An incredibly thoughtful post from Marti Weston.
My first session of the day is “Creating a Culture of Positive Digital Citizenship” by Matt Scully and Derrick Willard from Providence Day School. I had the privilege of visiting Providence Day last year when I was in North Carolina for a conference. If you are in the neighborhood, I urge you to drop by. They are a school on the progressive, cutting edge of educational technology while maintaining rigorous academic standards. This is live blogged, so please excuse the typos and some poor phrasing!
Providence Day has published a Professional Development eBook. You can get more of the resources here.
After an exercise in groups where we explored what issues our schools are facing with regards to digital citizenship and actions our school is taking, we explored other group’s answers. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of overlap; social media was a primary concern all around (for both students and faculty), as was online dangers and ethics and student devices. The strongest theme in the room was “control,” control of access and behavior.
We all have different definitions of Digital Citizenship. If you look at DigitalCitizenship.net, they will have a number of definitions and resources for you.
Matt states that at Providence Day, they realized that faculty/staff, students, and parents all needed to be engaged in the conversation about Digital Citizenship. All of the actors have different relationships with technological tools and resources from very savvy to luddite. When they engaged the community at Providence Day, they found that there was a sliding scale between “Appropriate Usage Policies” to “Appropriate Usage Guides.” So this was not a cause and effect punishment type model. Instead, they focus on guiding and then dealing with consequences as necessary. They wanted to provide the community with a common language, so that they could have meaningful conversations. They also wanted to engage the community with programming and resources. They also wanted to make the experience and discussion positive. This is moving away from an an Appropriate Usage Policy model and moving more towards guides. I’m a fan of getting away from “stranger danger” and “danger-tale” stories. Scare tactics may work in the short-term, but they aren’t effective in the long term and do not teach student’s necessary skills.
By bringing parents into the discussion, they could draw on the community to engage students both on and off campus. With a common language, they were able to have more meaningful conversations. When tough discussions had to happen, they could do it effectively. Also, use non-technical language so that it is accessible to those who are slick and savvy or those just getting acquainted with the digital world.
In addition to discussion, they put together an iTunesU iBook. This brought together a series of resources to have discussions or engage activities, geared towards appropriate grade level. Derek is quick to point out that this is not a curriculum, it is a teacher resource. For parents, they recommend “Parenting in the Digital Age.” This was created and curated by Matt and provides resources for parents to engage with their children at home and so that they have the power to engage students.
Earlier this week I caught up with an old friend over coffee. She looked uncomfortable and said she wanted to talk to me about something that was concerning to her. She cleared her throat and said, “I just want you to know that it’s really easy to find out information about you on the internet.” At first I was alarmed, was there a rumor about me? A nasty message by a former student? No, she said, “I just put ‘Jennifer,’ ‘Miami,’ and ‘Teacher’ in Google and I was able to find out a lot of information about you – where you work, your job title, articles you’ve written, conferences you go to, even your blog!” I asked her if there was anything concerning or bad and she said no, just that someone could easily find out information on me on with a quick Google search and that was dangerous. “Why do you think it’s dangerous?” I asked… “Well, some crazy could hunt you down!” “I suppose,” I replied, “but they could do that before the internet.”
Building a Digital Footprint
I have to admit, when she told me this I wasn’t alarmed, I was excited. You see I spend a lot of time and energy trying to educate people in education about the power of self-branding on the Internet, especially using social media. This is what we call a Digital Footprint (essentially what comes up about you when someone does a google search). There are two ways that you build a Digital Footprint:
- Through content written and published about you by other people (over which you have little or no control).
- Content that you create and publish (that you fully control).
Clearly, I am an advocate of the latter. Your profile via google has become more important in the last five years than your actual resume or even referrals from previous employers and friends. Think about it, when was the last time you googled a potential employee, a speaker, an author, a potential date? Have you ever made decisions about that person based on what you found? Like most people, your answer is probably yes.
Building a positive Digital Footprint can have a profound impact on your personal life and career. As such, you should be cultivating and crafting it the same way you would a published resume – perhaps even more so (it is more enduring). By intentionally publishing material and content (such as writing and publishing a blog, creating and publishing media content, and meaningfully contributing to public forums) you are crafting your public image and shaping what potential employers and clients see when they enter your name into a search engine.
As use of the Internet has increased, we have become hyper-aware of “stranger danger.” We have been inundated with horror stories of activities online gone awry. While I certainly do not advocate that people publish their private phone numbers, social security numbers, home addresses, or work schedules, it is important to recognize that stranger danger has become a red herring in digital footprints, especially in the realm of social media.
Can anyone with access to the Internet and my name find me online? Absolutely they can. Can they track me down and kidnap me? Possibly, with a great deal of concerted effort. However, this type of information is nothing new. Remember the olden
days of phone booths and phonebooks? If you’re like me, now that phonebook goes from my porch straight into the recycling bin! Back in the days before the information highway and smartphones, phone booths could be found all over the country (and in some pretty terrible neighborhoods). Inside each of those was a thick book filled with names and addresses. In fact, one of my favorite movies from the 80’s, Terminator highlighted this fact when Arnold Shwarzanegger was tracking down Sarah Connor. Unsure of which Sarah Connor was the correct one, he tracked them down one by one, executing each as he went. While a dramatized (and plausible) action, this didn’t actually happen in the 80’s in spite of the rampant placement of phonebooks throughout the country
So be cautious with your data? Absolutely! Be overly paranoid and protective of it? No! Keep in mind that you will have content about you posted online eventually – do you want it to feature your accomplishments in your career or that embarrassing photo that your frat brother thought would be funny to put on Facebook?
This is the end of Digital Citizenship Week. Edutopia, one of the best resources for educational technology, has gathered an excellent repository of resources, stories, and lesson plans to help you and your students become positive digital citizens. The topics they cover include: internet safety, cyberbullying, digital responsibility, media & digital literacy, and more! Check out their full list here.
This is re-blogged from my article at PLP Voices.
How to Gain Parent Buy-In for Classroom Technology Integration
It’s not uncommon for the parent of a struggling child to be on the phone with you asking questions like: “Why do you need to use technology to teach math/social studies/English/biology?” or “This is an AP history class — not computer science!”
Your efforts to engage students and develop important 21st century skills can become the scapegoat explanation for problems that have nothing to do with tech.
So, how do we as educators get these parents into our corner? Here are some strategies I’ve used successfully to gain parent buy-in.
The first time that parents hear about technology use in the classroom should not be when that child goes home with a tech-related assignment in hand. Instead, start early. “Back to School Night” is a great time to introduce the concept of technology integration to parents. You don’t need to go into detail: a few words about the importance of technology in the “real world” and the opportunity it allows for collaboration and communication can be enough to get parents excited. This can also be a great time to introduce them to digital citizenship anddigital portfolios.
Using creative hardware and software, students learn to adapt to different tools, harness social media, solve challenging problems, overcome obstacles, and showcase their knowledge and cutting edge skills.
While a parent might balk at their child learning to “make a movie,” they all want their child to develop core skill-sets that will help them both in school and “the real world” of college and careers.
Keep Up the Communication
At the start of every new project, send a note out to parents about what you will be doing in your classroom, including your technology plans. Outline the skills that their student will be developing and be sure to invite questions and promise follow-up. Most parents like to stay in the loop and know what’s happening in the classroom. Trust me, they will appreciate the effort. Most important: keep it brief! A short email of just a few lines is more likely to be read than a two-page treatise on pedagogical theory. Just keep it simple and to the point.
Be open to sending parents your project instructions and any rubric you will use to assess their child’s work. Like it or not, parents care about grades. If you can show them what you will be looking for and exactly how their student will be graded, they’ll feel more comfortable with the project as a whole.
Enlist the Aid of Your Administrators
Bring administration into the loop. As much as it may bother teachers, parents will often go to administrators first with any concerns about your classroom. If your principal knows about the assignment, the learning objectives, the grading rubric, and the pedagogical theory behind your approach, they will have your back with the parents. This can only work to your advantage as you push beyond traditional models of teaching.
Provide a Lot of Time in Class
Not all students have access to a computer or the Internet at home. Provide as much time in class to work on the assignment as possible. Not only will this limit their out-of-class work, it will make you readily available to students who are struggling with the nuts and bolts of their assignments. Parents are more likely to feel okay with a project if they know their child has a lot of face time with their teacher.
Don’t Grade “the Tech”
Whatever rubric you develop, make sure that you aren’t grading “the tech.” Focus on the skills they develop, the effort they make, the research they do, etc. A student with a lot of fancy equipment and know-how will produce a more polished product than a student with virtually no resources who is developing new skills.
And focus on “traditional” skills as well as new and innovative ones. Grade appropriately, but grade the skills and development, not the bells and whistles.
Follow Up with Parents
Keep parents in the loop throughout the year. If their child has just finished an impressive project, drop them a note and suggest that they sit down to see the finished product with their child. Even the most reluctant parents tend to be excited when they see the work their student has produced.
Even if you follow all of these steps to the T, you likely won’t get 100% of parents to buy into your digitally infused pedagogy. This is where the teamwork mindset you develop with your administration can become a true asset, as you present a united front to parents about the valuable education their child is receiving in your technology-savvy classroom. Often, even the most reluctant parent can be brought around if they can be convinced that educators in their school are making well-thought-out decisions with the best interests of their child in mind.
Photo 1: Talladega County Schools
Photo 2: Creative Commons
Photo 3: Bigstock
Almost everyone has a story of getting burned (or knowing someone who was burned) by a posting on Facebook. Today I highlight “FaceWash,” a tool that will scour through you Facebook timeline to find content that may be inappropriate or you would want to remove. It will look through status updates, photos you have posted, photos you are tagged in, and comments on your wall.
The tool was surprisingly fast and searched through content at lightning speed. You can use its default “dirty word” list and even make your own (want to remove all traces of your ex, or a bad comment about your boss?). I did find its word list to be a bit overly sensitive. For example, a “Like” I had made on a local college production of the Vagina Monologues was flagged as was an article I “Liked” about Breast Cancer.
If you use Facebook professionally or just want to ensure that nothing on there is incriminating, check out FaceWash. It’s an excellent, free application.