So Much To Think About

My head is so full of ideas and thoughts it is literally spinning and I don’t think it is because my time table won’t work out.  Ok, maybe that is part of it, but it is mostly because I decided it would be a good idea to sign up for @DCMOOC.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a great idea, but there is so much to think about.

On Monday I had the opportunity to list to Eric Sheninger, @NMHS_Principal talk about digital leadership.  I had read Eric’s new book, Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times at some point over the long winter and was very motivated by many parts of it, but especially about the idea of telling our own story. We have so many ways to craft our own message and get that positive message out to our stakeholders and communities.  As I participated and listened to his bonus session on Digital Citizenship for Administrators he once again stressed the idea of telling our positive stories.  As a school administrator it is my job to practice what I envision for our school and students.  I cannot expect students to be good digital citizens, if I am not willing to model what that looks like for them.  Leaders in our digital age need to share and be transparent.

Today I listened to another bonus session offered by Dean Shareski @shareski as he talked about how learning is social.  Well of course it is! It is way past time for us to give up some of our control and trust our students to be in charge of some of their learning. We need to provide spaces for them to share and collaborate.  Who knows?  We might even be able to learn right along with them.

Digital citizenship is such a broad term with so many directions to go.  Once again though, I feel that we should not separate the idea of good digital citizenship from good authentic learning any more than we should treat technology as it is a separate entity.  It is all one thing after all.  We would not want to teach without the vast opportunities for collaboration and sharing the web provides us, or at least I certainly wouldn’t.  In order for me to take the best advantage of those opportunities and share with my students I need to practice existing in the digital world in an acceptable and well mannered way, just as I had to learn to be a good citizen in general.

The importance of us not necessarily “teaching” our students to be good digital citizens, but modeling and providing opportunities for them to do so should go without saying.

Any thoughts?

Diving into @DCMOOC

I have enthusiastically signed up for a  (massive open online course) on digital citizenship offered by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education and facilitated by Alec Couros, JoAnn Sanders and Katia Hildibrant. The course was set up as part of Saskatchewan’s action plan to address bullying and cyber bullying.  As I was attending the first session last week I was having flash backs to the first open education course I took from Alec when I was completing my Masters Degree.  I remembered feeling totally like a fish out of water.  I could not get it all figured out and it seemed to be happening so fast.  I was hopeless at keeping up with the back channel and paying attention to the speaker.

Once I calmed myself down and realized I could enter at my own pace and begin from where I was at, I felt a lot better.  I started to feel like I was not being judged for my lack of ability, but rather welcomed by a community of learners that I had never been exposed to before.

I have advanced quite a bit in my online journey since then and now feel quite comfortable participating in online communities.  The opportunity to participate in @DCMOOC was right along my alley.  I thrive on the feeling of being on the edge and not quite knowing where each experience is going to take me.

My father taught me to be a life long learner and has modeled that for me my entire life and continues to model it to this day at the young age of 79.  He tries to keep up with the changes in our learning world and technology has not left him behind.  The only thing he refuses to try is texting, despite my continued desire for him to do so.  I am grateful to him for teaching me I always have something to learn so I should seek it out.

Many things have changed since that first open education course that changed my outlook on education and the way we meet the needs of our students in our ever-changing world.  To me the best thing about the changes we have witnessed is the ease and convenience we are able to communicate and share.  I am a huge twitter fan for that very reason.  I am able to set up my learning network to be just the way I want it to be and I am able to access information, help and ideas from my network at any time I am wanting it to happen.

Being connected is by far the best form of professional development I have been a part of in my entire teaching career thus far.

Being connected in a safe and responsible way is something I also want for my students as well.  Joining  #DCMOOC and a community of learners sharing ideas about digital citizenship seemed like the perfect place to be.   Developing good citizens has been a long-standing goal of education, so does it not make sense that developing good digital citizens need to be a part of the educational goals of today.  Terry Heick in his post about digital citizenship defines it as “the self-monitored habits that sustain and improve the digital communities you enjoy or depend on.”

Our students spend much of their time in digital communities and will need us to help them become self-monitoring; to develop the habits needed to be safe and  participate confidently in the communities they enjoy.

I can’t wait to see what I learn in @DCMOOC from my ever-expanding learning network and what I can pass on to my students and staff.  Hopefully we can all develop good habits that will help us sustain improve our digital communities.



Should we teach digital citizenship?

I had  difficulty getting started on my blogs this week, mainly because I was suffering from what I call WAD-Web Attention Disorder.  I am so easily distracted from my cause.  I can’t help myself, I go to search and read about something and pretty soon I am web miles away from my starting point and I can’t even begin to find my way back.

The whole idea of digital citizenship did catch my eye.  My professor, Marnie McMillan, for my ECI 831 course set us up with, a choose your own adventure activity this week.  You can probably tell, from what I already said,  that I would have trouble staying on one adventure, because they all seemed so interesting and took me off in many directions, but at the same time, they were all full of related and connected ideas, at least in my mind.  Some of the things she asked us to look at I had already seen, but it was still good to go back and give them more thought.

I started the week with a bit of a bad moment of finding out that some of my staff were not making as much progress into the tech in the classroom idea, as I thought they might be.  My presentation at the staff meeting on Monday even managed to arouse some anger in some…but that  is a discussion for another time.  Whether people buy into using new tools and technologies in the classroom or not… or I think the problem really is buying into the idea that children can learn in non-traditional ways… I still think we have a responsibility to teach them to be good digital citizens.

We spend a lot of time in school teaching them to be healthy, contributing members of society.  We try to teach them to be good citizens in our community and in our schools.  Is anyone teaching them what it means to be good digital citizens?  Whether we buy into the idea of learning through new technologies or not, our students are spending hours of time exploring and communicating in a world that they have not been taught to use properly.

I think it really comes down to fear, once again.  We are afraid to try to teach them about things, we perceive, they know much better than us.

I realized that I had been so busy teaching my grades 4/5 students to blog properly, so they could express their ideas, and to comment properly, so they could open up a dialogue and be encouraging to others, but I had forgotten to teach them anything about copyright and the whole idea about creative commons.  We had been inserting things on to our blog site without giving credit to a single source! Oops!  There are a lot of good videos explaining the idea of copyright and creative commons.  I found one that I had never seen before.  A new take with the same idea.

Last blogging class was spent discussing digital citizenship and what that means, specifically focusing on the idea of copyright.  I taught them how to properly search for images that fell under creative commons and what that meant.  I also taught them how to check whether or not they could use a source and how to properly give credit to sources they were using.  I know that is a small part of digital citizenship, but an important one.  I really used  one site we were directed to, in adventure 3, on creative commons licensing , to help me out.

In my own search about digital citizenship I came across some excellent resources:

1.  The web page, “Digital Citizenship: Using Technology Appropriately“, offers information and ideas about teaching digital citizenship and outlines what they believe are the nine themes involved.

2.  Alex Couros has a  post about digital citizenship in his blog, “Open Thinking: rants and resources from an open educator.  The  topic of his post is summed up with…

“I’m just beginning to rediscover what digital citizenship means. I know it needs to cover more than safety issues, literacy and etiquette. I know it is not just about our rights as online citizens. It needs to concern itself much more with social responsibility and social learning than is currently being addressed.”

3.  Alex also gives a link off his blog post to his wiki about digital literacy that is full of excellent information.

4.  A response was given to Alex’s post at Teacher Friendly tech that was also interesting.

I am not sure we can keep ignoring what our students are doing, seeing, manipulating and using on-line. The issue of cyber-bullying is getting more serious each day.  Our students are exposed to huge amounts of information on a daily basis.  Will they sort that out and use it appropriately without being taught how?

I was excited to come across some excellent information and resources that I can use during our vertical sessions with our grades 6/7/8 students.  I think I have mentioned before that my principal and I have all of these students together once a cycle and we spend most of our time on citizenship and leadership skills.  This is an excellent opportunity to introduce some ideas and open up discussion on issues such as on-line gaming, creative commons, cyber-bullying, use Facebook etc.  I spent some time looking at the videos and teacher/parent resources at and found many useful resources there as well, including real-life stories told by teens that had been involved in unfortunate situations related to internet use.

Not all teachers are at a place where they can embrace, or in some cases even acknowledge, the educational off-shoots of our student’s digital experiences.  Some may not like it, but that is where our students are and I think we might regret leaving them to figure it out on their own without any guidance.