My [Digital] Identity

Prior to starting this class, I didn’t really have a digital identity.  I’m not on Facebook, didn’t have a Twitter account, and had never posted pictures online.  A Google search of myself brought up my school directory and an old University EMTH assignment.  Now, after a few short weeks in EC&I 832, my digital identity has grown.  My Twitter feed is accessible to the world, as are my thoughts as expressed through this blog.  I’m not sure how I feel about my identity being exposed to the world, but it reinforces in me, the need to be aware of not only what you are posting online, but how you are posting.  The feelings and intent behind your posts are just as important as the messages themselves.

This experience has reaffirmed the need to practice digital citizenship, and to make sure that my students are able to practice it as well.   The idea of a digital footprint or  Jennifer Scheffer‘s even more permanent idea of a digital tattoo, continue to highlight the importance of being aware of your online identity because what you post today will continue to echo through the future.  We need to remember to cultivate our digital identity in the same way that we would our true self; by remembering that those we connect with online are real people even though we cannot see their faces.  We need to approach all interactions (real and digital) from a perspective of kindness and acceptance, and with the knowledge that each post or conversation leaves a little piece of us behind.

 

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Major Project Plans – Update

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my project and how to structure it so that it will be beneficial to me and to my students.  What information do I want to come away with?  What skills do I want my students to learn?  How do I merge my learning with my students’ learning and have it all come together to form a meaningful give and take that will lead to us all becoming more technologically literate and examples of what a true digital citizen should and could be?

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After a lot of contemplation, I realized that the learning within this project is going to happen in layers.  First, I will educate myself on what truly makes someone a digital citizen, and as my knowledge grows, I will be able to create lessons and facilitate activities and opportunities for my students to explore how they can be digital citizens as well as to put their learning into practice.

I’m going to create a unit for my Grade 2/3 class that is based on the Government of Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Continuum as well as rooted in Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship; focusing on the elements of digital literacy and digital etiquette.  Before providing my students with digital opportunities, I need to first provide them with background information on what a digital citizen is, and give them time to explore this concept before picking up a device and entering into the digital world.  I want to ensure that they understand the notion of a digital footprint, as well as the importance of interacting appropriately with people they may never meet face to face.

Once my students demonstrate an understanding of these fundamental ideas, we will move into applying their knowledge as we explore the many facets of Seesaw.  My goal, at the end of this unit of study, is to have my students engage in appropriate posting of their work or ideas, comment on their classmates’ posts in an encouraging and constructive manner, and cultivate a positive digital footprint, all in a safe and controlled environment.  My hope is that they will be able to build on the experiences that they will be given in class, and apply this knowledge as they explore the digital world and find their place within it.

Where I’ll finally end up with this project, only time will tell, but I’m excited to continue on the journey!

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Coming Soon: The Alpha Generation

Every generation seems to judge the one the comes next.  To hold them up, look them over, identify all of their limitations, and broadcast them to the world.  They examine them in the context of their own life experiences and according to their own sliding scale of what is right and socially acceptable.  They forget that they were once the ‘youth of today’; being judged on their long hair, shifting values, and use of the current technology.

What if, instead of applying over-arching generalizations to an entire generation, we accepted them for who they are, for the contributions that each and every one of them can make to our society and our world, and judged them on an individual basis?  What if we looked at the changes that we could make in order to understand our ever-changing world and to shape our society into a more welcoming and tolerant place where everyone can be free to reach their full potential – whatever that may be?

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How can we do this?  By looking forward to the future instead of looking back, and changing with the times instead of continuing with the status quo.  By teaching our children how to navigate their world, how to be responsive and adaptable to it, as well as to prepare them to find their place within it.   Where is the best place to start this process?  In the classroom, of course, as education is always the pathway to change.

It’s not easy to make changes in the way we deliver curriculum or in what curriculum we choose to deliver, after all there is comfort in the familiar, but our world is changing and we need to adapt to it in order to best serve our students.  According to the “2020 Future Work Skills“‘ report published by the Institute for the Future,  there are ten skills that will be necessary for the future work force, and will therefore directly impact the Alpha generation.  They identify these ten skills as sense-making, social intelligence, novel & adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational thinking, new-media literacy, transdisciplinarity, design mindset, cognitive load management, and virtual collaboration.  After reading the descriptions of each of these ten skills, I understand their importance and can see the value in teaching them to the citizens of tomorrow.  Yes, math and literacy skills are important, but the ten skills that the Institute for the Future has outlined seem to be fundamental for fitting into the society of the future, and necessary to know in order to be a successful part of the workforce.

If we want to truly feel confident that we are preparing the students who come through our classrooms to be independent, free thinking, successful adults, we need to not only teach them the basics, but teach them to be critical thinkers who can adapt to their surroundings and collaborate with others in the real and the digital world, as well as to keep an open mind to the new technologies that may come their way, and to be accepting of all peoples, cultures, and even the future Beta generation.

‘Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants’, ‘Visitors and Residents’ and an ‘IRL Fetish’: Making Sense of This Week’s Readings.

When I first saw the required reading list from Tuesday night’s class, I thought, ‘oh boy, that’s a lot of reading’, and when the assigned blog post for the week was to discuss/make sense of the topics they covered, I thought, ‘how am going to be able to do that?’  Turns out the readings/viewings were really interesting and it was easy to pick out a few things that I could identify with or connect to.  Guess I shouldn’t have judged things so quickly!

I tackled the ‘Do “Digital Natives” Exist’ video first since it was at the top of the list and the 5:34 time code didn’t seem too intimidating.

After I got over how quickly the presenter was talking and re-watched specific sections a time or two,  I was able to really think about what he was saying and pick out a few key points that resonated with me.  I had never heard the terms ‘digital native’ or ‘digital immigrant’ before, and I don’t think I agree with such a concrete distinction between people – especially if the distinction is based on whether or not you were born before or after 1980.  I was born after 1980 and I would definitely not consider myself a ‘digital native’;’digital immigrant’ would even be a stretch some days 🙂

At the three minute mark of the video, the presenter posed a really interesting question.  He asked, “is there a danger in assuming that they [digital natives] don’t need to be taught how to computer?”  My answer would be a resounding ‘yes’.  We cannot assume that every individual under the age of 38 knows everything there is to know about technology or will be able to understand new programs, apps, etc, intuitively.  And even if they are able to navigate their way through the digital world, are they doing it appropriately, with kindness and understanding?  Do they know what it means to be a digital citizen?  Do they even understand why that’s important?

He also states that “in calling people digital natives we’re coercing comfort into knowledgeability” (4:30).  An interesting point to ponder.  Just because someone is comfortable having a device in their hands doesn’t mean they understand its full capabilities or its limitations.  There is always room for education, and in assuming that there isn’t, we are doing our students and ourselves a disservice.

While I found Prensky’s distinction between ‘Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants’ to be too cut and dry, I was able to connect to David White’s notion of ‘Visitors and Residents‘.  His explanation of our relationship with the internet being based on our motivation to engage and connect with it really made sense to me. We decide what we are going to take from it, and how much of ourselves we are willing to give.  We gauge our own comfort level and dip in accordingly.  We decide which tools to use and determine our level of social engagement, all the while remembering that what we put out into the world will continue to ripple and spread out, never to be reigned in again.

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Nathan Jurgenson’s “The IRL Fetish” posed a viewpoint that I hadn’t considered.  There is always talk about how addicted we are to technology and how we are missing out on the beauty around us when we have our noses buried in our smartphones, and that we are not appreciating the moments around us as they happen because we are viewing them through the lenses of our  cameras.  Jurgenson states that, ” Nothing has contributed more to our collective appreciation for being logged off and technologically disconnected than the very technologies of connection”, and that, “We have never appreciated a solitary stroll, a camping trip, a face-to-face chat with friends, or even our boredom better than we do now.”  What a different way to look at things.  The technology that we carry with us and immerse ourselves in helps us to have a deeper appreciation for the simple things.  It helps us to value the time when we can turn it off, walk away, and take in the world around us.  This goes to show that perspective is a wonderful thing.  We can choose the way we want to view something – the whole glass half full or glass half empty analogy.  It also speaks to the idea of balance.  The balance of technology in our personal lives, but also in our professional lives.  How much is too much?  Not enough?  An important question to remember as we plan for our students, and one with as many different answers as there are people who pose it.

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Major Project Plans Are Starting To Come Together

I had a tough time honing in on a topic for my project that I could really dig in to and get behind.  My limited knowledge of technology, and my Grade 2/3 students’ limited opportunities to connect with technology didn’t make the process any easier.  After spending some time on Twitter, following threads on Google+, reading blog posts and articles, I narrowed it down.  I want to focus on digital citizenship and teaching my students what it means to be a digital citizen and how incorporate those teachings into their online behaviour.  But how do I do this in an engaging and meaningful way that doesn’t just lead to me throwing more information at them?

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The solution…SEESAW!!  Seesaw, will allow my students to take information about digital citizenship and put it into practice, and after accessing Jennifer Stewart-Mitchell’s expertise (one of RCSD’s tech coaches), I realize the opportunities within Seesaw are limitless!  Students can post, like other people’s work, comment, and more within a controlled and structured domain that can scaffold their learning.  I will be able to teach digital citizenship by providing digital opportunities that are meaningful, engaging, and grade appropriate.

I still have a lot of planning to do, but the wheels are in motion, and I’m excited to see how everything will come together, and to learn with and from my students as we embark on this journey together.

What a Difference a Week Makes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last week at this time, I had sent one very thought-out tweet (that took a long time to send and a lot of googling to figure out how to do), and was struggling to find out where to begin to create my blog.  I was feeling overwhelmed and panic was beginning to set in.  But…I met the challenge head on!  After spending a lot of time in front of my computer, a lot of trial and error, and the help and reassurance from my fellow EC&I 832ers (with a special thanks to @nicolereeve), things started to come together.

Today, I have a fully formatted blog (complete with an EC&I 832 category!) with three posts and an embedded photo, I’ve tweeted and retweeted, and have followers numbering in the teens.  This might not seem like a big feat to some, but for me it’s a pretty big step.  More importantly, my level of confidence has grown.  I’ve proven to myself that I can tackle a new project, even if it is out of my comfort zone, and with hard work and determination, I can be successful.

My process so far has inspired me for the rest of the semester.  I’m ready to try new things, expand my horizons (and my PLN), and share my learning with my students and anyone who happens to come across my blog.

 

The Permanency of Digital Identity

I just finished reading the post “(Digital) Identity in a World That No Longer Forgets” which was written by Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt.  The content really made me think about how things have changed and how our anonymity has diminished with the rise of social media and the creation of a digital footprint that follows you no matter where you go, or wherever your life’s journey may lead you.

Growing up, the mistakes I made, or embarrassing moments I lived through, were witnessed by the few people who were around to see them first hand, or relived through conversations that I had with trusted friends and family.  They weren’t recorded from multiple different perspectives or posted for friends, peers, and complete strangers to see.  After a few hours, or a few days, the incidents were forgotten and relegated to memories that now have a sheen of nostalgia to them, and a new day brought about new opportunities to make different choices and to start afresh.

Today, the smallest details of our lives can be broadcast to the world, and our comments and opinions can be misinterpreted or misconstrued, and stay stagnant and frozen in time, even if our views change and evolve.  People can be judged based on a snapshot of their lives, and someone’s definition of who you are as a person can be skewed by a particular moment, be it a video, photo, tweet, or blog post, that exists in perpetuity.

What really resonated with me was the quote which states, “In a world where forgetting is no longer possible, we might instead work towards greater empathy and forgiveness.” What an amazingly simple solution to this complex problem.  Mistakes are bound to be made as we navigate the concrete and digital world; and as I tell my students on a daily basis, it’s alright to make mistakes as long as we learn and grow from them, and make better choices the next time we are faced with a similar situation.

Forgiveness is the greatest gift that you can give to another person, and empathy brings us all together; creating a sense of community and understanding.  If people feel they can take chances and try new things without the fear of judgement or repercussions on their private or professional lives, we, as a society, can move forward.  We can start fresh with each new day and transform into the best versions of ourselves where new discoveries can be made, and opportunities can abound.