Sunday, 1 March 2015

Feb. 21: Digital Citizenship

Last week a small but enthusiastic group of island educators met to learn more about digital citizenship. In Ontario, it is a topic many of us have heard of, but we have had little - if any - direction as to how to implement digital citizenship topics into our classes.

Kristen Mattson (@mrskmattsonNaperville, Illinois) was our guest speaker. In her role as a Professional Learning Specialist, she supports PK-12th grade teachers by designing and developing effective professional learning opportunities. Her passion for Instructional Technology led her to pursue a Master's Degree in Instructional Design and Technology, and she is currently researching Digital Citizenship Education for her doctoral dissertation. She joined us via Google Hangout.

Her presentation "Digital Citizenship - Moving Beyond Internet Safety," started by introducing us to the different levels of citizenship (personally responsible, participatory, and justice oriented) and how those extend to citizenship online.

We looked at some of the most recent publications on our new "digital reality," and how being constantly connected impacts all of us (society in general, but particularly our students). 
Supposedly, we are becoming a more narcissistic society.
In other news, here's a selfie at the session!
There was a lot of back and forth discussion as we were just as interested in hearing about Kristen's research and resources, as she was in hearing about our classroom and Guidance experiences. 

For me personally, one of the biggest take-aways was how there is a mentorship gap when it comes to building an online presence. What can we do, as adults (as role models!) to demonstrate how to behave online, or how to harness the power of global connectivity and make a difference in the world? I find this to be an especially tricky topic in a time where we, as teachers, are cautioned to not engage in ANY public online communication with students.

Toward the end of the presentation, Kristen introduced us to many great resources, both to address the topic of digital citizenship in the classroom, and also to learn more about the potential impact of good digital citizenship through online projects. One of the lenses in which to focus the idea of good citizenship is to look at shifting away from purely "self-serving" uses of technology and look more toward modelling connectivity and collaboration.

Traditionally, after our guest speaker's presentation, we take time to explore resources and tools, reserving the last hour or so of the session for discussion, implementation, and collaboration. And while we had good intentions of doing just that, the group quickly turned to pure discussion, and continued until our time was up! 

In between bites of brunch, we talked about how digital citizenship can be introduced into the citizenship unit in the grade 10 Civics/Careers course, how to best model being online, reducing anxiety of students when it comes creating digital resources, and whether digital citizenship is best taught through a top-down or bottom-up approach.

Conversations like the one we had remind me that when you bring together educators who are passionate about a given topic, it leads to some tremendous discussion and a wealth of ideas on how to start making a difference in our classrooms. We all came away from the session both with lots of ideas to still process, but also a more clear idea on how to get started with our own students.

For more information on Manitoulin IGNITEd sessions, check out other entries in this blog, or follow us on Twitter at @ManIGNITEd.