The Innovator

Education, Social Justice, Innovation

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How can we transform the field of education?

During the opening for “Writing out loud” conference by the Philadelphia Writing Project, I began contemplating what it meant to be a contemporary educator. Meenoo Rami explain to us, that we must celebrate stories in the classroom. By celebrating each story in the classroom, we are showing the “best potential” of human life. The introduction of this new concept, importance of story telling, was a breath of fresh air.

How do teachers implement stories in the classroom? Social media is one way for students to express stories in their life. It gives them the tools to explain moments in their life in the form of pictures, words, emoticons and hashtags. When we are telling stories in the classroom, we are exposing reality life. What do we like about movies, television, books and using social media? Each media form tells us a story of some sort. We, as humans, are intrigued by stories. Stories captivate us and challenge our old ways of thinking.

Being a contemporary educator means making dialogue between educators more transparent. Networking and spreading ideas online is a great way for the field of education to evolve.

I have decided to give in to all of social media. I started this course not knowing how to use Instagram and Twitter. I see all of the benefits of the use of these social media sites. Why aren’t we taking more advantage of social media? I think since we are well into the 21st century, teachers need to begin adopting new ways to implement technology in the classroom. What are the key ingredients to become innovators in the field of education? Is it collaboration and inquiry? Professional development? I am beginning my own personal journey into trying to have a voice in the field of education through social media.


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Are we making a difference by using social media to promote causes?

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I felt that I need to reflect if I am contributing to Slacktivism. Am I doing all I can by just simply spreading a picture? Can just liking a picture create change or is it just a way to feel that I am helping change something? Is signing a petition really going to get the cause anywhere? Is social media contributing to a  less effective way of changing the world? Are we using social media in the wrong way?

I feel that the changing platform for social justice causes is creating less effort. Participants that would have in early 2000 might go door to door for petitions or hang fliers now can just copy and paste a link. When I check my Facebook newsfeed I am bombarded with pictures of people holding signs. These signs usually say something along the lines of “If you like this my father will stop smoking” “1 like= Beating Cancer” “1 Like will save this puppy’s life”. Are we becoming so jaded by seeing these causes on the internet?

I am skeptical to this new term. I believe that when I posted pictures that had thought provoking signs, I was causing people to wonder what the signs meant. I had many Facebook users ask me questions about modern day slavery. Are we overusing Facebook to promote everyone’s cause? Throughout the end of this semester I will be critically thinking about the pros and cons of promoting social justice causes on Facebook.



Herrera, J (2014). Can you reticent #endworldhunger?

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Social Media Users Switching to Smaller Digital Communities

140118153056-rs-politics-of-snapchat-story-topCNN recently featured an article titled “Social media users migrating to smaller circles”  Think about five years ago. How long did you tend to spend on Facebook? Looking at how much time I spent in high school, to now, has changed dramatically. I barely use Facebook. I have come to realize I only check for my friend’s engagements or baby announcements. Has our world really transformed to spreading exciting news via the Internet instead of using the mail? One of the smaller social media apps is Snap-chat. Snap-chat allows me to type limited messages to my friends with a picture. If I am mad about something I can take a picture of my face with a caption that explains my emotion. I feel that Facebook lost its personal touch. In the article it discusses how many of the young users are looking toward the coolest new apps. The social media site MySpace was the coolest site at one point and then faded away. Maybe Facebook will eventually change to keep up with the appeal of younger users. Is Facebook at risk for becoming something in the past?

“Smaller social media spaces, especially specific to an area of interest or a skill, can become an alternative, where users can create a manageable social network, where they can invest in interpersonal relationships,” (CNN 2014)

Personally I can’t keep up with every single friend on Facebook. I get lost in the “Tweets” through Twitter. Snap-chat only includes my friends that are on my phone and keep up with on a daily basis. Having thousands of Facebook friends makes it hard to keep up with personal relationships. By using Snap-chat I know my close friends are doing okay.

Jay Baer explained his version of social media sites:

“LinkedIn is for people you know, Facebook is for people you used to know, Twitter is for people you want to know.”

I wonder how social media sites will look five years from now……



Gross, D. (2014). Social media users migrating to smaller circles.

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SocialEDU to Rwanda

Screen-Shot-2014-02-24-at-11.18.06-AMRecently CNN featured an article Facebook reveals online education app for Rwanda. This article made me reflect on the benefits of the digital world. Today many students throughout the world are turning to online education. Many wireless companies are partnering with Facebook to bring the Wi-Fi to Rwanda. Many parts of Rwanda are not online. SocialEDU will begin by first offering free Wi-Fi to University students. The materials from the EDX app that students will have access to, will contain content from the top universities such as Harvard and MIT.  The SocialEDU project will allow students in Rwanda to talk with teachers in America. I feel that this application will be allowing for a greater opportunity for students in Rwanda to interact through a digital realm with professors they maybe never have received the chance to learn from. This new form of digital interaction with allow for spreading of ideas and international exchanged. 

<> on February 1, 2012 in Menlo Park, California.Mark Zukerberg, Facebook founder, wants to bridge what he calls the “digital divide”. The digital divide is the gap between developing and developed countries. The main goal is bringing “connectivity” to the third world in hopes of improving access to education. EDX allows students to learn internationally from the top universities. Many students in Rwanda may not have the opportunity to work with professors in America. Digital technologies are providing these students with tools for empowerment.

My main concerns is the impact social media may have in countries such as Rwanda. Will education in the classroom turn to education online? What are the next steps if SocialEDU succeeds? Will SocialEDU allow students in Rwanda the opportunity to study in the United States?

Looking at  SocialEDU through a critical perspective, I feel as if we, the United States, are contributing to the digital divide. We believe we are helping close the digital gap but we may be actually aiding in the distance. The first world feels responsible for aiding the third world by trying to close the digital gap by providing financially based resources. Aid toward SocialEDU may be making the Rwanda dependent on these outside sources. Is it the United States’ responsibility to be providing these technologies to places such as Rwanda? What is the impact of having corporations such as Facebook enter Rwanda? Will these apps be embraced or will they be lost?

I feel that there are endless benefits in providing online education in places that may not have access to education. I am very interested in looking at how SocialEDU impacts higher education in Rwanda.


Chapelle, I. 2014. Facebook reveals online education app for rwanda.

Lunden, I (2014). Facebook led partners with nokie on socialedu in rwanda, unilever in india, ericsson on new lab to connect developing economics

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Technology and the Classroom

Online Learning

How important is it to know how to use technology as a teacher? I think about this constantly throughout my day. The students in rural India were desperate to get their hands on some sort of technology for the classroom. They wanted to prepare to get a high paying job. Are higher paying jobs linked to one’s knowledge surrounding technology? Specifically in India the highest paying job is a software developer. It didn’t surprise me that the other high paying careers required vast knowledge on computers.

Our world is constantly evolving. Tumblebooks  and Study Island are two of the favorites digital programs I have seen in classrooms. Study Island is a program that many teachers allow their students to use in their spare time. One summer I tutored a student in middle school. This was when I was first introduced to Study Island. I watched the student as she went through level 7 in math. She took her time on each question trying to get the best possible answer. I thought back to when I was in middle school. If we were ever given anything on the computer I probably wouldn’t have taken my time on it. I would have rushed through without paying attention to my mistakes. She consciously went through all of her mistakes reading about how to improve her score. I was fascinated by how she took her time while using something on the computer. I started to see the benefits of using technology in the classroom.

When I was working in a second grade classroom I was told to use Tumblebooks. Tumblebooks is an interactive tool that engages students with books by making it animated. The books use the same words but it is formatted to be more like a short film. I would play Tumblebooks during snack time and the students were entranced with the story.

I believe that technology does have a place in the classroom. I am hoping that there will be more advances on creative lesson plans for technology in the classroom.


Sharma, V 2014 Technology in school education.

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Social Media and Happiness

Looking around at Barnes and Noble everyone has a phone out. The majority of people sitting in the café have computers out. I glance over at the magazines. Half of the magazines are articles on iPads. How much is there to really say about the iPad? The titles range from “iPad for Seniors” and “ Google Tricks” to “Hacks and Guides for iPad” and “iPad a Guide for Beginners”. To be honest my iPhone has one “app” called Dominos. This app allows me to order Dominos pizza anywhere. I have been reading many articles on how social media is linked to one’s happiness. When college students are placed in rooms without access to their phones or the Internet, they began to exhibit symptoms of detachment according toTufts University. I admit I have felt jealously seeing others succeed on Facebook through relationships, careers, and education. I may feel sad I am not on  a vacation in Hawaii when I see my friend vacationing. These feelings on sadness usually pass but impact my mood the rest of the day. I find myself constantly thinking about why my life can’t be like that?

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I don’t want to spend my time being envious of others. I want to try see if my emotions are actually correlated to my happiness! Being on bed rest from surgery has left me with the trigger of my depressed emotions, my computer. Just checking my computer to see what others are doing started making me sad. Why couldn’t I be out at the gym? Why couldn’t I be out at the beach hanging out with my friends?

According to Tufts University, “people who use social media heavily throughout their day can experience detachment, boredom and even loneliness” (2013). Many students become envious when they see others succeeding on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I believe that the use of social media is impacting our students in many negative ways. Though social media creates new social interactions, it also limits us from interacting in person.

According to Dr. Turkle, “people manipulate their images on social media to project whatever they wish to, so that the image that is being ‘connected’ to by others may not represent the authentic person behind the image”(2013). This makes me question are we projecting our true identity? Are our students getting jealous of others false projections? Is Facebook projecting our true reality or just what we wish it could be?

According to Medical Daily, social media setting up the perfect platform for depression. Is Facebook leading us to feel less satisfied with our own lives? According to a study at University of Michigan, college students felt worse after using Facebook. We see people posting about getting into medical school, getting engaged and endlessly posting pictures of success. We rarely see someone admitting mistakes via Facebook.


University students are using social media in ways of promoting student organizations. Social relationships have a huge impact on individual happiness. When your friends and relatives are happy, according to Harvard University, then it increases your own happiness. Researchers have been analyzing peoples Facebook pictures and looking at those people’s Facebook friends. They are seeing connections in people who smile in their profile pictures against people who don’t smile in their profile picture.


-I will try not be checking Facebook in the next two weeks

-I will not try not to use snap chat for the next two weeks

-I will not have my phone in a visible place when I am engaging in a social interaction.

-Limit Internet usage for class and research purposes

Predicted Results

I am hoping that I will find out if social media impacts my emotions in a positive or negative way.


Landau,E (2008). Happines is contagious in social networks.

McDaniel, J 2013. Social media impact happiness, research says.

N, Akpan,  2013, Heavy facebook usage linked to declines in happiness: is the social media platform making you depressed?

Hu, E, 2012 Facebook makes us sadder and less satisfied, study finds

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Are we addicted to technology?


This picture shows the ever-changing world of digital technology. Are we paying more attention to technology than the content?  Do we see people on their phone “snap chatting”, “instagraming” and updating their status on Twitter and Facebook, or do we see them enjoying the company they are with? I feel we need to start gearing our work in the classroom to teach students how to use technology without being addicted.

I grew up in a world without smart phones and the need to have a cell phone. I didn’t get my first cell phone until high school and my first computer until college. When I worked with fourth graders, my students brought their iPhones to school. I would receive countless “Instagram” and “Twitter” invitations from them, even though I didn’t have either account. My siblings and I took turns on our old school computer to type our homework in high school and we needed to use books for sources not websites. I just turned twenty-three and I feel that I am behind in technology. While most of my professors are using social media, I am still lost in using Twitter.

Being required to have a blog and update a blog is difficult for me. I am not addicted to technology. When I studied abroad, I didn’t bring a computer or phone. I can live without checking my email or Facebook. Since I don’t check my email constantly, I find myself falling behind. When did our society become so obsessed with digital technology? I am not going to lie, I am upset that we are becoming so dependent on technology. As much as I love the benefits of technology and the positives social media brings, I see the downfall. I feel less personal interaction and I feel as if I don’t even need to be living in Philadelphia to attend Penn if everything I do has to be submitted online. I see people on Facebook posting rants and “selflies” and I see people constantly checking Twitter. I have to be honest and ask why? Why are we doing this? Are we using our time wisely? Do people really care that much?

I would rather live in the spectacular now. I don’t want my students to feel that digital technology is the right way or only way. I feel that it is important to show them how to use it, and use it to gear their interests in topics. I used computer math games for my fourth graders to make math exciting. I, more importantly, want my students to be critical learners. I want them to question everything online and question why they are using technology. In a world that is becoming so dependent on technology, I want them to see the importance of living in the moment. We are missing so much of our life by checking our phones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, email and we are missing a key social aspect. I understand that these mediums teach us appropriate ways to interact with each other, but it is infuriating. Too many people “Facebook message” me. Why can’t you call me? I don’t want to have to check Facebook for anything. I used social media in college to spread awareness about invisible conflicts throughout the world or promote social causes.

Hopefully throughout this semester I will become more open to blogging and Twitter. For now I will look critically at social media today.


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Cyberbaiting is on the rise

cyberbaitingCyberbaiting is one of the latest trends from technology. Students bring their phones to class and use them while the teacher is teaching. Recently students have been trying to get their teachers to resort to melt downs by provoking them. The students’ behavior in the classroom is detrimental to learning. One teacher attempted to engaged his students but his students had another plan. They wanted to ignore him until the point of a breakdown. The students caught the breakdown on video. Following the leak of the video the teacher was fired. Cyberbaiting is the form of cyberbullying that many teachers experience throughout the world. It has been reported from over twenty-four different countries.

This form of bullying is causing teachers around the world to get fired for their outbursts and reactions to the students taunts. Many university students have admitted to taking pictures of their teachers in high school unknowingly while they are teaching. According to Bridgetwater State University it is estimated around 20 percent of boys and 13 percent of girls took part in this in high school.

This rarely occurs in elementary schools. That said, many students are receiving cell phones and iPod touches at an earlier age. I am afraid that this might start happening to elementary school teachers. I also believe that this reinforces the need to establish classroom rules and enhance classroom management skills.

Many websites offer the following suggestions:

– Creating classroom rules against the usage of cell phones or iPods

-Have an open conversation about the pros and cons about digital tools

-Don’t friend or follow students on social media

-Have a plan in place if this occurs


With Cyberbaiting occurring to around 1/5 teachers-I believe it is a growing problem. Should schools be educating their students and teachers more on social media risks? Where does the responsibility fall?

I feel that teachers should be getting fired based on their lack of classroom management skills not for the videos or photos that circulate. Being a teacher is knowing how to manage a classroom effectively in order to teach the content. I feel that schools need better training in technology and social media in order to prevent cyberbaiting from occurring. There is always a time where you may lose your patience.


Gordon, S (2012). What is cybernating and how to prevent it?

Smollin, M (2011). Cyberbaiting: a new teen trend that humiliates teachers.

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Social Media = Better Access to Resources

Many countries are using social media as a tool. This tool is being used to fuel social change. The most prominent example I have read is how a woman in a district in Mexico can “tweet” a complaint to the mayor and within a matter of hours she can get a response from one of his representatives. Many of these complaints are being “tweeted” about. People are tweeting about their access to electricity, water, and resources. I wonder if access to people, such a mayor, been this easy prior to social media? I believe that social media is making it easier for communities to speak up about their problems. One status or one tweet might get shared or retweeted when others feel the same about a cause.

Thinking back to early 2000, if I, as a fourth grader, had a complaint about the local government, I had to formally write a letter. These letters I wrote were never addressed. I believe that the internet is forcing leaders to address immediate problems. Our way of thinking is changing. These new terms such as “selfie” and “hashtag” are becoming part of everyday life.


Social media is spreading ideas. There is this organization called Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER), which connects women from Somalia who are living in the refugee camp in Kenya to women across the world via Facebook. Women in the refugee camps can reach out for advice internationally about school work to how to change their government. Social Media is amazing resource that allows better access to information.