Digital Learning & Leading Journey Synthesis

It’s a little crazy to think about how much can change in just 18 months.  18 months ago, I was in my third year of teaching as an Early Childhood/Middle School photography teacher.  I was brand new and excited to be teaching.  While I was still somewhat new to the school and to teaching, I knew that I wanted to be more than a teacher.

I wanted to be a leader.

Now, 18 months later, I’m wrapping up the last course of my graduate studies through Lamar University and getting ready to walk across the stage at graduation!  In this short amount of time, I’ve made some great connections with other educators across the country and have learned so much about what it means to be a great educator, however, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now without the help and encouragement of my school administration.  It was through a discussion on personal and professional goals with my Headmaster and Head of EC/Lower School, that I mentioned that I was thinking about going back to school.  I received some great feedback and suggestions from both of them, and had they not pointed me in the right direction, I don’t think I would have gone to grad school as soon as I did, and I’m not entirely sure I would have discovered Lamar University and/or the DLL program.  It’s funny how life plays out.

Throughout the 18 month long journey of the Digital Learning and Leading program, I’ve had some pretty great learning experiences.  While the non traditional COVA approach to learning took a little bit of an adjustment for me, I realize that this is also what empowered me as a learner and educator.  Sure, in the beginning that was a little bit of frustration because I wanted my assignments to have yes or no answers.  Either I got it right or wrong, but there wasn’t any of that.  While teaching and learning based on the COVA model is hard, it’s really an adjustment that needs to be made.  I can see where many schools are not yet ready to embrace COVA- it’s too risky, giving up the control.

We just need to continue to find ways to be facilitators of learning and not dictators.

When I stop and think of the accomplishments I’ve made in the program, I realize that the results are too great.  What this program has done for me goes further than the accomplishments.  Aside from the amounts of work and late hours, I’ve gained even more confidence in myself as an educator and as a leader.  The assignments have definitely been worthwhile and have helped push me into more of a leadership role in my school.  My innovation plan, which has taken up most of my focus during this program hasn’t gone unnoticed by my administration- in fact, they want to see and hear more and have given me opportunities to show what I have learned and try it with my students.  That in itself is a big accomplishment for me.  I know that it’s not that easy for many in this country, and that for many teachers, their voices and proposals go unheard or are given very little thought.  For many in the public school system, there are countless hoops to go through to initiate change.  I realize how difficult it can be, and I’m grateful to be at a school that listens to it’s teachers and allows them to try new approaches and ideas.

Another “tangible” accomplishment that I am proud is this ePortfolio.  Looking back at a year and half’s worth of work all housed in my ePortfolio is pretty amazing to reflect back on.  I had fun giving my ePortfolio a little bit of personality and making it my own, and I also love being able to refer my site to colleagues and other administrators in my organization.  The work speaks for itself.

Take a moment and Sway with me.  Check out the visual presentation below to see what this experience has been like for me.  If you want to further your professional teaching career and are thinking about entering into an online Masters program, look into Lamar University.  This program has taken me to places that weren’t even on my radar 18 months ago.

References and Applicable Resources

The Copyright Detective. (2014, August 13). Credit Due- Attribution.  Retrieved from http://thecopyrightdetective.com/attribution/

Plagiarism Today. (2013, October 7). The Difference Between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism – Plagiarism Today. Retrieved from https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2013/10/07/difference-copyright-infringement-plagiarism/

Smith, J. N. (Director). (1995). Dangerous Minds [Motion picture].

Tepp, S., & Oman, R. (2015, October). A 21st century copyright office: the conservative case for reform. Retrieved from https://hudson.org/research/11772-a-21st-century-copyright-office-the-conservative-case-for-reform

Watters, A. (2011, September 9). Teaching Copyrights in the Age of Computers and Mashups. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/teaching-copyright-audrey-watters

Footprints & Technology

I found this week’s readings, videos and topics in my Digital Citizenship course to be so interesting because we are all forced to evaluate ourselves and think about something that we love, something that has become so second nature to us and yes, something that we are addicted to- Technology.  We are also forced to think about the affect it has on ourselves, our students and our own children.  I do happen to remember a time of no cell phones and I remember writing papers in early middle school on a typewriter instead of a computer.  After finally getting a family computer, I remember having to print out directions on MapQuest before we went any where new.. I mean, the thought of no GPS on my phone or no Waze is frightening to me now! I also remember my mom always having her nose in the encyclopedia trying to answer my many questions throughout the day.

Technology has made our lives much more convenient, but has it made us dumber?

For some reason, this thought always pops into my head, because I have those memories of my mom.  When we didn’t know something, we turned to a book to find out.  Now, we just google it on our smart phones or ask Alexa. When I think about my own kids (and my very young students) and the access they all have now to digital technology, the only thing that I can try my best to do is to be sure that there is a balance with the amount of screen time they get, whether it be on the T.V., iPad or phone, and allowing them to discover the world in an adventurous, hands-on sort of way.  What I do not want to happen is for the technology use to take away from the opportunity for gross motor learning and discovery.  I work with 3 and 4 year olds on a daily basis and I’ve seen kids that know exactly what to do with an iPad or phone… what those devices have become to them are an extension of their own bodies, and while they have all this tech knowledge at such a young age, what they need to be doing more of is playing with play-doh, or digging in the dirt, ripping some paper and building with blocks.  These activities will help their gross motor skills and core development.  We still need to discover ways in which we can continue to explore this big world we live in and I just don’t want to see technology take away from that.

As we get older and we continue to grow up in a digital world, we begin to leave traces of who we are and where we’ve been.  A digital footprint/tattoo refers to the information that can be found online about a person based on their online activity (Common Sense Education, 2013).  What we search for and what we post on our social media accounts are all bits of information that can be gathered about us, whether they be intentional or not.  I think, whether a person’s social media accounts are private or not, they need to be conscious of the things they post, and even the things others post about or with them.  While photos and words are only snippets of a person’s life, it doesn’t take much else to use these things to form opinions of a person’s character.  It’s important to teach our children to have an awareness of how the information they post online can affect their personal, educational and ultimately, professional lives.  By building this awareness, students can have some control over the digital footprint they leave behind.  Student ePortfolios are a great way for them to be deliberate in how they portray themselves, in that there are plenty of opportunities for self reflection.  An ePortfolio can act as an electronic resume by letting a person know who you are, what your interests are, where you have been, what you have done and where you are going.

While technology and internet access have for sure made our lives much more convenient, I do believe that we are where we are now because of the incredible minds and hard work of many people before us.  We just need to be sure to teach our kids, from an early age, on what a healthy balance of screen time might look like and as they get older, how to problem solve on their own.  While technology has made our lives much more convenient, I think it’s important to still teach traditional life lessons like how to use a dictionary and how to look up other useful information without a tablet or smart phone.

References

Common Sense Education. (2013, August 12). What’s In Your Digital Footprint? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P_gj3oRn8s

Applicable Resources

Boyle, J. (2014, March 8). 11 Tips for Students to Manage Their Digital Footprint. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/digital-citizenship-the-future-of-learning/11-tips-for-students-tomanage-their-digital-footprints/

Common Sense Education. (2013, August 12). What’s In Your Digital Footprint? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P_gj3oRn8s

Internet Society. (2016, January 12). Four Reasons to Care About Your Digital Footprint. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro_LlRg8rGg

Pfeffer, J. (2014, August 21). Your Digital Footprint: What is it & How Can You Manage it? Retrieved from http://www.rasmussen.edu/student-life/blogs/main/your-digital-footprint/

Sheninger, E. (2016, January 8). Your Digital Footprint Matters. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-sheninger/your-digital-footprint-ma_b_8930874.html

The Importance of Digital Citizenship

This week marks the first week of my newest course in Digital Citizenship.  With so much technology that surrounds us in nearly everything we do, it’s important to keep digital citizenship in mind.  But was is digital citizenship? Is there a difference when it comes to traditional citizenship and digital citizenship? After researching various articles and videos, I’ve come to realize that citizenship and digital citizenship are quite similar.  The goal for ourselves, and for our students, is to be good citizens of society and to be good classroom citizens.  Add in the the ever changing and rapidly growing digital world we live in, and we’ve got to expand that goal even further.  Simply put, digital citizenship “is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use” (Ribble, 2017).

We need to teach, and model to our students, how to be responsible technology users.  I found Ohler’s (2012) comparison of the “two lives” and “one life” approach to be of great relevance in terms of bringing technology into the classroom.  Do we want our students to lead “two lives”, where they are to leave all electronics and smart phones at home or in their backpacks, because school is just not the place for technology?  Or is there a way we can use the technology that surrounds us to enhance the learning experience, while also teaching our students how to be good citizens in a digital world- in other words, using the “one life” approach?

I’ve also had some time to review Ribble’s (2015) 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship.  In looking at the nine elements of digital citizenship, there are two that really stand out to me and that I take very seriously.  Those are digital etiquette and digital security.  While I understand that the nine elements are not to be stand alone issues and are all interconnected, I feel like there can never be a shortage of teaching students proper etiquette and security.  Just like I would with my own children, we need to take advantage of all these teachable moments with our students so that they can safely and confidently be active digital citizens of society.

Now that I’m being given the opportunity to have my students use the ePortfolio, I need to use the “one life” approach because as Ohler (2012) stated, “the most important job before us is to help students understand issues of digital responsibility.”  Our school is really on the forefront of incorporating technology within our everyday lessons with our students, and just as exciting as all that is, we need to spend an equal amount of time on the responsibilities and proper behavior when using technology.

References

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(8), 14-17. (PDF: Ohler_Digital_citizenship_means_character_education_2012.pdf)

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools (3rd ed.). Eugene, OR: International Society of Technology in Education.

Ribble, M. (2017). Digital Citizenship: Using Technology Appropriately.  Retrieved from http://www.digitalcitizenship.net

Ribble, M. (2017). Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html

Applicable Resources

Brichacek, A. (2014, October 22). Infographic: Citizenship in the digital age.  Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=192

Curran, M. (2012, June). iCitizen: Are you a socially responsible digital citizen. Paper presented at the International Society for Technology Education Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX. Retrieved from icitizen_paper_M_Curran.pdf

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(8), 14-17. (PDF: Ohler_Digital_citizenship_means_character_education_2012.pdf)

Polgar, D. R., & Curran, M. B.F.X. (2015). We shouldn’t assume people know what digital citizenship is. Retreived fromhttp://www.teachthought.com/technology/we-shouldnt-assume-people-know-what-digital-citizenship-is/