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.

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