May 2016 archive

Reflections on Digital Citizenship in Schools

 

This subject has been an opportunity to focus on an area that has been the elephant in the room for many educators. With the pressures of today’s classroom, upskilling in matters of privacy, copyright, cyber safety, etiquette and device management is the thing that people intend to learn about that ends up being disregarded.

With that in mind, it’s been great to have the chance to develop a more thorough understanding of broader concepts within digital citizenship. After all, it “encompasses many aspects of life with technology and cannot be limited to a definition that includes the word computer” (Lindsay & Davis, p. 99).

 

Lindsay and Davis’ (2012) ‘Enlightened Cultural Model’ visually highlights all the digital citizenship issues that are raised when working online.

 

Lindsay and Davis’(2012) ‘Enlightened Cultural Model’

Lindsay and Davis’(2012) ‘Enlightened Cultural Model’

 

Permeated by the ‘rays of understanding,’ the ‘areas of awareness’ explore micro (individual) and macro (social, cultural and global) factors that result from technology access.

 

Application:

To be completely honest, I haven’t contributed to the subject with blog posts or discussion within the subject forums.  Instead, the reflections that I’ve have continued to shape the way I’ve conducted myself within my new leadership role (Curriculum leader), in the classroom as well as my online presence.

Some observations

  • The inappropriate use of copyright materials is rife with teachers. We even have our own saying “don’t reinvent the wheel” which often justifies the stealing of digital content without acknowledging sources. I’ve made a concerted effort to showcase the appropriate use of creative commons licencing which has enabled staff to see a tangible way of operating within the rules. This is a choice that I’ve individually made yet has a social impact on the staff I interact with.
  • One of the challenges faced in my new role is justifying the shift to 21st-century approaches to staff that are reluctant to change their technological/pedagogical approach.Exemplifying this is the need to cultivate a professional learning network. My staff need to see the power behind networked learning. Steve Wheeler identifies the ability to “connect with others, and create a professional network” as skillset of the 21st-century employee. This semester I’ve tried to model this by reaching out to a global audience through the use of Twitter in an attempt to demonstrate value by posing questions to generate data and resources in addition to strengthening connections. I’ve encouraged our staff to seek out other participation spaces (McIntosh, 2010) that meet similar objectives (ex. Pinterest and Google+) to provide alternatives to Twitter.
  • Students need teachers to create tasks that enable them to become digitally fluent. Forcing them to think in that environment helps them hone their skills in digital literacy, collaboration, research and critical thinking (Stripling, 2010).

Subject Assessments:

Both assessments have created powerful new learning experiences that forced me to grow. The first assessment task allowed me to work in a global collaborative space for the first time. Our team was even global in nature! We had an Australian, a Kiwi, an Australian hailing from South Africa, and a Canadian (that’s me)! I was unfamiliar with the use of wikis and it definitely challenged us collectively to work in that space. In order to do so, we also used Google docs as well as Hangouts for robust collaborative discussion that helped us achieve our desired outcome. In terms of content, the topic of ‘Social Media and Networking’ allowed me to explore how one sculpts a positive digital identity. This helped me launch my very own website where I’m planning to continue my adventures as a global educator.

I really enjoyed the second assessment as it was an authentic task that allowed me to apply my learning within my current context. The data that I was researching and receiving was current and it feels as though my recommendations (when shared to leadership) will be taken on board.

Connections

Half of my learning in this subject area can be directly attributed the articles curated and shared via social media. My co-learners active on Twitter have been amazing in this regard. In particular, Jacques du Toit and Matt Ives have filled my notifications up with pertinent readings that extend our knowledge and are then used in our frequent Google Hangouts discussions. Recently, we endeavoured to involve all connected educators within the subject for a cumulative Twitter chat regarding digital citizenship. Jacques was kind enough to make a storify of the event.

Final thought:

As technology continues to become more ubiquitous, greater lengths need to be taken to ensure that digital citizenship is embedded in learning in a way that makes it rich, real and relevant.

 

REFERENCES:

Lindsay, J. (2013, March 28). The future of learning is global – a vision for leadership [Slides]. Retrieved from April 15, 2016 fromhttp://www.slideshare.net/julielindsay/the-future-of-learning-is-global-a-vision-for-leadership

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. A. (2013). Citizenship. In Flattening classrooms, engaging minds : move to global collaboration one step at a time (pp. 97-125). Boston : Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers.

McIntosh, Ewan. (2010). The seven spaces of technology in school environments [Video file]. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/15945912

Stripling, B. (2010). Teaching students to think in the digital environment: Digital literacy and digital inquirySchool Library Monthly, 26(8), 16-19.

Wheeler, S. (2015). Learning with ‘e’s: Educational theory and practice in the digital age. United Kingdom: Crown House Pub Ltd.