Developing Active & Engaged (Real & Digital) Citizens

Our role as educators and educational leaders is constantly evolving, especially when it comes to technology. We currently work with students that are more in tune with technology than the previous generation, and I believe that will continue year after year. To help better understand this technological advancement through my time in education, I return to a few glimpses in my own brain, not my digital one:


I can remember it like it was 2005. My parents added me to their family plan and let me pick out a beautiful Nokia flip phone. It took me a few days to get accustomed to the T9 Technology. I tried texting my friends during class, but it was so challenging, and my teachers did not allow us to have our phones in class. So, it was more a novelty to have my shiny new device rather than a tool to improve my learning in school.


Fast forward to 2012. I was in my second year of teaching and attended a “lunch and learn” about Google Drive. Wow, my brain was sore trying to comprehend the world of the cloud. But what an opportunity to collaborate and share resources with other teachers. This became, and has continued to be, my digital brain for the next decade. I have shared documents, pictures, folders, etc. with former interns, current colleagues, friends, family, and even my counselor. Sometimes I wonder how all of this works, so I google it (or ask my Google Homes), which is 99% of the time the answer to my questions.


Year 4 of my teaching career, 2015, another “Lunch and Learn”.

So… let me get this straight? Google now has a program that acts as a classroom hub for all of your lessons, activities, assignments, and projects? It allows you to communicate with parents and students? Okay sure, but classrooms can’t be paperless, right? WRONG.

I certainly learned quickly how the advancing technology in our world was finding ways to support education, improve learning opportunities for students, but also multiply the challenges with communication, organization, and technological literacy. I felt like it was going to instantly triple my productivity 

For many students, I remember Google Classroom was more of a distraction for them, and it was mostly because I did not understand its full capabilities. I dove back into one of my archived classes from that first year of running the application, and it was clear I was not entirely sure what I was doing. Now, in year 12, post-pandemic and online learning, I am still discovering more and more about what Google Classroom can do for students, but also working on how it can be used as a tool and not a distraction within my classroom.


We know that technology will be more and more ingrained into our everyday lives as we continue on our current path. This journey requires us as educators to be mindful of how we can support students to become positive, active, engaged real and digital citizens. 

As an aspiring educational leader/administrator, I am reminded of the many challenges that we face in protecting students’ safety and promoting positive digital behaviours. This article by OSAPAC is a nice place to start. 

It will be important for school leaders to build into their mission and vision a focus on using technology for educational purposes that help students build skills and capacity, rather than cut corners. Also, we must continue to expand students’ understanding of their actions as digital humans that can negatively impact others and cause major harm. As mentioned in last week’s lecture, we want students to act digitally in a way that they would act in person. 

Along with supporting students, educational leaders will need to support teachers in building capacity for new technological advancements and ways to educate students. Collaborating to solve challenges with AI and cyberbullying (to name a couple), working with division mandated applications in a way that best supports teaching and learning, and providing equitable technological opportunities for all students.

We as educators need to be positive role models for our students, by encouraging them to speak out and collaborate digitally in positive ways. We must show students how this is done. We need to be willing to learn from our students about the new world of technology, but then reteach and guide them in how technology can be used to create a stronger more respectful generation of students!


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