Tech Check: Get Your Digital Life Organized

May is a great time of year, isn’t it? The weather is changing, spring flowers appear, and many educators are excited about another school year coming to a close. There’s much to do, lots of spring cleaning, packing up, and getting things in order before summer break.

We focus on our physical environment when we think of organization, but how about digital organization? Have you done any “spring cleaning” or tidying up of your digital life? As our existence incorporates more technology it’s important to keep up with what is out there and how organized it is! I’ve developed a checklist detailing what I do each month to stay digitally organized. Below are a few of my favorites that I would recommend.

  1. Run Who has Access– This website scans your Google Drive and shows you who has access to your Drive contents.  If you see folks that no longer need access, they can be removed directly in the report. The service deletes its own access to your Drive along with your Drive data from its servers 24 hours after running your report. This tool is especially useful for school administrators who may have a change in personnel each school year. https://www.whohasaccess.com
  2. Check your Social Media Settings– we visit these sites daily, often popping in and out several times to catch glimpses into what is happening around our world. When was the last time you took the time to go through your privacy settings? How about your followers? Go a step further and do a self-audit of your social media posts. Look at the last 15 things you posted. Was your overall message positive? Do they represent the image you want others to have of you? Here are some resources to get you started on your self-social media audit.

https://identity.utexas.edu/everyone/how-to-manage-your-social-media-privacy-settings

https://sites.google.com/site/mydigitalrep/social-media

  1. Password Protection– Generate a list of passwords for the family. (This may sound morbid but social media and email platforms require extensive documentation to shut down accounts without passwords due to the death of a user). Have everyone in the family write down all known passwords. If some are reluctant to share, have them create the list and place it in a sealed envelope (don’t open it) and keep it someplace it can be easily accessed if something happens to you or a family member.  I keep it in our safe.  Get a list of passwords for everyone in the family but be sure to have clear conversations AND FOLLOW THEM if there is a privacy concern.  

These are just a few of the many ways I try to keep my digital-self organized. If you’d like to see the full list, it is available here: http://bit.ly/Tech-Check

What would you recommend?

Is it a Snow Day or an eLearning Day?

It’s no secret that eLearning is a hot topic in Illinois these days. Given the change in the legislative language in Public Act 100-465 —that removed the previous statutory 5-hour requirement to define a school day— mixed with the snow and sub-zero temperatures of January, eLearning has come front and center.  Do our students need to be in front of us in order to learn, or can learning take place “anywhere” and “anytime” students have an Internet-connected device? This can be debated by both sides.

Regardless, we need to consider what is being done around eLearning, both by districts in our state as well as those in other states. The following is a list of school districts that have implemented eLearning days recently. Thank you to those that responded to the prompt on our LTC Statewide Technology group sharing these resources. If you haven’t joined yet, please do! It’s free, and there are educators that generously share their knowledge!

Gurnee District 56 in Lake County in is part of the state pilot program for eLearning. Their website includes an FYI eLearning section, a demonstration video, and tech support. Recently, they were featured on the news as well! Check it out here: https://youtu.be/xXJIgi59LKc

Also in Lake County, Libertyville District 70 offers a choice board of online and offline activities its students can participate in on eLearning days. Check out their middle school page (which includes FAQs as well as a parent feedback form) and their elementary school initiative.

McLean County, home to Tri-Valley CUSD 3, offers resources related to eLearning on its website for the elementary, middle, and high school.
These three districts are prime examples of how learning can take place even when the building is closed. To view more resources, check out our eLearning doc. If you have content to add to it, please email Nicole at nmzumpano@ltcillinois.org. Let us continue to learn from each other!

What is media literacy and why should you teach it in your classroom?

How many advertisements do you come across in one day- ten, fifty, hundreds, thousands? Some sources say we encounter 4,0005,000 ads a day all trying to persuade us to do something, believe something or buy something (while making money for their shareholders). We may not be consciously aware of seeing these ads, nor are our students who are exposed to the same content we are on a daily basis. Are students equipped to recognize when they are being manipulated? Probably not. Media literacy is a skill, not a topic. It is the responsibility of every educator; in every subject, in every school.

The goal of teaching media literacy is to educate our students on how to question what they see. Media literacy has dozens of “subtopics” that can be explored year-round in your classroom. This post shares some fun media facts, concepts, and resources to get you started.  

Media Literacy “Fun Facts”

  • Media is not good or bad; it is just a tool that delivers content.
  • Adults spend 12 hours, 7 minutes a day consuming media.
  • It is estimated that 6 companies own close to 90% of media.
  • Magazines print different editions for different areas and demographics.
  • Advertisers focus on women’s bodies as “parts of a whole”, so they always have something to fix.
  • Personification in advertising plays to our emotions and seeks to have us form “relationships” with products, giving alcohol names such as  ‘Jim Beam’ to imply that we are not drinking alone).

Media Literacy Concepts

  • Media constructs our culture.
  • Media messages affect our thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
  • Media uses different “persuasion” tactics to get you to do something, buy something or believe in something.
  • Media constructs fantasy worlds.
  • No one tells the whole story.
  • Media messages reflect the values and viewpoints of the media maker.
  • Individuals construct their own meanings from media.
  • Media messages can be decoded.
  • Media messages contain “texts” and “subtexts”. Each person creates subtext based on prior experiences, prior knowledge, opinions, attitudes, and values.

Nicole’s Favorite Resources

What Does Your Tattoo Say About You?

Do you have a tattoo?  What’s the story behind it?  What does it say about who you are?  Tattoos have been around for over 5,000 years.  For centuries people have been marking their bodies for a variety of purposes; love, status, tribute, and medical just to name a few.  Today the tattoo industry is busier than ever, although an internet search for “tattoo removal” proves there are clearly some that regret the decision.  Is our online existence that much different? Do we not post statuses that declare our love, tribute, medical dilemmas and more, much like people tattoo their skin?  If that is the case, do we not regret some of our social media posts as well?

The term “digital footprint” is well known and represents what trace of us we leave behind when we are visible and active online.  It is a catchy phrase, but in my opinion not completely accurate. Footprints can be washed away. They can be covered over so they are no longer visible.  A tattoo is much more difficult to make disappear. Even in attempts to remove tattoos, there is always some trace of the scar (or ink) that remains. It is important to teach our students that what they do online never truly goes away. What better place to start than with us, the educators. As such, it is our responsibility to know what our online reputation looks like so we can help guide our students in developing theirs. As an adjunct professor my courses always include data mining. Sometimes, I give my students a “stranger” (aka a friend of mine that they don’t know) to find as much information on as they can (what’s fun about this one is I have them make a slideshow of their results and send it to the actual friend!). Sometimes I have them create a curriculum vitae of their online persona, using only the data they find about themselves online (that one can be an eye-opener!). In all instances, my graduate students (who are almost all in the education field) have a chance to take a “deep dive” into their online brand. The purpose of this activity? Once we have a clear understanding and feel the emotion of what we find online, albeit positive or negative, we are better equipped and invested in passing this on to our students.

Following are tips and resources to get started on your own data dive.

Tips:

  • Log out of all internet browsers before searching (being logged in will skew your results)
  • Use quotation marks when searching (i.e. “Nicole M Zumpano”)
  • Search using multiple search engines and browsers (i.e. Google, Firefox, Safari, Bing, Internet Explorer)
  • Search using your professional name (I go professionally using my middle initial; Nicole M Zumpano)
  • Search images
  • Search using your social media usernames
  • If married, search using your maiden name

Help Documents:

http://bit.ly/Data-Mine (This one lists several sites you can use to conduct a data mine on yourself)

http://bit.ly/Data-Adventure (This one is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” related to digital tattoos)

http://bit.ly/Tech-Check (Finally, clean up your digital life! This is a monthly “to-do” list to keep your digital existence in order!)

Being aware of the image you portray (or don’t portray) online is one of the first steps to a healthy digital literacy diet. Happy mining!