* DISCLAIMER! I have done my project a little differently! This post is my summary of learning of the class content! 🙂 My major project will be summarized in video form instead of this information! Keep your eyes peeled for the video – coming to a blog near you! Well…coming to this blog to be exact!
Hello ECI 832er’s and beyond,
It is seriously hard for me to believe that I am writing another summary of learning post as my second master’s class is coming to a close…first and foremost, the BIGGEST thank you to Dr. Alec Couros for another wonderful semester. I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to actually use the knowledge I am gaining directly in my practice – my kids are benefiting directly, and for that, I am thankful too. I have been interested and engaged, and for that I am so appreciative. Secondly, I want to thank everyone in the class with me! It has been such a pleasure not only getting to know you all through your writing but also hearing your points of view and seeing your tiny faces on Zoom. 🙂 Thanks to Alec and all of you for allowing me to bounce ideas off of you and post questions when I was drowning. We did it!
Well, here it is, my summary of learning, my semester at a glance, my thoughts rolled into one…ok, you get it. There has been an overwhelming amount of content this term so I’m going to go back to the beginning and break it up by week to give my final thoughts. Before I start, I think this class’ over arching theme is the idea of digital citizenship – who’s job is it and what does it look like in schools? It is important to consider the implications from K all the way through 12, into adulthood as many people we work with both in our jobs and parents, haven’t grown up with the idea of digital literacy and therefore need support and guidance as well. Digital citizenship needs to be a chameleon, it needs to take many forms so that it can have the biggest impact on the people you’re working with. In Krista and Kelsie’s summary of learning they made a great observation, all of the pieces of the digital literacy puzzle that we are putting together is only further complicated by the starting point of the people you’re working with – everyone’s comfort level and skill level is very different. Oh the tangled webs we weave.
My own personal appreciation for digital citizenship stems from the fact that I now feel like I am both informed and capable to help guide others to feeling safe and efficient online. The key for me will be recognizing those starting points and building from there so there aren’t any feelings of being overwhelmed or overworked. Sit back, relax and enjoy a recap of my EC&I 832 journey.
During the first week of classes we focused on the fact that our digital world is expanding at rates that we almost can’t comprehend and regardless of whether you want to be a digital citizen…you are one. One of the most captivating thoughts from this week that stuck with me and made me feel grateful for growing up in the time I did, is that kids are growing up in a world that doesn’t forget. In this article, by Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt they both do a masterful job explaining what the impact of our digital lives has on kids today. They say,
“it is basically impossible to erase all “negatives” from a digital footprint: the Internet has the memory of an elephant, in a sense, with cached pages, offline archives, and non-compliant international service providers. What’s more, anyone with Internet access can contribute (positively or negatively) to the story that is told about someone online”
The thought that kids today do not have a choice in what is posted for them before they are old enough to decide creates an interesting dynamic as they are then responsible for cleaning up the mess afterwards. Platforms in which information is being shared change rapidly, policy changes rapidly and I think understanding digital citizenship is so important. It is our responsibility to keep kids safe online from cyber-bullying, extortion and identity theft or fraudulent behaviour.
This is Liv, my girlfriend Carli’s beautiful baby girl…she had just been born! Image pulled off of her Facebook. Although this is a stickin’ cute photo, Liv didn’t get to decide and she already had a digital footprint formed for her right at birth! Her job now, instead of creating her digital footprint, will be managing the one that has already been created for her. Food for thought.
Next up on the EC&I832 was learning about Professional Learning Network’s. A professional learning network, as shared by Brianna Crowley for an online publication called Education Week Teacher, “is a vibrant, ever-changing group of connections to which teachers go to both share and learn. These groups reflect our values, passions, and areas of expertise”. On this site, there is also an easy to follow 3 step guide to creating and building PLN’s. Building relationships with like-minded individuals is so integral to becoming a media literate digital citizen. We need to connect online and share online as our digital selves and our real life selves are becoming more and more intertwined. Our PLN’s allow us to come together but is the digital world, although literally bringing us together, actually tearing us apart? In Sherry Turkle’s TED talk, Connected, but Alone? she explores this idea and how we become so dependent on receiving affirmation from our online lives that we lose the ability to be in the moment in our real lives. How we communicate and share is changing extremely rapidly and we need to embrace these changes and channel the amazing power and capability they give us, without losing ourselves and the grasp we continue to need our “real life” selves. The video is below if you have a minute and want to check it out.
Another important piece we touched on in this second week of classes was the importance and relevance of hashtags and branding ourselves well using our social media and blogging so that the correct audiences are viewing our work! I have to admit again…I’m quite a N00B to the Twitter world and although I understood what a hashtag was, I didn’t understand the importance and impact that they can have on your digital identity. So, if you’re interested in digital education and literacy and happened to have stumbled upon this and you’re not in my class, mission accomplished! 😉
This week was one that I found very interesting as I was sort of lost as to where I fit in to the idea of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. The way kids learn in school is changing all the time and there are important pieces that we need to remember to ensure that kids are not only getting the best education for the world they are growing up in, but also that they have the skills that they need to keep up with the times…it seems like they are speeding by and I don’t really see any signs that it’s slowing down. In my blog post from this week I had linked the video found below. Although there are obviously issues with the idea of natives and immigrants to the digital world, there were many pieces that made sense to me.
The video argues that kids today are born with adaptations to help them survive in the quick paced world we live in today, but as technology continues to drive the socio-economic wedge further between our classes, this statement is not necessarily true. During this week of class we spoke a lot about how technology can cause divides in our classrooms because of finances, accessibility and even the morals of families choosing to have their child online or not.
Another quote that got my attention from the video was, “access does not come prepackaged with knowledge”. Canadians and my students at Lakeview who have access to technology regularly do not necessarily have the knowledge needed to work safely and efficiently on the internet or technology on account of being able to access it. This is such a valuable piece of knowledge so we don’t jump to conclusions. I will again, link to my colleague Roxanne’s blog from this week, she said “digital citizenship skills need to be taught, they are not embedded in our brains”. I agreed whole heatedly then, and I still do now. We have an obligation to teach our children and students because it’s not ingrained. Although I believe that some of the skills kids have on the function side from their intuitive nature online, they do not have the capacity to make safe, responsible choices online without guidance.
As we move forward into the fourth week of school we looked at how the frameworks of our generations will help us understand the ever changing world our kids and students are growing up in. I felt like I really appreciated this week because the main point of my job is to try and prepare my kiddos for whatever the world is going to throw their way and in order for me to do that, I need to understand where I came from and have a good grasp of where things are headed in the future. In my blog post from this week of class, I sited an articled called 2020 Future Skills Report and it outlined the skills that kids will need as they move forward in the workforce. They identify the top 10 skills youth will need to know as they move into the workforce and beyond. They identify these ten skills as sense-making, social intelligence, novel & adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational thinking, new-media literacy, transdisciplinarity, design mindset, cognitive load management, and virtual collaboration. I am sure that if I looked back at the skill set kids needed 10, 20, 30 or more years ago many of these valuable assets would not be on the list, hence the importance of looking forward! This week helped my understand that kids cannot just get away with remembering information and being able to regurgitate it on command. First, the need to remember information is not necessary as there are a million and one ways to locate information at the touch of button, in the palms of our hands. You want an answer, all you have to do is Google the question. What is so important is that kids know where to find the answers, how to adapt to the information they find and then put the skills they need into practice to use the information.
Our kids now are multi-taskers both out of habit as well as necessity to keep up with the rapid rate in which they get information shared to them. As we had spoken about in previous weeks, there is an urgent need that adults begin to foster the idea of digital hygiene in their children as we would any other routine or safety skills. Cybrog Anthropology says, “Digital hygiene is a term used to describe the cleanliness or uncleanliness of one’s digital habitat. This could be used to describe one’s desktop icons, file structure, folder trees, Photoshop files or harddrive, Facebook page or digital persona. Just as one’s body can become unhealthy by the buildup of poor food choices, one’s hard drive can become unhealthy by the buildup of viruses, icons and fragmented software.” We need to teach kids to be “clean” online – to come up with strategies and skills that will encourage them to lead their best lives online meaning that they are safe, kind, responsible and efficient. Kids will end up doing most of their work and dealings in the virtual world so having the skills to be tidy and organized online will only make them more effective and essential in their workplaces. Children (and adults 😉 ) are creatures of habit so working these digital hygiene pieces into daily life is crucial.
The moral of the story is to teach kids to use technology to their benefit and to be safe and mindful when doing so. They have such an incredible amount of power to encourage change and start conversations but they need to understand that power and use it responsibly.
Ok, this week posed the big question, what does it mean to be a digital citizen? Well isn’t that loaded question! This week an article by Dr. Paul Gordon Brown brought attention to the fact that our real life identities and our digital identities are really not far removed from another regardless of our perception. How we choose to act and the public persona we embody online shouldn’t be different than that we showcase in real life. We have the choice to be who choose in both avenues and the idea of spreading kindness rather than hate should be a focus when teaching kids about how their digital citizenship. It is often perceived as much easier to spread hatred when you are protected by the anonymity of the online world and the protection of your computer but perhaps if we start to teach kids that their digital citizenship is forever and as much a reflection of themselves as their real life persona, we will see the tides change.
This week we were also encouraged to check out Mike Ribble’s 9 elements of digital citizenship and see how our major project ideas lined up with these elements! It was interesting to put my practice into check this week – why do I choose to do what I do in my class? What are my kids actually getting out of it that will help them in the world they are growing up in? I have linked my blog post here if you want to check it out. I was happy to find out that two of the elements directly connected to my project. In a lot of ways it validated that what I was teaching would hopefully be meaningful to the kids I’m working with in navigating the world they are growing up in. The whole point is to make sure that the technologies kids are using continue to be used in positive, productive ways!
During week 6 of our course we explored how we tackle the concept of identity in a digital and networked world. I think to sum this week up, it comes back to the fact that schools NEED to teach digital citizenship and NEED to teach children to have confidence online to make good choices and make positive change. As mentioned in my blog from week 6, I am cautiously optimistic – I was then, and I am now, about kids navigating the online world. There are so many opportunities that are opened up because of the technologies if we continue to teach kids to be wary but authentic. I will also encourage my students to find the truth and authenticity in others online while still remembering that there are so many filters, both literally and metaphorically in what they read and view.
There were a few things that stood out for me as I remembered back to this week of class, the first being a piece of information from a Danielle’s blog, a continuum document. If we want to ensure that digital identity is a priority, we need to understand when kids need what knowledge. We also need to lay these concepts out in an easy to understand, easy to navigate format so that teachers buy in. This continuum is such a valuable resource to aid in ensuring kids learn digital literacy in a format that makes sense and gives them skills that will build upon each other. The second piece that really stood out for me came from Anne and Amy’s catalyst project – she concluded from surveying her students, that their parents rarely asked for digital help, although they come from the generation that would be considered digital immigrants. My guess is that parents have gotten comfortable with the platforms they use on a regular basis such as Facebook on account of using them but also because there are many ways to get information about these platforms and how to use them. Anne also concluded that usually, when parents did ask their children for help online, it was to aid in spotting fake news – I think this could be on account of the fact that tools to help us spot fake news have only now started becoming readily available online. A big part of digital identity is comfort online, once the comfort level is built you can start building a true, authentic self online.
Over the course of these 3 weeks we welcomed Carol Todd, Patrick Maze and we spoke about who should be playing a role in teaching digital education. Carol Todd is the mother of Amanda Todd who’s daughter was the victim in a horrible online extortion case that ultimately ended in her untimely death. If you haven’t watched the video I have included it below – please be aware before watching, there is reference to suicide and self harm near the end, if you have sensitives please watch cautiously. This was the first video of its type and it has been replicated hundreds of times and used for others to share their stories – Carol Todd has used this tragedy to reach out and help others to ensure that this doesn’t happen to another child.
Carol very bravely spoke about cyber-bullying and the grave effects it has on children, their families and our communities. This was a really meaningful conversation because she told us what her hopes were for the future for parents and teachers to help combat this epidemic. Part of keeping our children safe online is to ensure that they are educated and it has become Carol’s mission after losing Amanda to teach not only empathy and understanding, but online and digital safety too. Carol created the Amanda Todd Legacy foundation that raises money for bullying causes, offers support and education and even has a place to share your story. It is these types of initiatives that will aid in teaching kids about the dangers of going online, while still showing them that you can’t be scared and get rid of technology but just use it safely and responsibly, trusting your gut and your heart and then executing through your brain.
In this time span we also welcomed Patrick Maze, the head of the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation. Pat took time out of his busy schedule to login and talk to us about the STF’s stance on teachers engaging in social media practice from their point of view. What I got from Pat’s post was not only be cautious about what we post, but be smart! We are teachers 24/7, 365 days a year – there is no off switch and we are held, by law, to a higher standard than most professions. Our online self and IRL self are one in the same. The expectations for behaviour and ethic obligations are the same online as they are in our day to day classroom life. Whether you think this is fair or not, it is what it is. I do have my own personal social media that are separate from my school ones and although there is nothing on my personal social media that could be deemed inappropriate, I feel as though I am entitled to some privacy. I understand my commitment to the profession but I have the right to have my children (should I have some one day) and my family private if I choose. As I stated on my blog from this week, I appreciate the STF and Patrick Maze but respectfully disagree with some of the guidelines they impose.
To finish this chunk of our class who spoke about who’s job it actually is to educate children on media literacy. This is a tangled web of opinions and you know what they say about opinions… I feel very strongly that it takes a village to fully raise and educate a child and that teaching digital literacies is no different. I think the responsibility is split between school and home as there are pieces of information that would be best shared at school, and absolutely some that will be more personal and better decided on at home. At school I think the owness is on ensuring that children have access to technology, even if they don’t at home, and to ensure that the skills to be safe and responsible online are taught – not just how to physically use the devices. I think it is the responsibility of the school to not stray away from technology but use it to its fullest and teach with it and about it. The responsibility of the home is to go over rules with online use and for parents to be present for their children by knowing how the apps and devices they are using work. Instead of isolating their children by banning technology, teach them and learn with them so everyone can be safe and informed.
This week we explored what it actually means to be digitally literate in today’s world! My content catalyst project was included this week so I felt prepared and excited to share my research with the class. I have put my video presentation below if you would like to have a look through. My main point and the information I felt set my Screencast apart from other’s presented this week (which were all amazing by the way!) was my focus on intuitive learning online as related to being digitally literate. I find it extremely interesting that without reading instruction manuals and watching “how to” videos children seem to understand how to navigate their way around the online world. Designers and creators of technology design it in such a way that we can use our intuition to understand how things work online. When you are using a program that “doesn’t work how it should” you are experiencing the frustration of poor execution of a program or device. The Norman door example explained in my presentation does a great job validating your anger, check it out around the 4:10 mark.
The overall take away from this week was that how children are literate in today’s world has changed dramatically. The “why” they need to be literate in this way has changed too. The world our kids are growing up in is forcing them to have a different skill set that allows for multi-tasking, group work, flexibility and often high stress work environments. Being literate not only in the traditional sense of books and numbers but online as well will allow them the best chance for success in this changing world. I will say it for the millionth time – kids need to be literate in navigating and utilizing the technology to it’s fullest, not simply able to operate the device.
This week we also looked at identifying fake news and stretched truths in the media. This skill is one that is so incredibly crucial in today’s world as anyone can create media, anyone can add it to the internet and really, there is no significant vetting of information before it’s posted. We are bombarded with information non-stop. My classmate Luke’s Vlog says that we receive between 4000 and 10,000 media messages a day so we desperately need the skills to be able to wade through and choose the messages that are crucial to us as well as true. There is no way to effectively take them all in, so teaching kids the skills to pick and choose and be critical is the only way. I came across the video below and it shows the devastating effects that not being critical online can have. Now more than ever we need to be able to spot fake news and “alternative facts”.
This graphic from International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions is one of many available online that help to aid people in taking the appropriate steps to spotting fake news. Making these steps available in school, even from a young age will be the key to changing what information is believed online, and hopefully down the road, what information gets posted in the first place. For more details on this topic you can also swing back to my blog post from this week here.
During this class we took some time to think about the legalities (moral, ethical and legal) about teaching digital education. This was especially interesting because I have to be honest, I don’t really spend a lot of brain power on this subject when it’s arguably one of the most important areas, with the biggest potentially for backlash. I am hyperventilate with permission slips ensuring they give both options for participation as well as all the important and relevant details of the event, if you would like to see an example of something I created for this project, please click the link, university-class-media-release-note.
I would never take any chances in this aspect and would rather be over prepared than the opposite! As far as thinking of the ins and outs of the policy for my division, I need to brush up. I would absolutely ask before doing something and getting myself in hot water, but truly, this is important stuff and I should be more acquainted with the policies. I suppose there is a goal moving forward!
Hard to believe the end is so near again. Throughout the course of the semester I have gained so much knowledge and grown in my personal viewpoints. This course has challenged me and encouraged me to listen to others who have different skill levels and sets, working in vastly different careers. I have a better, more thorough understanding of where to look to find information from leaders in the field and most importantly, where to direct my students to ensure the resources they are reading are true and relevant.
I have such a drive going forward to ensure that my students are digitally literate members of our community. I use the term digitally literate to include being safe, responsible and kind online but also meaning to be able to detect fake news, to be intuitive and efficient in their workings online, and foster the skills they will need in the technological field as they move forward in their lives into their high level education and beyond. I get excited when I think about the possibility of having kids growing up where some of the threats are eliminated online because kids (or adults then) have the skills to shut down false stories and the sense to treat each other better IRL and online.
For the second last time…remember, major project summary to come…thanks for reading.
“Educating the mind without educating the heart,
is no education at all.”