Monday, October 24, 2016

Inspire #Digcit in Online Communication

Get past the rule: communicate appropriately online.

Rather than simply telling students what is right and wrong, I choose to look beyond the communication.  As a science teacher, I often told my students about discoveries made in science.  A discovery is only a discovery if communicated out to the world.  It is how people gather information, learn about new things, and how they identify with people.  Whether spoken or written, communication is the key to transfer of knowledge.  A person may have found the cure to all disease, but without communication, nobody knows and the disease continues.

Who discovered the double helix?  Who won the Nobel Prize for it?

So how can we inspire good digital citizenship in online communication.  Rather than give a set of don'ts, inspire greatness. Are your students communicating about a discovery?  Have they designed a solution to a problem? Are they trying to change the culture at their school?  None of these things can be done with poor communication.

Look at commercials, presidential elections, anything negative; people get sick of it.  Going back to my favorite book, Start with Why, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  If you want people to buy your product, buy in to your culture change, and support your solution then you need to communicate in a manner that speaks to them.  A lesson in Digital Citizenship does not need to be about do's and don'ts, it can be more about marketing.  Changing an idea in your head to a movement takes communication.

Turn a dream into a movement, spread the positive, solve a problem.

Regardless of how you word it.  Students rise to a challenge and will surprise you with the things that they do.  If all we do is get our kids to "not say bad things online" then we are selling them short.  Have them communicate online to create something.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Inspiring a Digital Footprint #digcit

A digital footprint is like credit... Good digital footprint is good, bad is bad, none is bad.
- Jeremy Shorr

Digital Citizenship is not a set of rules. It is a guide for students to change the world.

Why do we only warn our students about having a bad digital footprint?  Show them what is possible with a good digital footprint.

I enjoy talking to teachers about student-centered classrooms.  The importance of innovative teaching methods and creating amazing learning environments for students is a passion of mine.  What if I posted image of my own classroom and everything showed students in rows, reading silently to themselves, or being completely disengaged.  My digital footprint would be in complete contradiction to what I was talking about.  I wouldn't be buying the very product that I am selling.  It is not that I have a bad digital footprint, it is just that the footprint does not "say" that same things I do.  Odd.

Now imagine if students wanted to change the world.  They identify a problem and design a solution.  One thing that I used to get my chemistry students to write, is the fact that a discovery is only a discovery if communicated to the world. To change the world you need to communicate your solution.  People will see and judge you and your ideas.

Simon Sinek said it best, "people do not buy what do, they buy why you are doing it."  That "why" is communicated through the marketing, communication, and by the people who are the face of the discovery.  What type of digital footprint do you want others to see so you can change the world?  If people truly buy why you do something, then they will find it in what you post, share, say, and advertise.  What digital footprint will people buy?

I refuse to leave digital footprint as something to keep from being bad.  I prefer to help students choose what their footprint is going to be and make it one that will allow them to change the world.  Every decision that they make will do 1 of 3 things.  1) it won't matter. 2) it will open a door.  3) it will close a door.  Make sure you leave doors open because you never know where they will take you.

This is all fine and dandy, but you can see from the presidential race, there is a negative side to digital footprint... That is all I have to say about that.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

#Digcit is not the goal, it is a step.

This year I have worked to help our school district become a CommonSenseMedia certified district.  Over the last 2 years our district has worked with the teachers to curate a curriculum, we have worked with principals to set expectations, and we have worked with the teachers union to ensure that what we were trying to do is not excessive.  Teachers curated content from CommonSenseMedia, Principals have agreed that digital citizenship, much like lab safety, should be done in the beginning of the year (rather than by June 1 when required by E-rate), and teachers have loved the idea of presenting digital citizenship along with classroom rules.

We have devised a method for collecting data on when the teachers report teaching lessons.  Principals are pushing to have these completed in the first month of school, and, since the lessons were pulled from commonsensemedia, teachers and schools and the district qualify for certification.  That is awesome.

We have also changed our student homepage.  When students log in to their google account (home or school) and go the homepage, they see a page with digital citizenship reminders.  There is the possibility that every day starts with a quick 10 second digital citizenship lesson.  Teachers can open the reminders, students can open them, parents can even access them.

Teachers are talking about digital citizenship, students are learning the material.  So What?

Do I hope that students are good digital citizens? Yes.  Did I spend all that time so students would be? No.  In the realm of my responsibility in the district, good and bad behavior are issues handled at the school sites.  I am not spending all this time so principals have a few less disciplinary issues at their schools.  I am happy that the conversations are starting to change.  As our teachers have learned more about Digital Citizenship, the conversation is less about the Do's and Don'ts of technology use and teachers are starting to talk about how these are guides for how students can change the world.  My goals, however, is beyond that.  I hope that students receive a personalized education where students can reach their potential.

My goal is that students learn in an environment where they can learn to change the world using the traits that make them special and unique.

What does that mean?  Students learn differently, at different paces, with different interests, and start with different experiences and differing degrees of initial competency.  In a classroom of 40 students, can a teacher manage all that and be an expert in every area that students are interested.  No.  That would be ridiculous.  Can technology help?  Maybe.  It depends on how it is implemented.  The first step is digital citizenship.

Students need to learn to communicate, collaborate, and create in a digital setting.  They need to understand how their digital footprint will affect their ability to change the world one day, and they need to understand how to respect the intellectual property of another so they understand the respect that others should pay to their intellectual property.

Digital citizenship is not an end game, it is a step towards creating a culture where students can be creators, entrepreneurs, and original thinkers.  As educators, it is not our job to change the world ourselves, it is our job to create an environment where students can change the world.  Digital Citizenship is a tool and guide that we can use to change education, so our students change the world.  Our students are going to change the world in some way, we get to help.

Digital Citizenship is less about Do's and Don'ts and more of a guide for students to change the world.

If the goal is for a student to behave, then we are selling ourselves short (like integrating technology without transforming education).  We are creating a culture of conformists, not a culture of innovators.  Innovators understand the strides that have been made before them, incorporate the experiences and understanding, and solve a problem to create something new.  That type of learning, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creation can only come from understanding the ethics associated with digital citizenship.  Changing the world comes when students apply what they have learned and amaze us.

So what is the next step?

Mindset.  Education is not only for our students.  It is for ourselves.  As educators we cannot let our ego get in the way.  If we think that we are there to bestow knowledge and students are merely there to soak it up, then we are missing out.  As students are learning how to change the world, teachers need to be ok with letting them.  That can only come when the teacher recognizes they are the smartest person in the room, only because they are willing to learn more than every other student.  Next we are working on our mindset.  That post will come soon.

What about devices?

Devices are technology.  Innovation lies within the education and learning, but more so in the products that the students create.

What is my goal?

Every student can learn.  Every student is different.  Every student interprets things differently,  constructs different ideas and solutions, and applies learned concepts in different ways and from different perspectives.  Why do we teach like an assembly line? Why do we teach students in a way that requires them to give up what makes them special to learn the concept a specific way.  My goal is that students learn in an environment where they can learn to change the world using the traits that make them special and unique.