EdTech Debate #3 took place this past week and I must say that it was my favourite topic so far! This week's topic was openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids. Agree or disagree? Both teams did a wonderful job giving us a variety of resources to present their point of view. One of the teams did say that they were arguing for a side that went against their personal beliefs about how to share learning in the classroom, but came in strong to sway us to agree with their side. They did an excellent job reminding us to be critical about what we are posting and how we are posting it. I really enjoy the following video that explains in a child friendly way what a digital footprint is and what types of information we should not post online.
I am going to begin with the disagreement argument. I have used a variety of technological tools over the past six years to share what we are learning with parents. For four years I used a blog to share photos and videos of our learning. This past year I have been using Bloomz to share what we are completing in our classroom and keeping parents up to date on upcoming events. I feel that sharing what my students are learning with their families is important and has a positive impact for the following reasons:
1) It helps instill a sense of accomplishment and joy when students are able to share what they have successfully completed. Feeling proud of ones work helps nurture engagement in what one is learning.
2) It aids in keeping parents aware of what their children are doing in school and keeps communication open. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback, especially from parents who have demanding occupations and are unable to come into our classroom to help or come chaperone field trips. I love this, because it makes them feel involved. It also provides an opportunity for parents to ask their children specific questions about what they have been learning instead of asking what they did in school with the follow up reply being "I don't know".
3) It helps me stay accountable for what I am teaching. I share what outcomes we are meeting when I post pictures of specific projects or field trips. This helps me stay on top of what I am supposed to be doing in my classroom on a curricular level. I also like to use it as a friendly reminder of what students really enjoyed doing throughout the year so I can tweak my year plan for the following school year.
4) It creates memories for those students to look back on. I like the idea of it being used as a digital yearbook keepsake. I am very big into making my classroom feel like a comfortable space. I always tell my students at the beginning of the year that we are one big family for the next ten months and I feel that using these technological tools build a learning environment that focuses on being a team.
5) I use it as a digital professional portfolio. That being said, I only share with appropriate audiences (my students families, my colleagues, my administrators, and myself).
6) It helps show students how to develop a positive digital footprint and share appropriately on social media. This will help them with future technological use and gives me the opportunity to teach students the dos and don'ts when using the internet and social networks.
I really enjoyed reading the article Building and Keeping a Positive Digital Identity: A Practical Approach for Educators, Students, and Parents. It was a short piece that gave important information about what types of questions you should keep in mind when creating a digital identity and shared some fantastic ideas that educators can use to model how to create a positive digital footprint in their classrooms.
Now, I feel that Amy, Dani, and Joe did a fantastic job reminding us as educators that tech policies at school and online policies are changing. We need to be aware of what is "okay" for us to share and which tools meet the varying policies that seem to be adapted frequently in our school divisions. Thank you for reminding me that I need to be aware of which students I cannot post about. Thank you for reminding me that I need to be aware of which tech tools are considered "private" and "safe" and which tech tools I should avoid using in my classroom. I always try to make appropriate choices about which photos are not going to embarrass any of my students and only post things that my students have done well. I also try to ask them for permission to take their picture and ask them if I can share it with our families. I don't want their mistakes to follow them around for the rest of their lives. I don't want to cause my students more anxiety or stress because they are afraid that I'll post something that they don't like. Growing up with social media, as dominant as it is in our society, is enough for our children to deal with as it is. The article Rethinking Sharing Back To School Photos really does show us how mindful we need to be when we are sharing information about our most vulnerable people: our children.
Thank you for reminding me that I need to be more mindful about not only what I share about my students, but also about what I share on my own personal networks. When used appropriately, sharing about yourself on social media outlets and creating a positive digital footprint can be helpful for your professional life too. This video talks about the worthwhile outcomes of having a positive digital footprint, but also discusses some of the struggles youth are facing when sharing about their lives online:
Technology has advanced so much in the past decade and it isn't going anywhere. I feel like it's only going to continue to be revamped and become more influential as time progresses. We're stuck with it:
I would rather focus my attention on teaching my students about positive digital citizenship and to THINK about what they are posting. I can imagine that the little boy above is wishing someone taught him what would happen if he licked the metal post in the winter. If he'd known, it is more likely he would have made a better choice.
I also love this video that Kari, Esther, and Shelly shared in their presentation. Let's arm our kids with the tools necessary to help them make good decisions when posting and sharing online.