Digital learning opens up an exciting and engaging world of possibilities for teaching and learning. Its impact in schools is reflected in changes in how learning spaces are designed and the introduction of new learning models for teachers and students. Innovative technologies have the potential to create transformative learning environments (Freeman, Adams, Cummins, Davis & Giesinger, 2017, p. 3). While there are myriad factors which impact on the relative success of digital learning environments (DLEs) in schools, I have learnt that the key is to embrace change and take an active role in its implementation.
Something that resonated with me was the importance of a unified voice and co-ordinated approach to digital citizenship in schools. In my first ETL523 forum posting I stated that educational change needed to be ‘led from the top and communicated clearly to teachers, parents and students’ (Riddle, 2018) but what I had not considered, were the practicalities of making that happen, or the role I could play in its implementation. Barry (2018, para. 6) notes that individuals can create change in their own classroom and in doing so can inspire others to create change. Indeed, as a teacher librarian, I work with all teachers and students throughout the school, so am in a pivotal position to lead elements of technological change. I started considering how I could take a more active role by working more collaboratively with teachers. I thought a starting point could be sharing technologies that I introduce in the library with teachers. This could be accomplished through team teaching, leading Professional Development (PD) sessions or facilitating opportunities for students to show their teachers what they have learnt. I also considered communicating in new ways to make the experience more immersive in the same way that throughout this module we have been invited to share opinions and ideas using a range of new digital tools.
My ideas about digital citizenship had initially been quite narrow in focus regarding cyber bullying, safety, copyright laws and privacy online. Making students aware of their legal and ethical responsibilities is crucial and I certainly learnt more about ways this could be embedded into the curriculum and the importance of implementing policies and student-friendly code of conducts (Forde & Stockley, 2009, p. 49 ).
However, my thinking broadened regarding the exciting possibilities of digital learning. A quote that resonated the most with me was ‘Students should do more than just survive in this digital society. They should create, innovate and thrive’ (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan, 2011 p. 41). I believe a barrier to realising this vision exists in some educational settings when access to digital learning is viewed as a privilege and not a right. This mind-set is often accompanied by threats of confiscating tools or blocking access if certain rules are broken. I believe that this approach, often punitive in nature, can come from fear because of a limited understanding of the digital world. As a result the focus is on safeguarding without looking at the potentials of digital learning. This issue of confiscation came up during a webinar in ETL523 and the ethical point was raised ‘would you take away a child’s ability to write if they had written something inappropriate?’. Personally, I feel the answer is clearly is ‘no!’ It is about learning how to work online in skillful, confident and appropriate ways (Lindsay, 2018) so that students can leverage the full potential of DLEs.
It helps perhaps to view digital learning as another literacy in which we want our students to be fluent (Spencer, 2018, para. 2). The skills of using and applying technologies is critical for preparing students for their future in a connected 21st century world. This need should therefore be reflected in curriculum design and delivery and supported by the appropriate infrastructure and teacher support to make it happen. As individuals, we also have a responsibility to take an active and proactive approach in our own learning, utilizing the opportunities of cultivating our own Professional Learning Network (PLN) so we can be models of digital citizenship for our students and continue to be lifelong learners.
Barry, S. (2018, January 24). Embracing eLearning in the 21st century classroom [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.school-news.com.au/teachingresources/embracing-e-learning-in-the-21st-century-classroom/
Forde, L., & Stockley, R. (2009). Techno nightmare: Legal issues for teachers and schools. Teacher: The National Education Magazine, June/July, 48-51.
Freeman, A., Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Giesinger, C. (2017) The NMC Horizon Report: K-12 Edition 2017. New Media Consortium. Retrieved from https://www.nmc.org/nmchorizon-news/nmc-and-cosn-release-the-horizon-report2017-k-12-edition/
Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J. (2011). Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village. TechTrends, 55(4) 37-47.
Lindsay, J. (2018, May 29). Assignment 2 forum. [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_34634_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_61015_1&forum_id=_124282_1&message_id=_1831065_1
Riddle, K. (2018, February 25). Topic 1.4 – Digital citizenship in the curriculum [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_34634_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_61015_1&forum_id=_121739_1&message_id=_1640323_1