Creators & Sharers

The open education movement allows access to education on the internet. By allowing open access, we are breaking down the four walls of the classroom, allowing the marginalized to access education, and becoming a global community of learners, sharers, and creaters. Over the past few years there has been increasing popularity in creating open-access of academic journals, people participating and contributing to MOOCs, and information activism. By supporting the open education movement, we are breaking down financial barriers and progressing towards equal access for all learners. In order to continue this movement, it is important to teach our students to not only be consumers of digital content, but also creators and sharers.

Why Open Education Matters from Blink Tower on Vimeo.

Often it is assumed that because students are young, they are digital natives; however, they need to explicitly be taught digital citizenship. One of the key components to digital citizenship is understanding that other people have created and own content that is posted online and it is important to attribute their work appropriately. This can be started at a very young age by just writing the author and title of a book and it will grow from there. As well, students should know the difference between copying, remixing, creating, and sharing whilst developing the skills of content curation and how to use creative commons.

 

Share, Remix, Reuse: Creative Commons in Your Library from lkstrohecker

 

Below you will find a lesson to use as a starting point to introducing your students to creating and sharing online using creative commons. The lesson is aligned with the Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Continuum.

Knowledge: What will students understand?

  • Other people created and own the content that is posted online.
  • There are various ways of organizing information and we need to learn skills to find the information we are looking for. o I cannot believe everything that I find online.

Skills: What will students be able to do?

  • Search for copyright free images on appropriate websites and name their source.
  • Navigate appropriate websites as provided by the teacher.
  • Tell an adult if they find content online that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Creating and sharing are important components of transliteracy and digital citizenship as they give learning a purpose, an audience, and allow for connections. Through creating and sharing students should appreciate literature in all media forms. It is important not to get distracted by the “bells and whistles” of things and to remember your purpose. If we work together to achieve open access, we are working towards social justice.

creative commons
Creative Commons via Transliterate Librarians

 

 

Fear not.

I am feeling some of the same feelings I had last semester. I left EC&I 832 feeling digitally literate and confident with my ability to teach digital citizenship, but this week I was thrown a curve ball! I was introduced to many new social media sites and tools. I had heard about a few of these sites, but never really knew what they were, nor had the curiosity to check out.

SOCIAL MEDIA
Photo Credit: filipinooutsourcers via Compfight cc

Many of these sites, such as YikYak and 4chan, allow users to comment and participate anonymously. Nima Naimi says the anonymity offered by the app may lead to a lack of empathy and users saying things that they wouldn’t normally say in person. Participants in these communities can say and do almost anything they want without being accountable. So we should ban them and rid the internet of these sites, right?

Young people are also turning to the internet and social media to cyber self-harm. Students are inflicting psychological self-harm on sites such as Reddit, Ask FM, and Tumblr. They do this by creating fake online identities to attack themselves and inviting strangers to do the same. They may be doing it to finally open the conversation so they can get the help and support they need, they may be experiencing a mental health disorder and this is the most suiting outlet for them, maybe it is low self-esteem or depression. Needless to say, this is a growing issue and is impacting more and more teens and youth. So we should ban them and rid the internet of these sites, right?

Teens and students are also being exposed to porn and explicit images at younger ages. All you need is one kid in the playground going looking for the bad stuff and every kid sees it. Students are seeing stuff on the internet that they are unable to process and are confused about. Furthermore, one student can expose many others to these online searches. For example, just this past week at school we found in the search history on one of our shared tablets “porn” and some other explicative searches. Unfortunately, since this is a shared tablet and doesn’t require a log-in we were unable to find out who (out of the 3 classrooms using the tablet) was performing this search. So we should ban them and build restrictive firewalls of these sites, right?

The answer to all the above questions is NO. Of course we have to be aware of the complicated and sometimes complex issues that may come from these sites, but at the same time there is a bigger picture. How do we teach our students to be empathetic in online spaces? How do we combat issues such as cyber self-harm and cyber-bullying? How do we help kids cope with a digital deluge of inappropriate images?

The answer is not by shoving it under the rug and pretending it is not an issue. The answer is also not by banning students from using the internet and restricting all access. The answer is by teaching and modeling digital citizenship. If we don’t explicitly teach, keep the conversations open, and talk about the issues, we are leaving students to figure out these complicated and complex issues on their own. Something they may not be capable of doing at this point in time.

To be honest, I was quite shocked to hear of some of the popular sites and things available on the internet (even though I consider myself as quite tech savvy). I am thankful for this course and my learning project as it has given me a purpose to:

“Download it, try it, poke around, see how it works, see the kinds of things that are being posted,” he suggested. “And that’s just going to help you have a better understanding and open up a dialogue with kids.” – Dan Misener via CBC News

 

 

The tool may change, but the issues remain the same.

“If you’re going to ignore social media in the classroom, then throw out the ISTE Standards for Students and stop pretending that you’re 21st century.” – Vicki Davis

In A Guidebook for Using Social Media in the Classroom, Vicki Davis lists a bunch of hypothetical questions regarding letter writing, e-mails, and social media. I wonder if these were actual concerns for teachers when they thought about letter writing and establishing pen pals. If I think back to when I was in school, I actually think this was a concern. I remember writing letters in my Operation Christmas Child Shoebox and was told not to put any specific details about my identity (address, last name, etc.) in my letter. However, this form of writing was very powerful and since I am talking about it right now, it definitely had an impact on me.

media
Jason Howle via https://flic.kr/p/e5wZ3t

The “fear” of taking learning outside of the 4 walls of the classroom has always been there. There are risks in everything we do. We cannot allow the “fears” of using social media in the classroom outweigh the benefits. Students will be exposed to social media and engage and create a mediated online identity whether or not we include social media in the classroom. It is our job to help them become digital citizens and digital leaders. As Vanessa said, “the use of social media in the classroom can and should be promising. Like the calculator though, unless students are taught how to use it effectively (as students), it has the potential of becoming problematic.”

Many kids are leaving social networks and transitioning out of broadcast social media (Facebook and Twitter) and switching to narrowcast tools (Messengers and Snapchat). They are personalizing their social media experience and prefer to share more transient posts with their closest friends rather than portraying a sanitized split life. Some 13-year-olds check social media 100 times a day, when they are not posting on social media, they are lurking. With that being said, I am sure the tool in which students use to participate will continue to change, but the social lives of networked teens will continue to encounter complicated and complex issues.

Students will participate in social media either way… How can we harness the power of social media in our schools? How can we teach students to use social media effectively? Why is it so important for us to explicitly address the complicated and complex issues of social media?

There are many risks and benefits of allowing children going online, as teachers and parents it is our job to model and teach students how to participate online appropriately. We cannot ignore social media in the classroom, in the school, and the impact it has on our students lives.

 

A summary of my learning, but the beginning of my journey

I came into this course feeling confident in my ability to teach and model digital citizenship; however, as the weeks went on, I realized there was a lot for me to learn! During the past few months in this course we have explored a large number of topics related to digital citizenship and the complex nature of how our digital world impacts identity. We explored the interconnectedness of media literacy, online identity, and how to be responsible citizens in our global networks and society.

During Module 1, we were introduced to media literacy, looking at the foundational theories in media education and the implications of our views of media literacy and digital citizenship in education. In the past there was this idea that we had two separate identities, one in the online world and one in the offline world. However, as our participation in digital culture and media has evolved, we are moving away from the term digital dualism to the term augmented reality as a way to describe how our digital world shapes everything from our relationships to the way we view the world.  The idea that we never fully log off impacts our responsibility as educators to teach and model digital citizenship in schools and how we can challenge students to become digital citizens and leaders.

Module 2 explored identity and citizenship in a mediated culture. We looked at what it means to be a (digital) citizen. The reason I have digital in brackets is because as we live in an augmented reality and our online identity directly impacts our offline identity and vice-versa. Even though we may portray an edited version of our self online, it is still impacting us socially, emotionally, and  psychologically. We looked at stories such as, One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life, Split Image, and The Sextortion of Amanda Todd which identified the challenges of identity in a mediated world.  We need to be aware of our identity in both online and offline spaces. We are living in a world where everything we do is immortalized on the web, and what may be a silly mistake is no longer forgotten. danah boyd notes that our participation in mediated publics affects us in unique ways such four properties:

  1. Persistence : what you say sticks around.
  2. Searchability: what we do and where we go can be searched.
  3. Replicability: content is copyable, so it is difficult to determine if it has been doctored.
  4. Scalability: Our potential audience is grand.

Our mediated publics are also impacted by three dynamics:

  1. Invisible audiences: not all audiences are visible when a person is contributing online, nor are they necessarily co-present
  2. Collapsed contexts: The lack of spatial, social, and temporal boundaries makes it difficult to maintain distinct social contexts.
  3. The blurring of public and private: without control over context, the idea of public and private become lost too.

As the context of our online identity is open to interpretation by others and is everlasting, it is extremely important to portray yourself the way you want to be remembered. With that being said, it is also important to model empathy and encourage our students, parents, administrators, and society to be empathetic to mistakes made online. Key ways to model and teach citizenship were explored though Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship and Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Continuum.

Module 3 pulled the prior knowledge we gained from module 1 and 2 together looking at media and our students. We looked at the new and emerging literacies and their impact on future work skills and how we should be teaching to the 21st century learner. Additionally, we looked at the social learning theory and participatory culture in literacy. This course has pushed me to publish my thoughts and ideas and to contribute to a learning community, which was sometimes uncomfortable. However, this push has challenged me to be a more critical thinker, produce better products in my reflections, and both learn and contribute to my PLN (something I had been slacking at prior to this course). I have gained more from this course and being connected with others than I have in prior courses in my graduate classes and I think this due to me creating and sharing with others and learning from others in the course. One of the best learning tools in this course, was my reflections on my blog. It was nice to have guidance on key topics, but also the freedom to dig deeper into topics of interest.

In addition to the modules, reflections, and connections made in my PLN, I was able to create a website for Teacher Librarians for my major project.  The role of the Teacher Librarian is changing. TLs are no longer the keepers of information, but rather media specialists and educational leaders. TLs collaborate with other teachers to implement engaging and innovative technologies, engage students in inquiry based learning, and to teach students how to use technology as responsible digital citizens. The purpose of the website is to provide a comprehensive resource for TLs and teachers that includes lessons and resources on the four domains of what TLs teach according to Joyce Valenza and Gwyenth Jones.  The website includes teacher resources on inquiry and research, evaluating resources, creating and sharing, and digital citizenship. My major project follows the lesson plan format from our Educational Technology team in RCSD. It is my hope that this project will continue to grow and develop with input from other TLs within our school division.

As I said earlier, I came into the course feeling confident in my ability to teach and model digital citizenship. However I leave this course feeling renewed and refreshed in my commitment to being a digital leader in my school and society. Teachers need to shift their view from the “I should…” to the “How can I?” thinking critically about how we can incorporate digital citizenship and leadership into our daily teachings. I am excited to continue to grow as a digital leader in my school, my PLN, and family. My impact may be small to start, but hopefully by modeling my own leadership, I can motivate someone teacher, student, family member to make a change and become a digital leader as well.

Thank you Alec and Katia and fellow EC&I 832 students for making this term a valuable one! I look forward to continued learning and growth with you in my PLN!

 

What does it mean to be literate?

As Doug Belshaw discusses in his TEDx talk on ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’, we need to move beyond elegant consumption. Students (and teachers) should not only consume information in the digital world, but also engage with it. Belshaw describes this as digital literacies, rather than digital literacy, as it is not a linear concept. We should shift our thinking to a spectrum of literacies, rather than viewing digital literacy as either basic, intermediate, or advanced. There are many different literacies and varying levels. I compare this to the idea of digital immigrants vs. digital residents.

“Digital literacies effect your identity because every time you’re given a new tool, it gives you a different way of impacting upon the world.” – Doug Belshaw

Belshaw states that there are eight elements of digital literacies as shown below. We should look as these literacies as fluid and dynamic and not forget about the remix.

Slide via Doug Belshaw
Slide via Doug Belshaw

How does this shift our view as educators? Rather than looking at students as being digitally literate, we should engage them with digital literacies. Which takes it beyond technological skills, to 21st century learners and thinkers. Amy posted this week about “Seeing the Big Picture.” In her post she talks about technology being an essential tool during the learning process where students use complex skills to find, create, and share their learning.

Ashley brought up many important questions this week in regards to preparing 21st century workers. She also questions herself on if she is creating 21st century learners and if she is preparing her students for a future career. This is something that is important to her as a high school teacher, in that she is preparing students for their next steps in life. She wants to use technology to enhance learning in her classroom and not for the sake of just using it, but she has hit some roadblocks in the past with strict device policies.

Why are we still hitting so many roadblocks? Are they fear based policies? How can we help students along the continuum of digital literacies when it is not authentic? How can we shift this thinking to use technology to not only enhance learning, but also transform learning?

The demands of a 21st century learner are changing the way teachers look at educating. 21st century learners are no longer expected to just be literate in reading and writing, but rather are faced with multiple literacies. Teachers should reflect on the demands of the 21st century learner and a good place to start is the NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment.

How do we meet the demands of the 21st century learner?

I giggles when I saw the Pencil Metaphor on Integrating Technology in schools. I think many of us in this course (and others who are actively thinking about integrating technology) find themselves on various parts of the pencil… even though we don’t want to admit it!

We all want to take the plunge to be a “leader” or a “sharp one,” but on the same level we have some fears. Fears of the unexpected, the troubles, push back, and management. But are we doing our students a disservice by not integrating technology? Technology has impacted education since forever and I am guessing throughout the process, there has been some fear when new and emerging technologies came into the picture. We need to see the challenges and take the plunge aware that some things may not go as planned, but that is part of the process. We are teachers in the 21st century and we need meet the demands of our 21st century learners.