Schools taking responsibility for digital citizenship

One of the new courses in 2011 on which I am working at CSU at the moment is called Digital Citizenship in Schools. The opportunity to work with school educators on this topic is a complete bonus!   I feel this way because having recently left working in schools I am only too aware of how easy it is for schools to skirt the issues, or believe they are ‘doing something’ worthwhile – yet missing the point by miles!

It is important to open our eyes as wide as we can to the possibilities, and the far-reaching changes not only in technology tools ( such as computers, laptops, cameras, multi-purpose phones, ipads and portable devices, and ebook readers) but also in information access, and social communications that our digital world is inspiring.

The media constantly report stories about the shift in digital technology use among children and teenagers. These highlight the fact that ‘the shift’ is not just a topic for educators, but is a topic of interest, and perhaps concern, for all adults. Learning to play Angry Birds before you can tie your shoes is suddenly media news!  More importantly, though, is the need to grow in knowledge of the digital environment, and it’s influential role in learning and teaching.

So what are schools doing about it? Ask yourself.  Look around.  Look at your policies, community communications, and your teaching programs. Look at your teachers and figure out how many actually have a clue about any of this?

Fortunatley, there are some really strong role-models in the education community, who help lead the conversation, and now I have found something that I am VERY excited about!

iCyberSafe.com – Living in a Connected World


This outstanding website provides information, resources, videos, updates and more for the school community on all matters related to Digital Citizenship.  It’s so easy to build a resource like this for a school using WordPress – yet how many schools have done this?  I  could have built Joeys something like this in the wink of an eye – but of course, that’s just not the way it happens in schools. We had other initiatives underway!

But the question is  – what does it take to create a whole-school response to Digital Citizenship?  What it takes is a Principal with vision, and determination to break through traditional structures to get where we need to go.  This is why is was wonderful to read that Darcy Moore has such a Principal.

For the first time in 20 years I do not have English classes to teach. The principal has requested that I am ‘off the timetable’ and work with all students on digital citizenship and creating a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) or, if you prefer, Personal Learning Network (PLN). This is another small step towards creating an environment at our school where student learning is personalised with the internet in mind.

What Darcy describes as a ‘small step’ would seem to me to be a significant step, given the cost in time and staffing. I would like to find other schools that have taken bold steps to ‘go where no-one has gone before‘.  This is a new frontier  that must be explored, with conections made and tamed,  so that working with digital citizenship it is no longer seen as being groundbreaking.  How long will it take before digital citizenship just becomes citizenship?

final report from the Learning with New Media research group at Monash University’s Faculty of Education was recently released.  This report, called Teenagers, Legal Risks and Social Networking Sites provides an outstanding analysis of  some the issues involved.

The research findings of this project confirm that SNS usage is now playing an important role in the lives of Victorian middle school students, including in socialisation and identity formation. In fact, SNS use has become integrated into the everyday social lives of most Victorian middle school students.

The final words of the report urge:

There is a need for further research directed at understanding young people’s use of SNS and how they can better be empowered to be confident and safer digital citizens. There is also a significant need to further work to be done to assist teachers to be better equipped to understand their rights and responsibilities in the digital communication environment.

We have a  way to go!

Join us in the journey. Become proactive in your use of digital environments, and urge your school to explore and engage in these environments more (rather than shutting them down).

As a result of my work  with our Digital Citizenship course at uni we now have two ongoing resources that readers may like to tap into and help to build.

Find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DigitalCitizenshipInSchools

Find us at Diigo http://groups.diigo.com/group/digital-citizenship-in-schools

Infotention

It’s worth noting – I’m fascinated by the work of Howard Rheingold.  If I could capture just a small portion of his capacity to work with tertiary students I would be thrilled.

I really liked his small posterous ‘mini-course’ on infotention – what a cool way to share information.  I need to explore more….

Howard explains:

Infotention is a word I came up with to describe a mind-machine combination of brain-powered attention skills and computer-powered information filters. The inside and outside of infotention work best together with a third element ‹ sociality.

Watch  the video below – and learn how to manage your own ‘infotention’. Then visit Howard’s Mini-course on Infotention.

Thanks very much Howard for acknowledging that the need for librarians is greater than ever :-)

Six months later how is this magazine fan going?

Funny how quickly you can adapt to a new way of doing things – when it works!  I’m a magazine collector – I like to read magazines to keep up to date, read quietly over a cup of coffee, or take when out and about. One of my favourite things to do is to grab the latest copy of New Scientist before boarding a plane!

But I’ve never enjoyed the stockpile of back issues, and hated making the decision of when to throw them out. I hated this so much, that I even stopped subscribing to magazines as an escape.

Enter my new iPad – and the installation of my Zinio App.  The Zinio Magazines and Book App can be used to browse all my magazines after I’ve  purchased individual issues or bought a subscription. There is an extensive range of magazines from around the world to to make my subscription choices from.

My Zinio library can be synchronised with any of my computing tools,  so my magazines are then available on all of my fixed and portable devices.  Magazines can be viewed in portrait or landscape mode, and hyperlinks can be used to navigate between pages as well as online content.

My paper magazines were never this flexible!

Zinio is not a totally new multimedia experience. It’s been around for years apparently but does seem to have come ‘into its own’ with the iPad.   Zinio simply aims to duplicate the print magazine reading experience in digital format, with zoom and hyperlinks thrown in. For now, I’m happy with that, because that’s what I enjoy. I’m not looking for embedded video files or interactive games. I’m not that interested in the iPad Magazines: Pros and Cons, so much as just wanting to read my magazines, pay less for them, and have them stored digitally. Happy!

When a new issue of a magazine I have subscribed to is ready for pickup – I receive an email. Love getting my Mac World :-)

I don’t bother with reading Zinio on my computer screen, though I might be tempted if I had a Mac Air. However, an additional handy feature is the way that Zinio adapts to the iPhone interface. While you wouldn’t use an iPhone instead of an iPad all the time, the functionality is excellent.

First see the page, then toggle between page view and mobile view with ease. It handles all menu choices, and is as easy as reading newspapers or blogs maximised for use on small devices.

Zinio on iPhone

One of the pleasures of my iPad was re-discovering magazines. Zinio is still developing, even though its been around for a long time. I am sure they will add additional functionality in time, like  sync between devices for latest page read which is common for other e-readers (but not such an issue for a shorted publication like a magazine) and pages being slow to render the first time the magazine is loaded.  I do like that fact that I can delete magazines from the device  too – something like this is not important now, but will be the longer term. Magazines are also backed up in iTunes. The computer interface allows me to search through my magazines, and print pages I want.

But wait – there is more!  I’m amazed that we aren’t talking more about the potential of this tool for our schools and libraries. Education Today from Canada is already available via Zinio. Our professional associations could jump on board.  Thanks to Tammy for highlighting to me “that  Zinio also allows readers to digitally annotate (ink on a tablet) by highlighting and putting notes on text.  Zinio Labs also has their “Digital Classics” library.  There are versions available in Mac and Windows.  There’s also an iPhone version. McGraw-Hill has some textbooks available using Zinio as well.  Here’s an example of the reader window with annotations”.

A guide for newbie social educators

Thanks to the ‘heads up’ from Joyce Valenza over at Neverendingsearch about a useful guide for teachers.

Tools for the 21st Century Teacher, is a wonderful little e-guidebook offering a basic introduction to most things social media and discussion about how they may be effectively integrated into instruction.  Among the many tools covered are Twitter, Diigo, Prezi, Evernote, Wallwisher, Skype.

Better still, Michael Zimmer at Edutechintegration is working on a 2nd edition with more tools. Free to download and share!

Excellence at ISTE 2010

Several intrepid educators have travelled across to Denver, Colorado  from various parts of Australia to attend one of the world’s leading conferences for learning and teaching with technology.

The conference  “Exploring Excellence” hosted by the International Society for Technology in Education is of a scale and variety that is never experienced here in Australia. Amazingly this conference gets underway a good day before the official launch.

Edubloggercon2010 was (as always) a totally crowd-sourced “unconference” event – built in the lead up to Saturday on a wiki, then finally voted upon and organized at the start of the day for the full day’s of busy activities. A list of of the shared link. My completely favourite fun session is always the Web 2.0 smack down of new media tools. Check them out and what others are saying.  We could really enjoy doing this for even longer than an hour – it’s just fabulous to get recommendations from practitioners. Overall,  it is amazing to see such grassroots activity resulting in such quality information.

Thanks to Scott Merrik for hosting a lovely evening at his brother’s home. So nice to spend time with Virtual Worlds educators, and to experience a little of Denver home life. I remember the first time I met Scott in ISTE island a few years back – and for his welcoming patience to a ‘newbie’ SecondLifer. 

The Opening Keynote on Sunday evening  by Jean-François Rischard of the World Bank  was a little disappointing – but the shared camaraderie of the crowd at the Bloggers Cafe certainly made up for this in spades. Nuts were shared, jokes were cracked, pictures were snapped, and Twitter humor abounded!

It’s my second trip to an ISTE international conference. It promises to be yet another inspirational conference.  I met one wonderful teacher – three years in the profession, three conferences at which she presented, and engaged in amazing innovation at her school. What an inspiration!

Technology innovation is everywhere! Already we have heard from schools that are integrating iTouch devices and now iPads into their overall curriculum delivery. This is very different to Australian schools who are stumped by network issues. Perhaps more of us should be at conferences like this to bump innovation along by disseminating crowd-sourced solutions to similar problems. This is where a personal learning network comes into it’s own. Someone can always help provide ideas and solutions.

I’m looking forward to learning more, interacting with old friends and new, and being excited about the future of learning. The program ‘at a glance’ gives a peep into the possibilities at ISTE2010.

If you dropped into my session on Monday, here is my presentation for review.

Create a digital history with History Pin

Want to know what was happening on the corner of your street a hundred years ago? Now a new online project will let you ‘pin’ historic photos to images on Google Streetview giving you a snapshot of that particular location throughout history.

The HistoryPin website encourages web users to upload their archive photos and ‘geo-tag’ the modern-day locations onto their modern Streetview locations. The site allows users to share images from their personal photo albums and wants them to include the stories and history behind them.

What a great project for school students to get involved with!  Combine history, culture, and geography in one fell swoop!

Read more at:  A snapshot through time: The website that lets you ‘pin’ historic photos onto Streetview