G2 Explores their Digital Agency through Paperless Homework

For my Course 5 project I have developed a unit to work with a grade 2 class and their teacher. The goal of the unit is for the students to explore and develop their digital agency by responding to set tasks with a variety of digital tools. The aims of the unit will be to help students develop their independence to transfer their digital literacy skills independently when they are at home completing tasks for homework.

One of the reasons that we choose homework is because we wanted a safe environment for the students to be able to explore and develop in. By safe, we mean a place where the stresses of needing to complete a task for a formal assessment are not an element. Many times I am called in to help a teacher use technology only just as they are about to start a summative assessment task. I was thankful when this teacher, Beth, asked me to help her create a unit around building her student’s digital literacy without the stress of an assessment looming in the background for either the teacher or the students.

It also gives me a chance to develop her student’s digital literacy in line with the digital needs of the school. Our school is 1:1 BYOD in Grade 5, 1:1 Chromebooks in Grades 3 & 4. Beth is one of the two pilot classes in Grade 2 with 1:1 iPads. She is a teacher who has consistently looked for ways to improve both her own digital knowledge and that of her students.

The development of this unit also allows me to work closely with my new teammate. Ryan is new to the role of Tech Integrationist. By going through the process of planning, creating a unit and creating the resources allows us to get on the same page with how we work with teachers. This also gives us a chance to research and develop our digital skills to find the best tools and resources to use with the students.

I am looking forward to working closely with this teacher to develop and teach this unit with her.

To answer the questions for this week:

  1. Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?
    1. I think that this is a good possibility for Course 5 because this unit will allow me to help a variety of students move their digital knowledge from Substitution to Augmentation and Modification.
    2. The development of this unit will also allow the teacher to move her skills further. For many of the tasks she has moved into Augmentation, but helping her see the possibilities for moving her practice and her student’s skills into Modification in the areas that she is ready is something I am looking forward to helping her with.
  2. What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?
    1. Some of my concerns is that the step to paperless digital home learning will be too much too soon for many of the students and even more of the parents.
    2. I am also concerned that we will have parents who reject this change before their child has the chance to actually truly “live” it to find out if it will work.
    3. I have to manage my desire to go “all tech, all the time”. After all, they are still in 2nd grade and need to do fine motor work!
  3. What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?
    1. This does not require a major pedagogical shift for me personally. I think the largest shift will be for the parents. Seeing new ways that their children complete homework will give them yet another “eye” into their child’s classroom life.
  4. What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?
    1. Digital Agency
    2. Self-Directed Learning
    3. Resilience
    4. Systems Thinking

Digital Footprint, Something to stress over or just another dust collector on a shelf?

Is a Digital Footprint is it becoming like an old photo album gathering dust on a shelf? I had this thought when the question came up because I thought, “Should a Digital Footprint something that we should be stressing over or should we know it is there like an old picture album”. I think that in this day and age we have to be proactive but we have to work on making sure that we don’t become reactive about our Digital Footprint.

I see many people who are so stressed about their security that they have little or no Digital Footprint, yet they want to get into social media. When they ask for help and give me their criteria about how they want the security setup, I have to tell them that it isn’t possible to be on social media the way they want. They ask why and I generally answer with “because it’s SOCIAL media”. If everything is private then there isn’t very much social about it.

I think that a lot of this fear comes from articles like the one I read by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras published in Time Magazine. This article is only based on partial data and limited information. Dr. Kardaras equates digital device addiction to heroin addiction because MRI scans show that the same parts of the brain are active. Well since the brain is only so big and the parts that control things like doing something that satisfies you are in only a few locations, I am sure that they are all firing the same way.

This fear mongering is why I created my Powtown video. I face this every day with teachers, parents, administrators and sometimes students. It is the part of my job that I like the least. But it is part of the job that I try to spend time educating myself on, in preparation for the times when it comes up. Like reading this article from The Verge in rebuttal to Dr. Kardaras. This fear mongering also keeps people from separating out social media use from technology use. They are NOT one and the same.

Back to the question for this week, Should educators have a digital footprint, my answer is absolutely, YES. If you don’t have one of any kind, how can you teach kids about it effectively? You don’t have to have a large, extensive footprint, but no or very little digital footprint is going to be hard to relate to.

As a Tech leader in my school, I may have one of the largest digital footprints, but that doesn’t mean I don’t monitor and control it to the best of my ability. While I might be “techie” I am not interested in everyone knowing every small detail about everything that I do!

Having balance in your technology use is a part of Digital Citizenship. I like the visual in this article titled 8 Digital Life Skills all Children Need. (Though I was hesitant to reference the visual because it was difficult for me to find the visual, since it isn’t cited! until I reread the article and found the link to the DQ Institute.) I like their visual because it references balance many times and in many different ways. It talks about managing your time, managing your digital footprint, and being aware of privacy. I do like how this one is worded but I wonder with all of the resources from ISTE, Google and Common Sense Media, if there will ever be one that leads the way. I think they are all versions of the same ideas but do so many resources saying the same thing or help get the word out?