The Need for Digital Citizenship Education

This week, we began rolling out our one-to-one pilot project at Saint Maur International School. Every student in Grades 6 and 7 now has a school-owned iPad that must be brought to school everyday fully charged. To my surprise, the project took off rather smoothly. I didn’t have half the number of student visits to the Systems Room as I had expected. However, as with anything that is new and largely unknown, a couple of problems did arise. First, a concern was voiced by a parent that potentially there could be times when student use of the Internet goes unsupervised. And this is true. Secondly, on the first or second day of the pilot, a student emailed another student under the guise of another student. I haven’t had the time yet to work out how exactly the student was able to do this, but my first thought is that they discovered the Settings tab in the email client. These events led me to the realisation that for the continued success of a one-to-one program in a school, three things are paramount: policies, digital citizenship education for students and digital citizenship education for teachers.

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Digital Citizenship Education for Students
I’m not going to delve into why there is a need for policies (I’m also referring to usage agreements when I say policies) in a one-to-one program as I think the reasons are fairly obvious.

I realised this week that not enough was being done in terms of digital citizenship education for the students at my school. Nowadays, regardless of whether the school is one-to-one or not, all students should be learning about Internet safety, privacy and security, cyberbullying, and digital footprint and reputation (to name a few of the issues that fall under digital citizenship.) Let’s take digital footprint for example. We are simply not preparing our students for the future if we are not teaching them about digital footprint management now.

If I were a parent, I would feel a whole lot more at ease with a one-to-one program knowing that not only are there policies in place but there is student education on how to responsibly use technology too.

(While searching for more information about digital citizenship this week, I came across a ready-to-go free K-12 curriculum that specifically deals with digital citizenship.)

Digital Citizenship Education for Teachers
Digital citizenship education needs to be a faculty effort, that way the setting of double standards is avoided. Also, if it’s a faculty effort, a clear message is sent to the students about the importance of digital citizenship. For these reasons, it is important that not only students but teachers too are educated about digital citizenship.

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Looking Back on Course 3

The Workshop with Andrew Churches and Kim Cofino
One of the big things that I left this workshop with was the project plan (and assessment rubric) that my group wrote up and the subsequent project that we implemented.

My team was made up of three science teachers, one mathematics teacher and me, an IT teacher. Two of the science teachers taught chemistry and the other taught biology. Anyway, as you might expect, our project was chemistry-related.

I just want to insert here that I’ve never studied chemistry before.

After we were all given the green light to begin our projects, one of the chemistry teachers threw out (onto the table) chemical bonding as a possible topic on top of which we could base our project. I had never heard of chemical bonding before in my life.

After a couple of laughs and a bit of discussion, it was decided: chemical bonding was to be the topic.

I’m going to stop here on this thread. But, before I do, I just want to mention that the project plan, in its current form, really isn’t of much use to me and my students, as we study technology. So, when I get the time, I think I’m going to spawn a new version of the plan. In this new version, the topic being dealt with will be computer networks; specifically, the different types of topologies (and maybe protocols.)

I’ve embedded at the bottom of this post the project plan that we came up with.

More Reflection
I’ve been introduced to a variety of social media in Course 3 that I’ve never encountered before. Digital stories and infographics are two of these. Both are powerful ideas. (To read about how I plan on integrating digital stories and inforgraphics into the classroom, please refer to my posts below.)

Course 3 also introduced me to the idea of visual literacy for the very first time. Wow. What an incredibly important ability (is that the right word?) visual literacy is.

As a result of all the visual literacy reading we had to do, I’ve changed the way I blog. I’ve changed the way I take pictures. I’ve changed the way I make presentations. I’ve also changed my mind on what I regard as a beautiful blog, what I regard as a beautiful presentation and so on.

Bring on Course 4!


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Storytelling in the Modern Age

What I’ve Been Reading:

This week, I’ve been reading about digital storytelling and, I must say, the idea is very cool. In this post, I’m going to look at how I could use digital storytelling in my classroom. I’m also going to look at a few questions that popped up while doing the readings.

Crystal Phoenix

Do Digital Stories Need to Be Personal?
What I mean is, if I were to make a digital story, would it have to be about me? My Grade 4s have just finished a unit on the Aztecs. If they were to make videos about the lives of the Aztecs, would these be regarded as digital stories?

The answer to all these questions is: digital stories can be about anything.

Here, for example, is a digital story about the great mathematician, Pythagoras.

And, here, for example, is a bunch of digital stories about the lives of those involved in organ donation.

Where Could Digital Stories Be Used in My Classroom?
My grade 4 technology class are about to finish a project on the Aztecs that’s taken about six weeks to complete. (I see the class once a week.) They’ve made a bunch of awesome posters using research they did in their homerooms.

The posters are all quite different. Some students chose to base their poster on the games that the Aztecs used to play. Others chose to write about (present?) the various roles that used to exist within Aztec society.

Back to the Question
I’m thinking the next time we do this project, instead of making posters, what about making digital stories?

PowerPoint, iMovie, Movie Maker and even VoiceThread are all tools the students could use to to bring their digital story ideas to life.

One thing I like about digital stories that posters simply can’t offer is sound. And from doing COETAIL for nine months, I’ve come to realise that, in digital media today, sound is integral.

Closing Remarks
Here are some guidelines for digital storytelling that I’ll be sure to follow in the future when making digital stories with my classes:

  • Digital stories can be instructional, persuasive, historical or reflective. Digital stories can be about anything.
  • Digital storytelling is best suited to the individual.
  • Digital stories are typically between two and four minutes in length.

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