Friday, 14 February 2014

February 14, 2014 - Sharing the Love - Tech Tips for Social Media

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!

In light of the many different forms of social media which are currently being used by students in our classrooms, I have chosen to highlight a few and offer a brief description of how they are being used.  Enjoy! 

Vine is a video-sharing app used mainly by teens and twenty-somethings which allows people to share short (max. 6 second) videos through the app and other forms of social media. The short clips are often humorous and fun-filled, meant to entertain friends and comment on events in one’s life. Vines can be imbedded into tweets on Twitter and in Facebook posts.  Many of vine’s “greatest hits” video compilations can be found on YouTube.  Accounts are free and can be downloaded to Apple, android and Window’s devices.

Similar to Vine, Snapchat gives students the ability to share images and broadcast
events in their lives.   Free accounts can be created utilizing a phone number, email or username (as in Twitter) which are used to search for, and connect with your contacts.  Contacts are added, as friends are on Facebook; you can view their images and they yours.  The app features the ability to overlay words on the image and even doodle on videos in a range of colours. One unique feature of Snapchat is that the images are only visible to the intended recipient for a set length of time.  Once the recipient opens the image it will display for 1 to 10 seconds (depending on the sender’s settings).  After the timer runs out, the image is no longer able to be viewed.  Always remember to be careful of what you send because the receiver may have had the forsight to take a screenshot of the image!  Some believe that Snapchat has deceived their customers by giving them the false sense of comfort, believing that the images were completely deleted after the 10 second viewing, when in fact they retain and log the last 200 images sent and received. Finally, images can be added to your story (a brief ‘all about me’) which is viewable by your contacts when they tap on your contact name. 

Instagram is a mixture of Snapchat and Twitter where you take and post pictures using hashtags (i.e. #checkthisout).  Images can be viewed by anyone who looks up your handle and/or the hashtags, unless the user has chosen to make their account private within the settings. Businesses and schools are beginning to use this social media stream for contests, product placement and promotions.  Students have even begun using it to send you pictures of homework or class notes to fellow students.

Created in 2009 by a group of University of Waterloo students, Kik is comparable to Facebook
messenger where individuals are able to message others who also have the Kik app. Accounts are free and created with either a phone number or your email address which is used to search out and recommend contacts for you. Many students who use their iPod touch with internet access choose to use this app so they can keep in touch both family friends. When people in your contacts list are located it sends a message indicating a new “Kikster” has been located for you. Kik allows you to exchange messages, videos, stickers, sketches and more with your contacts. 

Jelly is a newest way to find out information which you are seeking using pictures and your social media.  Think of it as Google meets Facebook.   For example, if you are out walking or visiting a new city, you can snap a photo of a sculpture or building, you can post the image and ask what it is or what the history is behind it?  Then individuals in your social network are able to offer responses to your question.  Additionally, if friends are unable to answer the question, they can forward the post to their own network and see if anyone is able to respond to it for you.  Available as an app on an iPad, iPhone and Googleplay, Jelly is the new way to search out information using images.

Although these social media networking sites may not be of interest, or of use to you, I felt it important for teachers to be aware of them and to know that this is the way students are beginning to use tech tools in their daily lives.  So even if you are not going to quickly download Snapchat or Vine to your device, you can amaze the students in your class with how ‘down with the latest tech apps’ you are while maintaining a close eye on digital citizenship for them as well!   


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