I had the opportunity to interview our Director of K-8 about our school’s digital readiness. I shared my interview questions with our Director of K-8 prior to our interview and her initial response was to remark that she thought the questions would best be answered by the members of our school’s Educational Technology Team; however, when we sat down to talk, she had a lot to say about each topic. I was impressed with her ideas for integrating education for both teachers (PD) and students (Digital Citizenship & Literacy) into classroom-based experiences. I agree with her that this approach will yield greater success than “isolated” experiences.
Our Director of K-8 is devoting more time to learning about our school’s Technology Initiative and determining what she can do to support the Ed Tech Team (and teachers & students) in reaching our school’s goals. We have had several follow-up meetings to discuss where we are and what we can do to achieve the goals of our school’s 3-Year Technology Plan. I am refreshed by her enthusiasm and feel empowered to move forward.
“Digital exclusion makes it difficult to grow as a society increasingly using these tools. Helping to provide and expand access to technology should be goal of all digital citizens” (Ribble 2011).
- Our goal is to complete a three-tiered technology roll-out, of which we have fulfilled 2 parts: 1:1 laptops in MS & laptop cart in LS; iPad rollout in grades 3-5. We still need to address the needs of grades K-2.
- How can we make sure that all of our classrooms & teachers have equal access to technology?
- How can we allocate class time (help our teachers to seamlessly weave operational skills into weekly lessons) so that all of our students have the basic operational skills they need to have equal experiences in using technology to enhance learning?
- What access are we offering for families that may not have the means to connect digitally with teachers from home?
Our Director of K-8 believes that people are eager. She observed that there appears to be more readiness as a result of a slow roll out. Teachers are asking for the technology, rather than feeling pressured to use it. She administered a parent survey at the beginning of the school year and the results showed that our students homes are well equipped and their parents feel confident in their ability to use technology. She believes we could improve our students’ exposure to technologies by rethinking structure of our schedule to include more dedicated/planned exposure (e.g. STEM Fridays).
“Users need to learn about how to be effective consumers in a new digital economy” (Ribble 2011).
- What digital commerce activities might our K-8 students encounter when using digital technologies?
- What (if any) responsibility do we (a K-8 school) have to educate our students about digital commerce?
Our Director of K-8 had a lot to say about this. She connected lessons about digital commerce to elementary math curriculum, saying that digital commerce can be integrated into elementary math lessons about money. Students could learn through simulations of online stores and/or could comparison shop (use multiple sources of information) in order to make decisions about what to purchase. The simulation could include a lesson about what happens to financial information when it is entered online.
“Now everyone has the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with anyone from anywhere and anytime. Unfortunately, many users have not been taught how to make appropriate decisions when faced with so many different digital communication options” (Ribble 2011).
- How do we enhance our students’ learning experiences through digital connection with the outside world? What does this look like at each grade level (K-8)?
- How can we teach our students how to be safe & responsible when using modes of digital communication?
Our Director of K-8 believes administrators should be role models for positive technology use (e.g. she uses Twitter to share her classroom experiences). She strongly promotes students as authors (e.g. tweeting about their day in class), but notes that communication technologies are not useful if the intended audience does not use them (visit/comment).
“New technologies are finding their way into the workplace that are not being used in schools (e.g., Videoconferencing, online sharing spaces such as wikis). In addition, workers in many different occupations need immediate information (just-in-time information). This process requires sophisticated searching and processing skills (i.e., information literacy) (Ribble 2011).
“As new technologies emerge, learners need to learn how to use that technology quickly and appropriately. Digital Citizenship involves educating people in a new way—these individuals need a high degree of information literacy skills” (Ribble 2011).
- One of our goals is a significant amount of time and funding devoted to teacher professional development in the area of educational technology. Our Spring 2015 teacher survey results showed that our teachers would like more professional development so that they can begin to use educational technologies.
- How can we educate our teachers about emerging technologies, so that they can plan to integrate them into their curriculum?
- How can we motivate our teachers to learn about and plan to integrate new technologies that they can use in their classrooms?
- How can we help teachers who are not fluent in digital technologies?
Our Director of K-8 said, “I don’t think anyone remembers anything in isolation.” She strongly believes that, for both teachers and students, technology education needs to be embedded in classroom experiences. K-5 teachers need a technology coach embedded in their classrooms. A classroom-embedded PD coach can go into classrooms to observe, make recommendations and co-teach. Basic operational skills should be integrated into academic lessons whenever possible. A checklist (poster or table tent) would be helpful as a reminder of steps for basic tasks.
“It is not enough to create rules and policy, we must teach everyone to become responsible digital citizens in this new society” (Ribble 2011).
- Our goal is to become a Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Certified School. This requires completing the CSM Digital Citizenship Program with our students.
- How should we allocate class time to teach digital citizenship?
- How can we educate our teachers about digital citizenship, so that they, in turn can educate their students?
- How can we connect the norms of digital communication to the norms of in-person communication?
“Users need to understand that stealing or causing damage to other people’s work, identity, or property online is a crime” (Ribble 2011).
“Hacking into others information, downloading illegal music, plagiarizing, creating destructive worms, viruses or creating Trojan Horses, sending spam, or stealing anyone’s identify or property is unethical” (Ribble 2011).
- Our Acceptable Use Policy contains language about digital law.
- How can we make this document more accessible to students?
- How can we teach our students about digital law?
- How proactive should we be (versus reactive)?
Digital Rights & Responsibilities
“Digital citizens have the right to privacy, free speech, etc.” (Ribble 2011).
“With these rights also come responsibilities as well (Ribble 2011).
- What “organic” opportunities can we give our students to learn about digital rights and responsibilities?
Digital Security (self-protection)
“It is not enough to trust other members in the community for our own safety” (Ribble 2011).
- Our students enjoy a high level of trust among their peers.
- How can we prepare them for situations where this will not be the norm?
- How can we teach them that protection does not equal mistrust?
Our Director of K-8 framed her answer to my questions in these three areas with ideas about integration. She believes we could integrate the study of digital law into existing academic study of laws and that we could use case studies to illustrate real-life scenarios that our students might encounter.
Digital Health & Wellness
Digital Citizenship includes a culture where technology users are taught how to protect themselves through education and training.
- How can we make our teachers and students aware of negative physical and psychological issues associated with technology overuse (while still promoting growth in use of educational technologies)?
- How can we integrate “mindfulness” into our students’ daily experiences with technology?
Our Director of K-8 noted our recent efforts to reinforce scheduled downtime & to uphold a standard of teacher-directed use of technologies for academic purposes.