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#TIES17 Monday Keynote: Ken Shelton-The Power of Voice in the Digital Age

The TIES 2017 Conference kicked off with Ken Shelton, an educator, educational consultant, new media designer. The theme of this year's conference is "What Is Your Story?"

Shelton spoke about the importance of "story," which is the representation of our voice. Technology gives us the opportunity to amplify our voice, both positively and negatively.
He had us share our prediction of what our story would be 3 days from now.

While many see tech as making us less social, Shelton sees it amplifying our connections and stories, in ways that are exponential. The 2017 Internet minute looks like this:

The world online is becoming more connected, with more platforms that can amplify our voice, just like this ad...


With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility!

-Voltaire (Stan Lee)

We can use tech and this power to establish a digital footprint. 

If you think about the power of our voice, then it gets retweeted, shared, reposted...but with that power comes responsibility.

Justine Sacco's story...

When she posted, she had 200 followers. After that tweet, by the time she landed, #hasjustinelandedyet was trending for over 6 hours. She was publicly shamed, which is the same as bullying. 
(Shelton pointed out later in his talk that due to this incident, groups raising funds for AIDS research and support in Africa increased dramatically.)

Now there are sites like and Xpire to help you control your social media. 
"Don't you already have control of your social media?"
It's really a Digital Tatoo...

Shelton shared the story of Celeste Davis-Carr and Aaron, a teacher who learned that one of her students was experiencing homelessness, and the aftermath.
What if there were a Story Corps booth at every school?

Justice Page School
Shelton pointed to the story of students at Alexander Ramsay Middle School (In my neighborhood) that worked to change the name to Justice Page School, after they learned what Ramsay did to promote mass genocide of native peoples. Shelton visited with Justice Alan Page, who told him that football was secondary to him growing up. He realized by 9th grade that he loved words and their power.

If students are active members of their community they will have ownership of that community.
Leyden School district in Illinois uses this to turn negative social media to tell a positive story.
Nina & Airbnb
Nina really wanted to work for Airbnb but struggled to get their attention. She decided to make a Website that mirrored Airbnb's site. She was of Jordanian heritage and after tweeting out the link, Queen Noor retweeted it, and it ultimately led to her being hired.

Gramming for Good is a site that matches people with local non-profits to post images that they can use. 100 Cameras allows students to take pictures to tell a story, so that the "danger of the single story" doesn't happen. This gives students agency.

Shelton shared a video of a student in Utah who wanted to read, and the man who learned of it, shared the story and then was able to get several donated books the child. What was really cool is now the student is hoping for more, so that he can share with other classmates who like to read.

Shelton shared the story of a trip he took recently to Lebanon, where he met a young woman who had started the an organizaton to empower women. Along with three other students, they started Nour International and used online funding to raise over $30,000 to support education in refugee camps for students to learn english. "Don't lose a generation to a lack of education!"
Think of the power of kids who do not have as much hope as they should, but understand the importance of education and are working to break the cycle of poverty and lack of hope.

What are all of the platforms that we have available to amplify our voice and tell our story?
We ALL have the power to do that and to amplify one another. 
Why do todays students have to wait to solve the world's problems?
They should not have to wait to become "adults" to make that happen. We should be encouraging them to use the tools they have available to make it happen now!

It was an inspirational kick-off to the conference. Now to throw cold water on some of it with the importance of knowing Terms of Service and Privacy Policies on the tools we use with kids! 


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