Summary of Learning

Well, we did it folks! We have officially completed EC&I 832! I have learned so much about the importance of digital citizenship and media literacies! As an educator, this course’s content has been extremely valuable to me, as I intend to utilize a variety of digital media sources in my teaching practices. I would like to express my appreciation for everything I have learned by saying thank you to Alec and everyone in the Zoom room, Google+ community, and Twitter community for contributing to my learning this semester!

For my summary of learning project, I decided to create an animated presentation that includes dialogue, using a program called Goanimate. Goanimate has proven to be very user-friendly, engaging and fun! I enjoyed using this online tool to represent my learning and highly recommend you give this program a try, whether it be for personal or professional use! I look forward to collaborating with you all in the future! Thank you to everyone who shared in my learning experience this semester! So, without further ado, I present to you my summary of learning project. I really hope you enjoy it!

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Media and Me

With all of the advancements in technology, it is no surprise that our personal life has become highly dependent upon it. Technology has changed the way we communicate, the way we learn, and the way we receive and make sense of information. As people’s demands and life style change, so does the technology. From smart phones to tablets, there is always a way to stay connected and conveniently access current information/media.

Nowadays, a fresh off the press newspaper has become somewhat obsolete. If we wish to listen or read about current events happening in our world, all we need to do is turn on our television, laptop computer, or simply take out our smart phones and instantly we are connected through an abundance of different media sources.

On an average day, I check social media several times (more so during the evening after my son has gone to bed). But, if I’m being completely honest, I would say I am always “connected”. Specifically, I am checking my Facebook feed, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter accounts. Monitoring my email (work and personal) is easy as I get instant notifications sent directly to my cell phone. Once I receive an email, I am usually quick to respond. Although, this promptness may change once I return to work from my maternity leave.

During the evening, my husband and I usually have the television on and are watching the news (CBC and Global mostly). This is usually when we catch up on our daily news fix. Like Kyle, during the day we are mainly connected to cell phones, scrolling through Twitter for information and news. As for analyzing the credibility of information/media, my strategies are similar to Krista’s. When I read a piece of information and question its authenticity, usually the  questions I will ask myself are: Who is the author? Why is this information being shared? Who is the targeted audience? What source is this information coming from? After asking myself these questions, I am usually inspired to investigate the source from which I have read the information from, before assuming the information is authentic.

After watching Luke’s recent vlog on media literacy, I feel more confident in my ability to investigate media sources. Within his video, he reminds both teachers and learners to be cautious of fake news surrounding technology and social media today. Moreover, he explains the many ways we can guide/coach our students to think critically while examining different forms of media and to be reflective.

Overall, the effects of technological advancement are both positive and negative. It is positive because technology has simplified the way we do things, increases productivity, simplifies communication and provides instant access to up to date information. But, some would say it is negative due to being too dependent upon technology and lack of innovation. Despite these pros and cons, technology is here to stay and we will continue to receive information through its use. Therefore, educating students about digital media/literacy is crucial in the development of producing informed citizens that possess the ability to think critically about media messages and be able to respond appropriately.

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I can read and write, but does this mean I’m “fully literate”?

For this week’s blog, we were asked to consider the question: What does it mean to be fully literate? Well, if you are literate, this means you are able to read and right. But is that it? The answer is…Absolutely not! It is so much more than just the ability to read and write! In today’s digital world, being literate has a new meaning. It means you are able to evaluate the quality and credibility of websites, think critically about the intentions of commercial websites and advertising, and apply different search strategies to increase the accuracy and relevance of online search results.

With all of the technological advances today, both young and adult learners have access to an abundance of online resources and tools to support their learning. Traditional textbooks seem to be obsolete as the majority of individuals turn to the world-wide web to access information. Although retrieving information online may appear to be quick and convenient, its content still needs to be examined critically. According to Common Sense Education, “Too often, students who are looking for information online (particularly for their school work) conduct an oversimplified search that leads to millions of results’. ‘With a sea of information at their fingertips, it is crucial for young people to think about how they search and what they find online’”. This is the same for adult learners or digital immigrants who lack the skills to critically analyze digital content.

Developing digital media/literacy is crucial for today’s modern students. But, this process needs to be encouraged by schools, teachers and parents. Krisanne states in her blog, “The earlier children are introduced to digital literacy, even if it starts at a ‘learn to use’ stage, the better’. ‘It is unrealistic for the education system not to prepare children for the world that they live it’”. I couldn’t agree with you more, Krisanne! Establishing digital media/literacy skills is not embedded into our brains overnight. Students should be taught how to critically analyze the different forms of digital literacy in a safe and monitored environment, guided by the teacher. As educators, the worst thing we can do for our students is to assume they already obtain the information literacy skills/fundamentals to thrive in a digital space!

I don’t know about you, but I think it is safe to say that the digital world is here to stay. So why not prepare our students for what lies ahead? Yes, literacy is the ability to read and write, but it is also the ability to understand. Therefore, it is important to remember that developing digital media/literacy is entirely separate from computer literacy. Although it is essential to expose students to a variety of digital tools that may be beneficial, learning how to critically analyze information they find online should be the targeted focus.

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Shaping digital citizens, online and offline!

Last week, we were fortunate to have Patrick Maze, the President of the STF, join our online class in a discussion about digital citizenship. He spoke to us about the role both schools and teachers play in educating students about digital citizenship. Patrick states, “As teachers, we need to uphold our own professionalism and monitor our digital footprint by practicing responsible online behaviour”. Within our profession, it can be difficult to live our lives to the fullest online, meaning we need to exercise caution when sharing content, such as personal/private information and photos. The truth is, educators are held to a higher standard within the eyes of the public and are expected to be “quite neutral”.

As human beings, this reality can sometimes feel unfair as educators are not only judged by their peers, but also by the public. Therefore, it is crucial that we are careful and use our best judgment before posting something online that could result in the destruction of our personal/professional reputation or possibly the loss of employment. Patrick also spoke to us about the dangers of being too involved online with students and their parents. He states, “When teachers allow students or their parent’s permission to communicate with them online through social media (such as Facebook or Twitter), it creates the perception that they are always available because they can see your online activity”. As a wife and busy mother, I know I have the right to a personal life, so I do not allow instant communication to my students or their parents. Therefore, I have made a personal choice not to “friend” or accept any add/follow requests from my students or their parent’s. If they have a question or need to speak with me, they can send me an email, call the school, or arrange to meet with me during school hours.

As Krista states in her blog, “Schools hold a huge responsibility to support the development of digital citizenship in education because its learners have constant access to technology”. As educators, we are aware of our student’s involvement online because we see and hear about their online activity of a daily basis. But the important question is, “Do they practice responsible and appropriate behaviour with regard to technology use”? It is the responsibility of school boards, educators, and parents to educate today’s modern students about digital citizenship and all of its elements. Specifically, this responsibility includes: introducing students to the proper use of a variety of digital tools and guided practice online in a monitored environment. Parents that may be considered digital immigrants within today’s digital world may not obtain the confidence, knowledge and critical thinking skills required for operating technology. Therefore, a lot of parents appreciate or perhaps hope that their children are learning about these concepts in school. Moreover, the policy planning guide from the Ministry of Saskatchewan encourages schools and teachers to be educating students about appropriate online behaviour in the development of becoming positive digital citizens.

Overall, if we expect our children and students to be successful, well-rounded digital citizens within a digital society, then we need to understand that this process needs to be taught and supported. It is simply not embedded into our brains. The combined role between schools boards, teachers and parents play in teaching about digital citizenship is crucial. We cannot expect our youth to achieve this goal on their own.

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My digital identity…Past, present and future!

For this week’s post, we were asked to reflect on the idea of digital identity and explain how our past, present and future online practices contributes to who we are as individuals. The way in which we represent ourselves offline and the activities we practice online determines our online reputation and digital identity. Before taking online courses with Alec, my knowledge about digital citizenship and identity was restricted. I suppose you could say, I was aware about the basic “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for practicing online safety, such as not providing private information in online spaces I am unfamiliar with or do not trust. But, establishing a person’s digital identity is so much more than protecting private information or sharing a photo online. It involves the understanding that our past and present online activity and practices will ultimately contribute to how we are showcased or perceived within the digital world.

My Past- Growing up in the 1990’s, the world-wide web was limited in its potential. I do not recall using technology and the internet for entertainment really, more so for doing research for school work. Therefore, my understanding of the internet was that it was only to be used as a secondary resource (next to textbooks) for finding information. The concepts of digital identity and digital footprints were not taught in schools during this time but I was encouraged by my parents to exercise caution while navigating through online spaces. Although my parents might be considered digital immigrants according to today’s digital standards, even with little or no technological experience, they were aware of the many potential online risks. They always paid close attention to my practices online to ensure my safety, even while conducting research for school. I am grateful for my parents as they encouraged me to think critically online, even when establishing these skills were not the focus in schools. Ever since then, I have worked hard to maintain a positive digital identity by being active in online spaces while monitoring my digital footprints closely.

My Present- As an adult learner and educator, having a positive digital identity is extremely important to me. The way I am perceived in online spaces not only reflects my personal reputation, but also professionally. Through the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging, I have grown more confident in my ability to make my presence known online as well as share in my learning. Moreover, I have learned that the world-wide web can be a valuable tool and can contribute to our learning in a variety of ways, as long as it is used responsibly and appropriately.

My Future- For my future practices, my goal is to maintain a positive digital identity. Furthermore, I intend to model for my students the many ways we can be active and productive online. I have been very fortunate to have obtained the knowledge and critical thinking skills required in order to protect myself while contributing to digital world. I hope to educate my students about digital identity meanwhile provide them with opportunities to explore open spaces but in a teacher-guided environment.

As educators, it is important that we teach our students about the importance of digital identity. Knowledge is key and without it, our students are at risk for making mistakes which cannot be undone and potentially harm their digital reputation. In partnership with teachers, parents can encourage their children to be responsible and to think before they post as children are more likely to be active in online spaces after school hours. In the article “Teacher’s Guide to Digital Citizenship”, it states “either educators nor parents have the means to completely control how students use technology. That only makes it more important for educators to address digital citizenship in the classroom, so students will have a better idea of what they’re getting into once outside of it”. Therefore, I believe that students may achieve positive digital identities for themselves if they have the tools and critical thinking skills required for navigating responsibly online. As Amy B states in her blog this week, “We need to prepare students for a digital world that doesn’t fully exist yet, we don’t fully comprehend and while it is online it will still impact their daily lives”. I couldn’t agree with you more, Amy B! Our biggest mistake as parents and teachers is to simply assume that our children know what they’re doing, without any guidance. Digital wisdom is not automatically embedded into our brains, it is taught. Together, we can create opportunities for our students to be present in online spaces while steering them on course to maintaining safe and positive digital identities.

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Building on digital citizenship, one student at a time!

For this week’s post, we were asked to provide an update of our major project and discuss how it relates to one or more of Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. Back in January, I made the decision to develop a curriculum-based resource for teaching digital citizenship . Although there were several tempting project ideas to choose from, my decision for developing this resource was purely based on the rationale that I could utilize it upon returning to work. As a few of you already know, I am currently on maternity leave. So, by the time I return to work, my project should be complete and ready to implement with my students.

When I first began to map out the details for my major project, I knew I would be investigating the following resources: Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship, Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Continuum, Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Policy Planning Guide and the Common Sense Education website. By examining these resources in depth, my project will encompass the proper content requirements for teaching digital citizenship as well as include the use of digital tools.

In order to teach students to think critically online and offline, my project will focus on all nine aspects of digital citizenship: Digital Etiquette, Digital Access, Digital Law, Digital Communication, Digital Literacy, Digital Commerce, Digital Rights and Responsibilities, Digital Health and Wellness and Digital Security. Specifically, the goal for my project is to develop a unit plan (grades 3-5) which includes detailed lesson plans to support each element. My plans will consist of effective strategies for educating students about each element and contain interactive activities for both teachers and students to partake in. By including the use of digital tools and social media apps, students will be able to practice appropriate and responsible behaviour but in a supportive environment, guided by the teacher.

My overall goal for my major project is to create opportunities for both teachers and students to positively engage in the online world with confidence and comfortability. Once my project is complete, I am hoping to share this resource with my colleagues so that they may promote the importance of digital citizenship. As educators, it is important to acknowledge that technology plays a large roll in how we learn and communicate. We know that every child is unique and has different needs and technology contributes to our students learning as it provides enrichment and support in many different ways. Therefore, I’m hoping my curriculum-based resource will offer myself and other educators a starting point for incorporating digital citizenship into our teaching practices rather than deny students the use of digital tools because we fear they are not responsible to operate them. Let’s embrace the many advantages technology offers and teach our students how to be positive digital citizens online and offline.


Times are changing…but are we ready to?

For this week’s post, we were asked to discuss the topic of technology in regards to the generational, societal, and cultural changes that may lie ahead. In today’s digital world, there is no doubt that technology plays a significant role. As technology continues to adapt to the needs of modern society, its advancements lead to somewhat of a dependency towards technology. Specifically, a person’s day to day activities most likely involve technology in one way or another. Whether it’s paying bills online, participating in open education, or simply communicating with friends and family through social networking, technology is present.

As previously discussed in my post last week, David White’s idea of Digital Residents and Digital Visitors resonated with me. A person’s activity online and the practices they develop may determine where they stand on the continuum, but it does not necessarily establish whether or not they have mastered digital wisdom. Although generational factors might depict one’s natural fluency towards operating technology, digital citizenship involves specific skill sets which are not automatically rooted into our brains, they need to be taught.

As we prepare today’s modern students to be successful digital citizens both online and offline, there are many factors which need to be considered. First and foremost, we must remember that education begins in the home. Therefore, how parents utilize technology drastically influences their children. Parents that allow or are aware that their children have access to technology should most definitely spend time educating their children about the potential dangers that exist online. In the article “Sound, Smart, and Safe: A Plea for Teaching Good Digital Hygiene”, Alissa Sklar explains how “Digital hygiene teaches so much more than just safe, responsible use of digital tools”. Specifically, digital hygiene is instilled by parents who are aware of the “innumerable ways technology has infiltrated every aspect of our kids’ lives”. Therefore, in partnership with teachers, it is essential that parents also model critical thinking skills for their children as it will encourage them to think critically both online and offline.

In the video “What does it mean to be a (digital) citizen”, created by my colleague Kyla Moffatt, she states “It is the responsibility of both parents and teachers to educate young minds and shape digital citizens”. Well Kyla, I could not agree with you more! Teachers recognize the importance of digital citizenship as we make strong efforts to include the use of technology into our daily teaching practices. However, with no fault of their own, some parents lack the knowledge and information for teaching digital citizenship, therefore they struggle to teach their children these skills. Therefore, parents who wish to be informative about this topic are encouraged to seek assistance from their child/children’s teacher(s). Parents may inquire about the many resources available that can assist them with educating their children about digital citizenship. As Kyla states, “We are all in this together”!

In order for today’s youth to be raised as positive digital citizens, there is much that society and schools can do to encourage online responsibility. The first step is acknowledging the potential risks that results with the inappropriate use of technology. The second step is recognizing that technology plays a major role in the way we learn, communicate and gain information. Kelsie accurately explains in her blog that “Schools need to change their pedagogical focus from a one-size-fits-all approach of students sitting in desks in a classroom at a specific time on a specific day to one that meets the needs of individual learners where they are”. Schools need to embrace technology and realize the advantages it provides education and to individual learners. As a society, there is much we can do for our youth. As Dani states, “Knowledge is truly power” and together, we can educate our students about the importance of digital citizenship and hopefully witness our students be successful both online and offline.