Tag Archives: digital leadership

Making a Positive Impact

Have you ever had a summer cold? Happens to me every year! This year, it seems particularly awful! I’ve been feeling miserable for days and even more so because I had to cancel plans with my Book Club on Friday AND give up the opportunity to go see Ed Sheeran on Saturday! We also had tentative family plans to go to an Escape room today which everyone convinced me was not a good idea because I’d be sneezing and coughing on everything.

So to say that I have not been in the best mood the past few days is a bit of an understatement. And yet now, at this moment. My heart is bursting with love and joy.

Why you ask? Because of a 9-year girl and her messages (both public and private) on Twitter.

Now granted, Olivia Van Ledtje is not your average 9 year old. She is a force of positivity and all that is good in the world (the analogue AND online world). ¬†She is inspiring and hopeful and one of the students I feature in my book, Social LEADia. She calls me her #CanadianTeacher ūüôā Olivia is proof of how students are not waiting until they grow up to lead and certainly how positively they can impact others! And her voice, among the other powerful student voices in the book epitomize the importance of student voice–not just as an idea we talk about in education, but as essential and valuable to teaching and learning.

It may have taken her all of 10 minutes to actually create a video and share it with me, but she didn’t have to. However, in so doing, Olivia made such a positive impact on me today!

This is in fact the core of the book based on George Couros’ definition of Digital Leadership: to use social media to improve the lives, well-being and circumstances of others (2015).

One of my favourite quotes by Leo Buscaglia goes like this:

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, and honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

I think that it is essential that we apply this to our face to face dealings with people, but I think we underestimate the extent to which we might do this virtually as well. It does us well to remember that behind our screens are vibrant, complicated, wounded and/or wonderful people. Everyone could use a kind gesture.

Here is Liv’s video:

How might you make someone’s world brighter today?

Instagram in EDU

4/10 

Last night I moderated a panel discussion about Instagram in the classroom. It was my first time doing anything that cognitively demanding in 3 months. There were a few guffaws (for example you will need fast forward 3 minutes because I didn’t realize we were live), and I was not able to moderate the Twitter or Youtube live chat. ¬†Nonetheless, it was a really good conversation and the panelists, Kayla Delzer, Aviva Dunsiger and Jam Gamble were awesome.

The Tweet & Talk focused on these big ideas for using Instagram:

  • be thoughtful of the audience¬†(public) whether you are posting as yourself or as a class
  • bring parents on board by communicating with them but also by helping them to understand how Instagram works
  • ensure that you only take pictures of students for whom Freedom of Information forms are completed (just hands & feet & work for the others–or give them the camera) until parents are comfortable
  • include students as part of the process (Instagrammer of the Day, create a collage, students choose what is posted)
  • embed explicit Digital Citizenship lessons (how to block, how to compose a message using the correct tone, how to check privacy settings, how to follow and unfollow)
  • emphasize followers as “connections” so that the emphasis moves away from quantity of followers (not a popularity contest) to the quality of connections to another class; this will serve students well as they get older.

Kayla referenced this sketchnote which she includes as rules in her classroom. I love that it is written from a student perspective!

I realized when I got off-air that I had so much more to say.  Specifically, how can Instagram be used to enrich literacy?

For Assessment 

A few teachers I know have their students post a meme (a picture with accompanying text) based on a work of literature or a concept being covered. This is a good form of assessment as it gives the teacher insight as to what students understand.

For Writing

Unlike Twitter, there is no character limit on Instagram. When students respond to each other’s posts, they are engaging in writing for an authentic audience. In class, the teacher would show students how to comment effectively and extend conversations (like they would for any other writing form). ¬†Check out this great post by Rusul Alrubail, Storytelling with Instagram

For a Provocation

I follow the National Geographic account (@NatGeo ) and I am amazed by the beautiful and unique photographs they post. Having students choose a photo about which to write or as a provocation for further inquiry would be a literacy-rich activity that would be engaging.

Pop Culture & “News”

Instagram has an Explore feature (click the magnifying glass to access) and truthfully, I’d love to say that my teens watch traditional news, but they don’t–they get their news and stay up to date using their social media feeds. A teacher can pull out so many great springboards for teaching and learning by “Exploring” as well. Something on “Buzzfeed” which is found on Instagram can be compared to the same news topic in The Guardian, or The New York Times for a great media literacy or current events/fake news lesson. It’s also a great way to see what is trendy in the world of students

Digital Literacy

How does Instagram work? How do the sponsored ads work? What makes posting on Instagram different that posting on Twitter or a blog? When is this tool preferable? What are some of the “unwritten rules” of Instagram? Knowing how a tool functions and the context in which the tool can best be used is a part of digital literacy.

Who to Follow

We ran out of time…I had suggested that the class follow a few inspirational kids: @kingnahh @khloekares and @joshuasheart but I’m sure there are other students who are using Instagram to be a positive influence on others: for Digital Leadership. I’m sure there are lots of teachers using Instagram in interesting ways! Would love to learn more about who your class follows in the comments.

Watch the full Tweet & Talk  panel discussion here

How do you use Instagram in the classroom?

Rethinking the traditional High School Book Club #HSGBC

Ever since I started teaching, moderating the Book Club at my school was what I loved doing most of all. One of the problems has always been that our numbers dwindle as course work increases because kids find they don’t have as much time to read for pleasure. ¬†Now, that I am back at a school, after being at the District level for six years, I find myself looking at everything with a whole new mindset; an Innovator’s Mindset! ¬†I’m also passionate about connecting students to each other as I truly believe it positively impacts kids in so many ways.

So my burning question is: How can we make the high school book club experience not just different, but better?

My idea? Go Global

Extending the book club to other schools will help kids to share their love of reading with others, will help students feel a greater sense of community & will help keep the momentum going even when numbers dwindle.  It will  also show them how they can be Digital Leaders by leveraging technology and social media for learning and sharing their learning!

HSGBC Goals

  • To foster a love of reading
  • To have students respond to their reading in a variety of ways (face to face, Goodreads, Twitter, Snapchat, etc…)
  • To build community both within the school and with other schools
  • To consider the perspectives of other students from outside their own school community and to get to know other students through conversations around books

Timelines

September & early October

  • Advertise the book club in your school
  • Get to know the students in your own school and introduce the idea of extending the conversations to a global community. Assure them that they can collaborate as much or as little as they are interested in doing so; your first priority is ensuring that your own students feel comfortable sharing with each other.
  • Remind them that because we are sharing with a global community, they need to¬†THINK¬†about what they are posting
  • Use this Dotstorming wall to suggest and vote on books
  • Decide on the way(s) in which your book club will share their learning with others and how often they would like to connect with others ¬†(I am going to use Snapchat, Twitter, and Goodreads with my students)

November-April

  • Decide on meeting times and dates that work for you and your students
  • Connect with other book clubs via Hangouts if you would like to extend face to face conversations
  • Use the Twitter hashtag #hsgbc, Goodreads, Snapchat etc…as much or as little as you like and as you and your students are comfortable.

May

Celebrate!  Reflect on MMM (Most Memorable Moments) & create an artifact (slideshow, poster, movie, etc..) and share .

GoodReads & Twitter

A student reflection from last year when I facilitated a classroom connection was that students wished that they could continue to connect with the other students beyond our class activity. I’ve been thinking about that ever since. And so, to me, it is important that conversations about books and the relationships my students develop go beyond the “meeting times”. Goodreads and Twitter offer a wonderful opportunity to do this.

No only that, but both Goodreads and Twitter are excellent tools for Digital Leadership: students connect with others who share a common love of reading while actively creating an online presence.  Ideally, students created their own account so they can continue to stay connected, if they choose to, beyond the existence of the Book Club at school. Using these platforms can show students how to use social media differently and best of all they can continue to be used into adulthood.

Students (and teacher moderators) in the High School Global Book Club will use the hashtag #hsgbc on Twitter to share quotes & images as they read and contribute posts to our Goodreads account  here

My students are so excited to get started.

We’d love for you to join!

Sign up for #HSGBC here !

Connected student

Leading & Building a Positive Culture as a Teacher-Librarian

I was at a family function last weekend when my sister said it. ¬†No one had talked about the fact that I was changing roles in September. ¬†Now I know why–they had talked about it amongst themselves. ¬†She said, “So you went from being the Literacy Consultant for a whole board to a Teacher-Librarian? Like isn’t that a total demotion? ¬†Why would you do that?!” (yup, her exact words–gotta love my sister’s direct & honest approach??)

Needless to say, I was a little taken aback, but it made me really think about leadership and how people perceive leadership as being connected to titles. It also showed me the extent to which people don’t recognize how valuable Teacher-Librarians can be in a school.

What I explained to her is that I chose to be a Teacher-Librarian so I can continue to be a leader. In that role, I have the privilege of working with teachers, administration, and students in positive and impactful ways.

Two awesome posts by George Couros this week : 10 Easy Ways to Create an Amazing #Classroom Culture this year and  10 Easy Ways to Build a Positive #School Culture as a Principal, helped me to think about the ways in which a Teacher-Librarian is not just a leader, but has the incredible opportunity to contribute to the building of  an amazing culture in a school.

An effective Teacher-Librarian supports teachers to try something different, offers a little tweak that can move a lesson or unit from good to awesome, offers a second set of hands, eyes, and ears to help differentiate and assess.  An effective teacher-librarian can help a teacher find the perfect tech tool or resource to serve the learning needs of their students.

We know about critical literacy, digital literacy, information literacy, and every other modern literacy classroom teachers haven’t had the time to dig in to or keep up with in this age of abundant information.

But our space isn’t just another classroom in the school. ¬†The Library Learning Commons can and should be the heart of a school; a place where learning, literacy, critical thinking, creativity, and fun come together.

Teacher-Librarians¬†also interact with students– lots of students every day. ¬†I am completely new at this role, so maybe I’m off base here, but I think that George’s Top 10 list can be modified for the role of Teacher-Librarian. ¬†This is what I’m thinking:

10 Easy Ways to Create an Amazing School Culture as a Teacher-Librarian this year (2)

 

I’d like to create an inviting and positive learning culture when it comes to allowing cellphones in my Learning Commons. ¬†I am experimenting with the wording on this poster and would love your feedback on this sign:

Be prepared to rethink how you use social media here (2)

 

More about building a positive culture by connecting your students

I am committed to helping teachers and students to see how technology and social media can be used to learn and share learning, connect with others, and be a more positive influence in the lives of others!

I am excited for the opportunity to work with teachers and students at my school and in the world on the following initiatives:

I would like to start a High School Global Book Club to foster digital leadership and a love of reading. ¬†My VERY DRAFT ideas are here. ¬†So far, I’ve got a few North American schools and an International school in Thailand interested. ¬†Would love for you to join us!

I am participating in the Global Peace Project sponsored my Buncee launching September 26th. It is free to join and is an excellent way to build empathy, cultural awareness and to work towards spreading peace.  Details here.

I am helping my friend, Barbara  from Norway to get some North American classes involved in a Digital Storytelling project beginning in September. Check it out here.

I am organizing a Global Amazing Race EDU for grades 7, 8 and high school.  The project launch happens on February 10th with a Virtual Breakout EDU!  Details here.

I can’t wait to see my sister at the next family function to tell her all about my ¬†start to an amazing school year!

Quotation source: http://ottmag.com/most-famous-leadership-quotes/

 

Slacktivism, Social Justice, and Social Media

I want to live in a world dominated by peace, love, empathy, and mutual understanding of differences.  I want my own kids and students to grow up in that kind of world.

And yet it seems that everywhere I turn on social media or the news lately, there is another instance of hate resulting in the loss of life.  I am so grateful that I belong to a Voxer group made up of  so many races and religions which truly allows for multiple perspectives and courageous conversations.  Just listening to everyone talk about their own experiences has helped me to grow in my understanding of the complexity of it all.  My buddy, Justin Schleider said it best when he said that we are forever changed as a result of our group, because we notice inequality more frequently as a result of having participated in these discussions and having our ideas pushed and challenged.

Throughout our discussions, I always bring it back to the classroom.  How do we address important issues of inequality and injustice with other teachers and students?  Do we? How do we help students to see alternative perspectives in the media? Can social media be a vehicle for positive social action and change?

Slacktivism

Some would answer no. ¬†The term ‚Äúslacktivism,‚ÄĚ which is made up of a combination of the words ‚Äúslacker‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúactivism,‚ÄĚ ¬†has increasingly been used to describe the disconnect between awareness and action through the use of social media (Glen, 2015).

Slacktivism can be defined as ‚Äúa willingness to perform a relatively costless, token display of support for a social cause, with an accompanying lack of willingness to devote significant effort to enact meaningful change‚ÄĚ (Kristofferson et al., 2014)¬†and thus has a negative connotation.

And yet, isn‚Äôt awareness a goal of education? ¬†If a young person learns about deforestation, reads about organizations doing something about it, and ‚Äúlikes‚ÄĚ their page, or demonstrates a positive response, isn‚Äôt that exactly what we want? ¬†Might that eventually lead to a more active stance as the child grows older?

I think of the Ice Bucket Challenge craze of last year as an example of how awareness can be spread through something going viral on the internet. ¬†If you don‚Äôt remember, the movement required that you video-tape yourself throwing ice water over yourself & challenging others to do so as well. ¬†You were also supposed to donate to ALS (Lou Gherig‚Äôs disease). ¬†At the time, it was criticized because many people were just interested in the fun of the challenge. ¬†This is in line with typical criticism of slacktivism which is more about ‚Äú‚Äėfeel-good back patting‚Äô through watching or ‚Äėliking‚Äô commentary of social issues without any action.‚ÄĚ and the fact that oftentimes there is minimal time and effort, without mobilization and/or demonstrable effect in solving a social issue (Glen, 2015). ¬†And yet, there is no way that people would have had known about the disease without this movement becoming popular on social media. ¬†Just recently, there was a breakthrough in ALS as a result of the money raised during that craze. ¬†So slacktivism, in this case, despite its negative connotation and criticism turned out to be very positive.

Much has been written also about the Kony movement of 2012 (Jenkins, et al, 2015) (Glen, 2015) as an example of social activism on the internet. I remember this campaign vividly because at the time, a friend of the family, who is a non-reader, not interested in school, and generally apathetic when it comes to any sort of causes became very interested in learning about Kony and child soldiers. I directed her to sources and she voraciously read them to learn about the cause.  We often talk about students not coming into our classes with prior knowledge, but I wonder whether or not if we meet them where they are and bring in cultural references from social media, that we might have greater success helping them to build an understanding of politics and culture.

I love this tweet by Curran Dee (a mother/son account) which really does emphasize the difference between activism & slacktivism:

Action vs Slacktivism

Citizenship Education

I really appreciate this framework for Citizenship Education in the new revised Canadian World Studies (and other revised Ontario Curriculum) as it reminds us that active participation in society are a necessary end goal.  Today, this means that technology and social media can help students develop a voice and become actively involved in causes about which they are passionate. But it also suggests that teaching citizenship is an important goal to the development of the whole child.

Citizenship education framework

 

Connecting Classrooms

When we provide students the opportunity to learn about other cultures in the world, by connecting our classrooms, we are helping them to see other races and cultures as human beings. ¬†This can only be a good thing. ¬†This can ideally be accomplished via technology and/or social media. ¬†Students, can for example engage in a Google Hangout or a Blab with other classes to discuss an issue. ¬†They can engage in a Twitter exchange. ¬†I have heard so many powerful stories and have personally experienced transformation of student points‚Äô of view as a result of virtually meeting kids from other countries or communities. ¬†In one case, where one of our local schools connected with Julie Balen‚Äôs class, our students admitted that they really had no idea that the students of FNMI backgrounds were ‚Äú16 year olds just like us‚ÄĚ, and a student from Wikwemikong school admitted to thinking that everyone outside of her reserve was white and that she was surprised to see the class had so many ‚Äúcolours‚ÄĚ. ¬†One of my friends, Shervette Miller-Peyton spoke about how interesting it was for her class to connect with a class from Brazil because they had made so many assumptions about what students outside of the States would be like. ¬†They were shocked to hear that the students knew about their own culture. ¬† Connecting students allows them to really get to know and understand others.

Multiple perspectives

I would suggest a four-pronged approach to any issue so as to minimize bias and radical responses BEFORE they actually go online.  Something like this which would obviously need to be modified based on the grade:

I am ___________and this is my perspective…:

Respond as the perpetrator’s son (daugher, sister, brother, mother)

I am ______________and this my perspective…
Respond as the perpetrator’s victim’s (daugher, sister, brother, mother)
I am ___________and this my perspective:
Respond as a community leader
I am ___________and this my perspective:
Respond as a bystander
Reflect: I used to think, and now I think…

Student Digital Leadership

We have always included opportunities for learning about social justice issues in the classroom.  Today, we are able to empower our students to use their own voices to advocate for change.  These are just a few examples of kids leveraging social media and technology to spread good in the world.

The other day I read about Two fourth graders who started a plastic bag petition in Houston.  It was shared on Twitter by fourth grader, Curran Dee.

Hannah Alper, a 13-year old activist and social-change maker always posts great ideas for how to help.  Read her post on how to help support Ronald McDonald Houses.

Joshua Williams, founder of Joshua’s Heart an organization dedicated to feeding the hungry, promotes a positive stance on the issue of gun violence.

Joshua

Harry Potter Alliance

I learned about the Harry Potter Alliance from the book, Participatory Cultures in a Networked Era. ¬†It‚Äôs a really interesting resource where social activism and different fandoms (primarily Harry Potter) collide. ¬† The website says its goal is to make ‚Äúactivism accessible through the power of story.‚ÄĚ The toolkits focus on different issues and provide background as well as concrete ideas of how to build awareness about those issues. ¬†It would be a great resource for teachers and students alike.

Hashtags

A great way to promote activism in the classroom is to check out the hashtags for current events on Twitter or Instagram and contribute positively. I reflect on the power of hashtagshere.

These are a few hashtags shared with me by Alec Couros which he uses in his courses to demonstrate some major online campaigns.

I always check what’s trending on Twitter or Instagram to see if any topical hashtags might be relevant to a unit or theme being studied (or could replace what I had in mind).

Keep it Positive

I would also recommend that you take George Couros’ advice to¬†¬†Err on the Side of Positive¬† and beyond that respond with empathy, positivity, openness, sensitivity, and love. ¬† Keeping interactions on social media positive will prevent¬†misunderstandings and negativity.

Err on the side of... (1)

Consider this:¬†¬†My friend, Rola Tibshirani shared this post by Stephen Downes, called Hey Snapchat Enough is Enough. ¬†It criticizes Snapchat for its filters which stereotype and border on racist. ¬†I look at something like that as a great opportunity to discuss portrayals of diversity in media and social media. ¬†It would also provide an excellent starting point for action: kids can contact the company and share their opinions so they know that they don’t have to passively stand by when they recognize injustice. ¬†To keep it positive, they can suggest some alternative filters that would be more inclusive too!

What do you think of taking action using social media?

References:

Couros, G. (2016, June). Err on the Side of Positive. iPadPalooza. June, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoMn4063yc4

Glenn, C. L. (2015). Activism or ‚Äúslacktivism?‚ÄĚ: Digital media and organizing for social change.Communication Teacher, 29(2), 81-85. doi:10.1080/17404622.2014.1003310

Groetzinger, K. (2015, December 10). Slacktivism is having a powerful real-world impact, new research shows. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from http://qz.com/570009/slacktivism-is-having-a-powerful-real-world-impact-new-research-shows/

Kristofferson, K., White, K., & Peloza, J. (2014). The nature of slacktivism: How the social observability of an initial act of token support affects subsequent prosocial action.Journal of Consumer Research, 40(6), 1149-1166. doi:10.1086/674137

Robinson, Matthew (2016) Department of Government and Justice Studies. Appalachian State University. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from http://gjs.appstate.edu/social-justice-and-human-rights/what-social-justice

Vanwynsberghe, Hadewijch, and Pieter Verdegem. ‚ÄúIntegrating social media in education.‚ÄĚ CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 15.3 (2013). Academic OneFile

References:

http://gjs.appstate.edu/social-justice-and-human-rights/what-social-justice

Vanwynsberghe, Hadewijch, and Pieter Verdegem. “Integrating social media in education.” CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 15.3 (2013). Academic OneFile

  • Glenn, C. L. (2015). Activism or “slacktivism?”: Digital media and organizing for social change. Communication Teacher, 29(2), 81-85. doi:10.1080/17404622.2014.1003310

Character Day–A good start to the school year

Character Day

I had a really interesting conversation last night with Diana Hale, a teacher in the Toronto District School Board about the negative experiences she had in her classroom and her subsequent reflection that Digital Citizenship cannot be taught as a discrete unit. She is among many of us who recognize that Digital Citizenship needs to be taught in context and that a guided use of social media needs to happen in classrooms in order to help students navigate online spaces. ¬†An essential element to this is for adults to recognize that for our students, the online and offline world are actually an extension of one another; not in fact two separate worlds. ¬†One of the strategies Diana used in her class was to look at literature (she used the Weird Series) to explore bullying which she applied to online situations as well. ¬†Using literature or film provide an excellent opportunity for students to explore abstract concepts, and challenging ideas and a skillful teacher can then bring it back to the students’ own experiences (which today include online experiences as well).

So I was very excited this morning to receive a notification about an upcoming webinar featuring Tiffany Shlain and Character Day.

Character Day is¬†a free annual day and global initiative where groups around the world screen films on the science of character development from different perspectives, dive into free printed discussion materials, and join an online global conversation around the importance of developing character strengths (resilience, grit, empathy, courage, kindness)‚Äďall rooted in evidence-based research (from the website).

As much as I dislike “one-off’s”, Character Day is exciting for a couple of reasons:

  • it’s free
  • Sharing is happening on social media which models for kids how it can be a place of solidarity, learning, and sharing
  • it happens early in the school year and yearly
  • the event is one day but the high quality resources are available all year long
  • the lessons are based on films which provide access to most learners
  • the films are short!
  • the quality of the films are exceptional because the founder, Tiffany Shlain is a filmmaker
  • it provides an opportunity for students to see themselves in a global context and within a global conversation
  • it helps students practice Digital Leadership

Ideas for Implementation

The Teacher-Librarian as the Hub

As I embark upon a new teacher-librarian position, I can see not only sharing information with all Departments for September 22nd and partnering with teachers to brainstorm ideas for classroom implementation, but I also think that  creating a buzz in the Library and screening the films over the lunch hour would be a great way to bring an awareness to the entire school.

Innovation team

I am hoping to re-frame the current Ed Tech Team into an Innovation team; this is not a name change only. ¬†I think that we need to move beyond the idea that the Help Desk or Genius Bar at a school, co-run by students, focuses solely on fixing tech and trouble-shooting. ¬†If we truly want our kids to become digital leaders, we need for them to understand, just as many teachers do that character is a part of how we interact online–it is connected to using images fairly and citing sources correctly, maintaining a healthy balance between tech and non-tech, communicating clearly and respectfully online and offline, etc… ¬†Involving an innovation team (ed tech team–whatever you call it) in this initiative may set the stage for the work they do the rest of the school year. ¬†They will probably have some awesome ideas for activities that could be used during the Library lunch events too!

District-wide participation

What I will miss about being a Literacy Consultant at the District level is to be able to rally many schools together to participate and share. ¬†If you are a District leader (or have a network of schools with whom you are connected), consider making Character Day a District-wide or multi-school event. Share what you are doing (pics, videos, etc…) not only with the event hashtag, but your own community/District hashtag. ¬†We recently started a Collaborative Blog for our District, why not use the power of Google Apps for Education to create a collaborative journal of what you did and what you learned and post it to a collaborative blog so that the entire District can see it?

Beyond September 22nd

Just like Global Day of Design was meant to get teachers thinking about design thinking in the classroom, Character Day should really be a springboard for ongoing conversations and activities that help kids become good people whether they are online or offline.

 

Watch 1min Character Day Trailer from The Moxie Institute on Vimeo.

Visit the Character Day website and sign up today and participate in one of the free webinars they are offering. Hope to see you then!

 

Social Media in the classroom: What to do when things go wrong

I have been and continue to be a strong advocate for using social media in the classroom to empower students.  I have been an active user of social media since 2011 and have never encountered any of the negativity I have heard people associate with it.  I mean, not ever in the 12, 696 Tweets and various Google +, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn posts!  I always put out positive and it always seems to come back to find me.

Early this morning, I wavered slightly when I was the target of online threats.

It happened on Blab at 2:30 a.m. ¬†I had only recently explored Blab as a tool for possible integration in the classroom a couple of weeks ago. ¬† I was a guest panelist for, Good Brings Good: Harnessing the Power of Connections for Social Change, as part of EdCamp Global, featuring Matone de Chiwit and Calliope’s Fran Siracusa. ¬†Also on air were Sean Robinson and Tracy Brady along with Manel Trenchs ¬†and Fabiana Cassella¬†as well as others who joined. ¬†We all stayed up for the time slot to share our enthusiasm for the powerful connections made with our classes and the young inventor Karishma Baghani around the topic of water scarcity.

And then the harassment started. ¬†It began with negative comments put forward by “Dawn”¬†who we later realized was not a real person, but a fake account created by someone on Twitter for the purpose of joining Blab to be negative and anonymous. ¬†There were extremely anti-male sentiments and harassing statements¬†directed at Sean. ¬†I proceeded to say in the chat box how disappointed I was that such an important topic was being sabotaged by negativity. ¬†Fran was able to remove “her” and we continued.

Blab chat

Shortly thereafter, another “user” entered the Blab and spewed hateful anti-male sentiments towards both Sean and Manel Trenchis i Mola, who joined us from Barcelona. ¬†I firmly believe it was the same person under the guise of a different username. The abuse was along similar lines. Fran tried to remove the user once again, but this time, it wasn’t working. ¬†I tried to¬†post positive comments but as I continued to do so, the user sent me threatening messages–directed not just at me, but clearly the person had looked at my Twitter profile and realized that I had two daughters and threatened them.

Fran and the panel of guests addressed the issue but also continued on with the presentation remarkably well.  Because Blab does not record the chat, a viewer would find it difficult to tell when this all started.

In the subsequent hours, (between 3 & 4:30 am ET), we each set out to Report and Block both of the users. ¬†¬†I emailed Blab, contacted Twitter. ¬†Fran meticulously deleted all of the negative comments so they couldn’t be seen in the replay. The group of amazing educators who had been in on the planning for the Good-Brings-Good Global Edcamp session got together on our group chat (Direct Message on Twitter) to talk about what happened and to support one another with words, Bitmojiis, and images. ¬†The conversation then extended to Voxer where we continued to¬†support each other and where we talked about what we could have done differently next time.

In my case, even before I woke up, my husband had already talked to my 13 year-old about the incident. ¬†When I came down for breakfast, she told me that she had gone into all of her accounts and checked to make sure nothing was unusual. ¬†She had¬†also checked my 16 year-old’s phone (as she is in Ecuador) and made sure nothing untoward was happening there either. ¬†She told me that she had also strengthened her passwords “just to be on the safe side”. ¬†Then she asked if I was ok. ¬†I just about sobbed. ¬†My biggest fear was that somehow the threats made could actually happen, despite knowing that it would be extremely unlikely that someone would¬†harm my kids from afar.

I don’t tell this story because I want to frighten you. I don’t tell it because I think we should all swear off social media. ¬†I tell it because as distressed as I was, ¬†I am more convinced than ever that we need to help and guide kids to navigate these spaces together. ¬†This negative experience has probably pushed my thinking more than has been possible when I’ve only known the positive. ¬†Sean Guillard shared the image below on Instagram and it immediately resonated. ¬†What happens in the classroom when a wrong note is hit? ¬†Being thoughtful and proactive will ensure that the next note is good.

wrong note

Anticipate that something may go wrong.

Stay Calm.

Do you have children?  If you do, you will be familiar with this scenario.  Your child falls and you react extremely negatively, you screech or cry out or gasp.  What does your child do?  Sobs and wails uncontrollably.  But what happens when I purposefully suck in my breath, carry on, offer support in a very even keel voice as if nothing really frightening has happened?  My children miraculously brushed themselves off and continued to play.    The most important thing to do when something unexpected, unfamiliar, or negative happens when using social media (really apply this wisdom to anything) is to stay calm and think things through logically.  If you watch the Replay of the Blab, you will see Fran as the model of composure even though she was panicking to block and eject the offender.  You will see Sean continue to talk about the power of student voice even though he is being attacked in the chat box.  Your calmness will in turn instill calm.  Your panic will make everyone anxious and fearful.

Think Aloud

When I presented at the GAFE Summit in Kitchener this past Spring, I decided it would be a good idea to do a live Google Hangout.  As you can imagine, anything that could go wrong, did.  Nothing was working, then I shared the wrong link and had to eject someone (not because he was being inappropriate, but there was audio interference).  Even though I was shaking in front of a rather large audience, my literacy background must have kicked in because I engaged in a problem-solving-think-aloud.  That is, I explained what I was doing to solve the problem in a methodical and practical way. Many people later shared how important that was and how much they appreciated me thinking through and problem-solving out loud as they saw what they would do if the same thing happened to them.  As I was thinking about what I would do if a negative incident happened in the classroom, it would be important to say these kinds of things as you are doing them:

  • “First I will look for a way to block this user because this is extremely inappropriate and uncomfortable. ¬†Blocking them will make sure we don’t see them anymore.
  • “I will take a screenshot of the username and the negative things being said so I can have a record of it”
  • “I will need to report this to the company and talk to the principal about this. ¬†I can send the screenshots I took.”
  • “I think I need to change my password and make it stronger, just in case this person tries to get into my accounts.”
  • “I wonder what we could do differently next time so this doesn’t happen again.”

Making this thinking visible will give them a frame for when this might happen to them as they personally engage in using social media (which we all know they are doing at younger and younger ages).

Plan that Something will go wrong

In an ensuing conversation with Marialice Curran, I spoke about overcoming the feeling helplessness with a proactive action plan.  She made the analogy of a Fire Escape plan which makes so much sense.

We have kids engage in Fire Drills & Lock down drills. ¬†We don’t wish for these things to happen, but when we anticipate that something could go wrong, and talk about it as a class, we empower our students to act in the event that action is necessary. ¬†And we do this to keep them safe. ¬†A¬†simple question like, “What might go wrong if we use this tool and what will we do about it?” may suffice. ¬†¬†In the case of Blab, Fran reflected that having more than one moderator/host would have been helpful since only a moderator can remove participants. ¬†This can be true for other live-streaming tools as well.

It may also help to include the following elements in your action plan:

DO NOT ENGAGE

As much as I always give everyone the benefit of the doubt, someone who is being negative on social media is not likely going to¬†turn around and be grateful to me for helping them to be more positive. Trying to reason with someone who is negative is futile. ¬†It definitely didn’t work for me–in fact in retrospect, standing up to the person is what prompted the threatening messages. ¬†It is important to continue as if nothing is happening and not engage in any way.

DROWN OUT THE NEGATIVE WITH POSITIVE

One of my favourite quotes by George Couros is this:

He coined it after he had a potentially negative situation arose in front of a live audience of students. I vividly remember him sharing his story with me and it was all I could think of during the Blab, but unfortunately, I was the only one who was putting in positive comments and because I was also trying to take screen shots, the effort was not enough.  I keep thinking how different it would have been if we had talked about this beforehand, and how much more effective and powerful all of us would have been at drowning out that one hateful voice.   This was a strategy kids came up with when we had a negative situation on Yik Yak as well.  To me, this is the most important thing we can do to empower our kids in a negative situation.

Jennifer Williams, who also reached out, said this: “Breaks my heart to think that there are people out there that are hurting so badly that they intentionally try to cause harm to others. Just another reason to spread in our world the best we can.”

MAKE THE COMPANY ACCOUNTABLE

Some apps really have no idea that educators are thinking of innovative ways to incorporate them; thus they are not being created with kids and safety in mind. ¬†If something negative happens, talk to the class about what action they’d like to take.

“Should we contact the company with our suggestions about how this tool could be safer?”

Again the intent is to empower.  Kids need to know that if there is something that needs to be fixed that they can be part of the solution.  It could very well be that the company had never even considered the suggestions that the kids might come up with.  They often surprise us and learning should lead to action.

FORGE A POSITIVE CONNECTION WITH PARENTS

If an incident happens in class, it is important to communicate this with parents and families about how to help. It is also important to think about what and how you communicate.  Parents need to know that something happened that made everyone uncomfortable, and what steps that could be taken at home, but it is also extremely helpful that the tone  (or the words) reflect the fact that there are important lessons to be learned by engaging in the guided use of social media together as a class which their child will take with them when they navigate the tools on their own.  If your tone wavers to suggest that you should not have been using this tool in the first place, you are just opening up yourself for trouble. Parents need to be assured that the choices you make in class are for the goal of learning.  A summary of the learning goals and what the children have decided as a plan of action moving forward would also help parents feel that the teacher and the school are being thoughtful and diligent about the choices being made.

MAKE WISE CHOICES

Having said, that, using technology as well as social media always requires critical thinking on the part of the teacher. ¬†Once you establish your purpose, you (or the kids) select a tool which would most easily and effectively help you arrive at your learning goal. Blab is a great tool for discussion and debate. ¬†Periscope is a great live streaming tool. But both are¬†public and anyone can¬†jump in. ¬†The time of day probably matters too, during the school day, you may be less likely to have someone come in than if it’s in the evening (or at 2 am!) ¬†Though it’s never the tool, but the user(s) of the tool which make it negative, you may not necessarily want to engage in a public Blab with kids under the age of 13 or at least practice using it as unlisted first. ¬†If you choose to use a tool, awareness and collaborative conversations are necessary.

Here is an article with some tips for online abuse on Blab which may apply to other tools as well.

The topic and Blab itself was a demonstration of the positive! Despite what happened there was powerful¬†sharing about how students were positively impacted by a project which allowed them to become passionate about a project that could helps make the lives of others better. ¬†Whatever else, getting involved in this project will provide. ¬†Sean’s blog is a great place to learn about this and other Connections-based learning projects. ¬†And check out the Our Blue Earth project in collaboration with Karishma which is still ongoing for the next school year.

I leave you with the sentiment expressed by Manel at the end of the Blab as he is being harassed in the chat:

“There is a lot of work to be done to help use social media in a good way”

Indeed there is. ¬†We can’t let negative experiences prevent us from engaging in these online spaces with kids. ¬†I shudder at the thought of a child or teen going through what I went through all alone because we just don’t feel comfortable going there. ¬†I am grateful to the community of friends that reached out to me and to Sean after this incident.

 And I am ever mindful that it is a community of friends whom I know mostly only virtually: by way of social media.

School should be that safe community for kids and so should their online spaces.

 

Digital Citizenship, Learning, and Student Voice

“Just as schools have played a role in preparing students to be citizens in the traditional sense, educators must now ensure that our children are ready to be active and responsible participants in our increasingly digital society”

(Couros & Katia, 2015, pg 6).

There isn’t a single educator who would argue with the fact that we need to teach kids how to navigate online spaces safely and critically. ¬†What I have noticed however is that there is an extremely huge variance in what educators think this should look like. ¬†In my research this week I am overwhelmed by the number of different definitions of digital citizenship as well as the different components. ¬†If you google, “digital citizenship defined,” there are 506,000 results. ¬†It seems like every District and every organization is trying to come up with their own unique framework. ¬†This makes sense to me on some level as every school District, every school even has its own culture.

But are we creating these frameworks on a grand scale which then become stagnant? ¬†Are they simply units that need to be “covered” and checked off? ¬†Even in my own practice, I curated this resource in 2011 which I now look at and would (and will when I have time) completely revamp because¬†my own stance¬†and the kind of choices I would make today are radically different. ¬†Is it a decent resource that teachers, especially those who are not comfortable utilizing in online spaces would find supportive? Absolutely. ¬†But,¬†I know that personally I would need the resources I use to match the group of students I had in front of me and the learning context in my class.

To me, it is an absolute necessity, to teach kids how to navigate online spaces in creative, critical healthy and ethical ways (my own definition of digital citizenship) positively, in context rather than isolation.

This is supported by research about situated cognition (Brown, Collins, Duguid, 1989) around reading, writing, and mathematics, which has stood the test of time and which I believe is completely relevant to this conversation.  Consider these quotations about student learning:

  • learning methods that are embedded in authentic situations are not merely useful; they are essential and knowledge must be applied in context in order to be used and made explicit (Brown et al, 1989).
  • Research around using vocabulary words from a dictionary to teach reading show learning to be ineffective because ‚Äúlearning from dictionaries, like any method that tries to teach abstract concepts independently of authentic situations, overlooks the way understanding is developed through continued, situated use. (Brown et al., page 33). ¬†
  • People who use tools actively rather than just acquire them, appear to build an increasingly rich implicit understanding of the world in which they use the tools and of the tools themselves. (Brown et all, 1989, pg 33).
  • given the chance to observe and practice in situ the behavior of members of a culture, people pick up relevant jargon, imitate behavior, and gradually start to act in accordance with its norms ¬†and that despite the fact that cultural practices are often extremely complex, students, when given the opportunity to observe and practice them, students adopt them with great success.¬†¬†(Brown et al., 1989, page 34)

And now apply this analogy to using technology tools and social media in context.  It makes complete sense!

Any yet…

We continue to treat Digital Citizenship as discrete units in school.  

We rarely¬†explore social media within the context of the classroom in order to support the nuanced understanding of etiquette, usage, etc…that can only come with using tools in authentic and meaningful ways.

We also tend to block sites that may be problematic which makes a guided and contextual approach to digital citizenship problematic at best or worse yet, becomes about teaching kids how to circumvent firewalls.  This passage from Participatory Cultures in a Networked World reinforces my own feelings about this:

“[B]locking sites perpetuates risk as it ensures that many kids will be forced to confront online risks on their own. Many young people lack opportunities to learn how to use new media tools effectively and appropriately. Not just that, but a reliance on blocking sends the message that sites and tools important to students have little to nothing to contribute to intellectual pursuits. (Jenkins, Ito, boyd, 2016, pg 16)

As much as the thought of encountering an inappropriate image in front of an entire class instils dread in me, I know that at least a safe classroom environment is less problematic that that child encountering that image on their own device…a fact we definitely need to address with parents!

Can kids learn about self-regulation and what a healthy balance of online and offline looks like if we ask students to leave electronic devices in their lockers?

Do kids really understand what appropriate commenting looks like without extending and practicing this skill with explicit instruction and practice with an authentic audience?

Can kids really understand intellectual property if¬†we don’t have them explore¬†Creative Commons licencing for their own creations which they post for a widespread audience?

If we only focus on the fear narrative, will students recognize the positive potential of connecting online?

It is true that many teachers don’t feel comfortable enough to be the “expert” when it comes to modelling the use of social media, but teachers know their curriculum well and most importantly know how to pose the right questions, which is arguably a more important skill than answering questions anyway.

Teaching kids about the online world needs to be an organic and contextual process guided by an adult who can ask the right questions.

Student Voice and Digital Citizenship

Students need to part of the Digital Citizenship conversation.  In as much as we talk about student voice, I often find it missing when it comes to practice.  Whatever table I am sitting at, I always invite students to it to give their thoughts and opinions.  Check out how students contributed to the solution during our Yik Yak episode here.

That’s why I am so excited about ¬†@Digcitkids,¬† Digital Citizenship for kids by kids. It is¬†created by ¬†a¬†4th grader ¬†with the help of his¬†mom Marialice ¬†who is as passionate about bringing student voice and student digital leadership into our schools as I am.

Be sure to watch the Digcitkids website (which literally just went live in time for this post!!) as it develops and grows. The idea around Digcitkids is to provide an opportunity to amplify student voice and to promote students as digital leaders  k-12. The student and/or classroom ambassador program provides an opportunity for students from around the world to get involved in creating and sharing content and will allow students to participate in monthly challenges.

Curran wanted to start digcitkids as a way to address the conversation about digital access & connected learning opportunities for all students. ¬†Plus, after his Ted talk he didn’t understand why he was the only elementary aged student talking about the topic and still doesn’t understand why educators wait until students are in high school to highlight student voice. ¬† More about Curran and his quest here.

He presented the idea during Edcamp Global on July 30 at 7 am.

Other resources for teachers and leaders

Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools

Created by Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt¬†in collaboration with a larger working group,¬†this is perhaps my favourite resource. ¬†It aligns with my thinking about situating learning of using social media in¬†context and is a comprehensive, thoughtful and thorough approach. It is framed around¬†Mike Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship¬†¬†I also really appreciate the guides found within the document.

OSAPAC

The OSAPAC Digital Citizenship resource is an excellent and comprehensive resource created for Ontario teachers and leaders but which is useful to any educator.  Our District used it as one of the key resources for its Digital Discipleship framework.  The resource is grounded in research and has practical and positive lesson plans.  It is divided up into both elementary and secondary around the following themes:

osapac

Common Sense Media

Common Sense media offers a continuum of skills offered by topic beginning from kindergarten to grade 12. Lessons are available as PDF downloads, as well as Nearpod lessons, and iBooks (for purchase) for an agnostic experience for students. They are organized in the following way:

Common Sense Media

MediaSmarts

Media Smarts is a Canadian resource for digital and media literacy and is grounded on ongoing national research on Canadian children and teens and their experiences with networked technologies.  The resources are relevant to any educator.  They use the following framework:

Media Smarts 1

iKeepSafe

IKeepSafe is a non-profit organization which adopts a global citizen approach. ” It contends that modern technologies like telephones, television, and most of all, the Internet, allow for a global society where individuals can access information from around the world‚ÄĒin real time‚ÄĒdespite being thousands of miles from the source of the content (Searson et al, 2015). ¬†This is how they organize their topics.

iKeepSafe Digital Citizenship

ISTE Standards for Students

In the newly revised standards put out by the International Society. It is useful as a point of reference for educators.

Digital Citizenship ISTE

References

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, S. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.

Couros, A., & Hildebrandt, K. (2015). Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools. Retrieved from http://publications.gov.sk.ca/documents/11/83322-DC%20Guide%20-%20ENGLISH%202.pdf

Jenkins, H., ItoŐĄ, M., & boyd, d. (2015). Participatory culture in a networked era: A conversation on youth, learning, commerce, and politics. Wiley.

Searson, M., Hancock, M., Soheil, N., & Shepherd, G. (2015). Digital citizenship within global contexts. Education and Information Technologies, 20(4), 729-741. doi:10.1007/s10639-015-9426-0

Curation Tools, Social Media, and Student Digital Leadership

“The sheer volume of digital information that is available makes it increasingly challenging to find the information you are interested in. ¬†Curation in a digital world isn‚Äôt a luxury, it‚Äôs a necessity.”

–Stephen Dale

As I embark on a new self-directed course called, Social Media in Education at the University of Ontario, Institute for Technology (UOIT), I am set with the task of finding a curation tool to keep track of the various resources I accumulate over the next couple of months.  Because of the content of the course, I am thinking that the curation tool I select, should be public and shareable.

What is curation?

I really like Sylvia Tolisano’s definition of curation:

“…the ability to find, to filter, to evaluate, to annotate, to choose which sources are valuable.” (Valenza, et al. 2014)

Stephen Daly, in his article, Content Curation: The Future of Relevance, reminds us that when we think of curation we think of a museum curator who keeps abreast of trends, listens to what guests are discussing and finds resources that resonate well with those areas. ¬†He states¬†that you no longer need to have studied curation :¬†“social media sharing has enabled anyone to share anything with the world.” ¬†(Daly. 2014, pg 1)

Content Curation Tools

The following are a few content curation tools which I either like or want to explore and what I know about them so far:

Storify (13+) allows me to draw content from a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Google Plus feed or from Google in order to create a digital story with annotations. ¬†It’s also very intuitive; I use it regularly to consolidate learning like here and to summarize events.

Diigo allows¬†me¬†to individually or collaboratively bookmark and annotate links, pages, notes, and media. ¬†I have been able to¬†add tags to make my bookmarks searchable as well as add¬†highlight, sticky notes, or screenshots to my libraries (Valenza, pg 63). ¬† The Chrome extension is extremely useful. ¬†I don’t believe there is an age restriction, but you need to sign up with an email.

Flipboard (13+) also has a handy Google Chrome extension and is a place to not just read content, but curate it as well. ¬†I tried this tool out for one of my previous courses and like that I can add a comment or idea to the articles, videos, or photos that I “flip” and that I can also categorize magazines and share them.

Pinterest ¬†My 16 year old uses Pintrest all the time for decorating and recipe ideas and I follow the Edumatch board, but that’s about it. ¬†I’d like to explore how Pintrest might be used in a school or classroom setting especially because of its incredible visual quality; I know some teachers are already having their students create boards for a variety of subjects.

I have been using Google Plus Communities (13 +) more and more lately to share information, links, videos, or project ideas with various groups of people.  I think this platform has great potential as a curation platform.  I am interested in exploring this tool more in this context.

Bundlr is a tool that I learned about through Joyce Valenza, in Curation Platforms. ¬†The tool allows you to create relevant “bundles” using articles, images, videos, tweets, and links and share them. ¬†Out of all these tools it is the one tool I know absolutely nothing about but would like to challenge myself to explore.

I have also personally used Evernote and Symbaloo, to curate and organize articles, websites, images, and blogposts based on themes and ideas.  This blog  (any blog by virtue of tags) serves as a curation tool for my own learning as well.  Many of my friends (especially my Edumatch Voxer PLN),  also use Blendspace, Livebinders, Educlippers, and Scoop-it,.  Like anything when it comes to technology, there are literally a hundred apps and tools that might serve a similar purpose.  Check out this list.

So how many of these tools are currently being used by or taught to students?

The current practice in many schools when it comes to curating information involves citing or annotating resources for one specific unit or project at a time, usually in the form of research notes, a bibliography or annotated bibliography which is submitted it to the teacher and sometimes even graded.  This is good.

And so I asked the Twitterverse via a poll:

Curation Poll

Only about 35 out of 97¬†people who responded teach students to use online curation tools. This is by no means reliable¬†data–people may have said no because they¬†teach kindergarten or don’t meet the age restrictions or don’t have access to technology. ¬†The results are interesting nonetheless. ¬†As educators we are constantly seeking ways to be more efficient and productive with finding and organizing information, but this hasn’t quite translated to classroom practice. Don’t our students need these same skills? ¬†I think we need to do better than this in 2016, especially when content curation utilizes so many different forms of literacy. Here is a graphic outlining Content Curation Competencies which I modified from Stephen Dale, and to which I applied three¬†sample tools (Pintrest, Flipboard, and Storify).

Content Curation Competencies

Curation and Student Digital Leadership

In the meantime, I randomly Googled myself (a practice I regularly encourage students and teachers to do) and saw that my Symbaloo account came up. This made me think about Student Digital Leadership.

Why? I wonder about the current practice of showing students how to curate information specifically for a class or a teacher, which then never goes anywhere, when we could be teaching students curation tools that can actually contribute to their online presence and allow them to both learn and share their learning in a guided and scaffolded way.  Better?

What if we modelled what content curation looked like in the early years by having a collaborative online curation space, and then helping our kids select and create content for that online space? ¬†This would work especially well in inquiry-rich classrooms where research is happening based on student interests. ¬†Here¬†is a link to a class-created Flipboards by Lisa Noble’s class.

What if students in older grades were able to make decisions about where to curate their work and that part of that decision included a social networking opportunity which allowed them to share their learning as well as actively learning from the curated resources of other students?

And what if we asked students in grade 12 to reflect on their curated resources from grade 9 and the extent to which they feel they have grown as learners and as information gatherers and seekers?

Ideally, you would compare and contrast the tool’s features, check the terms of service to ensure it doesn’t sell your private information and that you are using the tool with the age suggested. ¬†Even better, why not decide as a class what features you deem important and have your students investigate a few of them and decide on which tool(s) they’d like to use for the year?

 

An emphasis on curation will not only help students to track the plethora of information on the web, and provide them with essential literacy skills but an organizational tool they can readily use if they choose to go to post-secondary.  It also serves to provide students with an opportunity to learn and share their learning and thus foster Digital Leadership skills.

References

Dale, S. (2014). Content curation: The future of relevance.Business Information Review, 31(4), 199-205. doi:10.1177/0266382114564267

Valenza, J. K., Boyer, B. L., & Curtis, D. (2014). Curation outside the library world. Library Technology Reports, 50(7), 51.

Valenza, J. K., Boyer, B. L., & Curtis, D. (2014). Curation platforms. Library Technology Reports, 50(7), 60.

 

Rethinking Student (Digital) Leadership and Digital Citizenship

In our increasingly digital and connected world, it is imperative that we teach our children to be responsible citizens–both online and face to face. ¬†Online*, this means that they share appropriate stories and ideas with friends and family, give credit where credit is due, treat others with respect and report inappropriate behaviour. ¬†All of these things contribute to having a positive digital online presence. ¬†But while Digital Citizenship is about being a good citizen online Digital Leadership goes beyond this. ¬†Here is the post in which I clarify this thinking.

image

When I first thought about this idea, defined here¬†by George Couros¬†, and then¬†Sylvia Duckworth and I collaborated to visualized this idea, I looked at them as somewhat distinct from one another. Yet the more I meet some of these amazing student leaders who use technology to share learning, promote important causes, etc*… , and the more I see students engaged in some powerful connected learning, I recognize that perhaps it isn‚Äôt a linear list afterall. ¬†This is what I‚Äôm now thinking (perhaps I‚Äôll see if Sylvia has a better way to visualize this!).

Rethinking Digital Leadership

And perhaps Digital Citizenship envelops or circles the whole thing??

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if Digital Citizenship really needs to come first ? When I consider of some of some of the fear-mongering lessons and messages we give students without a balanced positive slant,  I really believe that these lessons should  (or need to) coincide with opportunities for digital leadership rather than be separated from them. We are kind of doing it wrong if we have a Digital Citizenship continuum in isolation from building in opportunities to learn in the space via connected experiences.  Check out this post by Andrew Campbell which also reinforces this idea.

I am thinking of this exciting project,  initiated by Calliope (founders Jennifer Williams & Fran Siracusa) of which I am honoured to be a part.

Inspire Passion via Online Collaboration

Students are inspired by Kharishma Baghani, a young Kenyan student who invented an inexpensive water filtration system and connect with her via Google Hangouts on Air (Stay tuned for lots more opportunities to do this live). Here is the GHOA with St. Cecilia School in Florida:

Students contribute their ideas to the collaborative Padlet.

Both of these activities provide opportunities for students to learn about ethical and courteous ways to communicate online (which should be an extension of how to cooperate and communicate face to face in the classroom).  Also, an explicit connection can be made to show how effectively Karishma is marketing the project, Matone de Chiwit (Drops of Life), and how well she is using social media Twitter and Facebook to promote awareness about her cause.

Teach Digital Citizenship with a Call to Action

As students learn more about this topic (through research), get to know and be inspired by Karishma, they are then encouraged to brainstorm ways in which they can use social media, and their own creativity to share their learning and promote awareness about water scarcity.

They will CREATE posters, podcasts, public service announcements, etc… And in this creation and sharing, there is the opportunity to talk about creation and credit of sources, of ways to communicate a message powerfully, of what information is private, how a message might be misconstrued on social media, how to use tone and persuasive techniques effectively. Any tool that is used for creation or sharing can be explicitly talked about (privacy settings, terms of use, audience, etc…) These lessons become authentic and in-the moment.

If students are under 13, the ability to share via a class Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook account can provide a powerful opportunity to recognize the power social media holds, while ensuring that students are not only in a guided environment, but that you are not breaching terms of service age restrictions.  If students are over 13, they should be using their own names and developing their own online presence, with continued guidance and support from the teacher.

AND when communicating this process with parents, they will be able to see their children inspired to help others and using social media ethically and responsibly to do this!

This is my current thinking.

You may argue that this is what a student leader (remove digital) looks like and I would say, absolutely EXCEPT today any leader needs to know how to make use of the digital realm.  You may also consider that not every student needs to or has to feel like they need to change the world, as Dean Shareski suggests here.  I would say that students should be given lots and varied opportunities to be inspired by others and to know that they can if they choose to.

What am I missing?  I would LOVE to have you challenge my thinking or present alternative points of view as I continue to flesh out my ideas about this important topic!

And of course, if you are interested in joining the Our Blue Earth project, please contact me, Fran Siracusa, or Jennifer Williams!

*The italicized statements were added after reading Stepan’s comment below.