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.

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This was a doozy (Final project)

Coming into this final project I knew that I would have some challenging moments that I would have to tackle.  Little did I know that something that I perceived to be an easy task would challenge me like it did.  For my final project I have set out to use the Ministry’s Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools and Ribble’s Nine Elements of digital citizenship to help educate myself and my students on how to become better digital citizens.  The first task that I tackled was getting to know what my students were doing online and how long they spent online (Which I documented on my last blog post).  This first step was fairly straight forward.  Next, after reading through the Ministry’s document I came across the idea of creating a Digital Citizenship Policy for my classroom. It seemed easy enough…man was I wrong.

When approaching this task I thought “this will be easy, all I have to set up is the do’s and don’ts of technology use”. Little did I know that this was not seen as the appropriate way to set up a ‘digital citizenship policy’, but that this was an ‘acceptable use policy’ which no longer is the right way to go about it. Instead of using restrictive and punitive language, it has become more effective to use language that increases the responsibility of the student which has moved us to a ‘responsible use policy’.

When first setting up my policy I took input from my students and discussed what they believed to be fair and appropriate rules for technology use in the classroom.  Once I gathered all of my information I put together a policy that was full of what you cannot do with technology in our classroom and consequences for improper use of technology in the classroom. I looked over the policy that I created and something was amiss.  My policy seemed to make technology seem like it was something that should be feared in the classroom and this is not at all what I wanted to create.  I decided to look through the Ministry’s document and found out that I tackled this in the wrong way.  I went back to the drawing board. I wanted to approach my policy in more of a “responsible use policy’

According to the policy a “Responsible use Policy”:

  • Is presented in the format of what the student ‘should do’
  • Increased student responsibility for use of technology to support learning
  • Developed with the students to create common understanding of the responsibility of accessing online technologies as part of the learning process
  • Can contain clear expectations regarding the use of technology in the classroom

After rereading the Ministry document, I wanted to set out to accomplish this.  I went back to my class and we started over.  We attempted to draw out all aspects of the ‘responsible use policy’.  After identifying what we thought would work as a class, I wrote up a policy and brought it forth.  The students once again read it and made suggestions.  After a few edits we settled on the document Digital policy.

 

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.

Slowly but surely becoming optimistic

Looking into my major project I quickly discovered that before I can dive deeply into the content that I want to cover within my class using the Digital Citizenship in Saskatchewan Schools document, I first need to find out some important basic facts about the use of technology by my students.  Already being with them for 5 months I was pretty certain that I knew the answer to these basic questions (which I actually did not) because technology is a hot topic with my students. I wanted to find out first how many hours a day are my kids glued to technology, what types of social media do they use, and lastly who online is having on influence on things that they do.

Amount of time

Coming into this course I was very aware that my students spent a lot of time online and on technology. Before getting started we set out the parameters of what was considered technology and for this purpose with the help of my students we said anything that had a screen…(we felt like this was considered technology to them).  I created a poll on Google Classrooms and had my 24 students fill out how many hours they were on technology a day. The options were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8+ hours.  I was blown away at the results.  19 of the 24 students said they were using technology for over 4 hours a day.

The complete results were as follows

1 hour – 4 students

2 hours – 0

3 hours – 1

4 hours – 7

5 hours – 3

6 hours – 3

7 hours – 1

8 + hours – 5

This was absolutely mind boggling to me. The amount of time that my students spend plugged in is incredible.  I found this to extremely important for the simple fact that with this much time spent with technology they are going to be influenced by their peers, celebrities and other unknowns on the internet.  It was a confirmation about how important it is to become an aware digital citizen, as well as educate my students of the importance of digital citizenship.

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Forms of Social Media Used

Another question that I asked my students was what form of social media do you use most commonly to get your information or follow your friends.  Overwhelmingly the answer was consistent.  With a majority of the votes SnapChat was voted to be the most common app used within my classroom (I found this to be good because I actually know this app and how it works). The other forum that came in second was the use of Youtube by my students.  What I found interesting about their use of Youtube was that they told me they did not even go on Youtube for a purpose they would just watch recommended videos and sometimes get caught in the rabbit hole and watch for hours on end.  I became a little bit worried at this because who controls what is recommended videos and are these videos appropriate.  If they are anything like what I have heard about famous youtubers such as Logan Paul this worries me.

Digital Policy

Lastly, we created a digital policy for my classroom as a group. I felt like this was important because I feel like I would love to incorporate technology into my classroom more often and give them the opportunity to have a say in how it is used.  We discussed items like when is technology appropriate, what types of technology, where can it be used and what are some consequences of improper use. I was extremely impressed with some of the suggestions that my students came up with and I am excited to move forward. I am still in the process of typing up the digital policy and will post it in my next blog to let you have a look.

At first I was worried about moving forward with this major Project, but as I have slowly incorporated this into my classroom I am becoming very optimistic!

 

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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Me a Millennial…That Can’t Be Right

First off, when thinking of the students within our schooling system the first term that came to mind was millennials… wow was I blown away when I found out that not only was this generation referred to as generation z, but I was considered a millennial. Shows how much I know about the digital world.

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Changes to schooling

When dealing with technology within the classroom it is pretty safe to say that technology is not going away, but instead it is going to only get more prevalent within the schools and in the hands of our students. With this in mind it is only reasonable to expect that schools need to continually grow with the technology and use it as a tool to help our students learn.  Often it is taken for granted that students know how to use technology because they have grown up with it from an early age, but according to Digital Citizenship: The Critical Call to Educate and Prepare 21st-Century Learners our students use technology for socializing with friends and viewing media outlets. This becomes an important element that needs to be focused on within our schools.  We need to give our students the tools to use technology in an effective way so they can be successful in the real world.  In short we need to teach them to become aware and critical thinking digital citizens. According to Bree and Danielle’s presentation a digital citizen is someone who develops the skills and knowledge to effectively use the internet and other digital technology.

Moving Forward

Moving forward in the education field I believe that it is going to become crucial for our education system to educate students on the ideals of technology and allow them to see that technology is more then just a way to view other peoples lives. It will become important to give them the skills to use their devices or technology to better themselves and society.  Often I am blown away at my students who can code and create apps, but have trouble formatting a word document.  Often I take for granted something that I was TAUGHT in school and assume they know how to do it because of the time they have spent with technology.

I also begin to wonder if we are going to have to focus more on face to face communication.  At times it seems like it is becoming a lost art, because Generation Z (yeah not millennials…) communicate so much with their device that slang and tech terms are being introduced in to conversations. Often it is a lot easier to communicate via text rather then face to face conversation.

Another concern that I have moving forward with my students is the issue of self esteem.  I often tell my students that the majority of the things that they see on social media are the high points of others lives and that rarely will people post the lows.  It is important to let our students know that they cannot compare their lives to social media because we only see the good in social media.  I feel that due to this our students will have a uphill struggle dealing with self esteem.  Recently the meme came out about the boy focused more on his phone then he was on Justin Timberlake because he was so concerned with letting everyone else know what was happening…. This is the world we live in.

Practise makes perfect…Kind of

While watching the PBS video Do “Digital Natives” exist? I found it interesting to hear that anyone born after 1980 is considered to be a “digital native”, for the basic fact that we have grown up with technology.  I immediately began to chuckle to myself remembering all of the times that I have needed to help my grandparents with the most basic of tasks.  Simple things that I have taken for granted.  the simplest of tasks; such as changing the input on their television to making sure all of the cords are plugged in on their VCR. It has also made me reflect on the amount of growth in technology they have seen in their lifetime and try to imagine what technology will look like at the end of my life.  Witnessing the growth in technology in the last ten years, I cannot Fathom what technology will look like in 50 years.

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Although I am still considered to be a “digital native”, at times I feel like my grandparents when my students are talking about new apps or technology that comes out.  They must look at me the way that I look at grandparents when I ask for help with things that they deem as simple. I often feel that by the time I am aware of technology or apps that my students use, they are on to something different and I am left in the dust. It can also feel like this in education when it comes to the use of technology.  A great technology tool comes out for teachers and by the time we get the hang of it there is a newer and better tool.

Another piece that I found to be extremely interesting and insightful was the way that the video talks about technology to “digital immigrants” is like learning a second language.  It is possible, but most “immigrants” are left with an accent.  This meaning that they are not as fluent as a “digital native” that has been immersed with technology their whole lives.  Within Megan’s blog post  she discusses that people will often be on their devices even though they are surrounded by people seeming to be bored with social interactions.  When in fact this has become the social norm and is the contributing to “digital natives” fluency in technology.

I have become extremely aware that although I am in the category of being a “digital native” I am nowhere near as fluent as my students when it comes to technology.  It is like practise makes perfect…and they have a lot more practise.