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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From ICT to Computer Studies

Last year at Saint Maur, the Technology Department decided that, starting in the 2012 – 2013 school year, we would offer the IGCSE Computer Studies course to grades 9 and 10 instead of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) course – the course we were offering at the time.

In the ICT course, students learn to manipulate a typical office suite (i.e. word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, web design and database software.) We were finding, however, that students taking the course at Saint Maur already possessed half, if not all of these skills. We needed to find a more challenging technology curriculum for grades 9 and 10.

In addition to this, we’ve noticed a real interest in computer programming from the students who frequent the Mac Lab everyday and computer programming simply can’t be learnt through the ICT course.

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The Computer Studies course is quite different to ICT in that it doesn’t prescribe a particular type of software that needs to be mastered. Rather, it places emphasis on the Systems Design Cycle (some times referred to as simply the Design Cycle) and leaves it up to the individual classrooms to decide the software or programming languages they will learn.

This year, we will be teaching Computer Studies through a number of software development projects using the Java-based Greenfoot development environment. (If you are interested in finding out more about Greenfoot, start by visiting the official website at www.greenfoot.org.) We are all very excited here in the Technology Department at the prospect of students developing their own games and simulations.

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NETS Revisited

What I’ve Been Reading:

This Week’s Question:

  • Whose job is it to teach the NETS standards to students and how do we ensure they are being met in an integrated model?

Next school year, my role within the school will be changing. I will continue teaching IGCSE Computer Studies to Grades 9 and 10 and math to Grade 7, but will be relieved of my elementary technology classes so that I can become a technology coach.

I’m over the moon with the decision because COETAIL has directly and indirectly introduced me to some great ideas for technology integration in the classroom and I want to share these ideas with the teachers at my school. And being a technology coach will enable me to do this.

Anyway, enough about me – on with the post.

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So whose job is it to teach the NETS standards to students?

Well, next year, at my school, I’m pretty sure this responsibility will fall onto myself and the teachers I coach.

Do I think this approach should be adopted by other schools?

Well, I don’t know. I’ll be able to give you an answer to that next year. But, in theory, I like this approach. Because anyone that expects a teacher to go out there and get familiar with a bunch of different technologies and then get familiar with the NETS standards, in addition to teaching their regular load, in my opinion, is expecting too much. (COETAILers, I’m not talking about you. You guys are special.)

The technology coach helps bridge the gap between teachers, their classrooms, and, ultimately, the NETS standards.

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Teachers, Students and Tech Standards

What I’ve Been Reading:

This Week’s Question:

  • How can teachers and schools ensure that students are meeting technology standards in their school within an integrated model?

First, wow, these questions (the ones for Course 4) are tough! Really tough. They’ve definitely gone up a level.

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Straight into It
Ensuring students are meeting technology standards, as you might expect, is no easy task. There are a number of pre-requisites that need to be satisfied before students can start meeting technology standards.

I want to stop here, just for a moment. I’m interpreting this question in two ways. The first interpretation goes like this: what needs to be in place to ensure students can meet technology standards? And the second interpretation goes a little like this: how can teachers and schools assess whether technology standards are being met by their students?

When I began this post, I was thinking more the first way. But now, I’m thinking more the second way. I might just try answering both questions.

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One thing that I feel needs to be in place before students can start meeting technology standards (like NETS) is that teachers are meeting the standards. Is this a given? Am I just writing about the obvious? I really don’t know.

How are we as teachers expected to measure the degree to which a student has met a technology standard if we ourselves don’t fully understand the standard?

I just want to add here that I understand that there are NETS for students and NETS for teachers. What I’m trying to say is that teachers, ideally, should be meeting both.

Without really meaning to, I’ve realised my answer to the first question (the first interpretation) could also be used to answer the second question. How can teachers and schools assess whether technology standards are being met by their students? Well, having a teaching faculty that already meets those technology standards is a start.

How About Through TPACK (Ensuring Students Are Meeting Technology Standards)?
I didn’t make the connection between this week’s driving question and TPACK until just now.

Drawing up a TPACK diagram for a unit (even for a course) is one way of ensuring that units are aligned with technology standards – that units are providing students with learning experiences that enable them to meet technology standards.

I need to gain more experience with TPACK usage before I can comment on their effectiveness and thoroughness.

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