot, a good intent, a blind spot, the implicit bias have good people.

Jennifer (32m 36s):

And it has really made me think about how we can use social to interrupt our perspective, to, to make sure that we aren’t always in that sort of filter bubble and how sometimes when we consume media, it is with a bias and, and an understanding that bias and looking at a variety of different perspectives is really important. So that, that is one book that’s more recently been really making me think about the way in which I interact on my social media channels.

Ti-Fen (33m 8s):

That was pretty interesting. So if you have a super woman power to change one thing, the Education, See saying Canada, what would it be?

Jennifer (33m 19s):

I wish I could sort of take a magic wand and, and, and, and help educators to move away from teaching content and more of a move towards teaching students and understanding the way in which our world today is impacting so many things. So I just, I just feel like sometimes we’re so bound by tradition and our quote unquote curriculum that we don’t take a step back to really think flexibly about what we’re teaching in, how we’re teaching it.

Jennifer (34m 1s):

And, and I know there’s so many obstacles, there’s time. There’s, you know, the, the restrictions that we feel like our, that are placed on us. But if I had a magic wand, I would just say, you know, let’s, let’s get rid of all of that traditional stuff. And let’s really rethink the What. It is that were teaching in how we’re teaching It so that when our students graduate, they, they are better equipped to deal with the world into which they’re graduating.

Ti-Fen (34m 30s):

Yeah, that’s great. I think a lot of teachers, sometimes we would be really constrained by the standardized tests and is, is it takes time is really hard to change these paradigms. So Jennifer do, before we close up, do you have any other thoughts? 

Jennifer (34m 56s):

Sure. I I’m. Can I, can I at risk of sounding like an advertisement here, I have two books coming out. One is coauthored with Lee castle, who was the founder of Digital a human library, and it’s illustrated by a former student, a Sahara for a farmer. And it’s a book called Aubrey bright stories that connect us, its a children’s book and it’s published by edgy match. And it’s an intergenerational story of a young girl and her relationship with her grandmother and really taking a look at technology and how it connects us. So very much in line with this conversation.

Jennifer (35m 36s):

And I also have a companion book to Social LEADia raising Digital leaders, which is, is, is going to be for parents that, that parents, a gap that we sometimes see. And how do we promote digital leadership? You know, from that point of view, from that perspective of a parent, I also would invite you to check out Global ed Student Chat. So it’s Global ed S S chats I’m on Twitter, on Instagram or on our website. Global ed Student because I really, really passionately believe that when students start to see something different, they will start to behave differently.

Jennifer (36m 21s):

And it’s a great opportunity for your kids to meet other students in the world who we are talking about, the same things that they are

Ti-Fen (36m 30s):

Amazing. I will make sure they are on our show notes. So if people want to learn more about your work, how can they find you online?

Jennifer (36m 41s):

My I and you can find me on Twitter at, at J Casa Todd and certainly through my blog. If you wanted to contact me for further information to have me come out and speak or just because you have a question and there’s a contact form on J Casa

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