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!

 

Converting Courses to an LMS Platform

I’ve worked endlessly the last 4 weeks on creating an online course for a fun collaboration project between my 8th Grade photography students and my Betas.  I’ve been SO pleased with the outcome, and I’m ecstatic that my idea for this has been accepted by my department heads.  I’ll be starting this course THIS week in my fine art elective class!

The process of creating this online course has gotten my wheels turning.  I’m beginning to see the potential and the convenience an online course can bring for our students and even teachers and faculty in my school.  I’ve mentioned before that this year, Presbyterian School is focusing on looking at our assessments.  Is the way we are currently assessing our students in the classroom effective?  Are there alternative forms of assessment we should be looking at?  Throughout this year, PLC groups have been meeting monthly to brainstorm, research and present different ways we can be assessing in the classroom.  There’s a mathematical mindset, EC assessment, creative writing and ePortfolio group, just to name a few.  At the end of the school year, once school has let out, there will be a large group, professional learning meeting in which each group will have the opportunity to present their findings to all of the faculty.  I’ve started to think- What if we somehow created an all online PL course in which each of these “assessment groups” have a designated unit in the course so that teachers and faculty can access and complete the course on their own time?  I obviously haven’t worked out all the details yet, but I think it would be great to enter in all of this great information into Schoology, or another LMS and have teachers join the course on their own time, instead of losing valuable time in the classroom.  I think it’s something worth looking into!

Another idea I’ve had recently is to create an online course for middle school students as they prepare to begin creating their own ePortfolios.  I’ve had the opportunity to pilot ePortfolios in my 8th grade fine art elective, however the goal is to have all middle school students in grades 6-8 to have an ePortfolio.  One that they can use to house important artifacts and projects for their school work.  In discussing this with my supervisors, we realize that we do not necessarily want them to use a school template, or to create the ePortfolio through their school email, because we want our students to continue to use the ePortfolios in high school and college.  Trying to teach students how to create and maintain an ePortfolio during normal class time is challenging, because there is so much information to relay, and while I want to cover that information, I cannot afford to loose too much of my class time for ePortfolios and not be able to cover the class information I need to be teaching.  I’ve already said, teaching students about ePortfolios and helping them in creating one is another class entirely, and well, why not create an online course on ePortfolios?  I can break down the course in different units, and post all materials and assignments in Schoology.  I think something like this would be so beneficial for our students, and will not take away valuable class time from teachers.

There are just a couple ideas I’ve had since starting the process of designing an online class.  The possibility are endless!

Designing an Online Course | A Progress Post

I’ve spent the last 3 weeks carefully designing an exciting 5 week online course for my 8th grade photography students.  Last week, I mentioned that I was in the process of carefully selecting which resources I wanted to add into the course for my middle schoolers.  Things like videos, article readings and case studies.  Since then, I’ve uploaded just about everything into Schoology, the LMS platform I decided to go with.  I have all resources, discussion topics and weekly assignments and activities already in the course.  What I’ve focused on this week, is creating a screencast video for my students that will help them login to Schoology, access the course, and maneuver that course.  Schoology is a system that our school has not worked with before, and so I felt the need to help guide my students with a video on how to login in and access all course information.

In addition to the screencast video, I’ve also completed a very detailed outline of what will be covered and what will be expected of students each week.  You may access the full outline here.

It’s been a great experience designing this course so far, and while nearly all of the content has been uploaded, I’m still making some tweaks and minor adjustments here and there.  I know this will such a great collaborative project, one that our school hasn’t quite done before, so I’m excited the see that work and relationships that come out of my students.

Compiling Resources for an Online Course

Last week, I gave some insight on what I’d be up to for the 5 weeks as a part of my grad school course.  As I mentioned before, I am in the process of designing an all online course for my 8th grade photography class on Schoology, in which they will be collaborating with our youngest students, the Betas (3-4 year olds) on a storytelling project.

I’ve spent quite some time designing the framework for this course,week by week, including carefully choosing a variety of resources, including videos, TedTalks, articles, case studies, discussion posts, and assignments.  All of the selected resources and materials have been added in their designated spots within the Schoology LMS.  As this is a collaborative storytelling project using photography, I’ve added one of the videos that will be apart of my course below.  Is Photography Storytelling?

In addition to gathering resources, I’ve carefully planned out a detailed outline that covers about 50% of the course.  I will expand on this outline in the coming weeks and will update it here, but for now, this is what is being planned for this 5 week course.