Tag Archives: digital citizenship

3 Long Term Opportunities For Schools Today

After a conference, there is the thought that many need something they can do right away with students.  The demands of being a teacher, while also keep opportunities “fresh”, is something that lends to this way of thinking.  If you go to any conference, there will be a ton of “apps” shared of cool things you can do, but often times, the learning with this is more novelty than depth. Learning that empowers and makes an impact takes thoughtful leadership at all levels, as well as vision.  It also sometimes not only takes a “village”, but the vision of the village to come together.

With that being said, I have been focusing on some initiatives that are new(ish) in some schools, that will need communities to come together. Obviously, ideas like leadership and sharing mutual respect for others, as well as appreciating and celebrating both our similarities and differences, are crucial to our school environments.  Powerful learning does not happen in schools without a focus on relationships and community.

Here are three initiatives that will take time, effort, and community to make happen at the systemic level.

1. A focus on digital citizenship/leadership.  

Slide_WellGoogled

This above image created by Bill Ferriter, quoting Will Richardson, is one that has made a significant impact on my thinking.  I have often asked educators, if a fight broke out, which subject area teacher would deal with it? They look at me as if I am crazy, and then I mention that is much how we treat the notion of digital citizenship. This is on all of us.

I recently shared the idea of “3 Things Students Should Have Before They Leave High School“, but often remind educators that this is not something that starts in high school, but should be part of the fabric of our schools at all levels.  This is either in modelling or helping students create.  This is not to say that students all have to be using social media, but at least the option is there to ensure that the understand the implications of a positive, negative, or neutral footprint.

Stephen Downes commented on this idea, and I loved his thoughts:

I get the general idea, and support it, but I think the description is way too narrow. I’d rather see people have much more than an about.me page and personal portfolio – I think they should have a wider online presence with credentials, tools, artifacts, and whatever else they need. The same with a social network – but not just a ‘social network’ but wide-ranging interactions with people inside and outside their own field.

I couldn’t agree with him more, but definitely believe there needs to be a starting point and emphasis on teaching this in schools.  The shift from “digital citizenship” to simply “citizenship” (since technology is just part of our world) probably won’t happen without putting an emphasis and placing some of these ideas at the forefront.  This is not the work of “specialty” educators, but something we all have a responsibility towards.

2. Digital Portfolios

Building upon the first idea, I think there is a huge power in “Digital Portfolios” to not only help build a footprint, but transform practices in learning and assessment. We have often seen learning in “chunks” in school practice (grade two to grade three, etc.), but is something that is continuous and messy.

Years ago, I wrote a comprehensive plan on the “blogs as digital portfolios“, and really explored the impact it could have on helping connecting learning throughout the school and amongst different subject areas.  This should not be limited to any specific class or grade level, but something that actually becomes an opportunity to not only reflect, create, and connect, but also helps to provide authentic examples of student owned learning.  That being said, if we are to be successful with this type of opportunity, it would make a huge impact if educators had their own versions of digital portfolios, to really understand the impact this could have learning.  This is a “barrier” that could easily become an opportunity.

3. Embracing the Innovator’s Mindset

For any of these things to happen, or other opportunities, we need to embrace a mindset that is open to conducive learning, while also helping to develop it in our students. The “innovator’s mindset” is defined by the following:

Innovator's Mindset

 

With ideas such as genius hour, maker spaces, innovation day/week, and a whole myriad of other ideas for powerful creation to connect learning, it is important that we think differently about learning, and help develop that mindset with our students.

I love this idea from the Center for Accelerated Learning on learning as “creation”:

Learning is Creation, Not Consumption. Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates. Learning happens when a learner integrates new knowledge and skill into his or her existing structure of self. Learning is literally a matter of creating new meanings, new neural networks, and new patterns of electro/chemical interactions within one’s total brain/body system.

Krissy Venosdale also shared a powerful image on what “learning” looks like.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 9.04.23 PM

This mindset should not be limited to our students, but to all of those involved in education.

 

To achieve these goals in a meaningful way, we have to realize that it will take a whole community approach, and cannot be left to the few to achieve.  This takes a change in mindset while also creating the need for leadership to remove barriers to unleash talent which leads to innovative opportunities.  What I believe is the real power of these initiatives, is that these ideas I have shared are not an endpoint, but only a beginning. When we create a culture of sharing, innovative flourishes. Embracing the idea that everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learnerand that these roles will change multiple times daily, is the only way that any initiative will truly succeed in our schools today.

3 Important Shifts in Education

(I really struggled with the title of this post, because I am not really sure if these are “shifts” or just ideas that have evolved that I am paying attention to right now. Also, these ideas are definitely not only connected to education, so take the title with a grain of salt.)

“We’re still in the first minutes of the first day of the Internet revolution.” Scott Cook

The above quote resonates with me strongly, because we are currently living in a culture that not only seems to have endless answers, but endless questions, both which are subject to change.  I think of some of the things that we used to talk about in schools, now shifting to something else.  For example, I remember once working with my students talking about the importance of staying anonymous online, and now we have shifted to working with our students to develop a positive digital footprint where they actually can be found.  I often wonder “what’s next?” Our answers now, may shift, and we need to be able to be adaptable to a constantly changing landscape.

In education, I have noticed some trends not necessarily changing, but shifting in thought. In learning, we have to be open to change and take what we know and think about how to move forward.  Curriculum should not be written in ink anymore, but on a google doc.  It seems to only make more sense as we continue to move forward in both school and education.

Here are a few things I have been thinking about that I am seeing shift right now:

1.  “Digital Citizenship” to “Digital Empathy”

I struggled with the heading for this one because it could simply be “Citizenship to Empathy”, but sometimes we have to focus on the impact “digital” has and also realize that empathy is actually an important part of citizenship. We talk to our students about the importance of being good “digital citizens” and putting their best foot forward online, yet in reality, many of us avoided the same mistakes as a youth not because we know better, but the opportunities to share online didn’t exist.  It was not our wisdom that saved us.

Monica Lewinsky’s recent Ted Talk on “The price of shame”,  she states that we have a “compassion deficit, an empathy crisis”.  People make mistakes, young and old, and we have to realize that being a “good citizen” is also being good to each other, even when it is tough.  It is important to talk to our students about the possible mistakes that we can make online, but it is also important to teach understanding and forgiveness.

One of my favourite quotes is, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”  We have to always remember this.

2.  “Student Voice” to “Student Leadership”

Student voice has always been something that has been valued in our world, but do listen to students to only hear what they say, or do we truly bring them into the conversation and tap into their wisdom for growth in our system?  In a recent TedX from Kate Simonds, she calls on schools to not only listen to students, but to empower them in the change process.  If innovation starts with empathy, who better to tap into  then the people that we are trying to serve in the first place.  The typical thought when the term “student leadership” is about students leading amongst their peers, not necessarily at the system level.  It needs to go further.

Listening to students is not enough; we must bring them into the change process.

3. Growth Mindset to Innovator’s Mindset

Carol Dweck’s work on the “growth mindset” has been something embraced in the field of education and has made a major impact on the learning of so many, educators and students alike.  One of the quotes that has really resonated with me is from Thomas Friedman who states, “The world only cares about what you can do with what you know.”  As educators, who now have access to not only all of the information in the world, but to each other, we have a greater opportunity to come up with new and better way of serving our students.  Shifting our thinking and embracing “the innovator’s mindset“, allows us to create better opportunities and serve learners in powerful ways.  Isolation is the enemy of innovation and we have to be willing to tap into one another to create a better today and tomorrow for our students.

Like I said earlier, these are not necessarily movements from one extreme to another and many of these ideas are correlated.  Being a great “citizen” means to be caring and empathetic.  Without listening to student voice, leadership doesn’t happen. An “innovator’s mindset” does not exist without embracing a “growth mindset”.  This is more about taking what we know and pushing forward to think about what is possible.

What are you seeing changing or moving forward in our world today?

A Few Options…

If you haven’t heard the Justine Sacco story, it is one educators should be aware of.  In short, with only a small social network (it was reported around 200 followers on Twitter at the time), a very inappropriate tweet got around the world, very quickly.  She was on a plane, not knowing that her name and a hashtag bearing it were trending throughout the world, and by the time she landed, her life was forever changed.

How quickly did it spread?  Check out the tweet below:

 

So as I see it, schools will see this and make a few choices.

1.  They will ignore it.

2.  They will talk about it with students and give them warnings about how social media can destroy lives and try to scare them off the medium.

3.  They will see the opportunity in this teachable moment to not only warn of the bad, but see that if something bad can spread so quickly, something good can do so as well.

Where is your school in this “Digital Citizenship” spectrum?  Hopefully we can turn stories like this around and focus on the idea of Digital Leadership and that our kids can do something powerful to make a positive impact on others, not simply focus on the negatives.

4 Things I Learned From Students This Week


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Sham Hardy

I spent the past week speaking to trustees, superintendents,  teachers, parents, and most importantly, students.  Working with all levels of school in a week, gives you a really interesting perspective, but I learned a great deal in working with a few thousand students this week.  Here are some of my takeaways:

  1. Let’s quit telling kids what they shouldn’t be doing, and try to push them to think about what they can do.  It was anti-bullying week in Ontario, and overhearing some students walking into my session, they were not excited about having to listen to me for an hour.  I asked them why, and they had said that they had heard the “cyberbullying” talk a million times.  I asked the one student was to give me a chance, and have an open mind.  I talked about “Digital Leadership, and at the end of the talk, he had come up to thank me because he knew what I was saying was different.  I did talk about “cyberbullying” for a part of my discussion with students, but I really want to communicate to them is that they don’t have to wait for the future to do something amazing.  The world is at their fingertips and they have opportunities that we never did.  They should take advantage of this fact and I try to show them things that they can do.  How excited would you be if you heard someone talk about all the things you shouldn’t do?
  2. Kids are already meeting “strangers” online.  One of the questions that I ask students this week is how many of them had met someone online first, and then met them offline.  It was easily over half (that admitted it).  This is a reality of the world and I would say that the majority of my friends now are people that I have met through Twitter or my blog first.  Think about it…How many of you have a friend that has married someone they met online?  It is becoming normal, and could become the norm soon enough.This would be even easier for students now to meet someone online.  If you have friends connected through Twitter, and one of them is on a community team, how hard is it for you to connect with a “friend of a friend” now through social media?  One of the suggestions that I give to families is that if a kid wants to meet with someone, that they have to video chat with that person before with a parent in the room.  If the person refuses, then they don’t meet.  We have to start talking to kids about how being safe, not banning the connections that many of them will make anyway, and many of us see value in.
  3. Little knowledge leads to little credibility.  One of the conversations that I had with a student was how sick she was of hearing from adults that don’t even use social media on how kids should act.  It makes sense doesn’t it?  Many educators get frustrated on hearing solutions on how to “fix” education from people that have never taught, or have limited time in schools.  How different is that then what the student is describing?  If we are going to talk with kids about how they are connecting online, it better come from a place of experience, as opposed to theoretical situations.
  4. Believe kids want to do great things.  This is a simple one.  The loudest applause I received this week was after a student asked me, “Why do you do what you do?”  When I responded that it is because I really believed in students and what they can do, and my focus was to do everything in my power to empower them, the kids gave me the loudest ovation I had received all week.  This is a truth for me.  I try to start from a positive place in every first interaction that I have with people and try my best to communicate that with them.  I give trust until I am taught otherwise.  Kids are less likely to do great things if they feel you don’t believe in them.  They could break your heart but I guess that is a risk that I am willing to take.

Although I could go on and on what I learned from students, I was just honoured to have the opportunity to connect with so many students this week.  They know a lot more than we give them credit for and if we listen, they can teach us quite a bit.

Amazed, Inspired and Happy

In a week where I have spent the majority of the time working with students, I have been really trying to promote the notion of “Digital Leadership,” and hoping the students look at some of the opportunities that are out there now to make a difference in the lives of others.  I have told the students that they do not have to wait for “the future” to make a difference, because they have the ability to do something now.  Some of them took me up on it, and one student started a blog trying to promote “acts of kindness”, while others started a Twitter page to compliment others in their school.  If you give them the chance, students can inspire you to become better.

Many of the conversations that I have with adults go directly to the “negative” online.  Although I understand the concerns, it is sometimes an “out” to not teach students about it, and sometimes comes from a lack of awareness.  Although I do talk a lot about all of the opportunities to do something great online, I do promote an awareness of the bad things that exist out there as well.  That is vital.  In reality, online is not the only place that bad things can happen, yet it is often the message that we share with our youth.  If we keep telling kids that the Internet is bad, they might just make that true.

Whatever you are looking for online, you will find it.  There is so much information out there, that there is going to be a lot in the negative.  So why not steer our kids to some of the amazing?  If I make the assumption that the majority of people in the world are good, and the majority of people are on the Internet, what does that tell me?  Where are we directing our students to go?

Awareness is vital and I will always teach that, but I am also going to continue to promote some of the great things that exist online.  In the last 12 hours, I have been amazed, inspired and “happy” with some of the things that I have seen shared.  Hopefully some of these will show some of the awesome that exists in our world that you can find online.

Be Amazed

This video is a compilation of 852 Instagram images from 852 different users to make one remarkable video.

 

Be Inspired

This is an amazing video that shows struggle, happiness, and perseverance from not only a mom and dad, but this amazing little guy.  (Grab tissues)

 

Be Happy

Pharrell Williams put together a 24 hour video for his new single “happy” and it is simply people dancing and smiling.  Simple, but I love it.

All of these videos I have seen in the last 12 hours, but it is probably because I was looking for them.  What are you trying to find and share with your students?

Your Choice to Share and My Choice to Look


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Roger Mommaerts

There is an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David goes to visit his friend Jeff at his new house.  Jeff’s wife Suzie is so excited to have someone see the new place–she immediately offers to give Larry “the tour.”  As only Larry David could do, he looks at her and says, “I’m good.”  He then goes on about how he “gets it” and understands what a house looks like and is comfortable not seeing what she has to share.  Immediately, she gets extremely upset and kicks Larry out of the house for his rudeness and obvious disinterest.

The funny thing about the whole incident is that Larry says what a lot of people are thinking.  I know that I am not really big on seeing someone else’s because I feel that “I get it.”  I also understand the other side of it–where you are excited to share something and you have a limited audience.  The interesting thing in Larry’s situation is that most people would think that he is rude for not having an interest in seeing what Suzie has to share.

So let’s say Suzie has a Facebook account and she decides that she is going to post a picture of every single room in her house.  What you will hear often about these people is that they tend to over-share, are narcissistic and self-indulgent.  The difference here is, she is still sharing but with a wider audience that has a choice to look or not.

So, share in-person with everyone that walks into your house and you are a good host, whether they care or not. But share on social media where only people who want to look do, and you are narcissistic.

#makessense

Often, my friends would go on trips, take a disposable camera, develop their pictures and share every single picture they took on the trip, no matter the quality.  This was a common thing for many.  A lot of people took these pictures to capture their memories, but many of them took them to also share their experiences with others.  Did we call these people self-indulgent?  Nope.  This was because this was what we grew up with.  Often their pictures were of a much worse quality because the way we developed pictures was not as cheap and easy to filter.  Nothing like looking at pictures with thumbs covering half of the shot!

Sometimes, the idea that people are more narcissistic now because of technology bothers me.  Many people have always been narcissistic, but maybe, now, we just have more opportunities to share?  Taking every single person through a room in your new house doesn’t seem too much different to me than posting a picture of every room in your new house on Facebook.  The big difference to me is I can choose to look if I want.

It drives me crazy when people complain about people over-sharing because we have a choice to view what we like.  I remember “unfriending” someone on Facebook because all of their status updates were of a negative nature and complained about how horrible life was.  They were like demotivational quotes that were REALLY effective.  Did I complain about it?  Maybe a little bit, but eventually I just chose to not look.  She had every right to post as I had every right to not look.

But I will tell you this.  My sister-in-law is a chronic “over-sharer.”  EVERY SINGLE DAY I have to put up with a bunch of pictures of her kids (my nephew and nieces) and watch them grow up in front of my eyes.  So annoying right?

Wrong.

Every single time she shares a picture of my nephew and nieces growing up, I am thankful that she does this.  I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like, but when I do, I am not surprised about how much they have grown because I am able to connect and see them often.  They also get to see me, and when I walk in, no matter the length of time, they run to me and tell me that they love me.  If my awesome sister-in-law did not share the kids growing up, I don’t think that I would feel as close to them.  Are her pictures for everyone?  Nope, but they are amazing to me and I am glad she shares as much as she does.

 

The Unfair World and the Low Bar


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Paul Sturgess

As I was listening to someone talk about “Digital Citizenship” practices in their school district, I wondered if this was really setting the bar too low in our practices within our schools.  As I think more about our world, and what kids have to deal with, it is pretty tough for them to just be “kids” and screw up the same way we did.  They live in a totally different world where many will “google” them before an interview, and because of something that they have done at the age of 16 or 17, they might lose a job.  If that was true when I was 17, I have no idea where I would be today.  I had the ability to screw up but the mindset was not to share your life publicly.  Now I believe that we have to be empathetic and give our kids some leeway and understanding for their mistakes, but does everyone feel this way?

The standards for kids aren’t just really high for what they do online, but what they do offline as well.  It is easy to do something inappropriate when you are sitting with friends, have one of your buddies record it on their phone, and share it with the world.  It reminds me of the time that a girl fell into a fountain while texting and it was posted for the world to see.  Something unintentional that happened offline now haunts her online without her permission to post.

We can look at this and realize that kids don’t have the way we did and feel bad for them…

Or…

We can also realize that our kids have opportunities that we never had.

Remember the movie “Pay it Forward”?  One of the big ideas from the movie was that doing something kind for others, and eventually, AMAZINGLY, it went around the world.  At that time, that was a pretty cool notion.  Now, when I write this post, anyone in the world can see it immediately.  I have had comments from people in Asia, Australia, Europe, as well as all over North America.  Getting an idea around the world is as easy as pressing “publish”.

So with the unfairness of what our kids deal with and a lot of the privacy that they (often on their accord) give up, are we trying to tip the scales in the other direction?  The idea of being “good” online is not really that inspirational, and reminds me of this quote that I have used before:

“People do not fail in life because they aim too high and miss. They fail in life, because they aim too low and hit.” (Unknown)

I like to think that our kids have an opportunity to make a real difference in our world and I love the idea of “Digital Leadership” to push our students to think of doing something more with social media.  The “Sincere Compliment” video did not only inspire kids in their school, but because it was shared openly, inspired many students/teachers (especially within Parkland School Division)  around the world to do great things for others.  I have seen a seven year old student in our district write one blog post, and receive 43 comments on her first try (some from her, but many from people all over the world).  She is learning at a young age that she has the power to share a message across the world with ease, and I believe if kids realize they have the power to make a difference, they will give it a shot.

This is more than just “existing” and “being good” online, it is about making a difference.  Isn’t that the bar we want to set for our kids, and if they miss, and are only good to one another, aren’t we still better off?

Engaging Parents in the Learning Process


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by bestlibrarian

“The role of parents in the education of their children cannot be overestimated.” ~Unknown

When you ask parents from any country in the world, what they ask their children at the end of the day about school, their question is very similar:

“What did you learn today?”

The disconcerting thing is that the answer is almost always exactly the same.

“Nothing.”

With some of the work that we are doing in Parkland School Division, we are really trying to engage parents in the learning of their child by opening the door into the classroom.  Through the use of blogs, twitter, and other social media outlets, the question can change to something similar to, “I saw that you were learning about (blank) today; can you tell me more about it?”

Different questions usually get different responses.  Improve the question and you are more likely to get a better answer.

Parent Participation vs Parent Engagement

Although the more parents can have a positive presence in our schools, the more they will build relationships within the school community, engagement is something different.  Children are shown to have a much better chance at success if their parent is actively engaged and reinforces the learning that is happening in the school.  Case in point; if you want to improve your child’s reading, read to them at a young age and model what you want to see.

Yet as students get older, many parents are uncertain about the learning that is happening and feel uncomfortable with the content.  The benefit of a lot of learning in our schools today is that it is not solely focused on learning content, but skills and process which are important aspects in a learner’s development.  Being able to engage in the process with your child, like reading, will help improve their learning.  That type of engagement brings learning to a different level in the home.

Are we becoming illiterate?

One of the most influential articles that I have read was by Will Richardson on the notion of expanding literacy. In it, Will discusses The National Council of Teachers of English definition of “21st Century Literacies”, and how many adults, not just kids, are becoming or illiterate.  For many, the notion of literacy boils down to reading and writing, yet it is much more.

“Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups.” NCTE

So with that in mind, what are parents doing at home?  Are they creating websites with their children, assessing what is good and bad information, creating videos and podcasts, and so on?  The majority of our students see the Internet as a place of consumption, not creation.  We need to shift that focus.

Mitch Resnick challenged this notion of consumption when he stated:

“We wouldn’t consider someone literate if they could read but couldn’t write. Are we literate if we consume content online, but don’t produce?”

Based on this ever-changing definition, we have to ask, “Are we literate?”

Keeping Kids Safe

People are quick to jump on using these new types of technologies as either “dumbing down” education (David Crystal’s research shows that reading and writing improve through the use of mobile devices as opposed to the other way around) or that kids will be unsafe.   The reality is that schools in partnership with parents, need to guide children to not only be safe, but to leverage these technologies so that children will have opportunities that we did not.

Carlene Oleksyn, a parent and pharmacist, has immersed herself in the use of social media, not only for the benefit of her own learning, but to ensure that she safely guides her children.  In a recent post on her blog titled, “The Talk”, she shares a conversation that she has with her children:

It started like this:

“Boys, when I need to hire someone do you know what one of the first things is I do?”

Nope, they had no idea.

“I google them,” I said. “I see what they post on Facebook, Twitter, blogs. If they have posted anything that is calling someone else down, is sexually inappropriate, or if they’ve made blatantly disrespectful comments on other people’s postings, I would tend not to hire that person.”

The difference between Carlene and many is not this talk, but it is the credibility that Carlene has from immersing herself in using these technologies herself.  By having a Twitter account, blog, amongst  other things, she has learned how to keep safe by stepping out and looking around first, as opposed to simply letting her kids run wild when they reach the age they are allowed to use social media based on a company’s terms of service.

From her experience, she is able to give some very relevant advice:

I think as parents we need to do three things for our kids:

  • Be aware of what our children are doing on the internet

  • Be on sites with them and teach as they go.

  • Be examples with our own digital identity.

Carlene understands that the world is changing, so she is taking advantage of the learning that can be done while helping her children navigate some murky waters to find a much more positive place.  She is setting a high standard for her kids not only through her words, but through her actions.

Concluding Thoughts

Kids existing online is not enough.  Many schools talk about the notion of “digital citizenship” but simply being a “citizen” is not the heights we should be aiming for offline, so why is it online?

Through my work, I have tried to focus on the idea of “Digital Leadership”; the notion of using the technologies that we have to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  I try to model this simply by writing this post and trying to build more awareness of the opportunities that technology affords parents and children in learning.  Some kids are doing amazing things.

Millgrove School was recently highlighted on Global TV for their work on trying to use social media for learning, but by doing good for their community and hoping to inspire others around the globe.  Isn’t that the standard we should be aiming for as school communities?

To be successful, educators do not only need the support of parents, we need their engagement.  The door is opening more every day to your child’s classroom.  Are you ready to step through?

See No Evil?


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by daveynin

I had the question yesterday from an IT Director (one that I have been asked several times) about the “issues” that happen when you open up social media in schools.  He told me about a principal that said that they continuously deal with issues because of Facebook, Twitter, etc. (remember…the sites are not the issue but the behaviour) and the principal said that it would be easier if they shut it down.  He then asked me how I would deal with it.

The first thing that popped into my head was this video of kids that aren’t any good at playing hide and seek:

This video really made me think that many believe if we close our eyes, nothing bad is happening.

Wrong.

In fact, if we shut down social media in schools, we are less likely to teach our kids how to use that sites safely and effectively, and students are more likely to make mistakes.  Isn’t education the main way we solve problems in our society or are we adopting “ignoring stuff” as the new solution?

Recently, I did an interview on this very topic and the host said that my logic on this topic was similar to getting kids to drink with parents at home.

Really?

When the adults in the room say things like this, it first of all terrifies me, and then makes me realize they have not seen the positive impact that social media can make on their lives and the lives of others.  I was so glad to see that Global Television recently wrote an article and shared a video on the work we are doing in PSD70, and more specifically, the classroom of Kelli Holden and her grade 4 students, to inform the public that there are a lot of positives that can come from the effective use of social media.

With anything, there is good and bad.  Ignoring teaching our kids about this medium is not going to help them in any way to see the positives and we can’t just say, “not our problem” anymore.  If we only teach the curriculum to our kids, we have failed.  It is imperative that we work with our students to be people that follow their passions, be positive citizens, and make a difference in their world now, not the world we lived in as kids.

Thanks to Emily Mertz for doing a wonderful story on our teachers and students at PSD70! Check out the video below if you are interested in seeing what our teachers are doing to make a difference.

Digital Leadership Defined

When I looked up the term “digital citizenship”, the first definition that I found was the following:

…teaching users the rules of good citizenship online; this usually includes email ettiquette, protecting private information, staying safe online, and how to deal with bullying, whether you’re a target or a bystander.

For the past couple of years, I have been really focusing on the notion of digital leadershipand although I have not seen a formal definition of what that would mean, I would like to think of it as this:

Using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.

I have written about students such as Martha Payne before, as well as teachers who work to empower the voice of their students.  Yesterday though, I saw another great example of how a student is making a difference in the lives of his peers.  In our schools, it is understandable that we work towards (as a minimum) students understanding the notion of digital citizenship, but how often do we stop there?

We really need to push our students to make a change in their world and highlight how social media can give them an opportunity that we never were given as students.  Just being “citizens” online is the average; kids already exist online.  We should be pushing for much more than this.  Hopefully the video below can serve as an example and conversation starter for what a person can really do now to make a difference.