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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Writing for the Web

What I’ve Been Reading:

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In this post, I’m going to reflect on a few questions that came up while I was reading Agger’s article on visual literacy. I will also look at a couple of interesting points that he brought up (if patience allows).

Short Sentence Fragments?
Leaves the Reader Asking a Few Questions

In the article, we’re told that we should use short sentence fragments when writing online. But what are short sentence fragments? (English definitely wasn’t one of my stronger subjects back in school.)

According to this site, a sentence fragment is an incomplete sentence and because of this “incompleteness” leaves the reader asking a few questions.

Let me think of a sentence fragment to start this block of text with…

Got it. (Check above.)

I know it’s a sentence fragment because it triggers the question “What leaves the reader asking a few questions?”

It’s definitely harder than it looks. (There’s one right there.) Coming up with sentence fragments that is.

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When Writing Online, What’s the Ideal Paragraph Length?
I don’t know. Is it five sentences? Is it six?

This is another question I was left asking after reading Agger’s article.

According to Gerry McGovern, a website content development company, the ideal paragraph length when writing online is about 45 words. So what does 45 words look like? Well, the opening paragraph to this post is 37. And, by the time I’ve finished writing this sentence, this paragraph will be a little over 45 words.

Isn’t It the Easiest to Read?
One thing I definitely remember from back when I was studying computer science is that Times New Roman is supposed to be the easiest font to read.

In the article, Agger suggests using a font that’s been designed for screen reading and he gives Verdana, Trebuchet and Georgia as examples.

So which one is it? What font should I be using?

The consensus seems to be that if you’re writing for the Web only then you should use a sans-serif font like Verdana or Trebuchet. And that if you’re writing something that is going to be eventually printed, then you should use a serif font like Times New Roman.

Once I’ve published this post, I’m going to change my WordPress theme to one that employs a sans-serif font.

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