Sway With Me!

I took the opportunity to play around with a new digital tool (for me at least!) for this digital resources reflection.  I hadn’t heard of Sway before this week, but thanks to a fellow classmate and teacher, I got to playing around with it and really loved it!

I used Sway to address crucial questions when reflecting on how digital technology has impacted my life both personally and professionally.  Additionally, I talk about ways in which educators can stay current on changes, updates and trends in education, and how we can continue to further our own learning opportunities.

Please take a moment and Sway with me!

A Final Reflection on Digital Citizenship

What a journey the last five weeks have been! This last class that I’ve just completed as a part of my Masters of Education in Digital Learning and Leading has been one the most challenging, yet informative classes I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of.  Considering myself a “digital native” already, I thought I already knew a great deal there was to know about technology and digital citizenship.  While I do remember a time before cell phones, GPS, Facebook and Twitter, the ability to navigate a website and learn the digital ways has become second nature to me, so I thought this class would be nice “refresher” on digital citizenship.  Boy, was I wrong to assume.  This has by far been one of the most challenging and time consuming courses that I’ve been a part of, but I’ve got to say, I’ve learned SO much.  Things I hadn’t even considered when talking about digital citizenship.

I’ll try to be brief, but in a nutshell, when referring to digital citizenship, one is referring to “the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use” (Ribble, 2017).  With technology surrounding us at all times, often managing our day to day lives, it is important to consider digital citizenship when interacting with others online.  In my mind, digital citizenship meant acting and behaving appropriately online, but I soon found out that there was much more to it than that.  For example, Mike Ribble (2015) goes further than just defining digital citizenship and lays out the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship.  This framework of digital citizenship is a great tool for teachers and educators as it helps them understand the connection between each element and how to address them when educating students. Briefly, the nine elements include: digital access, digital commerce, digital communication, digital literacy, digital etiquette, digital law, digital rights and responsibilities, digital health and wellness, and finally, digital security.  I learned that not one element should be addressed separately, but that they are all interconnected and when addressed as a whole, make up digital citizenship.

After researching and learning about the nine elements, I quickly gravitated to focusing on digital etiquette, because everyday in the classroom, we are teaching and reminding out students of how to be classroom citizens with their friends and peers.  We are teaching and instilling things like respect, humility and gratitude on a daily basis, in addition to the academic lessons we tackle every day.  With the world wide web at our finger tips now, there is a whole new realm of communication that needs to be addressed and not ignored.  I found Ohler’s (2012) comparison of the “two lives” and “one life” approach as a great example of whether bringing technology into the classroom is necessary and important.  Many schools and educators are still of the mindset that social media interaction and any internet access needs to be left for at home use on the student’s own personal time, however, in an ever growing digital society, educators need to look at how they might be able to implement digital technology in the classroom while also taking the opportunity to educate students on how to be good digital citizens.

In addition to the nine elements of digital citizenship, there was a completely different aspect of digital citizenship that I hadn’t even thought of prior to entering into this course, and that is the copyright and legal component.  Learning about and modeling correct copyright laws has helped me better understand the legal aspect of digital citizenship and will help me as I continue to teach my middle school digital photography class.  If I’m being honest, I think that the biggest accomplishment for me in this course was not a specific assignment, but was the active self reflections that I was required to make weekly.  While I’ve gotten in the habit to write thoughts and understandings I’ve taken throughout my courses, what set this course apart was that the self reflections for this course were to be make in APA format.  This forced me to pause and think about where I was getting my information from and how to give the authors of those articles the proper credit they deserved.  Additionally, I took the time to look for other applicable material that I could get information from and share with my audience to fulfill the requirement of adding 5 additional resources on my ePortfolio.

Again, this was a very rewarding and fulfilling course, my only suggestion would be to spread out or even omit some of the smaller, but still time consuming assignments that were included in the weekly submission documents.  Perhaps that was what made this course so challenging, was that there was never one big assignment to turn in every week.  Instead, there were 7-8 smaller, time consuming assignments to complete.  That coupled with family and our daily jobs made the course a little difficult to manage, however, I’m leaving this course having gained much more knowledge and feeling more equipped in teaching digital citizenship to my students.

Digital Citizenship Mantra: Molding A Culture of Responsible Digital Citizens

mantra

Digital Etiquette for a Digital Society : A Scholarly Essay can be found here.

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

The Cyberbullying Epidemic

I watched two videos this week that addressed cyberbullying, and I found them to be very interesting and thought provoking.  The first was a Ted Talk by Monica Lewinsky, who you’ll remember became known as the young White House intern that had an affair with then President Bill Clinton (Lewinsky, 2015).  Monica Lewinsky’s talk was particularly interesting to me because I remember living through the whole Lewinsky/Clinton scandal.  While I was young (12-13 to be exact) I remember it so vividly, and I remember the cruel words that were used to describe her.  Even worse, many people in my immediate circle of family and friends were ones that used some of those words to describe her.  Words like “mistress”, “the other woman”.  Although we didn’t use the more vulgar words, she still had this negative image painted about her.  And what’s sad is that while I remember living and hearing of the whole ordeal, I don’t think I really knew the whole story, and hearing her point of view in the talk was a bit of a wake up call for me.  My biggest takeaway from the video? There are always two sides to a story, and we (the whole world) got one side of it… what the media wanted us to see and think.. for nearly a decade.  Yes, the circumstances were unfortunate, but having to live through the ridicule played out for the whole world to see has got be incredibly difficult.  But can you imagine what it would have been like had it have happened in a time where everything is posted on social media?  I actually feel a bit sick to my stomach because I can easily see how some people would think it is unbearable to live through.  Society scrutinizes every single thing about celebrities, politicians, etc.. and society is relentless.  The Lewinsky/Clinton scandal broke out before Facebook and Twitter, but we did have the internet.  If anything, watching her speak made be feel guilty, a bit shameful but inspired by her courage.

The  second video was also an inspiring Ted Talk given by Shane Koyczan.  The video was really amazing.  He not only spoke truth of what often times is considered “taboo” to talk about, but he put on quite a performance.  He words were so so powerful and nearly brought me to tears, because he is the voice of so many people, young and old, that endure such hateful words and harassment.. and many times when the issue is brought up to an adult, family member or parent, they blow off the issue.  “Oh, toughen up”, “it wasn’t that bad” (Koyczan, 2013).  But what are we telling our youth?  That how they’re feeling and how someone is treating them doesn’t matter?  This is what is scary.  I want my kids coming to me with any issue that might be bothering them.  I am their advocate and if I don’t stand up for them and let them know that they matter, no one will.  What would I do to prevent cyberbullying and promote kindness if I had unlimited resources?  I really don’t believe that this epidemic is a matter of resources.  Parents need to be involved in their kids lives.  Kids need to be shown and taught respect.  Respect and Compassion trump nearly everything for me, and my kids will show respect to their elders and to their peers.

Just two days ago on the way to school, we were listening to the radio and the father of a local girl that committed suicide as a result of cyberbullying and harassment back in November was on the air speaking with the radio hosts of two arrests that were recently made in the case.  My 7 year old son was listening and casually asked me, “Mom, what are they talking about?”  While I didn’t get into the way the girl passed, I simply told him, “A young girl that passed away was being bullied and made fun of by other people, and even though the bad things they said about the girl were not true, she believed them.  The words we use with others can really affect how they feel about themselves, which is why we always need to be respectful and use honey sweet words with everyone.”  There is also another local situation going on in a neighboring school district that goes a long with this topic.  Another beautiful girl, 17, passed away this passed Sunday by taking her own life.  While the family and student body are coping with her loss, several students approached the school’s yearbook committee asking them if they could create a memoriam page dedicated to her to celebrate her life.  They quickly declined stating, “you know we can’t do that because of the way Hannah died”.  Instead of celebrating the life of a beautiful student and friend to many, they are afraid of glorifying the way she died.  I feel like THIS is part of the problem.  Ignoring the situation does NO good.  I understand it is a touchy situation for many, but these sorts of things need to be talked about.  We need to do better and be open with our children, teach them and our students important values like respect, compassion and forgiveness, and talk about these sorts of things, should they come up.

References

2 People Charged in Connection to Texas City Teen’s 2016 Suicide. (2017, March 16). Retrieved from http://abc13.com/news/2-arrested-in-texas-city-teens-suicide/1803923/

Bludau, J. ((2017, March 22). Family Petitioning for Daughter’s Memorial Page in Yearbook After She Took Her Own Life. [Web Log Post]. Retrieved from http://www.click2houston.com/news/family-says-pearland-school-denies-yearbook-page-in-memory-of-daughter-who-took-her-own-life-

Koyczan, S. (2013, March 8). “To This Day”… For the Bullied and Beautiful. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa1iS1MqUy4

Lewinsky, M. (2015, March 20). The Price of Shame. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_8y0WLm78U

Applicable Resources

Diep, F. (2014, September 30). Confronting My Cyberbully, 13 Years Later. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/confronting-my-cyberbully-thirteen-years-later/380888/

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J.W. (2015). Developing a positive school climate: Top ten tips to prevent bullying and cyberbullying. Cyberbullying Research Center. Hinduja_Patchin_School-Climate-Top-Ten-Tips-To-Prevent-Cyberbullying.pdf

Hoffman, J. (2010, June 27). Online Bullies Pull Schools Into The Fray. [Web Log Post]. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/28/style/28bully.html

Strut Central. (2012, March 22). The Cyber Bullying Virus. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5PZ_Bh-M6o

What Is Cyberbullying? (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/index.html

 

 

 

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/

 

A Personal Reflection & Analyzing Online Learning

What a journey the past 13 months have been.  I’ve spent a great amount of time in the last year focusing on the implementation of my innovation plan in our middle school grade levels, however, for the last 5 weeks, I’ve been able to focus some of that attention into creating a blended, online learning course called, “A Collaborative Digital Storytelling Project”, for my 8th grade photography students.

Storytelling
http://www.thescribo.com/storytelling/

In the process of designing any online course, I’ve come to the conclusion that the constructivist learning theory is one that allows the learner to gain knowledge and form opinions through the engagement between peers, rather than the traditional learning method of memorization.  I’ve given very careful thought to the materials that I have chosen to include in my course, and with the addition of the weekly discussion boards within the course, learners are able to gain knowledge and meaning through personal reflection and the exchange of dialogue between each other.

Fink’s 3 column table method allowed me to essentially plan this course using an backward design approach.  Rather than create this course from beginning to end, using my 3 column table allowed me begin with the end in mind.  In other words, learning goals were established long before the actual course was designed, and in turn, this gave me the opportunity to come up with various learning activities in which the learners could meet those learning goals.

I also found that the Schoology LMS was a great platform for creating this online course.  I love the way I was able to break down my course any way I chose while still keeping the interface fairly simple for my middle school students to use.  One thing that I’ve realized is that, while many learners are more receptive to learning through the use of technology, it is important not to come to the conclusion that students know everything about technology just because we live in a time where it surrounds us in everything we do.  It is still important to guide them, especially when using a system that they are not familiar with.  For this reason, I decided to create a screen cast video for my students to walk them through the basics of logging into Schoology, joining the online course and maneuvering the website/course.  I thought this would be a fairly short 3 minute video or so, however, by the time I hit finish, my video was 11 minutes long!  I contemplated whether it was too long for my students, but after watching it a few times, I think everything that I covered were things they need to know.. and things they might question as they go along.  I figured it was better for me to cover all bases than potentially loose valuable class time over tech issues.  I decided to insert this video in the homepage of my online course.  That way the students can’t miss it, and can go back to it anytime during the course, if they feel the need to.

While I don’t think online learning is replacing face to face instruction in our Pre K-8 school anytime soon, I do realize the importance of giving our students the online learning experience.  We want our students to go on to high school and college, and ultimately into the workforce, feeling confident and experienced with using technology.  By providing our students with these types of experiences, we are giving them valuable life lessons, as well as enhancing the learning experience for them.  I’ve said many times that the inclusion of technology in our teachings must be meaningful, purposeful and must enhance the learning experience for our students.  We simply cannot switch to digital “just because we can”.

While chatting with some of my peers, I’ve also come to know of various different online offerings that are available for both students and educators.  Some of the ones that I’ve been looking at include some FREE online courses through  iTunes U.  I’ve actually known of iTunes U, Apple’s learning and education “university”,  for quite some time, but admit that I haven’t been on and searched it for quite some time.  I was reminded of the incredible amount of free resources that are on there.  I’ve also looked at Canvas, an LMS that I wasn’t aware of at all.  Canvas is another learning management system, similar to Schoology.  I haven’t created an course on Canvas, but am glad to know of other LMS platforms.  Blackboard is another LMS, that I have come to know very well, as this is the LMS that Lamar University uses for all of it’s online courses.  Udemy, Edx and Moodle are other resources I’ve come to know through the discussion with peers.

The main thing that I have taken from this course is that we, the teachers and course developers, are never finished.  As I mentioned to some of my graduate peers this week, one thing that’s been replaying in my mind is that funny, but crazy annoying song we all know from when we were kids, “This is the song that doesn’t end… Yes it goes on and on, my friend..”  This process never ends for us.  There is constant feedback being received and tweaking and enhancements we continue to make for the sake of our students.  Creating an online course is something I have never done prior to this course, and now, I see the potential it has for our school and students.  I’m now thinking of different lessons and professional learning opportunities it has for even our staff!  This graduate course came along at the perfect time, and I’m both excited and thankful for it allowing me to open my eyes to another realm of possibilities!