Digital Citizenship: A Community Approach

With technology in the hands of babes Digital Citizenship starts young.

With technology in the hands of babes Digital Citizenship starts young.

Digital Citizenship is citizenship at a fast pace, with lasting consequence, and easy access to large communities. Teaching digital citizenship requires a community approach as the life associated life skills cross home school boundaries, just as technology does. Here are some thoughts about introducing digital citizenship in K-12 schooling. 

When do you start teaching digital citizenship?

When technology was limited to computers in labs or family desktops, the urgency to teach digital citizenship wasn’t there. Now with phones in the hands of toddlers, the practice starts young. In primary school the initial teachings of Internet Safety start with many of the same tenants of protective behaviors including:

  • don’t give away private details,
  • don’t talk to strangers,
  • think before you act, and above all;
  • have a trusted circle of adults you can ask for help whenever unsure.

Technology adds some new twists, but the core tenants of Internet Safety align well to other aspects of social and emotional learning.

What can parents do?

As the primary educator of children, parents need to understand the new responsibilities of parenting in a

Parents have no frame of reference for parenting with digital technologies.

Parents have no frame of reference for parenting with digital technologies.

digital age.  This is a responsibility none of us have been prepared for by our parents simply because the technology didn’t exist. This means parents need to think about their approach to digital citizenship and online safety while children are still young. Here are some tips I’ve gained from our parent community:

  1. Model the behavior you want to see.
  2. Think about ALL the devices you have (Smart TV, AppleTV, Wii, Playstation, iPad, smart watches, tablets, etc…) as well as the apps (NetFlix etc…) and check parental control settings
  3. Consider a Home Technology Use Agreement in your home to discuss the boundaries and expectations (how long? what content? screen time balance? permissions? outside the home?)
  4. Keep the dialogue going. Internet safety considerations grow with age. Keep the communication open, and assume parent roles for monitoring.
  5. Be a parent. Reserve your right to set the boundaries, check the histories, and impose restrictions when needed. Children may try to convince you they are more tech savvy, but will hopefully thank you later for ensuring their safety and age-appropriate access through your wisdom and life savvy. Don’t forget to guide grandparents and other caregivers too.
  6. Check out the many resources available to parents through the Australian eSafety commissioner or Common Sense Media.

What can schools do?

  1. Run Parent Digital Citizenship workshops. Schools can help parents with how to monitor use, strategies for conversation starters, and building a community to share ideas and strategies.
  2. Become an eSmart school or  Common Sense Media Certified school by developing a whole-school approach to digital citizenship for students, teachers and parents.
  3. Embed Digital Citizenship into everyday learning with and through technology.
  4. Develop web filtering strategies that grow as students do. Increase responsibility when students are ready to increase their access.
  5. Create a Grandparents Guide to Internet Safety. Many parents come to me asking for resources to help grandparents managing children’s technology use.
  6. Enlist students in the learning process. Create purposeful assessment to educate the whole school community through digital creations including: posters, games, ebooks, and advertisements.

What can teachers do?

  1. Model thinking processes online
  2. Give students opportunities to learn online and practice skills of digital citizenship in safe environments (eg. Edmodo or Google Classroom)
  3. Monitor your students online behavior in your virtual classroom and use mistakes as teachable moments to learn
  4. Become a Common Sense Media Certified Educator
  5. Embed Digital Citizenship into your classroom culture, purposefully through teaching about it early on, and continually practice and review. 
  6. Familiarize yourself with useful teaching resources:
    1. Digital Passport
    2. Cyber Detectives
    3. Digital Compass
    4. Hectors’ World

    5. Lee & Kim
    6. eSmart Digital License for Australian Year 6 students
    7. Safer Internet Day
    8. Faux Paw
    9. The Adventures of Smartie the Penguin

This is a growing and changing space, with technology in the hands of babes we all have much to learn.

Blended Learning – the latest trend in K-12 Education

The Horizon report lists Blended Learning as one the top trends for K-12 education (Johnson et al., 2015).

Blending for time, place, space and learner control. Blending for time, place, space and learner control.What exactly is blended learning?

Blended learning, is an emerging term describing face-to-face learning with online learning. In its essence, blended learning is seen to have the potential to transform learning by personalizing learning and providing learners with varied approaches to learn at their own pace, space, and time and pathways.  With technology readily and Internet access available, blended learning is seen by some as an approach that so significantly changes learning it is causing the world to re-think whole education systems (US Department of Education Office of Technology, 2014; UNESCO, 2014)

Examples of approaches to blended learning include “Flipped Learning” where students access learning resources outside of class and then participate in other learning activities when face to face. Other approaches, although sometimes considered merely an extension of ICT integration, include providing instruction and resources online supplemented by in-class experiences with and without technology. This approach gives learners the ability to pause, rewind and revisit instructions and resources as needed. Other approaches include activities, lessons or even courses entirely outsourced to third party providers (think Pearsons).

So what is being blended?

What is being blended is digital and physical, teacher time with students, and home and school!

What does blended learning look like in a primary school?

The take up of virtual learning environments is telling with over 80 million users between Edmodo and Google Classroom (see their websites for up to date numbers). While there is no prescribed approach to blended learning, these sites, as well as the multitude of LMS’s available show that primary educators are incorporating some sort of platform for learning. Reasons vary, but here are some I’ve found:

  1. Resources
  2. Workflow for student created digital artifacts (eg. Books, Movies)
  3. Collaborate on multi-user documents
  4. Collaborate with other students
  5. Provide Feedback on digital media texts
  6. Communicate with instructor
  7. Connect home and school

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). NMC horizon report: 2015 K-12 edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.nmc-.org

UNESCO. (2014). UNESCO education strategy 2014-2021. Paris, France: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org

U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2014). Future Ready Schools: Building Technology Infrastructure for Learning, 70 p. Retrieved from http://tech.ed.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Future-Ready-Schools-Building-Technology-Infrastructure-for-Learning-….pdf

From Dependency to Enablement

zoom

I’ve often wondered why competent and confident teachers are sometimes thrown off kilter by new technology. After all, a great teacher is by definition an excellent learner. Teachers learn new things all the time. So why does technology add an element of fear and trepidation for some? With time as the most precious commodity for teachers, I expect fear of lost time plays into these anxieties and hesitations. Working in the area of technology, I’ve never considered myself a technologist, but rather an expert learner. I like to try all the menu options and work out the functionality, all the while looking at new application opportunities.

As we implement new technologies in schools, teachers cry out for more technical support. I’m of mixed mind about this and question the right balance of enabling support versus what I call rescuing support. Enabling support is proactive and includes self-help, coaching and growing a community of learners who perpetuate this cycle. Rescuing help fixes the immediate problem, but keeps teachers coming back for more. Rescuing help could never be staffed fully as new problems arise and the old ones perpetuate. Teachers want their technical problems to be fixed, but to a large extent in my experience, still feel helpless to solve the problems themselves and want someone else to “just FIX it”. When systems and technology is error prone, this attitude is understandable. However, when systems are singing and the technology “just works” most of the problems are of an educational nature. Parents too are challenged by the rapid growth of take-home technology in use in schools. So.. what strategies can help people to help themselves and their children? Here are some I’ve tried over the past year for technical support, learning teams, students and parents.

Tips for the Techies

  1. Think like a teacher. Make sure it works the first time and proactively provide clear instructions
  2. Show children how to solve their technical problems and have them show you back. Teach them to teach their classmates.
  3. Provide Self-Help strategies for common problems that can be accessed again and again via an iTunes U course, eBooks or FAQs in the Help Desk
  4. Post clear instructions on all AV equipment. Keep things consistent and simple so teachers can help each other.

For Teachers 

  1. invest in lead learners and share within teams and professional learning communities
  2. provide a weekly SnipITS sharing session at staff meetings
  3. run TeachMeets at school where sharing is the norm
  4. feed great tools and resources to lead learners to share within their teams
  5. provide staff induction resources in an iTunes U course that can be revisited and used with new staff through the year

For Students

  1. Provide self-help books on their devices for common problems (adding printers, what to do if you can’t print, about content filtering…)
  2. Have self-help posters in the junior years and keep referring back to them
  3. Create student experts (App Captains, Techies, …) to help each other (and the teachers)

For Parents

  1. Create an iTunes U course for Digital Citizenship (help parents understand risks and responsibilities in a digital age)
  2. Run parent workshops at your school or refer parents to workshops at the local Apple Store or equivalent
  3. Create tasks that involve parents with student technology (eg interview your parents, record feedback, or have them take pictures of students taking action on their learning)

Some may seem rather simple, but all are geared toward building confidence and enabling others with technology.  What strategies do you use to enable learning in your context?

Connected Learning – BOOK REVIEW

"Open your classroom to the world"

Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades would have to be the most practical book

Kathy Cassidy’s guide for developing a connected classroom.

I’ve come across in the past year. A year 1 teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator, from remote Moose Jaw, SK, Canada, Kathy Cassidy inspires teachers to step outside their comfort zones and become global learners with their students. Targeted to teachers in the primary years (junior primary to Australians), Cassidy’s book is full of interactive resources and stories of her journey developing a connected classroom. With her “If I can do it , so can you” attitude, Cassidy shares with us why she uses Twitter, Skype, Blogs, Videos and Digital Portfolios to connect young students with the world. Connected from the Start generously shares the stories and practicalities of implementing technology from a classroom teachers perspective. This is not a technology manual, but a guide for teachers wanting to expand the boundaries of their classrooms, build resources, relationships and global perspectives. Full of practical advice for parent nights, privacy, moderation and set-up, this eBook provides practical tips for teachers that only a classroom practitioner could offer.

Connected from the Start is a guide, can be read, clicked, linked and annotated cover to cover, or used as a reference for teachers wanting to dive straight into a particular aspect of global connection.

Although Cassidy has crafted her book with teachers of very young students in mind, her stories and encouragement will help teachers of student of all ages and stages along their journey using technology to expand horizons. The eBook is available as a PDF with hyperlinks and embedded video from the PLPNetwork.

The book isn’t just something to sit on your eReader, rather it opens up a professional relationship and dialogue with a real teacher. I initially met Kathy Cassidy on Twitter (@KathyCassidy), and so can you! In fact she encourages you to interact, share your ideas and provide feedback. Cassidy readily shared her own blog Mrs Cassidy’s Classroom Blog as well as Edubloggers’ Class Blog List with me after a brief 140 character at a time dialogue across the world. She exemplifies connected education in both her book and her practice as a connected educator.

Connected from the Start doesn’t stop at why teachers should create connected classrooms, but examines in depth the journey of teacher and her class of 6 and 7 year olds with blogs, digital portfolios, Google Docs, Twitter, Skype and other technologies sharing the why, what and how of connecting around the globe. These real stories are backed by links to people, sites and resources to get started, encouraging teachers to “open your classroom to the world” and have a flexible mindset toward new opportunities while modelling yourself as a learner.

Who should read this book?

  • Primary/Elementary Teachers to get practical tips for developing a connected classroom. You can do it!
  • ICT Coaches and Integrators to see clearly through the eyes of a classroom teacher. Ask yourself: How can you enable teachers like Kathy Cassidy who aren’t sure how to take the next step using technology purposefully?
  • Principals and School Leaders to better understand what it means to be a global citizen in today’s classroom. Ask yourself: “Am I a connected educational leader? How can I leverage these same tools on a broader scale”?
  • Education Authorities to ask: “What policies, systems and strategies are need to enable our students to operate as fully functional global citizens?”

As an ICT Coordinator, I empathise with many of the challenges Cassidy faced and strive in my role to think through and avoid some of the possible barriers through developing whole school approaches that make things easier for teachers. Student account management and interfaces, policy development, infrastructure enablement, parent communication methods and tool selection can be time consuming jobs. In my opinion, technology needs to enable education and educational needs must drive technology requirements. Encouraging teachers isn’t enough if the site is blocked, the internet too slow or the technology doesn’t work. An agile, coordinated approach to technology is required at school level.

New privacy laws introduced in Australia also bring about a few more hoops to jump through. It is concerning that some Australian jurisdictions are placing restrictions on “cloud computing” at the same time our increased access to technology holds more potential than ever. Students need access to tools, and to people around the globe with varying expertise and cultural perspectives.

Connecting with the world can no longer be an optional part of a teachers’ role if we want authentic global resources, relationships and experiences for our students. Global projects like Flat Connections, Global Classroom’s Edmodo Pen Pal and the annual Global Education Conference offer online opportunities to “learn about the world with the world” (Flat Connections Project motto) and give teachers the freedom to pursue their passions. So as Cassidy asks:

What’s  your next step?”

“Challenge Based Learning in Indonesia” a BOOK REVIEW

Could you buy ingredients and create a healthy meal for four people for under $1.50 USD?

Jane Ross’ students can. This is just one of the provocations Jane Ross shares in her book  “Challenge Based Learning in Indonesia”.

Challenge Based Learning in Indonesia, Jane Ross, available on iBooks

Challenge Based Learning in Indonesia, Jane Ross, available on iBooks

As a year 5 homeroom teacher, and Apple Distinguished Educator, Jane describes the process she and her collaborators undertook to outwork one Challenge Based Learning (CBL) project with a class of 5th graders from Sinarmas World Academy in Jakarta. The book is free from the iBookstore as an interactive, visually rich illustration of exemplary teaching and learning. Educators will appreciate the depiction of this student-led, inquiry-based approach providing meaningful, relevant and engaging learning opportunities.  Full of photographs, slideshows and video, this media-rich book takes you on the student’s learning journey and shares with you their investigations, reflections and deliberate actions  to solve community problems.

 

The teachers posed the challenging problem:

“It is our shared responsibility to ensure resources are more evenly distributed” 

and guided students through an inquiry process where students took the lead posing and investigating their own questions. They were given the opportunity to think deeply about meaningful world problems and respond locally by taking action in a nearby community.  To better understand the resource needs, students collaboratively investigated:

  • life on a limited budget
  • life in a local “Landfill Community”

Visiting a local community with so many resource needs led students to identify real issues facing this neighbouring community and further inquire into new challenges, problems and opportunities to solve problems with lighting, safe shelter and clean water; all problems that are difficult for governments to solve let alone school children!

Students became problem-solvers, inventors and advocates posing real solutions. More importantly, they gained cultural understanding and empathy within their extended community. Their reflections indicate that they see themselves as global citizens who are able work in teams and with help from around the world, to tackle the world’s problems.

I recommend this book for teachers interested in fostering student-inquiry, empowering students to take meaningful action, or publishing for purpose.

What I loved about this book was:

  • the clear illustration through example of transdiciplinary learning where many “subjects” were explored in-depth “just in time”,
  • the clarity of the role of teacher as activator,  facilitator and learner with students clearly in the driver seat of meaningful learning they won’t soon forget; and
  • that it is freely shared with the world and encourages global perspective!

I agree with Ross on the power of student-led inquiry and applaud her for sharing her experience in this accessible way. However, I expect teachers in Australia and other developed nations will face a few of their own challenges implementing learning in this way:

  • Do privacy policies limit us from sharing work in this way?
  • Would risk assessment plans prevent us from accessing communities in these conditions?
  • Would our subject-based national curriculum veer us toward set achievement standards and sacrifice depth of learning for breadth?
  • Do we have the agility in our learning spaces, timetables and pedagogies to take learning in new directions based on learners’ wonderings?
  • Are our communities too insulated to look at the needs of our neighbours near and far?
  • Will we step out of our comfort zones and model ourselves as learners to extend learning in unfamiliar contexts?
  • Will students score as well on national tests and impact school ratings negatively?
  • Does a national curriculum designate a ceiling for student learning and cap it or does it have the same potential Ross outlines to create a launchpad for learning?

There are many implications for school leaders related to culture, however the greater challenge may lie in imposed national curricula. In Australia, the 2014 Australian Curriculum Review final report poses some of these concerns at a national level, particularly around fragmenting and overcrowding the curriculum and giving preference to discipline-based pedagogies.  My hope is that we can find ways to empower rather than overwhelm innovative practitioners who wish to follow Ross’ lead.

Schools are organisms

The people are the ‘school’. Schools are living organisms with interplaying dynamics. Sir Ken Robinson encourages us to to “Think of institutions as organisms. Schools are a living place full of people with hopes and aspirations.” Our job is to encourage growth.  He emphasises that the point of education is to help people grow from the inside out. “The real result is quality of life, a future we’d all like to live in” says Sugata Mitra

Be encouraged by this story of imagination and life changing innovation.

Blog as Professional Portfolio

I am attending a workshop with George Couros discussing the National Professional Standards for Teachers and using a Blog as a showcase of evidence against the standards. In this blog I will be exploring the following seven standards:

  1. Know Your Students
  2. Know the Content
  3. Plan Teaching and Learning
  4. Safe and Supportive Learning
  5. Assess, Feedback and Report
  6. Professional Learning
  7. Engage Professionally

Watch this short video about the National Professional Standards for teachers.

http://youtu.be/S2NILPXmjws

 

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by followtheseinstructions

Student Blogging


cc licensed ( BY NC SA )  flickr photo shared by hgjohn

Should student blogs be open to the public? Social Media in and out of the classroom can transform learning and bridge gaps between home and school. Blogging helps me to work through my ideas, to reflect on learning and gain perspectives from others. What makes this work is that there is an authentic audience. When we work in front of an audience we raise the bar and want to do our best.  If we close the community to just student’s classmates are we really giving purpose to what they are saying?

What does the new DECD policy on Social Media  say? There seem to be some contradictions.

What does your school policy say?  What does it need to address to promote safety and give guidelines? I’m thinking we need guidelines as a school, for teachers and for students  that include your roles and a focus on personal responsibility (including legal, ethical obligations).

In the PYP we aim to foster international-mindedness in people who are digitally responsible citizens.  It seems to me open student blogs have tremendous potential for learning.

Thank you to George Couros for challenging my thinking in this area and getting me started in reflecting in this way.  George’s blog is an excellent example of both a learning profile and showcase portfolio.

Actions for me 

Set aside time in the work day to blog. To reflect. Only need 20 minutes or so. This IS part of the learning process and part of an educator’s work.

Look at creating student blogs that can be private, public, or private to the community. Have a look at EduBlogs and multiuser accounts so that comments on blogs can be moderated.  Think about opening up!