5 März 2021

You can take the Tech Director out of the school, but you can’t take the school out of the Tech Director. Even though it looks like I will not be working in education any time soon, I still keep trying. One of the experiments I have been working with is using Google Earth and Google Maps with my blog. I need to do a little updating, but I started linking blog posts and pictures to Google Earth/Maps. I think it is a pretty neat idea, and I can easily see how a social studies/history teacher, or even a language arts teacher could use those tools in the classroom. It helps with geography, language arts, and it helps teach some computer skills as well. As a tech director that was always my ideal. Don’t use technology just to use technology, but use technology because it adds something to the class.

My latest experiment has been using Tik Tok. This one is probably a little more controversial to my fellow tech directors. Tik Tok is one of those social media things that makes an educator’s head spin. From privacy issues to cyber bullying there is a lot with Tik Tok, and social media in general, to be concerned about. There is actually some really good content on Tik Tok. I have found a lot of educators that are using it to help each other. I have found some students and other experts that are using Tik Tok to teach or explain topics. Living in Europe right now, I am following a CEO that is based out of the UK. All of her content is explaining what is going on with BREXIT. it is fascinating. Just this week I started following #CERN and have been learning from real physicists talking about their experiments. There is some concern though.

As of now, there is no real way to filter what a student has access to once they are given access to Tik Tok. There are some areas that are arguably not appropriate for school. I have not seen any nudity, but the algorithm seems to lead itself to scantily clad teenagers. Note: it took about two days of constantly telling TikTok that I wasn’t interested in seeing teenagers dance around half naked but it finally got the hint. I don’t think I have even seen a bikini in a week or more. Though now I find myself clicking “not interested ” on an awful lot of over 50 year old women looking for that right guy. :). For some reason, though, the algorithm has not gotten the hint on this one. I think that is simply because there are not a lot of old farts, like me, on Tik Tok; so the over riding part of the algorithm is to steer me to more GenX content. I have received a small number of negative comments. I have been called stupid, and worse. I have been told to; “GET OUT OF OUR COUNTRY AND GO BACK TO THE SHIT HOLE YOU CALL HOME!” The number of negative comments is dwarfed by the positive feedback and the encouragement I get. For the most part the negative people have not hung around. I did have one person I had to block, simply because he was particularly nasty, and he started commenting on every single video I put up. Blocking did solve the problem.

I am not even going to discuss giving all our information to the Chinese. I mean for the last decade or so, I have willingly given the details of my life to Facebook and Twitter to use as they want. I struggle to see the difference.

So how am I using Tik Tok? I am using it to help learn German.

Sample Tik Tok Video

Here is the interesting part. I now have people following me, and commenting on my videos. These are native German and Swiss German speakers. They have been commenting on pronunciation and word choice. Some have even started “stitching” my videos. I see part of my video, and then I see and hear the other person say the same phrase how it is supposed to sound. I have only been doing this about a week; so I cannot say if it is having an impact or not. I am looking forward to continuing this, and see if it helps.

I know that this would not be as good as getting out in town and talking with people. Well, heck, we are still suffering a pandemic here. Julie still has to work from home for another three weeks!! Yes, the government has started to open things up a little, but I am kind of afraid I will get hit with something if I approach someone in the grocery store and just start randomly talking to them. But now put yourself in Mitchell, Indiana, or Winneconne, WI. There are not that many native Spanish or French speakers around. This could be a very interesting tool for your students to get feedback from a native speaker. My daughter, Kaylee, was able to do this with Spanish, but she had to spend a year in Argentina. She told me how much she struggled the first couple of months there. Part of it was still simply learning the language, but the other part of it was learning Argentine Spanish. I wonder if her exchange could have been made a little easier by conversing with someone that spoke Argentine Spanish before she left. (Apologies to Mrs Gorski at Winneconne. I should have taken you up on the offer and introduced you to Kaylee before she left.)

An example of some of the feedback I get on Tik Tok

I am probably going to write one more post about this, because I have learned some very interesting things over the last 36 hours. When I first started doing this. I was not getting much feedback. Heck I was not even getting anyone to view the videos. I think my first video had only 25 views the first 5 days it was up. I have done some gaming around with the algorithm and have found some ways to impact how many views the video gets, which in turn impacts the feedback I am getting. On Wednesday morning I had 99 followers. Within one day of actually trying to get more views, I gained 250 additional followers. You saw how many views my first video had in a week, but the one I posted Wednesday morning got over 14,000 views in 24 hours. I posted one 45 minutes ago, and it already has over 600 views. This is small potatoes in regards to Tik Tok, but I am not trying to get Tik Tok famous, or even make money, however I do find this fascinating.

Yes there are other ways to accomplish the same thing. I am struggling, though to figure out a way to get native feedback as quickly using other tools. In my next post, I will talk about some of the other ways, you could accomplish the same thing, as well as some of the insights I have gained in trying to increase the number of people seeing the videos.

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