Who Knew…..?

Once again the focus of my major project for EC&I 832 was to focus on teaching Digital Citizenship to my students, as well as get a better understanding for myself.  I decided that I needed to create a Responsible Use Policy  for my classroom and focus on three elements from Ribble’s Nine Elements of digital citizenship that I believe would best benefit my students. I have supplemented a lot of my learning and teaching using  Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan SchoolsThe three elements that I decided to focus on were Digital Etiquette (focused on last blog), Digital Law and Digital rights and responsibilities. This blog will focus on my attempt to teach and learn about Digital Law.

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Digital Law

Coming into this part of my Major project I was very excited because I have come to realize that a lot of the problems that I deal with in my classroom come from my student’s behavior online.  Many problems have arose from students actions towards others online without knowing the consequences of their actions. I am hopeful that after teaching what digital law is to my students they will be aware that their actions could possibly have serious consequences.  We live in a world now where our students spend a great deal of time online and they must know that there are laws put in place to police their actions online. I have come to the realization of how important it is for teachers to be aware of digital law so we can teach this to our students. Also in my next blog post I am going to touch on my learning on the Copyright laws that I dove into for my own knowledge.

“Digital law refers to the legal responsibilities for our electronic actions. It includes issues such as copyright materials, hacking into systems, digital identity theft or posting illicit photos” (Source). This is a great definition of Digital law, although it was very broad for what I felt my class needed to focus on. I broke the idea of digital law into one major area that I believe impacts my classroom; laws around cyber bullying. I do intend to go into more teaching about digital law in my classroom as the year goes on, but for the case of this project I focused on just the one topic. I do have a police officer scheduled to come talk to my class in late April regarding digital law.

Cyberbullying

When approaching the issue of cyberbullying I found a really good lesson plan that is targeted towards High school, but I simplified it a little bit so that it was more appropriate for middle school.  It stated that 37% of all grade 4-11 students have had something bad done to them online and 39% of the same group said they have done something mean or hurtful to someone online. The lesson plan focused on the legal aspects of cyberbullying.  It discusses how cyberbullying can be both looked at through criminal law and civil law due to the circumstances of the situation.

Criminal law 

-Criminal Harassment– This can be communication that causes another person to fear for their life or the lives of others. This does not have to be on purpose, this is still a criminal act as long as the person feels threatened.

-Defamatory libel– communication that can severely harm a persons reputation

-Publishing intimate images without consent Taking, posting, passing or receiving of nude photos of someone without their consent.

or

Civil Law

Defamation – communicating false information that will harm someone’s reputation (lesser extent). This can also be known as slander

(Source)

This was a powerful moment within my classroom.  I honestly believe that the majority of my students did not believe that the repercussions of their actions online would have the same impact as actions offline. It seemed that they were very intrigued in the laws and consequences. This led into a discussion of the individuals who have taken their lives due to others mean comments or actions online. That just because actions are taken online does not make them any less significant than actions face to face.

We then discussed the importance of knowing their rights as students when it came to cyberbullying. These are taken from the lesson plan and put onto my modified Cyberbullying presentation. They are as follows;

  •  a right to learn in a safe environment
  •  a right to be treated with respect by teachers, staff and other students
  •  a right to free expression where that right does not libel another person, cause another person to fear for her or his safety, or interfere with the operation of the class and school, and the creation of a safe learning environment for all students
  •  a responsibility to treat all teachers, staff and other students with respect
  •  a responsibility to use school space and equipment, including computers, in a responsible and appropriate way
  •  a responsibility to report to the teacher or administration anything that may interfere with maintaining a safe learning environment

I think it was extremely important that my students understood this because often times they think that this just means in a physical space and not online.  When in fact the world they live in is as much online as it is in the physical classroom.  They need to feel safe online if they are going to be successful and engage citizens.

We ended off our lesson with looking at case studies involving cyberbullying.  My students were tasked with identifying if this was an act that could be put under the criminal law, civil law or no law at all.  It was at this moment that I knew this lesson had sunk in. My students became aware of what was allowed or morally acceptable online.  They were able to identify why something would fall under a law.

This lesson solidified the importance of teaching our students about digital citizenship and their responsibilities as a member.  As educators we often take for granted that our students already know what it is to be a capable digital citizen, but until they are taught they have no clue.  It has improved my understanding of the importance of teaching all aspects of digital citizenship and how important and crucial it is to teach digital law to your students. This Major Project has improved my knowledge of what it is to be a productive digital citizen and my responsibility to teach my students in the process.  In the future I am going to try and touch on all of Ribble’s 9 elements as I move forward in my teaching career.

Here is the lesson plan I used and the powerpoint that I created

lesson plan               Cyberbullying presentation

Look for the next Blog that will continue to talk about my learning of the copyright laws.

 

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That’s Not True!

I found it pretty interesting as I sat down to write this blog post and started to reflect on my strategies for gathering information from the media around me.  I have always viewed myself as someone who was skeptical and willing to make sure the news that I was gathering was always credible and reliable. In todays society this can become a daunting task due to the flooding of fake news that is around us at all times. Anytime you access any type of media you are swarmed with stories, and often times these stories are false or altered. My views and opinions have changed drastically after presenting on Fakenews….

In my daily life I am ashamed to say that I am a slave to my cellphone. I often catch myself checking it constantly.  I am on socially media sites, game sites or the internet, being overwhelmed at the news and ads that are coming my way without even noticing. Often I will read a headline from an article and take it at its word, when in fact I am more then likely being lied to.  In todays society it has become easy to publish your own website or post your own ad, allowing anyone to post any type of misinformation they want. Often information will be posted for likes or to play on peoples emotions.  Through this course I have become more aware of what to look for to identify credible sources or even cross check facts.  This video posted in our class really hit home..

As a teacher in todays world it troubles me to think of what our students read on a daily basis. If I am able to get swayed by a false headline or article, I can’t help but think how easy it would be for a student lacking the critical thinking skills to become tricked by fake news.  It becomes dire that we teach our students not only to be critical of the news they read online, but of all information that they are given. The amount of time our students spend online they will be introduced to a great deal of misinformation.  I feel that it is my duty to make my students aware of what they are reading.  This course has forced me to re evaluate my teaching.  Look forward to tackling this the rest of the year and in the future.

 

 

Who would have thought literacy was so complicated?

In our changing world being literate has taken on a different meaning than it has in the past. Traditionally being literate meant that you could read, write and understand text. In our ever evolving world being literate has drastically changed from this.  According to Dani’s vlog she mentions that to be considered literate in todays terms means that you need to have the ability to use language, numbers, images, computers and other basic means to understand communicate, gain useful knowledge, solve mathematical problems and use the dominant systems of culture. This makes complete sense…but when did this become so complicated? A person who was once seen as literate would no longer be even close to being literate in our society today. As an educator creating a literate student has become a daunting task. 

Teaching Literacy

As an educator I am a firm believer in the idea that we need to create literate students and capable citizens. Although we have gotten away from the traditional meaning of literate, I still believe that students need to be taught all aspects of literacy.  In my opinion the hardest part of teaching literacy is tackling digital literacy for the simple fact that it is always changing and never will be constant. In saying this it needs to be taught because digital literacy is around us at all times and for an individual to survive in todays society they need to be digital literate.

In the article Digital Literacy: What Does It Mean To You? it states that for a student to be digitally literate they need to be able to use technology and be critical of the information that they gather. I believe that this is the hardest part of teaching digital literacy because a vast majority of students already know how to use technology, but they do not always know how to identify reliable information or decipher the information. The other issue is that on the internet there is a lot of false information that is available. I talk a lot about this in my vlog about fake news. My biggest hurdle in the classroom with technology is teaching the students how to identity false information (if you have any suggestions please help). I love using technology in my classroom, but often I feel like it can open up a whole new set of problems.

Netiquette through the eyes of a 8th grader

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As I moved forward with my final project I decided that now that I had my Digital policy put in place for my classroom it was time to focus on the three elements of Ribble’s Nine Elements of digital citizenship that I wanted to teach my students. I had decided early on in the course that my students needed work in three areas; Digital etiquette, Digital Law, and Digital rights and responsibilities. I made the decision that I was going to focus on one of the elements per week for three weeks.  It so happened that I taught Digital Etiquette my first week.  This blog post is going to share the results from that teaching along with the lesson plan that was used.

Digital Etiquette

It is important to restate that coming into this class I was not the most aware digital citizen on the internet.  I felt that the only way that I could benefit my students and teach them proper digital citizenship was to first learn with them.  I decided that the best place to start was focusing on Digital etiquette. According to Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools digital etiquette “…describes the standards of behaviour in online spaces or when using technology”(p. 15).  It also states that the key considerations for schools and school divisions when focusing on digital etiquette is 1) Ensuring that students use technology in ways that have positive effects on others and 2) Ensure that students communicate appropriately given the context, audience and purpose.

I believed that my first task was to identify what social media platforms my students using to communicate or impact themselves and others.  I wanted to use these platforms in my lesson.  Ultimately I made my students choose the social media platform that they used the most and follow a webquest that I put together using ideas from a webquest done by Ms. Pedly. In my adapted webquest my students were asked to find out a series of digital etiquette questions and create 10 digital etiquette rules for the social media platform that they were using (and explain the significance of these rules).  Here is the link to my lesson plan with a rubric that I used (Digital Etiquette WebQuest).

Results

As my students worked through this webquest it quickly became apparent that they were having more trouble then I thought they would.  I had to continually stop them and explain my expectations over and over again. They did not know what I meant by 10 rules.  It was not until another teacher walked in and stated that I meant it like the 10 commandments in our Catholic faith but only with using the app that they had chosen. After my students got started on their rules they did a very good job and I believe that they quickly learned the importance of digital etiquette. It gave them a chance to find out what netiquette was while using a social media platform of their choice.  Here are two examples of work produced Example student work 1      example student work 2

Where is the line?

Patrick Maze was recently a guest within our course and I thought he did a great job of answering all of our questions.  I have always been of the mindset that being a teacher is like being a celebrity in the way that everyone in your community is watching you and everyone is judging your actions.  In a way you no longer have a personal life in public but you always have to be in a professional mindset. In Jaque’s post she makes a really good point in offering that the prestige of the profession must come first. I agree with her, but where should the line be drawn?  In our conversation it was brought up that teachers can be disciplined for doing something that is legal just because it is not observed as professional in the public eye.  The example used was can a teacher post of picture of themselves having a beer or an alcoholic beverage without being concerned about being disciplined?. If something is done responsibly, breaks no rules and has no impact on your professional performance should a teacher be allowed to be punished for it? I completely understand if something is done that harms the way the public views you as a professional, but there are very few professions that seem to get viewed with as much scrutiny as teachers. On top of this I believe that the advancement in social media and technology has put an even bigger emphasis on teachers actions and impacted the ability to have a private life.

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With this in mind I believe it is important for teachers to become aware and to become better digital citizens. Not only to be aware of our own digital footprint, but to be able to educate our students. With the amount of time our students spend online, it has become critical that we educate our students on the importance of all aspects of digital citizenship.  Specifically digital literacy so our students can identity what they are reading online.  According to the article What is Media Literacy, and Why is it Important?, our students are reading way more than traditional texts. They are now needing to know the skills to identity literacy from numerous sources. This becomes tricky to teach, but we need to start somewhere.

Within my class and major project I have attempted to tackle digital citizenship using Ribbles 9 Elements and Saskatchewan Ministry’s digital citizenship document.  I have already attempted to make a Responsible use policy and earlier this week tackled the digital etiquette aspect of Ribble’s 9. I am the first to admit that I am digitally illiterate and am learning with my students.  Once again it is a slow process, but it has been enlightening and fun to learn with them.

Examining my Digital Identity

Ever since I decided to pursue teaching as a profession I have become interested in my digital identity and how to protect it.  While growing up and going to college (I still feel like I had a lot of growing up to do at this point) I was never really concerned about what I posted or the identity that I left behind on the internet.  When I decided to become a teacher I started to attempt to clean up my digital identity so that I would seem to be more professional throughout the community.  I cleaned up my facebook page, instagram feed and put into place filters on who would be able to access my posts. It is funny in a way because once you become a teacher you almost take on the title of being a minor celebrity (in a much more minor role) and your students are very curious about what you do outside of the school and what you have done in the past.  It becomes very crucial that you know what they are seeing and you have to be cognoscente about what is out there on the internet about you.

Over the past few years I have done an activity in my classroom where I ask the students to google my name and find out all they can about me.  Luckily they have not been able to turn up anything that I do not want them to know.  I then ask them to google themselves and they are shocked at all the information that they can find out about themselves.  It helps to demonstrate that they need to be aware of what they post because some of them have posted things that they would not want anyone to know or witness. They have created digital identities that they did not know existed.  It can be scary because students in middle school do not have the foresight to understand that their digital identity now can have a major impact on their lives in later life. It has become of the utmost importance for us as educators to explain that it is important for our students to not shy away from posting on the internet, but posting things that represent them in a positive way.   As a teacher I fear for my students because like Alec mentioned in class that students no longer have the opportunity of having their mistakes forgotten. They are etched onto the internet forever….this is terrifying to me.

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Just recently becoming a parent, I have started to wonder what the world will be like when my daughter becomes an adolescent.  I have realized that it will become that much more important to educate her on the importance of being a good digital citizen and how important it is to create a good digital identity at an early age.  Although it does scare me I am optimistic for the future and I believe that it is a parent and educators job to make children aware of the negatives that can come from having a poor digital identity. I hope that by taking this course I am making progress into being a positive influence for my students.

Final Project…Y’all Ready for This

When approaching my final project I was trying to figure out what would be the best way that I could help my students become better digital citizens.  When I sat down and tried to figure this out I quickly understood that I did not have a grasp of digital citizenship for myself, so how could I properly teach digital citizenship to a bunch of 12 and 13 years olds who have their phones glued to their hands 95% of the day. I decided that I would begin my project by polling my students to help me understand what they thought digital citizenship was…they knew very little.  So I feel like I had an idea for my project…

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I decided since I am clueless when it comes to digital citizenship and my students seem to be clueless when it comes to digital citizenship, why not learn together.  So began the premise of my final project.  I have decided to implement aspects of the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools into my teaching. I have began by creating a digital citizenship policy with my students for our classroom.  Something that I would not have considered before, but I gave my students a voice and together came up with a very interesting and effective policy that will keep our class engaged and safe when comes to technology.

The second step into my digital citizenship project is to focus on three aspects of Ribble’s 9 elements and teach these through exploring apps, blogs and social media that my students are already using. I want to focus on and incorporate 1) digital etiquette 2) digital rights and responsibilities and 3) digital law into my classroom.  The way that I believe that this will have the greatest impact on them is by using technology that is relevant and already being used.  I was blown away recently when a few of my students told me that they are on their devices for sometimes exceeding 8 hours a day. Without being taught how to be good digital citizens, my students could run the risk of leaving a bad digital footprint.

Finally I want to tie all of our learning together by allowing my students to complete a final project that has to utilize technology and explain what they have learned about digital citizenship. I have not completely figured out what I will do for our final project in my class, but when I have it pieced together I will make sure to let you know! Here goes nothing…

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