Social media has drastically changed my way of life, learning and teaching over the past 20 years. I’m still excited to think back to the moment I connected to my friend in the UK on Yahoo! Messenger. My friend showed me his dorm and sent a lot of photos of his school life through video chat.
These photos enriched my presentation in an English class on “What is life for an international student like in London?” Also, Chat Room as an integral part of Yahoo Messenger served the purpose similar to what Quora partially is doing today,-a popular question-and-answer platform, where people around the world can post threads and discuss their favourite topics. I joined some groups and wrapped my head around what was not available in my textbooks, such as what is a conversation like when using everyday English as well as different perspectives on certain issues. I think it should be an epic moment when social media began to affect my life.
I then moved to Germany proceeding with my education, where I was told that both Yahoo Messenger and MSN were outdated, instead, they were using Facebook to socialize and watch videos on Youtube. Without a doubt, when exposed myself to such social media, I was shocked again. Because of little knowledge of German, streaming on YouTube was one of my few entertainments in those loneliest times of an exotic environment. At that time, I figured out how to play an Irish tin whistle and the way of editing European-trip videos on Windows Movie Maker. The word of Vlog has not been coined when I shared my cringe-worthy works on Youtube.
I came back to China to start my career by teaching college EFL courses. But, what made me feel helpless and annoying was a brutal fact of the totally-blocked Google services including YouTube. It provides access to numerous authentic learning resources, which can make sense of my course design. So, I felt obliged to learn the technology skills of bypassing Internet Censorship. Wrapped my head around technology exposed me to more popular social media as well. Moreover, tailored educational potentials came with frequent use in the classroom.
Fast forward to 2019, a foreigner travelling in China may find an incredible phenomenon that smartphones and social media have almost infiltrated every aspect of China society. People in a variety of age groups, are all using social media, like Wechat (since WeChat was launched, text message currently in China has exclusively served the purpose of receiving a validation message), Sina Weibo (equivalent to Twitter), Alipay (ZhiFuBao) (it is a payment app which replaces cash and credit card, once your debit or credit card is bonded with this app, you can scan the barcode to finish payment by using smartphone’s back camera. I nearly forget what does cash look like since I started to use it. Additionally, users using this app share their online shopping experiences and reviews.) of course as well as DouYin (its international version is TikTok).
When I came to Canada, I surprisingly found teenagers on TikTok are doing the same things as their peers do in China on Douyin. “street dancing,” “life hacks,” “digital celebrity selfies,” “making fun of yourself” and “cute pets” are always the trends. Driven by a powerful recommendation algorithm that learns users’ interests from their viewing habits, its recommendations are so compelling that I am addicted to this app without noticing it has passed for a long time. I usually add EFL teachers whose native language is English to my like list. They usually share some authentic expressions to their audience. As you can see in the following video, this lady is teaching the words about how native speakers talk about pimples. She comes from Canada and graduated from Western University. Currently, She is teaching EFL courses in China, either on popular social media or offline classroom, she has a huge group of fans in China.
As Amanda mentioned that it may elicit anxiety, depression or even self-deny when comparing yourself to those more excellent teachers, I also felt struggled especially when there are growing ranks of certified native speaker EFL teachers starting their career in China. It seems that local EFL teachers could not compete with their counterparts from English-speaking countries. But the concept of “Education 3.0” mentioned in eci833 insight me a solution, which may help us detour the comparison and move to confidence once having a better understanding of the role what teachers could play in the current Web 3.0 era.
Some of us have probably realized the importance of transforming or evolving our role in the classroom, while there must be some problems we cannot fix alone in this process, all of which brings us to this community to explore solutions and share insights.
Last but not least, Twitter, I was thinking of it as a platform attracting fans to follow their favourite celebrities as much as its counterpart Sina Weibo does, until it was introduced by Alec to eci834. As described in the following video, twitter also serves the purpose of connecting the ideas among a number of practitioners around the world and using a hashtag to connect people who are interested in their specific area can provoke more innovation. The most challenging part of using twitter is I am always struggling with how could I contribute meaningful content in our #eci831 as the word Alec mentioned in the video, the richness.