As a Digital Education Leader my mission is to provide students with the digital tools and knowledge for them to become successful digital citizens in modern day society.
As a teacher, it is my responsibility to provide students with the skills necessary to be able to successfully explore, research, and connect in a safe and meaningful manner, both online and offline. A successful student should be able to explore the internet and identify safe and credible websites, give credit to creators and authors of research they use, and connect with others around the world in a safe, legal, and ethical fashion while showing respect and kindness. Learning in the 21st century is quite different than what it used to be; and how we teach students to use technology now will determine how technology is used in the future. I have created three guiding principles that align with the ISTE Digital Citizenship Standards to help shape my practice as a Digital Education Leader.
Principle 1: Providing Access to Students and Modeling Digital Etiquette
Model and promote strategies for achieving equitable access to digital tools and resources and technology-related best practices for all students and teachers.
Providing access to technology paves the way for student exploration, global communication, and a multitude of research materials. With technology students have the opportunity to create, connect, and collaborate with the world around them. Some argue that technology is and will continue to cause more harm than good. (Pew Research, 2018) If looked at as a tool, technology is only as good as the person using it. If we choose to use technology irresponsibly and without a purpose, then technology will do more harm than good. However, if we choose to educate the younger generations on proper digital etiquette and model how to use technology meaningfully, then technology can and will be looked at as more helpful than harmful.
Technology has the potential to bring people together and allow individuals to find, evaluate, identify, and use information. (Common Sense Media) However, without the ability to access such opportunities we are no closer to bridging the Digital Divide. Providing individuals access to digital devices and information is a goal every community should have. Some challenges communities seem to be facing is access to internet, maintaining hardware, training teachers, and device management. (Wiley Handbook, 2016) As a Digital Education Leader in my school my goal is to help provide access to both information and devices to my students as well as teach fellow teachers how to teach with technology and help support digital citizenship within their students.
Principle 2: Reflecting on Digital Well-Being and Using the Internet in a Purposeful Manner
Model and facilitate safe, healthy, legal, and ethical uses of digital information and technologies.
Technology can benefit our lives in many ways, but there are many potential risks when not using technology in a purposeful manner. One of those risks is Digital Addiction, which David S.H. Rosenthal describes as a result of the digital economy competing for humans’ attention. (Pew Research, 2018) David Levy emphasizes that “When we are mindful, we choose to pay attention to what is explicitly important to us; being mindful begins to reveal our values in a way wandering lost through the digital landscape can never do.” (Paulus, 2018) It is clear the importance attention has on our well-being, but that does not stop creators of online websites such as Facebook or Twitter from making it harder to focus online.
As an Educator and as a Digital Leader within my school it is important to teach students how to use the internet in a safe, healthy, legal, and ethical way. The first step to this is to identify where we are putting our attention; making sure when we are online that we are using this tool in a meaningful way. Rheingold reminds us to reflect on why we tend to choose certain media and why we avoid others. (Rheingold, 2012) If you are easily distracted than the internet can be a dangerous place. It is very easy to get “sucked into” checking your emails, watching videos online, or scrolling through Facebook.(Digital Zion 2014) When you get in the habit of mindlessly using electronic devices or searching online then you continue feeding your digital addiction. One of my goals is to help teach students how to use the internet for a purpose and how to stay away from distractions to prevent procrastination.
After identifying where your attention is being put, you can find a way to practice using what Sherry Turkle refers to as “Deep Attention”. (Turkle, 2015) Unlike hyper attention where your brain is on constant multitasking mode, deep attention allows you to focus on a subject when you desire to. (Turkle, 2015). In teaching, we can see our students using their hyper attention easily, but I have had many times where students struggle with the ability to focus on the work in front of them. We live in a fast pace world where kids are used to seeing things done in a quick and convenient manner. Teaching kids to slow down and focus their attention on what it is they are being asked to do in that moment will help them practice summoning their deep attention. This is also true when going online, it is very easy to get online for a specific purpose and get distracted and begin to allow hyper attention to take over. The goal is to know what it is you need to do online and focus on completing that task without getting side tracked. As a digital leader it is my job to help teach students, and other community members, the importance of going online with a purpose. Knowing what you are doing online and staying focused on completing that task helps eliminate the possibility of getting “sucked in”.
Principle 3: Encouraging Digital Participation and Collaboration
Model and promote diversity, cultural understanding,and global awareness by using digital age communication and collaboration tools to interact locally and globally with students, peers, parents, and the larger community.
Rheingold describes participation as, “a kind of power that only works if you share it with others.” (Rheingold, 2012) More participation online helps provide more cultural awareness to communities. Instead of getting a one-sided view from the Media on their version of cultures and events, we digitally have the opportunity to see and hear multiple perspectives and opinions from a variety of people and cultures. Being able to communicate and learn from people around the world is an opportunity that I want my students to explore and be able to connect with. How we write, read, and communicate ideas is now faster and more available to many more eyes than ever before. (Rheingold, 2012)
With so many eyes however comes the responsibility of being careful of what you share and how you act online. It is very important to teach students that they must continue to treat others with kindness and respect even when they are online. Your digital self and your reality self are the same person and you are expected to continue treating others the way you would like to be treated both on and offline. Mike Ribble explains, “As many educators know, most students want to do the right thing — and will, if they know what that is,”. (Fingal, 2017) By incorporating digital citizenship standards into curriculums world-wide we are providing an expectation of how to use digital tools and communications in a purposeful and meaningful way. Mike Ribble also states that 88% of teens who use social media have witnessed other people being cruel online.”(Fingal, 2017) If we teach children at a young age the expectations of their behavior online, we could potentially begin to eliminate the cyber bullying epidemic that has become very evident within online communities.
The goal is for individuals to be able to go online without the fear of cyber bullying or getting tricked into false information. If we teach kids how to communicate responsibly, know the signs of a potential scam, create a strong password, set an example of kind behavior, and encourage conversations with adults about internet questions they may have, then we are building a smarter and stronger online community both locally and globally. (Be Internet Awesome) My goal is not only to teach students these skills that will help provide a global change in communication and collaboration, but to also help teach parents, peers, and other teachers how to inspire the change in their own classrooms and homes. Kids look up to their parents and teachers which makes modeling these strategies very important for the younger generation to see.
“Be Internet Awesome.” Google, beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com/en_us.
“The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World,” Pew Research Center, April 17,2018
“What is digital literacy?” Common Sense Media
Diana Fingal, “Infographic: Citizenship in the Digital Age,” ISTE, December 14, 2017
ISTE Standards for Coaches. http://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
Julia Ticona and Chad Wellmon, “Uneasy in Digital Zion,” The Hedgehog Review 17:1(2015): 58-71
Marshall Jones and Rebecca Bridges, “Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents, Current Issues, and Future Trends,” in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, 327-47
Michael Paulus, “Attention, Reality, and Truth,” Patheos, March 21, 2018
Rheingold, Howard (2014). Net smart: How to thrive online. MIT Press
Sherry Turkle, “How to Teach in an Age of Distraction,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 2, 2015