Reflections of a Teacher Exploring Digital Footprints

digital literacy

 Photo Credit: giulia.forsythe via Compfight cc

How we, as educators, infuse digital citizenship and literacy within our classrooms while maintaining integrity of the courses we teach is as important as teaching the curriculum’s themselves.  I agree with Andrew in his post.  As educators, the responsibility of teaching our students to leave a positive digital footprint does not solely lie on us.  Teaching digital literacy and positive use of technology within the curricula we teach must be used as a tool to help guide our students through their learning pathways.  How we do this is up to us as individuals, and as Branelle posted in her blog this week.  I really was drawn to the simplicity of how Branelle feels that she will support digital citizenship within her classes:  initiate, inform and inspire.  I think she has hit the nail on the head – it’s simple, straightforward and to the point.  Initiate conversations, inform our students towards leaving positive footprints, and finally inspire them to do so in a responsible manner.  

The world of digital literacy, technology, and citizenship opens up so many doors to our students learning capabilities in a non-restrictive format which allows our students to develop strong inquiry based skills within their learning abilities.  I find this to be incredibly important, not only as an administrator, but as an educator whom is also a curriculum writer.  For me, within the new sciences that have been/are being developed, I feel that digital literacy has been written right into the curriculum itself.  When you read the front end of the curriculum, it is noted that  students must understand the four learning contexts within the scientific framework represent student engagement within the particular science curricula they are currently studying.  The four learning contexts includ:

  1. Scientific Literacy
  2. Technological Problem Solving
  3. Cultural Perspectives
  4. STSE Decision Making (science, technology, society, environment)

When you dissect the above four learning contexts, it becomes obvious that technology plays a large role within the students learning outcomes.  I realize that the word “technology” can be interpreted in many ways.  According to Merriam-Websters online dictionary, the definition of technology is : a machine, piece of equipment, method, etc., that is created by technology.  For some, it may simply mean using equipment – but isn’t the internet considered a search tool, and thus equipment?  For me, it is.  In fact I view the use of technology/digital media as  a type of Rhizomatic Learning, one with no beginning, middle nor end.

When we look deeper into the new science curricula, we note that one of the units that is required at the 20 and 30 level is titled Student Directed Study.  The intent of this unit is to allow students to study a topic that is of personal interest to them within the realm of the course they are currently taking.  Research!  Inquiry!  Problem-Based learning!  All of these at some point will require the use of some form of digital technology.  Again, going back to Branelle’s post:  we must model the positive use of digital technology to our students in order for them to have the abilities to research properly – to inspire them to do so in a positive manner, leaving behind a positive digital footprint.  I certainly want to do everything in my power as an educator, whom promotes the use of digital media, to teach my students to be responsible citizens and treat the technology they hold within their hands (smartphones) or use withing schools, homes or the workplace with respect.  I would hate for one of my students to have an incident similar to Ron Johnson’s Ted Talk “How One Tweet Could Ruin Your Life“, or a situation similar to Tom Scott’s talk on Social Media Dystopia.

 

Let’s face it, we are teaching digital natives while we are digital natives where we ourselves may be considered digital immigrants, as we were not born into the world of technology as we know it today (well, for me at least).  George Siemens principles of Connectivism (2004) include (but not limited to) the following points:

  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision

I have highlighted words in the above points which resonate to me as an educator and what I feel is important in regards to teaching our students how to successfully navigate in ever changing world of digital citizenship.

The responsibility of teaching positive digital citizenship must not lie solely on us as educators, parent must take a part in this, but if we get the wheels moving in the forward (positive) direction at school, this must be consistent with how students are being supported by their parents at home.  Deconstructing media and interpreting what is read or viewed via media helps to create critical thinkers within our classrooms and society, allowing for a deeper level of understanding and strong communication skills with all individuals our students are in contact with, whether that be family, friends, or colleagues.

Who knows, we may be teaching the next Einstein or Darwin.

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