Part B: Critical Reflection Blog Post – 10%
ETL523 Digital Citizenship in Schools has been packed full of theories and practicalities at every turn. A secondary teacher without a leadership role, I endeavoured to focus my readings and experiences from my own classroom. I suppose as with Vygotskys’ Zone of Proximal Development, teetering through understanding – confusion – understanding, all through the guidance of Julie and colleagues.
Modules ETL523 and INF530 from the outset worked together. Whilst learning about Digital Citizenship, I was able to practice it through creating, no enhancing my own Personal Learning Network (PLN). Combine these experiences with the plethora of research, readings, experimentation and assimilation to my newfound digital world; along with my student needs and classroom experimentation, this Semester was awesome and yet bombarding.
An educator computing technologies for the past nine years obviously supported my technological understanding; however, until recently have steered clear of online communities. Due partly to the ‘bad’ hype, social media limited me to a very basic Facebook family and a really simple attempt at Blogging; and partly my known interpretations of curriculum documents.
Assignment 1 – our Wiki entitled ‘Digital Citizenship in the Digital Learning Environment‘ was a highlight for me. A simple definition of Digital Citizenship as being the “the norms of appropriate, responsible behaviour with regard to the use of technology” (Gillespie, K., Mate, D., Mathieson, S, & Sowter, J. 2014) by no means resembles the learning I received through this process.
I can now honestly say I have a digital footprint that I am proud. My PLN has grown from a simple family Facebook tool, to digital connectedness of Skype, Gmail, GDrive, Dropbox, Twitter, Google Circles, Diigo, Powtoons, SoundCloud and LinkedIn; and these are just the useful ones. 2010 saw my classroom commencement of social media through Blogging in a remote Indigenous High School; 2014 sees my classes creating, collaborating and publishing online with pride.
Collaboration as I’ve never seen it, our team worked through the issues of connectedness from Google Documents to Wikispaces. We came up with a topic we had no idea about, and designed a coherent wiki platform to present all facets of our topic: Tools and Components of a DLE(Dale Mate), Self Awareness (Jane Sowter), Policy and Practices (Sharon Mathieson) and DC in the Classroom DLE (Kylie Gillespie). Creating this Wiki made us realise fiddling required in formatting, and the time constraints in doing so.
Assignment 2 – allowed me to try my hand at applying leadership responsibilities; being my largest learning curve. Again, I tried to focus on what I knew, my classroom and personal experiences – as I am not in a leadership position. I chose a participatory culture as my main issue, as I have been able to successfully integrate my course experiences into my classes this year. This worked! The notion of the digital divide being comprised of legislative, economic, political and socio-economic status resonated with my experiences. Obviously, accountability is of utmost importance in government schools, and in reality even legislated through Internet filtering (for monetary gain I might add upon legislated compliance). It seems it is easier to have another organisation block information access, than have your own organisation accountable.
Rheingolds’ ‘awareness’ principle resonated with me, as it is such a major enabler of a connected curriculum. The need for awareness of these issues when leading through technological example, may hopefully resonate with my school students, parents and leaders. Awareness when planning curriculum documents, re-writing policy such as digital technologies that include all and providing teachers the autonomy in their practice to grow their educational commitment once more.
From these shared experiences I can honestly say ‘awareness’ has been a major component in my learning. Awareness that I can’t do this on my own; experiential awareness that my students are in control of their learning more than I am; and awareness that change happens slowly.
To make the necessary creative shift my physical and virtual classroom door needs to be open.
I wish to take this opportunity of thanking my colleagues for sharing their insights and experiences, and to Julie for her facilitation.