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 nsteens.org 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.