Learning To See Digital Citizenship As An Essential & Non-Avoidable Aspect Of Our Lives…Kind Of Like Laundry…..

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This week’s readings were extremely thought-provoking for me. Before I delve into my inner discoveries I want to take a moment to address new extensions that I used to do these readings. The other day in class I was talking with my fellow peers about how useful podcasts are, and how we wish more readings could be done as podcasts, allowing us to walk our dogs etc or for me I really appreciate the chance to fold the never-ending mountain of laundry.

Pile of unfolded laundry with a cat sleeping in the middle of it.
“Alexander Hamilton helping with my chores at work” by Kerri Lee Smith is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Thanks to a fellow classmate who shared on Twitter an article on useful extensions, I was able to get the google extension Podcastle and give it a whirl. I highly enjoyed this as it actually made a music track of the reading so that it could be sent to your I tunes playlist etc, and then listened to at a later date. Here is a link to the podcast it created for Character Education for the Digital Age, by Jason Ohler. I also used this extension for The IRL Fetish, and I really enjoyed this extension and found the voice to be more real than most other text-to-voice extensions.

Both of these articles have really made me think about my views and approach to parenting in regards to the rules, limits and education regarding technology. I have always tried to allow my children the use of technology, yet always with limits and safeguards in place. While this strategy is helpful in protecting them to some extent I have been forced to realize that it is not in fact educating them on how to self-regulate. I used to laugh at other parents who would not allow their kids any or very limited access to the internet and social media, stating that they were not doing their kids any favours as eventually, they will have access and not know how to use it responsibly. Fast forward a few years and my pre-teen ended up getting into a bad situation online, and perhaps we had become too complacent and too trusting in both our children and the online world. As I believe that any parent would, you go into lockdown mode.

a cat behind the bars of its cage
“Jail Kitty” by phphoto2010 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

I became obsessed with parental apps and being able to lock down what she can and cannot access. It is a daily struggle as she nears becoming a full-blown teenager, I realize that her technology smarts and access will almost always outsmart mine. These articles have really made me stop and think about the fact that there is no separating “non-online” life from online life. In our world, the two must go hand in hand. So who’s responsibility is it to teach this way of life to our youth? I think it is both the parent’s and the school’s job to teach this to our children. However I think that the schools and the teachers have a very special role to play in this. For anyone who has children, you know that what a teacher, or anyone else for that matter, tells your child is often taken more seriously than if spoken by a parent. Especially in this area where kids often write off their parents as being lame or overprotective. The other reason that it is extremely important that these skills be taught in school is the fact that not all students have equal access to technology, whether it be a circumstance of the economic family situation (not every family can afford a lot of technology devices or internet at home), or parental control (not every parent has varying degrees of monitoring and or allowing the use of devices). I believe that answer to this is to teach our students from kinder garden on, in cross-curricular ways the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. This point I have just stated fits into the 1st element of digital access.

Screen shot of the 9 elements to digital citizenship presented in the article.
Screen shot of the 9 elements to digital citizenship presented in the article.

The best-suited subjects suitable for cross-curricular teaching of these elements would be English, Health and Social Studies. I believe that these subjects along with these elements are best taught in a cross-curricular way, instead of being separated into individual lessons and units. I really love the idea of a classroom blog, where students can share their work and learn to give good peer feedback as well. When we look at the English outcomes there is so much to do with identity, community and social responsibility. Each of these areas is inherently a cross-curricular opportunity for health and social studies, so why not also allow them to complete this work with digital technology.

Q- What is your best cross-curricular idea for incorporating digital citizenship into the everyday classroom?

Screen shot of the Grade 4 English Curriculum CR4.1
Screen shot of the Grade 4 English Curriculum CR4.1

There are two other parts of this idea of a classroom blog that I love:

First off it is differentiated instruction at its best. Students can be given the opportunities to express themselves and their understandings through multi-media sources, or by also accessing the aids of extensions and or apps without being singled out as needing it. For example, my daughter suffers from a learning disability and has a school-approved I pad and alternate ways to complete assignments. However, doing so singles her out as not being as smart or capable or just different. As a result, she often chooses to forgo the utilization of these aids and completed the assignments in the same form as her classmates. Unfortunately, this means she gets lower grades as she can not show her true understanding in these ways.

Q- Do you support choice in student assignments, both topic and means of communication?

Secondly, the opportunity for peers to engage in and receive formative feedback from peers and teachers is unlike no other experience. Teachers can use the format of 3 stars and a wish to help guide students on effective peer feedback. Teaching students how to give feedback directly opens up discussions and learning about digital health and welfare.

Q- What are your tips for encouraging positive peer feedback?

Two possible road blocks to this are:

  1. Parental Consent/School regulations. I know at my children’s school they have very strict rules around what is allowed in so far as students work and pictures being posted online. This could present complications.
  2. School access to technology. Many schools have limited access to iPads or computers, where classes need to sign up weeks in advance to be able to use the devices for 1 period. This would make using a classroom blog as a source for many periods a day impossible. This limited use of the devices also refrains the students from having the time to practice their skills.

Q- What other roadblocks do you for-see a teacher encountering in implementing a classroom blog?

Creating and using a classroom blog allows students to learn and practice and build on all the 9 elements in an integrated and cross-curricular way. By teaching these elements in school is ensures that all students have equal access to this learning which is detrimental to their future safety and success.

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