online safety

Examining UNESCO’s Five Laws of Media and Information Literacy

Posted on February 21, 2017. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci834, educational, Masters, online safety, Social Media, Social Networking, teaching and learning, Technology |

I read an article this week that discussed UNESCO’s launching of it’s framework for media and information literacy. I found it very intriguing.  Especially considering our EC&I 834 discussions around media, media platforms and Learning Management Systems (LMS). It gave me some insight into international thought regarding these learning outlets.

UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. It’s main purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration on these matters. Their 5 Laws have to deal with media engagement, creation, transparency, communication and acquisition. I am going to walk through each of the laws and discuss how I think it pertains to myself as teacher and the students who will be accessing my material for my online course.

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Photo credit: Alton Grizzle and Jagtar Singh via Unesco.org

Law 1- I love how it mentions that information and communication are for use in critical civil engagement and that all media and information are equal in stature. Just because technology has come a long way, does not make books irrelevant. All types of media and information (MIL) are useful to help citizens engage critically. I also think Law #1 is trying to reveal that certain types of information are not more valuable than others. In the 30’s the German Student Union ceremonially burned books that did not agree with Nazi ideologies. This MIL law would condemn that practice and encourage all forms of information and media providers.

Our online course modules are trying to promote student’s critical civil engagement. In fact my module is going to be focusing on works cited and digital citizenship, which relates to this law quite well!

screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-9-15-11-pmLaw #2- Media and Information literacy is for everyone! What a great statement! Men, women, and children all deserve access to new information and should be allowed to express themselves. China and North Korea are examples of countries that don’t believe in this MIL law. China censors their citizens through “strict media controls using monitoring systems and firewalls, shuttering publications or websites, and jailing dissident journalists, bloggers, and activists” (Xu and Albert, 2017). Basically anyone that can/will speak against the Chinese government is stopped. Have you seen this video of a BBC journalist trying to interview an independent candidate running for office in China? It’s terrifying.

North Korea has similar but perhaps worse censorship with their citizens. The Kim Jong-un dynasty spends millions of dollars each year indoctrinating their citizens with government propaganda that the Kim dynasty is infallible. They entirely restrict access to any outside media and information, and people like Kang Chol-hwan go to great lengths to smuggle it in. Read about that in The Plot to Free North Korea with Smuggled Episodes of Friends.
Law #2 seemingly empowers students to be creators of media and express themselves through it. In our course’s modules, each of my group members and I have decided that we will have a blogging/journalling component so that students are producing and publishing their own content on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. We are also trying to use many different tools that promote content creation rather than content consumption.

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“Consolidation” photo credit: Sam Churchill via Flickr

Law #3- Is basically talking about all news we see today isn’t it? It seems that if the screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-6-35-48-pmcurrent Facebook article we are reading or sharing isn’t fake news, it is still riddled with some type of political undertones or journalistic bias. I could be exaggerating a bit, but I definitely feel like today’s news articles aren’t as cut and dry as they used to be.  It seems harder and harder to just report the facts, and easier for the journalist/author to choose “a side” and go with it. (I wonder if that’s because practically all of our news outlets are owned by the same people! See infographic above!) That said, if we don’t want our media outlets and information to support indoctrination and/or propaganda, we should make sure that we are teaching students (and parents) how to critically engage with media. They need to be taught how to question the message, and understand the information that is trying to be communicated… Especially if/when there are political

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“Trump’s Fake News” photo credit: outtacontext via Flickr

undertones or hidden agendas. Can students (or teachers for that matter) spot Fake news? You can take Globe and Mail’s fake news quiz to find out! (I only got 4 right! But in my defence, I mistook some satire news for fake! …but still :|) Furthermore, this article discusses how the top fake American election news stories generated more Facebook engagement than the top election stories from the major news outlets. Scary right?

My group member, Adam Krammer is going to be doing part of his course module on quality research, finding reputable sites, and evaluating resources. I imagine he will touch on what students can do to avoid some of the aforementioned pitfalls.

Law #4- I actually need some help figuring out what this law means. screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-9-42-24-pmSo is it saying that
everyone wants knowledge even if they say they don’t? I’m not really sure I understand. Who or why would someone say that they don’t want to engage with new information or knowledge? Would this be like my North Korea example? They actually want new knowledge even if their government says they don’t? Please help me out friends, I don’t think I’m reading this one clearly enough!

screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-9-48-48-pmLaw #5- I completely agree that media and information literacy are not acquired all at once. Classes like EC&I834 are great examples of this! Every time I take a class with Alec and Katia, I learn more about technology and its different tools. I am also challenged on the pedagogy behind the technology and how it pertains to teaching and learning. It has definitely been a lived and dynamic process for me, and my learning is ever changing and shifting. I don’t believe my MIL is complete as I don’t have knowledge in every area of access, evaluation/assessment, use, production and communication of information. I try to pass what I do know on to my students, and we grow and learn together from there.

Because I am focusing on digital citizenship and works cited skill development in my online course module, I have decided to try out some pre-made dig cit activities to engage the students within their level of media and information literacy. One of the activities my students will do in my module is take part in an online game by Common Sense Media. The game takes students through a “choose your own ending” type experience where they get to navigate through cyber-bullying, privacy, memes, ads, spam, good sources, behaviour and copyright to name a few. It is a fun and easy way to take a quick look at these various topics and test their knowledge on what they have learned. It is by no means comprehensive, but is designed to get students thinking about this content and how it pertains to them and their online media literacy.

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“Information Literacy” photo credit Ewa Rozkosz via Flickr

When I was in high school there was a class called Media Studies. I didn’t take it, but imagine it was doing what this post is talking about- engaging with Media in a critical capacity.  High school teachers, is this still a class? If not, is it because critically looking at media belongs in every class? The more I dug into these MIL laws, the more I realized how important media literacy really is.  The term “literacy” no longer just means traditional reading and writing anymore.  It is our job as teachers to guide students into examining media and information literacy at a deeper level… in EVERY class.

 

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Getting Started with Google Classroom

Posted on January 29, 2017. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci834, educational, Genius Hour, Google Classroom, Masters, online safety, Technology |

Our ECI834 group has chosen to use Google Classroom as an LMS. It seems to be the most practical choice as many of us will have opportunities to use it now (or later) in our classrooms.

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Photo credit: Alice Keeler via alicekeeler.com

I, for one, have not tested out Google Classroom before as I have taught grade 1 or 2 for the past 5 years and it’s a little bit too difficult to navigate for that age group. Instead, I have used SeeSaw pretty extensively. (Which I love btw!)

I am hoping to move up in grades in the next little while, so I know I will be able to use Google Classroom more and more.  I’m especially excited to use it for Genius Hour with older students.

The first thing I had to do in Google Classroom was create a class. I asked my group if we each wanted to create our own class for this project, or if we should have one class with different units. We decided on just one class.

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That meant that the next thing I needed to do was add my group as co-collaboraters within our “Genius Hour” class. For that, I googled “collaborate with other teachers on Google Classroom.” Helpful Google gave me step by step instructions, and the first thing I had to do was go to the ‘About’ tab, and “Invite Teachers.”  The only problem was that there was no one to invite! I tried typing in my group’s email addresses, and it didn’t work. Nothing came up.

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It turns out I needed to have these teachers as contacts before I could invite them to collaborate. So I had to open up ‘My Contacts’ with this specific Gmail account and add each of my group members as contacts.

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This step seemed a little excessive, as I feel like I should have been able to input their email address directly into Google classroom. It was especially difficult as a couple of my group member’s uregina emails didn’t work.  Once we got that sorted out, I was able to add all of my group as co-teachers for our class.

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Now I needed to create an assignment and somehow organize it so that my assignments would only show up in my module.  Google Classroom has a “Stream” for the students, and things show up in there as they are put in. I figured this could get confusing considering we were going to have six people adding assignments to this one class.  The Google expert, Alice Keeler, wrote a post about adding topics to Google Classroom. I learned that “topics” is a way that we can organize our content into units. I called my topic, “Digital Citizenship and Works Cited” as that is what my Genius Hour module is going to be on.screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-10-27-00-pm

I encouraged the rest of my group to create their own topic when they create an assignment as well. That way students can use the filter option later to navigate through the different assignments for each unit.  I will organize my own assignments with the Dig Cit/Works Cited topic/unit and then call them Assignment 1, 2, 3 etc. with a description of what they will be doing.

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Digizen.org

For my first assignment, I have decided to have the students complete an interactive digital citizenship game made by Digizen, write a reflective blog post, and fill out a Google Form that shares their digital citizenship score with the rest of the class. I figured this would be an interesting way to engage my students in the topic and get them thinking.

Some of my other EC&I834 classmates have also chosen to use Google Classroom for their LMS, and Jayme reminded me that one of the best features of Google Classroom is that students will have everything they need in one place. They won’t need to worry about losing assignments or misplacing certain instructions. I came across this powerful blog post a couple months back written by Pernille Ripp. It talks about how we as teachers need to try and remove barriers for learning rather than add them. This resonates with me while thinking about Google Classroom. Why would we get mad at students for losing assignments when we can help them by creating a place for them where this very thing is impossible? Google Classroom will be a great tool that will help students in this way, among others. I’m excited to dive into it further.

While testing it out this week, these are my Google Classroom pros and cons

PROS

  • Easy to navigate
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Simple ways to attach URLs, documents, Youtube videos, and any other Google Drive options to assignments

CONS

  • Had to add create new Google contacts to add other teachers as collaborators
  • There was no way to add a specific folder for a unit, so I had to use the “topics” tag
  • Once I have used the “topics” tag to specify units, I won’t be able to use it to specify other subjects.  I will have to create a new class for each new subject I would want. Ex: Science, ELA, Math etc.

Does anyone know a way around this issue? If so, please share in the comments!

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Unfollowing Idiots

Posted on January 26, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, digital citizenship, Eci834, educational, Facebook, Masters, online safety, Social Media, Social Networking, teaching and learning |

Ok, I apologize for using the term idiots. I guess I just need a catchy title that will grab attention and then we can start dealing with the issue at hand- what to do with those people on Facebook who annoy the crap out of you because of what they post!

 

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(No he doesn’t have an earring, it’s the lights behind him haha)

Meet Jon. Jon is my husband. Jon does not struggle with being a people pleaser, and he rarely cares about other’s approval. In fact, he frequently unfriends/unfollows people on his Facebook because he doesn’t like what they share/post. He doesn’t worry about his friend count, and if he hasn’t spoken to you for a while and you aren’t really friends, he will probably delete you.  It’s just the harsh reality of being a “Jon acquaintance” I guess.

While Jon is a little extreme in his Facebook decisions, I do remember having a conversation with some anti-oppressive educators about this very thing.  The advice we had been given in this anti-oppressive education class was that maybe it was time to ally with the oppressed by cutting out “friends” who would speak racist, sexist, classist things… online or face to face. This seemed like a good idea at the time as it was a small way to step out in activism. It was a way we could take a stand, put our foot down and say enough is enough!

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“Stop” photo credit: Brett Davis via Flickr

Well, I never did end up deleting anyone off of my Facebook, but there are a few people who have gotten close. The interesting thing about my life is that I am proud to say I have a VERY varied friend pool. I have anyone and everyone from the extreme left, to the extreme right, and many in between.  This was evident during Trump’s election. Even despite the algorithms Facebook sets up for you to show you what it thinks you want to see, I was blasted with both sides of the Trump debate.

Fast forward to last night where I saw an article shared that was blatant fear mongering.  Thank God someone called this person out for it as I was so close to just deleting the person. I went to bed and thought about if I should delete this person or not. I want to. I’ve wanted to for a few months now, but I couldn’t help but think of the echo chamber idea.

What’s an echo chamber you ask? Well Wired says an echo chamber is destroying democracy. Independent UK says social media echo chambers gifted Trump the presidency and the NY Times say that through echo chambers, most people are more likely to trust their social group than the news media. An echo chamber is basically surrounding yourself with people who amplify and reinforce your own ideas and beliefs.

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“Freed” photo credit: new alluminati via Flickr

I thought about what deleting this person off of Facebook would mean.  Sure, it would mean that I wouldn’t have to see some of their ridiculous posts anymore, but it would also mean that they wouldn’t be able to see any of mine. It would be limiting this person’s access to articles and ideas that are different than theirs.  I am lucky in that I have people from church, work, University, camp, friends, family members, among others who I dialogue with on Facebook. From what I know about this person, they are fairly isolated in their sphere of influence. Maybe I am one of the only people that will share something that challenges their thinking.

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“Critical thinking: Why our students need it” photo credit: open source.com via Flickr

Well, I could take a page out of Jon’s book and just unfollow them.  But all day I have been thinking about how that limits my own critical thinking. I clicked on the article this person posted yesterday.  I read through it and noticed there weren’t any references or any real facts. I was taking a critical look at this piece of writing and coming to my own conclusions. And truly, I am thankful for this opportunity. I am thankful that I have been taught critical thinking skills so that I can question something being put out there as truth. I believe this is an extremely valuable skill, especially for students, and we as teachers need to take this into consideration as we grant our students full access to the web.

So do you want to know what I did? I have decided to keep following this person. Endurance Marketing suggests 5 ways to eliminate your echo chamber and one of them is by continuing to follow people you’re not exactly friends with.  Another take away I got from their article is to get offline. How true is that! What are the chances people are going to get upset and storm out mid conversation when someone else says something they don’t agree with? The chances are slim.  People are much more likely to engage and hear another point of view when you are conversing face to face. They also suggest that being aware is the first step.

Are you aware of your bias? Am I aware of mine? Are you conscious of your social media echo chamber? Will you think twice before unfollowing the “idiot,” and will you think twice before only clicking on things you agree with.

Comment below with your thoughts! Are you guilty of living in an echo chamber?

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Extra Extra! Read All About It…

Posted on December 6, 2015. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci832, Masters, online safety, reflection, remix, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology |

… ECI832 is finished, and I blogged about it.

I have finished a summary of my learning throughout this ECI832 class.  There is no way I could fit all of my learning into one tool, but I tried to highlight some of the main things I learned through an E-Maze presentation.

E-Maze is a neat tool I learned about at #rbeappyhour this month. It’s a combination of PowerPoint, Prezi, YouTube, and the like. The link to my project is below.  (Sorry it’s not embedded. From what I understand, the E-Maze plugin only works with a paid WordPress account, and I didn’t feel like dishing out $300 for one post) 🙂

Enjoy!

ECI832 Summary of Learning

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Digital Citizenship in Grade One

Posted on November 29, 2015. Filed under: behaviour, collaboration, digital citizenship, Eci832, edublog, educational, Grade 1 & 2, Masters, online safety, parents, reflection, Social Media, Social Networking, teaching and learning, Technology |

There are a few ways that I try and teach digital citizenship in the primary classroom, and after my #eci832 class, there are some new things I am going to try now. In this post, I will share what I am doing, and what I want to try to incorporate into Health later this year. I will bold each tool or instruction method I am discussing.

Twitter– For the past 3 years, I have been using Twitter in the primary classroom. (@mrsmaleysclass)  I use it to teach sentence structure, grammar, and conciseness.  BUT, Twitter is good for more than that! In fact, Twitter is a perfect tool to talk about online safety. Every time someone follows our class, we look at their profile and decide if they are a) safe b) someone we can learn from c) a company.  We have decided as a class that we are only going to follow other classes or people that will be posting stuff applicable to grade one.  We don’t follow individual teachers, and we don’t follow every class that follows us. We look at their profile, their profile picture, their bio and their tweets, and we vote on if we should follow them.  You wouldn’t believe how many times kids choose not to vote on a class because their profile isn’t interesting enough, they don’t have a profile picture, or they haven’t tweeted consistently or often enough.  This in itself has shown students what a creative/positive online identity can look like.

The students have also learned about hashtags through Twitter. This is a year long learning curve as they don’t always understand the contextual underpinnings or language play that happens with hashtags, but they have learned some hashtags that are safe to use, and some that aren’t as good. For example, one day one of my students wanted to wish another student a happy birthday in his tweet. He wanted to use the hashtag #happybirthday.  We decided against it after checking out the hashtag and realizing that there was some inappropriate content there.  We decided we didn’t want to promote that content to other classes that might be following us.

Twitter is also an excellent avenue to look at advertising.  Since 2013, Twitter has used targeting advertising towards its users. This has been a great opportunity to show kids the difference between our regular home feed tweets, and those used as promotional tools. Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 7.07.13 PM The children can easily recognize the little yellow “promoted by” arrow and we often talk about what they are trying to sell us.  My goal is that students (even in grade one) should be taught critical thinking. They should be questioning what they see and who they follow. They can’t assume that everything is safe or trustworthy because we have a class account.

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An example of a tweet we got last year where students were encouraged to think critically.

That being said, I do have MULTIPLE students who have joined Twitter since being in my class. I haven’t encouraged any children to get their own Twitter account, but once they have used it in the classroom, they like it so much they ask their parents if they can get Twitter. At that point, it’s out of my hands, and all I can do is be a good online example for them.  I must say, it is neat to watch them interact with each other online though!

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Here’s a few examples of kids who have joined Twitter since being in my class. You make your own judgment. Do you think I exposed them to it too early?  Or perhaps are these the type of kids who would have joined anyways? I think we have moved beyond the question, “SHOULD students this young be on social media?”  The fact of the matter is, THEY ARE. Payton, Bayan, Greyson, Rayka, Minwoo, Justin, Maguire, Brody, Jed,

Research– Even though the students are young, I still think one of the best skills I can teach six year olds is how to research.  Gone are the days where the teacher is the giver of all knowledge.  Children need to be good at finding the information they want to know at the click of a button. A useful skill for student of all ages is Googling information and finding research that is safe, informative, and appropriate.  Why wouldn’t we start teaching this skill as young as possible?  We do Genius Hour in my classroom, and the kids get to learn about any topic they would like.  This involves gathering information, and researching their topic. I have tried different kid friendly search engines, (Safe Search Kids, KidRex etc.)  and I have come to the conclusion that Google is actually easiest and has the best results.  A lot of the time the kid safe search engines have pre-set filters that try and sway results to things that have to do with kids, but that aren’t always helpful.  For example, if a kid is interested in cars, these are the top results the child would get if he/she typed “cars” into KidRex’s search engine:

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The top results have to do with car seats, and buying and selling cars.  If a child typed “cars” into Google, these are the top results:

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Google’s results are already more appropriate and easier to navigate than the kid friendly search engine.  Google’s results bring up the movie Cars, which many children are familiar with, and it provides the Wikipedia entry that would have lots of information about the history and the make up of cars.  This is just one tiny example of how Google outdoes the other kid friendly engines, but there are many.

What I have learned is that for the students to be great researchers, they need to know how to type key words like +kids/ for kids when necessary.  Depending on their reading level, usually the BEST option for them is to click right on the Videos tabs so they don’t have to read at all.

 

 

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One thing I haven’t ventured into yet is copyright.  It was hard enough to teach grade one students how to find a Google image, save it to camera roll, and then use it in their Genius Hour presentation.  If anyone has any great ideas or kid friendly tools on how to find creative commons images that would be easy for grade one, I am all ears!

Blogging– Another way I try and promote a positive online digital identity is through our class blog.  I use the student blogging platform, Edublogs. (Mrs. Maley’s Class Blog) Every couple of weeks the students blog.  We talk about not sharing personal information in their posts like address, phone number etc. Sometimes the students are prompted with writing tasks, but a lot of the time they are allowed to blog about whatever they want.  I have found that this type of writing becomes much more authentic than students only printing in a journal for me to see.  The kids know their audience is global, and their writing improves drastically over the year.

Last year I also started a blogging buddy program with grade 11 students from Campbell Collegiate.  The grade 11’s would comment on my student’s blogs and in turn, my students would grade/rate their narrative essay assignment where they wrote a children’s book. The collaboration between both classes was neat, and through specific feedback, my students were able to improve their writing and digital identity.

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Things I want to do: After watching Sext Up Kids a couple weeks ago,

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I decided that I wanted to address some of the gender, body image, and sexual content issues mentioned in this documentary with my grade one class this year.  Obviously I can’t address a ton of the sexual content that Sext Up Kids talks about, but my eyes were opened to the fact that kids in grade one are definitely not immune from this type of exposure even at an early age.  In the documentary, Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, suggests that it’s not a big jump to make between girls wanting to be “the prettiest little girl” to “the hottest little girl.” And THAT is something that we can talk about.

In the Saskatchewan Grade One Health Curriculum, one of the outcomes is based solely on Pedestrian Safety.

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Though I will definitely cover this during my Health class, it already seems a little out of date to me. How much time do kids really spend outside crossing streets/dealing with traffic without an adult?  My guess would be not as much time as a child might spend unsupervised on a device/computer inside the home. I have decided that I am going to devote a large chunk of time during my Health block to explicit digital citizenship/sexualization/gender lessons.  We know that digital citizenship must be taught all throughout the year in different ways/contexts, but I also think this might be something I need to add into the curriculum on my own.  I plan on using puppets to help create dialogue on this sensitive issue.

I plan to look at different children’s books and movies as a starting point.  The students will look for different gender/sexualization themes.  I want the students to have discussions and think critically about what it means to “be a boy,” or “be a girl.” I want them to start unpacking their own identities and discuss how this might affect online behaviour. Today’s Meet is a great tool I have used in the past to create a back channel for students to share their ideas while watching a movie. They can be recording what types of stereotypes they see as they watch.

I have a colleague who teaches older grades who has shared with me that she doesn’t talk about sexting much during her digital citizenship lessons because she is worried about what the parents of her students will say.  This is a very real concern at our school because we have high parent involvement.  Often times parents at our school have very strong opinions about what happens in classrooms, and sometimes what they say or want goes.  Obviously I will have to be very careful about how I address these issues.  In the past, my daily class blog post has been a great place to debrief parents on certain conversations we have had throughout the day. Sometimes grade one students ask questions about death, war, or school shootings and we have to gently address those issues without scaring them or giving them more information than they need to know.

As a public school teacher, this might be dangerous to say, but overall, I think the best thing I can teach students is how to look at/listen to their heart. As Jen Stewart Mitchell discusses in her blog post, citizenship is citizenship.  It doesn’t matter if it’s online or offline. Children and students young AND old need to listen to their conscience, and make choices based on what they know to be right and wrong; and that, I believe, is what makes you a good citizen. Sure we are all going to screw up and make mistakes, but our job as teachers isn’t to make or limit the student’s choices for them, but rather give them opportunities to reflect on, and learn from their mistakes.  And if we as teachers don’t give students an opportunity to peel back the layers of their heart and critically look at the reasons they struggle or desire certain things in life, how can we expect them to do this on their own? Are they supposed to “just know better?” It’s something to think about…

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Moralism and Digital Citizenship

Posted on October 16, 2015. Filed under: cultural, digital citizenship, Eci832, educational, Masters, online safety, parents, Social Networking, teaching and learning, Technology |

After reading Jason Ohler’s Character Education for the Digital Age, I was intrigued by the idea of moralism in schools. He explains that before the 1960’s, it was common to teach moralism in schools.  Post modernism enters, and “what’s right for you may not be right for me” comes into play. We are now in a place where no explicit moralism is taught in public schools, but we still know that each teacher is teaching their idea of right and wrong. It’s the hidden curriculum after all!

In his article, Jason Ohler suggests that there is still a place for teaching moralism when it comes to digital citizenship.  I know I believe there is a right and wrong thing to be doing online at school.  If we truly believe that students aren’t living two separate lives: a school life and a home life, then teachers can play a part in shaping the student’s moral compass when it comes to online behaviour.

Jason Ohler has 5 digital citizenship issues that are easily addressed in the classroom:

Balance. Understanding past, present, and possible future effects of technology. Cultivating a sense of balance that considers opportunity as well as responsibility, empowerment as well as caution, personal fulfillment as well as community and global well-being.

I like that he addresses the past and future of technology. We can’t look forward without looking back to where we have come from and the technological advances we have seen thus far. When classrooms only used slates/chalk and quills/ink, I imagine there would have been some very upset people at the prospect of moving beyond that. It was probably the way things had always been done, and it was opening these children up to the new “horrors” of technology. To me this parallels what I am seeing with some parents now.  This year I had a parent send me an article that basically says technology is one of the causes of mental health issues in children. Some parents still believe there isn’t a place for technology use in schools.

I also like that Ohler addresses the future, as we do not know what jobs/careers the next generation will have. We have no idea what technology will look like, and in what ways it will play into people’s day to day lives. I think he offers wise advise when he suggests “cultivating a sense of balance that considers opportunity as well as responsibility.” Without that balance, the pendulum swings too hard one way or the other.

Safety and security. Understanding how online actions might lead to harm to yourself or others. Includes protecting your own privacy, respecting that of others, and recognizing inappropriate online communications and sites (such as sexual material and other resources intended for adults).

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Photo credit: Eric Constantineau

Though teachers should be teaching digital citizenship and technology as a tool for learning throughout their practice, not everyone is that comfortable.  If a teacher is wanting to find a way to teach a digital citizenship “unit,” the health curriculum is a perfect way to do that.  Digital safety ties so well into the Health curriculum’s safety outcomes.

Students need to understand how vast and awesome the internet is, but they also need to understand how to navigate through it safely. I don’t think I would show the video below to my primary age students, but I think it might be good for middle year’s students to watch this social experiment:

The ease at which these children are willing to meet with strangers is terrifying.  In my opinion, children need to hear from their parents and teachers about how to be safe.

Cyberbullying. Understanding the potentially devastating effects of cyberbullying and how it violates ethical principles of personal integrity, compassion, and responsible behaviour.

There is a great online game from Digizen that helps you learn about and scores you on digital citizenship. It plays through a cyber bullying scenario and you have to make decisions based on your friend’s actions.

Bullying can happen at any age, and though my students aren’t as active online as some of the older students in my school, cyberbullying can be addressed in any grade.  It won’t be long before my young students will start messaging each other through their phones/iPods/iPads. In fact, since I have been using Twitter in the classroom, I have seen a rise in how many grade ones/twos have their own Twitter account. This is not something that I have encouraged them to do, but at least a few of my students every year ask their parents if they can have their own Twitter handle… and they get one! I’m not saying this is good or bad, the fact of the matter is that these students ARE ALREADY on social media, or WILL BE SOON.

There has been a push to address bullying in schools the past few years, and though that’s great, Stephen Carrick Davies (former CEO of Childnet) makes it very clear in this short video that we can’t forget to include cyber bullying in those conversations.

Sexting. Understanding the negative consequences of using a cell phone to take and transmit pictures of a sexual nature of oneself or others.

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Photo Credit: Mike Licht

Our society is getting more and more ok with nudity/sexual content/pornagraphy in general.  Sexual pictures are becoming commonplace, and people are more open to the idea of taking/posting pictures of themselves naked, or close to naked.

For example, a couple years ago I was at a girl’s night out get together where there were about 20 women ages 20-30. Some of the ladies were playing a drinking game called Never Have I Ever. How the game works is that one person says a statement, and anyone who has done what the first player has not, has to drink.  One of the women said, “I have never taken a nudie.” (I’m not even sure if that is spelled correctly! I feel so old!) And every one of the girls playing the game drank. I was kind of shocked. Looking back, I am surprised at a few things: 1) That every single gal there has taken or transmitted a naked picture of them self. 2) That these types of pictures are commonplace enough that everyone felt comfortable admitting to it by drinking. 3) That something/someone in their life has encouraged these women to openly exploit themselves with such pictures.

If sexual pictures are being taken and sent with such ease by adult women, I can only imagine what is happening at the pre-teen/teen age.

Feeling brave? Take the poll!

Copyright and plagiarism. Respecting others’ intellectual property rights and reflecting on the legality and ethics of using online materials without permission (a complex and murky area of the law, bounded by “fair use” guidelines).

At the U of R, plagiarism is unacceptable. If you are caught plagiarizing, you are at risk of losing your place as a student and erasing your academic standing. This “tough on crime” attitude is a must in such a high level of education.  What would happen if we adopted such high standards for our elementary and high schools?  Is it that easy? Where does copyright law fit into student assignments? It may sound cut and dry, but it’s not.

In fact, just this week I was informed that I was impinging upon copyright laws! I received this email from Pinterest:

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When I tried to click on the link, it was broken! So I literally don’t even know which pin was removed! How many times does this happen with students? We can teach them how to cite and how to give credit, but like Uhler says, “it is a complex and murky area of the law.” Sometimes we are breaking copyright without even knowing it!

I have enough trouble teaching primary students how to even search for an image, is it reasonable to try and get them to find a creative commons image on top of that? Obviously we need to teach students about plagiarism and copyright, I’m not denying that… I’m just admitting that I don’t have all the answers on HOW to do that just yet!

Jason Uhler sums up digital citizenship into those 5 issues. I offered some ideas of how I think these can be incorporated into classrooms. There may be a time where teachers are not going to have the platform to share with students what things they should or shouldn’t do digitally, so until then, I hope to try and instil some of the ways I think they can be digitally responsible and… hope for the best!

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