Monthly Archives: November 2015

Infinite Possibilities

I simply want to respond to this week’s post question with an example I am trying to do with my grade 6 math and science students in terms of using technology and the internet in a positive way. I truly believe that technology is opening up the door to unlimited creative and innovative possibilities and is a wonderful platform for students to explore their potential and share their learning globally and in ways, which have positive global impact. In my class, we are creating math and science video tutorials. It is sort of like a student driven Khan Academy. The purpose behind these videos is to show students that they have the power to positively effect the learning of others and to have global reach in terms of affecting student understanding. The videos are entirely made by the students and are for the purpose of instruction. They are tools to help other learners grasp concepts being taught in math and science. Providing students with the opportunity to teach other children is not only a great way to build their own understanding, but also to improve the understanding of others.

                             

Whose job is it to teach the children?

Whose job is it to teach these digital citizenship skills?

I think LeeAnn Lindsey, who is a technology infusion and professional development coordinator clearly states the challenges with teaching students about digital citizenship; it is more difficult for students to learn from mistakes, it is difficult if not impossible to keep pace with new technology and those involved in technology such as technology educators, classroom teachers, school administration and parents are not on the same page regarding technology usage. So, before we talk about who should teach our children about digital citizenship, I think we need to accept a few realities about the challenges of technology. First, we need to accept the fact that the growth of technology is too fast to keep pace with. We need to stop pretending we are in control and have the ability to set guidelines and privacy settings which keep us safe. We can’t and we need to accept that fact.

Secondly, Lindsey’s point in the video regarding all those involved must be on the same page is very important. Before we begin teaching our children about digital citizenship, we all need to be on the same page about how we view technology in terms of its purpose.

If we are not consistent in our delivery, than our children’s understanding of technology will be scattered at best.

We need to have many more discussions amongst the adults involved before we begin teaching our students. I would go as far to say that I do not believe schools are ready yet to teach digital citizenship.

However, we live in a world where we rush into things without taking the required time to set it up correctly. We can be an impatient society and in the world of education, there are lots of moments where we dive head first into a pedagogical approach without checking to see if the swimming pool even has any water in it! I think we are rushing our dialogue with students about technology. We need to observe them more and simply engage in discussions rather than establishing guidelines of safe practice which will possibly be irrelevant in a short span of time. If we accept the fact that we can’t keep pace with technology, then let’s take a step back; a pause to simply observe and have discussion. With that said, I do believe we need to prioritize the discussion topics with students and start with the idea of permanency regarding technology. Mistakes are more challenging because once it is posted, it is posted for life. Children need to first understand this foundational principle of technology.

As a parent and an educator, I see both being involved in educating children about safe use of technology, however I will tip the balance of responsibility much more towards the parents. These are our children. We know them. We are the ones they should feel most safe with and therefore we are the ones who should be having discussions about technology with them. When we discuss with our children, we need to do so with open ears and at least a little empathy of what life as a pre-adolescent must be like. As hard as this is for me to accept, I cannot simply come up with a couple of technology rules and consequences for breaking those rules and then sit back and pat myself on the back for great parenting. Technology is not going away and I can’t control it. All I can do is have real conversations with my daughters, teach them some realities about technology, ask them questions and then create a budget envelope and start putting money away for the therapy I will need later.

Left my pride at the door.

Reading this question immediately placed me in the role of a student. After reading the question, I thought, “I don’t get it.” I went to my lesson plan on reading strategies for non-fiction text and began to dissect the question. I read it and then re-read it again. I chunked it into sections, trying to build comprehension. I quickly realized that I had no clue about copyright law or anything related to sharing information on the internet. I started reading the articles from the suggested reading list and simply chuckled. I know a snippet of what a drowning person must feel like. The text went in one ear and out the other; it was like listening to birds. I left the suggested reading list and googled research strategies on the internet. I typed in the google search bar “copyright law internet:kids”

I went from complete frustration to utter joy. I found websites with happy faces, giant text, lots of images and simpler explanations. I began to understand the basics of copyright and what exactly fair use meant. I read the following statement, “It has little to do with what we may think is fair, and everything to do with keeping the balance tipped in favor of the public interest.” I like this quote because it gave me a sense of reality around copyright and how to share work. Public interest weighs more. Visiting these kid websites really helped and gave me a solid foundation for understanding the issues surrounding fair use and copyright. I began to understand that fair use of things such as images relates to purposes such as, “ criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research…” taken from https://www.onlinecolleges.net/15-copyright-rules-every-student-should-know/

In order to answer the question, I needed to first immerse myself in the content about copyright. After my immersion, I gained a better understanding of the question to the point of being able to contribute a thought towards it. So, how do we teach copyright in countries where international copyright law is not followed to begin with? I think the country is irrelevant to the issue of copyright and fair usage. I think we need to view the internet and technology as having no boundaries. Technology is a global platform. As such, regardless where we are from or what the copyright law of a given country is, the issue about copyright and fair use boils down to the individual’s purpose for using technology and sharing information on the internet. Aside from the guiding rules for determining fair usage, which are useful, I think the most powerful tool we have is thinking about what we put on the internet and why we put it there; the purpose. I think the pace of the internet is too fast in terms of new information being posted and shared, that we can’t keep up with rules and guidelines. Our only real defense is awareness and trust in people. I have decided that whatever idea, image or thought I choose to post online has the potential to be used without my permission. I have applied for copyrights and pondered the usage of things like creative commons, but overall, I accept the fact that my ideas could be stolen or used without my permission and there is little recourse I can take. As much as I accept that reality, I also want to believe in human nature and that if someone is unsure about permission; they will ask. As for students and how do we teach them about copyright; the answer is best summed up by this statement, The best course of action is simply to seek permission for all copied material you intend to use.” from https://www.copyrightkids.org/cbasicsframes.htm

Keep in mind, that this is my opinion based on half way through course 2 and having advice being shared with me about copyright law by this guyviewpoint-pose on a kid website I used.

 

Thoughts on privacy.

I am a private person. That is not to say that I do not like to socialize or that I am the guy sitting behind a potted plant at a social engagement; only sometimes. I have taken many introvert/extrovert tests to realize that I am a natural introvert with extrovert tendencies. Overall, I am a private person. When I say private, I am talking about the kinds of relationships I want to build. I enjoy building strong relationships over time. I enjoy developing friendships with people I have a connection with and want to spend time with. The reality for me is that these types of relationships take a lot of time and investment of energy to maintain. I am about quality and not quantity. I am private because I enjoy sharing my life and thoughts with people whom I can trust and with whom I have built that trust over time.

One of the big problems I have with online is that I believe the internet is not designed to foster the types of relationships which interest me. The internet and technology is the fast food version of interaction and relationship building. It seems to be about ‘being seen’ rather than genuine engagement. A stream of superficial, shallow interactions where the main purpose of the interaction is to accumulate ‘friends’, ‘tweets’ or ‘google pluses’. It seems to be about making oneself visible, to be in the loop simply for the sake of being visible and in the loop. The issue of privacy comes in because how trusting can I be with interactions motivated by some of these reasons. When in person, I can choose who I talk to and with whom I share personal information. I can watch their faces and see their body mannerisms. The lack of depthness in interactions surrounding technology is why I avoid developing my digital footprint any further for the moment.

Having said this, I am conflicted. I do see and am definitely tempted by the access technology offers. There are a lot of knowledgeable people out there who are willing to share their knowledge and who can help me further my knowledge. The question for me, and one of the reasons I am taking these courses is to explore how to filter through all the ‘petty’ interactions and attach onto those people and interactions, which provide more depth and richness and which actually can improve me as an individual. The filtering process is a challenge because I find it incredibly difficult to assess genuineness via technology. If I cannot trust a person’s interaction as being truly meaningful and genuine, then the only way I can protect myself privately is to not engage.

Is technology private? I believe there is no such thing as privacy online. People will find and use my information freely and without question. Privacy settings are simply there to make me feel better. The only way to combat privacy is to be extremely diligent who I decide to share information with and what content I am creating and about to publish on the internet or share through technology.

My digital footwhat?

My first blog post from course 2 and I have no clue how to answer the question, “Should international educators have a digital footprint?” I am clueless because I am familiar with my carbon footprint and my ecological footprint but have zero understanding of what my digital footprint is. So, I read the articles and then read some more and spoke in person with a few people about what is a digital footprint. I discovered some very interesting and incredibly disturbing truths about my footprint. First, I have one! I pride myself on being private; a lone wolf of the internet. I do not tweet…yet and barely have a facebook account. I am one of those apprarently rare people who only have about 20 friends on facebook including my mother. I only download the occasional movie for my daughters and only the recent seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and Chicago Fire for my wife. So, to my surprise, I have a digital footprint greater than what I predicted. Then after visiting a site about digital footprints, I discovered my digital shadow. Forget my two yearly posts on facebook or the minimal downloading! My footprint is based largely on my internet behaviors lurking in the shadows. Most of my footprint is based on credit card transactions, flights, memberships and anything else which can be tracked, logged, recorded or time stamped.

Therefore, my answer to the question about should we have a digital footprint is that we do have one. It is not about should; the fact is that we do have one. The question should change to, “How strong do we want our digital presence to be?” Should we have one implies that we have choice in the matter. Unless I move to the woods and become a mountain man like Dick Proennicky, then I will have a footprint.

I find the concept of a digital footprint incredibly scary and disturbing in terms of my privacy. I also am concerned about how to talk with our students and my own children about their digital footprints. I think the conversation needs to start with the idea that anything shared or done online is exposed to the world. There is the potential for global access with everything they do. That is both exciting in terms of possibility but also scary and disturbing. Students need to be taught that now more than ever, what they say and do is a reflection of themselves because it can be seen by anyone. The information they put up will be used and interpreted in many, many different ways.

 

Overall, regarding my digital footprint, I am approaching it methodically and with purpose. I am very cautious about my privacy and skeptical about the perceived safety and privacy of the internet. The amount of information I discovered, which is shared about me without intentionally sharing it is very disturbing. I am writing this post understanding that in has the potential to be read by anyone.

I have now spent over half an hour and writing this post a second time  attempting to embed a photo from www.compfight.com with no luck. I cannot seem to be able to do it yet. I can only seem to embed the url and not the image. I did chuckle when I visited the website and it immediately asked me to create an account where I would have to share my email address. I said no.